PAT (Parents as Teachers) Corner

Welcome to our new Parents As Teachers Corner! It has resources to help you navigate through being home and finding different activities to do with your children. We’ve included some fun learning activities you can do with your preschooler at home and we’ve introduced mini – Let’s Play to Learn sessions (more of these will be added regularly). Each of these sessions has a theme and includes ideas and activities. As an example, they may include links to read aloud books, sing-along songs and/or ideas for crafts, games and/or other activities that you can do with your child(ren).

We hope this brings smiles to your home and a way to have a little fun with your family!

Ladybugs

This past week my family noticed that there were so many ladybugs around. We found them in our car, on our arm and even in our hair! So, we decided to learn more about them. You can read the book “Are you a ladybug?” for lots of interesting facts about them. You can also sing along to the Ladybugs picnic song – which some parents may remember from Sesame Street! Get creative with art activities and enjoy a sensory counting activity and a simple game that can be played either indoors or outdoors.

Ladybug, ladybug in and out my window
Ladybug, ladybug in and out my window
Ladybug, ladybug in and out my window
Oh Johnny, I’m so tired!

The modified ladybug version of the game goes like this:

  • Everyone stands in a circle holding hands with hands held up high forming arches or “windows”
  • One person is then chosen to be the first ladybug
  • Everybody sings the tune over and over as the ladybug weaves in and out of the windows (under the arms of those forming the circle). Click here if you want to see a demonstration.
  • Take turns being the ladybug

Once you have this version down, you can play the original version – the bluebird/ladybug chooses a partner at the end of the verse. The second child then follows holding the first child’s shoulders while passing through the windows. The game continues and another child is added to the chain after each verse. You can work your way up to adding more children as participants become more familiar with the game.

Pumpkins

It’s that time of year again – pumpkin time! Enjoy a story and a song along with art, sensory and motor activities. Plus, there are a couple of fun science experiments. We hope you and your family enjoy the beauty of Fall.

For some additional fun, print these Pumpkins Investigation sheets and have your child complete them.

Let's Cook!

Let’s go to the kitchen and cook! There are so many benefits of cooking with your child. Some of them are language and fine motor development, enhanced math skills, the introduction of scientific concepts, improved reading skills, life skills and, most importantly, cooking together encourages family bonding. Enjoy a story, song, and numerous activities. In addition, we’re including a few recipes for you to try including Bee-Bim Bop which is a Korean dish. Enjoy!

For more information on how cooking together can benefit your child, check out these handouts: Environmental Print in the Kitchen, In the Kitchen Helping and Learning, and Make Your Own Snacks.

Woodland Animals

When we are outside, we will often spot a squirrel running up a tree, a bird in its nest or a bunny chomping on grass or garden vegetables. Woodland animals are all around us and this week we will learn more about them. Your child will enjoy listening to a story and moving their body to a song. Other things you can do are make a squirrel (or other woodland animal) sensory bin, make your own bird feeder and have fun doing activities that will strengthen your child’s fine and large muscles. Enjoy!

Check out the “Be Like a Frog” handout for ideas on how to enhance your child’s social-emotional development. By focusing on breathing and observing, your child will learn to relax and calm down.

Leaves

We continue with the fall theme; this week is all about LEAVES! In addition to a story and song, we’ve got two fun art activities – leaf painting (using a rolling pin and foam leaves) and leaf puppets (using popsicle sticks and leaves). Plus there are two fine motor activities and a sensory activity using oobleck (goop made with cornstarch and water).

 

Before doing the ‘leaf cutting tray fine motor activity’ you may want to review the Helping Your Child Learn to Cut handout.

Apples

Fall is here and one of the best things about fall are APPLES! This week is all about yummy, delicious apples. In addition to a story and song, enjoy the smells with apple pie scented play dough and an apple pie sensory bin. Get creative by building things using apple pieces and toothpicks and making prints using apples and paint. We’ve also included a volcano experiment using an apple, vinegar and baking soda. Get the whole family in on the fun by going apple picking – click here for a list of apple picking orchards in southeast Wisconsin.

 

The Rainbow Fish

This popular children’s book is about the importance of sharing with others. Explore the story by listening to the read aloud, sing along with the song, and make your own rainbow fish using paint and tin foil. We’ve also included sensory and science activities. 

See the Friendships and Peer Interactions parent handout for more information on peer interactions and sharing.

Let's Go to Space!

This week we are travelling into space! Listen to a story about being an astronaut – read by a real astronaut in space. Learn about the different planets and have fun making some colorful planet art. Enjoy space-themed sensory and motor activities. Finally, make and enjoy your own astronaut ice cream!

Check out the Process versus Product parent handout for information on helping your child become a creative problem solver.

Camping

We have a few weeks of summer left and one thing we love about summertime is camping! If camping is something you were unable to fit into your schedule this summer, bring it to your house! Make a tent in your living room with sheets and blankets, make an imaginary fire using different types of blocks and then tell stories in the dark using a flashlight. Below are some fun ideas including marshmallow art, camp fire handprints, camping sensory play and a camping themed snack! We’ve also included a fire science experiment that you can do with your child. Not only will your child learn through experimenting, but this is also a great opportunity to talk about fire safety. For more on that, see the Planning for an Emergency parent handout. Have fun camping!

 

Let's Go to the Zoo!

 

                             

We are taking a virtual trip to the zoo! Your child can listen to a story, sing a song, enjoy the sensory bin and have fun playing a game. If they are in the mood to make a craft, check out the two cute crafts below – a paper plate lion and handprint giraffe. There is also a link for some zoo animal yoga if they want to move their body. Have a fun week at the zoo!

 

      • Art:
          • Paper Plate Lion: Paper plates always make for cute and easy crafts.  For this lion, have your child first make snips all the way around the paper plate to add a little 3D effect for the mane. Then have them paint the center of the plate yellow and the outer part of the plate orange. After the plate is completely dry, give them pre-cut pieces of construction paper (or have them cut the pieces) to create the lion’s face; glue in place.

          • Handprint Giraffe: Have your child make a handprint using yellow paint. Using a paint brush, have them add a long neck and head. After that, use a q-tip and/or their fingers to make the giraffe’s spots.

All About Feelings

Children experience complex feelings just like adults. They get frustrated, excited, nervous, sad, jealous, frightened, worried, angry and embarrassed. However young kids usually do not have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. Instead they communicate their feelings in other ways. This week we have activities, along with a story and song, to explore different ways to help your child learn to express their feelings with words.

In addition, see the Using Books to Explore Your Child’s Emotions handout to learn how you can use books to help your child understand, recognize and cope with his/her feelings.

Beach Time!

We’re continuing with the summer theme and bringing the beach to you! Listen to a story, sing a song, make sand slime, and have fun with beach-themed sensory bins. Kids will also enjoy using a beach ball to make art and play a game.

 

Water Play

It is hot outside and what better way to cool down than with WATER PLAY? This week have fun listening to the story Froggy Learns to Swim and singing along to the Water Song. There are links to different water table ideas and painting with water, an easy and fun art activity. Enjoy!  

Sensory play can boost your child’s fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, curiosity, creativity, confidence and more. See That’s Using Your Senses handout for even more ideas for sensory play.

Dinosaurs

Let’s jump, stomp and roar like a dinosaur this weekListen to a fun story, move like dinosaur and make dinosaur tracks and fossils.   

Learn how playing with your child helps them develop their language and social skills on this Let’s Play Games handout.

Chicka Chicka 1,2,3

If you enjoy the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, then you’ll love the follow-up, Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3. It’s a fun number recognition and counting book. This week is all about numbers – read a story, sing a song and enjoy several activities that will not only teach your child about numbers, but also help him/her develop their fine and gross motor skills.

For more info on teaching your child about numbers and counting, see the Beginning to Count parent handout.

Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM! It is summertime and who doesn’t love ice cream? This week’s theme is all about ice cream. Listen to a story about it, have fun doing ice cream themed activities, play ice cream shop and then make your own ice cream to enjoy!

Click here to see the Parent Handout for info on how pretend play helps your child’s language, cognitive, social and motor development.

Insects

This week we are exploring different types of insects. Enjoy a read aloud story and a sing along song. Make no-cook playdough (recipe included) and turn them into bugs. Have fun creating different bug paintings, building a bug house, and going on a bug hunt. Then enjoy a “ladybug” snack made with apples and peanut butter (or cream cheese).

In addition to the recipe for the no-cook playdough, the parent handout provides insight on how playing with playdough helps your child’s development.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This week we will explore learning letters through the popular book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! There are links to the story and some fun activities including an art project, a scavenger hunt, a board game and more. After all your letter learning fun, make a yummy Chicka Chicka Boom Boom snack! 

Checkout these parent handouts for more info on learning and recognizing letters: Learning Letters and Environmental Print

Let's Go to the Ocean

This week we are going to the Ocean! There is a fun story and a sing-along song as well as links to an art activity, a sensory activity and an experiment. Plus, you can take a virtual trip to the Aquarium!

 

Moving our Bodies!

This week we are going to move our bodies in many ways – both indoors and outdoors! Start off by listening to Eric Carle’s story From Head to Toe. Then move your body to the song “I Can Move My Body Like Anything” by Jack Hartmann. After that, enjoy some fun indoor and outdoor activities and games that involve moving your body. We’ve also included a few Parent Handouts with information on gross motor development in toddlers and preschool age children.

See the following Parent Handouts for more info: Building Bodies: Large Muscles, Strength and Endurance, Encouraging Gross Motor Mastery and Your Child’s Motor Development.

Color Mixing

This week’s session is all about mixing up colors! What happens when two colors mix with each other? Do they make another color? Use the links below to enjoy a story, a song and a variety of activities to experiment with color mixing using different materials.

Activities:

Check out these parent handouts for more ideas on having fun with colors: Let’s Learn Colors and Color Drop: Matching and Maneuvering.

Growing a Garden

This week’s lesson is about growing a garden. Everything is so beautiful outside right now. The leaves are popping out on the trees, the flowers are blooming, and we are starting to plant vegetables in the garden. It finally feels like spring!

We hope you enjoy the activity. Growing grass in a clear plastic cup is an easy experiment. You and your child will be able to see the roots spread through the soil, watch the grass sprout and practice scissors skills by giving your grass person a haircut!

Check out this handout to learn more about how working with scissors helps your child’s development.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been a much loved book for generations. Listen to author Eric Carle read the story and sing a long to a caterpillar song. Plus we’ve included some fun ideas to go along with the theme:

Check out these handouts for even more ideas and to discover how these activities help your child’s development: Beginning to Count and Encouraging Fine Motor Skills.

How Big Is It? Measuring and Recording

Kids love to know how big they are. Start there. Measure how big your child is (and the rest of the family). Mark it on the inside of a closet door using painter’s tape and write the date. This will help you keep track for the next time you measure.

Now tell them you’re going to measure other things. Get creative, measure anything! One way to help keep track is to make a simple chart. Write down the object to be measured, a prediction of how many they think it will be (depending on what unit of measurement you are using) and then the actual size. Use a variety of things to measure, a ruler, tape measure (kids love these!), Duplo or Lego blocks, a piece of string or yarn, your hands and/or your child’s hands.

Here are some good books about measuring and size:

Use these activity sheets to get started: Measurement and Measure MeThis handout explains how predicting and measuring assists in your child’s development.

Have fun!

Bubbles

The weather is finally getting warmer! It’s time to play outside! This activity includes 2 stories about bubbles, a song about bubbles, a
short video that teaches you how to make your own bubbles using ingredients you have at home and ideas for experimenting with bubbles.

Enjoy!

Check out these Parents as Teachers activity pages for ideas about how to use the bubbles you mix with your child! Then go out and experiment: What kind of air do you need to make a really big bubble or lots of small ones? Do different wands make different bubbles? How many bubbles can you pop?

Going on a Bear Hunt

The weather is getting warmer and what better way to enjoy the sun then to go out and play in nature! This week our theme is Going on a Bear Hunt. Courtney, one of the Parent Educators, acts out The Bear Hunt story in her own backyard. Come and join her in the fun!

There are lots of other activities too. Listen to a fun Bear Hunt song and go on an outdoor Sound Hunt (where you and your child can enjoy nature while listening for different sounds). Also check out the Scavenger Hunt, cardboard tube craft idea and themed sensory bin idea!

For more information on how to use nature and playing outside as learning tools, check out these handouts: Nature Walks and Let’s Play Outside.

Ducks

  

Just Ducky

Finger Paint Recipe

          • 1 cup cold water
          • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
          • 4 tablespoons sugar
          • Food coloring

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add water and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat being sure to stir constantly to prevent sticking to the pan or burning. As soon as it begins to bubble and thicken (this took about 5 minutes on my stove, it will start to look clearer) – remove from heat. Let it cool about 5 minutes. Pour mixture into 3 small bowls or jars if you have them (small mason jars, baby food containers with lids or small plastic containers work well.) Add 4 or 5 drops of food coloring and mix well. Cover and let cool completely before use. It will be the consistency of pudding. Works best if used on heavy paper like cardstock or construction paper.

Bonus: this is edible so kids of all ages can enjoy!

For more information on how you can use finger painting and creative projects as learning tools, check out these handouts: Finger Painting and Process vs. Product

Sun Bread

Our first “Mini Let’s Play to Learn is inspired by a story a PAT family shared. They discovered the book Sun Bread at the library and thought it was perfect for the times we are experiencing now, especially this week! We hope you enjoy it!

Below are links to a read aloud story, a sing-along (be sure to click the CC symbol for closed captions so the words display) and a recipe for Sun Bread.

For more information on how you can use baking and working in the kitchen as learning tools, check out these handouts: Cooking Together and In the Kitchen Helping.

Ideas for at home learning activities

Click here for fun learning activities you can do with your preschooler at home. Having troubling deciding what activity to do? Write each activity on a small piece of paper (or print out the activities and cut them apart). Put all the ideas in a jar or bowl. Whenever you are looking for an activity, randomly pick a piece of paper. You can add some of your own ideas and even include some basic household chores like dusting, organizing a drawer, wiping door handles, etc.