12 Popular Preschool Activities to Do at Home

Learning should be fun, and at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Utah, every activity we do is carefully thought out to teach important skills and concepts, while being fun and memorable.

With summer coming up, we thought it might be helpful to round up some of  our most popular preschool activities you can do at home. We love to make home life easier for our preschool families, so for each activity in this article, we made sure it meets certain metrics:

  • It must be fun
  • The activity must be easy
  • It must require few supplies and little prep
  • It must strengthen a skill or concept (while being fun!)

To that end, here are 12 popular preschool activities for you to do at home. Keep these ideas in your back pocket for spur-of-the moment mood-lifters, gatherings with friends, or a way to get through the lazy days of summer.

Remember, none of these activities need to be done to perfection. And if anyone gets frustrated, it’s always okay to stop!

Indoor Snowball Fight

When it’s too hot outside, retreat indoors and have a snowball fight. Use rolled-up socks and get as creative as you feel. Build forts, construct barriers, or simply use the couch as no-man’s land.

Skills this builds: This builds strength, coordination, creativity, and helps your child find joy in being active.

Travel by Plane or Train

Need to mop under the kitchen table? While you mop, set the chairs in two rows in the living room as if they are a plane or a train. Pull a suitcase out of storage, and let your child “travel” around the world.

Skills this builds: Pretend play builds imagination and creativity, increases vocabulary, enhances problem-solving skills, and so much more.

{Read: Pretend Away: Why Your Child Needs Pretend Play}

Treasure Hunt

Hide something fun (a treat, small toy, special note, or even your child’s favorite stuffed animal), and send your child on a treasure hunt to find it! Make this as simple or complex as you’d like: The simplest way is to write or draw simple clues like, “Go to the refrigerator.” Once your child is at the refrigerator, they’ll find another clue.

You can move up in difficulty by writing or drawing clues that make your child think, like “Go to the place where our food is kept cold.”

Want it to be more complex? Make it an alphabet hunt, where each clue takes your child to the next letter. Or draw a map for your child to read.

Skills this builds: Treasure hunts, even in their simplest form, help your child build critical thinking skills. They have to read or interpret pictures and figure out what to do with the information. Treasure hunts also build reading skills.

Make Your Own Pizza

English muffins are a great canvas for pizza items. Set out pizza ingredients and let your child build their own pizza.

Think of other food items your child can make on their own, or with minimal help: fruit salads (they can cut bananas, grapes, and strawberries), quesadillas, cold-cut sandwiches, etc.

Skills this builds: Making their own food helps children build independence. It also gives them confidence in making their own choices. Plus, it builds fine motor strength.

Try New Foods

Pick a country or region, and learn about the foods that are eaten there. Then, try them together.

Another way to have fun with trying new foods is to pick one type of food and try its different variations: apples are great for this. Family members can vote on their favorite, and you can add different dips to select another favorite.

Skills this builds: Your child learns how to try new things, while paying attention to multiple senses. They also learn about world cultures. And if you make a hypothesis about which will be the family’s favorite, you’re introducing the scientific method.

Car Wash

Indoors or outdoors, car washes are always fun. Fill a bucket with water, soap, and sponges, and let your child give a bath to the toy cars. Want to keep an eye on your child while you’re preparing dinner? Fill the kitchen sink!

Skills this builds: This activity gives your child a multi-sensory experience, which engages multiple parts of the brain. Your child also develops fine-motor skills while having fun.

Red Light, Green Light

Red light, green light is an easy and fun way to kill time. As with all of these activities, you can make the activity as easy or complex as you want. On the easy end of the spectrum, you can simply take turns being “It” and shouting out “Red light” or “Green light.” On the more complicated end, you can make red lights and green lights on papers or craft sticks.

You can change it up — and add some creative thinking and memory-building skills — by designating different colors to mean different things. For example, purple light could mean to hop or dance forward.

Skills this builds: Red light, green light teaches your child skills like following directions, self-regulation, and self management. It also helps your child be active.

Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are fun ways to pass the time. Use what you have to create areas where your child can jump, spin, climb, balance, crawl, skip, and more.

Skills this builds: Your child gets to develop their gross motor skills, find joy in movement, and learn how to follow directions.

Teddy Bear Picnic

For lunchtime, head outside, under the kitchen table, or spread a blanket on the living room floor. Invite the household teddy bears to join a picnic in their honor.

You can do this popular preschool activity on the spur of the moment, or make this an elaborate, drawn-out celebration where your child creates invitations and party games for the teddy bear guests.

Skills this builds: Creativity! Your child will come up with imaginative scenarios at your teddy bear picnic. This is also a fun and nurturing connection for your family. And if your child turns this into a day-long event, complete with activities and party games, your child will develop writing skills, planning skills, and leadership skills.

Paper Plate Ice Skating

Keep a few paper plates handy for the inevitable choruses of “I’m bored.” Simply step on the paper plates and move around — now you’re “ice skating” in your kitchen and living room!

You can make this activity last longer with races, obstacle courses, and challenges. Write movement suggestions on cards that your child draws at random — backwards, spinning, to music, dancing, etc.

Skills this builds: This activity builds your child’s strength, dexterity,  coordination, and motor skills. If you use cards to suggest movements, your child can also improve reading skills.

Paint with Unique Brushes

Find unique tools for painting. Head to the dollar store, and select kitchen items like whisks, spatulas, and brushes. Use vegetables, like peppers and potatoes. Ask your child for suggestions too!

Skills this builds: Your child gets to experiment, which builds imagination, an understanding of the scientific process, creativity, and artistry. They also build fine motor skills.

Scissor Practice

Give your child some safety scissors and head outside to cut the grass. (Just keep an eye out, because your garden might look tempting too!)

Or draw fun lines on paper, and have your child try and cut on the lines.

Skills this builds: Cutting with scissors builds the small muscles in the hands, which are critical for writing, brushing teeth, buttoning, tying shoes, and more. Cutting with scissors also builds coordination.

Come see how we incorporate these, and other fun skill-building activities, into our curriculum at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to schedule a tour.

Why We Use Centers in Preschool

If you’ve ever visited us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool when we’re using centers, you’ve seen a buzz of happy activity and play. Centers in preschool are  fun — that’s undeniable — but they’re also key to learning, development, and growth for your child. Learn what goes into centers in preschool, and how your child is benefiting.

Academic Skills

Children build their academic skills when they explore and create during their chosen centers. This happens organically, because children are allowed to choose the centers that appeal to them, and then once there, they get engaged and active in using the materials.

Children learn through play. At centers, children use designated materials that are designed to build learning and skills, and they get to be hands-on and exploratory with those materials.

Safe Place to Make Mistakes

We learn through mistakes, but when children’s learning has a heavy emphasis on worksheets, there isn’t as much opportunity to learn from those mistakes. Center time, on the other hand, is low on stress — there’s no right answer here — which allows children to try, mess up, and still enjoy the process.

Extend the Learning

Centers are also designed to allow children to keep learning the concepts they are being taught. If they practiced learning the letter A, for example, they might want to paint an A in the art center. Or they may look for the letter A in  the books at the reading center. They may use manipulatives in the literacy center to sound out other letters.

This provides an environment ripe for making academic discoveries on their own, further solidifying important concepts.

Free Choice

Children have so little say in their world. In a world where big people call almost all the shots, centers at preschool are liberating. Children need time to make their own choices, and the freedom of choice is abundant in centers. This helps children develop a true love of learning and exploration.

Cooperation

Children build social skills, including cooperation, when they play at centers.

Children have to learn how to respect the materials, how others use the materials, and the ideas of their classmates. They learn to build on each other’s thoughts, and they learn to take turns. They also learn to problem solve together.

And because centers are open for free play, children get the opportunity to learn how to join in on play that’s already going on, and to welcome people into an activity.

Observation

We also use centers in preschool to observe the children. We note what they are drawn to, where they struggle, who they interact with and how, and so much more. And often, as teachers, we engage with the children at specific centers to monitor their skills and understanding.

Time Management

Surprisingly, children can even learn a bit of time management through centers at preschool. With only a limited amount of time each day, children have to learn how to prioritize what’s important to them. Over time, they begin to better understand that if they spend all day at the puppets, they won’t have time for blocks. They then get to make their own decisions about what is more important to them, and act accordingly.

The Types of Centers at Preschool

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we have a variety of centers where we often rotate materials and items according to our themes.

{Read: Why We Use Themes Each Week at Preschool}

Art

We supply the art center with a variety of materials that help children build skills while expressing themselves creatively. Here, they practice drawing, cutting, gluing, and so much more that helps with hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and creativity.

Reading

We stock our reading center with books that support our weekly themes. We often change the objects in the reading center to match our themes as well, like when we bring in a spaceship tent during our unit on space.

Dress-ups

We encourage dramatic play in all we do, as it allows children to make sense of the world and draw important connections and conclusions. Dress-ups are a fun and important process of dramatic play. They allow children to literally try on different roles.

We love that children often keep their dress-up clothing on while they move to different centers. They take their dramatic play with them to new situations!

Puppets

Puppets help in dramatic play, building vocabulary, storytelling, sharing, building listening skills, learning to improvise, and so much more.

Sand, Water, Sensory Bins

We often have a sensory bin filled with objects that correlate with our weekly theme. For example, during our “Under the Sea” unit, we filled sensory bins with blue sensory beads and ocean animal figurines. This allows the children to get more familiar with a subject through their senses.

We also often bring sand and water into our sensory bins, as those allow children to discover the world in new ways.

Music

Providing musical instruments is a great way for children to explore cause-and-effect, creativity, emotional expression, and a variety of elements of music.

Blocks

Playing with blocks helps children learn engineering and architecture concepts, teaches planning and cause-and-effect, builds creativity, fosters cooperation, and so much more.

Math

Using manipulatives in a math center is a great way for math concepts to come to life for children. It also helps math feel accessible and positive, giving children a good foundation for a subject that tends to intimidate as time goes on.

 

 

23 Family Activities to Boost Preschool Learning and Skills

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Utah, we have loads of fun every day. It’s meant to be that way! But our activities are also carefully curated to help children learn and develop in several areas: Reading/Writing, Math, Science,  Art, Creative Movement and Dance, Social Studies, Character Development,  and Music.

Because children learn through play, all these areas of focus are presented in playful, imaginative ways so that children can grasp concepts more thoroughly and at their own pace.

You can do this in your family too, both at home and on the go! Read on for 23 ideas for family activities for preschoolers in math, reading, science, and creative movement.

Math Family Activities for Preschoolers

Math is everywhere, and simply pointing that out can be a huge boost to your child’s understanding of numbers. You can incorporate math activities into your everyday life. For example, ask your child to count how many stop signs you see on the way to preschool. Or at snack time, count out 10 goldfish crackers together, and ask your child to tell you how many will be left when they eat one. Or count the steps to your front door.

And then try these fun math family activities for preschoolers:

  • Have a Numbers Picnic: Plan a picnic where your food items go in numerical order. For example, maybe there’s one orange, two sandwiches, three cookies, four bunches of grapes, etc. Have your child help you prepare the picnic, and then have them line the items up in numerical order. As you decide what to eat first, you can go in numerical order, backwards, evens first, odds first, etc.
  • Cook or Bake Together: Let your child read the numbers of the measurements if they’re able. Have them measure the ingredients (or help you).
  • Make Playdoh Together: Not only is playdoh fun to make and play with, the process of making it can boost your child’s math understanding. Plus, it’s a great multi-sensory activity — this is a recipe your child can really stick their hands into.{Try this easy playdoh recipe together}
  • Work on a Puzzle Together: One study found that puzzle play between the ages of 2 and 4 helped children develop better spatial skills, an important concept in math.
  • Play Card Games: The old standbys, like Go Fish, War, and Uno, have simple-enough rules that young children can grasp the concepts.
  • Play Bingo: Everyone loves the chance to call out Bingo, and playing Bingo can help your child improve number (and some letter) recognition.
  • Make Fruit Kebabs: For a tasty math activity, work on patterns by making fruit kebabs

Science Family Activities

Look around you — you’re holding technology in your hands, there’s nature just outside the window, and electricity is pumping through your home. Being an observer is one of the most important skills of science, and just like math, science is everywhere. Help your child become an observer too, and try these fun science family activities.

  • Look at the Stars: Stay up late and look at the stars and moon. Observe what you see, and share what you remember from elementary school science. (Read a little beforehand if you don’t remember much!) Stargazing almost always leads to big questions, so be prepared to look up the answers.
  • Make Tie-Dye: Freshen up your family wardrobe with some new tie-dye. Talk about the chemical reaction that’s taking place between the dye and the fabric molecules.
  • Go for a Nature Walk: A good scientist observes. Take binoculars, magnifying glass, and notepad to observe and study what you see in nature. Responsibly take back leaves or pebbles to use in  artwork.


  • Grow a Garden: Plant seeds, and tend a garden together. Make predictions for what will happen. Observe the plant’s growth.

Movement Activities

Creating a family culture of movement and play will help your child develop healthy exercise habits. Plus, movement is important for young children, who need to develop strength and mobility. Try these fun family activities for preschoolers.

  • 4-square: Bring back an old playground favorite that involves eye-hand coordination, quick feet, and strength.
  • Make an Obstacle Course: Kids love obstacle courses, and they’re a great way to encourage different types of movement.
  • Play Charades: Laugh together as you try to use your body to act things out. If your child isn’t reading yet, draw your clues instead of writing them.
  • Play Balloon Games: Balloons are great tools for teaching hand-eye coordination, because they move so slowly and give your child enough time to get where they need to be. Play catch, keep the balloon off the floor, balloon volleyball, and more.
  • Freeze Dance: Freeze dance is one of those perfect ideas to keep in your back pocket. Not only does it inspire movement, it can quickly turn a sour mood happy. Use this game liberally.

Family Activities for Preschoolers to Help with Reading

Read! Read as much as you can! And then have fun with these reading and pre-reading activities.

  • Have a Letter Picnic: Can you pack something that starts with every letter of the alphabet? If that’s too much, how about every letter of your child’s name?
  • Put on a Play: If your child can read, write a script together. If they can’t yet, draw images to remind them of each scene. Or let your child put on a play free-style — storytelling in and of itself is an important pre-reading skill.
  • Go on a Treasure Hunt: Send your child on a treasure hunt, in which they have to follow written clues (if they can read) or certain letters.
  • Spot Your Letter: Even young preschoolers can learn to recognize the first letter of their name. Make this their special letter, and search for it everywhere you go: on traffic signs, on stores, etc.
  • Play Pass the Story: Start a story, and pause dramatically at a critical point. Ask your child to finish it. You can do this with familiar stories, like The Three Little Pigs, or you can make up stories as you go.
  • Tell Family Stories: Pull out photo albums and tell the stories of your family. Storytelling is an important reading skill, and hearing about family members keeps children engaged and grounded.
  • Keep a Travel Log: Get a special notebook for your summer activities, your vacations, or your weekend adventures. Have everyone take a turn writing or drawing a picture about your experiences.

Learn how we incorporate all of these subjects and more at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. We invite you to come watch us in action.  You can schedule a tour today by calling (801) 523-5930.

Why Mindfulness for Preschoolers Is Important – and How to Do It

Mindfulness is a trendy buzzword these days, but that doesn’t minimize its importance and effectiveness in emotional regulation. When it comes to mindfulness for preschoolers, what do we need to know? And how do we help children so young access the power of mindfulness?

Read on for both the benefits, and the how-to, of mindfulness for preschoolers.

Benefits of Mindfulness for Preschoolers

Think of mindfulness as a tool — it’s something you can reach for when you’re overwhelmed. By directing our attention to the present, we can better manage overwhelm and anxious feelings.

When preschoolers learn mindfulness techniques, they learn to focus their attention, strengthen resilience, and even self-soothe.

Some other helpful benefits of mindfulness for preschoolers include:

  • Improved emotional regulation skills
  • Greater calm in stressful situations
  • An expanded ability to keep things in perspective
  • Self-compassion, as children learn to treat their feelings with warmth and understanding
  • Less shame
  • Better physical and mental health
  • An increase in kindness for others
  • Self-control
  • Better decision makingWe all want our children to develop these strengths, skills, and characteristics. Read on for how to teach mindfulness to preschoolers.

Model Mindfulness

As in nearly everything you want to teach your child, modeling is critical in teaching mindfulness to preschoolers. Why? You can’t teach something you don’t know. If you don’t understand mindfulness for yourself, the lessons for your child simply won’t sink in.

That’s why it’s important to develop your own capacity for mindfulness. Incorporate mindfulness into your own day, and not only will you reap the benefits for yourself, you’ll know better how to teach the practices to your child.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Mindfulness is a skill, and it will take time for your preschooler to learn to be more mindful. Recognize this, and understand your child is going to need you to co-regulate with them for a while. They will also need plenty of practice with the skills.

Follow this simple three-step process:

  1. Help your child understand their feelings as they experience them. You can do this by naming your child’s feelings without judgment. “You’re feeling frustrated that your baby sister drooled on your toy, aren’t you?” “You’re feeling excited that you get to go swimming today, aren’t you?”
  2. Demonstrate mindfulness skills, without expecting your child to do them. In this stage, you’re simply modeling. Let your child see you doing breathing exercises when you’re upset, calming your body, taking time to be still, and more.
  3. Guide your child through mindfulness techniques. (See below for ideas.) Practice these techniques when your child is calm, so there is no pressure. Then, when your child is dysregulated, invite them to use a technique along with you.Don’t force any part of this process. And don’t worry if it takes a long time for your child to use the techniques when they’re upset. Just keep naming feelings, modeling mindfulness, and gently guiding when your child allows it.

    This is not an outcome-based approach. If your child doesn’t reach for their mindfulness techniques, nobody has failed. Just trust that this process will eventually give your child the tools they need to regulate their emotions.

Follow Your Child

Your child’s mood should be your barometer in how you approach mindfulness with them. Have a stash of mindfulness activities ready to go, and then choose the one that best fits the mood.

For example, you can have a calming corner where your child goes to calm down. Keep sensory activities and toys at the ready. You can also be prepared to co-regulate with a hug and soothing voice. And then, when your child needs calming, you can determine which of those techniques/tools will be most effective in the moment.

Use these techniques and tools throughout the day, even when your child isn’t upset, and it will be easier to use them in the tough moments.

18 Mindfulness Activities for Preschoolers

mindfulness for preschoolers

  1. Pause and notice how you’re feeling emotionally. (Do you feel happy? Excited? Sad? Gloomy?)
  2. Pause and notice how you’re feeling in your body. (Is your tummy full? Can you feel your heart? What does it feel like when you wiggle your toes? Take a breath and feel your belly and chest.)
  3. Pause and listen for one minute. What sounds did you hear?
  4. Think of the five senses: Name five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste.
  5. Take a bite of food, and keep it in your mouth with your eyes closed. Describe what it feels like and what it tastes like. (Is it crunchy? Sweet? Slippery? Bitter?)
  6. List things you are grateful for.
  7. Try this breathing technique: Smell the rose (breathe in), blow out the candle (breathe out)
  8. Blow bubbles. (You can imagine this, or do it with real bubbles.) See how slowly you can do it (take a big, deep breath and blow slowly on the bubbles).
  9. Pick a muscle to squeeze for five seconds, and then slowly release it.
  10. Feel each other’s heartbeats. This is great for co-regulating.
  11. Go outside and look for different textures. Pick up rocks, leaves, sticks, and more, and describe how each one feels.
  12. When creating arts or crafts, describe what you see, feel, hear, and smell. (Probably best to leave taste out of this one!)
  13. Take a mindful walk. Pay attention to the five senses as you walk, and discuss them as you go.
  14. Turn routine activities into slow-motion activities. Washing hands, eating a snack, putting the flatware away. Describe the senses you’re noticing as you go.
  15. Let your child smell the spices and ingredients as you cook.
  16. Download a guided meditation to do together.
  17. Listen to music together. Talk about the instruments you hear and the feelings the music invokes.
  18. Learn yoga poses.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we incorporate mindfulness into every day of learning. To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Teach Safety to Preschoolers

A few years ago, one of our preschool families had a house fire. Their preschool-aged child said, “I know just what to do,” and coached her parents through the process of getting low to crawl under the smoke and out of the house before calling 911.

She even explained to her parents that the fire department would soon be there to help save their house, and they didn’t need to be afraid because the firemen were “very nice, even if they looked scary in their masks.”

How did she know how to not only stay calm, but the right actions to take? Because she had recently gone through our “S Is for Safety” week at UDA Creative Arts Preschool!

Talking about safety, practicing safety, and even playing pretend with safety themes helps young children be prepared for emergency situations. And when done right, it also helps children approach potentially-scary topics in a non-threatening way.

It’s never too early to incorporate safety themes in your family. We want to share with you some of what we taught during “S Is for Safety” week, and how you can bring the messages home.

Some Things to Keep in Mind When Teaching Safety to Preschoolers

The topic of safety is not a one-and-done topic. (Really, nothing is a one-and-done topic!)

To teach safety to preschoolers, you should have ongoing conversations, practices, and learning.

Remember these important items:

  • Young children don’t know what you instinctively know by now. You know you need to point scissors down when you walk, and you know you should walk slowly when carrying a hot drink. But your child doesn’t know this. Remember that you need to go back to basics.
  • Preschoolers don’t think about consequences of their behavior. They may climb up a wall without realizing they won’t be able to get down. This isn’t  wrong; they just live in the here-and-now. As you remember that, you can have patience for their impulsivity as you teach.
  • Preschool children don’t fully understand that their behavior affects others. They may not remember that they need to make sure nobody is at the bottom of the slide before they head down, because they’re thinking only about their own experience. This is normal.
  • Keep your rules and explanations short and clear. Your child won’t absorb a lecture. “We wear helmets when we ride bikes,” is short and to the point.

Safety Rules to Teach Your Preschooler

First, it’s important for your preschooler to understand what is and what is not an emergency. For example, they may feel frantic if they aren’t allowed to stay up late, but this isn’t a time for them to call 911.

Define emergencies: fire, car accidents, someone is choking, someone is having trouble breathing, someone is unconscious, or a crime is happening.

Be sensitive to your child’s imagination and fears, and don’t tell your child more than they need to know.

How to Call 911

Your child needs to understand three things about 911:

  1. It is for emergencies only
  2. How to actually call
  3. How to speak to the dispatcher

Let your child practice dialing 911 on a pretend phone, or a larger-than-life phone pad like we show in the image above.

Teach your child how to speak to the dispatcher. They will need to be able to tell the dispatcher:

  • Their address, or describe where they are
  • What has happened
  • Their name

Practice memorizing their address by putting it to a nursery rhyme song: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Start” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb” often work.

Firefighters Aren’t Scary

A challenge for firefighters is that children often view them as scary strangers, leading them to hide in a dangerous situation.

Exposing your child to firefighters in a friendly way can help your child be willing to accept help if they are ever in a dangerous situation.

We invited the Draper City Fire Department to preschool to help the children associate positivity with firefighters. As a parent, you can visit the local fire station and look at pictures of firefighters in their full gear.

Help your child understand that even though the gear may make a firefighter look or sound scary, the person under the gear is there to help them.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Teach your child to stop, drop, and roll if they ever have fire on their clothing or body. An easy way to do this is to actually do the actions.

By practicing, your child is making this idea more permanent in their minds. If they ever encounter this emergency, they will have an easier time remembering what to do.

In addition, teach your child to “stay low and go” in a fire. Remember our preschooler who taught her parents to get below the smoke? Practice this together, so it becomes an automatic reaction if needed. Remind your child to cover their face.

Street Safety

teach safety to preschoolers

Children are small and can be missed by motorists. Teach your child about street signs, like stop signs, stop lights, and crosswalks, so they understand what they should do when they encounter one.

Teach your child to stop, look, and listen any time they approach a street or driveway. And teach them to stop when their name is called.

Teach your child to stay near an adult when they are in a street or parking lot. In fact, a good rule is to hold hands when getting in and out of the car, and then again while walking through the street or parking lot.

When riding bikes, children should wear helmets and avoid riding in driveways or the street.

Safety at Home

First, do what you can to create an environment that keeps dangerous objects out of children’s reach.

Then, empower your child to know what to do when they encounter a dangerous object.

  • Teach them not to touch sharp things, but to ask an adult for help if one is in the way.
  • Point out electrical outlets, and teach your child not to put anything in them.
  • Walk around the house to show your child “hot zones”: the stove, curling irons, space heaters, toasters, the fireplace, etc. Tell your child not to touch these items.
  • Keep medicines out of reach, but be sure to tell your child not to eat or drink any medicine, even if it looks like candy. Additionally, teach your child not to eat candy without first talking to a grownup. Explain that many things look like candy that actually aren’t.

    Water Safety

    Never leave your child alone near any body of water (including the bath tub, wading pool, or activity bucket in the backyard).

    Further empower your child by teaching them water safety rules:

  • Never swim alone. It should always be a group activity.
  • Never play near water alone. They should find an adult if they want to play in a backyard with an unfenced pool.
  • If your child encounters a fenced pool, they should never climb the fence.
  • Wear appropriate life vests when participating in water activities.

Strangers

Teach your child they shouldn’t go anywhere with anyone unless their parents have personally told them it’s okay. If someone they don’t know approaches them, tell them to find a trusted adult.

Have your child find you before answering the door.

How to Teach Safety to Preschoolers Without a Lecture

Conversations about safety with your preschooler are great, and should be happening regularly. When you do, make sure you’re leaving time and space for your child to ask questions and share their feelings.

But help the subject of safety become more real to your child with these tips:

  • Encourage your child to dress up like community helpers who keep us safe, like firefighters, nurses, and doctors.
  • Give your child toy tools and props that safety workers use.

  • Let your child act out a rescue situation, like calling 911 when a stuffed animal is choking, or putting out pretend fires in the living room.
  • Take a walk or drive around the neighborhood, and point out all the signs and what they tell us to do. Create a sidewalk chalk path, and include those signs. Have your child ride their bike or take a walk, and follow the directions of the signs.
  • Read books about emergency helpers.

    At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we work to prepare children for all aspects of life. To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Why We Use Themes Each Week at Preschool

You may have noticed we use thematic weekly units here at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. From “D Is for Dinosaur” to “S Is for Safety,” our themes provide a fun structure for each week’s learning.

But it’s not only about fun! Learn why we use thematic weekly units, how it’s benefitting your child, and how it looked during “S Is for Safety” week.

Why Thematic Learning Is Important in Preschool

Thematic units allow us to cross subject matter lines seamlessly — we can incorporate math and engineering by counting the wheels as we construct a vehicle during a week on transportation. We can then learn about colors as we paint our own vehicle. As we pretend to be vehicles during creative movement class, we exercise and understand our bodies more fully.

Essentially, thematic learning helps children explore, understand, and appreciate their world in deeper, more connected ways.

Thematic units help children achieve higher levels of learning. Children create meaning through discovering how facts and ideas relate to each other across subjects.

This is helpful for your child’s whole life. When they encounter a world problem, like homelessness, the solution involves social studies (it’s an issue related to people and how they interact), science (weather factors into the challenges), math (the finances that need to be involved in the solution), engineering (the construction that is needed in the solution), and so much more.

Through thematic learning, your child is learning how to think deeper and more critically, and to be someone who can contribute to real-world solutions — in their own lives and in the world at large.

Thematic learning in preschool is laying the groundwork for your child to make meaningful connections and see the bigger picture. It’s providing a framework for problem solving, interacting in the world, and learning as a lifelong pursuit.

The Benefits of Thematic Learning

In addition to learning how to make deep connections and problem solve, thematic learning helps your child in a variety of ways.

Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills are developed as children learn to explore, evaluate, and apply knowledge across different subjects.

During “S Is for Safety” week, we incorporated pretend play into the curriculum by pretending to be super heroes. But like everything in thematic learning, this wasn’t only for fun. We taught the children safety skills, like how to dial 911, how to be safe near a street, how to ask for help, and more in a variety of ways. When the week was over, every child had earned their Super Safety Kid training certificate.

When the children encounter a tricky situation, they will now have the skills to think critically to solve their problem.

Creativity

Creativity is enhanced though thematic learning, because children learn to think outside the box in their problem solving.

We taught the children the science of why water puts out fire, and then let them “put out” their own fires as a way to develop numerical literacy. With water bottles, they sprayed numbered laminated flames. “Putting out” fire 1, and counting up one-by-one, was a great way to help children understand counting and numbers’ relationship to each other.

In pretend play, the children “put out” construction-paper fires, making the idea of safety more connected to their real world and allowing them to face a potentially-scary subject on their own terms.

In art, we combined the colors of fire to see what happens when they blend together.

Memory Is Enhanced

Memory skills are developed in thematic learning, because children make deeper connections. This is great, because it means that learning loss is then prevented.

During creative movement class, we practiced stopping, dropping, and rolling. Not only did this help children move their bodies and develop strength, it reinforced an important concept. We hope they never have to use this skill, but by practicing it in our creative movement class, it will be brought to their memory if needed.

Art projects that encourage children to think about the thematic subject help children make more memorable connections. Art is a positive learning activity by itself, but combining it with the theme of the week helps children continue to make connections they can remember and apply in other places.

Learning Becomes More Self-Directed

In thematic units, children learn how to learn. Because their curiosity takes the driver seat, they are shown how to follow a topic from subject to subject. They collect more and more information along the way.

Giving the children props and dress-ups related to our “S Is for Safety” theme allowed the children to decide how they want to understand the topic. They got to “try on” different roles and act them out. This allowed them to process everything we were talking about in class.

The Family Can Join in Learning

When thematic units are used, the family can be a part of learning, since the themes are easy to talk about.

When parents know the theme, they can ask more directed questions. A question like, “How did you learn about safety in creative movement class?” might remind your child that they fashioned capes and acted as Super Safety Kids.

{Read: How to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School}

Communication Improves

Thematic learning helps children communicate better, as they get familiar with new vocabulary being used in natural settings.

In our “S Is for Safety” unit, children learned deeper meanings of common words, like safety, gratitude, and fire fighters.

They also learned potentially new-to-them words, like fire engine, dispatcher, and caution.

And they learned how to use language to communicate in critical moments. They practiced dialing 911, and what they should say to the dispatcher.

 It’s Just Fun!

Thematic learning is FUN! Kids love learning this way (and preschool teachers love teaching this way!). When children are having fun, they not only stay engaged longer, but they associate positive feelings with learning.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, our thematic units cover social studies, science, math, reading, art, creative movement and dance, music, character development, and writing. We enjoy full, integrated days of learning, exploration, and fun. To learn more about how we teach thematic units, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Improve Your Preschooler’s Communication Skills

We’ve all been victims (and perpetrators!) of bad communication. A misunderstood message can ruin a mood, a day, and even a relationship. Conversely, good communication can heal, improve, and enlighten. When it comes to preschoolers’ communication skills, they have a lot to learn — and parents have a lot to learn from them!

Your preschooler is absorbing communication messages and skills everywhere they go. And at home, you can help strengthen and develop your preschooler’s communication skills with the following tips. (You’re probably already doing many of these!)

Don’t Worry So Much About Correcting Your Preschooler’s Communication Skills

preschooler's communication skills

First things first, take a breath and relax. You don’t have to be hyper-vigilant and correct every communication mistake from your child. In fact, it’s best if you let mistaken words slide.

Part of a preschooler’s communication is using the right words for the right things. But this is a skill that takes time to develop. Don’t demand your child repeat a word or phrase until they say it right. This will turn communication into a negative interaction.

Wait a Minute

preschooler's communication skills

Part of good communication is hearing what another person has to say. Make sure you’re doing this for your child by waiting five to 10 seconds to let your child respond to a question or conversation.

Not only will this teach your child about respecting the back-and-forth of conversation, it will give your child time to process their thoughts and how to talk about them.

Encourage Play

Kids learn through play, and play provides ample opportunity to develop preschool communication skills.

In play, children take on different roles, which requires using different vocabulary. When playing doctor, they’ll use medical terms and when playing school, they’ll use teaching terms. They may use terms incorrectly, but the point is that they’ll expand their vocabulary and their ability to express their thoughts verbally while they play.

Not only that, but when your child plays with another child or with you, they’ll develop critical skills like listening, contributing to conversations, and speaking respectfully.

{Read: Why Your Child Needs Pretend Play}

Model Good Communication Skills

Your child is always watching and learning from what they see you doing. Model good communication skills by talking with and truly listening to your child. Show that you care about what they’re saying by giving them your attention, making eye-contact, and waiting until they’re done speaking before you say something.

{Read: How to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School}

11 Fun Ways to Develop Your Preschooler’s Communication Skills

While the above examples are techniques you can incorporate into every day conversation, use these ideas to add some fun to your preschooler’s communication development.

  • Play games like Simon Says, Red Light/Green Light, and Mother May I. Dance to The Hokey Pokey, or start a game of I Spy. These games will help your child pay attention to cues.
  • Read together. This can never be done too much! Reading exposes your child to new vocabulary and ideas, and helps them learn to think critically. When you read, stop occasionally to ask questions about the story: “What do you think will happen next?” “How do you think this character is feeling?” Keep books and magazines at kid level, so your child can access them whenever they want.
  • Watch a show or movie together. Yes, screen time isn’t ideal all the time, but you can use it as an enjoyable tool to help your child develop communication skills when you talk about what you’re watching, ask questions, and create opportunities to take the screen into the real world.
  • Cook or bake together. This is an excellent way to improve preschooler’s communication skills, as you read instructions together and follow them.
  • Pick a category and identify all the items in view that fit within that category. For example, find everything that is orange, everything that is edible, everything that smells good, and so on. As you play this game, your preschooler will be challenged to learn new words (like edible, for example) and how they relate to the items surrounding them.
  • Play guessing games with clues. For example, “I’m thinking of something soft and living. It has long ears and it likes to eat carrots.” Your child will be absorbing vocabulary, while learning to interpret information and speak about it. Ask your child to give you clues next!
  • Talk about feelings. Give your child a large emotional vocabulary by naming your feelings. “I’m feeling frustrated that I forgot to pick up milk.” “I’m feeling excited that your birthday is coming up!”

{Read: How to Help Your Preschooler Develop an Emotional Vocabulary}

  • Create artwork together. Art gives your preschooler the opportunity to describe what they see, what they’re thinking, and what they’re feeling.
  • Listen to music together. Discuss the instruments you hear, the lyrics, the tempo, and more. Bring up the emotions you feel.
  • Go for a nature walk, looking for specific items. “Let’s find everything that is round/living/green.” This will open up conversations, and it will also add to your child’s vocabulary as they identify different objects.
  • Make a photo album together. Pull it out often to discuss the pictures. Let your child do the talking, and prompt them with simple questions to get them going. “Remember the silly thing that happened that day?”

When You Might Need Professional Help with Your Preschooler’s Communication Skills

Trust your intuition, and if you feel your child is struggling or lagging in their communication skills, seek professional help. Your preschool or pediatrician may be able to refer you to a speech-language pathologist.

Some signs of communication problems to watch for in preschoolers:

  • Talking very little, or not at all
  • Trouble understanding and following directions
  • Not speaking in full sentences
  • Trouble making certain sounds, like k, g, f, t, d, and n 
  • Difficulty asking or answering questions
  • Poor vocabulary
  • Struggling to hold conversations
  • Stuttering (repeating words or parts of words)
  • Difficulty learning concepts like counting and colors
  • Unclear speech

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we’re committed to helping preschoolers develop communication skills. We watch for signs that a child is struggling and communicate those to parents. Our preschool is also a vocabulary-rich, communication-friendly environment with activities and lessons designed to help children continue to improve in communication. To learn more about us, or to enroll your child, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School

“How was preschool today?”

“Good.”

“What did you do?”

“I don’t remember.”

Does this conversation sound familiar? Getting your preschooler to open up after school can be a challenge!

The reason? Their brains are darting from idea to idea at rapid speed, and their working memory hasn’t fully developed yet. They may have LOVED when Miss Vicky led them on a hunt for the gingerbread man, but that was two hours ago. Plus, right now they’re distracted by something they see out the window.

But you (naturally!) want to know what your child did at school, and you want to know how they felt about it all. And it’s actually good for your preschooler’s brain if you do ask them to open up about their day. Revisiting their day helps their brain to develop while making important connections in their life.

So how can you get your preschooler to open up after preschool? Try these seven tell-me-about-your day tips.

Check Your Questions

It’s natural to say, “How was your day?” And there’s nothing wrong with this question. But if you want your preschooler to open up, try to ask fewer questions that prompt only one-word answers. Questions like, “Did you have fun?” or “Did you have a good day?” don’t invite your child to revisit their day and think about something to share.

Instead of “Did you have fun?”, try, “What was the most fun part of your day?” This will help you get more information, while also helping your child build their memory and communication skills.

Become Familiar with the Preschool Schedule

how to get your preschooler to open up

The more you know about what goes on at preschool each day, the more you can get your preschooler to open up. Use what you know to form your questions.

For example, if you know the preschool does show-and-tell every day, you can ask who brought an item, what it was, and what the child said about that item.

Use the teachers’ names, and ask questions about what they did during different subjects. “What kind of wiggly activity did you do in Miss Kris’ movement class today?”

What other routines or traditions happen at your child’s preschool? At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we have a special puppet named Tiki who introduces our character traits. Ask your child, “What did Tiki teach you?”

Use the 5 Ws

how to get your preschooler to open up

Help your child think back over their day by asking specific questions that ask them to recall details.

The 5Ws are a helpful guideline in this:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

Who did you sit next to at snack time? What art project did you work on today? When did you feel excited today? Where did you play during free time? Why did you get in the car with a smile/frown?

You can also add how questions: How did you feel during playtime? How were you friendly/silly/curious today? How did you solve a problem today?

Be Fun

how to get your preschooler to open up

Get your preschooler to open up by being fun or silly.

“Today, I wished a unicorn would knock on the door. It didn’t happen, but I did get a fun package. What silly thing did you wish for today?”

“I’m sure you did nothing today! You sat on the floor and stared at the wall, right?” If your child is in a playful mood, this might prompt responses like, “Noooo! I played with Emma! We were firefighters and we saved all the ponies!”

Take Your Time

Some kids are ready to share all the details of their day as soon as they get in the car, but some kids need time to decompress. And even chatty kids will have days when they need some time.

Gauge your child’s engagement, and if they need some time, wait. Try again when you’re both eating a snack together, driving to an after-school activity, eating dinner, or going to bed.

Get Your Preschooler to Open up by Showing How It’s Done

Start your conversation by sharing about your own day. Think of moments in your day that are relatable to your child’s day.

For example, “I had an orange for a snack.” Or, “I had a good time talking with my best friend today.” Or, “I felt frustrated today, and I helped myself feel better by taking deep breaths.”

Sometimes your child might take your cue, and offer up a similar tidbit from their day. Or you can then ask your child a similar question. “What did you have for snack today? What did you do with your friend today?”

Change the Scenery

Pay attention to when — and where — your child opens up about their day. If they clam up in the car, they may still be decompressing. Or they may be distracted by what they see outside. Try asking about your child’s day at a more calm time, like at bedtime.

If they can’t answer your questions face-to-face at dinner time, they may prefer talking when you’re doing a side-by-side activity, like putting together a puzzle or going for a walk.

15 Questions to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School

Add a few of these questions to your rotation, and see how it goes!

  1. What did your teacher say to you today?
  2. Who did you spend the most time with today?
  3. What was the best thing you did outside?
  4. What was the hardest thing you did inside?
  5. Why was (fill in the blank from their answer) so fun/hard?
  6. Where is your favorite place at preschool?
  7. What did you have for snack?
  8. Sing me a song your learned today.
  9. What was the worst thing that happened today?
  10. What made you smile today?
  11. Show me your artwork. Tell me about it.
  12. What made you laugh today?
  13. Show me something you did in your creative movement class.
  14. Tell me about something that made you sad today.
  15. Tell me about something you learned today. 

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we enjoy full days of learning, exploration, and fun. To learn more about how we teach music, art, reading, math, science, creative movement, social studies, and so much more, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

8 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress for Preschoolers

reduce holiday stress

Yes, preschoolers can get stressed out at the holidays too!

While adults are stressing about expenses, travel, obligations, overeating, and a full plate, preschoolers might be feeling the stress in the air. Not only that, kids can get over-stimulated by the busyness, the lights, the activities, the gatherings, and more.

Your child may react to stress by crying for small things, having meltdowns, withdrawing from family and friends, biting nails, and complaining of headaches and stomachaches.

If your child is already struggling, or if you’d like to avoid stress, follow these 8 tips to reduce holiday stress for preschoolers

1. Stick to Routines

As much as possible, try and keep your normal routines. Go to bed and wake up close to your normal times, and eat meals and snacks at normal times. If bedtime always includes a story and a song, don’t forego that routine now.

While events and traditions will understandably throw a wrench in your routine, keep things as close to your normal schedule as possible. This helps your child feel like they know what they can expect from moment to moment.

2. Tell Your Child Your Plans

Even when you try to follow your normal routine, many days will look drastically different than what your child is used to.

Help your child feel safe and secure with their day by letting them know what to expect. You can write a list or draw pictures, but even a verbal rundown of what to expect will be helpful.

Telling your child, “After dinner, we’ll wrap presents,” will avoid what could have been a meltdown when your child was expecting to watch TV. 

3. Remember, They’re Kids

A lot of what we expect during the holidays — long church services, extended visits with older relatives, hustling from store to store — can be too much for kids. When your child gets restless or even melts down, remember they’re being put in situations they wouldn’t have chosen.

4. Get Their Input

No doubt you have a long list of what you’d like to do this holiday season. You might even run yourself ragged wrapping all the gifts with the same paper, making 10 types of cookies, and hustling to dozens of events.

But check in with your kids first. What’s actually important to them? What do they picture when they think of the holidays? Even small children can tell you what they want to do this holiday season.

You may find that your to-do list can be shortened when you hear what’s really important to your family.

5. Let Them Help

Let your child be a part of preparations for your traditions. This will not only help them stay productive and less stressed, they’ll feel pride for contributing to the work that goes into a great celebration.

6. Let Them Vent

Things are not going to go well every second of the holiday season. When your child melts down or complains, don’t shush them or punish them. Let them feel their feelings. When they are validated, they can work through those feelings more productively and quickly.

7. Remember the Importance of Giving

Help your child forget so much about the “getting” part of the holidays by focusing on the giving. Donating to a local toy drive or local family is a great way to do this. But if that feels like one more thing on your to-do list, you can still teach the value of giving by helping your child get excited about the gifts they’re giving to their family members.

Helpful tip: Instead of asking your child, “What do you want for the holidays?”, ask, “What are you giving for the holiday?”

8. Plan for Downtime

This is a hustle-bustle season. If you don’t plan to slow down and rest, it will be easy to skip that need altogether.

Schedule downtime each day so you and your child can rest your bodies and your minds. And take breaks if stress levels rise in anybody in the family.

Remember, this is a time of family connection. Downtime contributes to that important need.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we care about the emotional development and wellbeing of our students. To learn more about us, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Simple Ways Preschoolers Can Make a Difference in the World

acts of kindness

Small children have an innate sense of fairness. They know intimately what it’s like when something doesn’t feel fair to them, and they can clearly see when something isn’t fair for somebody else.

Use these ideas to help them turn their need for fairness into action that supports and helps others with acts of kindness.

Listen to Your Child

child healthy habits

It’s likely your child is going to notice unsettling things in the world. They will see sick people, people experiencing homelessness, and even violence or hatred directed at other people. When they do, don’t try and change the subject. Listen to what they have to say, what they’re confused about, and what they wish was different.

 

Have the Conversations

Don’t shy away from discussing these hard things your child is noticing. Keep your conversations appropriate for your child’s age, but be willing to answer questions. Be willing to say you don’t know the answer, and be willing to search for more information.

Hear Your Child’s Solutions

Your child is full of compassion. They’ll come up with ideas for fixing the world’s problems. Not every solution will work — Maybe we should use a magic wand! — but some will. When your child offers a solution to help someone, hear their solution and keep the conversation going.

“A magic wand would be so great. When you wave the wand, what would change?” Let your child think through the helping process, and when a real solution is found, see if you can help facilitate it in some way.

 

 

Model Kind Behavior

It’s obvious, but we don’t always think about it. Our behavior has a direct impact on how our children will behave in similar situations.

If you are unkind online, mock strangers, or gossip, your children will pick up on it. On the other hand, if you thank a cashier, help your neighbor look for their lost dog, or donate to the food pantry, your child will want to do good too.

Pay Attention to Emotions

Help your child develop empathy for others, so they will want to help others. One way to do this is to teach them to put themselves in another person’s shoes. You can do this by paying attention to the emotions of others.

In a book or magazine, find a picture of a person and ask your child what emotion they’re feeling. Ask them to make up a story of why they’re feeling that way. It doesn’t matter if the story is wrong. The point is, you’re teaching your child to notice emotions and consider what might lead to those emotions. This will help your child be empathetic to others.

Be Kind to Your Child

acts of kindness

This is an obvious tip, but parenting can be so tiring that it’s worth mentioning. If you’re overwhelmed, you’re not alone, and you’re not a bad parent. You just need a reminder that even when children are behaving in difficult ways, they need kindness.

Maria Montessori said, “Let us treat them [children], therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.”

If we want our children to be kind and make a difference in the world, our kind treatment of them will go a long way.

12 Acts of Kindness to Do with Your Preschooler

acts of kindness

When it comes to teaching your preschooler about kindness and making a difference in the world, think: short and quick! Your preschooler’s attention span is short, so don’t plan elaborate acts of kindness. Keep them simple and short, and your preschooler will get the satisfaction of helping others without losing interest.

As they get older, you can expand.

  • Pick up Trash. This simple activity can be done anywhere at any time of year. Just glove up and keep an eye on what your child picks up.
  • Shovel Snow. Be prepared to take over after your child tires out. Or better yet, bring a shovel for each of you. When your child loses interest, it’s okay if they play in the snow.
  • Be a Friend. A simple way to make a huge difference in someone’s world is to be their friend. Practice sentences your child can say at preschool when they see someone who is lonely. “Want to play with me?” “Want to be my friend?”
  • Show Gratitude. Point out community helpers, like the mail carrier, firefighters, and the librarian. Draw a picture or write a positive note to deliver.
  • Feed the birds. Animals need love and support too!
  • Visit an animal shelter. Many shelters let families spend time holding different animals.
  • Donate food to the food pantry.
  • Call, or safely visit, someone who is lonely. Faraway grandparents, and homebound seniors close at hand, love to hear from children.
  • Make a sibling’s bed, set the table, take out the trash, etc. 
  • Participate in a walk for charity.
  • Organize a donation drive among your neighbors and friends. Have your child help design and pass out flyers, assist with organizing donations when they come in, and go with you to drop off the donations.
  • Make a crying baby smile, or play a game with a younger child. Know someone with a new baby? Offer to take the other kids off their hands, and have your preschooler come up with activities they can all play together.

    At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we teach kindness, empathy, and service throughout our thematic units.   To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.