If there is one thing that can be said about preschoolers, no matter their skill level, it’s that their attention spans cannot be depended upon. That means that an activity that planned on enjoying for 10 minutes is often finished in less than one. But in contrast, there are also activities you would expect to last only moments that can capture their attention for an hour or more. That doesn’t mean that one activity is better or worse than another though. Often tiny bursts of learning can be more effective than an longer activity. As we were counting to 5 with penguins, I quickly realized that this was going to be one of those tiny bursts of learning. Rather than fight with it, I went with the flow and later realized she was paying more attention than I thought.
Materials needed for Counting to 5 with Penguins:
One recipe for play dough (see below)
One set of at least 5 penguin buttons
White play dough recipe:
3 cups cornstarch
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. cream of tartar
Mix all of the ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until they come together in a play dough-like mass. For me this took 30 seconds.
Let sit in the pan until mostly cool.
Knead with your hands until it is smooth and not sticky.
Because it’s corn starch, I’m not sure how long the dough will last. Ours has been in a zip top bag in our play dough drawer for a week and it’s still fine, but I don’t know if it will last as long as the regular play dough that we make. Our dough did turn a bit crumbly in the bag, but you can press it back together with a minute or two of gentle kneading.
Counting to 5 with Penguins:
I’m all for simple and this activity definitely fits that definition.
Shiloh and I sat down at the table with our play dough and penguins and counted the buttons as we pressed them into the ‘snow’.
Penguin is a new word for Shiloh, it actually sounds something like ‘nen-nin’ and it was fun to listen to her repeat the word as she listened to me counting.
Just like we did with our apple counting activity, we put our finger on each object as we counted it, so that Shiloh would understand that we can use numbers to refer to lots of different objects. She still does not understand one-to-one correspondence nor numerals, but the best way for her to learn is to continue repeating similar activities with slightly different objects.
Even though the activity only lasted a few minutes, I noticed that she was very interested in returning to the penguins when her sister was playing with them later on. She started pressing them into the play dough the same way that I had shown her, so I know that she was paying attention.
I hope you will enjoy this and the other great Polar Animal Activities from the Playful Preschool team!
Polar Animal Literacy Activities:
Polar Animal Science and Sensory Activities:
Polar Animal Movement Activities
Polar Animals Gross Motor Games by Still Playing School
Polar Animal Math Games and Activities: