For professionals working in early childhood education it is sometimes difficult to think of different ideas that will capture the imagination of the children while also presenting a variety of learning opportunities. Animals are a good choice of topic because most children like animals, they are something that children can relate to and it is a topic that can be adapted to different subjects, providing lots of activities. A fun animal to choose is the dog because if a child does not have their own dog then they are almost certain to have some experiences with them. Here are some ways that the topic of dogs can be incorporated into your lesson plans.
The letter ‘D’
At this stage children are still learning to recognize individual letters rather than whole words or sentences. If your topic is dogs you can begin to introduce the letter ‘D’ to children, both recognizing it visually and being able to write it. You can then move on to discussing other words beginning with the letter ‘D’. Pictures can be used to support this activity and whiteboards can come in handy for when the children are practicing writing the words.
Fine motor skills
There are several fun ways that you can support young children with their fine motor skill development. One way is to have them tracing the shape of a dog and the word dog as pencil holding is a fine motor skill. Another activity is to use solid bone shapes, you can create these yourself out of thick card with holes punched in them, and teach them to lace between the two bones and tie the laces.
Gross motor skills
Children love singing, dancing and movement. Find some songs or nursery rhymes about dogs, put some actions to the words and get the children up and moving about to the music.
There are many children’s books where a dog plays a leading role. Incorporate a story with a dog into storytelling time. By asking questions about the story you have read at the end of the session you can check that children have fully understood the story. It is also a great opportunity for them to think of some questions of their own.
This is an opportunity for you to get creative. The most obvious option is to get the children to paint dogs. However, you can make collages, paw prints, cut out and decorate bones, build a dog out of junk and much more.
Cooking is always a popular activity with young children. They enjoy making a mess, the creative process and sampling their work once it is done. Use bone shaped cutters to create some fun biscuits. These can be decorated with icing once baked. Cooking opens up the opportunity to discuss concepts such as weight, temperature, the cooking process and numbers.
Speaking and listening are two important social skills that children can develop in preschool. Story time is one activity that will support this as is the question and answer session that follows. Similarly, getting them to describe their own pets, if they have one, will help to build their vocabulary and increase their confidence in speaking in front of others.
Dogs are an interesting topic to incorporate into your preschool lesson plans and offer a lot fo fun activities that will help the children to learn. Be creative in your choice of activities and take the lead from the children as to what captures their interest and encourages them to participate in activities.