Friday, March 19, 2010

Free Summer Preschool Curriculum Coming & How You Can Be a Part of It

I'm working on an exciting project, an ebook full of toddler activities for the summer. It's about 1/3 of the way done and I'm actively looking for crafts to add to the ebook. If you have an activity on your blog, drop me a line at netwriterm AT gmail DOT com with the link. This is a great opportunity to promote your blog or website and help out parents facing a looooooong summer at home with active toddlers.

The ebook will be free BUT I reserve the right to charge a fee at a future date. If you contribute a craft, there will be a link back to your specific blog post in the text. I won't reproduce your content at all. It will simply be a straight link back to your blog. It would be helpful if you would send me a picture of the completed craft to use, however, in the ebook.

Again, if you're interested email me at netwriterm AT gmail DOT com.

Unit themes in need of craft ideas include:
Bees & Honey

Here's some information on how the ebook is formatted...

Each lesson has the following components:

1. Finger play
2. Song
3. Book recommendations
4. Art activity
5. Investigation Activity
6. Cooking Activity
7. Bonus Activity

Traditional preschool is usually 2 to 3 days a week so don’t do everything in one day. Instead, spread it out throughout the week. The intent is that the fingerplay, song, and books will be repeated and reread several times during the curriculum week. This repetition gives your toddler time to absorb all the facets of the lesson. Add in one big art, investigation or cooking activity per day. Also, don’t think you have to do everything—there are no preschool police coming to give you a ticket for failure to complete the lesson!

The Finger Plays and Songs
With the finger plays and songs, encourage your toddler to learn the words. Say all but one keyword of a phrase and ask them to fill in the blank—this shows you they are retaining what they hear which is an important skill for life long learning.

The Books
When reading, ask open ended questions such as ‘Why do you think they did that?’ ‘How do you think this made them feel?’ ‘Would you do that?’ ‘What do you think happens next’ to engage nascent critical thinking and reading comprehension skills.

Typically, the first time the book is introduced, it is read straight through to familiarize the child with the story. Subsequent readings should challenge your child to remember what’s next or infer a character’s feelings.

It’s okay if your questions are met with silence or confusion! That’s normal. Just answer the question yourself so your child can learn from you. If you are consistent with this, your child will soon surprise you with their opinions and imagination.

A note on the books used in this preschool curriculum… Books can be found at the library or purchased. I’ve taken the time to select books that mostly meet two criteria:

1. They must cost less than $10 to purchase.

2. They are part of the’s 4 for 3 promotion so for every 3 books you purchase, you get 1 free.

The Art Activity

Art activities are meant for toddlers to do with the idea that the experience is more important than the process or creating something ‘nice’. I’ve either created my own art activities or found the best ones for the theme from various blogs on the internet --in which case you will find a link that will take you to that site for craft instructions.

Toddler art projects were selected on the basis of whether or not a toddler could complete them from start to finish and were limited to activities that used common art supplies. These art projects are not fancy and require minimal parental involvement because the point is to have the toddler do it.

The Investigation Activity

These activities are designed to allow your toddler to explore science or ‘how stuff works’ aspect of the curriculum theme. Some of them are surprisingly scientific. Others are extension activities that build on concepts introduced in the books. Be sure to ask open ended questions and have toddlers try to predict results. The investigations are intended to be thought provoking and develop critical thinking skills. They should also be a lot of fun too!

In researching activities for the book, I have to say I think this free ebook is going to be one of the nicest early science resources out there.

Cooking with Kids

This section uses recipes specifically created for young children. Most recipes, with some exceptions, tie in directly with the unit theme. I made every attempt to use whole, healthy foods, but strict adherence to that ideal was not possible.

This was, by far, the most difficult part of the curriculum to develop because toddlers have limited skills and parents don’t want to (or need to) spend three hours in the kitchen. Nutritional concessions were made in the interests of time and in order to accommodate the skills of budding chefs. If a recipe violates the food ethics of your household, please feel free to cook something else.

Bonus Activities

Some units lent themselves to games or imaginative play prompts. Those are included as well whenever possible. Additional products are sometimes suggested as well that compliment the unit.