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, December 29, 2010

Bead Stringing

Stringing beads is a great fine motor activity. You can also mix different facets in by getting shaped beads, colored beads, and/or letter beads.

The activity is rather straight forward. You buy beads. You buy some sort of string. You string beads.

I make jewelry, so I was very intent on buying supplies inexpensively. Honestly, if I had to do it over again, I would get a kit from Melissa and Doug. They are great quality and the price in the end is very similar.

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden 27-Piece Lacing Beads in a Box

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pre-Toddlers/Early Toddlers and Coloring

I don't think there has ever been a child to love coloring more than McKenna. From a very young age, she started bringing me the box of crayons with a coloring book and babbling something (surely about coloring) with that look on her face. That look you can't say no to.

With Brayden, I would try coloring every so often, but he was more interested in lining the crayons up in a row than coloring. This actually didn't make me feel bad because I don't much like coloring myself. I know, I am weird right? Kaitlyn loves to color, but is perfectly content to do so on her own.

And then there was McKenna.

She loves to color, and more important than the coloring is that Mom is on the floor coloring with her. Most days, coloring is our learning activity for her. This is how we do it.

We put the book on the floor. We lay on our tummies on the floor and color together. McKenna mimics me in every way, so she is right on her belly with me. Then we both just color. She helps. She watches. She loves every moment. The above is a photo of one of our joint efforts.

What if your child doesn't like to color? I don't know how right this is, but my inclination is not to worry about it. Brayden didn't like coloring until he was in preschool. Now he loves it. So my approach was to try it once a week, but I didn't press the issue. I tend to really run with the things they are interested in at the young ages, then start to require some things every so often as I feel it is age-appropriate. Hence the constant coloring with McKenna.

Maybe her enthusiasm will rub off and she will teach me to love it. I may not love the coloring, but I do love the tender time spent together as we color a picture.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Book List 2010

Here are the Christmas books to add to our list for 2010! Click here for last year's list.

How Santa Lost His Job by Stephen Krensky
How Santa Lost His JobLast year, Raegan shared How Santa Got His Job with you. The logical next step is how he lost it! This is a fun story about Santa's quirks and how he lost his job that one year.

Russell's Christmas MagicMy kids love Russell the Sheep, so when I saw Russell's Christmas Magic, I knew it would be a hit with them, too. Russell helps save Christmas!

The Something Wonderful: A Christmas StoryIn this story, the animals in THE stable get all busy and preoccupied with the upcoming something wonderful that was about to happen. They really busy themselves. A little lamb finally pulls them back to being kind and focusing on being ready in the right way. A great story for reminding us to prepare the right way for the something wonderful.

Santa's First Flight by Sam Beeson
This is a really fun story about the evolution of Santa. His first year, people were not so keen on the idea of a stranger showing up and sliding down their chimneys, but they warm up to the idea.

MOOSELTOE [ First edition ] by Margie Palatini
MOOSELTOE [ First edition ]
This is definitely a favorite story around here at Christmas time. A funny Christmas story.

Humphrey's First Christmas
This is one of those stories that brings tears to my eyes each time I read it. It is interesting for the kids so they stay engaged, but it also has a great moral about the way we should all be. Humphrey has a mighty change of heart. 

I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles
These are great learning books.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Triangle Star Ornament

Brayden made this cute star in Primary this past Sunday. It is quite simple and a fun way for your child to make an ornament. This is perfect if you want to learn about the shape triangle at this time of year. It is also great for developing geometry skills in recognizing shapes within shapes.

Cut out two triangles. If your child is old enough, have him cut them out. This is excellent fine motor practice.

Glue the two triangles together so they form a star shape. Punch a hole in one point, tie a ribbon, and you are done!

This is simple enough for older children (preschooler and older) to do without your direct help, so you could have this be a Christmas activity while you are doing other things close by.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Time Capsules

With all good intentions, I wanted to do a family time capsule last year. Unfortunately, that just didn't happen. But this year, all that has changed. I have my small Tupperware with a lid, my camera handy and ready to go, and my forms all printed and ready. I love the idea of having something to open next year as a family on Christmas day, and to be able to talk, laugh, and remember all the things that have happened this year. I bet if you think about it, too, you'll agree that there are probably some things that have happened this year that need to be recorded.

SO how to get started?

Well, I went to the Dollar Tree and got a small Tupperware with a lid. Next, I typed and printed up a list of things I wanted to remember. I can't wait to hear the answers my 3 year old gives me. After everyone (including me and my husband) fill out our papers, we'll pack them up, ready to reopen this time in 2011. I also intend on including pictures from Christmas this year.

So what kind of questions can you include?

Here's a sample of mine.

Don't forget to include some fun Christmas pics!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Traditions Around the World

In a magazine we get (the Friend), the December 2009 issue had a list of Christmas traditions people do around the world. I though it was fun to read and wanted to share. I think it would be fun to implement traditions from cultures that you have family heritage from. I also think it would be a fun thing to do to help teach about different cultures.
Japan: Children love to eat Christmas cake with strawberries and whipped cream

Finland: Families visit cemeteries on Christmas Eve and lace candles on the graves of loved ones

India: People put small clay lamps on the roofs of their homes to show Jesus is the Light of the World

Ireland: Families place candles in the windows of their homes to show that they would have welcomed Mary and Joseph

Germany: Children leave their shoes or boots by the fireplace or outside their front doors. The next morning, the shoes are filled with candy

Australia: Many people go to the beach and sing Christmas carols

Argentina: Families light diamond-shaped paper balloons called globos on Christmas Eve and release them into the night sky

Venezuela: Children roller-skate in the streets early on Christmas morning

United States: People decorate evergreen trees with small lights, tinsel, and ornaments

Philippines: Families decorate with parols, which are star shapes made out of bamboo and tissue paper and lit with tiny lights

Liberia: Families eat dinner outside, sitting in a circle. A traditional Liberian Christmas dinner includes biscuits, rice, and beef

Bulgaria: Everybody at the table stands at the same time when dinner is over

Sweden: A young girl wears a white dress with a red sash and serves bread and biscuits

Holland: Families celebrate on Christmas Eve by drinking hot chocolate and eating banketletter, a cake that looks like the first letter of the family's last name

Norway: Children eat rice pudding. The child who finds the hidden nut wins a candy pig or a piece of chocolate

Mexico: Families cut designs in paper bags to make lanterns, or farolitos. Candles are placed inside the farolitos, which line the sidewalks, windows, and rooftops

Spain: Children are given toys, sweets, or small instruments as they go from house to house reciting versus or singing carols

Italy: One week before Christmas, children dress as shepherds and go from door to door singing songs and reciting poems

England: Children receive a paper-covered tube, called a Christmas cracker, at Christmas dinner. The tube cracks loudly when pulled apart. A paper hat, poem, or small toy is inside

New Zealand: Many cities have celebrations in parks. People listen to well-known singers sing Christmas carols

Tonga: Families get up early to make and deliver breakfast to their neighbors. Children are excited to deliver these breakfasts and see what the neighbors bring

Paraguay: People decorate their homes with coco flowers

Lebanon: Chickpeas, wheat, beans, and lentils are planted two weeks before Christmas. The sprouts are used to surround the nativity scene in the home

Ghana: Families stay up all evening playing games. Just before midnight, the family counts down the seconds until Christmas Day

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rr is for Reindeer

We've been covering the letter Rr this week for Charis and Atalie, and since it's reindeer week at our house, we made Rr reindeer. Makes sense right? This was a fun and easy way to review the letter Rr.
Prep: I drew the letter R r on card stock with brown marker. I did not put the empty space in the capital R, allowing for the wiggly eye to serve that purpose. I pre-cut the rectangles for the antlers. That's it!
  • I let them color the Rrs in w/ brown marker. You could use brown marker, paint, or glue and shreds of brown paper. I chose marker so it would dry faster. Good practice for staying inside of the lines!
  • I again used glue in a small container and a cotton swab to let her glue on the wiggly eye. We had a discussion about why the reindeer only has one eye. Ever notice that projects from kids with a side view of the character produces a product that looks like 2 eyes on one side of the head to us? It's about perspective and what they know to be true about faces; faces have 2 eyes. An explanation of why only one eye is needed would be a great teachable moment here.
  • I used Do-A-Dot markers for the red nose, but you could do anything...puff balls, colored in circle, a button, glue w/ glitter, etc.
  • We glued on a pre-cut ear (again, only one).
  • Then I explained antlers. We talked about what they look like (a comparison to a tree branch is what I used) and how we could use the little rectangles to "build" them on our reindeer.

My preschooler has an aversion to glue and other sticky things on her hands. So I showed her how to use the cotton swab to put glue where she wanted the eye/ear/antlers to be and then sticking the pieces on the paper. That is much cleaner than holding that tiny piece of paper and trying to apply glue without making a mess on your hands.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chalkboard Letter Drills

I sat down with McKenna (20 months) the other day determined to make some progress on her telling me what letter I wrote on the chalkboard. As we got started, I really noticed that she couldn't say many of the letters well. So I changed my goal.

I wrote each letter of the alphabet--one at a time.

I started with A. It doesn't matter what you start with. Going A-Z works for me.

I said, "This is an A. Can you say A?" She would then do her best to repeat whatever I had just said. Some letters she got perfectly. If that was the case, I told her, "Good job! A!" then erased it and wrote the next letter.

If she didn't get it right, however, I repeated the letter. "L." I then pointed to my mouth while I said the letter so she could get a visual on what her mouth should be doing while she said the letter. Sometimes, like with the L, I said, "watch my tongue" in which case she of course started trying to grab my tongue.

As we did this, she became better at mimicking my sounds. I also noticed that there were certain letters she said very wrong but in a very certain way. This helps me know better what she is trying to say when she "babbles."

Sitting at the chalkboard for this was a nice setting. We could turn and look at each other and turn and look at the chalkboard. It gave her a focal point, and it also was interesting to her. She wouldn't have enjoyed it much if I had just sat in front of her. The chalkboard is a fun item.

You can take the same idea and extend it to be appropriate for whatever your child is working on--right on up to writing words.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pinecone Christmas Trees

Here's another fun holiday craft for you to get creative with! We went for a walk and collected pine cones and gumballs one day (gumball craft coming soon). That in itself was a great activity and the girls had fun just exploring and digging around looking for them. The next day I got out tons of supplies...you pretty much can't go wrong. Green paint, glitter, glitter glue, puff balls, cotton (for snow), sequins, etc.
I used some small plastic containers, filled some w/ glue, some w/ paint, and passed out paintbrushes, cotton swabs, and Popsicle sticks to paint and decorate with. I showed them how to pull the cotton to make it look like snow (which neither were interested in). Again, you'll see I contained the mess with my lunch trays from Oriental Trading. I love those things. :) Once they dry I'll tie some ribbon to the top and hang them on the tree as ornaments!
Have fun!!


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