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, May 31, 2010

Math Activities

You know how your teachers always said you would use math a lot in life? Wasn't that so true! Math is all around us--whether we realize (or like) it or not ;). Math is much more than simply adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. It is about shapes, patterns, relationships, and more. The good news for those who don't love math is that means you can have a lot of fun with math. To teach your child math skills, you don't have to just sit down and count and do addition worksheets. Here are some fun ideas that teach math skills.
  • Stacking Rings: For younger children, the Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack is teaching them math by allowing them to become familiar with patterns and spacial relationships.
  • Bead Stringing: I make jewelry and Brayden is always fascinated and desirous to help me out. They sell Bead Stringing kits for kids. You could also go to your local craft store and buy big beads and yarn. A benefit of any of the bead stringing kits from the company Melissa and Doug is that they replace lost pieces for free on their products (including with puzzles). So if and when your pieces get lost, you can get them replaced for free!

  • Pegboards: These also teach patterns: Pegboard Toys. We have this set, which we love, but it is unavailable right now. Pegs and Pegboard Set with Pattern Cards
  • Pattern Blocks: Pattern Blocks teach, well, patterns. We have this set from Melissa and Doug and love it. Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards
  • Calendars: Calendars help your child develop math awareness. It also helps your child come to understand days of the week and terms like "tomorrow" and "yesterday." You can buy one or make your own.
  • Counting: Count everything. I like to count when clipping fingernails ("Let's see how many clips it takes to clip your fingernails this week"). Not only does it teach counting over and over, the child holds still and counts with you.
  • Number of the Week: Have a number to focus on each week. Give your child that number of Cheerios to eat or something like that. Count to your number over and over.
  • Math Worksheets: You can create or find and print off addition pages and beyond once your child is ready for it. Start simple with the number zero. (5+0=? etc.).
  • Board Games: Many board games require counting. Some include Hi Ho Cherry-O, Chutes and Ladders, and Cootie.
  • Geomag: Geomag teach geometry. Brayden, Kaitlyn, and my husband all have hours of fun with our Geomags. They are magnetic.
  • Magformers: Another fun magnetic toy that teaches geometry. that is hugely popular in my area right now are the MAGFORMERS.  We just got some last week, and so far the kids are liking them.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rainy day laundry sort

Ever been stuck inside the house with a mountain of laundry and kiddos that need energy burned off? Me too! Ever tried to sort laundry with a toddler? Me too! (insert groan and fear here). My daughter's idea of helping usually means unfolding what I just folded or rolling around in the fresh pile of laundry, still warm from the dryer.
So let's make it a learning and burning time, shall we?

Materials: Heaps of laundry. Munchkin that needs to run around.

Have your toddler or preschooler locate one piece of his/her clothing. A sock, shirt, pants, bib, whatever. The idea is for them to grab one piece of laundry as fast as they can and run it to the desired spot. For me, that was off my bed and into her room.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Whoa! Look at all this laundry! Let's have a racing game!! Do you see anything that belongs to you in this pile?
C: (nodding)
M: (in a hurried voice) When I count to three, I want you to grab something that belongs to you and run to your room and throw it in a pile on your bed.
C: Okay! I'm so fast!
M: One, two, three!

She grabs a piece, runs it to her bed. While she's running, I'm continuing to sort the other things. She runs back, sorts through to locate something of hers and repeats.
This was a fun way for her to sort, follow directions, and burn off a little energy. And I got my laundry sorted without any pile disruption. :)

For the younger toddler, you can give them a piece that you found and have them run it to the desired location. My 15 month old had a great time with this too. Yay for lots of giggling, sorting laundry, and tired kiddos.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Free Art--Cars

I like to do one free art project each week. "Free" meaning that there is no goal or purposeful end product, just my son creating art however he wants to. When he's older this will be chosen by him, but for now I just choose a different way of making art each time for him so he can try different mediums and materials out.

Yesterday we used matchbox cars to paint with. He is in a car phase right now so I thought this would be fun. I just squirted paint onto the paper and he rolled the cars around through the paint to make his picture. Since he's becoming more opinionated lately he also got to choose the colors. We did this in the basement where the floor wouldn't be ruined by a stray paint-covered car rolling across it :) After painting be sure to rinse the cars right away and it makes for an easy clean-up.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brightly Beaming Resources

In a discussion in a Yahoo! group I run, blog reader Kristy shared that she uses ideas from Brightly Beaming Resources. I have heard of them, but haven't ever studied their website in depth, so I went and checked it out.

It has great, simple ideas! Something I thought would be of particular interest is their curriculum for babies and for pre-toddlers. Those are two ages that are hard to really do "learning activities" with. They have simple ideas to help enhance what you are doing every day.

They have a baby curriculum that starts at three months. There are two "lessons" per month, but each lesson has lots of ideas.

They also have what they call the toddler curriculum for age one. This is also simple and had two lessons per month.

They have ideas for what book to read, what scripture to study, nursery rhyme to focus on, how to teach concepts during every day activities, classical music, foreign language, sign language, exercise, and arts and crafts with the older toddler.

They do also have ideas for ages 2-11. See this page for links to these ideas.

And this is all free.

Hopefully you can find this resource helpful to you! Thank you, Kristy, for pointing it out!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Roll the Dice

For those of you that have a child (or children) that aren't big fans of sitting down and learning something new, don't be discouraged. My daughter is one of those...at least at this stage in her life. If she can have some creative freedom, she'll tolerate it. If I can sing it, she'll like it. But if it involves food, she's all over it. Begging for it. Ask her to count, and you may hear, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 16, 20, 19, 100..." (voice trailing off, somehow ending the sentence with a forward roll). Ask her to count jellybeans? A perfect and precise demonstration.
So about once a week, we use food to practice a skill.
I have a number of different kinds of dice. Any will do, though I do love dice with the physical numbers on them instead of the dots.

For young counters, it helps to either move the item they are counting physically. That helps prevent the double and triple counting. You know, when there are 5 jellybeans but somehow they counted 14? It gets a little confusing for kids, even through kindergarten, to try to count a group of items without forgetting which ones they've already counted.

Anyways, I have a poster board that has circles on it. Or you can put down a piece of construction paper and draw circles around the piles once they've counted them.

Materials: Dice, candy/cracker/something yummy

Roll the dice. Say the number out loud, and practice counting the candy.
Once the correct number has been counted, put them in a pile and draw a circle around them.
Repeat! You can write the number in the circle if you want.

Easy activity, little preparation, and once they get the hang of it and learn a few numbers, they can do it independently. Yay!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Paper Plate Numbers

This is a simple, fun activity to learn and count numbers. I got this idea out of the Toddler's Busy Book on page 196.

Two and up. Some children between 18-24 months might be able to use this. Even once this activity is too simple for your child, you could use the plates for addition activities.

  • Paper plates
  • Markers
  • Stickers
  1. Decide how many numbers you want to do. You need two plates for each number. I did six, so I had 12 plates.
  2. On half of the plates, write the number on the plate along with the correct number of stickers. So on three, you would write the number 3, possibly spell out three, and put three stickers.
  3. On the other half of the plates, put only stickers. I had mine match each other. So on my plate three, I have Winnie the Pooh stickers on each number three plate. If you are wanting to do this for an older child (preschooler age or knows numbers well), you could do different stickers. You could also do just the number on one plate with no stickers and stickers on the other plate.
  1. Spread the plates out.
  2. Have your child find matches. Exactly how you go about this will depend on your child's familiarity with numbers. You might say, "Find the number two plate" and have your child find it and then ask your child to find the match. You might point to one plate, tell your child what number it is, count the stickers, and ask your child to find the match. You might point to the plate and ask your child what number it is. "That's right! That is the number four. Can you find the other number four plate?" There are many possibilities. I vary it based on age and ability. No matter what the age and ability, though, I have the child count the stickers on the plate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Activities for Teaching Reading Skills

I am always talking about reading and how important I think it is. To teach reading skills, you can do more than only read books each day (though I think that is a crucial part). Here are some ideas from the book On Becoming Preschool Wise:
  • Puzzles: puzzles help your child "see how one part fits into the whole picture" (page 122). Puzzles for Preschoolers
  • Sequencing Cards: these "help children develop a sense of the beginning, middle, and end of a story" (page 122). Sequencing Cards
  • Alphabet: introduce the child to the alphabet. There is no shortage of activities available for this. Brayden and Kaitlyn have each had a favorite alphabet book that they wore out. Alphabet Books. Brayden's favorite was The Alphabet Book . There is no shortage of alphabet books out there. You can find them with a variety of items represented or specific to suite a special interest your child has. You can also get magnetic alphabet letters. One of our favorites is the Leap Frog Magnetic Alphabet. You can also do alphabet posters. And don't forget the letter of the day! Each week, you can focus on a different letter. Practice writing it, look for items around you that start with it, focus on the sound of it...make it a part of your day! Leap Frog also has an excellent line of movies that teach the alphabet, phonics, and reading:Leap Frog Letter and Word Movies. I recently wrote a post entirely on Teaching the Alphabet.
See also posts on this blog with ideas to enhance knowledge in:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Save your containers!

You probably end up with tons of empty containers week to week, right? Yogurt, baby food, sour cream, ricotta, ketchup bottles, gallon jugs, spice jars, coffee creamer...the list goes on and on. Don't throw them out unless you have to! I have a large container to, well...contain my extra containers. :)

Before you toss, clean them and consider the uses:

  • All are fun and new dumping toys for the bathtub! The ketchup bottles are really fun for squirting.

  • Containers for water play or pouring

  • My girls use them in their sandbox outside to dump, build, and make a nice mess.

  • Stacking, like blocks

  • Pom Pom stuffing (cut a hole in the lid). My 15 month old loves this!

  • Clothespin games

  • Smelly jars

  • Spice jars with colored sand for art (I use them like glitter shakers, too).

  • spice jars- Glue a shaped sponge on top. It's much easier to sponge paint with grip something to grip!
  • Parmesan cheese container- Pipe cleaner game!
  • Store homemade playdough, bathtub paint, finger paint, bubble solutions, etc.
  • Make musical instruments!
  • Then the obvious, like storage.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kindergarten: Start Off Right

That first day of school can be scary--for mom and child! I have compiled some tips for starting this adventure right.

Here are some tips from the Utah State Office of Education for a successful beginning for Kindergarten.
  • Go to orientation. If your school doesn't have an orientation, see if you can make an appointment to visit the school and meet the teacher before the first day of school.
  • Talk about fun. Talk about the fun things your child will get to do at school, including, story time, making new friends, and recess.
  • Good Routine. Make sure you have a good routine of 10-12 hours of sleep at night and eating a healthy breakfast in the morning.
  • Ask and Tell. Teach your child the after-school plan. Does he ride a bus home? Do you pick him up? Will you carpool? Tell him exactly where to go and what to do. Once you have explained it all, have him explain it to you.
  • Label. Label all outerwear.
  • Independenct Dresser. Have your child wear clothes that can be put on and taken off independently. You know what your child can and can't handle alone. Have him wear shoes, pants, and jackets that he can handle on his own.
  • Appropriate Clothing. Make sure clothing is appropriate for sitting on carpets and playing outside.
  • Reassurance Item. You can pack an item to send with your child to remind him of home. A favorite stuffed animal, a family picture, or a note are some examples.
  • Keep It Simple. Don't overschedule time after school. Your child will likely be tired.
  • Check the Backpack. There might be forms you need to fill out in the backpack.
  • Celebrate. Celebrate the end of the first day--but remember your child might be tired :)
  • Routine. Have a routine for after school. This might include a snack, playtime, and some quiet time with a book.
  • Ask Questions. Ask your child about his day. Who did you play with? What did you do today? What stories did you read? What did you play with? What did you make? As your child answers these questions, you can ask follow up questions.
From Kaboose.com
  • Independence. Make sure your child can use the restroom independently as well as put his coat and shoes on indpendently.
  • Talk About Books. As you read books to your child, talk about it. What was his favorite part? What did he like when xyz? I think this sounds like a  good way to get your child used to answering questions about what happened.
  • Get Supplies. Go together to get supplies needed for the school year. I remember last year, Brayden and I went shopping and bought a couple of shirts for his new year of preschool. I remember doing that with my mom and it was a fun tradition for us.
From PBS.org
  • Talk About It. The night before, talk about what will happen and review all plans (like where to meet). Let your child talk about how he is feeling about this new adventure.
  • Get Up Early. Make sure everyone who needs to be up is up with enough time to have a relaxing morning getting ready.
  • Don't Be Anxious. Your child doesn't need to worry about you being worried and missing him. Keep your worries and sadness to yourself.
  • Read Books. Read books about going to school.
From Me:
  • Ask Around. Ask other moms who have been there their tips on how to start of right. It would be especially helpful to ask moms who have had children start in the same school your children will start in.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Daily Learning

Here are eight simple ideas for helping your child learn on a daily basis. These ideas in bold come from the Utah State Department of Education, and the elaboration is my own.
  1. Allow Independence. Allow your child to do things independently even when he takes longer than you would if you did it yourself. I know, yes I know, it is hard to sit back and allow your child to do the things that you can easily and quickly do. There are some tricks to doing this. One is give yourself plenty of time. You will not have the patience to let your child buckle herself into her carseat if you are running late. Try to manage your time to include independent time. Another is to busy yourself. If you are like me, you want to jump in and help. Straighten your child's room while he dresses himself. Read a book. Get yourself ready. Find things you can do to prevent yourself from interfering.
  2. Provide Social Experiences. These experiences can be informal or formal. Ideas are playgroups, preschools, and trips to the park. It is nice to play with mom and dad, but children need to play with children. For one, as my state department points out, sharing with an adult is different than sharing with a peer. Another, also pointed out by my state department, is that imaginations develop through role-playing and pretending. Most adults just won't get into it like a child will, and if you do, there will likely be no clash of ideas as you decide who will be which role in your game of pretend. "Pretend play has been consistently linked to cognitive, intellectual, language, and social growth."
  3. Develop Fine and Gross Motor Skills Daily: Play sports, go to the park, play tag, pour, stir, use lacing cards, etc. On this blog, we provide ideas for gross motor and fine motor skills activities.
  4. Develop Math Skills: Count aloud through games like hide-and-seek. Play board games that require counting. Use items around your house to discuss shapes. Do puzzles and play with building toys. See also our Math ideas.
  5. Do Art: Use crayons, sand, water, paint, paper, markers, scissors, hole punches, yarn, beans, and popsicle sticks, etc. to develop artistic skills. Art project ideas are in great abundance on the Internet, and our blog is no exception :)
  6. Read. Read lots of types of books. Read poetry. Ready nursery rhymes. Read non-fiction. Look at picture books. Get variety. This can develop vocabulary and sentence pattern structures your child doesn't get exposed to regularly. It helps to get idea from other parents as to what great books are out there. Raegan has done several posts on this blog about book recommendations under the reading blog label. I also have a post on another blog of Great Children's Books.
  7. Talk WITH Your Child: Listen to stories, ask questions, tell your own stories...children learn language through hearing it.
  8. Library: Visit the library or bookmobile regularly.

Monday, May 10, 2010

In The Car: Finding Colors

This is an activity my husband came up with to keep our children occupied in the car.

He simply says, "I am going to find a blue truck. What are you going to find?" They each choose what color and type of vehicle they will find. They are then quiet as they watch for their chosen vehicle.

Not all children (or parents) will be into the type of vehicle, but we can all do colors.

Sometimes Kaitlyn chooses "pink" or "purple." We always just say okay and let her wait to figure out those vehicles are very few and far between.

This is a fun, simple way to keep everyone focused on something other than the long car ride.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Clicking on Links

Though there probably is no need to comment on this, if you see a comment from a reader that requires you to click on it to see what is written, please do so at your own risk. These comments/links have not been cleared/given permission by the authors of this blog to post a specific link.

If we want you to go to a certain site, check out a recommendation, etc, we will do so in a post.

We do our best to clear out and remove any links or comments that seem inappropriate or risky, but I'm sure there are occasions when you get to the site before we've had a chance to remove the link.

Thanks everyone! Happy teaching!

Have a great Mother's Day!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Originally explained by Sue Patrick in her Workbox System book, workboxes have become pretty popular in the homeschooling community.

(the above photo is from the Tot School blog and shows the standard way to do workboxes, head on over and check out her posts on how she's implemented Workboxes with her toddler!)

Everybody uses this system differently, but the basic concept remains the same. Your child has work in a box/basket/file/hanging pocket that is to be completed that day. For a toddler you might want to start with just 5 boxes of 'work'. For a preschooler maybe 9 would be a good amount to fill up the learning time. Ideally most of the work contained in the boxes will be activities that your child can complete independently. For a toddler that's just not going to happen completely, so expect to at least supervise each activity.

The benefits?
  • organization
  • structure
  • independence
  • teaches care for toys
  • keeps the learning time moving without constant direction by mom
  • better focus
The limitations?
  • does not work for messy/complicated activities
  • requires more prep time the night before
  • physically finding the space to set up boxes can be a struggle at first
Our experience?

We have only done this 2 days so far (Monday and Wednesday) and I am already loving it! Oh, and Tobias loves it too ;) I fill each box with an activity the night before and the next day when we have a good 1 hour time slot for learning time I tell Tobias we can do his boxes now. He gets each box out, completes the activity as quickly or slowly as he'd like, and then puts everything back in the box and returns the box to its shelf. Then he grabs the next box on the shelf until he's done all five. No clean up for mom, and more independence for my toddler, can you see why I love it? :) Below I have two pictures of how I've set up our workboxes. The containers are photo boxes from Joann's that were $2 a piece. In the second picture you can see today's activities all set inside each box.

How do I get started?

Round up five boxes if you have a toddler, nine if you have a preschooler. You can use anything, shoeboxes, photo boxes (this is what I used), those plastic toy storage bins, etc. Pick a good place for them to go where your child can reach them easily.

The first day, choose easy activities because your focus is to teach your child how to get each box, complete the activity, and put the box away properly. There is to be no throwing or banging of the materials, which is what I mostly had to correct Tobias for. We had two time-outs when he threw a toy and when he refused to put the materials away in the box. He only got off time-out when he was willing to finish up and he did that happily both times without any further discipline. For a toddler, this skill of getting out one toy, playing with it, and putting it away neatly is huge! It's useful for mom, useful for Kindergarten, and useful for the poor toys who take all the typical toddler abuse normally, lol!

What activities can I put in the boxes?

I am choosing 4 activities that have a clear purpose and 1 that is open-ended right now. The open-ended toy comes last so Tobias doesn't get bored before completing all the boxes. Some activities we've used include:

Counting Bears

Lauri Shape Sorter

Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs

Small Spaces Activity--we used the puff balls and a yogurt container activity

Transferring Activity--we used wooden toast grabber tongs to transfer puff balls from one basket into another

Cutting Activity--safety scissors and strips of scrapbooking paper worked well (this was very difficult for Tobias so don't be discouraged if your toddler can't do it either)

Stamping--this was great fun, but also a bit of a mess so we might put this away for a few months and come back to it

Coloring--crayons and paper are always fun :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gift for Mom or Grandma

This is an art project you can have your child help out with and give to Mom or Grandma. They are blocks that spell out the word "Grandma" (or Mother, Mom, or Grandmother, etc.). I then dedicated one block per person and put pictures on it. I did one block for my Mom's Grandmothers. One for her mom. One for my Dad's mom. One for her with Brayden. And one for her with Kaitlyn. Since I gave her these, two grandchildren have joined the family, so I will have to update them. 

Now, you can tell from this picture that she doesn't actually show the "Grandma" spelling. She really just likes it for displaying pictures. If your Mom/Grandma would be like that, then you can skip the letter part of the blocks.


  • Wood blocks the size of your choice. We bought a 4x4 piece of wood from Home Depot and cut the blocks to our desired length. I am sure you could find something similar in a craft store like Michaels.

  • Decoupage or Mod Podge. You can also get Mod Podge Satin All-In-One Decoupage Sealer. Please note that different Mod Podges have different finishes, from Matte to Lustre.

  • Photos of your choice, cut to the appropriate size for your blocks.

  • Paint

  • Vinyl Letters or you could paint letters on

  • Sandpaper if you want a "distressed" look

  1. Paint the blocks using the paint and foam brush. This is something your child can help with. Most of the block is covered by photos, plus if you distress it , you will have little need for a "perfect" paint job. Plus, we love things made by the children we love.

  2. Let dry.

  3. If you want a distressed look, gently sand the each edge of each block. You can decide if you do this part yourself or with help. Wipe all dust off.

  4. Put some decoupage or mod podge on the block.

  5. Put some decoupage or mod podge on the back of a photo.

  6. Place the photo on the block.

  7. Continue for all sides.

  8. Once you have photos all around the block, move on to the other blocks and put photos on those.

  9. Let dry.

  10. Decoupage or mod podge over the top of each photo. This will help protect the photo from scratches, water, etc.
You are done! And you have a lovely gift any mom will love.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


As many of you may have guessed, one of my favorite things to do is cook with my daughters. I love it, and so do they!
Today we made lunch together. Both loved it, and spinach was part of the process! No scrunched up noses, picking leaves out, or refusals. Success!

(I wanted to take a picture, but I needed both hands to directing the slopping of pizza sauce and cheese.)

Twirly Whirly Pizzas (from Parents magazine)-- These pizzas end up looking like little cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients: pizza dough (homemade or refrigerated), pizza sauce (or marinara or leftover spaghetti sauce), fresh spinach leaves, mozzerella cheese (or whatever you have in the pantry).

  • Roll out the dough into a large rectangle on a floured surface. Hard to make a mistake, so you can let your munchkin help.
  • Spread sauce over the dough.
  • Top with cheese.
  • Top with spinach.
  • From the short side, roll into a tube shape.
  • Cut into 8 pieces and put in a greased pie pan. Top with more cheese.
  • Cook on 400 for 20-22 minutes.

If you want to see a picture of what it'll look like, click here.

This is a great way to get your kids involved in cooking and trying new foods. My daughter, apparently frightened by anything green these days, was eating raw spinach leaves as we cooked.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rhythm Clapping

This is an idea I love from Preschoolwise (page 127). This develops listening skills and teaches rhythm.

Three and up. Some two year olds might be able to do this.

You clap a simple rhythm and have your child repeat it. It is as simple as that. Start with simple rhythms--perhaps about three claps long. You can do straight time or syncopate as your child gets better at it. Clap in quarter note lengths on down to sixteenth note lengths. If you have no idea what that means, don't worry about it. Just clap at different speeds and different rhythms.

This is a great activity to turn to when your child is growing restless and you need him to wait a bit longer (assuming you are in a location where you can clap. But even in a waiting room, you could pat your legs).


Related Posts with Thumbnails