Charlie’s Cues: Using Your Concept Cube

by Chalimar Ríos

Twelve years ago, when I was still studying in college to graduate as a teacher and educator, we were asked to create a teaching material that would stand out in some way or that would involve a different way of teaching. With a thousand ideas in mind, I went to a department store and bought different colors of felt, Velcro, hot glue, and fiberfill. I came up with the great idea to create a “concept cube.” I imagined it as a tool that I could use easily by changing the pictures often to work on multiple skills with the children and teach new concepts. The day came, I presented my idea, and it was a success. I saved that concept cube as one of my best teaching tools and used it for years in my classroom.

Years later, I find myself working for FunShine Express, where I have the great opportunity to see and be a part of creating good, quality educational materials to help teachers and caregivers make the teaching process easier and more effective. And guess what? They have a Concept Cube! The idea I had more than 10 years ago was already being implemented by FunShine Express as part of the materials sent in their monthly kits. Teachers receive Concept Cube Cards, a mix of drawings and real pictures, to place in the Concept Cube to play games with children, making learning fun and interactive and helping children make connections between learning and the real world. Join me in discovering how to use one of my all-time favorite learning tools by reviewing our February Concept Cube components.

In Buttercups:
Stay warm in February by playing with the “How Many Coconuts?” Concept Cube Cards during the Tropics in Winter theme. Use this card set to work on math concepts, such as more or less and an early introduction to counting, introduce a new tropical fruit, and to practice social-emotional skills, such as sharing, taking turns, following rules, and participating as a group.

In Fireflies:
Emphasize the importance of good hygiene during the Feeling Fantastic theme with the “Healthy Habits” Concept Cube Cards. With this activity, children are not only encouraged to identify pictures of healthy actions, but to think ahead and talk about how they would complete the action. Children in this age group also benefit from the social-emotional nature of the activity by waiting for their turn, showing appreciation for each other’s habits, understanding and following the activity directions, and expressing their own ideas.

Benefits of using the Concept Cube and Cards

The more you integrate the Concept Cube and Cards into your regular activities, young children will begin to learn how to wait and respect each other’s turn, understand and follow the sequence of the activity, and develop fine and gross motor skills by rolling the cube and performing movements. Children will also benefit from hands-on learning and having organized interactions with peers and the adults in your setting. Another benefit is having the freedom of choice if you want to individualize and engage with one child at a time or if you want to include a larger number of children.

Cues for including the Concept Cube in your daily routine

  1. Use the Concept Cube to review classroom rules by adding pictures that show different behaviors and talking with children about which pictures best show the conduct that is allowed in your setting.
  2. Add children’s pictures to the pockets to review children’s names, similarities, differences, and physical traits.
  3. Make Concept Cube activities part of your arrival or dismissal time to avoid boredom during these parts of the day.

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