How to Gauge Your Child’s Speech and Language Development


speech and language development

Your child is always watching and listening, soaking up language and communication skills at the speed of light. And did you know that in those first early years, the interactions your child has with adults will help set the stage for how well your child will learn? Along with your child’s preschool teachers, you can have a hugely positive impact on your child’s speech and language development — giving your child the gift of academic (and life!) confidence.

“Children who develop strong language and communication skills are more likely to arrive at school ready to learn. They also are less likely to have difficulties learning to read and are more likely to have higher levels of achievement in school.”

And children who can communicate their needs, wants, and interests have an easier time engaging with those around them. Plus, it’s simply more fun for a child when he can be a full participant in what’s going on!

The first five to six years of life are a sensitive period for developing language skills, and you can make the most of those years by promoting high-quality language interactions. Read on to find out how.

Stages of Language Development

When children are infants and babies, they understand far more words than they can speak. By the end of their first year, they’re experts at pseudo-language — that is, their babbling actually mimics their native language. Next, they move on to single words, or holophrases, and those little smarties can use pointing, emphasis, and more to indicate different meanings of the word.

Between 18 and 20 months, children have a vocabulary of about 300 words and begin putting two-word sentences together, like, “Eat banana.” Soon, their sentences get a bit longer and indicate more meaning. “Where cat go?”

The ball really gets rolling after this, and by age 3, children have a vocabulary of about 1,000 words and can speak in full sentences with adults about ideas, needs, desires, and more. They begin to understand grammar rules, and they make a lot of sense (most of the time!).

By about age 6, children have a vocabulary between 8,000 and 14,000 words, and they continue to improve pronunciation, understanding, and abilities.

speech and language development

Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Speech and Language Development?

As parents, we’re always worried about our kids. It’s easy to compare your child to one of his preschool classmates or one of her best friends. It’s wise to pay attention to warning signs, but getting worked up over comparisons will only cause you and your child stress.

Instead, keep an eye out for these signs  of speech and language development in your preschool-aged child:


  • Struggling to understand what gestures mean
  • Having a hard time following directions
  • Having trouble answering questions
  • Struggling to identify objects and pictures
  • Struggling to take turns when talking with others


  • Having a hard time asking questions
  • Struggling to name objects
  • Having trouble using gestures
  • Having a hard time putting words together into sentences
  • Struggling to learn songs and rhymes
  • Having trouble using correct pronouns, like “she” or “they”
  • Having trouble knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going

Early reading and writing

  • Having trouble with holding a book right side up
  • Struggling to look at pictures in a book and turn pages
  • Having trouble telling a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end
  • Having a hard time naming letters and numbers
  • Struggling to learn the alphabet

If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and language development, talk with her preschool teacher and/or doctor, and begin working with a speech language pathologist.

How to Encourage Speech Language Development

If your child has delays, his speech language pathologist will give you specific activities to do. But whether your child struggles or not, the following activities can help your child develop strong speech and language skills — and they help to form bonds between the two of you as well!


  • Talk a lot. From the time your child is a baby, keep a dialogue going. Describe what you see and what you’re doing, ask your baby questions, and respond when your baby responds.  As your child grows, continue to talk — and actually listen.
  • Pause what you’re doing when your child talks to you and make eye contact to model good listening behavior.
  • Encourage language, in addition to gestures your child may be using to communicate.
  • Ask questions that give your child a choice.
  • Point out silly things in books and have your child tell you why those things are silly.
  • Have your child explain what’s happening in a picture book or family photo.
  • Sing songs and make music.
  • Read, read, read! Read picture books, cereal boxes, store signs, and more. Just read.
  • Discuss the stories you read.
  • Sing nursery rhymes together.
  • Tell stories to each other.
  • Have your child retell or act out a story you’ve read.
  • Ask your child what he likes about the story.

As you make language and speech development a priority, many of these ideas will become second nature to you. But no matter what, we’re pretty sure you’ll always be amazed by the things your preschooler says!

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool,  we encourage our students to develop their language and speech abilities throughout each day as we go about our multisensory activities. Our teachers are trained in listening and encouraging children to increase their speaking abilities, and we love helping our children succeed. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to schedule a tour and see the preschool in action.

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool — D Is for Dinosaur

We have so much fun at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, and our themed weeks create a framework for important concepts to be taught while enjoying subjects that interest the children (and adult teachers!). 

Recently, we had a blast during our “D Is for Dinosaur” week. We packed in plenty of roaring fun, hands-on learning, fine-motor skill development, history lessons, science lessons, movement and music activities, a field trip, and so much more. We’re busy from the moment the children to arrive to the time they’re picked up!

Paleontologists in Training

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

The children were thrilled to pretend to be paleontologists with their own tools (a mallet, a plastic knife that acted as a chisel, and a brush) and unearth dinosaur skeletons from blocks. While they had an absolute blast, this activity also helped to develop hand/eye coordination.

d is for dinosaur

Digging through the sensory bin of sand, the children found plastic dinosaur pieces and put them together to make a dinosaur skeleton. Not only did the field of paleontology become more familiar to them, but they developed visual discrimination skills with this activity.

Dinosaur Habitat in a Box

d is for dinosaur

Everyone added a new word to their vocabulary: Habitat.

Together, we looked at books and photos of dinosaurs and talked about what it would have looked like where they lived and what they would have needed to survive. Then, with sand, play dough, plastic trees, plastic dinosaurs, and more, each child made their own dinosaur habitat. They included volcanoes, hot lava, a river or lake, and more. Some children even added nests and eggs because they remembered we had learned that dinosaurs hatch from eggs. We love when concepts come together like this!

Dinosaur Stomp

d is for dinosaur

During creative movement class, we moved like dinosaurs in a dinosaur stomp. We also sang songs that helped the children learn to distinguish between different dinosaurs.

Playing Is Learning

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

Children learn through play, so dinosaurs are heavily featured in our play and art time as well. We even incorporated dinosaurs into our letter and number recognition activities.

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

Finally, we took advantage of being so close to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. Everyone enjoyed this fun field trip where the children could get even more hands-on dinosaur experience with their parents.

UDA Creative Arts Preschool believes in developing the whole child through a variety of multisensory activities. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to arrange a visit and see what we’re up to.

Landing the Helicopter- Teaching Life Skills

teaching life skills

We can all agree that our end goal is a happy, productive, independent adult who knows how to contribute to society.  The question is how do we get from Point A, infant in arms, to Point B, this “functioning” adult?  It’s strange to think of our preschooler as an adult, but sometimes stepping back and changing our perspective can help us “land the helicopter” of parenting as we begin teaching life skills.

teaching life skills

Helicopter parenting refers to parents who “hover” over their child, protecting them from any harm and solving all their problems.  It’s instinctive for parents to protect their children, so striking the balance between protecting and allowing life’s experiences to teach our child can be tricky.  

Professionals agree that failure to allow children the independence they need to learn life skills creates individuals with increased anxiety, decreased self-worth, under-developed coping skills and a sense of entitlement.  Yikes! So what are some things we can do increase autonomy and a positive self-image in our children?

5 Tools for Teaching Life Skills


It may be stating the obvious, but sometimes our expectations are too high if we don’t set children up for success.  Then, when they fail, we get a false sense of their capabilities. Before expecting a child to perform a task, model it for her.  The Boy Scouts of America trains its leaders in the Teaching EDGE Method.

Educate- Explain the “why’s.” We put the plates facing the middle of the dishwasher and the cups upside down because the water sprayer spins and will clean them better there.  We feed the dog because, just like humans, he needs food for energy to move, and so his tummy doesn’t feel hungry.

Demonstrate- We show them where the dishes are placed in the dishwasher and how to fill the dog bowls with the right amount of food and water.

Guide- Stand by them as they try it themselves, ready to make gentle corrections as needed.

Enable- Allow them to do it autonomously, watching from a distance, and again making gentle corrections only when necessary.


Trust your child’s capabilities.  I’m not talking about trusting your preschooler with your grandmother’s china.  But become familiar with what is age-appropriate for your child and trust him to start trying new things.  This website offers ideas of age-appropriate life skills for all different ages.  It’s easy to forget to teach tying shoelaces and making a phone call in our world of velcro and text messaging.  They are capable, they just need the practice.


teaching life skills

Akin to trust is patience. And some patience. And then some more patience.  Waiting for a three-year-old to put his shoes on could tip your stress levels over breaking point as you’re trying to hurry out the door.  Allow your preschooler ample time to learn new skills in a stress-free environment.  And on those stressful, have-to-get-out-the-door days, it’s okay to rotate which things your child will be autonomous on for that particular day.  Just make sure you are giving them enough opportunities to really learn the skills.  


Gandhi taught, “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment; full effort is full victory.” If our child doesn’t learn to get that coat zipper up the first, second, or fifteenth time, lovingly encourage him to keep trying.  Allow the struggle. Only step in if frustration levels are becoming overwhelming to your child.

teaching life skills

In our world of instant gratification, it’s important for our children to experience working hard to gain success.  Like the chick hatching from it’s egg, if we do it for her, she will lose the strength and ability to become. Let them experience satisfaction. Sometimes the hardest part is keeping our hands to ourselves when we yearn to reach out and “fix” the problem.


Once a new skill is achieved, help them recognize their success and celebrate it!  Often the feeling of satisfaction is reward enough.  But sometimes it’s also fun to celebrate with something special.

teaching life skills

One of our preschool families celebrates with “the fox plate.”  Whomever has accomplished a special achievement gets to decide what the fox “says”, as they sing the song, “What Does the Fox Say”.  And naturally, they get the plate that night.

teaching life skills

Another idea is to have a special toy that is played with when a life skill has been achieved.  This toy was played with every time one little boy was successful on the potty.  

teaching life skills

Charts are another fun way to measure and celebrate success as children set and achieve goals.  Some reward ideas are: a visit to the library or park, staying up twenty minutes past bedtime, dance party, some family outside play time, etc.


Whatever the celebration is, the years of progressing towards that happy, well-rounded adult is definitely worth landing the helicopter and celebrating along the way.  A great rule to remember is: never do for your child what he can do for himself.  Check out this great article for more ideas to help your child on her road to independence.  

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we are dedicated to teaching life skills to our preschoolers as we celebrate their successes and failures alike.  We believe in the process of learning and satisfaction we find along the way.  We’d love to show you!  You can schedule a tour by calling (801) 523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison

September School Adventures

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

We have loved starting our new school year at UDA Creative Arts Preschool with our adorable preschoolers!  September has been full of fun school adventures.  Here are a few highlights of what we’ve been up to:

A is for Animal Week

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

Our four legged friends were almost as obedient as the kids. (Wink wink.)  

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

We had so much fun discussing and meeting different pets.

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

And who knew a hedgehog was so fun to explore?  In fact, who even knew what a hedgehog was?

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

But we do now, and our new little friend kept our preschoolers quite intrigued.

B is for Bird

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

This little bird’s nest made the rounds at circle time as we discussed a bird’s home and her eggs.

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

Our character trait, kindness, in action.

C is for Caterpillar

Caterpillar Week has been quite scientific as we’ve discussed the life-cycle of a butterfly.

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

Our caterpillars made their chrysalises right in their jar!  

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

We were all fascinated with their transformation!

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

We applied our scientific learning to our movement and art class as well.  Here we are crawling like little caterpillars.

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

We learned symmetry as we created our own bright butterflies.  We’re not sure if it’s more fun to paint with our fingers or to see the discovery on the children’s faces when we open their butterfly and see their art on both wings.  This is a fun school art activity you can continue discussing at home.

Try This At Home!

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

The kids love this activity and it’s so easy to replicate.  

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

We start out with the primary colors using water and food coloring.  

UDA Creative Arts Preschool

Give your child an ice cube tray and some droppers (a clean egg carton and a spoon works, too), and let the color experimentation begin!


We hope you will continue your child’s learning at home as you discuss and continue some of our school activities at home.  Parents and guests are always welcome to come see our school adventures in action.  You can schedule an appointment, (801) 523-5930.  Or you can learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool on our website.


Let’s Play — Why Your Child Needs Play-Based Learning

play-based learning

Keeping up with the Joneses has always been a hazard of modern life. We want what our neighbors have. And try as we might, we just can’t shake this competition when it comes to parenting. Even the least-affected among us want our children to excel academically, socially, physically, and more.

And we naturally worry when it seems like our child is falling behind. But in the rush to make sure our kids keep up, we sometimes focus too heavily on academics, sports, and more. While these components of childhood are all important, we may forget one very important thing:


play-based learning

It may look like our kids are just wasting time when they’re playing, but it’s actually a critical component of their development. In fact, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights even recognizes play as a right of every child!

Read on to learn why play is so important at home and at school — and how you can make sure your child gets enough of it!

The Many Benefits of Play-Based Learning

Children need to learn their ABCs and 123s, and play is one way to effectively make that happen. When you incorporate fun into regular lessons, children just get it.

But the benefits of play-based learning extend far beyond academics. Play develops imagination, cognitive strength, and dexterity. It allows children to have control over their environment, giving them confidence and the ability to master what they’re doing. It helps children face fears in a safe space, and it lets them practice adult roles. They learn how to work in groups, to negotiate, and to advocate for themselves. They learn to try on different interests, and find what they’re really passionate about.

And that’s all just from unstructured play!

play-based learning

When a teacher uses guided play as a teaching tool, she can ensure her students build vocabulary skills, gain background knowledge on subjects being taught, and even push through academic challenges.

Indeed, researchers have determined that successful learning contains four key ingredients. The best learning happens when children are:

  • Mentally active
  • Engaged
  • Socially interactive
  • Building meaningful connections to their lives

Think of the last time you watched your child play. Whether you noticed it at the time, chances are good that you saw all of those ingredients mixing together for a deliciously fun time of learning.

How Parents Can Incorporate Play-Based Learning at Home

  • Make time for it! In your own life, you probably won’t relax unless it’s part of a daily ritual or if it’s put on the calendar. But much as you suffer when you don’t leave time for relaxation, children suffer when they don’t have time to play. Include it in your daily routines.
  • Step back. You don’t have to direct your child’s play. If your child calls a dinosaur a parrot, don’t correct her. Let her direct her own play. She’s building worlds of imagination.
  • But play with them too! There’s a time to step back, and there’s a time to engage. Playing with your child gives you a front-row seat to the stage of your child’s mind. It’s beneficial for both of you when you get down on your child’s level and play. But the key? Follow your child’s lead. Don’t take over. Don’t make judgment calls on his decisions. Just do what he does, and follow his lead.
  • Provide materials. Give your child new materials to play with — fabric pieces, play-doh, ribbon, dry pasta, empty tissue boxes… you get the idea. Don’t give any direction; just let them play.
  • Go outside. A change of scenery opens the mind. Head out to your backyard, to the park, or to a nature spot and see what your child comes up with.
  • Allow for mistakes. Learning happens when children are allowed to make mistakes.
  • Appreciate your children’s efforts. Display their artwork, tell them you’re impressed that they continued to build a block tower even when it kept toppling over, and praise them for being kind to playmates.
  • Get messy. (Well, as much as your comfort level will allow!)

play based learning

Need some ideas for what you can do together? Try these on for size:

  • Draw with chalk outside
  • Read books
  • Put puzzles together
  • Dress up
  • Play together at the playground
  • Go for a walk
  • Dance to music
  • Play board games or card games
  • Play with puppets
  • Arrange or sort tiny toys or trinkets
  • Do housework together
  • Kick, throw, or bounce a ball
  • Jump in leaf piles
  • Play hopscotch
  • Draw, paint, or color

Remember — while there is much you can do with your child, she also benefits from playing on her own. Don’t stress about how you play, how often you play, or if you’re playing the right things. Just allow for play — structured and unstructured — in your home.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we take a play-based learning approach in our classrooms. We guide children to use their imagination to help concepts stick, learn new ways of doing things, and more.


Eyes, Ears, Mouth and Nose- The Benefits of Multisensory Learning

multisensory learning

There is no question that babies are learning to identify the world around them with their senses.  From the familiar smell and sound of mom, to feeling swaddled and warm, babies are participating in multisensory learning.  

Multisensory Learning

It should be no surprise that preschoolers are continuing in their quest to identify and explore their environment through multisensory learning.  For those of us who are not immersed in the child development vernacular, multisensory just means using more than one of the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) in a learning activity.  So here is an easy rule of thumb: the more senses the activity uses, the more effective the learning will be.

Benefits of Multisensory Learning

We all have a different learning style, the most common being visual or verbal. But one of the great benefits of multisensory learning is utilizing all learning styles.  Furthermore, did you know that multisensory learning can also help children with learning and attention issues?  These children are better equipped to collect data and problem solve as they participate in a more hands-on approach to learning.

Studies have also shown that multisensory learning increases proficiency and effectiveness of learning as it accesses more parts of the brain, improves memory, and enhances brain development. Don’t be surprised if your child is repetitive when doing a multisensory activity.  This type of learning is all about the process!

What Does Multisensory Learning Look Like?

To the untrained eye, multisensory learning may look a lot more like play than learning.  Look a little closer and you’ll find that multisensory play is actually their little brains at work.  

multisensory learning

Put together a puzzle and your little guy is using his sight as well as critical thinking and kinesthetic learning.  Talk about the puzzle as you complete it and you’ve added verbal and social learning styles.

multisensory learning

Role play gives children the opportunity to handle objects in their world as they discuss and apply their usefulness, using logical–and sometimes not-so-logical–thinking.  They are able to develop social learning skills as well as a combination of visual, verbal, and even auditory learning.  (When was the last time you noticed your preschooler singing while playing?  Yep!  That was auditory learning!)

Water tables are fabulous multisensory learning tools, as they just beg to be played in!  Whether using rice, water, sand, beans, or water beads, the feel of the medium on your hands and fingers are firing those synapsis all over the place!  Add the toys, and our preschoolers are busy little bees learning laws of physics while their processing brains go wild.

3 Multisensory Learning Activities to Try at Home

Puzzles and role playing are easy to play at home, too.  Get a plastic tub in the back yard and fill it with water, add a funnel, and you have your own water table as well.  But here are a few more fun multisensory learning activities to try at home:


The store-bought or homemade kind both work great.  Not only do they work their little kinetic minds while kneading the dough, they process so much more when you give them tools to use.   Here are a few ideas:

  • Plastic knife or fork
  • Plastic scissors
  • Cookie cutters
  • Milk lids
  • Wire whisk
  • Measuring cups
  • Scale
  • Muffin tins
  • Rolling pin
  • Stampers- any shape you have around the kitchen

And if mixing colors gives your OCD heart an attack, make your own dough and let them help you mix the colors in. (Make sure the dough is cool enough.) You can always make more if the final product is “blah” in color.

Homemade Playdough

2 c flour

2 c water

1 c salt

2 T oil

4 t cream of tartar or alum

Food coloring- add to liquid

(Or add a package of Kool-Aid for scent and color)

Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes until ball is formed.  Knead until stiff.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

2- Cook!

Popcorn. Lemonade. Cinnamon Toast. Any food preparation your preschooler can participate in introduces them to textures, smells, colors, shapes and best of all, taste!  Not to mention all the small muscle development, independence, and scientific learning it fosters.  This Rainbow Salad recipe is healthy and perfect for little hands to make with a plastic knife and parental supervision.  Don’t forget to discuss shapes and colors as you make it!

multisnesory learning

Rainbow Salad

½ c sliced strawberries (sliced with egg slicer)

1 small can mandarin oranges, drained

½ c pineapple chunks

½ c kiwi, slices cut into triangles

½ c blueberries

½ c red grapes, cut in half

Mix and enjoy.


3- Textile Mosaic

Grab some different textiles and colors and let your child cut and paste them.  What shapes can she make?  What sound do they make if they crinkle?  (Lois Ehlert, illustrator of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a fabulous textile artist if you need some ideas.)

Here some example mediums to use:

  • Tinfoil or foil paper
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Felt
  • Any scraps of fabric
  • Feathers
  • Pipe-cleaners
  • Craft foam
  • Newspaper or magazines
  • Construction paper
  • Small sticks and pinecones


This month at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we have been learning all about our senses and we are dedicated to implementing multisensory learning! In addition, we are prepared to teach all styles of learning, including the “taster” who is prone to put that paint brush right in his mouth.  We invite you to come watch us in action.  You can schedule a tour today by calling (801) 523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison

Music Matters! How Music Benefits Preschool Learners

We all know of the importance of preschool when it comes to ABC’s and 123’s, but what about the Do Re Mi’s?  Let’s consider how music benefits children, as well as how can you enhance that learning with music activities at home.

Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music.  I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music.”   

Really, is there anything music doesn’t teach?  Music has the ability to reach every part of us, developing our whole selves.  It moves us and gets us moving.  It brings us together and creates meaning.  

Music Benefits for Preschool Learning

Here is a list of some of the ways we use music at UDA Creative Arts Preschool to benefit your child’s learning.

    • Math Skills are developed as children learn patterns, sequencing, beat, rhythm, and dynamics.
    • Memory is enhanced as children learn lyrics and repeated patterns, as well as curriculum.
    • Language develops as children recognize sounds, syllables, vocabulary, story sequencing, and sentence structure.
    • Science Skills are developed as children discover cause and effect with instruments and body movements. UDA Creative Arts Preschool also uses music to teach science curriculum in the exploration of the world around them.
    • Motor Skills are used as children use instruments and create movement.  Children love the opportunity to move their bodies in various ways to the music and to internalize tempo and dynamics.  Also, small motor skills develop as children learn how to clap and shake and tap instruments.
    • Brain Development occurs as children use both their right and left brain hemispheres simultaneously.  They practice using their eyes, ears, and bodies at the same time.
    • Emotional Development occurs as children learn to recognize feelings created by different styles of music.  Like Einstein said, it inspires children to dream and create.
    • Social Skills are developed as children interact with one another and the teacher during songs, and as they learn to take turns with the instruments.
    • Self-Discipline is practiced as children learn to pause before playing, to leave their instruments in their laps, and to share.
    • Listening Skills are developed as children listen to learn lyrics and rhythms and focus on sounds in order to recreate them.
    • Happiness and joy are felt as the children giggle and wiggle, laugh and smile.


Music benefits children

Music Activities For Preschoolers You Can Do At Home

While we are implementing this wonderful teaching tool with our music activities at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we don’t want you to miss out on the fun!  Consider these music activities you can do with your preschooler at home:

1- Expose Your Preschooler to a Variety of Music.  Children songs are so fun, and we all have our favorite radio stations, but add some variety to give your child exposure to different rhythms and timbres.  The Salt Lake County Library System has a collection of music you can download for free with Freegal.

2- Name that Instrument! Play a game when you listen to music and have your child identify the instruments they hear.  Drums and guitar are pretty easy to find on the radio.  Go to a classical station to add more instrument families.  You may even challenge yourself!

3- Make use of Downtime! We all have those moments when an app is just the thing to entertain our rambunctious munchkin while we…fill in the blank.  Why not make it a learning opportunity?  Common Sense Media provides a list of music learning apps for preschoolers, along with ratings and summaries so you can chose what works best for your little learner.

4- Sing! Sing in the shower! Sing in the rain!  You don’t have to be a professional for your child to love your voice.  Sing a phrase and have them come up with a rhyming word for the next line.  Composing your own songs while you flip pancakes, brush hair, or tie shoes will encourage your child’s creativity, develop language skills, and most importantly, convey your love!

Ask your preschooler what songs they are learning at school and some of our budding musicians may give you a concert.  If you can’t wait for our next program for a performance, come visit us at UDA Creative Arts Preschool and see for yourself how music benefits our little learners.  

Written by: Elsje Denison

9 Movement Activities for Preschoolers You Can Do at Home

movement activities for preschoolers

Over the years, as academic requirements have intensified to meet standardized test scores, early childhood education has beefed up its emphasis on reading, writing, and more. Unfortunately, for some early childhood education providers, this has meant a de-emphasis on movement. But taking movement out of a preschooler’s day actually inhibits academic progress. Plus, any parent can tell you that 3-5-year-old children need to move — a lot! Movement activities for preschoolers are not only fun, they’re necessary for your child’s development.

Benefits of Movement in Early Childhood Education

Focusing almost exclusively on academics during the preschool years actually misses the point! It’s possible — and actually essential — to focus on both physical development and mental development in preschoolers.

movement activities for preschoolers

Physical activity in preschool is important, and its benefits can last far beyond preschool graduation. Preschoolers who get plenty of time to play and participate in physical activity enjoy:

  • A healthier lifestyle, now and in the future
  • Increased school readiness skills
  • Stronger cognitive, social, and emotional skills
  • Appropriate muscle, bone, and joint development
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • An increased learning capacity
  • Greater self-confidence
  • Better concentration
  • Fewer chronic health problems
  • Fewer sick days
  • Increased memory skills

Not only that, but interactive games give your child a leg up on social interaction and communication skills. Kids learn to problem-solve while also learning important things like counting and colors.

Children simply do better when they are allowed to move. Early childhood curriculum that incorporates movement sets your child up for a better future.

Movement Activities for Preschoolers

When you want to bring movement activities home for your preschooler, you don’t have to do anything elaborate. In fact, young children learn at a very basic and fundamental level, so activities are often better when they are simple. Use these simple movement activities for preschoolers in your home.

Music and Movement

preschool movement activities

Children love music, and generally respond very well to it. Ask your child to listen to the different rhythms and tell you what he hears. Ask him to clap his hands, jump up and down, or tap his head to the beat. Let him get in on the music creation by giving him empty oatmeal boxes to use as drums and empty paper towel rolls to use as “trumpets.” Add bells to shoelaces or belt loops and dance around the living room.

Beach Ball Balance

Give a beach ball to two or more children and have them hold the ball between them — without using their hands!  See how creative they can get when they’re left with shoulders, heads, backs, and tummies for holding a beach ball.

Jumping Animals

In this fun jumping game from The Inspired Treehouse, work on coordination, gross motor skills, balance, and more as your child gets to pretend to be different jumping animals. (For full instructions visit the link.)

Get Up & Move Dice Game

Make two giant dice out of boxes. On one, write action words like “jump, climb, run.” On the other, write direction words like “in a circle, like a monkey, forward.” Throw the dice and do what they instruct. (“Jump like a monkey.”)This will get you moving too! For full instructions, visit Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Hot Lava

Who knows when the hot lava game originated, but chances are you (and everyone you know) grew up pretending the floor was hot lava. The preschool age is a great time to introduce this classic game. Make it more interesting by using paper plates as jumping points.

Flash Light Treasure Hunt

Hide a few of your child’s favorite toys around the house (or just in one room), turn off all the lights, and send her off to find her items with the flashlight! Hide a fun snack to enjoy together too.

Floor Tape Activities

  • Make a tight rope by laying tape down on your carpet. Teach your preschooler to walk across it without falling off, and if he does — the tickle monster gets him!
  • Lay down an indoor hop scotch with tape.
  • Put tape all throughout your house for a road. Your preschooler can be the car and run along the tape, or she can get down and drive her cars all around the house.

Note: Don’t leave the tape on your carpet for too long, as it can become hard to pull up once it’s been walked on for several days.

Indoor “Basketball”

Your mom told you not to throw balls in the house (and she was right), but you can still play “basketball” inside with your preschooler by wadding up newspaper for basketballs and using a pot, laundry basket, or clean bin for the hoop.

Do Chores

movement activities for toddlers

Yep. Seriously Give your preschooler a broom, mop, rake, or dust rag and get to cleaning together. It’s all in the attitude — if you act like this is a fun game (“Let’s see if we can sweep the kitchen before the song ends!”), your preschooler will pitch in with glee.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Salt Lake City, we know children get the full benefit of learning when we incorporate movement into our lessons. That’s why we provide a dance/movement class taught by a trained instructor who gives lessons that correlate with our weekly preschool themes. Send us a message, or call us at (801) 523-5930 for a tour.


6 Ways to Help Your Child Love Learning

how to help your child love learning

For a preschooler, the whole world is still new. Sure, they might be recognizing some colors, numbers, and shapes. They can identify animals, walk up and down the stairs, and even carry on (mostly) interesting back-and-forth conversations with you.

But they still know very little! And they’re looking to their parents for the answers — to everything.

Fortunately, preschoolers have a natural excitement about learning. Your job as a parent is to help keep that excitement going strong. Your words and actions matter a lot at this point in your child’s life. What you do and say will have an impact on helping your child love learning — now, and throughout her whole life.

1. Help Them Deal with Failure

Learning involves failure — and lots of it. Your preschooler is going to call an L a P. He’s going to struggle to use a hand shovel the first time he digs a hole in the garden. She won’t know how to hold scissors correctly right away.

Sometimes, these learning processes and mistakes won’t phase your child. But other times, he’ll feel upset that he can’t do what he wants to do yet. Help him understand that failing isn’t bad.

In fact, it’s great!

Making mistakes helps us grow, and trying hard things makes us stronger. So when your child is frustrated she can’t yet ride her big sister’s scooter, don’t criticize her. Instead, comment on the progress you’ve already seen. Tell her you know she’s trying hard, you understand she’s getting frustrated, and her mistakes are helping her get better.

Sometimes, kids respond really well when you tell them about a time you struggled with something similar.

2. Give Toys that Inspire Creativity

how to help your child love learning

Toys that can be used in a variety of ways are ideal to help your child love learning. Blocks, dress-up clothes, art supplies, and stuffed animals can be imagined into completely new worlds each time your child picks them up.  This gives your child confidence and allows her to develop her imagination.

Playing while learning makes learning fun. And when something is fun, children want to continue doing it. That’s why, at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we offer our students plenty of open-ended toys and activities. We want the children to explore and enjoy play and learning, as this is a huge part of the process of developing the whole child.

3. Model a Love of Learning

What do you love to learn about? Do your children know about it? Do they know you get excited about certain subjects? Show them. Seek out more information about your passions, and share it with your children.

Sure, your preschooler can’t understand the complexities of foreign policy, but you can tell her you read a really interesting article that helped you see a solution to a big problem. Your preschooler probably can’t create a gourmet recipe for dinner, but he can help you cook — and while you cook, you can ask his opinion on ingredients.

When your children see how passionate you are about learning, they’ll continue to feel permission and excitement to love learning as well.

And if your child asks you a question about something in the adult world, don’t tell him he wouldn’t understand. Give him an answer. Your answer will need to be simple, kid-appropriate, and straightforward, but always give an answer. That way, he knows he can always ask questions.

4. Make it Fun

How many classes were you forced to sit through in which the teacher droned on and on? How many classes relied on worksheets to teach concepts that could have been learned through a more fun, hands-on method?

Now, how much do you remember from those classes? Probably not very much. Children (and adults, too!) remember lessons that engage them. Basically, we learn when we’re having fun.

Turn things into games, take your kids exploring, use music in your everyday life, and be enthusiastic when you’re teaching your child something new.

5. Read, Read, Read!

The ability to read will open up your child’s entire world, and put learning literally at his fingertips his whole life through. Make reading a happy experience for your preschooler.

Don’t rush the process of learning how to read. Let her go at her own pace. Surround your child with books, and let her handle them on her own. Read every day, and talk about the books. Ask her what she thinks is going to happen next or how she thinks a character feels.

Go to the library, give books as gifts, and let your child see you reading for pleasure.

6. Process Over Outcome

We all want our children to succeed, and we’d be lying if we say we don’t love when they’re actually ahead of the game when it comes to academic milestones. But being achievement-oriented pushes your child and removes the fun and pleasure of learning.

It also leads your child to believe that the outcome is more important than the process; that getting to the next step is what life is all about. When this is her focus, your child won’t love learning. She’ll tend to be afraid to take risks, and may even struggle when things get hard.

Instead, take interest in your child’s interests. Don’t focus on the outcome of what he’s doing. Be interested and ask questions the whole way through.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Utah, we want your child to feel confident as a learner, and our hands-on discovery approach will help your child love learning. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to schedule a tour.


6 Ways to Help Your Child Become Independent

help your child become independent

It wasn’t so long ago that you were doing everything for your baby — and you were happy about it.

But now, your child is growing up, and you’re realizing she needs some independence. Not only is it going to be good for her future happiness and growth, you could sure use a break or twelve.

Independence is a process, and it needs to be taught. Ultimately, you want your child to settle happily into adulthood, confident in his ability to pay the bills, hold a job, take care of a family, and be a decent human being.

But for now? It’s baby steps, friends. Read on for the baby steps that will help your child become independent.

1. Set the Stage

If your home is dangerous, too protected, or just generally un-child-friendly, your child won’t have the chance to do things on her own. Creating an environment in which your child can explore will help her become independent and develop confidence.

This doesn’t mean you need to change your living room decor to Paw Patrol kid chairs; it just means you should make your home safe for a wandering child. Put breakable heirlooms out of reach while keeping kid-friendly books within toddler grasp. Create spaces that are designated for your child — a kid-size coloring table in the TV room, a basket of non-breakable toys in the bedroom, or a kid-level drawer of kid-friendly plates and cups in the kitchen.

help your child become independent

2. All Decisions Don’t Have to Be Yours

Not a newsflash: Your child has some serious opinions!

Let him feel ownership of those opinions by allowing him to make as many decisions as possible each day. Again, this doesn’t mean restructuring your life so your child is a tyrant in your home. Rather, it means stepping back when your opinion really isn’t more important than your child’s.

So he wants to wear rain boots to the store in the middle of a dry summer day? Don’t worry what other people think; let him have this one.

She wants to read books outside instead of in the living room? If it isn’t raining, snowing, or too cold, why not?

In addition, offer your child choices throughout the day to avoid later power struggles. Just make sure you can live with either choice. Library or park today? Lunch at the counter or the table? One book or two?

3. It’s Never Too Early for Chores

When kids contribute to the household, they feel a sense of pride — and they develop independence as they learn new skills. Children have different skills at different ages, but they can always be taught to help in some way. A 2-year-old can put child-safe cups on the table for dinner. A 5-year-old can sweep the kitchen. A 9-year-old can clean a bathroom.

But be patient. Your 2-year-old has a short attention span, and may wander off to give the cup to the dog instead of setting it on the table. That’s okay. Just try again later.

Also, take the time to model the skill correctly. It may take a while for the job to get done to your standards, but as you teach and praise, your child will develop more and more independence.

This age-appropriate chore list will give you some good ideas for what you can expect. Remember that each child develops at a different rate, so don’t be too concerned if your child can’t do everything on the list. Just use it as a guide.

4. If They Can Do It Themselves, Let Them

There’s no doubt about it. You’re better at almost every task your child is capable of doing. And there’s no question that it’s easier to just do those tasks yourself. You’ll be ready for the day 10 times faster if you dress your 5-year-old, tie your 8-year-old’s shoes, and pack your 11-year-old’s lunch.

But when you do for your child what he can do for himself, you’re actually sending the message that you don’t trust his abilities. Believe in your child, teach your child age-appropriate skills, and then step back to let him shine.

But do remember to be flexible. It doesn’t hurt to lend a helping hand from time to time. Children also need to know that they can be part of a support network.

5. Make It Fun

What do you do when you know your child can do what’s expected, but refuses to do so? Be compassionate. She may be doubting her abilities, feeling like she wants attention, or just having a bad day.

When this happens, help your child become independent by changing things up with some fun.

  • Give a  fun challenge: “I bet you can’t brush your teeth while standing on one foot!”
  • Try a compromise that involves you: “I’ll zip up your hoodie for you if you put your arms through.”
  • Change the mood: Try a little tickle war, a game of “Where’s Mommy?”, or use silly voices to lighten the mood.

6. Failure Isn’t the End

Sometimes you just have to let your child taste a little failure. It isn’t pretty for anyone, but it helps your child (and you) understand that responsibility lies with each individual.

It’s okay to not rush forgotten homework to your elementary-aged child. It’s okay to let your toddler struggle for a minute to take off her shoes. It’s okay to let your teenager explain to his teacher why he didn’t complete an assignment.

It’s hard to let your children struggle, but remind yourself that you learn your biggest lessons when facing a trial. Let your children fail from time to time, and be their comforting, non-judgmental sounding board when they need to work out their own solutions.

They’ll come out the other end much stronger.

And so will you.

How Can Preschool Help Your Child Become Independent?

teach your child indpendence

Hands-on discovery-based learning is critical to developing independence in a child. At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we work on developing the whole child by giving children learning opportunities that incorporate all of their senses in their quest for knowledge. Our daily routine helps children know what is expected of them, and assists in learning independence and responsibility.

Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to request a free tour.