Board Games that Teach Fundamental Preschool Skills

Board Games that Teach Fundamental Preschool Skills

Candy Land

We purchased this game for my kids a couple of years ago.  I had this same game as a kid and thought my children’s childhood wouldn’t be complete without it.  This game is so simple and easy to learn that even my two year old will join in on occasion.  First off, this game is great for teaching colors.  If you’ve never played before, the rules are simple. Each player has a character that moves along the path of the game board.  Each turn, a player draws a card and has to move to that next color on the board.  Today as I was playing with my three and five year old, I had them count the squares as they moved on each of their turns.  For each turn, they would typically end up counting anywhere between 1-10 spaces.  On one of my son’s turns, he drew a special card and ended up getting to move 40 spaces.  That was great practice for both of my kiddos.  Usually my 3 year old is able to count to 14 before starting to say random numbers out of order.  We are currently working on getting her to count to 20 independently and consistently.  This game made for great practice.

 

Hi Ho Cherry Oh

We purchased this game for my kids around the same time as Candy Land.  I’m pretty sure Wal Mart was having a sale so they were only like $5 each which is a great price.  If you’ve never played this game before, it is also super simple, but fun for preschoolers.  Each player has their own cherry tree and cherries they put on it.  You spin the spinner and depending on the picture you land on, you get to either put cherries on your tree or take some off.  This game is a great way to practice counting as well as addition and subtraction.  You can also ask your preschooler questions such as “Who has more cherries on their tree?” “Who has the least amount of cherries on their tree?”

Pop the Pig

Ok, so this one isn’t technically a board game, but my two year old loves this game.  He mainly loves to carry the pig around and just feed him the little hamburgers, but there are many math concepts to be practiced in this game.  For this game, you roll the dice that has a color on each side.  There are green, red, and purple hamburgers and on the bottom of each one is a number 1-3.  Each player rolls the dice and then have to pick a hamburger of the

corresponding color they roll.  If they roll a multicolor side, then they can pick any color.  Once they pick up one of the hamburgers, you flip it over and see what number is on the back.  The player then feeds the hamburger to the pig and has to click down the pig’s head the number of times the hamburger said.  Once the pig’s stomach is full, the pig will “pop.” This game is great for number recognition, and counting.  It’s also great for color practice.

 

There are so many fun preschool games that have ample opportunities to practice important reading and math skills. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate learning into our everyday activities and games are a great way to do it.

3 Fun Math Preschool Activities

3 Fun Math Preschool Activities

The Preschool Box is full of fun hands on activities for preschoolers.  The main focus of the box is to teach fundamental reading and math skills that will better prepare preschoolers for kindergarten.  The preschool activities included are meant to be done with as much or as little parent assistance as needed.  The skills introduced in each box build on previous skills taught in earlier boxes.  I wanted to share some of the fun, hands on activities that are included in some of the boxes.  The great thing about these activities are that you can reuse the materials to teach and practice other skills as well.

 

Sorting

Included in the first box is a sorting mat with a bag full of different fun, colorful materials for kids to sort.  For the first part of the activity they are supposed to sort the red items on one half of the sorting mat and the blue items on the other half.  Next, they are supposed to sort the yellow and green objects.  On the back side of the sorting mat are four different boxes in which the objects can be sorted into four different sections- one for yellow, blue, green, and red. The bags include a few other colored objects which can be sorted on the mat as well.  This activity not only teaches colors, but also how to sort. The objects can be sorted by size, texture, and shape.  My kids really enjoyed just playing with the different objects, because who doesn’t love feathers, and glitter balls?! The mats come laminated so they will last for many uses.  You can have your child find different colored objects around the house to sort on the mat or even use colorful cereal like fruit loops.

 

Counting Cups

One of the fun ways that we teach number recognition and counting to 5 is in the first box with our counting cups.  For this activity you will find 5 plastic cups labeled 1-5 and a bag of small pom pom balls.  For this activity you will have your child count the correct number of pom pom balls into the correctly labeled cup.  For cup 1, we put 1 ball.  In cup 2, we put 2 balls.  My kids really liked this activity because for some reason putting small balls into cups is very entertaining.  I did have to remind my 2 and 3 year olds to count as they put the balls in.  This activity can be used for color practice and sorting as well.  You can create this activity on your own by simply getting a piece of paper, drawing 5 circles and labeling each one with a number 1-5.  Pick some small objects you have around the house such as beads, cheerios, or anything else small that will fit into the circles.

 

Pattern Necklaces

Most kids love crafts and pattern necklaces are definitely a win in our house.  Crafts beads are easy to come by.  You can find pony beads or other plastic beads at your local craft store.  This particular activity is introduced in one of the later boxes after the different types of patterns have all been introduced.  The first patterns we introduce are AB patterns.  An example of an AB pattern would be blue, red, blue, red.  An example of an ABB pattern would be green, red, red, green, red, red.  An example of an ABC pattern would be red, blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow.  Before creating a necklace, I would recommend reviewing the different types of patterns.  I let my kiddos pick the different kinds of patterns they wanted to make on their necklace.  They did some of the basic patterns but also created some patterns on their own, it was fun to watch their creativity unfold.  You can also have your child practice counting the beads and work on color recognition.

For other preschool activities check out our blog on Five Summer Preschool Activities.

Lunchbox Surprise

I remember as a kid I would often take my lunchbox to school. Pretty frequently I would receive a handwritten note from my parents on the napkin they put in my lunchbox. I was always really surprised and excited when they did.  Looking back, it was just a simple, sweet gesture that really didn’t take a whole lot of effort to do, but as a kid it would really make my day.

Now that Owen has been in school an entire two days, I have carried on the tradition and have included a note in his lunchbox everyday that he has chosen to take a lunch which has been both days.  He’s in kindergarten but can read pretty well on his own.  The first day of school when I picked him up he was sitting outside holding his note.  He was so tickled that I had written a little note.  The next day when I picked him up, he asked me why I had put another note in his lunchbox.  I asked him if he wanted me to stop and he said no.  The notes have just been short, one to two sentences that are quick and easy for him to read.  I have now set an expectation that there will be a note included in his lunchbox everyday so I was trying to think of ways to get creative.

I decided to ask each of his grandparents to write a handful of notes that I can rotate in his lunchbox the next couple of months.  I know that he is going to be so excited and tickled when he opens his lunchbox in the morning to find a letter from his Grandma.  I’ve included some of the cute notes that my mom came up with.

This is such a quick and easy thing to do and I have loved seeing the reaction of my little one coming home each day clutching his handwritten letter.  Consider trying it and seeing the excitement on your little one’s face! Get your family and friends involved too!

Kindergarten Blues

So it’s finally happening.  It’s been five years in the making but my little baby boy is going to kindergarten.  He is so incredibly excited for Thursday while I am planning on pretty much boohooing and moping around the house until I go pick him up at 2:45.

I used to be a kindergarten teacher before having children and never really understood why parents would be crying as they left their little ones with me on the first day of school. I always thought they should be excited to get a little free time to themselves.  I would always have a few parents that seemed even more upset about leaving than their children were to see them go.  But now… I’m that parent.  I’m that parent that is going to be sadly walking away from my son’s classroom after I drop him off, trying to keep myself composed until I can at least make it back to my car before completely losing it.

 

As the days have flown by before the big day, I reflect back on the past five years and wonder if he’s adequately prepared for such a big step.  Will he make friends? Will he like school? Will he listen to the teacher?  What if he gets lost? What if he can’t button his pants back after he uses the potty?  The mommy stress really does start to set in.  For all the questioning I do with myself, I am confident that he is academically prepared for kindergarten.  That’s one thing that I know I’ve done right.  He’s been reading since he was about 3 and has really developed a love for it.  I can rest easy the first few months of school knowing that he won’t struggle academically, but hopefully can put some of his focus on building friendships and gaining confidence socially.  School can be tough and I want it to be the best experience possible for him.

 

Tonight was Meet the Teacher and I’m pretty sure I signed up to volunteer for pretty much everything they had requested.  I even volunteered to be home room mom.  I’m not really sure how I’m going to pull that off running two businesses, doing volunteer work for Drive a Senior, being the teacher appreciation coordinator at my other two children’s school, oh yes… and still parenting the other two children I will have home with me most of the week, but a girl can dream.

 

To all the other parents sending off their babies to kindergarten or preschool this week for the first time… I feel for you.  I will be crying and sad all day Thursday so feel free to join in.  But come 2:45 when I see my sweet boy and get to hear all about how exciting his first day of school was, my heart will be smiling and I will wipe up my tears and join in his excitement about going back again the next day.

Five Summer Preschool Activities

As a mom it can be difficult to keep your little ones entertained throughout the summer.  Don’t get me wrong, letting kids be bored can be a good thing.  It forces them to come up with things to do on their own.  They have to use their creativity in order to come up with new ways of playing or new ways of doing activities they have become bored of.  It is nice though to have some planned activities for them so you both don’t drive each other crazy over the 3 months of summertime. In case you missed it, I also wrote about 3 Preschool Activities to do Outside.  Here are Five Summer Preschool Activities that will keep your little one busy and entertained.

 

Melting Activity

Summers can get pretty hot, especially if you are a Texan like myself. Temperatures during the summer tend to get up into the 100’s pretty quickly come June and July.  This activity can be more of a science experiment in which your child becomes a scientist, making hypotheses and conclusions based on the results of their experiment.  If you have an old cookie sheet or muffin pan, that would be best for this activity.  Have your child pick 5 or 6 different items from around the house, some of which will melt and some that won’t.  Assist your child in picking a few objects that you know will melt in the sun.  A few good items to use would be a crayon, icecube, a piece of chocolate candy, a marker, a penny, a squirt of toothpaste, etc… Have your child lay the chosen items on the pan and place in direct sunlight.  Have them guess which items will melt and which will not.  Come and check on the pan after about an hour or so and then again after 3 hours.  Have your child determine if they guessed correctly about which items will and will not melt.

Splash Pads

I don’t remember having these amazing things around as a kid, or maybe we just never visited one, but these things are amazing.  As a mom of 3 it can be a bit intimidating to take the kids to the swimming pool by myself. Splash pads have been a lot less stressful for me and the kids have really enjoyed going to them this summer.

Nature Name Activity

 For this activity you will need to write your child’s name in large letters on a piece of construction paper.  Have your child go around the yard or a park and collect objects from nature such as grass, sticks, flowers, and acorns.  Glue the objects onto the construction paper to create your child’s name.  This is a great activity for letter practice and fine motor skills.

 

Water Table

We just recently purchased a water table for our kids.  The average cost is around $30-$40 depending on what kind you get.  My kids have absolutely loved their water table.  It’s so simple, so on the days when I’m feeling too lazy to actually take the kids to the pool or get them in their swimsuits and all sunscreened up to put them in their kiddy pool, I just bust out the water table.  They enjoy scooping and dumping out the water.  They do get a little wet depending on your kids, but it’s a great alternative to the swimming pool when I just don’t want to put in a whole lot of effort.  I also picked up a few floating frog and animal squirters from Dollar Tree which the kids really enjoyed too.  When they got bored of those after a while, I threw in some orbis they loved as well!                   

 

Paint a Birdhouse

Incase you have been unfortunate enough to not know about Target’s Dollar Spot, Target has this amazing section of their store usually located near the front that has the best things.  I found these cute birdhouse crafts there for $3 each.  I bought them a while back and have been saving them for a rainy day, and what do you know? Today is a rainy day.  Literally.  Texas weather has been weird lately and we are actually getting a good amount of rain in this summer.  I purchased each of my kids a birdhouse to paint.  Each one came with a cute little brush and paint set.  If you don’t have a pre-made birdhouse, making one from scratch can also be fun.  You can probably also find some similar craft kits at places like Hobby Lobby or Michaels.  The kids had a blast getting to be creative with their little art projects and they were so excited to hang the houses in our backyard trees when they were done.  We will keep an eye on them and maybe we will get lucky enough for some little birds to move in!

3 Preschool Activities to do Outside

It’s summertime and my kids are already going a bit stir crazy. We try to go outside when it’s not scorching out there, but we live in Texas and summers here tend to be hot. I’ve been trying to keep them entertained and they have already tired of the normal bubbles, bikes, and sidewalk chalk that we often resort to when we do make it outside. Here are a few fun preschool activities that you can do outside to change things up a bit.

 

Magnets on the Garage Door

If you have a metal garage door, bring your magnets outside. We have alphabet magnets, animal magnets, shapes, numbers, etc. Take them outside and let the kids use the garage door as a new play setting for their magnets. If you want to throw in some fun educational time, have your child practice making words with the magnets. For my 3 year old, I would tell her a word and she would have to find the letter that makes the first sound in that word. They also enjoyed some free play with the magnets and came up with their own activities and ways of playing with them on such a large magnetic surface.

 

Shadow Drawing

This activity was great for my 5 year old. Grab a piece of white paper and some fun small toys. Go outside and let the toys cast a shadow on the paper. Have your child trace the shadows. Let them pick different objects to trace. A pencil would be good for older kids.  If your child still has difficulty gripping a pencil, allow them to use a crayon.

 

Chalk writing on the fence

Normally we have a “no writing on the walls” policy at our house, but a little sidewalk chalk on the fence doesn’t do any harm. The kids looooved this activity. They had fun getting creative on a new art canvas. We also did some letter writing practice and worked on reading some sight words as well. We made a shape section and practiced recognizing and tracing the shapes with my 3year old. Of course Charlie (23 months old) got in on the fun too!

It can be hard keeping little ones entertained on a daily basis, but hopefully some of these preschool activities will help keep your little one occupied and learning through play while getting some outside time in as well. If you are looking for more activities check out Five Summer Preschool Activities.

The “F” word Dilemma

So it happened.  I couldn’t believe it when it did.  My four year old said the “f” word.  In fact, he called me the “f” word.  That’s right… fat.  He told me my belly was fat.  And I cried.

Now, he is a very sweet boy and I know he didn’t do it with mean intentions.  In fact, he was smiling when he did it almost like he was teasing me and trying to be funny.  When he saw the reaction on my face, I knew he immediately felt bad although I don’t think he completely understood why.

My first reaction was “why would you say that?”  He of course didn’t know.   My next thought was “Where would he have even heard that being said to someone?” And that’s when I realized it.  He had heard it from ME.  Me, talking about Myself and the imperfections that I have been struggling with.  I try not to say it in front of my kids, but I know I have slipped up.

Let’s be honest here… After having 3 children within a 4 year time period, things don’t just pop back how they used to be.  At least not for me.  My weight has been up and down and my body has carried 3 human beings in 4 years.  Let’s just say I’m not anywhere near feeling comfortable putting on a bikini anytime in my near future.

But this whole being called fat thing really made me reflect on myself… not about my not so flat belly, but the words that I am speaking over myself and also the same words that I have allowed my children to hear me say about myself.

I never want my children to question their self worth based on their appearance, or to judge somebody else based on theirs.  I know we can be our own biggest critics, but we need to stop being so hard on ourselves.  I realize that I need to make a change in my own self- ridicule.  So here goes…  I am making it a goal to not say anything negative about my appearance in 2018- especially in front of my children.  If this is something you struggle with, I encourage you to do the same thing.  I want my kids to grow up being confident individuals, knowing that they are loved, and valuable regardless of their appearance.  I never want them to say the things about themselves that I often catch myself saying about me so I will do my part and lead by example.  Let’s make 2018 the year we focus on true beauty that comes from within ourselves!

Live Grow Play Austin Review

Thanks for the review, Live Grow Play Austin!

Live Grow Play Austin, a family guide to all things kids in and around our hometown Austin, Texas, recently tried out and reviewed our November Preschool Box. And yay, they loved it!
Read their review here.

We’re also listed in their Kids Directory which helps local families find businesses and read reviews to pick the right daycare, school, pediatrician, hospital, dance lessons, soccer league, camp, and much more. If you can spare a minute, we’d love it of you rated and left a review for us on our listing.

Thanks again for spreading the word about The Preschool Box, Live Grow Play Austin!

The “Smart” Kid Myth

Here at The Preschool Box, we believe that all children are capable of reaching their full potential when given the proper tools and opportunities. Every child has their own unique strengths and interests but becoming a successful student early on in school can set each child up for a lifelong love of learning and confidence in their own intelligence.

As shown in multiple psychology studies by the American Psychological Association our own intelligence is quite malleable dependent on whether we think we are capable of learning, or rather “believing you can get smarter makes you smarter”. This is why it is so important to us to help each child first discover the joy in learning and then grow her confidence with each activity or game in The Preschool Box.

We all want our kid to be the “smart” kid in class, the one that can help others learn to read or answer math problems confidently, and yet human intelligence is actually quite difficult to describe and measure. Nobody is born with a fixed IQ and our brains are muscles that need exercise just like every other muscle. Early exposure to learning in a fun environment can make every kid the “smart” kid when they get to school and being smart will help them dream large and reach for the stars.

Our goal at The Preschool Box is to help you set your child up for success, so that they will have the knowledge and confidence to believe they can do whatever they dream of achieving.

 

The Preschool Box Press Release

Local Woman Launches The Preschool Box Subscription to Inspire Fun Learning for Preschoolers and their Parents

Austin, TX – A local kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom is taking the guesswork out of preparing preschoolers for school. Austin’s newest start-up, The Preschool Box, is a monthly subscription box that focuses on providing simple activities, games and crafts that will help parents provide a fun, engaging environment for children ages 3 to 6 while preparing them for success at school. The first boxes have already started shipping!

The Preschool Box’s creator, Christina Schnell, had two primary goals in starting the business: share her passion for teaching with others and help preschoolers get excited about learning and reading.

“As a former kindergarten teacher you see so many kids coming into school very unprepared for the rigorous curriculum that kindergarten now entails. You can definitely see the difference between kids whose parents have worked with them before coming to school and those that show up with no prior learning experience,” Christina said. “I think it’s important for kids to have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and see that learning can be fun!”

To meet that goal, monthly boxes contain more than 16 different activities, crafts and games designed to teach your preschooler letters, numbers, colors, shapes and many other concepts they will encounter during that important first year of school. In addition, each box has a book, fun stickers and a parent guide to help parents explain and teach just like a kindergarten teacher would.

Christina adds, “It’s important for parents to invest in their children’s education and The Preschool Box is a great way to not only educate your children but also to spend time with them.”

The Preschool Box can be purchased at www.thepreschoolbox.com. Monthly, quarter-year, half-year, and one-year plans are available, with boxes starting at $25.00.