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.

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.

My Three Year Old Plays Videogames and I think I’m ok with it

My Three Year Old Plays videogames and I think I’m ok with it

I like to teach my son Owen lots of things.  At the age of two I taught him all the letters and sounds of the alphabet.  We’ve worked on numbers, counting, sight words, digraphs, and all sorts of other math and reading skills.  He’s currently 3 and we continue to extend his learning in many different areas.  I’m very proud of how smart my little guy is.  I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for teaching him all these things at such an early age.  But, there is one thing I’ve struggled to be proud of, and that is this.  My three year old plays videogames.  And he does it well.

Before children, my husband Tim enjoyed playing various videogames in his downtime.  He still enjoys videogames, but now with three children, this whole “down time” doesn’t really exist in our family.  One way that he has bonded with Owen is that he has taught him how to play videogames, not just on one console, but on 3… the Xbox One, the Nintendo 64, and the Game Cube.  Thankfully, since Owen knows his letters, he is able to follow simple directions such as “Press Y to do this” or “Press B to jump.”  (You’re welcome for that by the way Tim).  Slowly but surely Owen was able to make his characters in the games actually do stuff and go places.

Lately Owen has been able to do a lot on the games.  So much in fact, that I don’t know how he knows how to do certain things on his own.  He will often ask me for help with a level that he is doing, and quite frankly I have no clue how to help him.  He has really impressed me with his critical thinking skills when figuring out different puzzles and activities in these games.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think videogames have been an ok thing in our house.  It is definitely something that has to be utilized in moderation, because let’s be honest here, he would be on it all day everyday if I let him. I am totally guilty of using it as a crutch this summer after welcoming baby number three.  We were stuck in the house for about two months to keep germs at bay as much as possible.  Since then, we have created a schedule for days and times that he is allowed to play.  So far, this has worked nicely.  In my opinion, videogames has been slightly better than just allowing him to watch Tom and Jerry all day on the television.  He at least has to use some problem solving skills and is practicing his fine motor skills using the controller.

All in all, there could be much worse things than letting my kid play videogames.

Owen and kind of Harper playing Lego Marvel Avengers
Owen and kind of Harper playing Lego Marvel Avengers

The Broken Toe Catastrophe

Harper at the broken bone doctor
Harper at the broken bone doctor

I always imagined that I would be a super great helicopter mom, monitoring my small children’s every moves.  My children would understand what it meant to be careful.  The last thing my children would ever have on my watch is a broken bone or any kind of severe injury.  Well, here I am with my 18 month old daughter who now has a humongous cast on her foot because she broke her toe.

I was a very cautious child, and I’m still a pretty cautious adult.  Never in my life have I broken a bone or required any kind of serious medical attention for any other kind of injury.  I would have hoped that gene would have been passed down to my children, but that’s not the case when it comes to my middle child Harper.  My oldest child Owen who is 3 years old has always been extremely careful.  Still to this day, he is too terrified to go up inside the playscape at McDonalds or go up any kind of tall slide.  I guess you can say I had it pretty easy when it came to making sure he was physically safe.

Harper has definitely proven to be my wild child.  From the day she started walking (which pretty much went immediately to running), I knew that she would be the one who would one day end up in the emergency room or urgent care for some self-inflicted injury.  It only took a few months after she was really mobile, but here we are!

I recently had my 3rd baby a little less than two months ago.  As we started bringing out all his baby contraptions and swings and such, Harper quickly learned how to climb up in them all by herself.  If the tray is off the high chair, she’s climbing up in it.  If something is on the dining table that she can’t reach, she’s on the dining table.  Well just a few days ago as Harper was sitting at the table eating her snack (which she has been able to do for quite some time now), the chair somehow flips backwards with her in it.  As soon as I heard the crash, I went rushing in to pick her up and check for any injuries.  She was screaming and her pinky toe was purple and covered in blood.  It seemed pretty obvious that it was most likely broken.

After rushing her to the urgent care clinic, they did x-rays, washed the blood off, and did some other torturous things to my child for a span of 2 hours.  After the radiologist viewed the x-rays, they determined that the toe was broken.  We were then referred to a pediatric orthopedic doctor.  There, they put a huge cast on her foot and a special shoe to help her walk in.  One would think this would slow a child down a bit, but not little Harper.  It took her about a day to get pretty steady on it and now she is running around the house and climbing on things, just as crazy and dangerously as ever.  She has even mastered using her giant foot cast as a stomping mechanism if there are crumbs of any sort on the kitchen floor.  We are all pretty much terrified of her stepping on one of our toes or fingers with the giant monster of a foot.  Also, having a 6 week old around Harper is pretty scary as well and I am constantly having to keep him out of her path.  Tummy time has pretty much become non-existent for poor Charlie for the time being because I’m terrified Harper might trip and fall on him or knock him in the head with her foot.

Bath time has been really fun lately as well.  She has to wear the cast on her foot for about four weeks and the stupid thing can’t get wet.  Every time we bathe her (which is quickly decreasing in frequency due to the task being such an event) we have to wrap her cast in a plastic bag, put her in a baby bath tub, hold that leg out of the water and have one parent bathe her while the other wrestles her leg to keep it elevated out of the water.  Apologies to anyone who may smell my kid in the next 4 weeks.  Bath time is horrible.

All in all Harper has learned nothing from this experience and has if anything become even more dangerous than ever.  I look forward to 4 weeks from now, but until then I at least get to enjoy what is the cuteness of an 18 month old Harper in a big purple cast running around the house just as happy as ever.