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!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

American Flag Pattern Acvitity

This is an idea I came up with to learn about the flag and patterns. This activity works in colors, sensory, counting, patterns, shapes, and history all in one.

  • Red pipe cleaner
  • White pipe cleaner
  • Blue construction paper
  • White crayon
  • Cut the blue construction paper into a paper 6 inches by 4 inches
  • Cut three pieces of red pipe cleaner to 6 inches each (my pipe cleaner was 12 inches, so I just had to cut it in half)
  • Cut three pieces of white pipe cleaner to 6 inches each
  • Cut four pieces of red pipe cleaner to 4 inches each
  • Cut three pieces of white pipe cleaner to 4 inches each


  1. Draw 50 stars in the upper left corner. Kaitlyn (three) drew several by herself. They were more like scribbles, but that is okay. Count to 50 out loud. We put a few pieces of pipe cleaner down so we could see what our space was to fill in with stars. You could also draw a line and have your child fill in the rectangle.
  2. Put the pipe cleaners in place to show the pattern of the stripes. This is a good time to talk about why we have 50 stars and why we have 13 stripes and other interesting facts surrounding the American Flag you would like to introduce.
  3. Once you have the pipe cleaner in place, point out the pattern. Go through the 13 stripes saying, "red, white, red white..."
  4. Remove the pipe cleaners and have your child put them back in the right order. For older children, they can do it on their own. Kaitlyn needed me to tell her which color started first.


This is an activity you can keep in a baggie in with your learning activities and pull out when you need your child occupied for 5-10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Library Day!

It's hot here. Sooooo hot. 95+ degrees for the past few days, humidity above 80% with very little rain. Heat index around 100-110. Is it hot at your house? I don't know about you, but there is only so much outside time I can take with merely a kiddie pool to relieve us.
To help beat the heat without being holed up inside, we've instituted Library Day. After my daughters AM nap, we head off!
If you don't utilize the library in your city/county often, chances are you are missing out! On a grading scale, our library is probably a C, maybe a C+, so it's not as though we have this fabulous resource that would leave you green with jealousy. Even if you live in the country (which is how our part of the city would be described), the library is still a great tool.
The Pros:
  • Tons of books that you and your kids likely haven't read
  • Free membership!
  • Low fees if you keep track of the books (free is a pretty low fee, right?)
  • Books you don't have to pay for!
  • The possibility of good computer programs you can supervise but don't have to purchase
  • A play area, possibly. Ours has a table set up with bins of blocks.
  • Usually a separated children's area
  • Free videos/DVDs
  • A/C! Did I mention it's hot outside?!?!
  • The possibility of online "shopping" for your books, or online renewal
  • Exposure to lots of new books, genres, and authors

The Cons AND Solutions:

  • You need to keep track of your books! Forgetting just that one can end up being an expensive slip of the memory. My solution: Keep all library books in ONE location, separate from other books. We have a special library book bin. I keep the printout list given in the bucket with the # of books circled at the top. That way it's easy to check to make sure all the books are there!
  • Not a great selection of books. My solution: Keep digging. I usually check out about 2-3 "duds" each week. But what is a dud to me someone else may love. People donate books to the library weekly, so keep looking! You never know...that retired school teacher with a copy of every Caldecott book may have just donated this week!
  • Noisy kids in a quiet library. I've been there. You can hear my daughter's squeaky voice all the way across the library. Even people in the restroom knew my daughter was looking for a Fancy Nancy book. My solution: Practice! If they don't have to use a quiet voice anywhere else, why should we expect them to all of a sudden know how to use one in the library. We practice quiet voices in the car. And if she doesn't listen? It's also important to note if the voice level is simply forgetting (you know, just being a kid) or disobedience to what you've asked them to do. If it's forgetting, I remind her. If it's disobedience, we pack up and leave, not checking out any books. But how you handle it is your decision....you are the mom! I will say that I've found that how I react to her behavior usually determines the tone and behavior of the next library trip. If I let her slide with being loud, she'll probably be loud again next time!
  • More than one child to watch makes a trip difficult. This was the challenge for me, too. Sometimes it can be hard to look for books and watch your kids at the same time. You can't exactly handcuff them to the stroller to keep them from pulling off every book they see on the shelves. With that in mind, I have to have a game plan for trip out of the house. Where will they sit? What are the possible behavior issues? How will I handle them? What tips/reminders can I give them before we even get in the library? Is it close to nap or a mealtime?

Here's how I handle it with a 3 year old and a 1 year old:

I use the double stroller. My 3 year old is allowed to walk, provided she holds onto the stroller until I give her instructions to do otherwise. Before we go in, I talk with both girls about using quiet voices and keeping their hands to themselves (we practice this at home). We do a practice run of using quiet voices and what it sounds like. I have snacks packed in the bag because at 1 year, it's rare to find a time of the day that isn't close to a nap or snack/meal. I give myself a time limit. (Ex: We will stay for 30 minutes. If it's your first time, have a goal of checking out one book. Yup. Just one. It'll make it less stressful for you). If my 3 year old abuses the privilege of walking or cannot control her hands, she has to sit in the stroller or in a chair for a while. If you have aisles you have to go up and down, you can sit your child on the floor and give them a book or 2 to look at while you look, too. Or you can pull out a book and involve your child in the decision making process of choosing a few books.

Okay, younger kids. My 1 year old sits in the stroller with a book or toy while I choose a book. Then when I've chosen a few, she can walk around, holding the stroller. Then I give them a few minutes to play with blocks at the table. We clean up together. If she gets antsy (especially due to being hungry) I plop her in the stroller and give her a small, non-messy snack on the tray.

The biggest tip I can give? Don't give up after one hectic, tear-jerking experience at the library. I've had parents tell me that the library is just too stressful. In my mind, and perhaps I'm off-base, the solution is to minimize stress. Well, other than eliminating visits entirely. So instead of rarely going, try going weekly. (Sound crazy?) The library is a safe place to practice some of the skills you've been working on at home with your child. You don't really want to see if they'll stay with you while you walk through a crowded mall. And I don't really like to practice a skill when I'm grocery shopping. That's multi-tasking at it's best (or worst, in some cases). Keep practicing at the library (Remember, you can always leave!) but most importantly for us...practice at home. Teach the the skill ahead of time. Quiet voices, control over hands, waiting patiently, respect for others, sharing, sitting and reading when asked to, and listening to specific verbal commands are a few skills to practice. Don't feel like you have to tackle everything at once, either! As my husband says, "We're just trying to give them tools in their tool belts". If you don't give them the necessary tools ahead of time, it's hard to expect them to pull out the right tool when needed. Yes, even a 1 year old. :)

Have fun! Let the stress free outings begin!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Star Sponge Painting

I got the basics for this idea out of The Toddler's Busy Book. It is quite simple.

I would say a child 12 months or older can participate in this activity. The 12-15 month old will need A WHOLE LOT of help, the 15-18 month old will need A LOT of help, and the 18 months and older will just need help. Assuming you have your patient hat on. Your "it is okay to get messy" hat on (some of you know just what I mean). But the book is written for 18 months and up.

  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Sponge
  • Knife
  • Paper plate
  1. Cut the sponge into a star shape. If you aren't comfortable freehand-cutting a star shape (which would be me), try using a cookie cutter or a star shape out of paper and tracing it on the sponge with a marker. Then cut it out.
  2. Get painting surface ready. At my house this means a tablecloth on the table.
  3. Pour paint onto a paper plate.
Have your child dip the sponge in the paint and then press it onto the paper. Let dry and hang to decorate!

These photos are from last year. We did them the same week we learned about stars. Kaitlyn was 2 and Brayden was 4.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's all about perspective...

It's been a little while since I've been able to post. Blame it on my crashed (and possibly soon-to-crash again, so I've been warned) computer. For those of you that don't know, let me tell you a little about my background. I taught Kindergarten and First grade for years, and I am certified to teach Pre-K through 6th grade. My goal as a teacher was to make learning fun and challenge my students in any and every way possible while instilling a love for learning. As a stay-at-home mom, my craft and learning bins overflow. Cottonballs, pompoms, pipecleaners, texture cards, glue, every kind of marker/paint/drawing utensil known to man, string, ribbon, rope, and tons of homemade games. My bins literally runeth over, as do the learning ideas that pop in my head. But guess what? Yes, I'll say it...I have a child that despises crafts. Read a story? Yay! Pretend play? Whoopee! Have Mommy pretend to be a dwarf from Snow White for the 800th time today? Bliss!
Glue? Melt into a weepy puddle. Even look at a letter of the alphabet? Chin quivering dispair.
I had in my head before she was born all the wonderful things we'd enjoy crafting together and, well, I'm still hoping. I'm thinking, hey, I'll teach her early on in life what she needs to know way before she needs to know it. Reading by Kindergarten? Of course! Pre-school, probably. Never did I think learning activities would be the equivalent to plucking out her nose hairs, one by one.
Why do I mention this? Because sometimes as parents we need to remember that it's about perspective. She just turned 3 this month and hasn't read War and Peace yet. It'll be okay. I felt so ill today this entire week that we haven't touched our learning activities. No harm. It looks like a tornado wrecked my house. Fine, but I spent some quality time getting to know the heart of my girls.
Sometimes as a parent I need to put activities and all the learning activities on hold long enough to learn about my little ones. And I need to remember that she's still learning even when she gets to make her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That's when it hit me today, as she loaded her PB&J with an obscene amount of jelly, exclaiming "It's just like daddy's sandwich!" (so true)...she hears me when she pretends not to, she watches when I think she's not, and she's learning about her world by watching us.
So if today you are feeling guilty about not having homemade games galore, that the kid up the street knows more letters than your kiddo, or that you skipped learning time today for no real reason at all, or your child aches to get away from your activity that you spent all night cutting out, don't worry. It's a process. Sometimes we just need to change our perspective.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Bridge Activities: Four Types of Reading

In our home I’ve decided to take a summer break from structured learning time to take advantage of the beautiful weather and to allow me to focus on planning for our fall curriculum. But I was realizing that for many parents summer is the only time they have their kids at home all day because school is out. For many this welcome summer break also presents a few challenges, mostly keeping the children happily busy and maintaining some learning so their child doesn’t backslide during the summer and is ready for the next grade in the fall.

Most parents know to encourage reading over the summer, especially for their older kids, and some schools even have a summer reading list for students to guide their reading. For kids who are already strong readers simply allowing them to enjoy reading on their own is enough and it will not take much convincing to get them to spend some time each day reading independently. However, many kids are not yet strong readers or are reluctant readers and could benefit from more guidance. These suggestions are for students in the Preschool-3rd grade range.

**If any of our readers have children above 3rd grade please comment and I can post a second version of this for older children.

The Four Types of Reading:

Reading Aloud- the parent chooses a book and reads it aloud to their child(ren). This is a great time to read books that would be beyond your child’s reading level, such as lengthy chapter books. Some classic suggestions include:

Little House on the Prairie series

The Boxcar Children

Black Beauty

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Little Women

The Bible or Children’s Bible

Swiss Family Robinson

Treasure Island

Gulliver’s Travels

Jungle Book

Chronicles of Narnia

The Hobbit

Tales of Peter Rabbit

Dr. Dolittle

Shared Reading-the parent reads aloud a book that is barely within their child’s reading capabilities and the child has a copy of the same book or sits on the parent’s lap where he/she can read the text. You can also copy and print the book as a small booklet for the child with the parts for them to say bolded in a bright color. At refrains or on repeated readings of the book the child joins in, reading the part he/she knows. This is a great chance to allow all your kids to join in as you read aloud and read some silly books and rhymes. Some suggestions include:

The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything

Don’t Wake Up the Bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Sandra Boynton’s books (many are written with a sing-songy part kids love to say)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

The Very Busy Spider

Today is Monday by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Who Stole The Cookie From the Cookie Jar?

Nursery Rhymes



Guided Reading-this requires one on one time with the parent and child. You can use the naptime for your little ones to lay down with your older child and cuddle and read together. In Guided Reading it is the child who is reading the story, but you are right there with them to help them as they struggle with a word and to observe and see where their reading level truly is. While with a younger child you might simply sound out the word for them, with older children your role is more mentor than assistant. You’ll want to refrain from jumping in and rescuing them from every difficult word, or becoming impatient if they take awhile to get it. You have many ways to guide your child during this time when they reach a word they cannot read, pronounce incorrectly, or do not understand the meaning of.

1. Remind them to sound out the word

2. Cover a portion of a long word to make it easier to sound out. (for example, if they struggle with the word butterfly you could cover up the ‘fly’ part and ask them to sound out the first part, then cover up ‘butter’ and ask them to sound our ‘fly’, then join the two together.)

3. Have them look at the whole sentence and see what makes sense in the word’s space. (this is looking at context for clues) You may need to model this by doing it yourself, thinking aloud, the first time and then ask them to do it themselves.

4. If they don’t know what it means, look up the meaning of the word in the dictionary, or tell the child the meaning.

5. Write the word down on a post-it-note or bookmark inside the book and practice it later.

Some book suggestions include:

Bob Books (these are leveled readers geared towards beginning readers that many libraries carry. You can also often find used copies inexpensively on www.amazon.com or www.half.com.)

Dr. Seuss books

Printable Booklets (http://www.hubbardscupboard.org/printable_booklets.html)

Online Stories (www.starfall.com)

Board Books geared towards babies/toddlers make for good beginning reader books for 4-6 year olds.

Fairy Tales (for 6-9 year olds)

Recipes--as you cook, ask your child to read the recipe or ingredients list aloud

Grocery List—have your child be your helper by reading each item off as you go through the grocery store, and they can check off each item that is put in the cart.

Guest List—when planning a party ask your child to read the guest list to you, or even to write it themselves. This is great for name recognition.

Letters or Cards—encourage grandparents and cousins to write letters to your child so they can practice their reading aloud.

Treasure Hunt—use written clues the child must read aloud to figure out where the next clue is hidden.

Any book your child finds that they are interested in reading. Sometimes they’ll surprise you with what books they can read!

Independent Reading-your child reads completely independently, preferably books of their own choosing. Be careful to monitor for content, some classic stories have a lot of inappropriate material in their original versions. Also, be sure your child is reading at their level, not too many ‘fast food’ books that they whiz through and not books that will frustrate them. A few ‘fast food’ books that are easy for them to read can serve a purpose, increasing confidence, fluency, and speed with reading. Just be sure your child isn’t only reading those books and refusing to deal with challenging books on their own.

A good test of whether a book is at your child’s reading level is to ask them to read aloud the first page of the book to you; if they read it and only struggle with 1-3 words on the page then it is likely within their capabilities. If it is a small board book for a 4-6 year old then they should not struggle with more than 1 word per page if they are to be left to read it independently, they have fewer tools to deal with confusing words and as new readers should have their confidence boosted during independent reading. Some suggestions include:

*Any book on the guided reading list that you know they can read easily (can read an entire page with no more than 1-3 words they struggle with)

American Girls Series

The Magic Treehouse Series

The Saddle Club Series

Comic Books (check for content)

Children’s Bible

Nonfiction Books About Favorite Topics (animals, cars, and truck-themed books are popular with kids)

Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul

The Chronicles of Narnia

The Berenstein Bears Series

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Developing Reading Skills: For Kindergartners

According to the National Institute for Literacy, these are skills that your child should develop while in Kindergarten. These will be things for you to watch for during your child's Kindergarten year. If you seem some areas lacking, spend time on it at home. If you are homeschooling, make sure you introduce opportunities for these skills to develop.
  • The child listens carefully to books read aloud.
  • The child knows the shapes and names of letters of the alphabet and writes many uppercase and lowercase letters on his own.
  • The child knows that spoken words are made of separate sounds.
  • The child recognizes and makes rhymes, can tell when words begin with the same sound, and can put together, or blend, spoken sounds.
  • The child can sound out some letters.
  • The child knows that the order of letters in a written word stands for the order of sounds in a spoken word.
  • The child knows some common words, like a, the, I, and you on sight.
  • The child knows how to hold a book and follows print from left to right and from top to bottom of a page when read to.
  • The child asks and answers questions about stories and uses what she already knows to understand a story.
  • The child knows the parts of a book and understands that authors write words and text and that illustrators create pictures.
  • The child knows that in most books, the main message is in the print, not the pictures.
  • The child predicts what will happen in stories.
  • The child can retell or act out stories.
  • The child knows the difference between made up fiction and real nonfiction books and the difference between stories and poems.
  • The child uses what he knows about letters and sounds to write words.
  • The child writes some letters and words as they are said to her and begins to spell some words correctly.
  • The child writes his own first and last name and the first names of some family members and friends.
  • The child plays with words and uses new words in her own speech.
  • The child knows and uses words that are important for school work, like colors, shapes, and numbers.
  • The child knows and uses words from daily life, like street names and names for community workers (teacher, mail carrier, etc.)
Something that strikes me is that many of these skills are accomplished by doing the things listed in the toddler and preschooler sections (posted previously). You can see how these simple skills you teach your child when she is young help her as she gets older.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sidewalk Chalk Love Notes

For Father's Day, we decided to tell Daddy that we love him in Sidewalk chalk. My husband really likes words of affirmation to let him know he is loved. So the Friday before Father's Day, we went out and decorated the driveway to tell him why we loved him. It was something all three children could do...even if the one year old kept trying to eat dirt...

I wrote "We [heart] you Daddy!" and the kids decorated around it. Brayden made a stop sign so cars would know to not run over the writing.

Daddy loved it! This is something you can do during nice weather months. You could even go to a home of a neighbor and tell them how great they are in sidewalk chalk (but you might want to be pretty sure your neighbor won't mind).

Sidewalk chalk is always fun, but it seemed to be extra fun with a goal in mind.

Sorry for the Quietness

Things have been kind of quiet the last little bit around the blog. There have been some big events going on, including pregnancy (not for me!) and also Raegan's computer crashed. So, things are slow right now but will pick up again. Thanks for your patience!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Ready To Read: 4 and 5 Year Olds

Now that your child is a preschooler, you can take these tips from the National Institute of Literacy for helping your preschooleer get ready to read.
  • Help your child hear and say the first sound in words (Boat starts with "B")
  • Help your child notice different words that also start wtih that sound (boat and book both start with B)
  • Introduce your child to new words. Use new, interesting vocabulary. This means no baby talk and no "dumbing-down" your language for your child.
  • Talk to your child about the alphabet
  • Talk about the letters you see in books
  • Point out signs and lables that have letters, like street signs and food signs in the grocery store
  • Encourage your child to enjoy reading
  • Allow your child to choose what book you read most of the time
  • Let your child pretend to read parts of the book as you read together
  • Talk about the stories you read and help make connections to things that happen in your own lives
  • Ask "What," "When," "Where," and "How" questions as you read
  • Help your child write notes or make books (like an alphabet book), even if his writing looks like nothing more than scribbles
This list is definitely more involved than the one for the 2 and 3 year olds. Even so, it is still very doable. This list is full of ideas for literacy activities during your learning time during the week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting Ready To Read: 2 and 3 year olds

The National Institute for Literacy has a checklist for parents of 2 and 3 year olds for establishing literacy at home in the pamphlet Literacy Begins At Home. They say, "You are your child's first and most important teacher." Here is a checklist for you to help your 2 and 3 year olds get ready to read.
  • Read with your child every day, even if it is only for a few minutes.
  • Encourage your child to bring his favorite books to you so you can read together.
  • Point to pictures and name them out loud.
  • Encourage your child to point to pictures while you read
  • Make eye contact with your child as you read aloud. This tells you she is paying attention.
  • Talk with your child throughout the day about things you are doing and things that are happening around you.
  • Be patient when your child wants to read that same book over and over (and over again).
  • Encourage your child to lay with books. Let her pick them up, flip them form front to back, and turn the pages.
  • Listen as your child pretends to read a book. Watch for him to hold the book, go from page to page, and say words. Not necessarily the right words, just words.
  • Allow your child to use paper and crayons to scribble, make pictures, and pretend to write.
To me, this seems like a super simple list that is very achievable with the 2-3 year old children. It is nice to see a simple list!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Father's Day Gift: Book of Love

A week or so ago, I wrote a post on one of my other blogs about showing love through words of affirmation. One blog reader shared that her husband felt love best that way, and that one year for Valentine's Day, she gave him a calendar book with 366 reasons she loved him.

My husband also feels love through words of affirmation, and I thought this sounded like a great idea for a Father's Day gift!

I started by interviewing my children. I sat down with a piece of paper and a pen. I asked them, "What do you like to do with Daddy?" Then I wrote down their answers. I asked, "What do you like that Daddy does for you?" I wrote down their answers. Finally, I asked, "Why do you love Daddy?"

For my little 14 month old, I am coming up with her answers myself. It isn't hard to figure out because she is such a Daddy's girl :)

The interview process took all of our scheduled learning time for the day. I went through the lists and designated some for coloring pages and some for photos. For some of their answers (like, "I like to mow the lawn with Daddy" or "I like when Daddy pushes me on the swing"), I will put the answer down and put a picture of them doing that activity together. For others, we are coloring a picture of the activity. This way, he will have art work and pictures in his book of love.

This is obviously taking us several days to complete. We are far from done. But I wanted to share the idea with you now so you could do a version of your own if you are interested.

Oh, and I will be adding my own things in too.

I am printing four to a page on a piece of white cardstock. I think when we are done, I will laminate them all and then bind it somehow. Then he can have a small book of love he can take with him to work. Hopefully it can give him that extra kick to get him through his workdays :) He loves to know he is appreciated, and this will help him see that we love him, and that we recognize and appreciate all he does for us.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Promoting Reading and Writing Readiness

Aaahhh. Reading. I love reading. I value reading so much. I truly believe that if you can read and comprehend what you read, you can accomplish anything. If you can read about it, you can learn about it.

The elementary school that my son will be attending this fall gave us parents a list of things to do to help promote reading and writing readiness in our children. Naturally, I will comment on each bullet :)
  • Read aloud daily for at least 20 minutes. This is so simple to make happen. All you have to do is have reading stories part of your bedtime routine. This means you have to make sure you start getting ready for bed early enough to include this.
  • Read expressively. Use different voices. Use and enjoy humor in the stories to engage your child. 
  • Re-read that favorite story. This is a powerful tool for fostering vocabulary growth. It also gets your child familiar with books and print. Children love repetition! I know, I know. Sometimes it almost seems painful to read that book again. I have felt giddy on library day, knowing we would soon have new books to read at night. But the kids love it, and it is beneficial for them.
  • Have your child retell a familiar story. There have been nights that I have had Brayden "read" the story that we were reading for the twentieth night in a row. Even though, as a three year old, he couldn't read, he got every, single word right. It was amazing. If your child isn't prone to verbatim story telling, that's okay. Have her tell the story in her own words.
  • Encourage word play, rhyme recognition, sentence completion, and word and phrase repetition as you read. You can also do this as fun learning activities in the day. Word play can be confusing on the surface sometimes, so I will do a separate post all on word play. Rhyming is pretty straight forward. You can read books full of rhymes and you could also ask your child what rhymes with a key word in the story. For sentence completion, this is where reading that story over and over can come in handy. You can start a sentence and then stop and let your child fill it in. Word and phrase repetition can be done by you, but there are also a lot of books out there that repeat things in the story. Boyton books come to mind (Barnyard Dance), as well as Seuss books (Green Eggs and Ham).
  • Discuss the story with your child as you read. Note illustrations and story elements, such as characters, settings, and sequence of events. This helps develop strong comprehension and critical thinking skills. There are typically pictures in a story that are not spoken in the words. Ask your child if he noticed. One that comes to my mind is My Truck Is Stuck. The words of the story are about a man (well, a dog, but a man) whose truck is stuck. Different people try to help him and in the end a tow truck arrives. The pictures show that a bunch of little dogs dug a hole in the road that got him stuck. Then then emptied every last bone from his truck while he tried to get unstuck.
  • Use your finger to track the words you are reading. This reinforces the connection between the words you are saying and the print on the page. It will also show  your child that we read left to right and how to follow lines down a page.
  • Continue reading to your child. Once your child starts to read on his own, he still needs to be read to each day.
  • Use magazines and newspapers to cut out letters and pictures. Brayden did this often in preschool.
  • Provide writing tools like large pencils, crayons, and markers. Your child won't learn to write unless he practices, and he can't practice without the necessary tools.
  • Provide lined paper and blank paper. Again, your child needs tools to practice writing.
  • Encourage drawing. Encourage your child to illustrate his thoughts and memories.
  • Act as a scribe. Write sentences that your child dictates to you.
  • Encourage your child to write and illustrate books.
  • Encourage your child to write his first name. Now, this is very important, apparently. Have your child write his first letter capital with the following letters lowercase. The teachers said they spend at least half the school year teaching the children to write their names this way. It is so hard for them to get the children out of the habit of writing in all uppercase letters.
These are all simple, right? Now, don't get overwhelmed. I know there is a lot here. You don't have to do every single one of these things every single day. Some things, like reading, should be done every day. Many of these things can be done while you are reading the story. Start slowly. Start tracking the words as you read. Once you have that down, start adding some voices. Work through the list and add things to your days to help your child build his reading and writing skills.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How are they alike?

The idea behind this activity is to get your kids looking at similarities, differences, and thinking creatively. Use new words, teaching your child words like similar, different, alike, same.

Materials: paper bags, items from around the house (ex: jelly beans, toys, silverware, socks, stuffed animals,etc)

  1. Fill your bags with 2 items. Start simple, like two jellybeans. Explain the words similar and different. Go first, giving an example.
  2. "See these things? What are they? How are the the same or similar? You're right! They are both jellybeans/candy/sweet/bad for your teeth/given in your Easter basket/etc. How are they different? Yes, this one is red and this one is yellow! They are also two different flavors and a different size, aren't they?

Try it with different objects. Once they get the hang of it, try it with two random objects, like a spoon and a stuffed animal. Once they really get the hang of it, try it with 3+ objects. You may be surprised what they come up with!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sand Letters

There are so many variations to this idea. You can do this in flour, shaving cream, and sand, just to name a few. Since it is summer time (or supposed to be if it ever stops raining), I thought a sand activity would be fun. I have some beach sand in the house I planned on using, but it turned out to be the first sunny day in almost a month, so we headed outside.

  • Sand

  • Child

  • Container for sand if inside (like a cookie sheet or baking dish)
Have your child write letters in the sand.

For Kaitlyn, my 3 year old, I had her write simple letters like H, I, L, T, E, F--letters that involve only straight lines. She also does well with circles, so I had her do O and Q. She wanted to try some harder letters, and for those I held her hand and helped her make the movement.

For Brayden, my 5 year old, I had him do any letter that came to mind and also had him spell words. He can write all upper and lowercase letters on paper, so this activity in its simple fashion is too easy for him, but writing out simple words was just right. It was an activity to provide variety and texture beyond simply writing on paper all the time.

For McKenna, my 14 month old, I had her just play in the sand and perhaps gain something simply by listening in on her siblings.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Button drop

Here's an easy to store idea to practice hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and concentration. I thought of this as a way to help my 2 year old learn to button shirts, or at least practice getting the tiny buttons in seemingly tinier holes.
Materials: a baby food jar works well since the lid doesn't flex. (You can still use a clean yogurt/sour cream container as well.) Buttons, scissors, tape.
I used the scissors to cut a slit in the top of the lid. Then I stuck the scissor blade in and wiggled it so it made a slight opening, large enough only for the button to get in. Make the hole as big as you think will be challenging, but not frustrating, to your child. I covered the side of the opening with tape, just in case. That helped take the sharp edge off the lid.
I gave my daughter a bunch of buttons and through trial-and-error she figured out that only the orange buttons would fit. Use only one color/size if it could be frustrating for them. Then work up from there.
This is a great quiet time activity too!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ladybug Strawberry

These cute girls in my neighborhood made some little books for my kids. One of them was a book about ladybugs, and included in it was some instructions on how t o make this strawberry ladybug treat!

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Toothpicks
  • String licorice
  1. Wash strawberries and blueberries
  2. Remove stem and leaves from strawberries
  3. Push a toothpick into the top of the strawberry, leaving about half an inch sticking out.
  4. Press a blueberry onto the toothpick. This is the head.
  5. Push the pointed ends of the chocolate chips into the strawberry for spots.
  6. Push six small pieces of licorice into the strawberry for legs.
Now you have some yummy treats to talk about insects!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Letter Review

A quick and easy way to review letters of the alphabet!

Materials Needed: Foam letters (I got my bathtub set from Target, and I also have a few sets from my teaching days), bucket or bag.

We took turns reaching in the bag, closing our eyes, and pulling out a letter. You have choices on what to say, depending on the skill level of your child. You can ask for the letter name, whether it's capital or lower case, the sound it makes, a word that starts with that letter, or if it's at the beginning/middle/end of the alphabet.

This was great practice for taking turns and to have a quick way to evaluate which letters you need to practice more with your child.

*Foam letters are a great resource for a parent to have! There are so many activities that can be done with them. If you don't have a set, I highly recommend them! They'll continue to be useful, even as your child grows and begins to read and write.


Related Posts with Thumbnails