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          Understanding and learning about the world - 5 to 6 years

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At this age, children are continuing to develop longer attention spans and better memories. They can concentrate well and are able to handle more complicated projects and tasks at school and home. They think in a more complex manner and their curiosity about the world around them will begin to increase. 

Five- to six-year-olds are fascinated by how things work and why things are the way they are. They can spend hours playing with the flow of water, taking a clock apart or “testing” the impact of gravity.  

Five-year-olds understand more about concepts like space and time. They will also become very good at sorting things according to colour, shape and size. 

By the time children are six, they are able to arrange objects from smallest to largest, shortest to longest, and lightest to heaviest. They will also begin to understand that the quantity of an object remains the same even when it is arranged differently.

Six-year-olds show an increased problem-solving ability. They may learn how to add up to 10 without using concrete items and enjoy working on puzzles. They may be taught how to identify simple patterns, measure height and weight, identify coins, count money and read the time on an analog clock. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO?

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Make coloured jellies! Choose a few primary colours for the food colouring so that your child can have hands-on experience in mixing and observing colour changes. Talk your child through each step of the jelly casting process. Ask him to observe how the gelatine powder can be first converted to liquid, and finally solid jellies! Cooking adds fun to the learning process and your child will have a sweet treat afterwards!
 
Make jellies

​​​​​​What makes ice melt?
 
What makes ice melt? Prepare two bowls of water - one warm, one cold. Let your child test the temperature of the water with his fingers. Then ask him to predict what would happen if he puts an ice cube in each bowl. "Which ice cube would melt faster? Why?" Drop an ice cube in each bowl to test out his predictions!~
 
Conduct a weight experiment

C onduct a weight experiment! Find some light items you can drop like feathers, inflated baloons, a scarf and paper. Ask your child to predict which item will drop slower. He can test his hypothesis by releasing the items one by one. Use an electronic timer for a more precise measurement. Compare the speed of the different items and discuss possible reasons behind it.
 
Enhance prediction and estimation skills

Enhance prediction and estimation skills during water play. Fill a tub with water and have different sized cups and containers. Ask your child to predict how many cups of water are needed to fill a container. Let her predict, record her estimation and verify it. Repeat this process with different sized containers.
~ Ms Peggy Zee, Early Childhood Mathematics Specialist
Make a phone using paper cups!

Make a simple phone with paper cups and string! Make a hole through the centre of the bottom of each paper cup. Thread a string through the hole and knot on the inside to connect the two cups. Ask your child to take one cup and move apart until the string is taut. Then ask her to put the cup to her ear while you speak through the other end. Can she hear your message? Ask her to repeat your message. Let the string go slack and repeat the message. Can she still hear you? Your child can even decorate her "phone" in her own special way!
 
Play a coin matching game! Line up coins of different denominations in an orderly manner (5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar). Provide a bunch of loose coins to your child. Describe each coin to your child, "This is the only gold coin with a silve centre and has an image of a Merlion (1 dollar coin)". Have your child point to this coin in the line-up, then ask him to find a corresponding coin in the loose bunch. Continue this activity using coins of other denominations. This will help your child learn to differentiate the different coins! Try the same activity using dollar notes!
 
Play a coin matching game!

Introduce more complex games that involve number concepts such as monopoly, dice games (e.g. Snakes and Ladders), or join the dots activities and have fun bonding in the process!
~ Dr Pamela Sharpe, former Associate Professor in the Early Childhood and Specialised Education Academic Group at NIE/NTU Singapore
 
Play complex games with number concepts

Use real life situations to teach number concepts and encourage problem solving! For example, if there are four family members for dinner, how many sets of chopsticks or how many pairs of forks and spoons are needed? You can also introduce simple marketing tasks to your child during grocery shopping. For instance, draw up a grocery list (e.g. 2 tins of condensed milk or 5 apples)!
~ Dr Pamela Sharpe, former Associate Professor in the Early Childhood and Specialised Education Academic Group at NIE/NTU Singapore
 
Use real life situations to teach numeracy skills!

Help your child identify numerical values. Talk about the size and age of the different members in your family with respect to their birthdays or discuss the cost of items (e.g. larger numbers indicate more expensive items).
~ Dr Pamela Sharpe, former Associate Professor in the Early Childhood and Specialised Education Academic Group at NIE/NTU Singapore
 
Help your child identify numerical values!

Let your child play with simple household gadgets such as torchlights and figure out how they work! Bring these gadgets outdoors and explore the natural environment with them. Have fun!
~ Ms N. Pushpavalli, Principal of Ramakrishna Mission of Sarada Kindergarten

Let  your child play with simple household gadgets

Cook different types of eggs with your child! For instance, half boiled, boiled, scrambled, poached, sunny side up or steamed. This activity can offer interesting and amazing insights into science concepts. Observe and talk about the changes or differences. It is an invaluable opportunity to hone your child's observation skills and also build vocabulary.
~ Mrs Jacqueline Chung, Senior Principal, St. James' Church Kindergarten
 
Cook different types of eggs (five to six years)

Let your child help set the table! Setting the dining table requires 1-to-1 correspondence and matching skills. Knowing which size of serving bowl to use for containing the meat or vegetables requries the ability to estimate and make comparisons.
~ Mrs Jacqueline Chung, Senior Principal, St. James' Church Kindergarten
 
Set the table

Study time with your child

Discuss "time" with your child. What time does he get up in the morning? What time does he leave for school? When does he eat dinner? When does he go to sleep? Show each time discussed on a clock face. Explain the functions of the hour hand and the minute hand. Take the opportunity to plan the weekend scheduule with your child.
  
Measure body parts!

Discuss body proportions and measure them! Are legs longer than arms? How does his head circumference differ from yours? Ask you child to make measurements of other body parts and record his measurements!
  
Help your child to focus. You can improve and refine his ability to pay close attention to a simple object, notice details and communicate his impressions. Look for some rocks or even pebbles with your child and have him examine them together carefully. Make a list of words to describe the rocks: rough, smooth, round, oval, jagged, sparkly, grey, brown and so on. Have your child name each rock according to its special detail, then mis the rocks up. Have fun identifying each one!
  
Help your child focus

Borrow books about the Environment

Save the Environment! For example, you can borrow books from the library on taking care of our environment. Look for books on air pollution, deforestation and floods. Have your child cut out newspaper articles on these and paste them in a scrapbook. Talk about what can be done to help save the environment.
   
Light and shadows

Discover shadow play. Explain what shadows are to your child. You can define a shadow as the outline of something that blocks a path of light. Have your child try to make shadow pictures with his hands and fingers. Go outdoors at different times of the day to experiment with shadows. You could even make a silhouette of your child to give to his grandparents! 
Grow plants. Observing a growing plant provides your child with the opportunities to explore and develop concepts about the natural world. Ask your child to compare plant growth, and help him make graphs to chart the heights of the plants as they grow. This further builds your child’s mathematical and science concepts.



 

 

Explore seeds. Take your child for a walk in a park or garden and pick up seeds from the ground. Examine and describe the seeds. Ask him to look for similarities and differences among the seeds. Record this experience on paper or in a small booklet. This cultivates an interest in learning more about mother nature and a respect for plants and trees.   Exploring seeds and plants

Explore volume. Provide containers of varying sizes and different materials (e.g. pebbles, beans). Let your child investigate how much various containers can hold. Ask him to arrange the containers in order from the smallest to the greatest volume. To extend the activity, find out if the order of the containers remains the same when a different material is used to fill in the containers. This enhances your child’s scientific and mathematical concepts.

Understand positional concepts. Use words such as: above, below, at the side of, behind and so on. Select an object and use positional terms to provide your child with the clues to where it is. When your child is familiar with the game and has found a few items successfully, take turns describing the location of an object. This enables your child to grasp these concepts and expand his vocabulary.
Go on a shape hunt. Ask your child to identify the shapes of common objects at home or outdoors. Extend this activity by asking him to find objects with two attributes, for example, a blue square or a red circle. This helps him to see the world in creative ways.

Organise a “shopping spree”. Create your own pretend store at home. In this activity, your child goes beyond assembling the correct amount of change for a specified quantity of money. It also requires her to judge whether or not she has enough money to buy her desired items, teaching her how to budget and at the same time, enhances her awareness of money.

Discuss dollars and cents. Help your child discover various ways to get the same amount of money with different denominations and how to “make change”.  Start with the small denominations. These activities will enhance your child’s numeracy skills in counting, adding and subtracting. When your child is more confident with money, you can even bring your child to a shop or supermarket to make a purchase! 

 

Explore the use of thermometers. Explain to your child that a thermometer is used to measure how hot or cold something is. Take two bowls of water, one hot and one cold. Have your child touch the water in the bowl and say whether it is hot or cold, then measure the temperature of the water in each bowl. This will cultivate an interest in Science and experimentation.

Give your child time and opportunities to experiment. Offer him an assortment of measuring materials such as cups, bowls, pitchers, measuring spoons, funnels and food containers. Let him play with these and water. Introduce words commonly associated with volume.

Differentiate between living and non-living things. Discuss the characteristics of living things, have your child sort different objects into two piles, those that are living things and those that are not. You could also discuss about objects that were once a part of a living thing, like a fruit, leaves, and paper.

Enhance your child’s logical thinking. Engage him in sorting, grouping, matching, counting and sequencing using real life situations such as table setting, counting the number of turns, and sorting out socks.

Provide your child with take-apart and put-together experiences. Let him have his way with small appliances (like clocks) that you would otherwise throw out.

Help your child explore his world. Take field trips to museums, work places, and other neighbourhoods. Encourage him to ask “what if” questions on these trips.

Play fun games. You can do this at home with your child by guessing the weight of a household object, measuring the height of every family member, creating your own a recipe, and playing board games that require him to count and use paper money.

Explore buoyancy. Have your child experiment with various objects to see if they float or sink in water. After a few trials, he can make predictions and check if they are accurate.