Finding a Quality Preschool

quality preschool

Cloth or disposable, to nurse or use formula, stay at home or daycare…seems like just yesterday you were embarking on those life decisions for your little one.  But just because you’re past picking paint for the nursery doesn’t mean decisions regarding your preschooler are any less exciting!  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe choosing a quality preschool is not only an exciting decision, it’s just as important!

Did you know that by the time a child heads for kindergarten, 85% of who they are, their personality, social-skills, and intellect, have already been developed?  These preschool years are critical for your child’s development.

quality preschool

It’s all about the brain!  As your child immerses in experiences, particularly hands-on, self-initiated learning experiences, highways of neural synapses form.  The more your child engages, the more synaptic connections are made, the more brain development occurs.

So how do you find this quality preschool that will provide synaptic connections for improved brain development, as well as assist your child to develop personality, social skills, and intellect?  That’s a pretty tall order!

What to Look For When Searching for a Quality Preschool-

 Not All Preschools are Created Equal-

There are currently no regulations on what defines a “preschool” in Utah, so there is a wide variety of schools with the preschool label.

Many schools tout having children “kindergarten ready.”  But what does that mean exactly?  Does that include social and personality development?  Did the children learn ABCs and 123s in a way that fostered a love of learning?

As a parent, you need to decide what your preschool standards are.  Here are some ideas of what you can look for:

1- Age-Appropriate Learning Environment-

A learning environment for you may look very different from what a learning environment looks like for a preschooler.  Adults like a desk and quiet place to study.  Preschoolers, however, are all about creating those synaptic connections.  Their learning looks very much like play.

speech and language development, quality preschool

Preschoolers are also just beginning to learn how to hold their bodies still for short periods of time.  Rug time and table times should be limited to 10-20 minutes, depending on the age and activity, and involve some small movement.  And let’s be honest, a lot of adults are the same way.  (Hence the the fidget spinner.)

2- Language Rich-

alphabet learning, quality preschool

There is something to be said for Mother Goose.  A quality preschool is immersed in language.  You will see books and labels, hear story telling, singing, and rhyming.  Children will have opportunities to practice writing their names, letters and numbers, as well as write during their play.  They should also have an abundance of opportunities to express themselves verbally, (some more exuberantly than others), especially during dramatic play.

3- Multisensory Learning-

Quality preschools will abound in multisensory learning activities, or opportunities to learn with multiple senses at once.  Children’s brains are going to expand and remember more effectively as their synapses are in rapid fire.  Multiple learning styles are reached with these activities.

Plus, it’s just fun!

quality preschool

Multisensory learning also encourages children to discover as they feel, taste, smell, hear and see the world around them.  This fosters a love of learning and a desire to pursue knowledge.  Look for water tables, movement activities, play-doh, singing, art, cooking, and basically all things messy.

4- Creativity-

Do you remember when you were a kid and you could play for hours with toys and friends and your brain just imagined things?  Too many of us have lost that ability!  Part of the problem is our culture and schools telling children the “right” way do it.

preschool theme ideas, quality preschool

Look for a preschool that encourages explorative, open-ended art.  Art should be about the process more than the product.  We all like to make choices, and children should feel confident in their choice of color and technique. Children should also have opportunities to express themselves through journaling and dramatic play.

5- Character Development-

quality preschool

Academics are of course important, but look for a quality preschool that also teaches social skills and character development.  Preschools should encourage development of skills in constructive conflict resolution, cooperation, and respect.  What does the school offer to teach your child confidence, problem solving, accountability, responsibility, gratitude and compassion?  You want a school that will reach the “whole child,” and provide guidance in the development of life skills, as well as personality growth.

6- Integrated Learning-

You want to ask about a preschool’s curriculum.  How are language, math and science taught?  How does the school teach reasoning and problem solving?  We recommend you look for integrated learning.

preschool themes, quality preschool

Integrated learning is making connections across multiple disciplines.  You could look at it as the “spoonful of sugar” for learning.  It looks like play, but inside the fun is a scrumptious morsel of delicious knowledge the children wouldn’t enjoy in the form of a worksheet.  UDA Creative Arts Preschool does this through our learning themes.  This article can give you more information on how it works.

7-Assessments-

speech and language development

Without a road map (or GPS in our day and age), how is one to get from point A to point B?  Quality preschools will asses your child to determine point A in order to  create a learning map to navigate them to point B.  Quality teachers will keep parents informed of their child’s growth and development.  No child is the same, so no learning map should be the same.  A quality preschool will work with your child to reach his or her full potential.   As you look at preschools, find out how teachers asses the children’s learning.

8- Safety & Love-

Above all, your child deserves to be in a safe and loving environment.  Is the establishment clean and sanitary?  How are bathroom trips and illness handled?  And in today’s world, it’s important to find out if employees have background checks.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)  lists some great ideas on standard things to look for, including the physical environment and management of a preschool. Check out this link to their article.

quality preschool

Make sure you observe teachers and staff and their interactions with the children, and most importantly, your child.  You want your child to feel welcomed, comfortable, and loved.

What You Can Do to Find a Quality Preschool-

1- Do Your Homework-

Again, you set the standards, so do some reading.  What is available?  What is most important to you?  Here are some articles to consider:

2- Take a Tour-

Once you have an idea of your standards, observe schools in action.  Allow your child to interact with the teachers.  Ask your questions.

3- Listen to Your Heart-

Weigh your pros and cons, but also listen to your parent’s intuition.  As long as you’re not Rapunzel, Mother (and Father) knows best.

We welcome parents to come visit our Draper, Utah campus at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.  As we open registration for the 2018-19 school year, we hold open houses and love to give tours.  Give us a call to schedule yours at (801) 523-5930.  We are confident you will love what you see!

Written By: Elsje Denison

Escape of the Gingerbread Man: The Power of Integrated Learning

Integrated learning

The age-old story of the gingerbread man is one that has been shared across generations.  But did you know that the gingerbread man teaches so much more than the speed of a cookie?  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we put this animated fairytale to work as a theme for our integrated learning curriculum, and we can’t wait to share the results!

Integrated learning is helping children make connections across the disciplines, or topics, for learning.  We cover math, science, culinary arts, engineering, reading, writing, art, music, and even a little drama.  Those preschool minds worked overtime finding clues to locate that notorious disappearing gingerbread man! (Sorry kiddo, I don’t think that bobby pin is a cookie clue.)

Integrated learning

Why is integrated learning important? Integrated learning allows children to learn in a holistic way, without creating boundaries between topics.  This helps them see how all learning is interconnected and provides them with tools to explore and discover.   We’d love to share some of the ways we do this and offer you some ideas for using integrated learning in your home as well!

The Power of Integrated Learning

Integrated Learning is Fun!

Integrated Learning

Call it frosting, call it art, or maybe even call it science and engineering.  Decorating a gingerbread house is more than gluing candy.  Children are learning about weight, gravity, and even balance.

Integrated Learning

And nothing can compare to the feeling of satisfaction that comes from mastering…that big peppermint on the ridge of the roof!  Putting science into action can be fun and tasty!

Teaches Children to Transfer Knowledge to Other Settings

Integrated Learning

For our “Nn” week, we learned about numbers.  We can learn math and numbers as we count and manipulate them in a puzzle.

Integrated Learning

Those numbers become more concrete as we attach them to objects that we can count.

Integrated Learning

Writing our numbers allows us to kinesthetically learn them.

Integrated Learning

And then, we can transfer that knowledge to our gingerbread man as we count how many raisins we use to create him.

Unfortunately, that’s where our trouble begins!  After we worked so hard to make our gingerbread man, Miss Vicky put him in the oven for us.  Why, oh why, didn’t someone watch him?

Integrated Learning

How could that infamous gingerbread man have escaped at our own preschool?  (Poor Miss Vicky may have lost some credibility with the preschoolers.  We all know he wants to escape!  How could she not have kept a closer eye on him? )

Integrated Learning

Fortunately, that tricky gingerbread man left us a paper trail of clues.  Time for some numerical application!  The children were able to transfer their knowledge of math as they sequenced the numbered clues to find…

Integrated Learning

…the little gingerbread men left behind.  Our big gingerbread man may have escaped, but at least he left some of his friends for us to consume.  Phew, Miss Vicky’s reputation is saved!

More Connections = Higher Level Learning

Integrated learning

Making gingerbread houses, cookies, and paint projects are fun, but they are also creating connections.  So many of our connections stem from language and literature!

Integrated Learning

We were able to read several versions of the gingerbread man story.  Each time the children heard it, they were able to repeat the lines spoken by the gingerbread man.

Run, run, as fast as you can.  You can’t catch me!  I’m the gingerbread man.

Repetition improves brain development, increases vocabulary, and reinforces memory and sequencing skills. Reading the same story to your preschooler over, and over, and over again may get old, but you are actually enhancing your child’s language development.

As we examine different versions of the gingerbread man story, the children are also able to make predictions, compare and contrast endings, and discuss emotions involved with the various conclusions of each story.  This enables them to create connections to their personal experiences.

Creating Positive Attitudes for Learning

integrated learning

When integrated learning is practiced, children enjoy the learning process and positive attitudes are developed.

integrated learning

Throughout our gingerbread unit, children applied their creativity in the discovery room and through their art projects, while making connections to the stories we read.  (You can connect at home with this pumpkin spice play dough recipe.)

integrated learning

When learning, be it math, science, or language, is fun, children can’t help but want to be a part of it.  It is stimulating and interesting.  Their brains are developing the way they were meant to.   Children develop a positive attitude that shapes their learning for the rest of their lives.

Integrated Learning At Home

If you’d like to implement integrated learning with your preschooler.  Here are a few suggestions to get you starated:

  • Pick a topic. (Ants)
  • Make a word web.  This website has other great templates.
  • Fill in the web with questions.
    • Where do ants live?
    • What do ants eat?
    • What are the different kinds of ants?
    • How do ants survive?
  • As you begin to explore the topics, you will find other learning disciplines emerge.  Help your preschooler make the connections.
    • Math- How many ant species are there?  How many ants in a colony?  How many worker ants?
    • Science- How do they make their homes?  What factors effect the type of home they live in?
    • Art- Your child can diagram or create ants and ant homes.
    • Language- What do species and colony mean? How do I find a book about ants at the library?  Read nonfiction books about ants.  Find fun fiction books about ants.

The exciting part of integrated learning is that one topic leads to another.  Ants can lead to insects.  Insects spark questions on habitats.  Habitats can begin a study on eco-systems.  Learning is adventurous and develops curiosity!

We thoroughly enjoy applying integrated learning at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.  If you would like to see what our theme of the week is, we encourage you to come in for a tour at our Draper, Utah facility by calling (801) 523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison

Santa’s Workshop: Our Top Picks for Books that Keep Giving

giving books

Our elves at UDA Creative Arts Preschool are busy getting ready for Christmas.  We are excited for the holidays and all the joy that comes with it.  We want to share with you the going-on’s around Santa’s workshop, as well our favorite giving books, for we believe the joy of the season is found in the presents we give away.

Santa’s Workshop

giving books

We’re working so hard on our program!  We can’t wait to share it with you.  Performing not only gives us the opportunity to share what we’ve been learning in our movement and music class, it helps us build confidence and courage!

giving books

It may not be snowing much around town, but we let it snow, let it snow, let it snow around the discovery room!  Adding props to our imaginative dramatic play encourages our play-based learning.

giving books

The snow works great for stuffing Santa too!  We love to see cooperation and team work as our friends help friends.

giving books

We’re making ornaments  for our “Oo” week and trimming the tree.

giving books

Our elves are working hard making toys,

giving books

and wrapping presents.  Cutting with scissors gives them great practice using their “pincher” grip, as well as developing fine motor skills.  Children love role playing what they see their parents and caregivers do.  It helps them develop life skills. 

giving books

And our team of reindeer…

giving books

…are the cutest in town.  Look out Rudolph, with these glowing noses, you just may be out of a job this Christmas Eve.

As you can see, our workshop has been hustling and bustling! We’re all ready for the holidays.  How about you?!

Giving Books

The holiday season offers wonderful literature experiences.  Your local library is a great place to start, but we’d like to share a few of our own favorites.  These giving books keep on giving as they provide occasion for discussion and application.  While reading them with your preschooler, ask about how the story makes them feel and how they can give too.

giving books

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, by Robert Barry

This delightful story is about a Christmas tree that is just a little too tall.  Each time the top is chopped, it finds a new home as someone else’s tree.  How can you help someone by sharing what you don’t need anymore?

giving books

The Christmas Train, by Thomas S. Monson, illustrated by Dan Burr

This beautifully illustrated story is about a young boy during the Great Depression who finds joy in not only giving a gift, but sacrificing something of his own.  How does giving something that you love help you feel more joy?

giving books

Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood

This fun and colorful book shares the experience of our friend Little Mouse as he transforms his heart from hiding his gifts to sharing them with someone who may seem a little scary.  Who are people we overlook at Christmas time?

All of us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool wish you a happy holiday season.  We welcome visitors at Santa’s Workshop or whatever learning adventures we are engaging in.  Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to schedule a tour at our Draper, Utah campus today!

Written by: Elsje Denison

4 Ways to Teach Gratitude & The Joy of Giving

teaching gratitude

Often our holiday season is filled and busy, more busy, and very, very busy: parties, donations and charities, food prep, and finding the perfect gifts for family and friends.  At the heart of checking off the lists, we know what the season is suppose to be about.  But in all the craziness, what do our children see?

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe that the best part of Christmas time, and all of the holidays, are the presents we give away.  We feel the greatest joy comes to children as we teach gratitude and the joy of giving.

teaching gratitude

A song we like to teach our preschoolers, called “The Very Best Part of Christmas Time,” composed by Janeen Brady, starts like this:

The very best part of Christmas time, the very best part I know, it’s not the tree, it’s not the treats, it’s not the lights that glow. The very best part of Christmas time, I’ll tell you any day.  The very best, happiest, part I know are the presents you give away.

From what we’ve observed, children, by nature, have giving hearts.  But we know what it’s like to hear the “I wants” every time you walk through the store.  It’s easy for children to get “wrapped up” in the gifts.   However, the holidays are the perfect opportunity for children to learn how to give, how giving feels, and how to be grateful.

Here are four simple ways to help you teach gratitude and the joy of giving to your preschooler.

4 Ways to Teach Gratitude & The Joy of Giving

1- Ask What They are Going to Give

teaching gratitude

It’s so easy to ask, because we were all asked the same question: “What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?”.  And as fun (or scary) as it is to climb onto the big man’s bright red lap and relay to him the wish list, try to shift the focus to what your child is going to give for Christmas.  Gifts from young children don’t even need to cost money.  The best gifts they can give come from their hearts and artistic hands.

Instead of making a wish list, help them make a give list.  As they make a list of the people they love, help them think of acts of service they can do for those people.

2- Identify the Joy of Giving

Preschoolers are still identifying emotions that they feel.  You can help them identify that warm glowing feeling they get when they give something by naming it joy.  As they create or pick out gifts for family and friends, help them feel excited as they anticipate how the person will feel as they open the gift.

teaching gratitude

As parents, we can also model gratitude in daily conversation.  “Someone helped me put my cart away while I loaded the kids in the car today.  That made me feel so grateful.” Or, “Someone dropped these cookies off on our front steps.  How does that make you feel?”. Try spending a few minutes every dinner or tuck-in time discussing things you are grateful for that day.

teaching gratitude

And, as always, reading a book is a natural way to start up a conversation on the topic.  Here are a few links to book lists on gratitude you can check out:

When children can identify the happiness that comes from receiving, they can better identify the joy that comes from giving someone happiness.

3- Share What They Have

teaching gratitude

Sometimes it’s hard to provide our children with the opportunity to see those less fortunate than themselves.  As a parent, you need to be the judge of what is appropriate for them to see.  But for a child, seeing someone who has less than herself can be a game-changer for giving.

“In with the new and out with the old” can bless the lives of others.  As they receive new toys for the holidays, help them pick old ones they can donate.  Talk about where it is going.  If they’ve seen other children who have less, they will have a better idea of who will be playing with their toys, which can bring them joy.

teaching gratitude

During the holiday season, opportunities to give are all around us.   For example, you can find a Sub 4 Santa or Giving Tree.  Have your child help you do the shopping and wrapping.  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we do Project Sleep Tight in the winter.  Children will be able to donate a blanket, book, and stuffed animal for a child who is displaced from their home.

4- Thank You!

teaching gratitude

Having a gratitude attitude begins with saying “Thank you”.  As your child opens presents this season, help them remember those polite little words.  Some families choose to open presents one at a time so the giver and the receiver can enjoy the moment and thank you’s (and great big hugs) can be given.

teaching gratitude

You can also have your child write or draw thank you notes for the gifts they’ve received.   Even if they dictate, verbalizing their gratitude helps them recognize what they are given and how it makes them feel.

In November, we teach gratitude as our monthly character trait.  We hope you can also help them identify gratitude through the holiday season.  There is nothing that brings us more joy than seeing our preschoolers find the joy of sharing and giving.  Come see the joy we are having at UDA Creative Arts Preschool by scheduling a tour of our Draper, Utah facility by calling 801-523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool- November!

If you thought the kitchen was busy for Thanksgiving, you should see what our little chefs have been up to this month!  Besides baking up a storm, our November preschool themes develop skills in all aspects of the whole child.  That’s because at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe all our learning should be fun.  So it is!

Jets and Journey- Jj

preschool themes

In our movement class, we took turns being the “Stop” and “Go” sign.  The children used their large motor skills to push their cars (scooters) around, as well as practice inhibitory control when it’s time to stop…but their inner Lightning McQueen is saying, “I am speed”!

preschool themes

Our vehicles helped us learn our letters and numbers.  Children matched the number of car with the number on the garage.  Our cars also drove the roads on their letter sheets…or was that streets?

preschool theme

We took on roles of pilots and other community helpers that use so many special types of transportation.  Role playing provides our preschoolers with opportunities to develop language skills, as well as characteristics like kindness and empathy.

preschool themes

We put our engineering skills to work as we used tinker toys to build wheels for our ramps.  The children learned problem solving skills as they worked together to make vehicles that could go down the ramps.  They also discovered laws of physics as they compared the speeds of different inclines.

preschool themes

 

Kitchen- Kk

preschool theme

Our homemade lip paint (lipgloss) was a fun language arts activity.  Whoever said lipgloss had to be pink?  Whoever said it had to stay on your lips?  These kissing cuties had a fun time decorating the letter “K”…

preschool theme

…and themselves!

preschool theme

Did you know apple cider changes color?  We put science to work as we discovered that when you first make apple cider it’s an off white color, but the juice color changes as it’s in the air, just like an apple turns brown.  We also made some delicious apple sauce after we all took turns peeling the apples.

preschool theme

We continued our multisensory learning as we each made our own fruit salad.  Cutting up fruit helped our preschoolers develop small motor skills and confidence as they learn real life skills.

preschool theme

The results?

preschool theme

Most satisfying!

Preschool Bakery

preschool theme

The discovery room bakery was busy. Chocolate, vanilla, and spice-scented play dough inspired the creation of cupcakes, cookies, cakes–with sprinkles of course!  In the process of manipulating the dough, children are developing stronger hand muscles and coordination that will help them with scissors and writing.

preschool theme

Preschool Pizzaria!

preschool theme

If you think our baking skills are impressive, you should check out our pizzeria!  With the kind of helping hands we have going here, we could start our own business!

preschool theme

preschool theme

The children loved adding the toppings to their personal pizzas and we loved seeing so many healthy food choices, like peppers and onions.  One of our preschoolers even exclaimed, “This is the best pizza I’ve ever had!”  Look out Papa Murphy’s!  You have some competition.

preschool theme

preschool theme

Leaves-Ll

Preschool theme

Even though our Ll week was short, we spent some time discussing our character trait, gratitude.  We are so grateful for the beautiful fall leaves and nature outside that we enjoy.

Thanksgiving Feast

preschool theme

Our Thanksgiving feast was attended by Pilgrims and Native Americans alike.  We offered the children the choice of dressing as a Pilgrim or a Native American.  After hearing the Thanksgiving Feast story, many of the children chose to be Native Americans because they were so friendly to the Pilgrims.

preschool theme

But we think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone who partook enjoyed the feast!

preschool theme

preschool theme

Plus, it was a wonderful opportunity for us to practice our manners for our “Mm” week.

preschool theme

preschool theme

Continue Learning-

preschool theme

As we focus on whole child learning, we try to integrate different styles and types of learning in all our activities.  We also focus on having our preschoolers kindergarten ready.  You can help your child by encouraging them to practice with writing tools and scissors.

preschool theme

And of course, a life time of learning begins with a passion for learning.  By surrounding your child with books, and taking time to read to him, you will foster that passion.

preschool theme

Our preschool themes for November were both delicious and educational.  Feel free to stop by and see what learning adventures we have going on today by calling (801) 523-5930 for a free tour of our Draper, Utah UDA Creative Arts Preschool facility.

Written by: Elsje Denison

 

8 Ways to Lose the Flashcards: Make Alphabet Learning Fun!

alphabet learning

We’ve all been singing the ABC song for longer than we can remember.  Thanks to Mozart  and Charles Bradlee, we have a fabulous tune for all our language learners.  But the Alphabet song is just the beginning of making those letters into useful language.  At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we believe Charles had the right idea.  Let’s lose the flashcards and make learning the alphabet fun!

Making It Fun and Keeping It Real

alphabet learning

Learning the alphabet and the alphabet sounds is a process over a few years, not an event from a few lessons.  We believe that in order for those sounds to really sink in, we need to reach the whole child.  So no stress Mom and Dad!  No “language lesson” needed.  Here are some fun ways you can make alphabet learning a part of your every day life.  Fun for you!  Fun for them!

1- Integrated Learning

First, we asked some of our UDA Creative Arts Preschool teachers what advice they have for pre-readers, and what we can do as parents to help children recognize letters and their sounds.

Melissa Giraldi, our three-year-old teacher, recommends encouraging your preschooler to notice the letters all around them.  You’ll be surprised how quickly your daily life becomes a lesson in language!  Keep them interested by just adding your alphabet conversation to the things you are already doing.

alphabet learning

For example, while giving a bath, you could discuss the letter “W.”  Draw it with soap on the shower wall, or by make it with your thumbs and pointer fingers.  Then you can make the “w” sound in “water,” “wash,” “washcloth,” or a toy “whale.”  You can also find some fun, inexpensive alphabet bath toys.  Spell words in the tub!

2- Sign Search

Amber Blackburn, one of our four-year-old teachers, suggests watching for letters while you’re driving.  For older children, you can play the alphabet game, searching for the letters in alphabetical order.  You can even make it a habit and do it while driving to and from preschool!

Younger children can simply identify the letters on the signs they see and then discuss their sound.

alphabet learning

Stop sign!  “S”!  What sound does “S” make?

3- Shopping Hunt

alphabet learning

The grocery store is a place Miss Melissa suggests to find lots of letter discussion.  Encourage your child to look at the letters on the packaging.  When you are looking at a jar of peanut butter, encourage them to find the “P”.  Then make the “P” sound together as you say “peanut butter.”  Easy Peasy!

Besides packaging, you can find letters on the item descriptions on the shelves, on the aisle signs, and at the cash register.  When they are getting a grasp on sound/letter connections, you can say things like: “There are the oranges.  What letter does ‘O’range start with?”

4- Snack Time

While we’re on the subject of food, who doesn’t love alphabet food?  Of course you have your traditional alphabet soup, but now there are a plethora of crackers and other snacks with alphabet shapes.   Miss Amber recommends pointing out the letters to them as they eat them.

alphabet learning

Miss Melissa suggests using celery, carrot, or pretzel sticks to make an “I,” “T,” “H,” “L,” etc.  You can even use smaller pieces in the middle for an “A” or “R.”   Or, just notice the random letters like an “O” shaped Cheerio.

Whatever it is, don’t drill it into them, just make it into a game and have fun with it!

5- Get a Little Messy

alphabet learning

We all know it’s the extraordinary that we remember.  You can make learning the alphabet stick (and sticky) by creating different experiences.  Amber says, if you’re not afraid of getting a little messy, let your preschooler write letters in her pudding.  We happen to know from experience that shaving cream is also the perfect medium for writing letters and also makes your preschooler smell nice and musky.

6- Make Name Connections

alphabet learning

Making connections is an essential part of memory.  You can help your preschooler make connections by helping them to recognize what is the same and what is different between two things being compared.

Children love making connections to their name, or the names of people they know.  As you point out letters, Miss Melissa advises to help them recognize whose name that letter connects to.   You’ll begin to hear phrases like, “Mom!  That’s your letter!”   Connection made.

7- Read! Read! Read!

alphabet learning

There is no better way to see those alphabet letters in action than in a book.  As your bookworm develops a love for books, your child will develop a love for language.

Get silly!  Miss Melissa suggests turning the book upside down and see what your child does.  Help your child understand the mechanics of a book as you joke around with turning the pages the wrong way.  Once in a while, track the lines with your finger.  Your child will begin to understand the mechanics of a book.

8- Follow Their Lead

Again, we recommend incorporating learning the alphabet into daily activities.  So what does your child love?  Miss Amber advises following their lead on what interests them.

alphabet learning

If your child loves trucks, find an alphabet book about trucks.  If your child enjoys insects, connect letters to bugs.  Encourage your dancer to make letters with her body.  And if your child likes food…well, who doesn’t like food?  As suggested before, use snack and meal time to your alphabet learning advantage!

For learning the alphabet on a computer, we like Starfall.com.  This is a great website for preschool-aged children to practice learning math and early reading skills.

If you’d like to come see how Melissa and Amber integrate alphabet learning into the classroom, or if you’d like a tour of our Utah facility, we’d love to have you visit us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool!  Just call (801) 523-5930.

4 Fun Math Activities for Early Math Skills

early math skills

Research shows that children who have exposure to mathematical experiences early on demonstrate a higher confidence in their ability to do math.  Furthermore, these children are more likely to demonstrate characteristics, like curiosity and creativity, imaginativeness and inventiveness, persistence and flexibility.  That’s why at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we integrate math throughout our curriculum to provide plenty of experience for the development of early math skills.   

But if you’re one of those people who drudged your way through those high school math classes, never fear!  Your child’s early exposure to math doesn’t have to be structured or curricular.  In fact, teaching young children math skills is much easier than you think!  Even those of us who hate math, enjoy math.  Here’s what we mean: 

Math is Play!

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends that rather than rote memorization of facts or doing worksheets, children will have a better understanding of math if they have open-ended play exploration.  

early math skills

For example, the numbers become much more concrete when we’re adding legs and eyes to a bug, or body sections to our caterpillar, rather than 1+1 on a piece of paper.  

Make Connections-

Although math at an early age should be play, children still need to be guided to see the connections.  You can help your preschooler expand their thinking by taking their play a step further to see the mathematical relationships. 

early math skills

These kiddos are having a great time on the teeter-totter, but we can take this play a step further by asking who is heavier?  Who is up and who is down?  What happens if we fit two children on one side?  They are learning to measure weight.

Who knew parent = math teacher?  But like we said, it’s much easier than you think.  Here are four fun ways you can incorporate a little more math in your preschooler’s life:

1 – Games

early math skills

Games are a wonderful way to apply early math skills!  Whether your child is counting how many squares they need to move, or adding the dots on the dice, it doesn’t take a sleuth to see their little brain at work.  Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Yahtzee – Awesome for numbers and operations.  Guide them as they group the dice together and add them together.
  • Board games like Sorry!, Chutes and Ladders, and Candy Land – Great to help children count squares both forward and backward, working on adding and subtracting.
  • Card games like Go Fish! – Help with grouping.
  • Tenzi – You can start out following the rules, but how much more fun to make up your own!  The sky is the limit with the creativity you can do with this dice game.
  • Blokus – Younger preschool children may not understand the blocking concept, but they love to play with the shapes.

2 – Shapes

Early math skills

Playing with shapes develops your preschooler’s understanding of geometry and patterning.

early math skills

Of course, there are lots of wonderful resources out there, like puzzles and magnets, but you don’t need to wait for your Holiday bonus to provide shapes for learning.  Children can stack blocks in a linear row.

early math skills

They can stack them up and down as they develop spacial recognition.  Using Play-Doh or construction paper, you can create shapes and then encourage your child to make patterns by color or shape.

  • This tangram website provides a template to create your own tangram and gives you patterns for your child to recreate.
  • Origami is another fun way you can guide your child through spacial recognition together.  Check out this origami website for some fun beginner patterns.

3 – Measurements

Everything around us is measured: the weight of our breakfast cereal, our time, the length of our haircut.  Children begin to see these measurements and numbers all around them and you can begin having daily conversations about what all these measurements mean.

early math skills

But not everything needs to be measured by the “standard”.  How many pumpkins high are you?  Can you count how many sidewalk squares to the park?  How many Legos tall is this pencil?

early math skills

And, of course, cooking is a wonderful way to incorporate measurements in your day to day conversations.  Have your kitchen helper count how many cups of flour and measure out a tsp of vanilla.  Or use the scale at the store to measure the weight of your produce.

  • Show your preschooler how to use a sewing measuring tape.  Let them measure things around the house. (Sewing measuring tapes have a softer edge than the construction ones and will prevent cuts.)
  • Let them use a stop watch to time how fast they can get ready for bed, put their shoes on, make their bed, etc.

4 – Money

early math skills

The reality is that most of us live in a world of little plastic cards and internet purchases.  But kids still need to understand what money is and how to use it.  You can give your child an early start on these math skills by giving them coins (if they’re past choking hazard age) and money to play with.

  • Let them use coins to make small purchases at the store.  Even better, let them earn the coins first, and then let them use them to make a purchase.
  • Create your own monetary system at home.  Use it to reward good behavior and then let your child learn how to budget their money, be it puff balls or monopoly cash, to purchase rewards you have available to them.

early math skills

When it comes to math, you don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket of curriculum.  Just incorporate it in the things you are already doing by helping your preschooler make the connections and encourage the development of early math skills.

Whether in music, dramatic play, or even marching through the hallways, we do our best to integrate mathematical learning in all our curriculum.  By developing a love of math at a young age, we know our preschoolers at UDA Creative Arts Preschool will leave us having the confidence they need to tackle math and other problem solving skills they will encounter.  Come see us at work by scheduling a tour (801) 523-5930.

 

Written by: Elsje Denison

 

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool- Halloween!

preschool theme ideas

Bringing art to life is one of the things we do best at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.  Making art fun is something we do even better!  Our preschool theme, “H is for Halloween”, lent itself great to our continued study of Van Gogh.

Dream Big!

preschool theme ideas

As we considered his painting, Starry Night, we discussed how Van Gogh was inspired by the stars.  Then, the children shared what inspires them.  We concluded that Starry Night might be considered a little spooky, but would make a perfect backdrop for our Halloween Performance.

Our three and four-year-old artists went to work creating their own version!

preschool theme ideas

preschool theme ideas

Giving children different tools for art encourages creativity and ingenuity.  And who doesn’t want to jump in and start smearing paint on a mural?  However,  if your mop goes missing at home, we recommend you do a quick inventory of your paint.

H is for Halloween

preschool theme ideas

In the end, our finished product created a spooky backdrop for our Halloween program.  We are grateful for all the wonderful parent and family support received from all who attended!  We were excited to share the music and movement we’ve been learning, as well as our displayed art.

preschool theme ideas

preschool theme ideas

Magic Pumpkin Patch

preschool theme ideas

Each child planted a glitter enhanced pumpkin seed on our playground, and surprise!  Over night they grew into our magic pumpkin patch.  Then, our preschoolers picked out their own pumpkin to bring home.  In addition to being fun, we love pretend play because it fosters social, emotional and cognitive development.

Busy Bakers

preschool theme ideas

Look out Better Crocker, we have some new chefs in the house!  Our kiddos went crazy over this pumpkin spice play-dough.  This multisensory dough filled the whole discovery room with the aroma of pumpkin spice as our inspired culinary artists spent the hour “baking” cookies, muffins, pies, and cupcakes.

preschool theme ideas

preschool theme ideas

Try This at Home-

Good news!  This fabulous recipe is too good to keep to ourselves!  We hope you will have just as much fun as your sous chef as he goes to town in the kitchen, filling your home with the smells of the holidays.

Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of oil 
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
  • OR skip the separate spices and 4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar

 Add first four ingredients to a large pot and heat on the stove {stirring regularly} until just bubbling.  Remove from heat and add in dry ingredients.  Stir until combined and dump mixture out on the counter.  Allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes.  Knead dough until soft and fully cooled (it may feel sticky in the beginning, but resist the urge to add flour – the stickiness vanished completely  once the dough is no longer warm).  Store in an airtight bag or container in the fridge when not in use.

Sunny Day, Sweepin’ the Clouds Away-

preschool theme ideas

Halloween is such a fun time for us, as we see all the fun costumes our preschoolers dress in, and as we are able to share what they’ve been learning in our program.   While we’re at it, the inner child in each of us couldn’t help dressing up ourselves!

Our staff at UDA Creative Arts Preschool hope you know how much our preschoolers sweep our clouds away.  As we give our very best to create a whole child learning experience, we, in return, receive a ray of sunshine with each of their smiling faces everyday.

If you haven’t already received a tour of our preschool facility, we invite you to come visit us by calling (801) 523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool– Farms and Gardens

preschool theme ideas

The last couple weeks at UDA Creative Arts Preschool we’ve been learning all about our F is for Farm theme and G is for Garden theme.  In Utah, crisp fall weather brings with it leaves, pumpkins, seeds, and farm animals to explore!  We have loved providing so many interactive learning opportunities for our preschoolers.

Applied Learning

It is so exciting for us to see our learning in the classroom coming to life for our preschool friends!

preschool theme ideas

In our movement class, the children used their large motor skills as the leaves fell from the trees to the ground.  We observed the colors and shapes of leaves as they change in the fall.

preschool theme ideas

Then, how exciting it is for us to see the applied mulitsensory learning as the children discover gravity at work as the leaves dropped off our very own preschool trees!  The falling bright colors came to life on our playground.

preschool theme ideas

Farm Country

preschool theme ideas

Milking our cow “mooved” us to a new understanding of milk production.  This activity not only helped us learn where milk comes from, it also strengthened small motor skills and allowed us to practice turn-taking, an important life skill.

theme learning ideas

We followed up our milking activity using milk to make cream and butter.   All our children had a turn shaking it up!

theme preschool activity

preschool theme ideas

But it may be unanimous that the best part was tasting it!  What a fun way for us to put scientific learning into action! We not only learned where the milk comes from, but watched the chemical change from milk to cream to butter.

preschool theme ideas

Also, for our F is for Farm theme, we had some farmyard visitors!

preschool theme ideas

preschool theme ideas

Having chickens come visit our preschool inspired our play-based learning, solidifying the concepts we discussed as we examined our new clucking friends and other farm animals.

Growing Gardeners

preschool theme ideas

For our G is for Garden theme, at our science table we were able to see how a pumpkin grows on the vine, what it looks like inside, what its seeds are like, as well as some other grain and the soil that helps them grow.

Our little soil lovers also experimented with what happens when you add water to soil.  You can ask any preschooler, it doesn’t get much more fun than mud!  We also planted seeds and discussed the importance of soil in growing seeds.

Finding Our Courage

preschool theme ideas

preschool theme learning

I spy a butterfly has become a favorite pastime at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. We’ve not only learned about the process of caterpillar turning into a butterfly, we’ve observed butterflies, moved like butterflies,  we created artistic butterflies, we’ve even sung about butterflies.

preschool theme ideas

We felt different emotions as we said goodbye to our butterflies. We were sad it was time to say goodbye, but we felt happy they could be free.

preschool theme ideas

One of our butterflies didn’t want to leave Ms. Sherene’s hand.  We thought maybe it was nervous!  Then, one of those heart touching moments of teaching, the children helped the butterfly find it’s courage as they yelled, “It will be okay!”, “Try your best!”, and,  “You can do it!”.  Then the butterfly found its courage and was on its way!

preschool theme ideas

Courage comes in all forms!  Role play can often help children overcome fears they may have as they imagine and act them out in their minds.

preschool theme ideas

And sometimes we need to find our courage to solve problems.  Ask your child what they’ve been learning about courage!  Help them see how they are using their courage to be a problem solver at home.

Sunflower Art

preschool theme ideas

While we were discussing F is for Farm, as well as gardens and seeds, we also learned F is for Flower.  In art we did a Vincent Van Gogh unit and discussed his sunflower paintings.  The children studied sunflowers, their color and textures, and applied their learning and observations to create sunflower paintings.

preschool theme ideas

preschool theme ideas

preschool theme ideas

TRY THIS AT HOME:  As with all our art activities, our focus is more on process over product.  Allow your child the same opportunity at home to find flowers or garden food and examine their shapes and colors.  Then let them use an art medium to recreate them.  Remember, there is no “right” way for art to look.  Let them explore the possibilities.  Here are a few ideas for art mediums:

  • Seeds, lentils, or beans with glue.
  • Chalk or pastels.
  • Peel the paper off, and use the sides of old broken crayons.
  • Fallen leaves and glue could make a fun bright colored pumpkin.
  • Pieces of tissue paper.

Fun Friends

preschool theme ideas

The school year is well underway, and at UDA Creative Arts Preschool we are having so much fun as we use our theme weeks to teach the whole child.  The children are not only learning, but building character and friendships. We invite you to come visit us!  You can take a tour by calling, (801) 523-5930.

Teaching Children to Become Problem Solvers

problem solve

Here at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we feel it is paramount to teach our preschoolers how to be problem solvers.  After all, isn’t life abounding in problems to be solved?  And when it is time for us to send them on their way, we want them to have the skills they need to confidently tackle the issues they face.  Here are some of our thoughts on how to help children solve problems, and some ideas you can try at home as well.

Problems Come In All Shapes and Sizes

Every day of life contains a series of “problems” to be solved.  We are constantly finding solutions for lost keys, stacks of mail, an empty milk carton, a sick child, a low gas tank, a low checking account, an upset employer, traffic…the heart rate goes up just thinking about it!

Our adult problems can feel overwhelming at times.  Although our preschooler’s problems may look simple and obvious to us, it’s important for us to recognize that their problems may feel just as overwhelming to them.

solve problems

But not all problems are stressful.  Learning a new skill, creating something new, and facing new challenges also present the opportunity to solve problems.  For a preschooler, the process of learning how to come up with a solution, like building this fence for the barn animals, is challenging and, most often, fun!

Teach Them How to Express Their Feelings

solve problems

Feelings are one of those things preschoolers are learning how to manage.  Let’s be honest –  aren’t we all?  But there are healthy and unhealthy ways to express feelings.

We can start by modeling healthy expression of feelings as caregivers.  Then, another tool to help you teach your preschooler are “I statements.”  Using “I statements” not only helps your child identify what they are feeling, it is a healthy way to communicate those feelings to others.

Here are some examples:

  • I feel angry when…
  • I feel sad when…
  • I think a good solution would be…

Using “I statements” avoids pointing blame on others and acknowledges that what we are saying is our own thoughts and opinions and not fact. Although, you may want to be prepared for a preschooler to argue their thoughts are, indeed, fact!

Ask the Right Questions

Questions are a fabulous tool for coming to solutions!  We can ask questions to help solve problems of discovery, as well as leading the thought process through a social disagreement or hurt feelings.

solve problems

  • What will happen if? A great question for discovery!  While playing, have children try different variables.  What happens if I stack this here?  What happens if we add this water to the sand?  What happens if we drop this leaf and feather at the same time?
  • Is there another way you can do it?  Especially three-year-olds can get fixated on one right solution.  By asking your child if there is another way, he or she can step back and brainstorm the possibilities.
  • How did that make you feel?  Whenever we have a social conflict arise at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, the first thing we ask is how the situation made the child feel.  Identifying their feelings helps them recognize their emotions and identify the desire to avoid this same situation in the future.
  • How do you think they feel? What a wonderful opportunity for children to learn how to empathize and have compassion!
  • How can we make this a win-win situation?  Learning how to compromise is necessary for healthy relationships in life.  Some ideas for making compromises are turn-taking, sharing, and “let’s make a deal”.

Their Solution May Look Different Than Yours

solve problems

So, your child decided the colander was a better helmet than the one in the dress-ups.  No biggie!  Usually your solution to a problem is going to look different than your child’s.  Just like math, there is more than one way to find the solution.

There may be times when the sandals for sledding are just not going to cut it; however, in order to build confidence in problem solving, make sure you allow your child to use their solution as often as possible.  If they do march out in the sandals, present the problem of being cold and see if they can come up with a new solution.

Remember, this is a process.  Your two-year-old will probably not be able to work as a team to create a “turn rotation,” while your four-year-old posse may have it all drawn out on paper for you.

Use Literature to Model

solve problem

What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom is a darling book about tackling our problems.  We highly recommend this book as a tool to discuss how to deal with problems, and how they can be a positive thing in our lives.

Literature is a great way to discuss problem solving with your child.  Most books have some kind of a dilemma.  Ask your children, (You guessed it!), more questions.

  • What is the character’s problem?
  • How do you think that character feels?  
  • How do you think they are going to solve the problem?  
  • What would you do?

It thrills us to watch our sweet preschoolers leave our four-year-old program not coming to teachers to solve their problems, but hearing them say things like, “I know!  Let’s make this a win-win situation!”  Children are very capable to solve problems when given the opportunity to practice.  Come see how we are making problem solving a daily skill at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.  You can schedule a tour by calling (801) 523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison