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Preschool: For children 0-5 years old

Read, talk, sing, write, and play everyday.

Approaches to Learning

Scarves are very versatile and can be almost anything. When you play with scarves at home, talk about what else the scarf could be and what you can do with it. This will help to develop your child's creativity and imagination. 


Activity: Scrunch up a colored scarf and hold it by one corner. Whenever you say the words "Shoo fly", whip out the rest of the scarf in a flinging motion as if you are swatting a fly. 

Shoo fly, don't bother me. 

Shoo fly, don't bother me. 

Shoo fly, don't bother me.

'Cause I belong to somebody. 

Some children love to sit and listen to books, and some find other activities more interesting. Help your children enjoy books by having them participate. Ask them to join in saying a repeated phrase. 

Read the book Bear Wants More by Karma WilsonHave your child say the repeated phrase as you read.

Using books and stories to help children think of their own solutions to problems helps them develop problem-solving skills. Researchers have found that having ideas for tackling problems helps children in learning new tasks and handling social situations.

The Arts

Using music during everyday routines makes them more enjoyable. If your child does not like taking baths, sing the song below while using a washcloth. When you turn washing into a game, your child may find it easier to enjoy!

Sung to the tune of " Here we go round the Mulberry Bush"

This is the way we wash our feet,

Wash our feet, wash our feet

This is the way we wash our feet,

So early in the morning

By developing an awareness of the designs and shapes that bodies can make as well as where their bodies are in space,children also gain an awareness of others and the world around them.

Parents with very young children can hold their babies while dancing, and children who are already walking can follow the instructions in the song, which is sung to the tune of "Here We Go, Looby Loo".

Here we go in, in, in.
Here we go out, out, out.
Here we go in, in, in.
Then we turn ourselves about.

Here we go uppity up. 

Here we go down - ditty down.
Here we go uppity up.
Then we turn ourselves around.

Repeat, then sing this last line:

Then we sit ourselves right down!

Pretending fosters your child's imagination. If you sing "I'm a Little Teapot" at home and you have a teapot, show it to your child and ask, " Where is the handle?" "Where is the spout?" Pretend to drink a cup of tea together and discuss what it tastes like.

:Show a teapot if possible. Hold it up and describe how it looks. Then sing the song at least twice. The first time, encourage your child to watch as you do the motions. Then ask your child to sing along and follow the motions. 

I'm a little teapot short and stout. (Stand and bend knees)
Here is my handle, here is my spout. (Hand on hip; hold other hand out to side.)
When I get all steamed up, hear me shout, (Wiggle)
"Just tip me over and pour me out." (Lean in the direction of your spout.)

Try this at home as a role-play game. Have your child wear an apron and help her pretend to mix dough, to knead it, and to roll it, and to bake it in the oven. Pretend to be a customer entering her bakery hoping to buy some baked goods. 

Everyone should tap and clap and simulate mixing, rolling, and patting. Use your fingers to draw your child's initial on a pretend cake and to say your child's name in place of "baby"

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man 
Bake me a cake as fast as you can. 
Roll it and pat it and mark it with "B" (Use child's initials)
And put it in the oven for "baby" and me (Use child's name)

Cognition and General Knowledge

Scientific studies of the brain suggest that a child's natural approach to leaning is through play. Songs about the weather can be followed by games. Tell your child what you are doing as you pretend you are twirling an umbrella or stomping in rain. puddles.


Rain, rain, go away.

Come again another day.

Little Johnny wants to play,

So rain, rain, go away.

It's raining, its pouring. 

The old man is snoring.

He bumped his head on the top of the bed ,

And he could't get up in the morning.

So rain, rain, go away.

Come again another day. 

Naming and categorizing things can be fun for children of all ages. Help children make sense of their world by grouping things that go together, such as knives forks, and spoons at a table. 

Recite this rhyme and do the finger play

Here are my Lady's knives and forks. (Open hands and show fingers.)

Here is my lady's table. (Turn hands over and show knuckles.)

Here is my lady's looking glass. ( Face knuckles toward you.) 

And here is the baby's cradle. (Sway hands back and forth.)

Language and Literacy

As you share a book with your child and talk about the pictures, leave a little time, pause a little, to give your child a chance to babble back. You may have to wait a while. You have heard how important it is to talk to your baby, but it is also important to talk with your baby and to let him talk back. This begins the development of narrative skills, one of the six early literacy skills that researchers say lay a strong foundation for children to understand what they will later read. Narrative skills begin with babbling!

When you are walking or driving, point out signs and symbols like Pizza Hut logo or simple writing that your children may recognize. Noticing that signs and symbols are all around is part of print awareness, knowing that print has meaning. Many fun activities can introduce children to written words.

Read "Hi, Pizza Man!" by Virginia WalterRecite the pizza rhyme below. Talk about print in the environment: make a pizza sign if you like. 

The pizza is hot.The pizza is cold. The pizza is on the plate, Nine days old.

Some like it hot, Some like it cold. Some like it in the pot , Nine days old.

Mathematical and Scientific Thinking

Seeing patterns and trying to recognize things that are alike and things that are different is a fun game for children. Such activities help them develop the mathematical concepts of patterns and relationships.

Play Mitten Match or another matching game. Make pairs of mittens using felt cutouts and a different pattern on each pair (shapes, lines, etc.). Set aside one mitten from each pair and hand out the remaining mittens, one to each child. Put one of the mittens you set aside on the flannelboard. Describe what it looks like. Then ask the child with the matching mitten to come put it up on the flannelboard. Depending on the age of the children, you can vary the difficulty by making the patterns more or less detailed and more or less similar.

Number Sense and Numeric Operations: Even though babies will not actually understand number words and concepts, rhymes with numbers prepare them for the idea of numbers and for counting by rote or imitation. Later they will connect to the words.

 Recite " Two Little Blackbirds" using the following hand motions.

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill, (Hold fists with index fingers extended)

One named Jack. ( Wiggle one finger)

One named Jill. ( Wiggle other finger)

Fly away, Jack (Hide second finger behind your back)

Fly away, Jill ( Hide second finger behind your back)

Come back, Jack (Bring first finger back to the front)

Come back, Jill ( Bring second finger back to the front)


As you will see, children like to count and "uncount" the mice in this story. This helps develop their sense of numbers. Read Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Have your child act out the story. You be the snake, to keep some control. 

Help your child see shapes all around them, even if they are not standard shapes like circles, triangles, and squares. Even babies can see shapes and light/dark patterns long before they know what they are called. Awareness of shapes builds a foundation for the math concepts children will need to learn later in school. 

Read It Looked Like Spilt  Milk by Charles ShawAsk your child to call out what he thinks the shapes are. Allow him some time to call out what  he sees. If  your child is  too young to answer or hesitates to call out the answers, the adult can respond. 

Physical Development

Practicing fine motor skills, such as making small finger motions while singing a song, helps develop your child's coordination. Four -year old children have greater control of their  fingers and hands than younger children do. Songs such as " Open Them, Shut Them" are easier for three-, four-, and five-year-olds than for younger children because children develop greater coordination and control of small movements as they age. 

Ask your child to use her hands and fingers to follow the directions in the song. Pause after the "Open up your little mouth" and shake your finger for the last line. 

Open them, shut them, open them, shut them,
Give a little clap.
Open them,  shut them, open them, shut them,
Put them in your lap

Creep them, creep them, creep them, creep them,
Right up to your chin.
Open up your little mouth...
But do not put them in!

Active use of arms and legs encourages development of gross motor skills, which contributes to school readiness and learning. Activities like this one, in which children do what is called crossing the midline -- this is, crossing the center of the body-- helps develop children's minds as well as their bodies. 

Lay your baby or toddler on his back on parent's outstretched legs and hold one of the child's leg in each hand while guiding him through the movements of the rhyme.

This is Bill Anderson ( Hold up one leg)

And this is Tom Trim ( Hold up the other leg)

And Bill (Shake one leg) asked Tom (Shake the other leg) to play with him

Bill over Tom, (Cross legs faster). Tom Over Bill (Cross legs the other way)

Bill over Tom, (Cross legs faster). Tom Over Bill ( Cross legs the other way and continue going faster and faster)

All the way down the hill! 

Repeat using arms instead of legs. Cross arms fully across chest. 

Self -Awareness: An early introduction to the senses helps children make connections between parts of their bodies, the words that represent them, and the things that they do. This self awareness is integral to the development of young children's self confidence and self esteem.

Recite this rhyme while pointing to or gently touching the corresponding parts on  baby's face. Older children may enjoy doing this rhyme while pointing to or touching the corresponding parts on their own face.

Two little eyes to look around (Point to eyes)

Two little ears to hear each sound (Touch ears)

One little nose to smell what's sweet (Touch nose and take a deep breath)

And one little mouth that likes to eat (Touch mouth)

YUM! (Give child lots of nibbly kisses)

Lullabies help children to relax. Holding your child against your chest so she can hear your heartbeat  re- creates the sounds of the womb, and she will slowly relax. This is especially important for newborns. In today's stressful world, you are giving your child a gift by lovingly showing her how to slow down, relax and take time out.

Hold your child on your lap, head against your chest and slowly rock back and forth while singing this lullaby.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Social and Emotional Development

Learning through play is relaxed, fun and creative. Through a single enjoyable activity, your child can learn about following directions, taking turns and showing appreciation to others, all skills that are necessary for healthy development. 

Recite the rhyme below while holding a small stuffed animal or bean bag. Throw the animal up in the air and catch it. 

Hickory, dickory, dare.

The pig flew in the air.

Farmer Brown soon brought her down.

Hickory, dickory, dare

Sharing books that talk about how characters behave in various kinds of relationships can help children think about their behavior and how they interact with others. Take the opportunity books offer to talk about what your child thinks and what he might do. 

Read the book Help! A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller or another book that encourages talk about relationships. After reading the book, talk about what the characters thought of each other. What changed?


By joyfully watching other children follow directions and applauding their success, you are teaching your children an important social skill - how to appreciate other people. Being successful in school requires more than being able to do the academic work. It also involves knowing how to get along with other children, how to wait  your turn,, and how to  be a part of a classroom community. This fun activity helps your child learn all of those skills.

Read Peek -a -Moo by Marie Torres CimarustiInvite your child to lift the flaps. Clap each time your child lifts a flap and a new animal is revealed.  


Sometimes it is hard  to keep doing something when you are tired and don't seem to be making much progress. If your child is having difficulty finishing an assigned task, try recognizing his efforts with positive words and encouraging him to continue. This will help the child avoid feelings and the desire to give up while helping him to develop persistence.

Read the book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper or another book that has a simple underlying theme related to thinking positively, working hard, and being persistent -  all of which are skills that can lead to success. After reading the book, talk about the characteristics of the main character. For example, the little engine had determination and perseverance. It kept going even when it thought it could not. 

More Child Development and Early Literacy Resources to explore

The  LITTLE READ WAGONSan Antonio Public  Library's early literacy program, designed to support the development of young children’s love of books, reading and learning.


RAISING READERS: Resources that help expand your knowledge of early literacy, give you ideas on sharing books with your child and how to help her get a good start on reading and learning.


READING ROCKETS: Resources for anyone involved in helping a young child become a strong, confident reader. 


TALKING IS TEACHING: Empowers parents and caregivers with fun and easy ways to improve their babies' learning.


ZERO TO THREE: Designed to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from early connections that are critical to their well-being and development.