Sunnyvale Elementary School

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Classroom Resources

  •  I found this while I was preparing for our 5 Senses Unit.  Thought parents might enjoy reading AND doing! 

    Exploring the 5 Senses

    You can encourage healthy brain development by helping your child explore their five senses. A baby's brain is a work in progress. The outside world shapes development through experiences that a child's senses — vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste — absorb. Repeated experiences taken in by the five senses help build permanent, strong connections in the brain. 

    Early on, as the pathways in a child's brain are strengthened through repeated experiences, permanent connections are formed that structure the way a child learns. If a pathway is not used, it's eliminated based on the "use it or lose it" principle. Things you do a single time, either good or bad, are somewhat less likely to have an effect on brain development.

    Try some of the suggested activities below many times to help your child build strong pathways and connections in their brain.


    Your child uses their ears to take in information about the world around them. Developing the ability to listen carefully helps him or her get important information from you, caregivers, teachers, and coaches. Like other skills, learning to listen takes practice. Try the activities below to build strong brain connections. 

    Listening Games

    Play a board game or card game with your child to see how good he is at listening. Listening is an important skill when you are playing games. Another effective activity would be to hide a ticking timer in a room and see if your child can find it.


    Use your hands and make clapping patterns together. Lead the clap sequence and encourage your child to repeat it. Once you have each had a turn leading the clap sequences try doing the same thing using the bells. 

    Is it harder to repeat the bell sequence?
    Do you like to listen to the bells?
    Which sound is louder?

    Example of a clapping sequence: Clap-slow, slow, fast, fast.


    We mostly feel through our hands and feet. Did you know that feet have thousands of nerves that go right to the brain? Let your child feel with their feet; it is just as important as their hands. Your child learns about their environment through touch. They learn about their body and how to communicate with others. Participating in these types of activities improves their fine motor skills. These skills will help your child hold a pencil, tie their shoes, button their clothing and use scissors. 

    Painting With Your Feet

    Roll up your child’s pant legs, and have them step in a pan with paint, to experience the feeling of paint between their toes. Ask your child how it feels. 

    Is it smooth or rough?
    Is it cold or warm?
    Is it sticky or soft?

    Textured Dominoes

    Everyone enjoys playing with dominoes. Encourage your child to use their fingers to feel the blocks and match them according to how they feel.


    Your child will develop their taste preferences based on what they are fed early in life. It isn’t genetic– it's learned. Research concludes that teenagers and adults choose foods and beverages based on what they were fed as infants. 

    Fruit Salad

    Make a fruit salad. Ask: Do you see different kinds of fruit in the bowl? Pick out different types of fruit and allow your child to take a bite of each one. 

    What do they taste like? 
    Have you had that fruit before? 
    Does it taste good?

    Taste Buds

    There are 4 main taste buds located on our tongues—sour, bitter, salty, sweet. Allow your child to try different kinds of food to see what tastes they prefer. Ask them: 

    What does it taste like? (sour, bitter, salty, or sweet)


    Your newborn's eyes are physically capable of seeing at birth, but his brain isn't ready to process visual information, so things stay fuzzy for a while. Through their experiences, they will begin to connect meaning to the visual cues found in their environment. When your child plays games that involve sight they are developing early literacy skills. Sight games help them recognize objects, words, patterns, and consequences, as well as develop their memory. 

    Matching Games

    Play a matching game with your child. They are using their eyes to play these games and improving their visual discrimination skills.

    “I Spy” Book

    Play a fun game of “I Spy” using an “I Spy” book. Talk about the different things you see on the different pages. You can also play this game using objects in your environment.


    After birth, the sense of smell is one of the first things that bonds your child to you. Over time, certain scents become comforting because they are familiar, and this may be why your child may prefer that their security objects remain unwashed. They are attached to the scent of their blanket or bear.

    Blindfolded Smell Test

    Find some familiar scents like coffee, extracts used for baking, etc. Blindfold your child and place the scent under their nose. 

    What do they smell? 
    Do they know the smell?

    13 Tips for Starting Preschool

    By Diane Tunis, Rhonda Kleiner, and Fredda Band Loewenstein

    Is your child entering a preschool program for the first time? Use these tips to help both you and your child make a smooth transition.

    1. Visit your local library during a read-aloud time so your child gets used to hearing someone other than Mom, Dad, or Grandpa read aloud book in a group setting.
    2. Establish a routine of "early to bed" and “school wake-up time” several weeks before school begins so your child has time to adjust to the new schedule.
    3. Find out about the toileting procedures at the new school or center so you can review the situation with your child and make sure she is comfortable.
    4. Arrange play dates with children who will be in your child’s class. Usually moms or dads go along on these early play dates.  Ask the teacher or school for a list of children who will be in your child’s class. 
    5. If there’s a home visit or school visiting day, make sure you and your child participate. If you aren't able to participate, call the school to arrange for a visit to the school and to meet your child’s teacher.
    6. Make a book at home about the new preschool experience your child is about to begin. Perhaps take photos of the school or of your child in front of school and add text like: “This is Sammy at school. This is her favorite t-shirt. This is Mommy picking up Sammy when school is over.”
    7. Let your child pick out a new backpack and together write her name on it.
    8. Tell stories about when you went to school and share how you felt about it. Find childhood pictures of yourself and other adults in your child’s life and talk about the photos.
    9. If your child has never before been cared for by someone else, start to leave her for short periods of time with friends or relatives. Reinforce the fact that you will return and that she is safe with others.
    10. Give your child a personal belonging of yours like a favorite scarf or bandanna so she knows you will come back to get it.
    11. Read books about going to school and saying goodbye, such as
      • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
      • David Goes to School by David Shannon
      • Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen
      • First Day of School by Anne Rockwell
      • When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman
      • Take a Kiss to School by Angela McAllister
      • It’s Time for Preschool by Esme Raj Codell  
      • A Pocketful of Kisses by Audrey Penn

    12. Select a special object from home that your child can take to school--like a lunchbox, a book to share, and a small pillow for rest time.
    13. Remember that separation is a process. Expect that your child (or yourself) will need time to feel comfortable with the new situation.


    Diane Tunis is a Head Start teacher at Arcola Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Rhonda Kleiner is a kindergarten teacher at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. Fredda Band Loewenstein is associate director of the Early Childhood Centers at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, California.

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    Back-to-School Tips for Parents

    Starting the new school year can be a time of great excitement… and anxiety. Help calm your child’s fears (and your own) with these teacher-approved tips.

    Meet the new teacher.
    For kids, one of the biggest back-to-school fears is “Will I like my new teacher?” Breaking the ice early on is one of the best ways to calm everyone’s fears. Take advantage of your school’s open house or back-to-school night. Some teachers welcome phone calls or e-mails — another great opportunity to get to know each other before the year begins.

    If personal contact with the teacher isn’t possible, try locating the teacher’s picture on a school website or in a yearbook, so your child can put a name with a face. If your child’s teacher sends a welcome letter, be sure to read the letter together.

    Tour the school.
    If your school hosts an open house, be sure to go. Familiarizing your child with her environment will help her avoid a nervous stomach on the first day. Together you can meet her teacher, find her desk, or explore the playground.

    With an older child, you might ask him to give you a tour of the school. This will help refresh his memory and yours.

    Connect with friends.
    A familiar friend can make all the difference when heading back to school. You might try calling parents from last year’s class and finding out which children are in your child’s class this year. Refresh these relationships before school starts by scheduling a play date or a school carpool.

    Tool up.
    Obtain the class supply list and take a special shopping trip with your child. Having the right tools will help him feel prepared. While keeping basic needs in mind, allow for a couple of splurges like a cool notebook or a favorite-colored pen. These simple pleasures make going back to school a lot more fun.

    School supply lists also provide great insight into the schoolwork ahead. Get your child excited about upcoming projects by explaining how new supplies might be used. Let him practice using supplies that he’s not used before — such as colored pencils or a protractor — so he will be comfortable using them in class.

    Avoid last-minute drilling.
    When it’s almost time to stop playing, give a five-minute warning. Giving clear messages to your child is very important.

    Chat about today’s events and tomorrow’s plans.
    While it is important to support learning throughout the summer, don’t spend the last weeks of summer vacation reviewing last year’s curriculum. All kids need some down time before the rigors of school begin. For some kids, last-minute drills can heighten anxiety, reminding them of what they’ve forgotten instead of what they remember.

    Ease into the routine.
    Switching from a summer to a school schedule can be stressful to everyone in the household. Avoid first-day-of-school mayhem by practicing your routine a few days in advance. Set the alarm clock, go through your morning rituals, and get in the car or to the bus stop on time. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school go much smoother.