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I am a first grade teacher who has rediscovered a love for firsties this year. I have taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade and even second over the past 16 years. I have been married for 17 years to my wonderful husband and have been blessed with 2 very active boys.

Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K Back to School
Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

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Is Pre-K the New Kindergarten?

Is Pre-K the new kindergarten?
I am here to tell you YES!

With the rigor of new state and national standards being at an all time high, we have watched grade level standards trickle down a grade level or two.  There is more pressure put on these sweet kids, less recess and movement and play is often unheard of in the primary classrooms.

So how do we, in good conscience, teach these mandated standards while using developmentally appropriate practices? Here are 5 TOP ways to keep pre-k fun and engaging instead of frustrating children with standards that are not developmentally appropriate. 


I integrate fine motor skills in the sensory table, literacy center, math table, blocks, art and even the dramatic play area.  The trick is to look for fun ways to develop these little muscles while working on a task. For instance, instead of just counting manipulatives during small group math as we practice counting from 1-20, I give each student tweezers and they need to squeeze the tweezers as they pick up each pom pom as they count and fill their bucket.  


Pre-Kinders LOVE play-dough! You can pretty much make any skill appeal to them if you add a tub of play-dough.  When you make your own and add scented oils or flavoring, engagement is at an all time HIGH!  Some fun, engaging activities include cookie cutters, rolling play-dough, stamping and play-dough mats.  Skills such as alphabet, number and sight word recognition lend themselves well. Students also categorize cut shapes, work on fine motor skills and have conversations all while they think they are "just playing".


Children learn by doing.  There are so many skills that can be taught by integrating art.  During a recent weather unit, I had planned on making wind socks with my students during art.  At the same time, we were working on measurement in math.  Students had to measure the colored streamers so they were each 1 foot long.  I used a ruler to measure a piece of colored tape for each student and put it on the table.  Pre-Kinders had to measure the streamers against the tape by matching up one end and cutting at the other. They didn't even realize they were practicing this important measurement skill!


Pre-Kinders love games! Games are invaluable in my classroom as they provide an outlet for skill practice in a fun and engaging way.  Students enjoy structured activities.  My paraprofessional or I are usually at the table to work on the skill as we introduce the game and kids love going to a "teacher" center.  Games also teach social skills like talking turns, playing fairly and even "you can't win them all"! Board games have been replaced by video games in so many homes so this is a great opportunity to engage kids! 

There are conflicting views about worksheets in pre-kindergarten and the bottom line is you need to know you class and their learning styles.  That being said, if I find a "worksheet" type of activity that enhances our curriculum and will be engaging for my kids, I slip it into a pocket sleeve, add dry erase markers and erasers and leave it at a center for practice.  These are great practice for fine motor activities that also practice previously introduced skills.  Children will have the rest of their school careers to complete more worksheets than they could imagine, so PLEASE, minimize worksheets and provide meaningful experiences for your pre-kinders.

So the bottom line is we probably have NO CONTROL over the standards we need to teach, BUT we do have control over HOW WE TEACH.  Yes, standards such as reading sight words moved from first grade down to kindergarten years ago and now are finding a home in our pre-kindergarten rooms.  Our job is to choose to use developmentally appropriate practices to introduce these skills and the children who are ready will internalize them and then we will need to supplement for the others and help move these children from where they are.   Isn't that what we already do anyways?

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Mrs. Wathen
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