The Importance of Storytelling for Preschoolers — It’s Not Just for Fun

the importance of storytelling for preschoolers

We all know the importance of reading to our children, but the act of storytelling is just as important. And while it can involve books, storytelling doesn’t have to come from words on a page. Learn about the importance of storytelling for preschoolers — and how you can incorporate it into your daily life.

The Importance of Storytelling for Preschoolers

A good story keeps kids (and adults!) engaged. Just think about how your favorite movie keeps you glued to your seat, even when you have 100 other things to do. When it comes to oral stories, all cultures have their own stories they tell again and again until they become a part of the culture. Think of the metaphors, phrases, and lessons we attribute to stories like Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs, The Grasshopper and the Ant, and so on. Stories help children and adults alike learn lessons, relate to others, and so much more.

Stories Introduce New Vocabulary

When you tell the story of Cinderella, you introduce words like “cinder” and “ashes.” You use the word “ball” to describe a formal dance. Exposing your child to new words wrapped up in a story makes it easier for your child to understand and remember new vocabulary.

Stories Develop Imagination and Curiosity

When your child listens to a story, she imagines what you’re describing. She may even begin to imagine next steps. She’ll have questions about why different characters made the choices they did. And when she steps away from the story, she’ll keep thinking about it. Aspects of the story will change and grow, and they’ll show up in her pretend play, conversations, and more.

Stories Build Listening Skills

Babies and small children are soaking up and absorbing everything around them. When you tell stories to children, they absorb language and their listening skills grow stronger. And because stories are so fun, listening isn’t as difficult as it could be in other situations. And this helps children learn to listen more closely in other situations as well.

Stories Build Connection

There’s the storyteller, and there’s the listener. The very act of storytelling brings people together to share a common experience. The interaction between speaker and listener is interactive. Not only that, but when you tell stories, you share emotions and experiences. And stories about a child’s cultural heritage will help him feel more grounded and connected to the important people in his life.

How to Incorporate Storytelling into Your Family’s Life

With Netflix, movies, podcasts, and more, the art of storytelling is increasingly something that is done for us, rather than by us. If you aren’t a natural storyteller, it will take a little bit of conscious thought to incorporate more storytelling into your family’s life. Use these tips to help.

  • Read! The more stories you read, the easier it will be to share stories.
  • Treat your life as a story. Everything you do is interesting (even if you don’t think it is!). Tell your children stories about when you were their age. Turn your grocery trip into a story: that person who cut ahead of you in line was rude, and you felt upset — that’s a story! Train yourself to see the story in your daily lives.
  • Ask your family members for stories about their lives, and retell those stories to your children.
  • Start a story at the dinner table, and “pass” it from person to person until you have a whole new story!
  • Look at old family photos and tell the stories of what was happening.
  • Learn a traditional story together. Tell it during bath time or while driving in the car. Ask your child to tell it to you. (The Three Little Pigs is a great one to start with because the repetition is easy to remember.)
  • Take turns telling a traditional story, but change up some of the elements, like character, setting, or even the ending.
  • Act out family stories or traditional stories.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, stories feature heavily in our curriculum because we understand their power to connect, teach, and strengthen children. To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

44 Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer

We’re halfway through summer, and keeping kiddos busy, enriched, and entertained is starting to feel like a chore. Some of us used up all of our creativity in the first two weeks of summer!

Not to fear. Browse this list, and find something new to do this week — and the next… and the next.

1. Go on an outdoor treasure hunt. Find something enticing to hide, stash it in a place you won’t forget, and draw a basic map to get to the treasure. Bonus: This helps with reading (even if you only use shapes in your map, you’re helping your child practice pre-reading skills), following directions, and patience!

2. Make ice cream sandwiches. Sure, you can buy ice cream sandwiches (and that’s a fun treat and activity too!), but making your own is a fun, novel activity.

Buy or make soft cookies. Scoop a spoonful of ice cream onto the flat side of one cookie (if you make your own cookies, make sure you wait for them to cool). Place the flat side of another cookie onto the ice cream, and press the sandwich together. Wrap it in tin foil and stash in the freezer. Now you have a delicious, cold treat to grab when it’s hot — and your child can take pride in having helped to make it!

3. Eat ice cream for dinner. Trust us — your kids will remember this experience forever. (Just don’t make it a habit!)

4. Make your own ice pops with juice or blended fruit.

5. Make a fort. Indoors or outdoors, a fort is a perfect place to spend the afternoon. Drape a sheet over a few chairs or over a low-hanging tree branch, and enjoy playing, reading, listening to music, and more inside!

6. Go to a farmers market. Give your child a few dollars to spend, and let her pick out a new or familiar fruit or veggie for dinner..

7. Pick berries. Picking your own berries is a great sensory experience for a preschooler. The colors, the tastes, the scents, the feel… it can be a delight to gather delicious berries on your own. It’s definitely different from selecting a basket at the grocery store. Go to PickYourOwn to find farms where you can pick fruit in your area.

8. Explore a nearby state or national park. Take advantage of the junior ranger program at national parks where children learn to explore, learn and protect.

9. Go for a hike. Find a new favorite trail for your family. Handy hint: Walking sticks help with preschooler endurance.

{How to Keep Your Preschooler Engaged on a Hike}

10. Find a new trail for bike rides. Do you have bike paths near your house or in your town? Challenge yourself to find a new one.

11. Go to the library. Participate in summer reading programs, get library events on your calendar, and make sure to let your child learn the joy of wandering through the library stacks to find a new book.

12. Go ice blocking. Sledding in the summer! Buy an ice block from your local grocery store, grab some winter gloves and a towel, and head to a nearby hill. Wear the gloves, place the towel on the ice block, and take a ride down the hill sitting on the ice block!

13. Put a twist on your sidewalk chalk art.
-Print out images of your child’s favorite cartoon character to copy.
-Create a family mural, in which each person contributes their own drawings.
-Make a path for your child to follow on a bike or by foot. Make zig zags, spirals, curves, and more. The only rule is your child has to stay on the path!

14. Go to a museum. Children’s museums are great, but try an art museum too!

{How to Take Your Preschooler to an Art Museum}

15. Explore new splash pads. You’ve probably been to most or all of the splash pads in your area, but what about the next town over? And the one beyond that?

16. Explore new parks. Create your own ranking system in your phone (number of slides, amount of shade, etc.) as a fun way to keep track of your favorite parks together.

17. Paint the fence with water. For a mess-free, but cooling, “paint” experience, give your child a few paintbrushes and a bucket of water. Let him “paint” the fence, front door, sidewalk, and house.

18. Paint rocks.  Leave your creations around the neighborhood for other kids to find.

19. Go for a day trip visit to a nearby city.

20. Vote for your favorite candy and/or ice cream. Like March Madness? Create your own brackets for the best candy and/or ice cream. After tasting and voting as a family or with friends, advance the winners until you have the final verdict.

21. Try a twist on s’mores. Use different candies and flavored marshmallows until you find your favorite combination.

22. Put up a tent in the backyard. Spend the day playing in the tent (find a shady spot to set it up!), or haul out your sleeping bags for a camping night in the backyard.

23. Go stargazing in the backyard.

24. Set up an obstacle course inside or outside.

25. Have a game night. Invite the neighbors over, or have a fun family game night. Snacks should be included, obviously.

26. Give your child a box. Or a bag. Seriously. See what she comes up with.

27. Make up stories.

28. Use craft sticks to beat boredom. Spend a few minutes writing acceptable quiet activities on craft sticks — reading, coloring, calling a grandparent, playing dress-up, stacking cups, etc. When your child inevitably says he’s bored, let him pick a craft stick and do the activity it instructs.

29. Read a chapter book together.

30. Have a picnic with themed food.

31. Go on a pajama walk. Surprise your kids at bedtime and announce it’s time for a pajama walk. Let them bring their stuffed animals as you walk around the neighborhood dressed and ready for bed.

32. Get a giant poster or large piece of butcher paper. Lay it on the floor, and let everyone color on it. Trace hands, feet, and bodies for extra fun.

33. Have a toy wash. Wash cars, Barbies, and other toys outside in buckets of water.

34. Play dress up.

35. Do yard work together. Buy kid-sized shovels and gloves to make your child feel included.

36. Deliver treats to firefighters. Have your child make a personalized thank-you card to include with the treats.

37. Make and deliver thank-you cards to your librarians.

38. Have a bike parade. Invite the neighborhood kids to decorate their bikes and join in a parade. Get the other parents to be parade spectators.

39. Visit a local farm.

40. Take a tour of a local factory.

41. Be a tourist in your town. Look at tourist websites for your town. Is there anything you haven’t done?

42. Cook together. Designate one night a week as your child’s night to cook. Let him plan the menu, and help him prepare the meal.

43. Go to an outdoor movie.  Many cities around the country show outdoor movies during the summer. If your preschooler can stay up late from time to time, this is a great, free, fun thing to do as a family   Here is a list of local outdoor movies for Utah in 2019.

44. Play balloon tennis. Grab some paper plates, glue, balloons, and giant craft sticks. Glue the sticks to the backs of paper plates, and hit a balloon back and forth.

How to Schedule Your Preschooler’s Day at Home

If you have small children and you stay at home and/or work from home, it’s not always easy to know what to do with your kids. Sometimes, the days are so packed full of tasks, chores, and errands that there’s no time for anything else. And some days, when your child is bored and your creativity is short, you don’t really know how to keep your child occupied.

Use these tips successfully schedule your preschooler’s day at home.

Create a Routine

Children do well when they know what’s coming next. Putting a routine in place will help your child cooperate with the tasks of your day.

If you’re a go-with-the-flow kind of person, that’s okay. You don’t need to have a routine that’s planned to the minute. Make your routine as structured or non-structured as you need. But there should be some basic markers that you meet around the same time each day.

Start with meals and naps because these happen at roughly the same time each day. Then, build your structure from there.

Plug in chores, reading time, outside time, errands, play dates, outings, and more into time slots that make sense for your lifestyle.

If you don’t want to use specific time slots, think instead in sequences: After breakfast, we clean up and head outside. Before nap, we read two books. Doing the same basic things in similar orders each day ensures you’ll accomplish more of what you need to do, while allowing your child to feel secure in knowing what to expect.

Read

Small children need to be read to every day. If your life is busy, this can be hard to fit into your day.

One way to make sure you read often enough is to do it at the same time every day. Maybe you read a book before nap time or bed time. Maybe you read immediately after cleaning up breakfast dishes. Maybe you read out loud while your child takes a bath. Whenever it is, sticking to the same time each day will help both you and your child come to expect the activity.

{8 Ways to Help Your Preschooler Fall in Love with Reading}

Chores

Is there anything harder than staying on top of chores when you’re at home with small children?

While you’ll want to do some chores on your own because it’s simply easier that way, try and involve your child in some chores every day. You have to get the dishes cleaned up, after all. Instead of letting your preschooler scamper off, have her help you load the dishwasher.

Have your child wipe the baseboards as you sweep, put toys away before you vacuum, set the table while you make dinner, sweep the porch while you weed. Keep in mind that your child won’t do a perfect job, and sometimes won’t even do a passable job. Sometimes, you’ll have to help. And that’s all okay. Keep encouraging your child to learn new skills and take ownership of chores. He’ll get better and better as time goes one.

Play

Children learn best through play, so make sure there’s plenty of time in your day for your child to play. You can play with your child, but you don’t need to entertain your child 24/7. Independent play is also an important skill your child should develop. Plus, it gives you a break!

Tips to make independent play a success:

  • Don’t expect your child to spend hours playing independently. Sometimes, even a few minutes is difficult in the beginning. Be patient, and build length gradually.
  • Do another task near where your child is playing. You don’t have to be right by your child, but being close enough helps your child feel safe and comfortable. Eventually,  your child may want to play alone in a separate room.
  • Provide simple toys.
  • Keep toys and materials within reach and easy to find.

Get Outside

Plan for some outside time each day. This could be as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood or running out into the backyard.

Or you could go on an outing to a park, on a hike, to a nature center, or somewhere else away from your home.

{Why Your Preschooler Desperately Needs Time Outdoors — and What to Do Once You’re There}

Errands

If you can manage your errands with your kids, incorporate those into your day. Errands are actually good for children because they learn patience, see how people interact within our society, learn to follow directions, and more. That being said, not every errand is going to be successful. Try to be aware of your child’s limits, and schedule your errands for the times of day when your child will be well rested, well fed, and more likely to be agreeable.

And there’s no shame in putting off some errands until there’s someone else available to take care of your kids!

Outings

Along with getting outside each day, going on special outings is good for both children and parents. The zoo, museums, the library, playgrounds, and more offer chances for both you and your child to bond over learning and experiencing new things. Plus, they’re a lot of fun!

Be Flexible

Things will fall apart some days. That’s just a fact of life. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create perfectly structured days every single day. If your child is melting down at the park, it’s okay to go home and relax. If you feel overwhelmed with your to-do list, it’s okay to throw it out for a while and come back to it later.

A basic structure will help keep you moving forward, but flexibility is key in reducing stress.

9 Things to Do During the Summer to Prepare for Kindergarten

get your child ready for kindergarten

It’s here already! How did you get to this place so quickly? This is the summer before your little sweetie goes to kindergarten, and whether you’re excited, scared, tearful, or all of the above, you’re probably wondering what you can do to prepare your child for kindergarten.

First things first. Don’t get stressed out this summer about getting your child ready for kindergarten. This should be a fun and exciting time of life. Don’t feel pressure to push your child to meet milestones. Remember that your child learns a lot every day through play, routine, and observing life. Your child is soaking up knowledge simply by talking with you each day.

{Pretend Away! Why Your Child Needs Pretend Play}

The following items aren’t meant to overwhelm. Rather, keep them in mind and try to incorporate them throughout your summer days. We’ll give you tips on how to do that. Keep reading!

1. Have Play Dates

In kindergarten, your child will need to know, and continue to learn, how to share, take turns, respect other people’s bodies and property, and more. Play dates, whether formally set up with parents in attendance or casual playtime with the neighbors, are helpful for developing these social skills. Give your child opportunities to play with other kids her age this summer.

2. Practice Name Writing

Your child will need to write his name on his kindergarten work, so take the time now to let him practice both his first and last name. You can buy a special notebook, or just use loose-leaf paper. Or have him practice with sidewalk chalk or paint. Let him spell it out with pretzels or raisins at snack time. Ask him to spell his name as you’re driving in the car.

3. Practice Letters and Numbers

Find opportunities to practice letter and number identification. This doesn’t have to always mean worksheets. Point out letters in your daily life, encourage your child to sound out words on the cereal box, ask her what letter comes next in the alphabet, and encourage her to write the names of her family members or her favorite toys.

Count items out loud, challenge your child to count as high as he can, and ask him to identify numbers in addresses as your drive.

{8 Ways to Lose the Flaschards: Make Alphabet Learning Fun}

4. Teach Your Phone Number and Address

By kindergarten, your child should have a good handle on his phone number and address. One simple way to teach these is to set them to the tune of a simple song. Try “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Then, as you go about your day, sing your phone number or address. Sing it while you prepare lunch, while you’re driving in the car, when you take a walk, etc. After your child has heard it, encourage him to sing along.

Let your child type your phone number into your phone.

To help your child write her phone number, post it where she can see and get familiar with its appearance. Let her trace the numbers. Encourage her to copy the numbers. Eventually, ask her to write the phone number and address from memory. Praise her for her efforts, even if she doesn’t get it perfectly. Give her plenty of opportunities to try again!

5. Read

prepare your child for kindergarten

Reading is a crucial skill for every person, and while your child doesn’t need to be independently reading before kindergarten, exposure to books and reading in all forms is going to help with his future academics.

Incorporate reading into all aspects of your day. Pick a regular time each day to read to your child. If she can read, select books at her level and ask her to read them to you. Encourage her to look at or read books on her own.

Let your child see you read a recipe, read a map, read street signs, read books, and more. Bring your child into your reading world by pointing to the words in the recipe as he looks over your shoulder. Ask him to help you find a street name by telling him the first letter to look for. See if he can find the letters of his name as you run errands.

{8 Ways to Help Your Preschooler Fall in Love with Reading}

6. Do Chores

Chores are a great way to teach your child responsibility, as well as following directions — two things she’ll need to have a handle on in kindergarten. Every family does chores differently, but figure out your rhythm. There are certain chores, like making the bed, that can automatically be done every day. And then you can add additional weekly chores or projects that make sense for your child.

You can have your child set the table, weed the garden, make her bed, fold his laundry, feed the cat, help prepare meals, sweep, vacuum, empty wastebaskets, dust, and more. Remember it will take time to learn how to do the chores properly.

7. Work on Independent Tasks

In kindergarten, your child will need to use the restroom by himself, so use the summer before kindergarten to make sure he’s able to do all the required steps. Help him learn how to button and unbutton, zip, put on and take off a coat, and tie shoes. Just take one skill at a time, and help him work on it each day.

8. Eat Independently

If your child will be eating snacks or lunch at school, make sure she can eat the whole meal on her own. Can she unzip and zip her lunchbox? Open her packaged snacks? Open and close storage containers? Use plastic forks or spoons? A great way to make sure she has these skills is to eat lunch out of her lunch box a few times throughout the summer.

9. Have Lots of Free Time

Remember to give your child plenty of free play time. Children learn best by playing, and much of preparing your child for kindergarten actually will come in the everyday, informal moments. Plus, your child needs time to be herself and be confident in who she is, and free time is likely to give that to her.

Always remember: It isn’t a race. Let your child progress and develop at his own speed while you work to prepare your child for kindergarten.

Why Your Preschooler Desperately Needs Time Outdoors — and What to Do Once You’re There

preschool outdoor time

Kids these days seem to spend less time outdoors than we did when we were children. There are plenty of reasons for that: our lives are filled with more activities, we have access to more screens, backyard sizes and green spaces are shrinking, safe outdoor spaces are harder to come by…

Whatever the reason, though, it’s important we do what we can to give our children more time outdoors. The benefits of outdoor time for preschoolers are too good to pass up.

Outdoor Time for Preschoolers Increases Physical Health

As soon as the door is flung open to your backyard or the car door opened to a park or field, you’ll notice you preschooler burst into the outdoors with energy and enthusiasm. It’s almost impossible for a young child to not run, skip, hop, and jump when the space is available to do so.

And that’s such a good thing!

More time outdoors means your child will be moving more, building motor skills, and strengthening muscles and bones.

Exposure to Sunshine Improves Health

The sun is a funny thing. Too much of it can, of course, cause sunburns and serious health concerns. But not enough sun exposure can cause health problems as well. Sun exposure helps your body make vitamin D, which is crucial for bone development and healthy immune systems. It also helps regulate sleep cycles and improves mood. So lather up with sunscreen, wear a hat, and head outdoors.

Time Outdoors Builds Executive Function Skills

Playing outside, especially when the play is unstructured, gives your child the chance to hone her executive function skills. Executive function skills refer to the skills we all need to help us prioritize, multitask, plan, and troubleshoot. Outdoor time is full of opportunities to practice these skills. Figuring out how to climb the tree involves planning and troubleshooting. Tracking down worms  with a friend involves cooperation and multitasking.

Outdoor Time Increases Attention Spans

Multiple studies have found that exposure to nature increases attentiveness, even more so than doing a physical activity indoors. As your preschooler grows and is expected to pay more attention in school settings and other places, this becomes more and more important.

Children who spend more time playing outside are often more curious, self-directed, and confident. They have more opportunity to start and create tasks and activities on their own initiative, and are more likely to stick with a task for longer periods of time.

Ideas for Outdoor Activities for Your Preschooler

Don’t underestimate the power of free, unstructured play outside. You don’t have to do a whole lot of planning to create a good outdoor experience for your child. Just open the door, drive to the park, head to the mountains, or find a walking trail!

In addition to unstructured outdoor time, try these fun ideas for outdoor play.

Take a Nature Walk

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we like to take nature walks as the seasons change to look for signs of the new season. You can print out a nature walk journal page for extra fun.

Collect Nature Items

Let your child collect blossoms, blades of grass, rocks, and more (as long as it doesn’t disrupt the area). Keep the items in a spot in your backyard or by the window for a few days. Or incorporate them into an art project.

Add Objects

Get creative, and add objects to your outdoor environment. Bring wooden spoons, plastic bowls, and planks to the backyard. See what your child does with them.

Act Out a Story

Tell a story, or read a book outside, and then encourage your child to act out the parts.

Color with Sidewalk Chalk

It’s such an easy outdoor activity. Hand your child some chalk, and let them draw what they want. You can also make a path for their bike to follow, draw a hopscotch board so they can practice jumping, or create a series of steps for them to follow (Jump up and down 5 times on this spot, do 3 jumping jacks on this spot, etc.).

“Paint” the House or Fence

Give your child clean paintbrushes and a bucket of water. Let him “paint” a wall of your house, the fence, the sidewalk, the trampoline… whatever his heart desires!

Add Explorer Props

Gather a magnifying glass, a clipboard and pencil, a butterfly net, a measuring tape, jars, a backpack, and anything else you can think of to aid in a good exploration. Watch your child’s imagination run!

Eat Outside

Have a family meal outside, whether it’s in your backyard or at a nearby park.

Cut Grass

Really! This is a favorite activity of our students all year round. Let your child use a pair of safety scissors to cut the grass. It won’t do the job of a lawnmower, but it will strengthen your child’s hand muscles and improve fine motor skills.

Take Indoor Activities Outside

Basically, almost anything you can do inside can be done outside in some way. If your child wants to paint, why not do the art project outside? Want to read books? Throw a blanket on the grass and read away. Practicing letters? Do it on a clipboard or with sidewalk chalk.

You get the idea.

Now get outside!

Get Fewer Tantrums When You Use These Transition Strategies for Preschoolers

transition strategies for preschoolers

You announce it’s time for bed, and your preschooler runs into the backyard and rolls around in the dirt. Or she screams and stomps. Or he whines and begs for more time.

It’s time to go to the store, but when you tell your kiddo to get her shoes on, she goes limp and refuses to move. Or he throws his toy across the room and tells you he isn’t going.

No, you’re not raising a monster. Your child just needs a little help with transitions. Fortunately, implementing these transition strategies for preschoolers is something you can start today.

What Do Children Need When Transitioning to the Next Activity?

It’s always good to remember that for the most part, kids have very little control over their days. And this can be frustrating at times. To feel safe and secure in this world run by adults, they need to know three things:

  1. What’s next?
  2. How long will it take?
  3. Why are we doing it?

Think about it: you typically know all of this information for yourself, and so it’s relatively easy to move from task to task throughout your day. But if a child doesn’t know what’s coming after lunch, they’re going to be mighty surprised when they’re told it’s time to go grocery shopping.

Keep these questions in mind as you communicate with your child, and try to be upfront. “After we eat a snack, we’re going to tidy your room so that it can look and feel nice. I think it won’t take very long if we turn on some fun music!”

Stick to a Routine When Possible

Routines work well because they take the guesswork and uncertainty out of what’s coming next. Not every moment of your day can follow a routine, but there are several chunks of each day in which the same things need to be done — each and every day:

  • Meal times
  • Nap times
  • Getting ready for the day
  • Leaving the house for preschool
  • Getting ready for bed

You may have even more routines throughout your day, but these basic ones are good places to start following a schedule.

Here’s an example:

After waking up in the morning, it’s time to make the bed and use the restroom. Then, we go to the kitchen and eat breakfast. We put our dishes in the dishwasher and head to the bathroom to brush our teeth. Next, we get dressed and find our backpack. We put on our shoes, and head to the car to drive to school.

Whether your child can do this whole routine on her own, or whether she needs you every step of the way, by keeping the steps the same each day, she can predict what comes next, and it will be automatic to move from task to task.

Time Your Transition

transition strategies for preschoolers

It’s really hard for a child to leave something enjoyable. When possible, try to time your transitions for moments when your child is naturally wrapping up. For example, wait until your child finishes a coloring page before announcing it’s time for a bath. Don’t yank your child from the produce aisle as he’s sniffing a strawberry; let him inhale, and then tell him it’s time to go find the pretzels.

Give a Signal

It’s easier to move from one activity to the next if there is a signal indicating the transition. In a classroom, a teacher might use a bell that gets children’s attention while signaling that it’s going to be time to do something else.

At home, you can try using a bell or a timer to signal play time is over and it’s time to run an errand. Or, like many teachers, you can also use a simple phrase each time it’s time to stop one activity and begin a new one. “Time to listen” or “Please give me your attention” work well.

Use Transition Words

Make eye contact with your child and say, “In a moment.” This will signal your child’s ears to pay attention to the words that you’re about to say. “In a moment, we’re going to clean up the breakfast dishes and get dressed.”

Give Choices

Nobody likes to be bossed around at every moment of the day. During transition periods, you can sometimes offer choices to help your child feel in control while also being more compliant with what needs to be done.

For example, “It’s time to clean up the toys. Would you like me to help you with the blocks or the dolls?”

Or, “It’s time to go to the store. Would you like to bring one toy or two in the car?”

Practice

If you notice you consistently have a problem with the same transition (i.e. getting ready for bed), it may be that your child doesn’t know everything that’s expected of him. Take a minute at a different time of the day to walk your child through the necessary steps of getting ready for bed. Have him act them out, and praise him for his cooperation. When it comes time for bed, remind him of how well he practiced earlier in the day and tell him you’re glad he knows how to do bedtime now. See if he can manage the steps without resisting.

Remember, no matter how perfectly you teach the principles of making transitions from one activity to the next, your child isn’t always going to like stopping one activity to do another. And that doesn’t mean anybody failed. It just means your child is a normal human being. Keep trying, and you’ll see improvement.

To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930

How to Help Your Preschooler Build an Emotional Vocabulary

preschool emotional vocabulary

Your child has been busily adding new words to her vocabulary for years now. In fact, just yesterday, she used the word vehicle instead of car, and you marveled at how much she has retained and how grown up she’s getting.

But have you thought about your child’s emotional vocabulary? Expanding an emotional vocabulary is something that children need help with. Learn why it’s important for your child to have an emotional vocabulary, and what you can do to expand it.

What Is an Emotional Vocabulary?

Your child’s emotional vocabulary is the collection of words he can access to describe how he or someone else is feeling. Most children understand words like “happy,” “sad,” and “angry,” but they often don’t have an extensive vocabulary to describe their other feelings accurately. This can lead to acting out in other ways — biting, hitting, throwing, etc.

When children can more accurately tell you how they are feeling, they are empowered to control and manage their own feelings better. Likewise, when they can read the emotional cues of other people, they can interact in more appropriate ways, leading to better social situations.

Emotional Vocabulary Needs to Be Taught

This is not a subject where we should assume our children will pick up the necessary components by osmosis. Children need to be taught emotional vocabularies. Telling your child to “use your words” when she hasn’t been taught the appropriate words to use will only leave her confused and frustrated.

There are many ways to build your child’s emotional vocabulary. Try one or two this week!

Make Sure You Have an Emotional Vocabulary

First things first, make sure you understand what you’re going to be teaching. Do you have an extensive emotional vocabulary, or do you resort to the same basic adjectives or behaviors to express your emotions? If your lawnmower keeps jamming, do you curse and scream? Or do you tell yourself you’re frustrated and worried you won’t get the lawn mowed before it gets dark?

There’s no shame if your answer fell closer to the curse and scream spectrum. Our culture hasn’t done a good job of allowing us to have a range of emotions. As parents, it’s important we take the time to understand our emotions, label them, and let ourselves feel them. This will not only allow us to have more empathy and patience for our children’s emotions, it will give us a greater vocabulary to teach our children.

And remember — kids are always watching. When you express your emotions in a healthy way, they’ll try to do the same!

Label the Emotion

Label emotions so children can build their emotional vocabulary. Name what your child might be feeling. “You’re feeling sad because Daddy has to finish cooking dinner and can’t hold you. That makes you feel lonely, doesn’t it?”

Name emotions you see in other people as well. “Your brother is smiling and laughing on the trampoline. He must be feeling happy!”

Identify Emotions in Books

Picture books are a perfect place to learn about and identify emotions. As you read a story to your child, pause occasionally to point to a face. “Gretel looks worried, doesn’t she? I bet she doesn’t know what to do next.”

Play Games

Play emotion charades, in which one of you has to act out a certain emotion and the other one guesses.

Make faces at each other and guess what emotion each person is trying to convey.

Make sounds that go along with emotions,  and guess which emotion the sounds match. (“Yippee!” for excited, blowing air out of your mouth for frustrated, “Grrr” for angry, etc.)

Use Art

Let your child illustrate different emotions by asking your child to draw a person who is cheerful, furious, afraid, grateful, joyful, loving, etc.

Turn on some music and ask your child to tell you what emotion he is feeling as he listens. Have him select a color of paint, crayon, or marker and draw, paint, or color as he feels the emotion of the music.

Make a feelings collage by cutting out pictures from magazines.

Move!

Talk about actions that go along with feelings — and then perform those actions. For example, frustrated might make us feel like balling up our fists and stomping. Joyful might make us feel like leaping lightly around the room.

Play music, and ask your child to identify an emotion that she feels through the music. Then ask her to move or dance with that emotion in mind.

Role Play

This is especially helpful if your child tends to have a consistent problem. For example, if a child at preschool tends to take your child’s toy, you can talk about the feelings your child might feel when it happens. Then, you can talk about helpful and unhelpful ways to react. You can then role play the scenario, with your child choosing one of the helpful ways to react. Identify the feelings your child might feel after choosing a helpful method.

Some Helpful Emotion Words

Remember, there are so many more emotions to talk about than happy, sad, and angry!

Use this list to help expand both your and your child’s emotional vocabulary:

  • Annoyed
  • Afraid
  • Worried
  • Brave
  • Confused
  • Grouchy
  • Loving
  • Lonely
  • Nervous
  • Peaceful
  • Pressured
  • Concerned
  • Considerate
  • Kind
  • Careful
  • Disappointed
  • Uneasy
  • Uncertain
  • Thankful
  • Unhappy
  • Secure
  • Surprised
  • Puzzled

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we work to help children identify their emotions and express them in healthy ways. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or sign up to come to one of our open houses.

8 Ways to Help Your Preschooler Fall in Love with Reading

help your preschooler love reading

Reading independently is undeniably a critical academic skill, but a child’s ability to read also affects their entire life — beyond academics. Of the adults at the lowest level of literacy proficiency, 43% live in poverty, while only 4% of adults with strong literacy skills live in poverty. Students who read frequently are higher achievers than students who read rarely.

Access to books at home helps children to go further in school — and in life. And when children decide to read independently, they become better readers and even score higher on achievement tests across all subject areas.

So how do you help your preschooler love reading so that she reaps the many lifelong benefits?

1. Get Familiar with Books

Read books to your baby. In the beginning, your baby will notice the pictures. Then, he’ll learn how to turn the pages. Soon, he’ll understand that the story is the same every time you read it. These are all pre-reading skills that can develop simply from reading and spending time with books from a young age.

2. Don’t Push It

At a young age, pre-reading skills are more important to literacy than being an early reader. Don’t push your child to learn to read. Certainly point out letters and discuss the sounds they make. And if your child is interested, follow her lead and help her learn how to sound out words. But follow the cue of your preschooler. If she would rather hear you read her favorite book than try and sound out The Cat in the Hat, go with that.

Let your preschooler love reading — in all forms, including looking at the book and being read to — so she will continue to naturally develop reading skills.

3. Location, Location, Location

help your preschooler love reading

Setting up cozy or fun reading nooks makes reading both enjoyable and special. This could be as simple as pulling out a cozy blanket to snuggle with on the couch, or it could be as detailed as designing and decorating a reading corner with fashionable furniture.

Throw a blanket over a few chairs and read together in your makeshift fort. Pick a theme (teddy bear picnic, beach day, snow day) and throw a few props together for an instantly-fun reading corner.

4. Read TO Your Child

When your child is young, it’s obvious that she’ll need you to read to her. But remember to keep reading to your child as she grows up. Reading can be taxing and tiring for emergent readers. When you read to your child, you take the pressure off and let your child experience the joy and pleasure of getting lost in a story.

tips to help your preschooler love reading

5. Go to the Library

There’s magic in a library. Just ask a children’s librarian. Let your child discover this special magic by making regular trips to the library. Go to story times and craft afternoons. Attend special events and participate in raffles and summer reading programs. Hold your child’s hand and walk up and down the bookshelves looking for covers that jump out at you. Show enthusiasm when your child selects a book.

The more you make the library a meaningful part of your family’s life, the more your child will associate happiness and joy with the library — and books.

6. Keep Books Within Reach

Keep books throughout your house. Put a bookshelf in your child’s room, keep books on the coffee table, decorate with books, and fill your bookshelves with books you love to read. Keep a basket or shelf just for library books that constantly rotate. Bring out seasonal books as you decorate for different holidays. Make books a familiar part of your child’s life and he’ll be more likely to reach for a book more often.

7. Connect Books to the World

Does your child love Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books? Go to a local farm to see the pigs. Search for elephants nearby, and have a conversation about why they aren’t in the same place.

Read Giles Andreae’s Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, and then head to the zoo to contemplate whether or not the giraffes dance when you aren’t looking.

Read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and then look for letters on store signs, street signs, and refrigerators.

Read Dr. Seuss‘s Green Eggs and Ham, and discuss foods or experiences you and your child might be afraid to try. Then go try them!

8. Let Them Read What They Want

Introduce your child to new books regularly, but also let her read what she wants. If she’s a pre-reader, this may mean you’re going to have to read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish 100 times, but if your child is enjoying the story and the process of reading, you’re on the right track to help your preschooler love reading.

When your child gets older and reads on their own, don’t criticize them if they only want to read Junie B. Jones or Captain Underpants. Let them read what they love on their own, and continue reading other books to them out loud to expose them to new authors and stories.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we work on pre-reading and reading skills constantly and immerse the children in a reading environment. Come see us in action. Come to an open house or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

 

S is for Space — What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool

Space Week is always a blast. The children love pretending to be astronauts, or managing launches from Mission Control. But the week isn’t only about pretending and playing (although there’s plenty of that going on — it’s the best way for young children to learn!). At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we use themed weeks that will interest the children as a way to teach concepts about our world (or Outer Space, as the case may be) and to also fully immerse the children in the important aspects of our curriculum that help children develop and learn.

Science

Space Week lends itself so easily to understanding science concepts more fully. It’s also a fun time to blast off with some impressive experiments!

We used our rocket launch experiment as a way to understand the properties of gas, while learning how to make educated guesses.

Before the launch, teachers placed an Alka-Seltzer tablet in water so the children could see how it bubbled. The teachers explained that the bubbles were made of gas (carbon dioxide), and that gas takes up space — even though it’s invisible! To further expand (haha) on this concept, we used Alka-Seltzer to blow up a small balloon.

We talked about how the gas was pushing on the walls of the balloon because it was running out of space. That’s what made the stretchy balloon expand. But what would happen if we put an Alka-Seltzer in a film canister, which isn’t stretchy?

The children made hypotheses (some hypothesized accurately!), and then teachers placed the Alka-Seltzer in the film canister with water.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… the lid blew off the canister!

We added variations by changing the amount of water in the canister and predicting which would produce the blown lid first. As you can imagine, this was popular, and we did the experiment over and over… and over. And over again and again (which is great, because repetition reinforces concepts!).

Creative Movement

When children get their bodies involved, they can learn concepts in more memorable ways.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the solar system, we had children take turns as the sun, planets, stars, shooting stars, and comets.

The child who was taking a turn as the sun stood still in the middle of the room, while the planets revolved around the sun. The stars stood still in space and twinkled, while shooting stars and comets shot through space randomly.

We also practiced hand/eye coordination by tossing comets back and forth with friends.

We blasted off into space and visited each planet in our land rovers (scooters). We weren’t able to walk or land on some planets because they were too hot, and we had to get out of there fast! Other planets presented tricky problems, as we had to navigate ice rings and asteroids just to get to them!

Art

Space featured heavily in our art, as the children created their own representations of outer space. They also learned cause and effect, and used their creativity as they explored the effects that different artistic tools could make.

Sensory Learning

We filled the sensory bin with black beans and black rocks that represented dark space. Stars, planets, land rovers, astronauts, and rockets were mixed in. As the children searched for the items, they got a sensory learning experience that connected them to our theme.

Dramatic Play

Mission Control was located in our preschool during “S is for Space” week! With a computer (not plugged in), telephone, and other gadgets, the children communicated to each other about the important space missions taking place. The teachers loved seeing how much the children had learned as they pretended. The children requested launches to different planets, and we even heard Mission Control tell the astronauts, “You can’t go to Mercury! It’s too hot. You will burn up!”

This kind of immersive learning never gets old for us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. And it always allows the children to form their own connections as they learn important concepts. If you’d like your child to have fun, immersive experiences like this, give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to request a tour.

Q Is for Queen and King

We had a royal good time learning math, science, letters, engineering, art, and more during our “Q Is for Queen and King” week.  Thematic units help us to incorporate imagination while we cross subject lines. This gives our preschoolers a more comprehensive understanding of concepts as we explore and appreciate the many themes of our world.

We invited some of our favorite princes and princesses into the classroom to enjoy our royal ball, royal feast, and even do some learning.

Majestic Math

Even queens and kings need to do math, and our royal guests were down on the floor with our preschoolers as everyone counted out jewels and returned them to princesses who had lost them.

Aristocratic Art

Symbols are all around us, and children are good at picking up on them. The next time you’re out and about, see if your child can spot warning signs, exit signs, bathroom signs, and more based on the symbols.

To drive home the point of symbols and colors, and what they may represent, we had each child make their very own Coat of Arms. After discussing different symbols and colors, the children used watercolor glue and salt to make a Coat of Arms that represents themselves.

Resplendent Royal Feast

One of the highlights of our thematic week was the royal feast. The children loved using their fancy goblets and eating from fancy plates. They also loved clinking their glasses together!

q is for queen

Fancy Fine-Motor Skills

What is a royal feast without royal headwear? Each child decorated their own crown to wear to our royal feast. Using jewels, they not only fancified their crowns, they developed their fine-motor skills as they used the pincer grasp over and over.

Engineering the Empire

 

Using cups, the children created fortresses and castles fit for a queen or king. Through trial and error, concentration, and observation, they learned that some structures are more secure than others. They then built on what they discovered, and created stronger buildings the next time around.

Monarchs on the Move

Kings, queens, princesses, and princes need to be active if they are going to manage their kingdom effectively. In creative movement class, we created castles with our bodies when we held hands in a circle and raised our arms together to create windows. The children took turns going “in and out of the castle.”

We also rode horses throughout the kingdom, surveying the land and well-being of our subjects.

And the children performed princely promenades and coordinated dances that impressed their royal guests.

We have so much fun exploring, learning, and creating at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah. If you would like to come see us in action, join us for an open house or schedule a tour.