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Engaging and Educational Preschool Projects: Fostering Early Learning

7 ways to promote academic and emotional growth in young learners

One of the greatest gifts we can give to a young child is a strong academic and emotional start. Learning to regulate emotions and explore the world of letters, words and numbers is something that can happen at the age of 3. Creating experiences and exposure to these amazing skills is one way we can set up all children for success.

Over the last decade of educating young scholars I have seen countless children walk into my room with major deficits and part of that is due to a lack of early childhood education. There are so many amazing ways to promote learning to young children as early as the age of 3 that will create opportunities that will help these children gain confidence and skills that will give them a great head start in their overall development and education.

I will share 7 different ideas that can be used at home or in a classroom that will engage young learners and develop both their academic and social skills. These activities and crafts will excite kids and get them interested in talking about emotions, numbers and letters.

1. Feathers of Love - this is a great activity to get preschoolers talking about things that bring them joy and happiness. To prepare, cut out a turkey for each student or child using the Turkey #4 Die Cut on the MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine this is where you can write each scholar's name. Next you will need to cut out several Heart #3 Die Cuts for each turkey, you can use 5 up to 10 depending on how in depth you want to go with the project. Students will then get to share things they love and you can take it a step further by discussing why they love it, this can help promote a deeper sense of their emotions and also create an environment where talking about feelings is a natural part of your learning each and every day.


2. Identify our Emotions - each day students will have the opportunity to share the emotion they are feeling when entering the classroom. This is a great way to identify the student's emotional temperature as you begin your day. This can also be a great way for you as the educator to know who you might need to check in with before you begin the day's learning. For this you can use the Cup Huggers Monkey Die Cut on the MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine to create cute cups labeled with emotions. I would suggest starting with 3 or 4 basic emotions such as happy, sad, mad or even unsure. You can then add new cups with new emotions once you have spent time talking about feelings in class. You could add worried, confused, excited or frustrated as a way for students to better pinpoint more complex feelings. This is a project that can grow as your students develop a stronger sense of their own feelings.

3. Sequences and Routines - a great way to introduce and discuss classroom routines or to review and sequence a story or activity would be to use something like the Pumpkin #2 Die Cut on the MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine. Cut out enough pumpkins to highlight each step or part of the activity you would want to work through with your scholars and you will be amazed at how your bright young learners will be able to articulate what happened or needs to happen in time order. Sequencing steps is a life skill that will promote their ability to organize thoughts, stories and ideas as future readers. Building this skill at such a young age will allow your students to be more prepared for the complexity of this skill set down the road. Using this same format you can practice and review classroom procedures and routines. As you work through a process in your room you can pause and ask students to identify where you are in the process and ask them to share what the next step will be.


4. Seasonal Share Outs - this is something you can do for each season using different cut outs. For the winter season you can pull out the Hat Stocking #2 Die Cut and cut one out for each scholar on the MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine. You can have students share facts they know about winter or you can have pictures printed out for them to select and glue on to their winter hats that highlight things you would see in the winter. This discussion will help students consider why things might look or act differently in the winter compared to other seasons. Students at this age love to make observations and share their knowledge and seasons have some very concrete facts that are understandable for children at this age. This activity can expanded to the other seasons by using the Sun #1 Die Cut as you approach the Summer season, the Flower #11 Die Cut in the Spring and Leaf #1 Die Cut in the Autumn.

5. Letter Marching/Number Matching - this activity is one that will promote both letter and number recognition in a number of ways. To prepare pull our your MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine and you will also need two types of leaves. In the example shown the Die Cuts used are Leaf #3 and Leaf #4. You can start by having students identify a capital letter out of a group of letters. As they move into learning both uppercase and lowercase letters they can work to match the capital with the lowercase letter. If you would like to do some number matching you can have students select a number and they will look for the leaf that has the number drawn. I would suggest drawing shapes to represent the number because this also highlights shapes in the activity and that can be added to the conversation you have with your preschoolers.

6. Number Recognition and Counting using One-to-One Correspondence - this is such a fun project that will allow students to build concrete understanding of number sense. For this you will use the Apples #3 Die Cut on the MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine. You can focus on the number of the week and then you can use counters, shapes or even food items like raisins to represent the number that is shown. You could extend this idea to have students showcase others ideas such as colors, upper and lower case letters, shapes or opposites.

7. Building Number Sense through Hands On Tasks - this is a fun and creative way for preschoolers to connect numbers to objects. This promotes counting, showing number representations and seeing patterns and what it looks like to add one in a pattern. For this you will need to grab out you MARK 5 Die Cutting Machine and also have the Winter Die Cut available to cut out enough trees so each scholar has 10. Once these are made, write the numbers 1 through 10 on trees for each student. The preschoolers will then add objects such as cotton balls or buttons to their trees to showcase the number that is written on the tree. You can then discuss counting, adding by one pattern and comparing how large 10 is when you set it next to the one. This helps students gain understanding of the value of numbers in a hands-on and concrete way.

All of these activities are ways to get kids thinking about and discussing their learning. These will promote skill building in math, reading and social emotional learning. It is important to keep in mind that children take in information at a rapid rate when they are young, it is like their brains are a sponge seeking out ways to make sense of the world around them, by introducing them to different concepts earlier in life will give them a strong foundation as learners and citizens in our world. I hope these suggestions are ones that you find to be helpful, engaging and easy to prepare for preschoolers.


Written by Amy Pinegar