Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fun for Little Hands

As a Kindergarten teacher, I work with children at many stages of development and ability. The range is astounding, as I teach a split Junior and Senior Kindergarten class. I thought there might be readers out there who wonder about what kinds of things they should work on with their 3-5 year olds to prepare them for Kindergarten. Even if you homeschool or unschool, these little ideas are fun for children of this age and build fine-motor control and hand strength.

You don't need fancy or expensive materials. I love the idea of high-quality resources for 3 year-olds, but let's be honest here: for the amount of waste/destruction/distraction, I'm fine with using the cheap stuff. It's the SKILLS that are important here, not the finished product. Suit yourself; I prefer to save our money for when our kids are a bit older and can appreciate the careful use of expensive materials.

I like to let each of my kids have their own special's easy to get lost in the herd in a bigger family! It can be nice for a child who must share a bedroom and most of the toys in the house to have a special activity box or drawer that is just THEIRS. For my 5-year-old son, this includes his "map book", compass, Spiderman pencils, and sharpener.

For a 2-3 year old, a craft drawer/box could contain the following:
::small scissors
::glue stick and white glue
::construction paper
::small items to glue (buttons, foam shapes, macaroni)

Here are some activities to keep those little hands busy, AND to encourage skills that will strengthen their little finger muscles (important for pre-printing!)

*with playdough, roll balls and "snakes", then cut with a butterknife (I also let my kids cut up mushrooms and bananas!)

Jude's snowman, complete with scarf!

*once they start showing an interest in scissors, cutting playdough snakes into pieces is a good way to practise that open-closed movement
*cut a 1" strip of paper and ask your child to snip it into lots of pieces (using child-sized scissors)
*take the little bits of paper and give them a gluestick! Let them glue them on a sheet of paper!
*once they seem comfortable with snipping, have them cut along a straight line
*then progress to wavy lines, big circles, etc.
*have them draw long vertical lines (say "Zip!") and long horizontal lines (say "Zoom!")
*encourage a proper pencil grip (we call this the "tripod" grip, using the thumb and forefinger to pinch the pencil, while pressing it against the middle finger at the first joint). I'm not trying to be picky; a child has much better control of the pencil with this grip! If your child wants to "fist" the pencil or scissor it between the first and second fingers, try using a 2-3" pencil instead.
*draw a simple shape on construction paper, and use a hole-punch to create a cheap lacing card! Wrap some masking tape around the end of a piece of yarn, to be used as a lace, and let your preschooler "sew"! Taping the free end of the yarn to the back of the paper is helpful. Don't pick at your child!...this doesn't have to be perfect.

*if your child isn't able to squeeze white glue out of a bottle yet, you can put dots all over a piece of paper, then let them glue things to it! If you feel brave, get out the glitter. I HATE glitter. But my kids love it. So I hide it. Once in awhile they find it, we make a mess, then I hide it again. I can't bring myself to get rid of it altogether, because of COURSE they love it. Glitter is sparkly and messy. Just always know where your glitter is and never, EVER leave your children unattended with it!

Gorgeous glitter creation!

Stay tuned...I'll be back with tips on encouraging numeracy and literacy skills with your preschooler in a future post!


  1. fun, fun, fun!
    {ps - I hate glitter too. ours finally ran out and so far I have been able to NOT replace it}

  2. Your craft drawer sounds like Ella's craft drawer, except we have to restock the playdough. The mice have eaten through the lids and eaten half the dough. This is one time I wish it wasn't so non-toxic :) Ella loves knowing she can go to her drawer and use whatever she wants. I like knowing she's not getting into MY craft supplies.

  3. Thank you so much for all the tips! My daughter will be three going into Jr Kindergarten (December baby) so I am especially concerned and wondering "will she be ready?!" Looking forward to your next Kindergarten prep post!

  4. My husband and I take care of toddlers for younger neighbors here in our co-op housing. I so appreciate your "crafting-supplies equals use-what-we-have attitude". I am encouraged by your glue and scissors ideas.


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