Toddler and Pre-school Theme Days
Having a Square Theme Day is a fun way to teach/review/reinforce the shapes with your pre-schooler. I found it useful to do the basic shapes individually to emphasize the differences more clearly.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
For fun you could search your favourite music provider for “Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News and dance around the living room.
Print out my Squares Colouring Page or go online to your favourite search engine and type in “Squares Colouring Sheet.”
Help your child trace the outline of each square with his/her finger and count out loud the number of sides to reinforce what makes a square, saying “1, 2, 3, 4, square!” Or try what helped my son recognize and remember the name of a square and say “I, 2, 3, 4 It’s hip to be…a square!”
SQUARE STICKERS OR CUT OUTS:
Materials: Square Stickers or square foam stickers or square paper cut outs (made yourself), coloured paper, glue stick, and a face cloth for sticky fingers.
· Step 1: Let your child choose what colour paper he/she wants for the background.
· Step 2: Give your child the stickers or cut outs and let him/her stick or glue them to the coloured paper in any design or manner.
Materials: Crayons and markers, coloured paper, child-safe scissors, glue stick, print out the Things That Are Square Colouring Page, face cloth for sticky fingers.
· Step 1: Sit with your child as he/she colours each object on the colouring page.
· Step 2: Help your child cut out the individual pictures.
· Step 3: Have your child pick the colour of paper he/she wants to use.
· Step 4: Fold the sheet of coloured paper into three parts (as if you were going to put it in an envelope) and cut it along the folds to make three rectangles.
· Step 5: Fold each of these three pieces of paper in half and cut along the folds to make six smaller pieces of paper.
· Step 6: Have your child apply glue to each coloured picture and glue each one to a separate sheet of small paper.
· Step 7: Help your child staple the sheets of paper together to make a little book.
· Step 8: Read the book together to review what squares are.
Materials: Coloured paper, old magazines, child-safe scissors, glue stick, face cloth for sticky fingers.
· Step 1: Look through old magazines with your child and have him/her point out anything that is square in shape.
· Step 2: Help your child cut out the square pictures to make a pile of square pictures.
· Step 3: Have your child pick the colour of paper he/she wants to use.
· Step 4: Show your child how to glue the pictures onto the coloured paper to make a collage and then let him/her glue the square pictures on the paper however he/she wants.
· Step 5: When the collage is dry display (fridge, bulletin board, child’s door) or glue into the Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
Materials: A clean kitchen sponge cut into squares, white paper, paint, waxed paper, face cloth for dirty fingers, newspaper or plastic for covering the table, old t-shirts or art smocks .
· Step 1: Have your child pick the colour or colours of paint he/she wants to use.
· Step 2: Show your child how to press the sponge in the paint and then press it on the white paper to leave a square print (you may need to press on a separate sheet of paper first to remove excess paint).
· Step 3: Let your child stamp the sponges in the paint to create a square picture.
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books about shapes and flip to the square pages.
Go to the library with your child to find some books about shapes.
Go to the library on your own to find books about shapes to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (type in “Squares” or “shapes” under Children’s Books). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Read some of these titles if you can find them:
· Bear in a Square, written by Stella Blackstone and illustrated by Debbie Harter, Barefoot Books, 1998 – This is a search and find book in a way as its text asks the reader/listener to find a different shape on each page (it’s not difficult though). This is a good review of the shapes.
· What shape Is That Piggy Wiggy?, Christyan and Diane Fox, Hand Print Books, 2002 – A cute board book that highlights shapes about a pig building a house for his teddy bear.
· A Starfish: A Shapes Book, created and edited by Bernette Ford, Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, Boxer Books, 2008—This board book has a shape on one side and an object that incorporates the shape on the other side making it a good review book of circles, ovals, triangles, squares, rectangles, diamonds, stars, hexagons and hearts.
Square crackers: there are many different types of crackers that are square, try to find some in different sizes.
Cheese cut into squares or cubes to eat alone or with square crackers makes a nice snack.
A chocolate bar has a number of square pieces on it. Break some off for a sweet treat.
Try graham crackers for another sweet snack option.
Using regular sliced bread (you could cut the crusts off to make it more square if you like) let your child build his/her own sandwich with his/her favourite toppings, then cut the sandwich in half and half again to make 4 squares.
Ravioli is a perfect square supper.
During the day together make your favourite dessert squares (like brownies) and cut them into little squares for something sweet.
Materials: Square stickers or cut outs, a pen, glue stick (if needed), print out of the List of Squares I Can See worksheet.
· Step 1: Explain to your child that you are both on a hunt for the squares.
· Step 2: Walk through your house and/ or outside to look for things that are square in shape.
· Step 3: When your child finds something square you will write the name of the object on a slip of square paper or a square sticker and your child will stick the square on the chart.
· Step 4: At the end of the hunt sit down and count out loud together how many square things you both found. Review what you found by reading the chart out loud.
If your child has a shape sorting toy play with that (if it is a toy with more than one square, remove the other shapes and only play with the squares).
Play “I Spy with My Little Eye” only searching for square things.
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows with the theme of teaching shapes.
Try to find some of these titles that highlight the shapes:
· Baby Einstein: Baby Newton – All about Shapes, Baby Einstein Company, Walt Disney Home Video, 2002—with puppets, computer animated crayons and a clown made of shapes, plus videos of various toys and nature etc. to illustrate five basic shapes, this DVD is a great learning tool. It uses classical music plus a catchy song about shapes as well.
· Baby Einstein: Discovering Shapes Circles, Squares and More – Baby Einstein Company, Walt Disney Home Video, 2007—This one focuses on circles, ovals, triangles, squares and rectangles without the computer animated feature of the first one, but has more puppets and video clips of various toys and nature etc.. This has great added features for more interactive learning with your child.
· Blue’s Clues: Shapes and Colors, Viacom International Inc, 2003—Blue the dog and Joe go on a shape search while playing Blue’s Clues.
· Brainy Baby: Shapes and Colors, The Brainy Baby Company, LLC, 2002 – This DVD uses classical music, original songs about the shapes, live action clips of children with shapes (of various ages) and of toys, plus a few computer animated things as well (Highlights 12 shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, heart, oval, diamond, crescent, pentagon, hexagon and octagon).
· Sesame Street: Guess That Shape and Color, Sesame workshop, 2006—Elmo and Zoe and other friends on Sesame Street have fun with shape guessing games and searches .
Square Sponge Stamps
Play with blocks for Square Theme Day.
Photo: C Wright