Letters being covered by cloth

This simple game is fantastic for engaging your preschoolers. It makes your children think hard as they try to solve the exciting mystery of what’s missing!

The game itself is extremely basic, yet the modifications and ways of using it to teach specific vocabulary are nearly endless. It can be played with a group of children or just one child.

Why play?

Children love this game! Not only is it fun and interactive, but it also makes your children think hard. Our brains, like our muscles, need exercise and stretching to make them strong. This game provides an excellent brain-stretching exercise for kids, and for adults too. I’ve often been amazed at how quickly my children are able to learn the skills needed to play this game well. You’ll soon find yourself needing to make it harder and harder to keep them challenged.

Not only that, but this game is also a great opportunity to provide a review of the vocabulary your children are learning, whether letter names, or colours, or various zoo animals.

How to play

  1. Collect various unique items.
  2. Show the children the items and review their names.
  3. Cover the items with a blanket to hide them from the children’s sight. While they are hidden, remove one of the items.
  4. Uncover the items and encourage the children to guess what’s missing.
  5. Repeat until all the items have disappeared

Various office supplies under cloth

 

Zoo animal cut outs under cloth

 

Farm animal toys under bandana

 

Foam letters under blanket

 

Tips

Make it engaging:

  • Be excited about figuring out what’s missing. If you’re excited about it, your children will be too.
  • When your children guess right, celebrate with them. When they guess wrong, be encouraging. Learning that it’s okay to make wrong guesses will help them succeed in school and life.
  • Try to play at a level where your children can guess correctly 75% of the time. You want it hard enough that they have to think, but not so hard that they become discouraged and give up.

Which items to choose:

  • You can use just about anything to play this game!
    • Small plastic toys such as farm animals
    • Paper zoo animals that you printed and coloured
    • Random craft/office supplies such as glue stick, pencil, paintbrush, etc.
    • Small cars or construction vehicles
    • Magnetic letters
    • Small blocks of various colours and shapes
  • The more similar the items are to each other the harder the game becomes. Beware that it also becomes far more tricky if the children are unfamiliar with the right words to name the items.

Make it easier:

  • Use fewer items. For a class of two years olds, I often start with only 4 items the first time I play with them. Once they understand the game and are guessing well, I might use more items the next time we play.
  • Use items the children are able to name well. Something like an ostrich is harder for the children to recall that it is missing and to produce the name as a guess.
  • Use items that are very different from each other.
  • When you remove an item, leave its spot empty to help them recall what’s missing.
  • Each time, before covering the items, review the names of the items to help the children memorize them.
  • For younger children, when I get down to one item left, I like to ask them which item they think will disappear. Then I proceed to make the final item disappear.

Make it harder:

  • Start with more items.
  • Use more challenging items, such as the letters of the alphabet or more unusual animals.
  • Use items with fewer differences such as all the items are dolls, but their outfits are different.
  • Remove more than one item per round.
  • After removing an item, rearrange the items before revealing them to the children.

Use it to teach concepts:

    • Each time an item is removed, review the names of the remaining items before covering them again.
    • Choose familiar things for most of the items, but add one or two unfamiliar items. Leave the unfamiliar items until closer to the end so the children get lots of practice saying those names.
    • Choose items that focus on one particular topic. If you want to focus on colours, select items that are identical (or nearly identical) other than their colour. If you want to work on shapes, select items that are nearly identical in colour so that the shape is the most prominent difference.

Bonus Tip

Do you have grandkids or nieces and nephews whom you can’t be with in person right now? Try playing this game while having a video call with them. You don’t even need a blanket since you can turn the camera away while you remove an item. Have fun letting them try to guess what’s missing!
I hope you enjoy playing this game with your children! What items did you use?
Boy running with guitar

Last July, I posted “7 Simple Christian Songs for Preschoolers”. So many people enjoyed those songs that I decided to follow it up with this post.Girl with hat smiling

If you haven’t visited my first Christian Songs for Preschoolers post, I would encourage you to check it out here. In that post, I talked about the value of these songs and useful ways to sing them.

For now, I will suffice to say that these songs have been chosen because they are easy to sing (no need for a CD player or music major), and they teach valuable truths about God. In fact, singing these Christian songs not only teaches children these truths, but they provide me with much needed reminders too. Enjoy!

 

Please note: The sample videos I have included were chosen for the clarity of the song and actions. I am not associated with any of them and have not done extensive research into the groups who posted them. Also, while I tried to find videos similar to how I prefer to sing these songs, some actions and/or words may vary from the versions I have recommended for you.

1. Our God is an Awesome God

You may already know this song, as it is the chorus of a much longer song by the same name. It is essential that we remind ourselves that our God is truly an awesome God, especially now as I write this during a pandemic! This song could be sung several times in a row getting a little faster each time.

 

Our God is an awesome God,

He reigns from heaven above,

With wisdom, power, and love,

Our God is an awesome God.

Actions:

God – point up

Awesome – thumbs up

Reigns – wiggle fingers like rain coming down

Heaven – point up

Wisdom – point to mind

Power – show muscles

Love – hug self

2. Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You SeeLittle boy doing actions

With internet access so readily available, let’s start teaching our children, when they are young, the wisdom of being careful of what we expose ourselves to. I appreciate how this song reminds us that it is out of love for us that God asks us to be careful. He knows it is for our good. Depending on the age of your children, you can do simple actions by only pointing to the body part named, or you can point to the body part and then do the second action for the last part of the line.

 

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.

For the Father up above is looking down in love,

So be careful little eyes what you see.

 

Other Verses:

  • Ears what you hear
  • Hands what you do
  • Feet where you go
  • Mouth what you say
  • Heart whom you trust
  • Mind what you think

Actions:

Eyes, ears, etc. – point to body part

See – hold hand over eyes as though looking far away

Hear – cup hands behind ears

Do – move hands around, perhaps pretend to build something

Go – walk in place

Say – cup hands around mouth, as though yelling

Trust – open hands flat in front of self, as though giving or receiving a gift

Think – tap chin, as though pondering something

3. God is so Good

A classic song, this one is so gentle and sweet to sing. This might be a good song for just before bed or some other slower part of the day.

 

God is so good,

God is so good,

God is so good,

He’s so good to me.

 

Other Verses:

God cares for me…

God loves me so…

God answers prayer…

I praise His name…

Actions:

God/He/His – point up

So good – move arms in large circle, starting at top and moving down

Me/I – point to self

Cares – hug self

Loves – cross arms over heart and rock side to side

Prayer – clasp hands in prayer

4. Ho-Ho-Ho-Hosanna

I once was in a choir that used this song as a warm-up during practices. Its repetitive rhythm makes it fun to sing, while its words make it a valuable reminder. Let us never forget the joy of what Jesus did for us!

 

Ho, ho, ho, hosanna,

Ha, ha, hallelujah,

He, He, He, He saved me,

I’ve got the joy of the Lord!

Actions:

Ho/hosanna – cup hands around mouth

Ha/hallelujah – put hands on tummy and lean back as though laughing

He/Lord – point up

Me – hug self

5. Jesus Loves Me

Chances are, you sang this song as a child. While it is a little more complicated than some of the others in this list, the truths it reminds us of are worth it. Also, don’t limit it to being a child’s song. I know I often need the reminders it offers.

 

Jesus loves me this I know,

For the Bible tells me so,

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me,

The Bible tells me so.

Actions:

Jesus – (for younger children) point up

          – (for older children) sign language for Jesus – touch middle finger from one hand to palm of other hand and vice versa 

Loves – hug self

Me – point to self

Know – point to brain

Bible – hold hands like book and open

Little ones –  pretend to pat young children on the head

Him/He – point up

Weak – slump and hang arms limply

Strong – show muscles

Yes – sign language for yes – make fist and move it up and down

6. I Say L (L-O-V-E)

This song will be better for children who are starting to grasp the concept that letters can be put together to form words. The actions are complicated to learn, but your more advanced preschoolers will enjoy the challenge. Also, this song has three sets of actions. You can choose to use one or all three depending on your children and goals. There are the full-body actions which are great for getting wiggles out. Then there are also the finger actions and the hand actions which can be done sitting. Some children will find the finger actions more challenging, if they have not yet developed strong fine motor muscles and hand-eye coordination.

 

I say L

I say L-O

L-O-V

L-O-V-E

Everybody needs God’s love,

Everybody needs God’s love,

Everybody needs God’s love,

Everybody needs God’s love.

Actions:

Rather than repeating the L-O-V-E actions after singing “Everybody needs God’s love,” I recommend having the children give themselves a hug. You can also hold “love” rather than making the “ch” sounds portrayed in the video.

This song has three sets of actions: full-body, hand, and finger

Full-body actions:

L – hold right arm up and left arm horizontal

O – connect hands above head, creating circle

V – extend both arms above head at angles

E – use one arm as top of E and the other arm as middle of E, then lift leg to create bottom of E

 

Hand actions: (using both hands)

L – with wrists touching, hold right hand straight up and left hand horizontal

O – with wrists touching, cup hands to make circle

V – with wrists touching, hold hands vertically forming a V

E – keep hands connected as they are for V, but turn horizontal. Curl fingers slightly for top and bottom of E and connect thumbs for middle of E

 

Finger actions: (using one hand only)

L – use pointer finger and thumb to make L

O – connect fingers and thumb to make circle

V – make peace sign

E – fully extend thumb, pointer finger and middle finger while tilting so that the thumb is on the bottom

7. Isn’t He Wonderful

Yet another well-loved classic, this catchy tune will stick in your head. Try singing it quiet or loud, while matching the size of your actions to the volume of your voice.

 

Isn’t He wonderful, wonderful, wonderful,

Isn’t Jesus my Lord wonderful.

Eyes have seen, ears have heard,

It’s recorded in God’s Word.

Isn’t Jesus my Lord wonderful.

Actions:

Note: The actions portrayed in the video are different from the ones I recommend below. 

He/Jesus my Lord – point up (or clap rhythm as in video)

Wonderful – move arms in large circle starting in middle

Eyes – point to eyes

Ears – point to ears

God’s Word – hold hands as book and open

I hope you enjoyed these additional Christian songs for preschoolers!

Title "5 Types of Storytime Seating" on colourful background

Circle time. That point when the entire class gathers around the teacher for songs, stories, and activities.

This can be a tricky part of the day for the teacher, as the children wiggle and get distracted by their friends. Different seating arrangements can help eliminate certain distractions. Also, different seating arrangements work better in different environments and with different budgets. Here are some pros and cons of 5 unique types of storytime seating for preschoolers that I’ve used. 

Note: the images included are for your reference. They do not indicate any partnership with or recommendation for those specific carpets and/or companies. The links are not affiliate links.

  1. Small carpet (with no individual spots)

  • This could be any rug you have around that is big enough for all the children to sit on. I have seen blankets or bamboo mats used as well.
  • Pros:
    • Use what you have, rather than buying a new expensive rug
    • Can fit a large number of children on a smaller space since there aren’t individual spots to sit on
    • Gives the children a defined area to sit during storytime
  • Cons:
    • Beware, rugs with very colourful designs can make it hard to spot toys, thus making clean up difficult and stepping on toys more likely
    • Children may jostle for position and argue since there are no boundaries providing needed personal space
    • Children are likely to crowd into multiple rows causing added distraction
    • Children have a hard time seeing what the teacher is holding since they are not arranged well
  1. Carpet with multiple rows of individual seating spots

  • These carpets can be square or designed to fit into a corner like a slice of pizza. Often, if all the spots are filled, you will end up with three rows of children directly behind each other.

Preschoolers sitting on corner circletime rug Children sitting on large classroom carpet

 

  • Pros:
    • Typically specifically designed for school type settings
    • Often high-quality carpets that will last several years
    • Often include an educational element such as shapes, or numbers
    • Children have specified spots to sit on with the goal of having the seating well-spaced – not too close and not too far
    • Multiple sizes designed for different numbers of children are available
  • Cons:
    • Often expensive
    • May be hard to clean
    • Can cause difficulties with children kicking those in the row in front of them
    • Back row of children often are not as attentive to the teacher
  1. Large oval or rectangular rug (with seating spots)

  • These are very standard storytime seating for preschools to have. There are many different designs from letters to woodland animals and more.Children sitting on rug for circletime
  • Pros:
    • No back row of children meaning the teacher can see all the children and the children are not distracted the same way as those with multiple rows
    • Many beautiful designs to choose from, including educational themes
    • Are large enough to accommodate many children
    • Individual spots on the rug for children to sit on
    • Typically specifically designed for school type settings
    • Often high-quality carpets that will last several years
  • Cons:
    • Your classroom must have a large open space to set this rug
    • Difficult to find a place for the teacher to sit where all the children can see (some may be behind another child along the side)
    • Depending on where the teacher sits, some children will be sitting a considerable distance from the teacher making it difficult to see what the teacher is holding, or for the teacher to hear the child talking
    • Most are very heavy if you have to move them
    • Can be difficult to clean
    • Typically expensive
  1. Individual story spots or carpets

  • Story spots come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. They may be individual sized squares of carpet, or circle shaped cushions. They could even be laminated pieces of paper. The thing that makes them all fit in the same category is that they are one spot per child and that they are movable.Child sitting on story spots
  • Pros:
    • Spots can be rearranged to whatever shape fits your space.
    • Can be stacked on the shelf during playtime allowing more space for toys
    • Might be machine washable
    • You choose how many to use rather than always having 12 spots if you only have 10 children.
  • Cons:
    • Spots are not secured to the floor allowing children to move them around which can be distracting
    • Creates an extra task for the teacher (or children) to set them up and put them away every day
    • If used on hard floor, the spots may be slippery if stepped on
    • Can be expensive
  1. Tape

  • Rather than buying a rug, take a roll of masking tape and put it on the floor in a large “u” or semi-circle around the teacher’s chair. The children will sit on the tape. (Alternatively cut pieces of paper and use clear tape to secure them to the floor)
  • Pros:
    • Inexpensive
    • Can be placed in any shape, according to your needs
    • Can adjust length of tape to accommodate any size of class
    • Children do not argue over getting their favourite colour or letter
    • No second row (unless you want to make one)
    • No heavy rug or stack of story spots to deal with
  • Cons:
    • Children may pick at the tape and pull it off
    • Lack of individual spots means the children sometimes sit too close to each other causing irritation
    • Leaving the tape down for several weeks, or during deep cleaning, may leave lines on the floor
    • Tape will need to be replaced from time to time as it wears out or the children pull it off
    • Not ideal on hard floor as it does not protect children from hard surfaces or cold floors

That’s a long list of pros and cons to consider. If you were to ask me which storytime seating for preschoolers I prefer, I would likely say using tape is my preference. However, this, of course, depends on the program and the space available.

What is your preferred storytime seating for preschoolers? Can you think of pros or cons I didn’t include in this post?

Muffin packed in preschool snack box

5 tips from a preschool teacher

Do you have a preschooler? Do you pack snacks for them? Then you’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover five useful tips I’ve learned from observing the preschool snack packing techniques of countless parents.

Please keep in mind that each individual is unique. Use discretion when deciding which tips will be useful for you.

  1. Involve Your Child

    • Children enjoy and benefit from having opportunities to choose. Try involving them in picking what to have for snack, but keep the options limited. For example, you could ask them if they want an apple or a banana. Or you could ask if they want white cheese or orange cheese. Be sure that the choices you give them are all ones you are happy with them making.
  2. Limit the Options

    • Deciding how many food options to pack in your child’s snack can be tricky. Not enough food leaves them hungry. At the same time, did you know that sending too many options can cause a child to eat less? Of course, this depends on the child’s personality. Some children become overwhelmed or indecisive when presented with too many options. Sending two or three decent sized food choices is often better than six.
  3. Offer Healthy vs. Unhealthy Options

    • Many parents complain to me that their children only eat sugary processed food. If given the option, the majority of children will eat the sugary and/or processed treat in their snack first. This may leave them with little appetite or no time to eat the healthy options you packed for them. If this is a concern for you, try packing only healthy options such as fruit or vegetables and perhaps some crackers. Most children will be happy to eat healthy snacks, if those are the only options you provide.
    • Note that if the child has learned to expect a sugary snack, it may take a few days for them to decide to eat the healthier options.
  4. Send Two+ Food Groups

    • While we’re on the topic of the options to pack for snack, one preschool I worked at insisted that parents include at least two food groups in the snack. Food groups include: fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, and meat/alternatives. Including options from at least two of these food groups is a great rule of thumb in providing a wholesome snack.
  5. Change Things Up.

    • Rather than sending the exact same snack every day, try changing it up from time to time. This suggestion, again, depends on your child. Some children prefer the exact same snack every day, while others quickly get bored of repetition. Eating a wide variety of food is a healthy thing to do.
    • To keep from getting stuck in a snack-time rut, keep a list readily available, like my 11 Quick and Easy Wholesome Preschool Snack Ideas.

Have you tried any of these tips, or do you have others to add? Leave a comment.

Child wearing winter clothing: coat, mittens, hat.

 

This is one of my favourite winter preschool songs. My preschoolers enjoy its full-body actions and snowy day application. I recommend it for children ages 2-4.

It’s cold outside today, it’s cold outside today,

Brr, brr, it’s cold outside, it’s cold outside today.

 

I put my coat on, I put my coat on,

Brr, brr, it’s cold outside, I put my coat on.

 

I put my snowpants on, I put my snowpants on,

Brr, brr, it’s cold outside, I put my snowpants on.

 

Boy in winter gear sledding

Additional verses:

  • I put my boots on
  • I put my mittens on
  • I put my scarf on
  • I put my hat on

Actions:

  • As you sing “I put my ____ on” move as though putting that item on.
  • When you sing “It’s cold outside today” and “Brr, brr, it’s cold outside” hug yourself tight and rub your hands on your arms as though cold.

 

This song can be sung sitting or standing. I like to sing it standing up because the actions then become full-body. Pretending to put on boots and snowpants provides a good opportunity to encourage children to reach for their feet and stand on one foot. Many of the actions encourage hand-eye coordination and body awareness.

 

Tips:

  • Encourage the children to guess, based on your actions, which item they will put on next.
  • Keep this song for especially cold days when the children arrive bundled up. This gives the song real-life application.
  • Use this song as a high excitement song to help burn some of the pent up energy which often exists on days too cold to go outside.

What is your favourite winter preschool song?