I don’t know about your house, but when the weather gets warmer over here, the sidewalk chalk comes out. My child could spend hours drawing, playing and using his imagination, and it’s such a joy to watch his little mind work. I am a full proponent of giving him ample opportunity for free play and creativity, but I also appreciate the opportunities that some simple sidewalk chalk can present for reinforcing and practice basic skills for preschool-aged children as well.
The following are 10 different ways you can use sidewalk chalk to build literacy, numeracy, fine & gross motor skills and more this season with your child:
1.Play “Stomp the _________”. For this one, you can draw circles of different colors, different shapes, numbers, letters of the alphabet or your child’s name etc. It works well for really any basic skill you’d like to reinforce with them. Once ready, ask your child to “stomp” or “jump on” the color, shape, etc. that you call out. For instance, “stomp the color blue”, “stomp the color red”, etc. This gets their bodies moving, while simultaneously providing repeated practice with these skills.
2. Switch the game around. This works well once they have mastered these skills a bit more. Have them call out the name of the color, shape, letter, etc., and you do the stomping! My child loves this, because it puts him in the leadership role! Once they are ready, you could even have them be in charge of drawing the objects in the first place.
3. Play “Walk the Line”. For this one, I like to draw a series of different lines – straight, curvy, up/down, etc. and then ask Asher to “walk the line”. This gives him an opportunity to build his balance by navigating the placement of his feet one in front of the other, as well as encourages him to pay attention to the different paths set out in front of him. Is your child past the “line stage”? Have them walk giant shapes, numbers and letters as well.
4. Use those same lines to practice tracing and copying skills. Ask your child, “Can you draw a straight line next to mine?”, “Can you trace my curvy line?” etc. This gives them an opportunity to not only mimic forms, but also hone in on those fine motor skills as they seek to follow your guide.
5. Label what they draw. Drawing and reading pictures is one of the first steps to being an effective reader and writer. I love asking Asher about what it is that he is drawing, and he is usually more than happy to narrate it for me. So sometimes I like to take advantage of this and go ahead and label what it is that he has created. For instance, next to the “bus” he just drew, I will write “bus”, pointing it out to him as I do so, and saying “You drew a ‘bus’.” It can be helpful to identify the first letter/sound in the word as well.
6. Do a scavenger hunt. Draw several items that your child can effectively find in your yard – leaves, grass, dandelions, rocks, a worm, etc. Once they find the item, they can either bring it to the image and set it on top, or they can put a big chalk “X” through it until they have located them all. Does your child need more of a challenge? Build their numeracy skills at the same time, by asking for “5 leaves”, “4 dandelions”, “3 rocks”, etc.
7. Paint with water. Write out your child’s name, letters you are working on, etc. Give them a cup with some water and a paintbrush you don’t mind getting a little dirty, and ask them to paint their name, specific letters you’ve identified and more. Kids love watching the chalk magically transform as they do so.
8. Play a game of “Beanbag Toss”. All this takes is drawing a starting line and circle, and you are set. The seemingly simple act of tossing the bean bag into the circle gives little ones an opportunity to build coordination, balance, develop their understanding of force and depth perception and more.
9. Create an obstacle course. This post from Toots Mom is Tired is chalked full of a variety ideas for how you could design this for your little one! Once they’ve familiarized themselves with the concept, have them help you design one of their own.
10. Bring a story or concept to life. A few weeks back we were discussing the parts of a plant. That afternoon when Asher asked me to draw with him on our sidewalk, I started drawing a plant. I started with the stem and then pretended like I wasn’t sure what else to add and asked for his help. He was able to rattle off leaves, roots and flower which I promptly drew and labeled. After I finished, we had a chance to go back through it for review as well. This same concept could be used for bringing a book character or setting to life too!
Does your toddler or preschooler love sidewalk chalk too? What are some of their favorite ways to use it?
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