This blog is here for you to find fun learning activities to do with your children. We share great ideas we find and love on the Internet, as well as ideas we come up with on our own! We also like to share resources we find helpful.

To find ideas for your child, click on the age range blog label or on the theme/topic you are looking for (on the left side of the page). In each post, we try to list optimal age ranges for the activity, but you must judge for yourself if it is appropriate for your child. When you try an activity out, please comment and let us (and everyone else) know how your child liked it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Learning Poster

Over 26 weeks this year, I have been following the preschool curriculum found at Our Preschool Homeschool Blog. On it, she suggests doing a learning poster where you can post your weekly learning items.

In our old house (we recently moved), I didn't really have anywhere to hang a poster. Instead, I wrote each item on a piece of paper and hung each paper on cupboards in the kitchen.

When we moved, I now had room for a poster. So I made one. Since we have been using it, I have grown to like it so much that I think I should have tried harder to find a place in the old house. I have since thought of lots of places I could have put it.

Here is how I made it:

  • Poster board
  • Computer and printer
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Scissors (I used a scrapbook rotary cutting board)
  • Glue stick
  • Tape (to hang the poster)
  1. Type and print (or write out) the headings for each category on your learning poster. Just be sure you don't print each title larger than can fit in its respective columns.
  2. Cut out rectangles to put each item on each week.
  3. Cut out each title.
  4. Glue each rectangle in place.
  5. Glue each title onto scrapbook paper (card stock).
  6. Hang the poster.
  1. At the beginning of each week, create your items for your learning theme.
  2. I put up the theme picture, vocabulary picture, and nursery rhyme at the beginning of each week.
  3. On each respective day, I add the appropriate picture. So on letter day, I add the printout of the letter.
  4. Each morning, we review all that is on the poster.
I made mine a bit more colorful than the one on the preschool blog. This wasn't difficult, but more time consuming than it needed to be. In my mind, it was worth it :) Decide for yourself. I didn't worry so much about having perfect spacing around the words.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Obstacle Line

Age: 3-5 year olds

thick piece of yarn

Take a thick piece of yarn and lay it on the floor.
The yarn should curve in a snake-like fashion over the floor.
Have your child walk heal to toe down the yarn, as if he were on a balance beam.

This is great for practicing gross motor skills and balance.

this activity comes from the book Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June Oberlander. I'll be going through several activities for infants and toddlers from this book and including pictures once I get my own copy after Christmas. It's a fantastic resource and lists a new activity for each week from 0-5 years old.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Making the Holidays Memorable

I love this time of year! It's a time to bless others, spend time with family, celebrate traditions and make new memories. It's also the busiest time of the year in many cases. I want to slow down and make this year especially memorable and fun for all of us.
Each day of December we are going to do one thing to help celebrate. I'd like as many of them as possible be either free or inexpensive, involve helping or blessing someone else, and/or help us slow down and enjoy family and this time of the year.
So start making your list, too! It doesn't have to be time-consuming and it should bring a smile to your face (and your cute little munchkins, too).

Here's some to get you started, in no particular order:
1. Start your Advent Calendar.
2. Decorate your tree (and your house)!
3. Have an indoor snowball fight. (Balled up scraps of paper+bundled up kiddos+couches as forts=you are the coolest mom ever).
4. Walk through the neighborhood looking at decorations.
5. Watch a Christmas movie (Charlie Brown, It's a Wonderful Life, etc).
6. Bake Christmas cookies and deliver some to neighbors, shut-ins, or a nursing home near you.
7. Check out holiday books at the library.
8. Make a birthday cake for Jesus.
9. Take your little one to pick out a toy to donate.
10. Fill a shoebox for a charity.
11. Visit family.
12. Pictures with Santa.
13. Have a cookie swap.
14. Serve at a local soup kitchen.
15. Make Christmas cards together.
16. Make peanut butter pine cone bird feeders.
17. Write letters to Santa.
18. Have a birthday party for Jesus.
19. Host a dessert party.
20. Make homemade ornaments for family members.
21. Have holiday portraits taken.
22. Start a Christmas book collection. Buy one new Christmas story each year. If possible, donate a book to the local library, toy drive, or school.
23. See a holiday play or cantata.
24. Reenact the Christmas Story as a family.
25. Sip hot chocolate and read Twas The Night Before Christmas.
26. Go Christmas caroling.
27. Go to a holiday craft show or bazaar.
28. Bake a holiday treat and take it to a local fire station, police station, or hospital.
29. Pop popcorn and play a board game as a family.
30. Make a holiday craft. You could probably do this each day!
31. Celebrate the first day of Winter.
32. If you get snow, start a tradition of First Snow of the Year (insert treat here...fudge, pie, cake, ice cream sundaes, snow cream, etc).
33. Pick a family to bless with dinner once this month. You can invite them over, bring them dinner, order them pizza, etc. Or if you go out to eat, pick a family and pay their bill. You can do this in the fast food line, too.
34. Write a letter/draw a picture for people in your family telling them how much they mean to you, why the are special, or something memorable. Put it in their stocking or mail it.
35. Put together a care package for a soldier.

Have fun!! Let me know your ideas, too! I'd love to hear about your traditions and how you are blessing others this season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Straw Bed for Jesus

This idea came from my husband's parents. The idea is to make a soft bed for Jesus to lay in, one piece of straw at a time. My father-in-law made a manger for us (note that a manger is what animals eat out of...not the stable...so we are talking a little bed). They then gave us a bag of straw. The goal is for family members to do service, and for each act of service, they get to put a piece of straw in the manger. We will be doing this from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

If you don't have wood-working ability, you could use a shoe-box instead. If you don't have access to straw, you could cut some strips of paper up (if you did that, you could even write the service down on the paper).

I thought this was a fun idea for keeping our focus on Christ and on service during the Christmas season.

For more detailed lesson layout of this idea, see this post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Involving Young Children on Thanksgiving Day

Today my toddler asked me "What Thanksgiving is?" and I tried to explain, in her terms, why we celebrate thanksgiving and what being thankful means. Sure... we've read books, done plenty of turkey crafts, and talked about being thankful. I've tried to help her learn to be grateful, to see outside her own little world (which is tough for a toddler) and to start thinking of others. After my long, probably way too drawn out, explanation she said, "I help you. I cook too."

That got me thinking. How can I involve my toddler in the festivities? So I've devised a plan for our Thanksgiving day, and perhaps you can use some of this or tailor it to your needs. Some of it will involve cooking and some will not. All in all, let them know you are thankful for any "help" they give you, mess and all.

  1. Can they help plan the menu? I asked Charis to help choose some items. Mashed Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes? Marshmallows on top or Streudel topping? Corn or Peas?
  2. Make a Menu for guests.
  3. Thanksgiving Cards: While you prep, cook, or clean, have your child make a card for family members that are coming. This can be as simple as scribbles on paper for young toddlers, stamping, stickers, gluing leaves, making a turkey, or for older children writing or copying a message.
  4. Thanksgiving place mats
  5. Help set the table! My 2 year old has been helping with that for months now.
  6. Take coats and put them in a designated area when family/friends arrive. My daughter is working on saying, "May I take your coat, please?"
  7. Help clear the table. I may give her a bowl to collect all the dirty silverware or a mini trashcan for napkins. Use discretion!
  8. Dusting, mopping, sweeping, and more. I've gotten my daughter a mini version of a duster, mop, and broom. I give her a small spray bottle of water and let her clean the doorknobs (thanks Molly!) or wipe down chairs.
  9. Hide cards for a Thanksgiving Game of Hide-and-seek.
  10. Turn on tea lights in Turkey Table Toppers.
  11. Make Turkey hand print name cards for each of the guest's seats.
  12. Help countdown time until dinner. *Make this ahead of time.
  13. Help set up a play center for the kids table: Thanksgiving Books, No Bake Turkey Cookies, Coloring books, Table covered with large paper to make Thankful Drawing, small trash can, etc.
  14. Check off your list (see #6 below).

Cooking ideas:
  1. Make a list and have them check it off. I made a picture list (picture of pie, picture of turkey, picture of set table, etc) and will let her mark it off as we finish. I also made one for the Big Day so we can make sure we have everything out. It's not unusual for me to forget rolls in the oven once everyone has gotten there and I get busy chatting.Green bean casserole: Let them top it with the onion straws.
  2. Rolls to bake: Let them line them up on the baking sheet.
  3. Pumpkin pie: Let them stir the ingredients together and help you pour it in the crust. They may slosh a little pie filling on the counter...no one will miss it and your little one will love stirring.
  4. Making sweet potato casserole? Consider letting your child line up the marshmallows on top in rows (fine motor skills), or sprinkle the cinnamon sugar crumble on top.
  5. With anything that needs measuring, let them help dump it once you measure. Let them put all the prepped/chopped veggies in a bowl so they are ready for you to grab and throw in the pan.
Very young toddlers/babies:
  1. If your little one is too small for this, I've gotten out a plastic table cloth and put her on the floor with her own ingredients (rice, beans, water, salt, cereal, dry oatmeal, etc) and let her pretend she's cooking, too. Make sure your chosen items are appropriate. This is a great time for the Pouring or Scooping-Water Play activities.

Making a Menu

Involving your child in Thanksgiving menu planning can be fun! Let your child make and pass out menus to family members on Thanksgiving.

  • Thanksgiving/November edition of a magazine
  • Scissors (for you)
  • Glue stick or Glue and Cotton swab
  • Card Stock or Construction paper, folded in half (long like a hot dog)


  1. Go through the magazine together and tear out and cut out pictures of Thanksgiving foods.
  2. Look through the pictures together and decide which you should make (Sweet potatoes or Mashed potatoes? Pie or cake? Coffee or Hot Chocolate?)
  3. After deciding, write the Menu out and together glue down pictures in the appropriate places. This is a good time to work on things like beginning sounds, food groups, letter recognition (as you write the words. "Do you see any letters you know? What letter is this?"), colors ("Mashed potatoes are white. Can you find the food that is white?")
  4. On the big day, let your child pass out the menus.

*If you have a shortage of pictures or no magazines, make one large menu on chart paper. You can print pictures that you find off the computer and glue them on the paper and hang it on the wall/door.

Turkey Handprint Place Cards

Another fun activity is to take the traditional Turkey Hand Print and to turn it into Place Cards for guests. All you need is Card stock, washable paint, a marker and a little patience.
Take each hand print turkey, label it with a name, and let your toddler/preschooler/child help set the table with the place cards.
Pictures from The MayFly and Kaboose

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful Place Mat

I like to take any opportunity I can to get my children to focus on what they are thankful for. I think the idea of being "thankful" is abstract and quite against the nature of all people, including children. But we can learn to be grateful for what we have. The easiest way I have found to be grateful for my blessings is to think about them consistently. The thankful place mat can help your child do that.

Old enough to draw. If you are doing this with a pre-toddler (ages 12-18 months), it would be a good idea for you to offer lots of help and draw things on the place mat for your child (but let her color, too). No matter the age of your child, she will love it if you join in and do one of your own.

  • Poster board (I was going to buy a piece and then cut it up, but I found a package of pre-cut poster board at Dollar Tree for the same price as one sheet).
  • Crayons/markers/paint...whatever you want to use. You could even use old magazines and cut and glue things you are thankful for.
  • Contact paper


  1. Give your child the poster board.
  2. Have her color things she is thankful for. I think it is a good idea to talk about what thankful means and give her some ideas. This is where you doing it with her is helpful; she will watch you and learn by example.
  3. When you are done, cover the place mat with contact paper.
  4. Use it at your meals! This could be a fun Thanksgiving dinner activity. Everyone could make their place mat and then talk about what they are thankful for before the meal starts.


This idea is found in both The Toddlers Busy Book and Preschooler's Busy Book.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Precocious Pre-toddlers (12-18 months)

Several people (you know who you are) have made requests for posts on activities for pre-toddlers. Here we define a pre-toddler as a 12-18 month old child. This age range is awkward, much like the pre-teen stage later in life. A pre-toddler may or may not be walking, may have one word or twenty, may understand complicated instructions or still be struggling with the concept of "don't touch". This age range is also notoriously limited in both attention spans and crafty skills.

Here is a basic run-down of activities well-suited to the pre-toddler stage as well as some insights on where they are in development and what can reasonably be expected. I will slowly work through these with my own pre-toddler as my guinea pig and try to give as much insight about how to introduce each activity and how to modify it so your child can experience some success without too much frustration.

Speaking of frustration, in On Becoming Pre-toddlerwise, the authors say that, "some activities challenge present skill levels by placing demands on your little one for a solution. It's the challenge in such cases that stimulates learning."

When your child is participating in learning time with mom or dad she should be challenged. Tasks that have already been mastered are best left as independent activities for free playtime. So you can expect a certain level of frustration, it's a good thing! However, when your child becomes repetitively frustrated, it is time to stop the activity. With these activities, suggest, demonstrate and encourage but do not overly assist. No helicopter parenting at learning time!

  1. stacking blocks--in my experience pretoddlers are doing quite well if they can stack 3 blocks on top of one another by 18 months. My 16 month old hasn't managed it yet.
  2. stacking rings--this tends to be mastered closer to 11-13 months old, but getting the rings in the correct order might take a bit longer.
  3. containers with lids--start with easier ones and move to progressively harder ones.
  4. finger plays and nursery rhymes--check out No Time for Flashcards for detailed videos of every nursery rhyme you can think of.
  5. scheduled playdates with 1-2 children at a time once a week is a great way to develop social skills slowly and with lots of parental supervision. Keep these experiences positive and low-stress at this age, try not to overwhelm a pre-toddler with too many children or too much unsupervised socialization.
*Start with 10-15 minutes per activity and work towards the goal of 30 minutes later as a toddler/preschooler.

We should also keep in mind that the 12-18 month stage is largely about gaining self-sufficiency and learning how to be a civilized human being :) So, here are some other activities you might not realize your child could start mastering already:
  1. drink from a small plastic cup--start with 1-2 ounces of water, expect dribbles and have your child clean those dribbles up with a rag or sponge
  2. eat with spoon and fork--hand over the spoon and a bowl of oatmeal, then take cover! Just kidding!
  3. cut banana with a knife--you can buy small toddler butter knives, supervision is required but this is really not a difficult or dangerous activity.
  4. walk up and down stairs--practice makes perfect! Good way to tire out your child on rainy/snowy days.
  5. climb off/on couch--teach your child to climb off safely (on their belly, feet first) before they learn to climb on the couch. We started at 9 months old and by the time our son could climb on the couch he could already climb off safely and we've only had one fall.
  6. pour water from small pitcher into a cup--I'll explain further in a later post.
  7. wipe up own spills and the table with a rag or sponge at the end of meals.
  8. put clothes away--an 18 month old can learn to fold a washcloth or cloth diaper and carry socks or other clothes and place them in a basket or drawer in their room.
On Becoming Pre-toddlerwise by Gary Ezzo and Dr. Bucknam
Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard

Friday, November 20, 2009

Positional Words: A Thanksgiving Game

Here's a fun Thanksgiving activity to help work on positional words (above, below, under, behind, on, next to, etc) with your baby, toddler, preschooler, or school-aged child. We had a blast doing this and my toddler begged to play it over and over again. I love it when that happens. It's also a great way to work on following simple directions and listening skills, too.

Ages: Baby and up (if there is an older sibling or child, the baby can participate). This is a great activity for families with a baby and older sibling. I'll explain as we walk through the activity.


  • Thanksgiving pictures (2 of each picture you choose)
  • Index cards
  • Tape
  • I went to Google Images and typed in Thanksgiving words to find appropriate pictures. Some pictures I used: wild turkey, cooked turkey, family eating thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pie, funny guy with a turkey hat, peas, mashed potatoes, hugging family, dinner rolls.
  • Once I chose my pictures, I printed them off on my printer (2 of each picture), cut them out, and taped them to index cards.
  • I hid one of each of the pictures around the house, writing down where I hid them on a separate piece of paper.
Activity:Show the pictures and explain why you chose certain images. It was a good time to prep my daughter for the upcoming festivities since this is the first year she'll really "get it."
Baby: The baby can participate with older siblings. Give the clue cards to the older sibling/child, and have the older child find the images. If the baby crawls, let them crawl after the older sibling to help. You can have the older sibling crawl with the baby, too. Or, carry the baby around, running after siblings as they do the hunt. After the pictures are found, show the pictures to the baby. You can have the sibling show them, too.
Young Toddler: Use really easy directions for the game I listed below. You can also use the pictures to teach names of things. For example, show a picture of the turkey. Explain that it's a real turkey. Hang the picture of a real turkey somewhere (and something else if you think they are able). Give simple directions, working on one positional word at a time, like "Find the turkey on the door. Find the turkey on the TV cabinet. Find the turkey on the couch."
Toddler: Here's how I did this with my toddler. I showed her the picture and told her she could ONLY look for this picture. I then told her where it could be found. This is different than a traditional scavenger hunt, since you are essentially telling them where the card can be found. However, it is important to use phrases with positional words like "Look under the pillow. Check behind the door." When she came back with the correct card, I had her find its match and set it on the couch.
Preschooler and Up: Try 2 step clues: a clue for the item and/or a clue for its location. For example, "The turkey is on the item I would use to cook the turkey (oven)." "The corn is in the thing I use to protect my hands when I am cooking (oven mitt)." or try "I'm looking for the picture of what we do when we see our family (hug). It is under something in this room." You can also do things like "Find all the foods we eat for thanksgiving." "Find everything that starts with a T/H/etc."
With the cards I also played memory, a picture matching game, and a color matching game. You can also ask questions, like "Which of these is round (peas)? Which is the color white? Point to the animal."
This is an adaptation from an activity in The Siblings Busy Book by Lisa Hanson and Heather Kempskie.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stringing Bottle Caps

I've seen many variations on this activity, including lacing tiny beads into bracelets and lacing big wooden beads onto shoe strings, as in the Melissa and Doug version.

This is an activity that requires and encourages a great deal of fine motor skills. Tobias at 16 months old is able to string 1-2 beads independently and watches me intently as I do it and with me holding the string he can do more beads halfway independently. I wouldn't suggest trying this under 15 months old unless your child is already scribbling with a crayon and using a fork and spoon with some success. This activity can be great for 15 month olds to 3 year olds.

  • As many bottle caps as you can find (a slight addiction to soda could be a good thing here)
  • Half a shoelace with a big knot in the loose end
  • drill with large drill bit
  • drill holes in the center of the bottle caps
Demonstrate to your child how to lace the bottle caps onto the shoelace. Do it slowly and holding it up in front of them. Talk about the colors of the bottle caps as you lace them and then hand one to your child if he hasn't already picked them up and encourage him to put it on the shoelace as you hold the shoelace up. Once your child shows interest in doing it, step back gradually and let them take it on independently.

With an older child (ages 2+) you can make a pattern (red, green, red, green) on your own shoelace and ask them to copy the pattern.

* ignore the goofy face, that's just Tobias' brilliant look of concentration, or maybe the flash was just in his eyes :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handprint Turkey

We have been having lots of fun with Do-a-Dot art sets. Thanks Raegan for mentioning them! A recent one we did was handprint turkeys. I like this because it captures the size of your child's hand.

As soon as you are okay with your child using a do-a-dot. Two and up is definitely appropriate. You will have to decide on children younger than that.

  • Art
  • Colors
  • Fine Motor
  • Do-a-dot
  • Pen/pencil/crayon
  • Paper
  • Trace your child's hand on the paper
  • Trace a parent's hand on the paper
  • Have your child use the do-a-dots to fill in the feathers on each turkey.
This was the first time we used do-a-dots, so the kids were quite excited about them and wanting to experiement. I also realized at one point that I didn't explain the activity well before we started. So, the end-product didn't turn out as I envisioned, but they definitely enjoyed themselves. The top one is Brayden's (age 4.5), and the bottome one is Kaitlyn's (2.5).

Turkey Apple

Brayden brought this home from preschool the other day. I thought it was so cute. He colored feathers, a turkey head, and feet. He cut them out and then taped them to toothpicks and stuck the toothpicks into the apple. I thought it was a fun idea!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pre-Writing Skills

Have you ever stopped to watch a young child color? Often times they color using their entire arm, in a scribbling motion. As they get older, the movement involves less of their arms and more of the wrists. Then gradually it becomes movement from the wrists and fingers, using very little of their arms and shoulders, if any. It's called proximal-distal motor development. Basically it means that kids learn to control the muscles closest to the body first (like the shoulders) before they learn to control the muscles that are far away from the body (like the wrist, hand, and fingers).

I am not an occupational therapist and don't claim to be. But according to some occupational therapists that I've spoken to and handwriting programs I've seen, there are a few shapes that need to be mastered in order to write. I don't know if they have to be mastered in order to be able to write, but it may help with neat handwriting and cause less frustration. Some of these shapes include vertical lines () , horizontal lines (-) , circles, X, +, and sloping lines like / and \. Activities that involve crossing the body's mid line (like making an X or sloping lines) take practice in order for children to make the shape well without switching hands.
In our handwriting program we used when I taught, we had children strengthen their arm muscles by using chart paper and practicing very large drawing vertical lines (from about their heads to about belly button level).
I did this activity with my toddler the other day. It was very interesting! I also noticed a definite difference in hand strength just by the amount of pressure she was able to put on the paper with her pencil. By the way, I recommend using a pencil or chalk for this activity instead of markers. Pencils and chalk help create drag, so it is an easy way to help strengthen their hand muscles as well (according to the OT at the elementary school where I taught.)

Materials: Chalkboard and chalk or paper and pencils. Large chalkboard (vertical) or chart paper or butcher paper (I use the back of wrapping paper in a pinch).

Prep: Draw dots to be connected in desired On a sheet of paper, draw dots to be connected on the pages. Start with vertical, which may be the easiest for them since they aren't crossing the body's mid line. As they get more proficient, move on to horizontal, sloping, crossing lines, and eventually making shapes (circle, squares, triangles, etc). I wouldn't try to tackle everything in one day, or even one week, unless you are dealing with an older child.
Example of dots in multiple colors to draw vertical lines:

Example for horizontal lines:

Example of lines to be connected to make a square:


  • Show your child how to connect the dots. Tell them to connect the dots that are the same color. ("Touch the red dot with the pencil. Draw a line from this red dot to the other red dot you see.")
  • Try this activity on large chart paper or large sheets of wrapping paper or butcher paper, hung up on a wall or easel. The larger the shape, the easier it may be since kids develop muscles closer to the body first.
Things to notice:
  • Are the lines dark or very light?
  • Can they draw the line from one dot to another easily?
  • Which shapes (vertical, horizontal, sloping, X, etc) are easier? Which are more difficult?
  • Are the lines shaky or smooth?
  • Can they draw the lines in an unbroken movement, even crossing the body's mid line?
This is a great way to get ready for writing and strengthen shoulder, arm, hand, and finger muscles. This activity was tough for my 2 year old, but I've already seen progression as we've practiced. We've been doing it a little each day.
This activity doesn't have to take a long time. I have a piece of chart paper set up on the wall in my kitchen. Each morning with my daughter gets up, she can get a piece of chalk and draw a line from the top to the bottom. Quick, easy, painless, but very beneficial in the long run!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feather Turkey

Last year, I had a lot of feathers my mom had given me. I wanted to use them for something, so we made a turkey. Brayden loved it so much that we had to repeat the activity this year.

Probably two and up. You could assist a one year old.

  • Science
  • Colors
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Practice for Penmanship if child uses scissors
  • Art
  • Paper (two pieces)
  • Glue
  • Feathers
  • Crayon or pen/pencil
  • Scissors


  1. On one paper, have your child draw a turkey body and head. Kaitlyn (2.5) drew her own, as did Brayden at 4.5, but last year at 3.5, Brayden couldn't (or didn't think he could).
  2. Have your child cut it out if able. If not, then you cut it out.
  3. Draw a circle on the other piece of paper. This is the circle for your child to place the end of the feathers in.
  4. Have your child dip the ends of the feathers in glue and place them in the circle.
  5. Put the turkey body over the feathers.
  6. Add eyes, legs, etc.
  7. Let dry and hang!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Turkey Table Toppers

We had a party this weekend and my daughter helped me make table toppers. These also make great decorations for this Thanksgiving season! I did end up finishing these myself since she had a really hard time getting past the glue on her hands.

Appropriate ages will depend. My 2 year old was completely capable of putting this together with assistance. However, she didn't care for this activity since the glue was getting on her hands. If this isn't an issue for your child, this activity could be really fun. Either way, the end product is great!

Materials Needed:

Glass bubble votive holder ($1 at a craft store), wooden doll head ($2 for a 6 pack at craft store), hot glue/super glue type glue, Mod Podge, fall colored tissue paper (I used red, yellow, and orange), battery-operated tea lights, tacky glue, black beads or wiggly eyes. Brush for Mod Podge.

Glue the doll head on the glass votive and let it dry. Cut out small pieces of tissue paper. Cut a small diamond for the beak and an oval for the wattle. Cut 9" x 2" strips of tissue paper for the tail feathers.

1. Brush Mod Podge all over the votive.
2. Cover with tissue paper pieces, letting them overlap.
3. Apply another layer of Mod Podge. Let dry (takes about 30-45 minutes).
4. Bend each 9x2 strip of tissue paper in half without making a crease. Twist at the bottom. Attach to the back of the votive with tacky glue.

5. Glue beak and eyes with tacky glue.

6. Take the oval and twist at the top. Attach to the beak with tacky glue.

7. Turn on the tea light and enjoy!

*From the November 2008 edition of Family Fun Magazine

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lift the Flap Colors

My son loves lift-the-flap books right now, he can sit for hours with them. To provide more variety and some extra educational material I made a lift-the-flap colors board to practice colors with him. He is 16 months currently and seemed to enjoy it best when I was sitting with him to participate too. I also have a feeling this would work well in the car or in church when he is required to sit still.

Age Range: 14 months-5 years

-construction paper--black, red, blue, green, yellow
-clear packing tape

1. cut 2 large squares of black paper
2. cut small squares of the other colors that are roughly 1/4th the size of the black paper.
3. cut flaps into the black paper, you can make them all go the same direction or different directions for variation.
4. tape colored squares onto the back of the black paper, behind the flaps so the color is exposed when the flap is lifted.
5. tape second sheet of black paper to the back to cover the colored paper
6. wrap entire thing in clear packing tape so it lasts longer (optional for preschoolers but probably necessary for toddlers)

  • Give the board to your child, let them explore and enjoy :)
  • Point out each color as your child lifts the flaps
  • Ask your child to find each color one at a time, praising when they find the correct color.
  • For an older child you can make a larger board with more color options
  • Write the color words onto the flaps and have the child read the words to tell you what the color will be before they lift the flap. This creates a self-correcting activity to encourage independence in the child and take the corrective power away from the parent so there's less pressure.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sponge Painting Leaf Picture

Brayden brought this cute picture home from preschool.

As soon as you want your toddler or older to hold a sponge covered in paint.

  • Sponges
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Crayon (for the trunk...optional. You could use paint)


  1. Have your child draw a tree trunk on a piece of paper. If your child is too young to do that, draw it for him.
  2. Have your child use the sponges to put leaves on the tree.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No-Bake Turkey Cookies

These were so much fun! I got this from the Disney Family Fun magazine.
Oreos (I used double stuffed)
Candy Corn
Icing (called for Royal, but regular worked fine)
Plastic sandwich bag

  1. Each cookie needs 2 Oreos: one whole and one half (icing side).
  2. Put a little icing on the whole Oreo and stick in on the half Oreo. (I put some icing in a sandwich bag and cut the tip for easy application).
  3. Ice a Whopper and stick in on the bottom of the whole Oreo.
  4. Put icing on each tip of candy corn and stick them on like feathers.
  5. Break off a tip of one candy corn. Stick in on like a beak. Use icing to make eyes.
  6. Eat.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thankful Drawing

Last year, my husband came up with this idea. It was a great way to get little children to focus on things they are thankful for. If doing thankful things every day all month sounds overwhelming to you, try this out.

If your child is old enough to make marks on a piece of paper, she is old enough for this.

  • Large piece of paper
  • Crayons, markers, paint...whatever you want to draw with
  1. Put the piece of paper on the floor
  2. Have everyone in the family gather around the paper and draw pictures of things they are thankful for. Help your children think of things. Announce what you are drawing. If your child wants you to draw things for her, then go ahead and do it.
  3. When everyone is done (you might want to set a time limit ;) ), have everyone talk about what they drew.
  4. We coupled this activity with a lesson on what it means to be thankful.
Here is a photo of our masterpiece last year. Brayden was almost 3.5 and Kaitlyn was 18 months old. The items you can recognize were drawn by my husband and I (okay, mostly my husband ;) ). You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Counting Down November

My crafty mother made our family a Countdown Calendar for the month of November. A few dowel rods, felt, and creativity went a long way. I've been scouting out fun treats for the pockets for my girls and for my husband. It's amazing how exciting a Hershey's Kiss can be! (And the girls get excited, too. *wink*)

Skills: Counting (forward and backward), number recognition, days of the week, ordinal positions, calendar skills, and patience *smile*.
If you don't have time or the energy to sew (or in my case, the talent), pocket charts are available at teacher supply stores (like TAPS).
Materials: felt (lots), thread, dowel rods, ribbon, and any kind of fall decorations or embellishments she could find.

**Another fun thing to do with the calendar is for each number day, put that number of items in the pocket. For example, on November 1st, put one Reese's Cup. On November 2nd, two Dum-Dums. November 20th, twenty M&Ms. On the eighth, an 8-pack of crayons. November 25th, a quarter (for older children). My 2 year old put her quarter in her piggie bank right away.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homemade Play Dough


3 cups flour
1.5 cups salt
6 tsp cream of tarter
3 tbsp oil
3 cups water
1) Dissolve salt in the water.
2) Pour all ingredients into a large pot.
3) Stir constantly over medium heat until a ball forms by pulling away from the sides.
4) Knead the dough mixture until the texture matches playdough (1-2 minutes).
Store in plastic container. Should last for at least 3 months.
Optional: dye play dough with liquid food coloring. Knead the color in until it is mixed evenly.
Note: This recipe is made from edible ingredients and not toxic in small amounts for children. However, a dog got sick after eating a batch of playdough. It is not intended as a food item. Please be sure to put it away after your children have finished playing.
-use in highchair, at a table, or on the floor on a cookie pan
Toddlers- 1) allow them to squish it, poke it, etc. 2) make some balls of the play dough and sort them by color 3) use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes 4) roll into cylinders and give your child a butter knife to practice cutting skills
Preschoolers- 1) do any of the toddler recommended activities 2) use play dough to make letters by rolling it into long cylinders and shaping it 2) make simple animals or people out of the play dough for fun. This can coincide with any theme you are working on this week (dinosaurs, bears, cats, etc.)
Skills Practiced:
-fine motor skills
-hand strength (when kneading or rolling)
-color recognition

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Falling Leaves Picture

This is a fun, easy picture for your child to make. A great thing is that she is making a picture of leaves falling, so her main objective is to get the paper leaves on the paper...anywhere on the paper. This makes it friendly for young toddlers on up. Kaitlyn did this in our church nursery.

18 months and up. You could try it with a toddler younger than that, but expect to help a lot.

  • Science
  • Fine motor skills
  • Colors
  • Paper with a tree drawn or printed on it. You want just the tree without leaves. If you are doing this with an older preschooler, you could have him draw the tree himself.
  • Pieces of paper to represent leaves. You can do squares, leaf shapes...whatever. You can also let your child rip small pieces of paper up to put on the tree.
  • Glue.
  • Give your child the supplies.
  • Have your child paste the leaves on the picture.
  • Talk about how leaves change colors in autumn and fall to the ground. Our nursery leaders also talked about our beautiful world.

A great thing you can do after you make this picture is to go out and rake leaves. Rake them into a pile and jump into them! Also, point out the leaves that are still on the trees.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fall Wreath

Here's a quick and easy craft to do with your kiddos at home. It helps with hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, sorting, patience, sitting skils, and it's really fun!
Above is the finished product of a 2 year old, completed independently.

Ages: As soon as they can stick things down on an already glued surface. For independent work, I'd say 2 years and up.

  • Leaves (I got fake ones at the local dollar store. I've also seen them at craft stores and Wal-Mart).
  • Craft glue (not Elmer's---not enough sticking power)
  • Cotton swabs (optional)
  • Large black foam sheet

  1. Cut a large "O" shape out of foam. This is the base of the wreath. Construction paper would work, but it's a bit flimsy.
  2. For younger children, cover the top of the foam with the glue. For older children (2+) let them put glue on the individual leaves. I showed my daughter how to stick them on. I covered the wreath base with some glue AND let her glue the leaves on. I wanted to make sure that once the glue dried the leaves really stayed in place.
  3. Sort leaves by color if desired. My directions were to cover the base with leaves until she couldn't see any more of the black foam.
  4. Hang!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blessing Basket

I have been contemplating Thanksgiving over the past few days. I have decided that having Thanksgiving at this time of year is a great blessing to us. It is a great opportunity to reflect on all that you are thankful for. Then you can build up a reservoir of gratitude to fight off the greed that can creep in on you at Christmas time!

I love the saying, "The Best Attitude is Gratitude."

This week, we are learning about Blessings and being thankful. We are starting a new Thanksgiving tradition this year. It is the blessing basket.

Old enough to talk. But if your child is not old enough to talk, don't let that stop you and your spouse from doing this in front of your baby. Babies understand long before they communicate.

  • Gratitude
  • Strips or squares of paper
  • Pen/pencil
  • Basket (or some other container to hold the strips of paper)
This is how we are going to implement this:
  1. Each night, we say a family prayer together. As we kneel to pray, go around in a circle and list one thing we are grateful for.
  2. Write each one on a piece of paper. Let the kids draw pictures of the item if they want to.
  3. Put the paper in the basket.
  4. On Thanksgiving, read all of the many blessings you enjoy.
When I was in college, I kept a gratitude journal. Each night, I listed three items I was thankful for--three blessings in my life. At first, it seemed difficult to come up with three new things each night. As I did it over time, however, it was hard to pick just three. As we focus on the blessings we have in our lives, we come to recognize all that we have. You see what you focus on. I believe the blessing basket will be a great way to help my children develop the attitude of gratitude.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Books

*Thank You, Thanksgiving by David Milgrim (Great book to talk about being thankful for the little things)

It's Thanksgiving Day! by Mary Packard (level 1, Pre-school, 1st grade)

Over the River: A Turkey's Tale by Derek Anderson

*Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman

*Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy by Lisa Wheeler

Thanksgiving is Here! by Diane Goode
**The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward (Step 2 book, Grades 1-3)

Happy Thanksgiving by Margaret NcNamara (Level 1)

**The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern

**The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene

**Thanksgiving Day by Anne Rockwell (lots of info, but appropriate for preschoolers)Thanksgiving Mice! by Bethan Roberts

The Thanksgiving Surprise by Peggy Archer

The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing

*'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
*Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley

* One of my favorites

**Lots of factual info in the story


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