There is a plethora of games, puzzles, and toys available in the market that can be easily purchased and given to children to play or that can be used by teachers as teaching aids. I have experienced that when children are given simple things to create something or are involved in the making of the teaching aid, the teaching-learning experience has greater results.
Through this post, I will be discussing some simple yet creative and fun things that can be taught to your preschool children by using play-doh, ice cream sticks, and foam or wooden blocks. So let’s get creative.
Play-doh is easily available in the market. Ensure that the play-doh is non-toxic and child-friendly. However, kneading your own dough has its own advantages.
- Children can make the dough at home too.
- They learn about natural vegetable colors. For example, beetroot juice to make red dough.
- Kneading the dough is an excellent exercise for the wrists of the children.
There are many things that can be taught to children through play-doh.
- Children can be taught to form all numbers and letters while they are being introduced in the classroom. Number values can be enhanced by giving children a number card and asking them to make the same number of play-doh balls. Children can be asked to make an object corresponding to the letter card given to them while using dough in an Engish class.
- Play-doh can be used to teach children to create human and animal figures. This will enhance the lesson on animals when it is being done in class. Children can make an entire scene on farm animals, pet animals, or wild animals. Similarly, many other animals also can be made from the dough. When talking about their family children can make figures of their family members from the dough.
- Rolling pins are given to children to flatten the play-doh.
- Children are asked to use their palms to roll the dough into long strings. The dough strings can be used to teach children to make different shapes.
Playing with play-doh is a great exercise for the children’s small motor skills. It also strengthens their fingers and their wrists. The rolling pin activity is a good massage for the nerve endings on their palms. As play-doh can be molded into any shape, children learn to be creative and express different things through their play-doh figurines.
Playing with blocks has become an important part of the curriculum of preschools. Some schools use lego blocks, others use foam blocks, and some use wooden blocks. My take on this is to give the children a different set each time for them to get a feel of all. The lego blocks have to be fixed into one another and need a different skillset from the children. The foam blocks are light and easier to carry and stack. While the wooden blocks are heavier and it requires precision to stack them.
Teachers can use block play in different ways depending upon the level of their class. For very small children, stacking the blocks in itself can be challenging. Fixing lego blocks so that they fit well and balance properly is also a good activity. For older children, the teacher can teach children to create structures from the blocks, such as buildings, towers or even an entire town. It takes creativity, skill, and imagination to create an entire scene from blocks as these pieces cannot be bent or twisted. The children have to rely on their imagination and creativity to create a scene.
Certain math activities can be taught through block play. Arranging the blocks from biggest to smallest or smallest to biggest is one such activity that can be taught to the children. Sorting the blocks according to the size is a part of beginner’s math.
Building things from blocks requires skill and creativity. It enhances children’s imagination. It also requires a lot of concentration and precision thus helping children to progress in their regular school work.
Ice Cream Sticks
Something as simple as ice cream sticks can aid in teaching children so many things. Although ice cream sticks are not as flexible as play-doh, a lot of learning can be done by using these simple sticks.
- Children can be taught to form many letters of the alphabet. For example, A, E, F, H, etc. All letters with straight lines can be made using ice cream sticks. As an activity, children can be shown a picture and are then asked to form the letter, using ice cream sticks, that the picture begins with.
- Number values can be taught using ice cream sticks. Children are shown a number card and are asked to place that exact number of sticks on the card. The teacher can give sticks to the children, ask them to count the number of sticks they have and choose the correct number from the number cards.
- Creating shapes from ice cream sticks is another activity teachers can do. For example, shapes like square, triangle, rectangle, pentagon, hexagon, etc. can be created. As an activity, the teacher can show an object to the children and ask them what shape the object is. The children are then instructed to make that shape using ice cream sticks. For example, a door is rectangular. So children make a rectangle to match the door.
- Children learn to make different objects. For example, a triangle and a square when put together make a house. Similarly, a gate, a fence, a boat, etc can be taught to the children. This way children can use their imagination to create a scene. For example, a few triangles to make a mountain. Few straight sticks make a fence. 2 straight sticks with a triangle on top and we have created a tree. What we get is a countryside scene made using ice cream sticks.
These simple teaching aids go a long way in enhancing the creativity of the children. It encourages them to get as creative as they can. Learning is one aspect of these aids but the boost it gives to their motor skills, their concentration levels, their ability to think out of the box, and the creative genius in children is unbelievable.