Valentine’s Day Classroom Party Snack Ideas

Valentine’s Day Classroom Party Snack Ideas: Sweet Treats and Healthy Bites

Valentine’s Day in the classroom isn’t just about adorable cards and decorations. It’s also the perfect occasion for delightful Valentine snacks ideal for classroom parties.  As teachers, you have the opportunity to blend fun with nutrition, offering DIY Valentine snacks for the classroom that are both tasty and teacher-approved.  Whether you’re planning a small celebration or a big bash, having a variety of snacks can make the event more enjoyable and inclusive for all your little love bugs.

Let’s dive into some creative and delicious snack ideas that are sure to win the hearts (and stomachs) of your preschoolers this Valentine’s Day!

Heart-shaped fruit kabobs: A healthy Valentine snack idea is heart-shaped fruit kabobs. Use cookie cutters to create hearts from watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melons. Skewer these heart-shaped fruits with grapes or berries for a rainbow effect. It’s a fun and interactive DIY Valentine snack for the classroom that encourages kids to love their fruits!

Fruit and cheese hearts: For a fancier twist, offer fruit and cheese hearts. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut pieces of cheese and pair them with heart-shaped apple slices. It’s a simple, yet fun Valentine snack idea for the classroom.

Love-themed veggie platter: Vegetables can be part of your snacks too! Create a love-themed veggie platter by arranging cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and baby carrots in the shape of a heart. Serve with a side of hummus or yogurt dip. It’s a playful way to incorporate veggies into your Valentine’s Day celebration.

Cupid’s arrow pretzel sticks: Sweet and salty treats like Cupid’s arrow pretzel sticks are always a hit and the perfect DIY Valentine snack idea for the classroom. Dip one end of a pretzel stick in melted chocolate and add a heart-shaped candy or piece of fruit to create the arrowhead.

Heart-shaped sandwiches: Transform ordinary sandwiches into special Valentine’s Day versions by shaping them into hearts. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter on whole grain bread and fill with your choice of healthy ingredients.

Love bug snack cups: For a creative Valentine’s Day snack idea, try making love bug snack cups. Fill clear cups with layers of yogurt, granola and berries. Add googly eyes and pipe cleaner antennae for a cute love bug effect. It’s a sweet, healthy and engaging Valentine snack idea for the classroom.

Chocolate-dipped strawberries: A classic DIY Valentine snack for the classroom is chocolate-dipped strawberries. Simply dip strawberries in melted chocolate and let them cool on parchment paper.

Mini heart pizzas: Mini heart pizzas can be a savory addition to your Valentine’s Day classroom party. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter on pizza dough and let the kids add their favorite toppings. These mini pizzas are a great way for students to customize their snacks.

Valentine’s day trail mix: A fun and easy DIY Valentine snack for the classroom is trail mix. Combine pretzels, popcorn, dried fruit and a sprinkle of heart-shaped candies for a sweet and savory mix. Trail mix is a versatile snack for classroom parties that cater to various tastes.

Red velvet mini cupcakes: Red velvet mini cupcakes are a delightful Valentine snack idea for the classroom. Bake mini red velvet cupcakes and top them with cream cheese frosting. These bite-sized treats are perfect for little hands and make a lovely DIY Valentine snack for the classroom.

Valentine’s Day parfaits: Layer vanilla yogurt, red berries and granola in clear cups for a visually appealing and healthy treat.

Heart-shaped Rice Krispie treats: Mold the classic Rice Krispie mixture into hearts and decorate them with red, white, and pink sprinkles.

Conclusion

These Valentine snack ideas for classroom parties are designed to be fun, nutritious and inclusive. By preparing a variety of snacks, you’re not just feeding little tummies; you’re also creating memorable experiences and teaching the importance of balanced eating.

For your Valentine’s Day classroom party, get ready to spread some love with these delightful snack ideas. Remember, the key is to keep it fun, engaging and, most importantly, delicious!

Want to learn more about classroom nutrition? CCEI has you covered with a number of courses, including Healthy Habits: Nutrition and Fitness Practices. This one-hour course offers ideas for promoting healthy eating in the early childhood classroom, along with strategies for working with families to promote proper nutrition practices at home.

Click here to learn more about this course, as well as CCEI’s entire catalog of 200+ offerings

Understanding Childhood Anxiety in a Classroom Setting

Understanding little hearts: How to explain anxiety to a child

As a preschool teacher, one of your most important roles is helping young children navigate not just learning activities but also their emotions. Anxiety, a common emotion even among little ones, can sometimes be a challenging concept to introduce and manage. Explaining anxiety to kids requires sensitivity, understanding and age-appropriate language.

This blog will help guide you on how to explain anxiety to a child and provides activities and exercises to support children in dealing with anxiety.

Anxiety definition for kids

Before diving into how to explain anxiety to a child, let’s start with a simple anxiety definition for kids: Anxiety is like having butterflies in your stomach and feeling worried or scared about something. It’s normal and happens to everyone at times. This anxiety definition for kids is a great starting point to build conversations around.

How to explain anxiety to a child: The basics
Explaining anxiety to young children can often feel like trying to simplify a complex, abstract concept. However, this is essential for their emotional development and resilience. Below are three strategies you can use for addressing anxiety in the classroom:

Use simple, relatable language: One of the most effective ways to explain anxiety to children is through the use of metaphors and similes relating to their everyday experiences. By comparing anxiety to familiar feelings or situations, children can more easily grasp the concept. For example, you might describe anxiety as similar to the nervousness they feel when starting a new game or the jittery excitement before going on a fun school trip. This approach makes the abstract nature of emotions more concrete and understandable. You can say, “Anxiety is like when you’re waiting to see if your friends are coming to your birthday party – you feel excited but also a bit worried.” This not only provides a clear, relatable scenario but also introduces the idea that it’s normal and okay to feel this way sometimes. Analogies like these help demystify the feeling of anxiety, making it less intimidating and more manageable for young children.

Validate their feelings: An essential part of explaining anxiety to children involves validating their feelings. It’s important for them to understand that feeling anxious is a normal and universal experience, not something they have to face alone or feel ashamed about. When a child expresses feelings of anxiety, acknowledging their feelings with responses such as, “It sounds like you’re feeling really worried about this, and that’s okay. I sometimes feel worried too,” can be incredibly reassuring. Highlighting that everyone, including adults and their teachers or family members, experiences feelings of anxiety at times, helps normalize these emotions. This reassurance can be a huge relief to a child who may feel isolated or different because of their anxious feelings.

Storytelling: Incorporating the use of stories is an effective method when it comes to explaining anxiety to kids. Children are naturally drawn to stories and can learn a great deal through the experiences of characters they come to know and love. By crafting or choosing narratives that include characters facing and managing anxiety, children can gain insights into their own emotions. In these stories, characters might encounter situations that are likely to be familiar to children – starting at a new school, dealing with a big family change or even feeling nervous about a school performance. As these characters navigate their anxious feelings, the story can demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms. For example, a character might take deep breaths or talk to a trusted friend or adult to manage their worries.

Activities to help children understand and manage anxiety

After exploring how to explain anxiety to a child, it’s important to provide them with activities to help manage their feelings. Below are a number of tools designed to help children recognize, express and control their emotions effectively.

Breathing exercises: Teach children to take slow, deep breaths when they feel anxious. Incorporate playful activities like blowing bubbles or balloons, which naturally encourages deep breathing.

Feeling journal: Encourage children to draw or write about their feelings. This activity helps them recognize and name their emotions, a crucial step in explaining anxiety to kids.

Anxiety corner: Create a quiet, comfortable space in the classroom where children can go if they feel overwhelmed. Equip it with calming tools like soft music, sensory toys and storybooks.

Role play: Engage kids in role-playing exercises to act out different scenarios. This can help them express feelings and develop coping strategies.

Yoga and mindful movement: Simple yoga poses and mindful movements can help release physical tension associated with anxiety. Integrating these into daily routines can provide long-term benefits.

Worry box: Have students write or draw their worries and place them in a “Worry Box.” Regularly open the box to discuss these worries, helping demystify and manage their anxieties.

Explaining anxiety to kids is an integral part of your role as an early childhood educator, but it isn’t always straightforward.

For preschool teachers looking to deepen their understanding of this topic, CCEI offers From Chaotic to Calm. This course provides you with an understanding of childhood stress and gives information, activity ideas and tools for easing children’s anxieties and worries in the classroom.

Through patience, compassion and the right activities, you can help your young learners understand and cope with their feelings of anxiety. Visit CCEI to learn more, and make a difference in the hearts and minds of your young learners and browse our entire catalog of professional development offerings

Finding Fun Winter Activities for Kids in School

Finding Fun Winter Activities for Kids in School

Winter isn’t just a season of chilly winds and snowflakes; it’s a playground of endless possibilities, especially for your little learners.

As preschool teachers, winter is an ideal opportunity to mix learning with fun. Whether it’s transforming your classroom into a preschool winter wonderland, or bundling up and getting outdoors, you have the opportunity to incorporate a diverse range of activities into your lesson plan, each designed to spark curiosity and joy.

From hands-on STEM activities that get students buzzing with excitement to engaging winter activities for your preschool munchkins, every moment is a chance to learn. These activities are more than just time-fillers; they’re experiences that stimulate young minds, fostering a love for learning that stretches beyond the confines of the classroom.

As we venture into this frosty season, let’s embrace the colder months with open arms. From building miniature igloos that introduce basic engineering concepts to an indoor snowball adventure that teaches teamwork, there are numerous ways to dive into the winter season with enthusiasm and a readiness to inspire.

Winter STEM Activities

As you embrace the chillier months, you can transform your classroom into a hub of scientific discovery with STEM activities that are as fun as they are educational. These hands-on activities are not only fun but are also designed to introduce your students to basic scientific concepts in a way that sticks.

Ice sculptures: Explore states of matter by creating ice sculptures. Simply freeze water in various shaped containers and let the children play with the ice blocks, observing how they melt and change shape, demonstrating the transition from solid to liquid.

Freezing point experiments: Introduce preschoolers to how different liquids freeze by freezing small amounts of various liquids like water, juice and milk. Invite the children to observe and compare the freezing and melting processes of each.

Winter weather forecast: Engage children in simple meteorology by tracking the daily weather as part of your school winter activities for kids. Create a chart with symbols for different weather conditions, such as sunny, rainy or snowy, and discuss the changes with your kids each day.

Snowflake symmetry: Explore symmetry and patterns with paper snowflakes in your winter STEM activities for elementary school. Children can fold paper and cut out their own snowflakes, then observe the patterns and symmetry in each, enhancing their understanding of geometric shapes.

Snowflake observation: Introduce basic scientific observation with this activity as part of your fun winter activities for preschool. This simple yet captivating lesson encourages children’s curiosity about the natural world as they examine the unique patterns of snowflakes, learning about nature’s intricate designs.

Building mini igloos: Teach basic engineering concepts through constructing mini igloos using sugar cubes or marshmallows. This activity allows children to experiment with shapes and stability as they build.

Crystal snowflakes: Grow crystal snowflakes to demonstrate the process of crystallization. Hang a pipe cleaner shape in a borax and water solution and let the children watch as crystals form over the course of a day or two.

Thermal insulation experiment: Experiment with insulation properties using this engaging activity. Wrap a cup of warm water in different materials, such as cloth, paper or foil, and determine which material keeps the water warm the longest, discussing the concept of insulation.

Animal hibernation study: Help children learn about animal hibernation and adaptation through interactive storytelling as part of your winter activities for kids. Use books or videos to teach about hibernating animals, discuss why and how animals hibernate and engage in a pretend hibernation activity in a classroom “den.”

Building snow forts: Foster teamwork, planning and creative construction skills through building snow forts. This activity is not only fun but also teaches children about cooperation, spatial awareness and basic engineering concepts.

These activities are designed to be both engaging and informative, tailored specifically for preschoolers to help them learn scientific concepts in a fun, interactive way during winter.

Additional fun winter activities for preschoolers

Snow painting: Ignite creativity and sensory skills with snow painting, where children can express their artistic side while learning about different colors. This activity is a fantastic way for them to explore artistic expression and understand color recognition, using the snow as their canvas.

Winter-themed crafts: Enhance fine motor skills with winter-themed crafts. Crafting activities such as cutting, gluing and assembling various materials not only aid in developing hand-eye coordination but also foster creativity, allowing children to create their own winter wonderlands.

Winter tales from around the world: Expand cultural knowledge and empathy through stories from different cultures in your winter activities for preschool. This exercise opens up a world of diversity and understanding, illustrating how winter is celebrated globally.

Winter storytelling: Develop language and listening skills through winter storytelling. Engaging stories about winter and its wonders not only enhance vocabulary and comprehension but also foster a love for literature and storytelling.

Indoor snowball games: Promote physical development and coordination with indoor snowball games. These games are an excellent way for children to stay active and develop motor skills even when they’re indoors. Using soft, safe materials, these activities can mimic the fun of a snowball fight in a controlled and safe environment.

Snow treasure hunts: Combine physical activity with cognitive skills in snow treasure hunts. This outdoor activity encourages problem-solving, teamwork and adds an element of adventure and excitement to learning.

Winter nature walks: Promote observational skills and environmental appreciation with winter nature walks. These strolls can teach children about the natural changes that occur in winter, fostering a deeper connection with the environment.

Conclusion

The winter season offers a treasure trove of opportunities for educational activities for preschoolers. Each activity, from the hands-on excitement of building mini igloos to the imaginative world of winter storytelling, is more than just a way to pass the time during the colder months. They are gateways to learning, designed to stimulate young minds and foster a lifelong love of discovery and exploration.

As preschool teachers, your role is to guide these young explorers, nurturing their curiosity and making learning an adventure filled with joy and wonder. By incorporating these diverse activities into your lesson plans, you can ensure your students not only embrace the magic of the season but also develop important cognitive, physical and creative skills.

If you want to discover even more ways to approach this winter season with enthusiasm and a readiness to inspire your little learners, CCEI has you covered with 200+ professional development courses. Click here to see our entire course catalog and get started today!

Preschool Attention Grabbers in the Classroom

Attention grabbers for preschool classrooms

Engaging preschool children in a classroom can sometimes feel like herding a group of lively kittens. However, every seasoned teacher knows the power of a few tried and true techniques that serve as classroom attention getters to help keep your students focused and enthusiastic. To effectively foster your students’ budding curiosity, guide their transitional growth, and steer them toward academic success, it’s crucial to have some elementary attention getters you can rely on to keep your students engaged.

Below are several ideas that act as attention getters for teachers, making classroom time a joyful journey for your pint-sized learners.

Activities that engage the senses

A classroom that engages young learners’ senses is one of the easiest attention getters you can implement. Using vibrant visual aids, incorporating music, and utilizing tactile objects works wonders. Think along the lines of puppetry, an art class where children get to work with different textures, or a music circle where they can sing and dance immersing themselves in rich sensory experiences, which stimulate cognitive development and foster a deeper understanding of the world.

Rhythm and music

One of the best activities that engages the senses is rhythm and music, another lively classroom attention getter. Incorporating songs, rhythms, and simple musical instruments into the learning process can create a joyful classroom atmosphere. Music naturally attracts children, evoking their curiosity and enthusiasm for expression, and serves as a vibrant classroom attention getter, making the learning process a delightful experience.

Storytelling as classroom attention getters

Preschool children are naturally drawn to stories because they offer a gateway to imagination and resonate with their innate curiosity. That’s why storytelling or storytime is a timeless tactic for grabbing your little learners’ attention. Narrating tales with animated expressions and different voices not only serves as excellent classroom attention getters but also fosters a love for books and reading. Incorporating puppetry or props can make storytelling sessions even more impactful by engaging all the senses.

Interactive learning

Interactive learning activities are a goldmine of attention getters for teachers. This can be achieved through games that encourage students to move around and participate or interactive digital devices that allow children to explore a fun, game-like environment. By tapping into children’s natural inclination towards play, these techniques serve as efficient attention getters for teachers, keeping young minds engaged and focused. Examples of interactive learning and games include sensory bins, puzzle games, role playing and pretend play, matching games, and more.

Nature and outdoor learning attention getters for teachers

Certain attention-getting activities are effective for both preschool and elementary school students. Incorporating these not only engages young learners but also lays a strong foundation for their future education. One example of this is using nature and outdoor learning experiences as a classroom attention getter. Simple activities like nature walks where children can explore and learn about different plants, insects, and birds not only captivate their attention but also foster a love for nature.

Inquiry-based learning

Easing kids into the more structured learning of elementary grades can be a breeze with the help of some inquiry-based learning activities. Here, children are encouraged to ask questions and seek answers, encouraging curiosity and exploration. This tactic serves as a great bridge to the slightly grown-up world of elementary attention getters, shaping a learning space where students are totally in the mix with their own learning adventure.

Children’s mindfulness and concentration games

Another effective classroom attention getter is integrating mindfulness and concentration games. These activities not only grab their attention but also help in developing their concentration and focus. Games like Simon Says, musical chairs or Duck, Duck, Goose are not just powerful tools in harnessing children’s attention, but great activities for teaching them to focus. Teaching preschoolers how to focus is important for a number of reasons, including laying the groundwork for academic success, boosting cognitive development and helping children enhance their emotional regulation.

Collaborative activities

Collaborative activities can be fantastic strategies for teachers. Group activities encourage children to interact, share, and learn from each other. Teachers can foster a collaborative environment through activities like group art projects, role-playing games, and storytelling circles where each child gets to add a line to the story. This not only holds their attention but also develops their social skills.

Transition techniques

As children prepare to move to higher grades, incorporating transition techniques becomes important. Since preschoolers crave structure and predictability, transitions can ease anxiety and the chaos and confusion that often come with abruptly moving between activities. Using songs or other noises to signal transitions is a wonderful way to maintain a flow in the classroom. These transition techniques serve as smooth elementary attention getters, preparing children for more structured learning environments they will encounter in the coming years.

Earning the classroom’s attention can help your students thrive

Capturing and sustaining the attention of preschool children can be both an art and a science. By incorporating a range of techniques, integrating foundational elementary attention getters, and adopting various strategies for teachers, you can create a classroom that is not only engaging but also deeply enriching for young learners. With patience, creativity, and a toolkit filled with various attention-grabbing strategies, teachers can foster a nurturing and stimulating learning space where children can thrive.

Want to learn more about different ways to grab children’s attention in a classroom? CCEI offers a number of helpful courses, such as Active Learning Experiences in Early Childhood. This two-hour intermediate course covers practical methods for integrating movement, active involvement, and group games across all subjects, including art, mathematics, music, science and more.

Click here to learn more about this offering, as well as CCEI’s entire catalog of 200+ online courses in over 23 categories.

Classroom Christmas Party Ideas for Preschoolers

Classroom Christmas party ideas

Creating a delightful and festive Christmas party for preschoolers can be a joyous but challenging task for teachers. The key is blending fun, creativity and learning in a way that keeps the little ones engaged and happy.

Below, we explore various classroom Christmas party ideas, suggest exciting classroom Christmas party games and offer Christmas party snack ideas. Each of these elements will contribute to a memorable celebration for your preschool students.

Throwing a Classroom Christmas Party

When planning a Christmas party in a preschool classroom, the focus should be on simplicity, inclusivity and fun. The party should cater to the interests and attention spans of young children, while also incorporating the festive spirit of Christmas.

Creating an immersive experience is important for a preschool Christmas party. Along with decorations, such as handmade crafts and colorful streamers, consider having a theme, like “Winter Wonderland” or “Santa’s Workshop.” You can transform the classroom door into a festive entrance. It could be Santa’s face, a giant present or a snowy scene. This not only excites the children but also welcomes them into a magical space. Additionally, you can designate different areas of the classroom for various activities. One corner can be a cozy reading nook with Christmas stories, another can be a craft station and a third can be for games.Classroom

Christmas party games

Pin the nose on Rudolph: This classic game can be adapted for Christmas by using a large poster of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and having children pin a red pom-pom on his nose. This activity promotes fine motor skills and spatial awareness as children learn to coordinate their movements.

Christmas bingo: Create bingo cards with Christmas-themed pictures such as Santa, a snowman, a Christmas tree and presents. Use small candy canes as markers. This game supports language development and cognitive skills as children learn to recognize and match images and symbols.

Frozen dance party: Play festive music and have the children dance. When the music stops, they freeze in place. The last one to freeze is out, and the game continues until one dancer remains. This activity encourages physical development and listening skills, as children must quickly respond to the music.

Christmas treasure hunt: Hide small Christmas-themed items around the classroom and give the children clues to find them. Each found item leads to a small prize. Christmas games for preschoolers can encourage problem-solving skills, understanding of spatial concepts, teamwork and social interaction.

Santa says: Similar to Simon Says, this game can have a festive twist by calling it Santa Says. Give commands like “Santa says, hop like a reindeer.” This game promotes listening skills and impulse control, as children must carefully listen to instructions and respond appropriately.

Snowball toss: Use white bean bags or soft balls as snowballs. Set up buckets at varying distances and let the children try to toss the snowballs into the buckets. This game aids in the development of hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills, as children practice aiming and throwing.

Activities and crafts for classroom Christmas parties

Christmas wreaths: Provide pre-cut green paper circles and various decorations like ribbons, stickers  and glitter. Allow children to decorate their wreaths to take home. This activity teaches children about color and design, enhancing their creativity and fine motor skills as they handle small decorations.

DIY ornaments: Using clear plastic ornaments, allow children to fill them with various items like ribbon pieces, pompoms and glitter. This helps develop hand-eye coordination and allows children to express their individuality.

Handprint Christmas trees: Use green paint to make handprint trees on paper, then let the kids decorate their trees with fingerprint ornaments and glitter. This fun activity is a great way for children to learn about textures and patterns.

Paper snowflakes: Teach the children how to fold and cut paper to create unique snowflakes. These can be hung around the classroom or taken home. This exercise aids in teaching symmetry and pattern recognition, as well as improving fine motor skills through folding and cutting.

Storytime: Choose a popular Christmas story and have a special storytime. This can be a calming activity if the children need a break from the games. It also helps develop listening skills and language development.

Christmas party snack ideas for the classroom

Festive fruit Santa: A healthy and fun snack idea is creating little Santa’s using strawberries, bananas and mini-marshmallows. These can be assembled easily and offer a sweet treat without too much sugar.

Christmas tree veggie platter: Arrange green veggies like broccoli, cucumber slices and snap peas in the shape of a Christmas tree on a large platter. Use cherry tomatoes as ornaments and a star-shaped piece of cheese at the top.

Snowman cheese sticks: Wrap cheese sticks with a white ribbon and draw a snowman face near the top. These are easy to hand out and a hit among kids.

Reindeer sandwiches: Use cookie cutters to shape sandwiches into reindeer or Christmas tree shapes. Add pretzel antlers for the reindeer and use small pieces of veggies to decorate the tree sandwiches.

Christmas popcorn: Popcorn can be made festive with a drizzle of white chocolate and sprinkled with red and green sprinkles. Serve it in individual cups decorated with festive stickers.

Gingerbread house decorating: Pre-assemble small gingerbread houses and let the children decorate them with icing and candy. This is a delightful snack that also doubles as a craft activity.

Final thoughts on festive celebrations

When planning a preschool Christmas party, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Always be mindful of the safety of the snacks and games, avoiding small items that could pose choking hazards and being vigilant about any food allergies among the children.

Inclusivity is another critical aspect. Ensure all activities and games are suitable for every child in the class, and adapt games and crafts to accommodate different abilities. This approach ensures that every child feels included and can participate fully.

Additionally, involving parents in the party can be highly beneficial. Invite them to assist with snacks, games or crafts. This not only helps the event run smoothly but also offers a wonderful opportunity for parents to engage with the classroom and other parents.

Incorporating educational elements into the party can also add value to the fun. Try to weave learning elements into the games and activities, making them both enjoyable and educational.

Planning a Christmas party for preschoolers should be as enjoyable for the teacher as it is for the children. With these classroom Christmas party ideas, you’re all set to host a fantastic festive celebration. Remember, the key is to create a warm, inclusive and joyous environment where every child feels part of the festive cheer.

Looking for even more ideas to create unforgettable classroom parties? CCEI offers 200+ courses on a range of topics. Dive into our extensive catalog of professional development offerings and find the perfect inspiration for your next classroom event. Whether you’re planning a festive Christmas party or any other celebration, CCEI’s courses are packed with valuable insights and creative approaches you can seamlessly integrate into your classroom festivities.

Understanding Childhood Anxiety in a Classroom Setting

How to Explain Anxiety to a Child

Understanding little hearts: How to explain anxiety to a child

As a preschool teacher, one of your most important roles is helping young children navigate not just learning activities but also their emotions. Anxiety, a common emotion even among little ones, can sometimes be a challenging concept to introduce and manage. Explaining anxiety to kids requires sensitivity, understanding and age-appropriate language.

This blog will help guide you on how to explain anxiety to a child and provides activities and exercises to support children in dealing with anxiety.

Anxiety definition for kids

Before diving into how to explain anxiety to a child, let’s start with a simple anxiety definition for kids: Anxiety is like having butterflies in your stomach and feeling worried or scared about something. It’s normal and happens to everyone at times. This anxiety definition for kids is a great starting point to build conversations around.

How to explain anxiety to a child: The basics
Explaining anxiety to young children can often feel like trying to simplify a complex, abstract concept. However, this is essential for their emotional development and resilience. Below are three strategies you can use for addressing anxiety in the classroom:

Use simple, relatable language: One of the most effective ways to explain anxiety to children is through the use of metaphors and similes relating to their everyday experiences. By comparing anxiety to familiar feelings or situations, children can more easily grasp the concept. For example, you might describe anxiety as similar to the nervousness they feel when starting a new game or the jittery excitement before going on a fun school trip. This approach makes the abstract nature of emotions more concrete and understandable. You can say, “Anxiety is like when you’re waiting to see if your friends are coming to your birthday party – you feel excited but also a bit worried.” This not only provides a clear, relatable scenario but also introduces the idea that it’s normal and okay to feel this way sometimes. Analogies like these help demystify the feeling of anxiety, making it less intimidating and more manageable for young children.

Validate their feelings: An essential part of explaining anxiety to children involves validating their feelings. It’s important for them to understand that feeling anxious is a normal and universal experience, not something they have to face alone or feel ashamed about. When a child expresses feelings of anxiety, acknowledging their feelings with responses such as, “It sounds like you’re feeling really worried about this, and that’s okay. I sometimes feel worried too,” can be incredibly reassuring. Highlighting that everyone, including adults and their teachers or family members, experiences feelings of anxiety at times, helps normalize these emotions. This reassurance can be a huge relief to a child who may feel isolated or different because of their anxious feelings.

Storytelling: Incorporating the use of stories is an effective method when it comes to explaining anxiety to kids. Children are naturally drawn to stories and can learn a great deal through the experiences of characters they come to know and love. By crafting or choosing narratives that include characters facing and managing anxiety, children can gain insights into their own emotions. In these stories, characters might encounter situations that are likely to be familiar to children – starting at a new school, dealing with a big family change or even feeling nervous about a school performance. As these characters navigate their anxious feelings, the story can demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms. For example, a character might take deep breaths or talk to a trusted friend or adult to manage their worries.

Activities to help children understand and manage anxiety

After exploring how to explain anxiety to a child, it’s important to provide them with activities to help manage their feelings. Below are a number of tools designed to help children recognize, express and control their emotions effectively.

Breathing exercises: Teach children to take slow, deep breaths when they feel anxious. Incorporate playful activities like blowing bubbles or balloons, which naturally encourages deep breathing.

Feeling journal: Encourage children to draw or write about their feelings. This activity helps them recognize and name their emotions, a crucial step in explaining anxiety to kids.

Anxiety corner: Create a quiet, comfortable space in the classroom where children can go if they feel overwhelmed. Equip it with calming tools like soft music, sensory toys and storybooks.

Role play: Engage kids in role-playing exercises to act out different scenarios. This can help them express feelings and develop coping strategies.

Yoga and mindful movement: Simple yoga poses and mindful movements can help release physical tension associated with anxiety. Integrating these into daily routines can provide long-term benefits.

Worry box: Have students write or draw their worries and place them in a “Worry Box.” Regularly open the box to discuss these worries, helping demystify and manage their anxieties.

Explaining anxiety to kids is an integral part of your role as an early childhood educator, but it isn’t always straightforward.

For preschool teachers looking to deepen their understanding of this topic, CCEI offers From Chaotic to Calm. This course provides you with an understanding of childhood stress and gives information, activity ideas and tools for easing children’s anxieties and worries in the classroom.

Through patience, compassion and the right activities, you can help your young learners understand and cope with their feelings of anxiety. Visit CCEI to learn more, and make a difference in the hearts and minds of your young learners and browse our entire catalog of professional development offerings

How to Help a Child Struggling With Reading

Unlocking literacy: How to help a child struggling with reading

As preschool teachers, you play an integral role in the early developmental stages of countless children. Witnessing a child unlock the world of reading is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding aspects of your job.

However, as each child is unique, not all tread the path to literacy at the same pace. When you come across those who lag behind their peers, the questions “How to help a child struggling with reading?” and “How to teach a slow learner to read?” inevitably arise.

But with a little patience and by employing the right teaching strategies for reading, every toddler can be guided toward a successful reading journey.

 

Understanding the challenges

First, it’s crucial to understand that every child’s development is unique. Comparing one child’s progress with another can sometimes be more misleading than enlightening. The term “slow learner” doesn’t mean a child can’t learn; it simply indicates they may need more time or different strategies to grasp certain concepts.

Remember, just as some kids learn to walk or talk earlier than others, the same applies to reading.

 

Strategies for Struggling Readers: Individualized attention

One of the most effective teaching strategies for reading is providing individualized attention. When you understand a child’s specific challenges, you can tailor your approach to address their needs.

Below are five types of exercises you can use to help a child struggling with reading:

Phonemic awareness activities: Start with simple games that focus on sounds. Use rhymes, alliteration and songs. Play “I spy with my little eye, something that starts with the sound…” This foundational skill makes a significant difference in how a child perceives and understands words.

Letter recognition: Use tactile methods such as tracing letters or shaping them with playdough. The sensory experience can be especially beneficial for slow learners since engaging multiple senses provides more pathways for information to be processed and retained.

Story sequencing: Read a story and ask the child to sequence picture cards to retell it. This not only strengthens comprehension but also fosters a love for narratives within your little learners.

Targeted reading materials: Offer books tailored to the child’s reading level. Providing them with materials they can engage with without feeling overwhelmed can boost their confidence.

Reading buddies: Pair slower readers with peers who can help guide them through challenging words. Not only will this help support a child who is struggling with reading, but this sort of collaboration fosters comprehension and camaraderie.

 

Classroom activities to support struggling readers:

While individualized attention is invaluable, it’s not always practical to allocate extensive time to just one or two students facing challenges. This underscores the importance of innovative classroom activities that can support struggling readers.

Interactive story time: Transform reading from a solitary activity into a group activity. Use props, voices and actions to bring the story to life. This approach makes the experience more engaging and less intimidating for those who are struggling.

Word walls: Dedicate a wall or a corner to words. Display them prominently, rotate them frequently and during free periods, encourage children to interact with these words – touching them, reading them aloud or using them in sentences. This constant visual reminder enhances word recall and recognition.

Match and read: Visual aids can be extremely helpful. Prepare cards with images on one side and the word on the other. Children can match these and then attempt to read the word, reinforcing word-object associations.

Interactive vocabulary games: Words come alive when they are made interactive. Play games like “Word Bingo” or “Charades” where children get to act out or identify words based on definitions or clues. This not only enhances vocabulary but also improves a child’s ability to understand and relate to words in various contexts.

 

Best practices for teaching slow learners to read

Navigating the world of literacy can be challenging for children, especially slow learners. As educators, it’s important to remember these best practices that cater to learners’ unique needs:

Multisensory techniques: As mentioned above, engaging multiple senses makes learning more vivid and memorable. For instance, while reading a word, have the child tap out each syllable rhythmically or march in place for each letter sound. This combination of movement and sound makes learning more tangible.

Repetition and consistency: While it might seem monotonous, repetition is often the key to understanding and retention. Whether it’s revisiting a favorite story multiple times or practicing specific words each day, repetition reinforces learning.

Patience and praise: Learning to read is filled with tiny milestones. Celebrating every word a child recognizes or every sentence they understand is paramount. Regularly acknowledging a child’s efforts, no matter how small, can instill confidence and motivate them.

 

The role of parents

While the classroom is the primary space for learning, home plays an equally significant role. That’s why it’s important to encourage parents to be involved.

Simple activities like pointing out and reading signs during a walk or a trip to the grocery store, labeling items at home or even regular bedtime stories can make a world of difference.

Remember, it’s not just about how to teach a slow learner to read, but also about creating an environment where reading is cherished.

The world of reading is vast and wondrous. While some children might sprint into it, others take a more leisurely pace, soaking in the sights and sounds along the way.

As educators, your role isn’t just to teach but to guide, support and inspire. With the right teaching strategies for reading, combined with abundant patience and encouragement, every child can find their own unique path into literacy.

 

Interested in learning more about ways to incorporate literacy activities into your classroom? CCEI offers a number of courses, including The Read-Aloud Process: Building the Components of Literacy. This course dives into the nitty-gritty of ensuring read-alouds in the classroom accomplish the literacy-building goals of a good early childhood curriculum.

Plus, check out  Storytelling for Enrichment, Early Literacy, and Fun, a two-hour intermediate course packed with tips on weaving storytelling into your lesson plans and activities such as storytelling group discussion and playacting.

Browse our entire catalog of professional development offerings

Classroom Party Ideas to Help Foster Learning Experiences

Classroom Party Ideas:  Where Fun Meets Learning

Classroom parties can be more than just an opportunity to let off steam and have fun. When done right, these gatherings also serve as powerful learning experiences.

But crafting the ideal classroom party — one that strikes the balance between enjoyment and education — can be challenging, no matter your years of teaching experience. If you’re wondering how to make your next classroom celebration both fun and educational, this blog is for you.

Below, we’ll explore how classroom parties relate to learning, the pros and cons of celebrating holidays in the classroom, themed party ideas, and why celebrating student success is a wonderful way to incorporate parties into your classroom.

Classroom party learning opportunities

Before jumping into the pros and cons of classroom parties and different ideas, it’s important to grasp how these events can influence learning. It’s not just about decorations, laughter, or treats. At the heart of it, these parties can play an important role in your students’ educational journeys.

At the preschool level, classroom parties provide golden opportunities to incorporate various activities and developmental exercises into your lesson plans. Through these events, children get the chance to practice their budding social skills. They’re also exposed to the rich tapestry of cultural diversity, helping them build bridges of understanding and acceptance from a young age. Additionally, they get to explore academic concepts, all while being in a relaxed, pressure-free environment that nurtures their innate curiosity.

For example, consider a Halloween-themed party. Beyond the spooky decorations, you can introduce children to concepts of patterns and sequences by leading them in crafting activities, like having them design their own costumes. Moving to the chilly season, a winter holiday party is more than snowflakes and gifts. It’s a great opportunity to expose your little learners to cultures, traditions, and celebrations from diverse corners of the world. While they might build a snowman, a child in another part of the world might light a lamp or sing a special song. Finally, Valentine’s Day is much more than cards and candies – students can grasp the rudiments of geometry through hands-on activities like creating heart-shaped cards.

Every classroom party and celebration holds a treasure trove of learning opportunities where you can help your students understand foundational concepts.

Pros and cons of celebrating holidays in the classroom

Holidays hold a special place in everyone’s heart, more so for eager preschoolers. However, teachers often find themselves standing at a crossroads, contemplating the pros and cons of celebrating holidays in the classroom. This decision is shaped by a desire to offer rich experiences while ensuring inclusivity, respect, and genuine learning for every child.

One of the most significant advantages of integrating holiday celebrations into classroom settings is promoting cultural awareness. These celebrations offer a window into the world of vibrant traditions, customs, and beliefs. Exploring festivities helps students learn respect, understanding, and appreciation of various cultures. Furthermore, these occasions provide hands-on learning opportunities. Holidays become ideal vehicles for introducing fresh concepts, expanding vocabularies, and honing new skills. Finally, beyond academic and cultural enrichment, there’s the undeniable community-building aspect of these celebrations. Embracing holidays within the classroom can bring students closer together, fostering bonds that mirror family ties.

Through collective participation and shared experiences, holiday celebrations have the power to transform classrooms into close-knit communities, paving the way for relationships that can last a lifetime.

On the flip side of the festive coin, there are certain challenges associated with incorporating holiday celebrations in the classroom. One concern is cultural sensitivity. Given the diverse backgrounds students come from, it’s inevitable that not every child will relate to or have a personal connection with certain celebrations. This can lead to feelings of exclusion or alienation among those who don’t understand or observe certain traditions.

Additionally, the glaring over-commercialization of some holidays cannot be overlooked in today’s age. The glitz and glamor of decorations and the allure of presents could overshadow the true spirit of these occasions. This may inadvertently introduce young minds to the concepts of consumerism earlier than desired.

Lastly, while celebrations bring joy and experiential learning, there’s a delicate balance to strike. Overemphasizing parties and festivities could become distractions from learning, steering children away from regular curriculum. It’s important to ensure that while holidays are celebrated, your students’ educational goals aren’t overlooked.

Navigating the pros and cons of celebrating holidays in the classroom requires a delicate balance. With empathy and careful planning, these celebrations can be enriching experiences for everyone.

Themed classroom party ideas to supercharge learning

While many holiday parties naturally revolve around their intrinsic themes, there’s a whole world of classroom party ideas that aren’t tied to any specific holiday.

A well-conceived themed party not only injects a surge of enthusiasm and delight into your classroom, but it also becomes a great opportunity to captivate your students, nurture their curiosity, and supercharge their learning.

Examples of themed classroom party ideas include:

  • Nature-inspired party: Any day can be Earth Day with a nature-themed party. Let your students’ young minds wander through the wonders of the natural world. Together with your students, you can explore diverse plant species and let them get their hands dirty with a fun planting activity.
  • Animal parade: A parade where children gleefully dress up as their favorite animals can be both entertaining and educational. It opens up discussions on different types of animals, diverse habitats, behaviors, and more.
  • Literary character party: Take storytime up a notch. Invite children to embody their favorite story characters. It not only increases their interest in reading, but it also allows them to narrate, share, and relive beloved tales.
  • Around the world party: Celebrate global cultures by setting up various classroom stations representing different countries. Children can learn about traditional foods, dances, clothing, and more.
  • Science day bash: Transform your classroom into a mini-lab, and let your students don safety goggles and conduct simple experiments. A party like this will ignite a lifelong love for science in your little learners.

As you brainstorm classroom party ideas, remember to weave in elements that resonate with the children and ensure every activity offers a sprinkle of learning.

Celebrating student success in the classroom

Achievements, no matter how small, are another opportunity to hold a classroom celebration that isn’t tied to a specific holiday or moment in time.

Celebrating student success in the classroom is a wonderful way to encourage students by reinforcing positive behaviors. There are a number of ways to celebrate success, including:

  • Star student: Every so often, give a big shout out to different kiddos in the class. It could be for pronouncing a difficult word or tying their shoelaces all by themselves. Just remember, everyone deserves a moment to shine, so make sure to find an opportunity to acknowledge each student so no one feels left out.
  • Achievement tree: Picture a wall that’s an ever-changing highlight reel of your classroom’s accomplishments. This vibrant mural is all about highlighting everyone’s wins, big or small. And best yet, it’s not just for show. This visual motivator will help inspire others to achieve their goals. When the tree hits a certain height, hold a party to celebrate how far everyone has come.
  • Goal-getter gala: Set small, achievable goals for students. As children reach their goals, host a little gala in their honor, complete with an imaginary red carpet, celebrating their determination and making every little achievement feel like a major award night.

Recognizing and celebrating student success in the classroom creates a positive environment for everyone. It’s a potent tool that boosts morale, motivates your kids, and creates a space where every tiny stride is valued.

Give yourself the resources to plan classroom parties that are fun and educational

Classroom parties have always been a staple in preschool classrooms, seen by many as a break from routine. But look a little deeper and you’ll see these gatherings are gold mines of learning opportunities. From exploring cultural diversity through holiday celebrations to tapping into curiosity with themed parties, these events offer more than meets the eye.

Looking to take your classroom parties to the next level? With over 200 courses, CCEI offers topics you can seamlessly integrate into all your celebrations. Explore our entire catalog of professional development offerings.

Types of Bullying: How to Recognize and Stop Bullying in the Classroom

When you think of a bully, the stereotypical visual of the “big kid” in class pushing down a smaller, weaker child on the playground likely comes to mind. But did you know there are actually distinct types of bullying that go well beyond physical altercations?

Below, we’ll cover these different types of bullying – including physical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying – and how teachers can recognize, stop and even prevent bullying in the classroom to keep kiddos safe.

The State of Bullying

Bullying is one of the most concerning social interactions facing children and schools today. While the media often picks up viral stories of bullying in high school, researchers have shown that bullying behaviors are learned much earlier in life. In fact, preschool is often the first time children are exposed to a social group, and it’s common for children to begin experimenting with different types of social interactions. Part of a teacher’s responsibility is to create a positive social environment that keeps all little learners safe at school not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.

The national statistics about bullying are staggering: according to StopBullying.gov, about 20% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying nationwide, with 15% of those reporting they were bullied online or via text. Only 46% of students ages 12-18 who were bullied during the school year notified an adult at school about the bullying. Reinforcing positive, anti-bullying behavior in the early childhood age group can help prevent bullying as little ones age up into elementary, middle, and high school.

How to Recognize Bullying Behavior

At its core, bullying is a combination of unwanted aggressive behavior, real or perceived power imbalance, and the potential for repetition of that negative behavior.

Depending on the type of bullying, it can be difficult to recognize when bullying in the classroom is taking place. Bullying behaviors can range from obvious and highly visible (punching or hitting) to subtle and virtually invisible to everyone except its victim and participants.

The four most common types of bullying are physical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying.

  • Physical Bullying: This is the most obvious form of intimidation and the easiest for educators and parents to spot. It can include kicking, hitting, punching, and threats of physical violence. Younger children may be more apt to bite or pull hair.
  • Verbal Bullying: Name calling, making fun of someone and persistent teasing are all examples of verbal bullying behavior. This can be harder to identify because kids will purposely wait until out of earshot or line of sight of adults, especially teachers. Targets of verbal bullying are often those perceived as vulnerable or somehow “different” than others based on how they look, act, or behave.
  • Relational Bullying: This type of bullying, also known as social bullying, typically happens indirectly or behind the back of the intended target. An individual who relies on this type of bullying often wants to gain status by diminishing the social standing of another. Exclusionary behavior may include purposefully leaving someone out from a social activity (think: a sleepover or birthday party), spreading hurtful or embarrassing rumors, or even encouraging others to adopt similar social behaviors toward the target.
  • Cyberbullying: Although this type of bullying doesn’t typically affect younger kiddos, cyberbullying has become widespread today as a result of teens having unlimited access to digital devices, and is still important to understand. With the ability for perpetrators to hide behind screens, it’s also the hardest category to keep tabs on, and bullying might come from someone you wouldn’t expect. Victims often feel alone and ostracized from their peers, with nowhere to hide from invasive attacks.

Look out for mood and behavioral changes in young students, and consider regular check-ins with anyone who seems withdrawn or distant. Always flag any concerns in real-time to school administration and parents.

How To Address Bullying in the Classroom?

Teachers can be overworked and under-resourced, and it may feel like the last thing an educator has time for is to play the role of mediator when there is bullying in the classroom (or outside of it). But there is a lot at stake in these situations, as both kids who are bullied and those who bully others may have serious, lasting problems throughout their lives.

  • Intervene ASAP: If bullying behavior is reported by the victim or a fellow teacher, gather all of the information you can quickly, and collect a log of concerning behaviors if helpful. If bullying is witnessed firsthand, intervene on the spot and in the moment to make it clear that it is unacceptable behavior in or out of the classroom.
  • Get others involved for support: Reach out to parents as well as school administration and counselors to discuss the situation and how to best move forward together.
  • Create and promote a culture of respect: Most schools have anti-bullying programming in place, but encouraging a positive environment involves the entire school community—not only students and families but also administrators, teachers, and staff such as bus drivers, nurses, cafeteria and front office staff.

Preventing Bullying Behaviors

Before any type of bullying takes hold in a classroom, teachers can proactively educate students about why a culture of respect is so important, and empower those who may be bystanders to bullying to speak up in the future. Emphasize how each one of them can make a huge difference when they intervene on behalf of someone being bullied.

Consider posting fun classroom signs encouraging little learners to “Be Kind,” “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully,” “You Can Sit with Me” or similar daily reminders. Never underestimate the power of a teacher’s impact: according to StopBullying.gov, studies also have shown that adults can help prevent bullying by talking to children about it, encouraging them to do what they love, modeling kindness and respect with others, and seeking help when needed.

Want to learn more about bullying in the classroom? CCEI offers GUI 100: Bullying in the Preschool Environment, a one-hour, beginner-level course that addresses how teachers can create a positive social environment that teaches children appropriate social interactions in order to prevent bullying behaviors from an early age.

CCEI also offers additional related courses about conflict resolution in the classroom, foundations of positive guidance, and understanding aggressive and defiant behaviors in students.

Click here to learn more about these offerings, as well as CCEI’s entire catalog of courses designed to help you be the best educator possible!

The Importance of Critical Thinking for Kids: Why It Matters for Academic and Real-World Success

It may become tiring when your students continuously ask “why?” throughout the school day, but that simple question is one of the first signs of critical thinking for kids.

American philosopher, psychologist, and educator John Dewey referred to this concept as “reflective thinking.”​​ Dewey defined critical thinking as persistent, active, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge. It requires actively subjecting ideas to review and challenging what you’re told, rather than passively accepting them as truth.

With this thought process being a major part of your students’ brain and cognitive development, it’s important to help nurture it in the classroom with critical thinking activities for kids, so they have the chance to use logic and self-control to solve problems and explore their own creative points of view.

ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI) provides a collection of courses for early childhood educators seeking more guidance and training on how to promote critical thinking in the classroom. We realize that these skills will not only lead to lifelong academic achievement but they also help your students understand how to excel in the real world.

As we consider the importance of critical thinking for kids, we must first denote the foundational skills needed for critical thinking, then consider ways this thinking positively impacts problem-solving and supports academic success. We’ll also share some suggestions for fun projects that connect creativity to nurturing young minds that think critically.

Bloom’s Taxonomy: Levels of Critical Thinking

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a core part of the curricula we use to teach early childhood educators about critical thinking.  It’s also a vital tool teachers use in their day-to-day interactions with children. Bloom’s Taxonomy is laid out as a pyramid, with foundational skills at the bottom and more advanced skills higher up. The lowest phase, “Remember,” doesn’t require a great amount of critical thinking. These signify skills kids use when they memorize things like the alphabet, math facts, sight words, etc. Critical thinking starts to take off in the next steps of the pyramid

Understand – Understanding goes beyond memorization. It’s the difference between a child repeating the rote concept of “2+2 is four” or learning the days of the week versus understanding that when you add 2+2 it’s the same as multiplying those same numbers. Or a child understanding Saturday is the day after Friday and so on. Pure memorization has its place. Still, when a student understands the concept behind something, they’re able to apply what they’ve learned.

Apply – Application widens the world of knowledge and reasoning for young minds. Once they recognize the concept they’ve mastered can apply to other examples, you’ve helped them expand their learning greatly.  Math and science are where this level of critical thinking can easily be recognized, but its present in all subjects. Take sight words, for instance. Students originally memorize these words to help them read. However, once kids learn the phonics of words, they can apply that to tackle new words.

Analyze – Analysis springs your students into the next phase. Analyzing is where that incessant question of why stems because at this point they’re no longer taking things at face value. Analysis leads to students finding their own facts that stand up to inquiry, even when the facts don’t support what they thought. In the instance of your student beginning to question their belief that babies come from storks. Analyzing requires exploring, asking you questions, comparing and contrasting, research, and several other concepts to find the facts. Though they previously let their favorite fairy tales guide them, they now have to determine the best primary sources for information about babies’ birth like their teachers, parents, videos, and reading. Adults who find success in life have to use this skill set daily, and critical thinking for kids at this phase also becomes a routine.

Evaluate – Nearing the top of Bloom’s pyramid is evaluation skills, which provide the opportunity for kids to synthesize all the information they’ve learned, understood, applied, and analyzed, and to use it to support their opinions and decisions. The student has taken in all the information about babies, so now they have to remove their bias to make a choice on whether babies come from their mom or a stork. Evaluation moves beyond their beliefs that were supported without the proper elements of critical thinking.

Create – In the final phase, students use every one of those previous skills to create something new. For example, many kids in this age range create and express themselves through art. By starting with understanding and progressing to evaluating, they uncover how to apply the knowledge of how to mix primary colors (blue, red, etc.) to make other hues like purple, brown, etc. Beyond that, they can take their paints and easel to make a portrait that highlights the mixture of colors.

Why critical thinking for kids matters

Students making their way through each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy will think independently and understand concepts thoroughly. Students who know how to analyze and critique ideas are able to connect those skills to several subject matters  to make connections in various disciplines, see knowledge as useful and apply that and comprehend content on a deeper, more lasting level, according to the book “Critical Thinking Development: A Stage Theory.”  With that deeper understanding, your students will not always rely on you and their class time for guidance. Instead, they will seek out information and become self-directed learners in their daily lives.

At such a young age, it may seem difficult to promote critical thinking in the classroom, since it’s more of a habit that falls onto the individual student. However, early childhood educators are best suited to introduce critical thinking to little learners. In a 2018 Reboot Foundation survey, 20 percent of respondents said that critical thinking skills are best developed in early childhood, children ages 5 and younger.

At all ages, there’s an undeniable impact from providing lessons that nurture critical thinking in kids. For academic purposes, your students will be more ready to problem-solve and evaluate the lessons they learn in class. For their own benefit, forming their personal opinions based on deep critical thinking will allow them to find their own interests. When students are truly passionate about a topic or pursuit, they are more engaged and willing to experiment. The process of expanding their knowledge brings about a lot of opportunities for critical thinking. You have the chance to encourage this action and witness the benefits of the child investing in their niche interest in insects, performing arts, space, and more.

How to make critical thinking for kids fun

Critical thinking is all about sparking and responding to curiosity. There are a number of critical thinking activities for kids that have been proven helpful for early childhood educators.

Below, you’ll find a few fun ideas for your classroom:

 

Journal Time

Journaling may seem like a simple task but offers a daily or weekly opportunity to get your students in an imaginative mindset. You can incorporate just five minutes of instruction time each day to ask kids an open-ended question they can respond to using written words, a drawing, etc. For example, “What did you like about the experiment we did today?” or “What’s your favorite day of the week, and why?”

The kids may use words and pictures, depending on their level of writing skills, to answer the questions.

Lego-theme Party

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a student that won’t quickly say yes to a Lego party. This party is an opportunity for each student to use their imagination to create their own scene or theme based on one-word prompts. Just ask your students to create a farm, a store, the school, etc. using Legos.

The Lego creations allow them to use their imagination to create various themes, but they may have questions about what to include. You can give them helpful hints (like mentioning animals on a farm), but make sure your students are responsible for the final outcome. After everyone’s done, you can see how each student applied their critical thinking with very little guidance.

Make Your Own Menu

This food-themed critical thinking activity is sure to be a treat.

Gather artificial food items and sit them in front of the class. For this activity, ask each student to pick which foods they want for their personal menu. The students might ask how to spell the names of items or ingredients, but they’ll be fully in charge of what concoctions they create.

At the end, each student can present their menu and explain why they chose their food items. Not only will the students have a better handle on critical thinking, but they’ll also learn their classmates’ favorite foods.

These critical thinking activities for kids give your students the opportunity to question, analyze and evaluate in creative ways on topics that relate to them. Though critical thinking is a nuanced lesson, CCEI has designed courses that can help teachers inspire and guide students toward long-term academic success, such as Critical Thinking Skills in the Preschool Environment.

Click here to learn more about how to promote critical thinking in the classroom and discover our entire catalog of more than 200+ online courses that cover an array of trainings.