Preschool dinosaur activities: Ideas for inspiring pretend play

toddler girl playing outside with four different plastic dinosaur toys, including a sauropod, Pachycephalosaurus, and hadrosaur

These preschool dinosaur activities begin with a thought experiment. If you were given a living dinosaur to take care of, what would you do? There are no rules, and kids can use a variety of props to bring their ideas to life. The goal is to learn about dinosaurs, think imaginatively, solve practical problems, and keep a record of your discoveries.

Preschool and kindergarten science activities about tracking animals

A little girl studying an animal track - a canine paw print - left in dirt.

© 2009 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved These preschool and kindergarten science activities build on what most young children are already interested in — animals! And in addition to teaching lessons about biology, they also offer kids opportunities to practice analytical, spatial, and symbolic reasoning skills. Where to begin: Free exploration with Read More »

Signs of toilet training readiness: When to start, and when to wait

toddler girl playing with a teddy bear on a potty chair

When children show signs of toilet training readiness, they may learn toileting skills more easily or quickly. But not all signs are equally helpful — or even relevant — to your family’s needs. Before you begin training, it’s important to decide on your individualized goals for potty training, and then look for signs that your Read More »

Preschool science experiment: Using ice to teach kids about scientific concepts (with crucial safety tips)

preschool boy carefully removing ice tray from freezer

© 2008 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved A preschool science experiment is an opportunity to introduce children to the concepts of observation, prediction, and testing (Gelman and Brenneman 2004). Exciting? Yes. But it’s also tricky. On the one hand, research suggests that young children don’t think as creatively or as critically when Read More »

What’s the right age to start potty training? It depends on your goals

toddler lifts the lid of a toilet

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved In Western countries like the United States, many children begin toilet training sometime between 24 and 36 months.  But from an historical and cross-cultural standpoint, this timing is very late, and it comes with a downside. So what’s the right potty training age? It depends on your child, Read More »

When does peer pressure start? Early. Very early in life.

long line of identical yellow rubber ducks

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved Peer pressure and social conformity starts long before adolescence. When faced with a choice between telling the truth and backing a popular falsehood, even 4-year-old children will buckle. You and three other people are sitting in adjacent booths, and you’ve each got a copy of the same book. Read More »

“Fast-track” toilet training techniques: An evidence-based review

kid sitting on potty chair outside, seen from waist down

“Fast track” toilet training techniques can be effective, but they aren’t right for everyone. Children shouldn’t begin unless they are healthy, motivated, and developmentally ready. And caregivers must be prepared to coach their children through hours of intensive, focused training.

Working memory in children: What parents and teachers need to know

little boy smiling and peaking out from behind book

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Working memory is often likened to the RAM in a computer. The more you have, the faster you can process data. But young children have smaller working memory capacities than adults. And some kids face special challenges. What’s at stake? How can you tell if a child Read More »