Home Preschool Curriculum Guide
Developing Motor Skills
There are a variety of activities you can do at home that correlate with the cognitive developmental stage of 2-5 year olds and the typical preschool course of study. Preschool educators say children ages 2-5 should have certain motor skills in order to begin formal academic learning in the school or homeschool environment. Here are the skills they identify:
A child should be able to:
- Build An Obstacle Course
- Walk a straight line
- Alternate feet walking down stairs
- Stand on one foot for 5-10 seconds
- Walk backwards for five feet
- Clap hands
- Recognizing Fingers
- Buttoning and Zipping
- Throwing a ball
- Drawing and coloring
- Controlling a pencil or crayon
- Copying simple shapes
- Cuting simple shapes with scissors
- Pasting objects
- Building with blocks
- Matching simple objects
- Completing simple puzzles
Here are some activities you can do to help your preschooler develop these motor skills.
Developing Motor Skills
Build An Obstacle Course!
One way to improve motor skills, get some exercise, and help your child learn vocabulary and concepts needed for reading readiness skills is to build and use an obstacle course.
Take A Hike!
- Walking and hiking offer opportunities to improve motor skills — especially if you change how you walk. Here are some fun ideas.
Developing Specific Motor Skills
- Take your child to the playground so he/she can run around.
- Play tag or hide and go seek with your child.
- Play the game "Red Light, Green Light 1, 2, 3" Here are the rules.
- Play soccer or kick a ball with your child.
- Try this Learn to Run program designed for children of all ages to do with parental supervision and participation. Parents will need to adjust this program depending on a young child's level of coordination and ability. All you need to get started is a stopwatch and a little energy.
Walk A Straight Line
- Put a line of masking tape on the floor have your child walk along it.
- Show your child how to balance on a curb or a log. (Parent supervision required.)
- Go to the park or the gym and walk along the balancing rod or beam.
- Build your own balance beam in the backyard. My Great Home suggests "covering a 4 x 4 with scrap carpeting. Be sure the carpeting is nap side down to provide cushioning and traction. If you use recycled carpet or lumber it should be free of contaminants or hazards like splinters, nails or sharp edges.
- Visit the playground; encourage your child to jump.
- Play a game with a balloon where you have to jump up to hit the balloon.
- Play jump rope. Here are some instructions. Here are some fun jump rope rhymes.
- Play games like Simon Says. Or play Follow The Leader. First, you jump, then your child tries to jump. Then, you touch your toes, and your child follows your lead. Run in place, swing your arms, and stretch your hands high up to the ceiling. Let your child be the leader and you follow whatever he/she does.
- Do jumping jacks with your child.
- Teach your child to do The Bunny Hop dance. Listen to the music and read the lyrics here.
- Act like an animal that hops such as a rabbit, kangaroo, or frog.
- Play Hopscotch. This classic game teaches or reinforces counting skills while developing physical coordination. Here are instructions for how to draw a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, patio, or driveway along with directions on how to play the game. You may also be able to find a hopscotch grid at a local schoolyard.
Alternate Feet Walking Down Stairs
- Practice walking up and down stairs. If you don't have stairs in your home, consider going to an indoor or outdoor public place or building with stairs, for example: the mall, county court house, hotel, etc. Visit a friend or relative that has a home with stairs — ask them if you can practice.
- Play "Follow The Leader" up and down the stairs.
- Show your child how to march and how to march in place. It might help to let them see a real marching band at a high school or college football game (or even on television broadcasts of college football games). The movie musical The Music Man features a marching band.
- Include marching as a direction in games such as: Follow The Leader, Mother May I, and Simon Says.
- Add marching to your daily walking routine.
- March and sing along to The Ants Came Marching.
Stand On One Foot for 5-10 Seconds
- Practice standing on one foot, and invite your child to try it. Time yourselves. How many seconds can you stand on one foot?
- Include standing on one foot as a direction in games such as: Follow The Leader, Mother May I, and Simon Says.
Walk Backwards for Five Feet
- Take a Backwards Walk! When you are out walking, turn around and walk backwards. Your child may think that's pretty funny. Show your child how to walk backwards. See how far you can walk that way.
- Play Forward-Backward. Take 5 steps forward and 2 steps back. Then take 10 steps forward 4 steps backward. Let your child suggest how many steps to take forward and backward.
- Walk backward up a hill. It's fun!
- Include walking backwards in direction games such as, Mother May I, Follow The Leader, and Simon Says.
- Show your child how to clap their hands together. Clap slowly at first, then faster and faster. Clap softly. Clap loudly. Have fun!
- Play "Pat-A-Cake" with your child. This classic children's game has been around since the 1700's for good reason. Kids love the interaction with mom or dad, the simple rhyming lyric, and the easy hand motions that accompany the rhyme.
- Sing and clap along to, If You're Happy & You Know It — Clap Your Hands.
- Teach your child the name of each of their fingers on their hand; thumb, index or pointer finger, middle finger, ring finger, and baby finger. You can explain why each finger has that name. Touch each finger as you say its name.
- Compare fingers! Little kids love to compare their hands to adult hands. Put your hands together with palms touching. How much longer are your fingers than your child's fingers?
- Do finger plays.
- Show your child how to snap fingers. (This may take time and lots of practice.)
- Ask your child what shapes he/she can make out of his/her hands. For example: Circles, triangles, ovals, rectangles and teardrops.
- Make shadow figures with your hands and fingers.
- Use your fingers to count. Have your child touch each finger while counting.
- Make finger puppets! It's easy with band aids. Just put a plain band aid around each finger and draw a face on it. You can make a finger puppet theater too. Or make 2-finger puppets.
Get the book The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes by Joanna Cole.
Buttoning and Zipping
- Show your child how to button and unbutton, zip and unzip, and snap and unsnap their clothes. While you're at it, show them how to hook and unhook clothing, as well as how to open and close Velcro tabs.
- Let your child play dress up with old clothing such as shirts and pants with buttons, zippers, hooks, and laces.
Throwing a Ball
- Show your child how to throw a ball.
- Try to throw a ball into a laundry basket or box.
- Play a game of catch with your child.
- Hang a hoop (such as a small hula hoop or lightweight inner tube) from a door jam. Let your child throw a ball through the middle of the hoop.
- Play with different types and shapes of balls, such as Poof Balls.
Drawing and Coloring
- Little kids learn to draw by copying. The simplest way
to begin is to start with a simple shape. Let your child
watch as you draw a circle — it doesn't have to be
perfect. Then add eyes, a nose, and a mouth to make a simple
face. Be sure to explain what you are doing, so that your
Draw several simple faces and give them different features such as a happy smile, a sad face, a tiny nose, big eyes, curly hair, bushy eyebrows, etc. Let your child tell you what to draw. (Your child won't be disappointed in your artistic ability — he or she will simply be fascinated to watch the process unfold.)
Draw a simple stick-figure — so that your child begins to understand that pictures are made of lines — straight and curved. Draw trees, flowers, a house, or animals. Ask your child to join you — see if they can copy what you do. Eventually, they will begin to draw their own pictures. As their ability improves, try this game:
Guess What I Drew?
Materials: Put stickers, stamps or glue pictures onto index cards.
How to play: Have a player choose a card from the deck. (The player should not show anyone else the card!) Then the player should try to sketch or draw the object that is on the card onto a piece of paper with a pencil or crayons. When the player has finished drawing the picture, let the other players guess what the picture is in turn. Everyone should have a turn to guess what the player drew. When everyone has had a chance to guess, the player can reveal the card they picked. There are no winners or losers here, just guesses. Then, the play passes to the next player.
- Kinderart.com offers free drawing lessons that you can print out and do at home designed especially for preschoolers and young children.
- Ed Emberley's drawing books make learning to draw easy and fun. He has an entire series of books for varying age groups that you can probably get at your local library or bookstore. Try Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces that is geared for kids 4-8.
- Coloring is a matter of practice. Make sure you have a supply
of coloring crayons, pencils, and markers at home, along with
lots of plain paper and coloring books within easy reach of your
preschooler. Designate a small area as your "art nook"
and keep it well stocked.
Allow your child to access the supplies at will. Encourage your child's artistic expression. Get all kinds of free printable coloring pages and no-line coloring pages at PreschoolColoringBook.com.
Controlling a Pencil or Crayon
- Using a pencil and crayon well takes practice. Make the materials easily available to your child so that they can practice by drawing, coloring, and writing whenever they want. Have a variety of pens, pencils, crayons, markers and paper with which to experiment.
- Activity books such as dot-to-dots and mazes improve pencil and crayon control.
- Get free printable dot-to-dot activities.
- Get free printable mazes.
- Play: "Can You Draw What I Draw?" You'll need a piece of paper for each player and crayons or markers. Draw a line (or something simple) and ask your child to do the same, then draw another shape and ask him/her to do the same. Then reverse rolls and let your child lead and you follow.
Copying Simple Shapes
- Let your child use shape cards to copy shapes onto paper.
- Trace shapes in a sandbox.
- Finger paint and ask your child to draw shapes in the paint.
Cutting Simple Shapes With Scissors
- Practice using scissors. Give your child paper (like junk mail!) and scissors and let him/her cut to their hearts content. They will not have any direction when they begin, they will need to learn how the scissors work at first. Have a dustpan, broom and garbage near by to pick up small pieces! Encourage your child to help with the clean up!
- Let your child do cut and paste projects.
- Practice cutting shapes.
- Find a selection of links with free cut-out paper doll patterns. Use the cut-outs to make your own story books and dioramas.
- Cut pictures from magazines.
- Draw or print shapes for your child to cut out.
- Glue & Paste Projects — The best way
to learn this skill is to get lots of practice. Start out with easy
projects. The less frustrating for your child, the better.
As he/she gains skill, you can tackle more difficult projects.
These projects can get messy — so plan ahead.
Wear appropriate clothing. Use a drop cloth to minimize mess
and reduce worry. The point is to have fun while
teaching a skill.
Be sure to use non-toxic glue and paste. Show your child how to glue and paste together: paper, egg cartons, baskets, cardboard, boxes, milk cartons, tea bag boxes, wax paper rolls, toilet paper and towel rolls, oatmeal boxes, etc.
Then, show your child how to use glue and/or paste to decorate their projects with: glitter, beans, rice, cotton balls, toothpicks, felt, wood, sequins, packing materials, tissue paper, torn or cut paper, newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, noodles, pasta, peanut shells, colored puff balls, colored feathers, buttons, styrofoam, pipe cleaners, ribbons, paper punch outs, fabric and odd pieces of costume jewelry.
- Do paper craft projects together.
Building with Blocks
- Building with blocks helps children to discover for themselves important concepts such as size, shape, number, space, weight, and height -- all precursors to good math and science skills. Invest in a set of blocks and encourage your child to play with them. They are the ultimate educational toy and come in a variety of options including: wood blocks, Lego Duplos, Lincoln Logs and foam blocks.
- Make your own blocks. Just use empty cardboard boxes of different sizes and shapes. (Tape them closed for ease of use.) Use shoe boxes, milk cartons, oatmeal boxes, toothpaste cartons, etc. You can fill them with crumpled newspaper to add weight, if needed. If you want your home-made blocks to look more appealing or uniform -- cover them in contact paper (you can purchase inexpensive rolls of it at building supply stores). Or, make Brown Paper Bag Blocks! Here's how:
Materials: You will need brown paper grocery bags, newspaper, and strong tape like masking or shipping/packing tape.
Directions: Take a standard-sized grocery paper bag and lay it on a flat surface like a table or the floor. Fold the top of the bag over about 6" to 8" and make a crease in the bag on the fold line. Then, open the bag and stuff it with individual sheets of crumpled newspapers. Then, fold the bag on the crease line to close it, and tape it shut securely. You can decorate the bag-blocks if you want -- or just get busy and build forts, towers, tunnels, and whatever else your imagination inspires.
Matching Simple Objects
- Show your child two matching items — explain that they look alike, so they "match." What else matches? Look around your house for objects that match such as silverware, dishes, napkins, light switches, windows, faucets, pillows, socks, etc.
- Match playing cards — such as all of the 2's, 5's, jacks, queens, kings, etc.
- Match objects you find when you walk such as flowers, leaves, rocks and shells.
- Play these printable concentration games themed around Clifford The Big Red Dog.
- Sort through toys and match objects that are alike.
Completing Simple Puzzles (5 pieces or less)
- Buy puzzles especially designed for young children and put them together.
- Make your own puzzles! Glue a magazine picture or photograph to poster board or cardboard, cut it up into 5-6 pieces (or more, depending on child's ability to assemble), and let your child put it back together.
- Do puzzles online. A nice feature of this website that offers online, interactive puzzles for kids of all ages and abilities, is that you can choose the puzzle category you want and then select the number of pieces you want the puzzle to have such as 6,12, 25, 40, etc.
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