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Standard: 9B

Demonstrate an understanding of location and ordinal position, using appropriate vocabulary.

lessons

Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal

In this lesson, children will identify and sort pictures of objects with diagonal, horizontal and vertical orientations.

Over, Under, Through

In this lesson, children will navigate an obstacle course to learn directional concepts such as moving over, under, around and through.

Silly Circles

In this lesson, children will identify, draw and describe the attributes of a circle.

Slide, Flip and Turn

In this lesson, children will recognize and apply slides, flips and turns using wooden pattern blocks.

Sticker Shapes

In this lesson, children will outline pre-existing shapes to identify circles, triangles, squares, stars, moons and rectangles and create their own shape books using small stickers.

Take a Walk with Rosie

In this lesson, children will learn spatial vocabulary by reenacting Rosie’s walk around the farmyard.

posts

The Magic of Magnetism

  “Look!” squeals three-year-old Eleanor.  “I can pick up these two balls! It’s magic!” Have you ever seen young children playing with magnets? The “magical” properties of magnets never fail to captivate early learners and spark a play buzz! Children learn by investigating, observing and figuring out how things work. Magnets fuel that curiosity in […]

Flower Power in the Outdoor Classroom

  “Look, look! Come and see what is inside this flower!”  It’s a warm, late-spring day and our friends are scattered around the yard, discovering the new surprises that have popped up overnight. The flowers are finally showing their beautiful blooms! “Is it a bumblebee?” I ask. They look at me—their eyes big with wonder. […]

Rocking through Early Learning Standards

  Rock balancing or CAIRNS has found its way into our play again this week! Stacking and balancing rocks encourages math and science investigations that are always developmentally appropriate. My adrenaline starts flowing and a smile grows on my face when a two-year-old child exhibits an innate sense of how to balance many more rocks […]

Playing with Sticks

  If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, or driven by the Arboretum on Interstate 88, you may have spotted Joe the Guardian, a 20-foot-tall, spear-wielding troll peering down at the passing cars from atop his grassy berm. Joe is just one of six towering troll statues created by […]

Fort Building 101

  “LOOK!” screams a four-year-old with such joy that we know this isn’t a garden-variety “I want to share something with you” moment. As the gang rushes to her side, they come to a complete standstill, frozen in awe. Oh happy day! Some kind souls have shared a fort with the community! There before us […]

Nest Building is STEM Building

“I found an empty nest! Can we keep it?” Owen’s joyful discovery captures everyone’s attention. Three-year-old Avery comes running. “Are there eggs?” she asks her older and wiser five-year-old friend. “Can I see?” she begs. “Please let me see?” “There are no eggs, just an old nest. Can we please keep it?” pleads Owen. After […]

Water Play!

  “It works! The water is coming out!” Rokia cannot contain her excitement as the discovery of a full rain barrel adds a new avenue of discovery and learning for our week. “How did you do that? Can I have a turn? Get a bucket!” The excitement builds as so many little brains begin to […]

Return of the Sand Gardens

  “I found GOLD!” squeals Laura. Four little friends are quick to join her in the latest gold rush in the sandbox. In the wee hours of the morning, often when the sun is barely above the horizon and the coffee is still being brewed, gold will magically appear in our sandbox. Spray-painted rocks that […]

Chalk Magic

“Vera, Vera!  Come see how bright the colors are in my rainbow!” Four-year-old Owen is ecstatic about his discovery of a colorful collection of wet chalk after a summer shower in our outdoor classroom. This happy accident has paved the way for a sensory adventure as we meet our math and science early learning standards […]

May the Force be With You

    “Look! The people blocks are in a line and they crash at the bottom,  just like when we play on the slide!” This is a lightbulb moment as Evelyn transfers knowledge gleaned from a previous play experience into her current hands-on learning. A chain-reaction domino fall during today’s block play reminds Evelyn of […]

Squirrely STEAM Learning

“If the squirrel comes down from this direction, we can trap him under here!” yells Elliot. The playground equipment sits empty as Elliott, Harper and their fellow “squirrel trappers” congregate at the base of a towering oak tree in our neighborhood park.  The children have long been captivated by this venerable old oak, which has […]

Rock and Roll

  One bright fall morning, I notice that the noise level at Under the Gingko Tree is exceptionally low. A quick glance around reassures me that all of my early learners are safe and accounted for. Then I notice a quiet but intense play buzz happening in our rain garden, so I wander over to […]

Frosty the STEM Snowman

“Look! The snow packs!  Let’s make a snowman!” Today’s sunshine and rising temperatures have transformed yesterday’s powdery snow into packable fun—ushering in an afternoon of playful math and science learning. These are the times when I love to pull out my camera to document the many foundation-building moments that find their way into our play. […]

Finding STEM in Snow Play

  After months of sequestering and social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, we could all use some fresh winter air! Nature is just what the doctor ordered to stimulate our senses while we meet our early learning standards. The winter months offer an abundance of STEM learning opportunities, so don’t let the falling […]

The Magical Field of Magnets

  ” Hey guys! Look over here! My magnet sticks to the bike!” On this warm November morning, our magnetic wands have brought STEM learning to our outdoor classroom. By leaving the other magnetic materials behind, I am hoping to encourage the children to harness their curiosity and creativity for other forms of magnetic exploration. […]

Shadow Play

  “Do our shadows look like the monsters in the book?” asks James. I glance over and see James and Noa connecting their shadows by overlapping their arms. When we engage children in outdoor shadow play to support active exploration and discovery, their creativity is endless! James and Noa are playing out their version of […]

Finding STEM in Squirming Worms

  “AAAAUUUUGHHHHHHH! Worms! Look, look! They are everywhere!” Eleanor is jumping up and down hysterically. Nothing will bring our crew running faster than a good worm sighting! Let the earthworm exploration begin. We love worms! Last spring, we witnessed an unusual natural phenomenon as a mass of earthworms wiggled out of their subterranean homes in […]

STEM Building in the Window Frame

  “AUGGGHHHH!” I hear screams, a crash and giggles galore. The joy of Magna-Tiles® has returned to our ever-popular window-stacking play. When these colorful magnetic tile mosaics come crashing down from the window frame, the children respond with laughter and joy. By contrast, the collapse of three-dimensional block formations often elicits groans and tears. Something […]

STEM in the Bird Feeder

“I see the daddy cardinal, do you know where the mama bird is?” Four-year-old Noah, binoculars in hand, is busy counting birds in our outdoor classroom. Are you aware that the annual Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up later this week? This is a great opportunity to create a bird-watching station and knock out […]

Rainbows, Sunshine and Superheroes

  “Evie, come look! I’m a superhero! I have superpowers!” calls Jamie from the foyer. Curiosity piqued, Evie leaves her blocks behind to see what her best friend is up to now. “Rainbows!!!” Evie shrieks as she spies the colorful light pattern on Jamie’s wrist. Everyone within earshot dashes over to see the rainbows. And, […]

Ramps, Inclines and STEM in the Great Outdoors

  “Hey, Hudson! How did you do that?” Eleanor is amazed at Hudson’s success as he races a car down the ramp. This is the same car that she couldn’t get to stay on the ramp just minutes earlier. I listen as Hudson turns the car over and explains, “See those wheels? The front ones […]

STEM + Beanbags = F U N!

  I recently grabbed our dusty box of beanbags off of the top shelf of the closet and took the beanbags outside. We rarely played with them indoors, so what was I saving them for?  If a beanbag gets lost or forgotten under the plants and soaked in the rain, who cares? At least it […]

Rainy-Day Block Play

Today’s dark skies and heavy rain have driven us indoors for what started out as a low-energy day. But now it’s even quieter—as in “too quiet.” I can feel my anxiety rising. But as I look around and see the children engaged in deep, calm block play—with wooden blocks strewn all over our classroom—I break […]

Spring Dandelion Day STEM Adventures

Each spring, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of the growing season—from the greening carpet of grass to the buds bursting into blossom on the trees. We especially delight in the dandelions that can turn any grassy area into a STEM wonderland! Dandelions introduce so many math adventures into our early childhood program. The neighborhood park […]

A Small Whiff of STEM

  “I smell cinnamon rolls!” exclaims Henry as he races through the gate towards our outdoor classroom. Everyone stops what they are doing to inhale deeply. “I do too! I want a cinnamon roll!” pleads Noah. My group is quite disappointed to learn that I am not baking cinnamon rolls this morning. The delicious cinnamon-roll […]

T is for Teachable Moments

“Hey everybody! Look at all of the tomatoes that are ripe today!” shouts Jacob to the gang. “Can we eat them for lunch? Can we?” asks Lucus. “Can we eat them now?” pleads Elizabeth. It’s early September and preschoolers around the country are learning about apples, but we have tomatoes at our fingertips. The same […]

STEM Play with Dominoes

  “Hey, Evelyn!  Go get your cell phone and meet me at the stumps!” calls Noa. My head whirls around as I check the classroom to see if a cell phone has actually made its way into school today. Then I see Evelyn running to the basket of dominoes to get her “cell phone.” Whew! […]

Full STEAM Ahead with Geoboards!

“Look what I made!” shouts Parker. Our moment of silent concentration and focus is interrupted by Parker ecstatically showing off her geoboard. “You made a house?” asks Linnea, looking a little wide-eyed and confused. “How did you do that?” “I just added shapes and it worked!” Parker answers, equally amazed by her own creation. “I […]

Exploring Colors on the Light Table

  As the days grow shorter and the slanting rays of sun that create our rainbows are replaced by clouds, we shift our energy to other forms of investigative play with light and color. “Saaliha, come play with me at the light table!” Nora calls out. Saaliha joins her friend and the STEM investigations into […]

Sequencing Our Way Outdoors

Autumn has flown by—and winter is almost upon us! Here in Illinois, that means cooler temperatures and wrestling with winter outerwear. But here’s the good news: Getting the children dressed for outdoor play is a great way to meet your early math standards. Outdoor play in the winter months includes snow or rain pants, boots, coats, […]

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

“LOOK! We have icicles!” “Can I have one?  I need one!” On this brisk winter morning—much to the children’s delight—nature has given us the gift of icicles. The children’s fascination with these frozen treasures leads to an abundance of “teachable moments” as we engage in some STEM learning while getting some fresh air and exercise. Soon […]

STEM Reading Adventures While the Snow Flies

“Can you read it again? PLEASE?”  Frigid temps and gray days lead to lots of reading as we weather the winter season. As February unfolds, I am thrilled to present a series of STEM books guaranteed to educate, enrich and entertain early learners while the snow flies. It’s difficult to find books that balance exceptional […]

STEM Soup!

  “Who wants soup? I am making soup for lunch today!” Eleanor shouts to anyone willing to join her as she “cooks up” her concoction. Eleanor is our concoction wizard. She can often be found adding loose parts to a large pot of water, mixing away while she muses about the ingredients she needs to […]

The Magic Tree

  “Do you know about our Magic Tree?” four-year-old Rowan asks Alex. She pauses dramatically before passing on the secret of the beloved old tree that has long been a source of delight and inquiry for the children in our early learning program. “Watch, Alex!” she instructs. “I will push this stick into the tree, way […]

Playful Math

  “Can we play with those counting things today?” Two bubbly three-year-olds are standing in front of me with expectant smiles on their faces. I have absolutely no idea what they talking about—or what’s going on in those busy little brains, which I can almost hear whirring with activity. “What counting things are you looking […]

Obstacle Course Math

  “Go around the tree, through the tunnel, over the rocks, under the parachute and onto the swing. Then throw a beanbag through the hula hoop and run and touch the fence. The first person to do that WINS!” I listen as five-year-old Juan walks his eager friend through the steps of the obstacle course […]

Math, Music and Memory!

  “Five green and speckled frogs…sat on a speckled log…eating some delicious bugs. Yum yum! I hear a chorus of young voices singing in our outdoor classroom as three young friends hold hands and frolic around in a circle.  When we sing counting songs such as “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” or “This Old Man,” […]

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Whether you grew up with Schoolhouse Rock, Sesame Street, the Electric Company, Romper Room or Raffi, chances are good that you can still sing a counting song that you learned way back then. Ah, there are some really great songs from those days and many a Schoolhouse Rock version is being used to teach “skip counting” […]

Math, Music and Memory

  “Five green and speckled frogs…sat on a speckled log…eating some delicious bugs. Yum yum!” I hear a chorus of voices singing in our outdoor classroom as three young friends hold hands and frolic around in a circle When we sing counting songs such as “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” or “This Old Man,” we […]

Inch by Inch

We brought out the tape measurers this week.  Ah, nothing like a tool in the hand of young friends to get the juices flowing and the neurons firing up!  Playful math! Math that is done for no other purpose than the sheer joy and fun it brings. I don’t worry that they don’t understand the […]

Smiling Boot Prints in the Snow

  Today is one of those magical winter mornings when snow blankets the ground and clings to the trees around our center.  The sun is shining and the world looks so sparkly and irresistible that we head outside in spite of the freezing temperatures. “Hey! Who has the smiling boot?” Jacoby calls out to the […]

Geometry With Robots!

“I-am-a-robot!  I-can-do-anything!” squeaks Terrell in his best four-year-old robot voice. “Oh, I like that you used that octagon for your robot’s head,” says Michaela. “I am going to try that!”  We are deep into robot construction this month and robots are popping up all over our play spaces. We are constructing robots from clay. We […]

Finding Math in a Tub of Water

  ​​​ It’s another 90-degree morning, and we’re going deep into water play to keep our budding mathematicians as cool and happy as possible on this humid, sultry day. I glance over just in time to catch three-year-old Tahin playing with one of the small watering cans. It’s obvious that no one has mentored him […]

Finding STEM in a Field of Sunflowers

“When we drive to school in the morning, the sunflowers are facing one way and when we drive home after school they are facing the other way. That’s because they always want to see where I am going!” brags Melania to the other children on the bus. “That’s not true,” grumbles Roberta, who is clearly […]

Geometry with Chalk Mosaics

“Oh, I like your mosaic, Avery!” says Claire, who has wandered over to look at the mosaic that Avery has just created with sidewalk chalk and tape. “Yours only had triangles. We did squares and triangles and those long skinny squares.” “Oh, you mean rectangles! I want to see it!” Avery exclaims. He jumps up […]

Stacking Up Early Math and Engineering Skills

“We can’t reach the top to make it bigger!” says Rowan with a giggle. “Can we stand on this table to make our tower taller?” Linnea pleads. Four-year-olds Rowan and Linnea have taken over the front foyer of our early childhood center for some serious block play. This bustling area will soon be filled with […]

Shine a Light

  “Saaliha, come with me to the light table,” Evelyn whispers. “I have to show you something!” Hand in hand, the two preschoolers quietly make their way over to our light table. This darkened corner of our classroom never fails to mesmerize the children with its soft glow and luminous colors. As the days grow […]

Risk-Taking, Math and a Hollow Tree

“LOOK!” Ellie summons us with such joy that there’s no doubt she has spotted something wonderful. Our eyes follow the four-year-old as she dashes to a very large, very hollow tree. A tree that is still alive and thriving—with an opening over four feet tall just inviting a group of children and their teacher to […]

STEM Play With Pattern Blocks

  “Hey, that’s cool. I like your guy!” says four-year-old Jaheem, peering over Michelea’s shoulder as she plays with her pattern blocks. “It’s not a guy; it’s a flower!” Michelea replies, tilting her head to try to see the “guy” that Jaheem is referring to. “That’s the stem and the leaves,” she explains, pointing to […]

Mapping Fun for Young STEM Learners

  Five-year-old Amelia—our budding cartographer—has captured the attention of every child in the room as she shares her latest map drawing: “You walk out of my front door and turn right. Then you go this way and you are at my swings and slide. If you walk out of my front door, turn left and […]

Eclipse Party 2024!

“The birds are chirping so loud—I think they’re scared,” said Vera as she looked up at the sky with a pair of certified safe eclipse glasses pressed against her eyes. She was absolutely right! The singing birds—along with the chirping crickets and the barking dogs in the neighborhood—were louder and more intense than usual as […]