Zoom is a video conferencing platform that is used to connect working adults. But it can also be used to remotely teach preschoolers! The COVID-19 outbreak has closed schools across the country, leaving preschoolers suddenly separated from their teachers and classmates. Zoom is a great solution for preschool teachers to reach out virtually to their students and reassert some normalcy in their lives.
I talked to Kindergarten and preschool teachers who use Zoom meetings in their classes to continue their kids education during this novel time. Here’s a guide based on their recommendation of great ideas and activities to use over early elementary school kids over Zoom.
Using Zoom in your Preschool Classroom
One benefit Zoom has over other video meeting platforms is that it allows two-way communication and only the host (in this case the teacher) needs to have an account. The preschoolers simply need a laptop or cell phone and the link from the teacher.
Setting up your Zoom account is easy. If you need help, there’s a great technical walkthrough of setting up zoom made just for preschool teachers. Once you have a Zoom account, you can create a meeting and send the link to all of your students.
Zoom Activities for Preschoolers & Kindergartners
These activity ideas are perfect for your Zoom preschool class. They are focused on teaching preschoolers in fun ways that encourage social connection and engagement. Moving your normal classroom activities, like circle time, to Zoom can be a comforting ritual for teachers, preschoolers, and parents.
Nearly any normal preschool activity can be reconfigured to work with Zoom. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Do Art Together
Channel your inner Ross and make some happy little trees while on camera. Name the colors you use and discuss what you are painting. Can any of the preschoolers guess what you are painting?
Virtual Story Time
Read a book to the class. Simply hearing your voice after being away can be comforting for the children. You might have trouble angling the book so the illustrations are visible to the kids.
Get real messy. What floats? What happens when shaving cream is splattered on the wall? You could make slime and do projects with food coloring, too. Have the kids guess what will happen and have a helper (perhaps a parent) make a chart of the kids’ guesses.
Class Show and Tell
Every day your preschoolers come to your classroom, and now you are coming into their home with their belongings. Have the preschoolers show off some of their favorite things. Each day you could ask the students to show off different categories of objects. Ideas: favorite book, favorite toy, favorite shirt, favorite red object, favorite small object, etc. You could even have a session dedicated to pet introductions.
Cooking with Teacher
You normally couldn’t have 15 preschoolers jammed into your kitchen, but with a Zoom meeting, that’s no problem at all. Set up your laptop on the counter or put your cellphone on a tripod so everyone has a good video. You can talk about following directions and measurements. Afterward, you can email the recipe to parents if they would like to make the item with their little one. Bonus points if the recipe includes lots of substitution ideas so no one has to run to the store. Maybe try these banana chocolate chip cookies.
Acting out Social Stories with Puppets
Kids have a lot of new emotions during this time. It would be helpful to cover feelings of being scared, angry, etc. Safety issues like what to do if a child doesn’t feel safe with the babysitter could be covered as well.
Round Robin Storytelling
Ask preschoolers to draw parts of a fairy tale or common story and then take turns telling it. You could read the story together one session, and then during their ‘homework time’ have them make the drawing.
Kids go around and say a rhyming word. Jug, hug, tug, bug, rug. You get the idea. You’ll need to call on who is next or have them raise their hand or say their name if they can think of a rhyming word.
Everyone plays an instrument (you could do art projects making the instruments too, like a rainmaker, tissue box guitar, etc) and/or sings a verse of your circle time songs.
Zoom Gym Class
Guide preschoolers through Simon Says, Follow the Leader, impressions of animals (“walk like an elephant!”).
Lead students through some simple meditations and deep breathing exercises. You can play relaxing music on your side of the screen. Here is a great resource for mindfulness exercises designed just for preschoolers.
If adults feel like all the days are running together, imagine how kiddos must feel. By focusing on upcoming holidays, we can give preschoolers something to look forward to.
Have children go around and tell a knock-knock joke. If you need some help with new jokes to share with the kids, check out this site.
I Spy over Zoom
This is a great game to play over Zoom. Teachers can also ask preschoolers to “Find something red in your house and show the class.” Just imagine the sort of fun things they will find!
Halloween Costume Party
Kids love playing dress up. With trick-or-treat opportunities being canceled this year, why not invite your students to a Halloween costume party over Zoom? Preschoolers can tell who or what they are dressing up as and why they picked the costume. Instead of passing out candy you can pass out compliments. More ideas for Halloween 2020 here.
Counting Around the House
Ask preschoolers to count the number of windows/doors/ lamps in their homes and tell the class. You can make a chart of the results. Who has the most lamps? Who has the fewest windows? Be mindful of their socioeconomic circumstances of your kids so no one feels left out.
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
Ask preschoolers questions that can be answered with a “thumbs up (yes)” or “thumbs down (no).” This is also a great way to circumvent having several children speaking at once. When the preschoolers all speak at once over Zoom it’ll be hard to tell who is talking.
Missing Letter Game
Write out the alphabet with some letters missing. Sing through the alphabet, stop when you get to a missing letter, and tell the students you need help finding it. Be silly while you “look” for the letter, let them shout out the missing letter.
Top Zoom Activities for Preschoolers & Kindergarten
- Virtual Story Time
- Science Experiments
- Class Show and Tell
- Cooking with Teacher
- Acting out Social Stories with Puppets
- Round Robin Storytelling
- Rhyming Fun
- Music Party
- Zoom Gym Class
- Preschool Zoom Meditation
- Holiday Activities
- Knock-knock Jokes
- I Spy over Zoom
- Counting Around the House
- Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
- Missing Letter Game
Your Preschool Class over Zoom
Using Zoom with your preschoolers is totally doable! Above anything, remember that although kids are resilient, not going to school every day and seeing you is a big change for them. Just seeing your face and hearing your voice over Zoom can mean the world to them and return a bit of normalcy to their lives during this strange time.
A half hour of Zoom distance learning with your preschoolers once a week or even a few times a week can greatly help your students retain some normalcy and help supplement what the parents are doing at home. I wrote about my family’s preschool schedule that we do five days a week to help my kiddos maintain their learning.
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