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!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Go Fish

Age Range: 2+ years (the big requirement is to recognize numbers 1-10)

Materials: Deck of cards, preferably one made for kids

  • Shuffle deck, deal cards one at a time to each player until each has 5 cards
  • Place the rest of the deck face down in the center
  • You (player 1) ask your child "Can I have a five?" (or whatever other card you are holding)Your child (player 2) responds with either "yes" and hands over the card if he/she has it or "No, Go fish!" if he/she does not have it.
  • If you are told to "Go fish" you must draw the top card from the stack. If the drawn card matches three cards of a value you already hold, you can lay down the four cards and continue. Otherwise it's player 2's turn.

*A variation we do of the game that makes things easier for a 2 year old to play is we only require two cards of the same kind to lay them down as a matched set. This allows the game to move a bit faster at first and encourages simple matching of like numbers.

*We also kept our cards and Tobias' cards visible for the first 2 games until he understood how to play. Then we started hiding our cards but kept his cards visible so we could help him. Once he gets a bit better he can hide his cards as well and we'll play as normal.

  • The first player to lay down all his cards in matched sets wins!

-please ignore the crazy outfit, Daddy dressed him this morning :)

  • matching
  • number recognition
  • taking turns
  • care of objects (they have to be careful not to bend the cards while playing)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple Books

Last year, Raegan posted with some ideas for some good Fall books. I wanted to add a few fun Apples/Fall books I have come across recently.

Piglet's Fall Day
I couldn't find this on Amazon, which means it is a harder book to find. If you can find it in your library, it is a cute little book about Piglet and Fall. My kids have all loved the Pooh series books when little.

The Apple Orchard (A Visit to...) by Patricia J. Murphy
This book is on Amazon, but out of stock right now. This book has full color photographs that explain a visit to the apple orchard. This is a great book if you can't make it to a real orchard. It would also be a great book to read before you visit to introduce concepts and after you visit to reinforce concepts.

Johnny Appleseed
There are many, many versions of the tale of Johnny Appleseed out there. We borrowed two from the library that were both quite different. I noticed several in Brayden's book club order this Fall. I have linked to all Johnny Appleseed Children's books on Amazon so you can browse through and see if there is one that looks best for your child.

Apples and Pumpkins (Stories to Go!) by Anne Rockwell

I think this is my favorite find this Fall. I loved that it combined the apple and pumpkin themes. It goes through fall activities you do with your family.

The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons

Okay, this one is also a favorite. It shows a tree through all seasons of the year. Every so often, a page has a box with extra information. For this reason, it makes it a great book for the younger crowd as well as the older. You can keep it simple or add more info.

Apple Countdown by Joan Holub
This is a fun new book about counting things around the apple farm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Home Made Calendar

Doing a daily calendar is a great way to help teach your children about days of the week and help them grasp things like "yesterday" and "tomorrow" and "two weeks."

I made this one very inexpensively. It is far from perfect, but good enough for us! I got a piece of poster board from the dollar store as well as some numbers. You could also print the numbers off. I then put a grid for the calendar days. Then I wrote the days of the week across the top. I put pictures of people on their birthday. I also put a spot for the weather for the day. I printed out some weather clipart (sunny, partly sunny, cloudy, raining, snowing, etc.). I have a spot for the scripture we are memorizing. Then I have the title of the month mounted on some scrapbook paper to offer some color. I might start doing a Spanish vocabulary word and put that up, too.

Each day, we put up the number and I say "Today is SATURDAY September 4, 2010. What is the weather like today?" Then we put up the weather picture. We then recite the scripture. This works well with our Learning Poster.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Handprint Apple Tree

A simple way to make a cute hand print keepsake!
  • Washable paint
  • Cardstock (or construction paper)
  • Paintbrush (optional)
  • Do-A-Dot markers, or small sponges, or paintbrush
  • Munchkin hands :)
  1. Dip hands in brown paint. I sponge painted the hand after they dipped it, so it would cover the entire hand.
  2. Wait for it to dry.
  3. Do-a-dot or sponge paint the leaves on the tree (or finger paint).
  4. Dry.
  5. Use 1 finger to dot apples in the tree and around the bottom.

For older kids, or more detailed project:

You can make 4 trees, one tree for each season of an apple tree. You'd need a few more colors (pink, white, fall colors) for the different seasons. A good book to read is The Season's of Arnold's Apple Tree.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Apple Seed Counting

If you decide to spend some time learning about apples this Fall, you might choose to do the Apple Print Activity Raegan shared last year. Or perhaps you will choose to have apples as snacks one day. Either way, you will be cutting into an apple. As you do, you can add a number counting activity!

A great thing about counting things is that any age can benefit from it. If you have a baby or pre-toddler, you can count for them. My little 17 month old can count to two or three if you say "one..." That is just from her hearing me count things all the time. The Toddlers and older can start to count on their own, though young toddlers will need a lot of help.

  • Apple
  • Knife
Cut apple in half

Remove the apple seeds from the apple. Count the seeds with your child. For the younger crowd, just count. For the older toddler and preschooler, have her count them herself by holding them and counting. For the older preschooler and older, do some simple addition or subtraction with the seeds depending on your child's ability.

This activity was inspired by The Toddler's Busy Book, page 195.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Apple File Folder Game- Counting

Here is another example of a file folder game I made, this time focusing on counting. If you'd like the template for the small baskets, here you go! Here's the template for the large basket, if you'd like it.
Okay, for the activity. The file folder with 12 baskets is for my 3 year old, the 6 baskets are for my 19 month old. I printed, cut and glued down the baskets where I wanted them. Then, again, I "laminated" them with packing tape. This game I'm really excited about because it's very versatile. You can write on the baskets using a Vis-A-Vis marker, or dry erase marker. Wipes right off, so the game can change as your child's needs change. Again, super cheap to make, easy to store, and the girls both had a blast.
Since our theme this week is apples (at our house), I used red, green, and yellow "apples" (Skittles) for counting.
For my 1 year old: We are working on 1-1 correspondence and recognizing numbers. I wrote a #1 on each basket and she has to put 1 skittle in each basket.

For my 3 year old: I wrote different numbers, 1-10 (I started easy for her for the introduction to the game), and she has to count out the correct number of apples for each basket.

Some options:
  • Different numbers
  • Patterns (AB, ABB, AABB, etc)
  • Introduction of a new number (ex:write 7 on each basket, and they will get between 6-12 times to practice counting out that number per game played)
  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc
  • Letter matching. Instead of candy apples, put a group of letters (paper, magnetic, etc) and write a letter on each basket. Have them match the correct letters. It could be capitals to capitals, or capital to lower case.
  • Color matching

Monday, September 20, 2010

Successful Learning Tip: Establish Routines

For your child to be at optimal learning ability, she needs to be in good health. That means she needs to have healthy meals and also have regular, consistent sleep patterns.

For meals, be sure to work in all food groups. If you are sending your child off to school or a sport/dance/music lesson, be sure the food you are giving her will sustain her through her time gone. Learning requires brain power, and the brain requires food for power. It is hard to concentrate when you are hungry.

Have bedtime as consistent as possible. Try to not sway more than 30 minutes. Also, have a consistent morning wake time. Sure, if your child will sleep in on weekends and you want her to, let her sleep in a bit. But for most days of the week, have a consistent morning wake time within 30 minutes.

If your child is of the age of still needing naps, be sure to work those into your day.

And don't neglect physical exercise. Play outside each day as possible. Go for walks and bike rides. Play tag. Play on jungle gyms and swings. Play sports. Dance. Chase bubbles. If it is a day you cannot go outside at all, do some indoor activities that are physically challenging (see our gross motor activities for ideas).

These things will help set your child up for optimal learning all day long.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Apple Sort

One of my favorite things to utilize when I taught---File Folder games!!! Imagine...all the pieces in one spot, practicing a skill, one-on-one or independent, quiet games. Oh, and talk about simple storage for you! This took me about 30 minutes TOTAL (looking for pics, printing, cutting, etc) to make.
I simply went to Google Images, typed in free clip art, and chose the apple pictures that I wanted. Cut, paste, repeat.
I made this game for my 19 month old. You can choose 2 or more colors, whatever theme you want, and the game cost me about $1 to make. :)
  • File folder (I bought a cheapy box of the plain. About $3 for 50 at Wal-mart.)
  • Printed and cut apples (or cars, teddy bears, etc)
  • Packing tape (I used it to "laminate" my pieces so they would last longer. $2 for a huge roll)
  • 2 white envelopes, cut in half and taped for sturdiness.

I use the pocket at the top for storage of pieces (opening facing inward to avoid pieces falling out, but ease of use for a 19 month old).

Now I have a game I can pull out when I need a few minutes to finish something I'm working on, for practicing skills together, and something for her activity tray for her to work on while I cook dinner. I can also take it easily with me to a doctor's office, or any place I need her to sit quietly and still for a little while.

She adored the pocket idea, though you could just use a white piece of paper and let the sort and stack them instead.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fruit Bowl Math

This idea is inspired from the Math In Focus program. This is one of those things I thought I would try out, but was sure the kids would be only mildly interested. Then they surprised me by not wanting to ever stop.

AGE RANGE: It is meant for Kindergarteners, but my 3 year old also did it all with no problem at all. I would say definitely preschooler and up, with some older toddlers being able to do it. You could also do a variation for younger toddlers. See Variation section below.

This activity works on teaching similarities and differences among objects. It also works on counting and shapes. You will also get some color work in there.

  • bowl
  • Two apples
  • One banana
  • One lemon
  • One strawberry
Simply put the fruit in the bowl.

  • Choose two fruits. Have your child say the name and what is the same and/or different about them.
  • I had my children describe the shape of the fruit
  • I put all of the fruit in a bowl and asked the child to take out two circle shape fruits or two yellow fruits, etc.
  • Put X number of fruit in the bowl and ask your child to count them
  • Take all fruit out of the bowl. Ask your child to put X number of fruits in the bowl
  • Put two fruit in the bowl. Ask your child to make it so there are four fruit in the bowl
  • Put five fruit in the bowl. Ask your child to make it so there are three fruit in the bowl.

For the younger crowd, go through the fruit in the bowl and describe what is the same and different around them. Hearing you talk about it will help build his vocabulary and awareness. Say colors, shapes, number, etc.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Miniature Candy-ish Apples

I call them candy-ish since they aren't dipped in caramel or that red sticky stuff. But they are mini and they are FUN! Here's what you need:

  • Apples (whatever kind you like)
  • Melon baller/scoop
  • Toothpicks
  • Dipping choices (peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, chocolate, etc)
  • Sprinkles

Here's what you do:

  1. After washing your apples, scoop the apples with the melon baller and stick a toothpick in the tops, so you can see the skin.
  2. While you are scooping, in small bowls, melt the chocolate, peanut butter, etc so it's at a good dipping consistency.
  3. Pour sprinkles on a separate plate.
  4. Holding the apples by the toothpick, let your kiddos dip the apples in the gooey yumminess and then in the sprinkles.
  5. Eat!!!! The favorite here was peanut butter!
    As you can see, she did not enjoy this at all. If you try this, what did your munchkin(s) like for dipping the most? You could also crunch up cereal or nuts instead of sprinkles!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Successful Learning Tip: Talk With Your Child

Hearing vocabulary is a great enhancer of learning. The more words your child hears, the more words are built in her head. A great way to help build up your child's vocabulary is to talk with your child. You talk, your child talks, you listen, and your child listens.

Listening to a child and especially answering 100 questions (you know kids don't play 20 questions; they play 100 questions, most of which start with W and end with HY) can get frustrating sometimes. I have heard people say many times that they couldn't wait for their child to start talking, but then they couldn't get them to quit! Remember, talk to them while they are young, not only to help build vocabulary, but so they want to talk to you when they are teenagers. Don't think you can avoid talking with the 4 year old and strike up conversations at 14 years old.

Children love to talk in most cases. Ask her questions about her day. When she has questions, answer them. Answer them with real answers, not "because" and "I don't know." When she has answers you don't know, go to a resource and look it up together.

Listen to her when she is talking; use good non-verbals that show you are listening. Be interested in what she has to say.

Encourage your child to express herself, speak clearly, and use words correctly. As you speak, set a good example of how to speak correctly. But don't become a nag. You don't want your child to avoid talking to you because of your constant correction. If your child says something incorrectly, you can simply say it back to her, with some emphasis on the word said incorrectly.

Child: "That odder boy did it."
You: "The other boy did it?"

Now, something to be aware of is that in general, boys do not talk as freely as girls. I have seen that sharply with my children. I love to know what is going on with my kids. When Brayden started nursery in church, I would always ask him about his day.

"What did you learn about in nursery today?"

"I don't know."

"What songs did you sing?"

"I don't remember."

That is a typical conversation between Brayden and me after church. As he has gotten older, he has gotten better. But I often have to ask specific questions and get him talking about it for several minutes before he will volunteer information.

Then came Kaitlyn. She would give me so many details, down to conversations she had with people. It was amazing!

Kaitlyn likes to play with a neighbor boy who is a few months older than she. One day at lunch after playing with him, she said, "Mom, guess what me and Max did. We ate weeds! And they were yucky. Bleh!"

Knowing boys, I was sure my neighbor had no idea her son had been out eating weeds, so I told her all about it and we got a kick out of the difference between males and females. You will have to work harder to get your son talk to you than you will your daughter. And that rings true in most cases for adults as well, right?

I have found some tricks with Brayden. I ask him a general question, "Did you have fun playing with the neighbors?" He will reply yes. Then I say, "What did you do?" He will then reply played games and stuff or I don't know....sometime uninformative. I then just sit still and wait, but wait without pressure. I don't stare him down. I might pretend like I am going to read the newspaper or something.

He will then start to tell me things. As I listen, he tells me more and more. I just have to ask a couple of simple, non-pressure questions in the beginning, wait, and he will tell.

Another trick with all males in general is they tend to prefer talking while doing something (like folding laundry, doing dishes, or even playing in the sand) and prefer to be side by side--not sitting and facing each other. So if you are trying to get your son to talk to you, try sitting down and building Legos or inviting him to join you work on something while you casually ask him questions.

Talking with your child is a great way to both teach your child about language and social skills, and also to remain aware of what is going on in his world. You can help him work through his feelings and decipher his thoughts on what is going on.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fall Round-Up

Now that we are working on year two of our blog, we can bring to your attention previous posts that are appropriate for the season we are in. Here is a list of some fun posts for Fall:

There you have it! Fall posts from 2009. Look forward to more in 2010!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Blogiversary!

It is hard to pick the exact date this blog started, but I decided September 8 it is because it was the first day we published an activity.

One year already! Many thanks to the wonderful ladies, Raegan and Amanda, for all they do here. Thanks to you wonderful readers! Thanks for your comments and letting us know how things go. We hope you find great things here and you feel motivated to help your children learn and love to learn.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Labor Day is an interesting holiday. While other similar holidays are set aside, rightfully so, to celebrate great leaders in Civil Rights, Presidents, and veterans of war, Labor Day is a holiday set aside to celebrate the every day worker.

As you go about your fun today, I encourage you to take a moment to share with your children what wonderful things important people in their lives do. Tell them about Dad's job, Gradparents' jobs, and other people important to your child. Tell your children that the holiday is to celebrate the American Workers and all that they have accomplished in the last year. It can be a simple way to get a bit of a history lesson worked in to your day of fun.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Successful Learning Tip: Provide Experiences

There are many ways for a child to learn, but the best way to learn is through first hand experiences. As often as you can, provide first-hand experiences for your child. Today, I will discuss three ideas: trips, pets, and friends.

Trips bring the world around your child to life. They expand his horizons. Reading about a bunny is nice. Touching a live bunny teaches the child a lot more about that bunny. Telling a child a cow says moo is great. The child hearing the cow say moo will bring a smile to her face. Explaining to your child how big a fighter jet is no match for taking him to the museum and having him walk around it.

For each week, I try to do a "field trip" that is in conjunction with our theme for the week. This hasn't always been possible. During light house week, I had no lighthouse to go visit. I live in the West....no lighthouses here. But you can talk about how lighthouses are on shore lines, and so is sand, and play in the sand.

The experiences your child has will make him more interested in learning about topics. He might think it is fun to look at books of dinosaurs and to play with dinosaurs. But if you go to a dinosaur museum, he is going to have so much more interest when you learn about dinosaurs in the future. This is one reason why I think it is so valuable to visit actual history museums and historical sites. The places and people become more real. This is one reason why I think every citizen of the US should visit Washington DC and take in all of the historical sites (well, as many as they can. ALL is a bit hard to do in an average vacation). It lights a fire and appreciation in you. You want to learn more and you want to do more.

You don't have to go far. Most places have lots of museums around them. Look into what tourists do in your area. Go to the County Fair to see lots of different animals. Check out the Simple Summer Fun posts for more ideas.

Field trips and vacations aren't the only important experiences for your child to have. Another great experience for the child is a family pet. As a child, I grew up with countless pets. I had dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, birds, fish, rabbits, goats, sheep, horses...lots of pets. I learned so much from these pets. Now, as a parent, I fully recognize pets are not easy and not always fun. I thought getting a puppy would be great fun and a breeze. I had about 10 dogs in my life to that point. I could handle it. Well, having a dog as the parent is a different experience than having it as the child. But no matter how mad I get at that dog (did I mention she is a Lab? Ever see Marley and Me? That is a true depiction of life with labs), she brings joy to my children, and I have to forgive her :).

But don't just have the pet. As your child gets older, add responsibilities for your child to care for the pet. And you don't have to go to dog. Fish can work great, too. I once had a goldfish live over 8 years. That was more than I bargained for when I brought it home :). That is a lot of tank cleaning. But don't be scared; most goldfish don't live that long.

Another great way to provide experiences for your child is to provide opportunities for your child to play with other children. Play with neighbors and cousins. Have playdates. Go to the park and encourage your child to make friends with the children there. Social skills are important in life. We have to learn to get along with people, and learning to make friends is a great skill.

These are all some basic ways to provide opportunities for your child to be set up for successful learning.


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