Teachers and parents alike can relate to the fact that children have short attention spans. How often do we catch ourselves saying “Johnny, pay attention. Quit looking out the window. Stop touching Melissa.” In school, an apt adage could be “if it can distract, it will.” Worse yet, the younger they are, the shorter their attention span can be. This presents serious problems for the preschool teacher. For these reasons, choosing the best curriculum for the preschool classroom is arguably one of the most important decisions a teacher can make. The curriculum must be colorful, interesting, and contain props, manipulatives, and other tactile and/or kinesthetic attributes.
One of my favorite reading instruction packages was by Fearon Teaching Aids. It included large, colorful books, songs, fun and engaging activities, and a family of puppets all geared to focus the students and teach letter recognition the first step in successful reading strategies. The activities were great, and they even got the family involved. They included letter recognition games and cooking lessons with alphabet soup. The puppets were engaging and never seemed to loose their charm.
Another reading curriculum plan I also liked was created by the Houghton Mifflin company. They had HUGE reading books that seemed to explode with colors. The kids never tired of these books. Also, many of the stories had CD and DVD related subjects to help support the story. In fact, much of what Houghton Mifflin does usually revolves around a theme, which is a great reinforcement strategy that can be continuously added to throughout the day. This is a great way to keep the kids focused on the importance of reading.
Houghton Mifflin also had a great preschool math package. It came with large, creative workbooks that boasted memorable characters, lots of hands-on manipulatives, and a teacher’s guide with dry eraser pages so that you could simply place the book on a pedestal and show the kids what was expected with each math lesson. This made it much easier to walk around and help those who were having problems with the specific strategy you were teaching that day. Some of the math packages even came with colorful magnets which could be used on the whiteboard. I found this useful in the mornings to introduce the math strategy theme of the day a suggestions I found in the teacher’s guide. Also, the package came with large, colorful number placards that the teacher could either hang on the wall or use with the lesson.
With the colorful and creative hands-on techniques provided by these two prominent companies, the basics of math and reading can be taught in a way that is effective and interesting for the youngest of learners.