Kindergarten Countdown is a partnership between Metro United Way, Louisville Metro, LFPL, JCPS, and PNC Bank with support from cultural and educational institutions throughout the county. The goal of Kindergarten Countdown is to support children’s transitions into kindergarten.
Skills and activities that will help your child prepare for school:
Three Stories A Day
Experts say that children need to hear 1,000 stories before they begin to learn to read.
Read 3 stories each day; a favorite one, an old one, and a new one. Reading the same book three times counts, too. In one year, your child will have heard over 1,000 stories! Check out this booklist for great books to share with your children: 100 Books to Read Before Kindergarten.
Getting Ready for Kindergarten
Click here for a list of skills from Jefferson County Public Schools that it would be helpful for your child to know before entering kindergarten. They are available is Spanish below.
Preparándose para el Kinder - click here
How Is My Child Developing?
Click here to complete an online form that will help you find out. By completing this form you will receive free information and resources to help your child.
Studies have shown that children learn best through play. Here are some activities that will help prepare your child for school and life.
Basic Skill - Cutting with scissors
Children need to be able to cut to complete their work at school. The easiest way to help children learn to cut is to give them safe scissors, some scrap paper, and basic directions on how to hold the scissors. Just let them find their way with the scissors and paper. Once you see they are doing okay with simple cuts, use a marker to make lines on paper for them to follow.
Junk mail is great for children to practice cutting! You may want to cut sheets of junk mail into smaller pieces, easy for small hands to hold, approximately 3 x 5 inches. You can buy child scissors for a little more that $1 at many stores.
Research has shown that by singing and chanting action rhymes, children learn to hear the individual sounds that, when put together, form words. This skill will help your child in future years when they begin reading.
Early Reading Activity
When your child knows a story so well that he/she can use the pictures in the story as clues to tell it, your child is showing you an early form of reading. Indulge your child when he/she asks you to “Read it again!” and use some of these suggestions to build on your child’s early reading skills: “Read It Again”
Early Writing Activity
A skill that is helpful for your child to know when starting kindergarten is how to hold a pencil, crayon, pen or marker. Fat crayons and markers are easier for small hands to hold.
Help your child make a treasure chest of things he/she loves. Tape a box shut and cut a whole in the top. Help your child spell his/her first name, add (‘s) [Ex. LISA’S or JACOB’S)] and the words “TREASURE CHEST.” Your child will draw a picture of an object, label it and add it to his/her treasure chest. Let your child write the word, but help with spelling. Here are some examples of treasures: foods (for each meal), toys, books, places you go, family members, friends, activities (for every season).
What you need: plain white or colored paper, 8-color box of markers or crayons, scissors, glue stick and other items to decorate.
Early Math and Science Concepts
Young children learn by exploring the world around them in many different ways, as long as we adults don’t stifle them. As tricky as it can be sometimes, allow children to ask questions. Then you and your child can find the answers together. Sometimes if you let them, they might just teach you better ways to learn things. You can see children using skills of science and math when they:
- Repeat actions over and over (working the same puzzle)
- Lift things up and look under them (looking under rocks)
- Ask questions (Why does that cloud look like a bear?)
- Use materials and tools in creative ways (use yarn to measure height of block structure)
- Watch things closely (observing the fish in the tank)
- Make a guess (Where does an animal live? What will it do next?)
- Solve problems (putting together puzzles, building a stronger tower after the first three fell)
- Represent real objects (The building block becomes a train, a car, a rocket ship)
- Compare objects (covering small baby with a small blanket, larger baby with larger blanket)
- Sort objects (Sorting buttons into groups by color, size, shape, metal/plastic, etc.)
- Pretend play (act out an activity that was discussed in a story)
Activities from: What’s the BIG Idea? Math and Science Librarian Manual. 2008. Vermont Center for the Book.
Counting: Children must learn their numbers as sure as the sun rises and
sets. Start counting snaps on pajamas, buttons on shirts, and socks on feet. Count Cheerios in a bowl, bites of cereal per bowl, and kisses on cheeks. Counting can happen anywhere and it can be free, free, free!!
Another fun activity is to make number books. You can make a book for each number. Start with a book called ONE. On each page make one object: one tree, one dog, one kiss, one flower, etc. Your children can draw an object, then fill it in using crayons/markers or by gluing down macaroni, yarn or colored paper. Your children could also cut out pictures from old magazines or newspaper ads. The sky’s the limit. Next, make a TWO book. On each page make two of the same type of object.
What you need: Crayons, paper, scissors and glue.
Shapes: Start simple and move up. Talk about the basic shapes, pointing
out different items in everyday conversation. “Joseph, this is a square
block. Do you see another square block?” “Max, these saltine crackers are
rectangles. Now let’s break it in half! We have two squares now!!” (that
depends on the brand!)
Circle (pizza, cracker, bowl); square (cracker, block, television screen);
triangle (tent, hat, yield sign); rectangle (block, window, pant leg). Go for
shape walks and see all the different shapes around you. Turn off
the cell phone and engage in your child.
Great books at your library:
Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Scholastic, 1990.
Dillon, Leo &Diane. Mother Goose Numbers On the Loose. Harcourt, 2007.
Hoban, Tana. Shapes, Shapes, Shapes. Greenwillow, 1986.
Walsh, Ellen Stoll. Mouse Shapes. Harcourt, 2007
Water play: Water play starts as early as the first bath with baby. As long
as babies feels safe during their bath time they will love playing in the water, building skills as their minds grow. Given tools to work with (toys in child speak) they can make magic in the tub using bowls, spoons, cups, and squeeze toys in many different ways. As the adult, you get to watch the play and join in! Does this sink? Does this float? Does this hold water? Show how to pour from one object to another. Which cup holds more? You can even talk about how the water was warm and now it is cold. Discuss the sound of water as it pours from different heights.
Science Lab in the Tub: (This is the name we give to tub play with
clothes on!! The Science Lab in the Tub came about when it was actually
too hot to play outside!) You’ll need a giant bowl for holding water, plastic measuring cups of different sizes, measuring spoons, bowls, a turkey baster, sponges, imagination and towels for cleaning up!! The act of cleaning up is a life skill that we all must learn. Let the scientist help you!
The Act of Measuring: Something we didn’t learn to do as children was
to measure without a ruler or yard stick. Children today are learning to measure in different ways to help expand their minds. You can talk about measuring simply by seeing how many of your child’s feet equal your feet? Two or three of your child’s foot is the same size as one of Daddy’s feet! How incredible is that? Use wooden blocks to measure doorways. Lie down on the floor and see how many wooden blocks long your child is from head to toe. Measure Mommy and Daddy too. If you have tile on your kitchen floor, measure the length of your child in floor tiles.
Sorting: The simple act of sorting starts with picking up toys and putting
pairs of socks together. This is how simple this can be to practice. Turn a
chore into a game and it is all good!
Sock Sort: Sit with your child and that awful basket of socks that never
gets sorted!! Make a game of putting all the blue socks together, then find
the red, then the white, etc. See how many pairs you can find together.
Toy Sort: Sort toys using categories: blocks, Legos, action figures, dolls,
etc. You can sort in different sets by color, size, soft/hard, etc.
Books to find at your Library:
Hoban, Tana. Is it Rough? Is it Smooth? Is it Shiny? Morrow, 1987.
Jenkins, Steve. Actual Size. Houghton, 2004.
Lionni, Leo. Inch by Inch. HarperTrophy, 1960.
McDonald, Megan. Insects Are My Life. Orchard, 1997.
Miller, Margaret. Big and Little. Greenwillow, 1998.
Reid, Margarette. The Button Box. Puffin, 1990.
Shannon, David. The Rain Came Down. Blue Sky, 2000.
The National Institute of Health
Most children need at least an hour of movement every day. Regular exercise helps children:
- Feel less stressed
- Feel better about themselves
- Feel more ready to learn in school
- Keep a healthy weight
- Build and keep healthy bones, muscles and joints
- Sleep better at night
Basic Movements to Exercise the Body and the Brain
The brain is divided into a left and right side. Movement helps both sides of the brain work together.
- Swinging and hopping help develop balance and make children aware of the space around them.
- Walking, running, marching, skipping, climbing and throwing balls are all cross-body movements which help both sides of the brain work together.
- Dancing develops listening skills, rhythm, timing, and makes children aware of the space around them.
- Playing with balls (bouncing, dribbling, throwing, catching & rolling them) helps develop hand-eye coordination, makes children aware of the space around them, and develops timing (smaller balls move faster, larger ball move slower).
- Playing with ropes (jumping rope, tug-of-war, climbing) develops balance and eye-foot coordination.
Instructions: Use pictures or objects to help spark memories from your childhood and/or the first few years of your child’s life. Give lots of details such as where it took place, who was involved, what happened, and how it ended. Tell stories about something that happened that made you laugh, scared, embarrassed or mad.
What you need:
Pictures of your children
Pictures from your childhood
Objects from around the house
Special items from your childhood
Louisville Free Public Library – Kid’s Page: Games
Find educational online games and activities here. Websites with a (P) are for preschoolers and those with an (E) are for elementary age children. Some sites may be for both age groups.
National Center for Family Literacy’s – Wonderopolis
Wonderopolis has a new topic each day. Scroll down to the lower right-hand side to choose a “category” of wonders to explore with your child.