Playful Directions

Mrs. Forst's Pre-Kindergarten Blog

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Reading Outside

Such a lovely day, why don’t we meet with our Book Buddies outside?


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Fairy Houses on the Move

Today was a Forest Four day, and what perfect weather we had for it!  Last Forest Four day we decided that it was time to move our Fairy House (the stick lean-to) to a new location.  With this in mind, we headed out on the trail today with moving on our mind.IMG_6299

Above is an image of the old hide-away.  The children spent over 30 minutes moving all of these sticks to the new location.  I apologize for not having any photos of the massive undertaking. I, too, was busy hauling logs of all sizes.

Our new fairy house is much bigger and has the potential for many rooms.  The children began playing in it before it had even been completed.  We are looking forward to future child directed renovations.


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Fine Motor Exercises

Between the ages of 3-6, children spend large amounts of time honing their fine motor skills.  As adults, we take controlling the tiny ballet of movement within our hands and wrists for granted.  Children, developing from the trunk outward, have a much better grasp of motions involving their entire arm.  This is why many young creators use both a fist grip and large sweeping motions either from their elbow or shoulder.  Practice controlling these muscles is the only way provide growth.  The funny thing is that children are built to learn this skill.  They naturally seek out activities that hone their use of all the fine motor muscles.  Below are some of the ways children choose to practice in our class.


Arranging and creating designs using found objects.

Manipulating small toys.





The most recognizable one: choosing to color or draw as a fun past-time.

All of these activities are self chosen.  Of course we incorporate many other opportunities for fine motor use throughout the day, but I find the ones they choose most interesting.




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Parts of a Set

This week we carried our practice subitizing small sets a bit further.  Given a set of four rocks, one child acted as the “teacher” and covered any number of rocks with their hand.  The second child, “student”, then deduced how many were hidden.  They used their knowledge of “four” and the visual clues showing how many were still uncovered.  Subitizing and working memory united to build on the children’s growing understanding of sets.

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Who will solve the problem?

p1170373Conflicts often arise when children play together. Each is a teachable moment. Although we could easily solve the issue for the children, we prefer to teach them how to find solutions on their own. Responsive Classroom, used here, is one of many programs that model conflict resolution in which the students are actively involved in the process.

Recently, playing “family” has been extremely popular with many of our students. The roles the children take vary from day-to-day and minute to minute. Conflict arises when two people either want to play the same part or one person wishes to control the entire story.

In the conversation below, two children were unhappy because they both wanted to play the same character role. Mrs. Forst invited them to talk . Before Mrs. Forst could begin working with our well-practiced conflict resolution strategy, a third child offered to help them on her own.

Susie: “I want to be the mom, but Henrietta says I can’t.”
Henrietta: “I want to be the mom.”
Georgette: “I know what they could do. Henrietta could be the mom first and then Susie can be the mom.”
Mrs. Forst: “Do you agree Susie?”
Susie: “No.”
Georgette: “I know, they can both be the moms. There can be two moms.”
Mrs. Forst: “Do you both agree?”
Henrietta and Susie: “Yes!”
Mrs. Forst: “You solved your problem!”


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A Community in Action

Sometimes it only takes a few with a small idea to set a large plan in motion.

This began with two children and a very long branch.  As you can see, there are many different styles represented for getting a task done.  We have friends recruiting others, news hounds getting the word out and making announcements, tenacious individualists who are going to get that tree “there” no matter what.  What makes the task possible is the Forest Four explorers’ willingness to rely on teamwork.


Subitizing, or quick mental math

Sometimes the tasks that seem simple and one-dimensional have much more impact than we realize. Finger counting is a good example. When our children are little, we help them practice counting to five using their fingers. As they get older, they no longer need to count each individual finger, but know the finger configurations for each of the numbers 0-5. Ask a five-and-a-half or six-year-old to quickly show you the correct number of fingers for any digit up to five and they probably won’t even think about it. They will automatically present you with the correct number of fingers. Usually, these older children can quickly use the sets from both hands to represent numbers up to ten without actually counting, either. They are so comfortable with the formation of these sets, that putting the two sets (hands) together to make a new number looks like an easy task. So how do we get a younger child to this level of creating and recognizing sets? Play and practice, of course.

In mathematical terms, seeing the quantity of a set without counting is called subititzing. We support this skill by playing games like those that require the children to recognize arrays of pips on dice and singing counting songs using our fingers. With experience the arrangements on the dice or on their hands become second nature. By the time they are in kindergarten, they will see and identify these sets easily. Being able to visually recognize sets of  0-5 and 0-10 objects will help them as they move forward into double-digit addition, subtraction and even multiplication.

For the past two weeks, we’ve been playing a game using dual color plastic chips.  We begin by placing five chips in a cup, giving it a shake and spilling out the contents.  The children then either count or subitize (mentally identify) the quantity of red chips showing.  A number strip is used to record which sets they have encountered.  The fun part is trying to “find” all five sets.  We followed this up with sets of ten chips, adding a bit more of a challenge.  The children are practicing subitizing, 1-1 correspondence and numeral identification while exploring probability in hands on experiment.