Thursday, January 5, 2012

More than meets the eye...

You might recognize this as one of the toys in our play area. But did you know it's for much more than just entertainment? Of course it's entertaining as well, but it's also helping young children develop skills that will help them when they start school.

For example, pushing the beads around their wire paths helps little ones learn about cause and effect. While this understanding feels innate to us adults, little ones are still learning this very important concept.

You can also help your child learn directional vocabulary. This activity provides a perfect opportunity to talk with them about what "up," "down," and "across" mean.

One side of the block has street signs that children can manipulate. Street signs are an excellent way to begin teaching young children about symbolism. When they're ready to learn how to read, children will eventually need to understand how a symbol is a picture, shape, or image that stands for something else. Letters are essentially symbols for sounds, and written words are symbols for what they mean.

Talk with your child while they're playing with these street signs. Talking about how "this picture means this" will help them understand that a picture or symbol can mean something. You can even extend this activity and point out street signs when you're walking or driving. This will help kids understand that print and symbolism are everywhere!

The key to all of this is engaging with your child. Your little one will learn so much more if you play together than if he or she plays with a toy alone. Take these opportunities to develop these early literacy skills whenever you can!

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