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Incidental Math

Incidental math springs from the concept of incidental teaching. The concept holds that opportunities abound where we can impart knowledge to children while they are in the midst of other activities and, because this knowledge pertains to what they are already involved in, is received with interest and enthusiasm and thus likely to be retained.

What follows are examples of common occurrences that incidentally provide a chance to teach some math.

Have the children observe the shadow cast by a building or tree at the beginning of recess and estimate where it will be when recess is over. This can be done throughout the year as it will change with the seasons and weather - two more things that can be incidentally taught.

When children build something from blocks, legos or tinkertoys you can ask them how many pieces are in their creation. This gives them a practical use for their counting skills, a chance to practice them "in the real world" and incentive to learn more/get better.

Amazing Science - Preschool Style

It is generally accepted that young children learn science best with participatory, hands-on learning experiences. What follows are nine examples of simple experiments that your pre-schoolers can join in on and enjoy while gaining scientific knowledge.

The Volcano - Place an empty baby food jar on a tray. Surround the jar with playdough. Form the dough to look like a mountain. Put a drop of red food coloring and a tablespoon of baking soda in the jar. Then add some vinegar to it to make it erupt. This will allow you to introduce concepts such as the structure of the earth, its molten core, how volcanoes erupt and why, island and continent formation and more. (Having a globe handy is a great visual aid for teaching these concepts)

The Dinosaur Bone Hunt - Boil and clean chicken bones. Be sure there are no sharp edges. Bury them in a sand box for the children to find. This activity leads naturally into discussions of the various prehistoric ages, the animals that existed in them and how scientists discovered this through fossils.

Brain Development - Myths vs Facts

As scientists learn more about how the human brain develops, many of our ideas about the brain are being challenged. We have learned that some old ideas were actually myths that have been replaced with newly discovered facts.

Consider these following examples:

Myth - At birth the brain is fully developed, just like the heart, lungs or stomach.

Fact - Most of the brain's cells are formed before birth, but most of the connections among cells (the synapses) are made during infancy and early childhood.

Myth - The brain's development depends entirely on the genes one is born with.

Fact - Early experience and interaction with the environment are most critical in a child's brain development.

Developing Good Readers Part I - Infants: Building The Foundation

By enhancing language development in infants, we help them to become readers.

Surrounding an infant with language (i.e. talking to them a lot) enhances language development, thereby creating the foundation for reading . The human voice is food for an infant's rapidly developing brain and it appears the more the baby hears, the better.

Talk, ad lib, tell jokes, ask questions, etc. Mimic and respond to a baby's cooing and babbling as that reinforces these initial stages in language developoment and begins teaching the rhythmic ebb and flow of conversation.

If you run out of things to say during the course of the day, provide a verbal narrative describing what you are doing and why, and also what the infant is doing.

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