I’m pretty much living and breathing basic concepts (and phonology while we’re at it!) this school year, so I’ve been gathering lots of ideas and materials to teach concepts while still going along with each weekly theme in the preschool classrooms. I always try to incorporate the weekly themes as much as possible into therapy, because I feel like it is much more meaningful and memorable to them when it involves the same topic they’re being immersed in all week in the classroom!
Here are some fun things we’ve been doing as of late:
1. Fronts/Backs and Tops/Bottoms: Dinosaur style!
What kids don’t like dinosaurs?! I downloaded this *FREE* printable tot pack
from 3dinosaurs for Dino week last week, and used the 2-part puzzle pieces on pages 10-15. I cut them in half, put all the strips face down in a pile, and the kids took turns flipping over a strip, telling me whether they found the front, back, top, or bottom of a dinosaur. As we found the counterparts, the kids matched up the dino halves in their piles and their peers’ piles. We talk about how when you see the feet, that’s the clue that it’s the bottom!
2. Where in the world do these dinosaurs go? Dino Spatial Concepts!
I used this activity without a barrier because most of my kids still need a lot of support and assistance with spatial concepts. They were given directions like “Put the dinosaur next to the volcano” and “Put an egg under the volcano”…
You can increase the difficulty level by giving details (ie” find a SPOTTED egg” or “Put the dinosaur with the LONG neck…”) and using more difficult concepts like above/below/beside/bottom corner, etc.. Find it for free HERE (Pack #3)
Doing something tangible (moving pieces around) keeps them engaged! I used this for my small group rotation lessons in the classroom because it allowed all the kids to be doing something at once, rather than sitting idly waiting for their turn. When you have 4-5 kids in a group and less than 10 minutes to work on a skill… having each student actively participating and learning is key!!
3. Dinosaur Stomp
–Check out my blog post from last year’s dinosaur week
to see my dinosaur gross motor activity. The basic concept cards I made mention of are no longer on TpT, but the kids had to find a particular dino card and then stomp it with their dino foot (ie “Stomp the dinosaur that’s UNDER the chair”). You could do this with any basic concepts cards you have!
4. Playdoh Apples
We used this Apple picking scene from Speech Sprouts’ “Apple, Apple, Where Can You Be?” packet. Give your kids a ball of red Playdoh and put the “apples” in various places (above the crow, in the tree, in the basket, on top of the girl’s head, etc…)– trust me, they will L-O-V-E it!!
Increase the difficulty level by making it an expressive task and have the kids take turns telling everyone in the group where to put the apples! The Playdoh aspect of this was what kept their little hands occupied and kept them engaged in what we were doing. Who doesn’t love Playdoh?! (other than the maintenance staff who has to get all the playdoh slivers off the floor at night! They probably have nightmares…)
5. Pete the Cat: All Around The School Bus
This is another activity I used for my small group rotation in the classroom. We used this emergent reader book from Kinder Blossoms and read each page aloud, one at a time, without showing the picture at first.
Just like in the photo above from Kinder Blossoms, the kids then had to use their Pete & bus pictures to put Pete in the correct spot. After the kids all put their Pete in the given spatial location, we’d look at the page and see if we were correct! Again.. the kids were all moving their Pete the Cat at the same time, so they were all getting hands-on practice simultaneously throughout the activity. They LOVE Pete the Cat!
This activity also worked for concepts front/middle/back of the bus, based on the animals in the windows, on each page.
One of my coworkers also thought it’d be funny to put my picture in a book.. so she found my TpT profile picture and glued it onto the pages for my very own book.. ha. I have to admit, I laughed pretty hard when I saw it on my desk!
6. To infinity… and beyond!
Ok, remember when I said I try to stick to the weekly themes as much as possible? Well… sometimes I stray to get some extra motivation! I picked up this Toy Story book with a mat & figurines at a yard sale for $3 with two little boys in particular in mind!
I gave them a figurine and tell them to place the characters in different spots (ie “Put Woody in the box” “Put Buzz next to the bed” etc… VERY hands-on and interactive! If your students are obsessed with Disney Princesses or Superheros, or anything of the sort (like all of mine are!), you can find little toys like these all the time at yard sales & thrift stores for cheap. Collect a bunch, and then have them put figurines in different places around the room if you don’t have a picture scene to use!
What are some of your favorite activities for basic concepts?