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 21, 2011

Fingerprint Christmas Lights

Meet the Dubiens is one of my favorite blogs.  I loved this post where she created fingerprint lights and decided it was just perfect for our Christmas cards.  J could be fully involved and love every minute of it (he did... of course I don't often bring out the finger paints so he was just thrilled).
And the best yet is they were free!  Or at least we already had all the materials necessary: cardstock blank cards, black sharpie, finger paints.

I drew the wire and small black squares to signifiy each light.  The J took over the fun part.  I was a little worried that he would decide to mix all the paint together which would mean we'd have a bunch of brown Christmas lights (not very festive!).  So I just gave him one color at a time and let him paint a few cards with that color before moving on.  That was just way too tedious and unnecessary.  He ended up doing just fine when I gave him all the colors at once. 

And here's our final product (ugh. can't get the photo to turn!)

I later added "Light has come into the world" (John 3:19) to the front of the cards, printed a picture to go inside and sent them on their way. We loved them!
Don't forget to check out the original at Meet the Dubiens.

Becca also blogs at Fun and Engaging Activities for Toddlers.

Top 5 Pinterest Christmas Finds

Now this is a hard task. There is no shortage of fun Christmas ideas out there. Here are my current five favorite for Christmas to give you some more ideas!

Nativity Pre-K Pack
from Over the Big Moon

This is a free printable that has several activities to do with a Nativity theme. Love this! We have used several of these pages so far.

Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies
from CakeCentral

This is super cute. These are gingerbread cutouts that are upside down and decorated as Rudolf!

M&M Wreath

This is on our list for this week. A great activity for working sorting, fine motor, and colors at the same time.

Footprint Christmas Tree

Is this not adorable?

Play Felt Tree & Ornaments

This is seriously an amazing idea. I love, love, love it. You could so easily make something similar for various holidays, too. Giant egg to decorate for Easter, Felt tree to decorate by season, turkey with various feathers...lots of possibilities.

You can find me on Pinterest here: https://pinterest.com/valplowman/

You can follow my Learning Ideas board here: https://pinterest.com/valplowman/learning-ideas/

And my Christmas board here: https://pinterest.com/valplowman/christmas/

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Wreath Ornament

Kaitlyn brought this home from preschool last week and it was one of those things where I thought, "Why have I never thought of that?"

  • green foam
  • red ribbon for bow
  • string for hanging
  • glue
  • desired decorations
  • scissors
  1. Gather supplies
  2. Cut out wreath (you can use straight scissors, but decorative scrapbooking scissors will add some character)
Have your child decorate as desired! A simple and cute ornament!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerbread Number Activity

As I shared in my post on Monday, we just finished up a week on Gingerbread men. This was our number activity. I found this at this website also: http://www.pre-kpages.com/gingerbread/

I made this page by googling "Gingerbread man coloring page" and chose this simple gingerbread man. I then opened it in Photoshop and put numbers in it. You could do it in Word or other programs, also. Here is my copy you are free to use.

The activity is simple. You give your child a dice and something to mark with. You have your child roll and mark off each number as he gets it. My kids really enjoyed it!

For more of a challenge for older children, you could do larger numbers (7-12) and give them two die and have them add the numbers together.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingerbread Alphabet

We just finished up a fun week of Gingerbread activities. This was our alphabet activity. I got this idea from here: http://www.pre-kpages.com/gingerbread/. She had a free download of the pages, but it only had letters A-F, so I quickly made some of my own. You can download them here.

To prep this activity, I created the pages, printed them, then laminated pages and letters so they will hold up from year to year.

For my older children (4 and 6), I simply gave the child all of the gingerbread men pages and all of the letters (upper and lowercase) at the same time and told them to match them up. They put the upper and lowercase letters on the same man. This is something that helps them work on letter recognition and keeps them occupied for a good chunk of time. They don't need any assistance from you.

For my 2.5 year old, we did things differently. We did one sheet at a time. I gave her the upper and lowercase letters for the letters on that sheet. She could do the uppercase all by herself, so if you want a younger child to do this activity independently, you might want to just do uppercase letters. She needed help with the lowercase letters.

The way I helped her understand grouping the letters together even if they looked different is I told her the man on the page is the "daddy letter," the uppercase letter was the "mommy letter," and the lowercase letter was a "baby letter." This worked for her because she is obsessed with babies. It helped her grasp that the letters can go together even if they don't look the exact same.

I had her hold a letter up and tell me what letter it was, then match it. She could get all uppercase, and knew some lowercase, but didn't know them all. It was a great exercise in getting her to think about lowercase letters.

For younger toddlers, I would recommend doing just uppercase. For a pre-toddler or baby, you might hold the letter up and say what it is and then put it on the page or have your child put it on the page if possible.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nativity Act Out

Every year around Christmas, we get together with the cousins and act out the Nativity. The children dress up very simply. We use towels, adult dress shirts, robes, ties, and scarves. We also use props like angel wings, stars, and crowns. 

The children each get a piece of a nativity set and dress up as that character. We then read the Christmas story from Luke. As the child's part is read, the child comes into the room and places his or her piece in the stable and stands in place. 

This is a very effective way to teach children the story of the nativity! You can apply the dressing up to any scripture story you want to focus on.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How I Do It: Learning Time

On one of my other blogs, I have been doing a series on how I do various things in my day. Here is my post on how I do learning time. I thought it was appropriate here :)

Learning time at our house is something that has definitely grown over the years. I remember talking to one of my very best friends when Brayden was two. She was a school teacher before becoming a mom (a very good one), and we have been friends since elementary, so she knows me well. We were talking about what Brayden knew and didn't and I expressed that he couldn't do something all the way yet, and she laughed and said it was a 3 year old skill and not to worry about it. She commented that he would of course be fine because of all that I did with him. I told her I didn't do anything beyond normal stuff you do with children. She then listed off all of these things I did with him daily that helped him learn--things I had never thought of as teaching him, just things you did with kids. One example is reading with him each day.

Two days ago, my sister-in-law was asking me how I structure learning time and she commented that she should have started long ago with her oldest (who is two). I assured her she was fine. I didn't start formal learning time with Brayden until I was pregnant with McKenna, so he was 3. 

I share that with you to impress upon you that learning time does not need to be formal and I also don't want this post to cause you stress about not having done something with your child yet. This is how I do learning time right now, but not how I did it 5 years ago. Don't underestimate the power of playing with, reading to, and working beside your child. If you want to add more formal setting for your child, this can be a great structured playtime slot in your day. Here is how I do it.

Organize Your Stuff
An important step to having successful learning time with your child is to organize your actual stuff. You'll have paints, crayons, paper, sequins, string, saved paper towel rolls...lots of stuff. You need somewehre to put it. There are tons and tons of different ways to do this. Some people can have an actual room that is used for learning activities in their home. In it, they can have drawers, closets, shelves, etc. full of their items.

Other people (like me) do not have a room dedicated to a toy room and/or learning room. We do our crafty stuff in the kitchen for the most part. I have our items organized into totes. I then have these totes primarily in the office closet, which is close to the kitchen. I used to keep the items all downstairs in a nice big closet. Space-wise, it worked great. But proximity wise, it was annoying to me. I didn't like going all the way downstairs each day for our learning stuff (I know, my life is so hard--sense sarcastic tone). But it was annoying enough that I would put off doing learning activities. So I recommend you keep your items as close to where you will do your activities as possible. Here is the section of my closet in my office for the learning items:

I also recently dedicated a drawer in my kitchen to learning items. We have all of our crayons, pencils, pens, markers, etc. in it. My children all love to color, so I can grab a paper and hand them crayons to keep them occupied at the bar while I make dinner. 

I keep all of my laminated items for my learning poster I describe below (letters, numbers, shapes, calendar items, etc.) in envelopes:

And I keep those envelopes in an accordion file organizer:

I also keep anything that can fit in there that has to do with learning stuff :)

Here are some more organization ideas:

Think of Learning Ideas
Another important step to doing learning activities is to think of ideas to do :) This is such an easy step in our modern world. There are fun books out that give you ideas (The Toddler's Busy BookPreschooler's Busy Book, and The Siblings' Busy Book). There is also an untold number of blogs in the Internet that give you ideas (I will of course plug the one I write with a few other moms: Children's Learning Activities). As you do these regularly, you will find that you start to come up with your own fun ideas of things to do!

Plan Your Week
I think you will get the most from your time spent if you plan out your week ahead of time. I really like to do a theme each week. I got into this habit in following the curriculum on this blog: http://www.ourpreschoolhomeschool.blogspot.com/.

I loved the set-up and we have continued this way while creating our own themes and ideas. Each week, I pick a theme, vocabulary word, nursery rhyme, letter, shape, color, number, and scripture to focus on. Then I plan my activities around those ideas. In addition to activities that teach those items, I try to do sensory, gross motor, fine motor, sorting and matching, and science. We also read books that are related to our theme. This might sound super over-whelming, but a lot of these can be combined with each other. If it all seems like too much, just start small and work your way up.

I use one of two different documents I have made for planning. This one is detailed and has one week per page. This one is my quick planning sheet. I use this one most of the time. It has two weeks per page on it.

Once I have the week's activities planned, I make a list of things to do to prep for our activities. For example, we recently did a week on Thanksgiving. One project we did was a Mayflower shape picture. To prepare for this, I created the shapes to use in the picture. 

I then make a list of things I need to buy to do any of our activities. 

Prepare for Activities
Now that you have everything planned, you need to prepare. I find this is easiest to do all ahead of time. I take a couple of hours (ideally the Friday or Saturday before the next week starts, but sometimes I am doing it on Monday of the week we are doing the theme) to prep everything. I print my learning poster items, make sure the calendar is ready, and prep activities. 

I also need to go shopping sometimes to get some things to do activities. 

I also prepare my Face-out Book Shelves. I put the books that go with our theme on the shelves. If I have extra space on my shelves, I put other books I want to encourage the children to read at the time.

Do the Activities
Now is the execution. We used to always do this in the morning hours, but right now I do not have a consistent or ideal time to do it. My problem is I want Kaitlyn involved in it all, but that is rather silly becaus she is at preschool three days a week. So yesterday I decided I need to have a set time and on certain days, she just wont be around. But there are some activities I know the older kids (Brayden and Kaitlyn) will just love so we do it after Brayden gets home from school.

Here is our process.

  1. We start with our Learning Poster. See this post for more on it. We discuss our theme and the vocabulary word. We then recite the nursery rhyme. We then talk about the letter, the sound it makes, and words that start with that letter. We then do the color and shape. We finish up the poster with our number of the week. We count to that number. I have printed (and laminated) a picture of each. On Monday, we put each item in place as we go along. 
  2. We then do our Calendar. See this post for more information about our calendar. We say the day (Friday), the month (December), and the date (second), with the year (2011). We put the number for the day on the calendar. We then talk about the weather outside and put up the appropriate picture. We then read and recite our scripture.
  3. We read a story. We pick a story that coincides with our theme for the week and read it.
  4. We do our activity(s). Sometimes, we move right into this. Other times, we wait until after lunch or after Brayden is home from school. 
One thing I recommend is that you take a picture of the creation right away. That way, you can either save the best and you have a photo before it is smashed OR you can throw it away after you have displayed it for a while. You can't save everything. 

I always hang my children's latest up on our refrigerator. They love to see it up there. So find somewhere in your home you can display your children's artwork. I have more ideas in my head for this...hopefully it will come to pass so I can share.

If you want to do a learning time each day but this all seems overwhelming, it is okay to start small. We we first started, we just did the learning poster side of things without an extra activity. Make this work for your family. 

I would love to hear how you do it! How do you organize? How do you plan and prepare? How do you execute?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Book List 2011

That's Not My Reindeer by Fionna Watt

We love these books of "That's not my..." They are really fun touch and feel books. This is a great Christmas book for the little ones.

This one is currently unavailable on Amazon, so I can't link to it for you.  Hopefully you can find it at the library or at a different bookstore.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

This is another series we love at our house. This little llama is always full of passion. His mama is always patient about teaching him how to be, so it is a funny story that teaches the children correct behavior and reminds mom to always be patient.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell! by Lucille Colandro

We fully enjoy this series also (notice a theme to these book recommendations...). These are silly stories where the lady swallows several different objects that she...regurgitates? in some way to produce a product. It is fun to look at how the small parts contributed to the whole picture.

Merry Christmas, Splat (Splat the Cat) by Rob Scotton

And yet another fun series. Splat the cat is a fun cat who is also funny. He is always messing up somehow :) In this book, he helps mom and dad out--in typical "helping" way.

Who Was Born This Special Day? by Eve Bunting

This one is not part of a series. I do have others that are fun, but this story is Kaitlyn's absolute favorite already this season, so I had to pass it along. This one is not silly and not fun--it is sweet. It goes through the animals and asks them if they were born this special day. They all explain when they were born. Finally it comes to the Christ child. This is a sweet Christmas book.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Round-Up 2011

Are you ready for Christmas? I feel like I am still mentally preparing for Halloween! Where did time go?!!???

Christmas Books and Recommendations

Get our 2009 Christmas Book Recommendations

Our book recommendations for 2010!

This activity creates a fun ornament for your tree while working on shapes, fine motor skills, and colors. 

This is a fun way to remember all of the fun you had this year as a family. See also:

Time Capsule

A fun tradition to do each year.

Learn about different Christmas traditions from around the world.

Super cute activity for the letter R and reindeer week.

If your kids are like mine, glitter is a favorite. This activity has glitter!

Get some fine motor practice in with present wrapping.

I call Raegan the queen of sorting activities, and she does not disappoint with this one :)

The shepherds are a humble part of the Christmas story. You can talk about them as you make these sweet lambs.

Gingerbread is a fun theme for a week during December! 

December seems to be full of natural fine motor practice. Take advantage of it all!

Straw Bed for Jesus

Help your children focus on the reason for the season.

Making the Holidays Memorable

Ideas for getting the most out of your holidays.

Christmas Symbols Poem

A poem for reminding us what all of our decorations symbolize.

Christmas Symbols and Meanings

A list of all of the Christmas Symbols and what they mean.

Gingerbread Tips

Making gingerbread items can turn into no fun for everyone if you don't do it right. Find tips for making this a fun tradition rather than a point of contention.

Candy Train

Make a yummy candy train.

Snowmen Ornaments

A darling keepsake ornament to make with your children.

Homemade Ornaments

More ideas for homemade ornaments.

Reindeer Week

Enough reindeer activities to more than fill a week up. They will leave you with your head spinning.

More Reindeer Activities

Just in case your head was not spinning fast enough, we added a few more reindeer activities.

Christmas Tree Art

A great fine motor activity that results in a very cute decoration.

Christmas Tree Rice Krispy Treats

Yummy, festive treats.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fabulous Fall Fun: Corn Maze

Fall is almost over for me (okay, let's be real, it was over about three weeks ago, I mean, it is snowing while I write this). Anyway, the "calendar" says fall so I am doing a fabulous fall post. 

One of our favorite traditions is to do a corn maze. I am sure not all of you will have access to a corn maze because corn doesn't grow everywhere. You might have a straw maze or something that you can go to.

Now, some places will have a corn maze that is kid-friendly--meaning it is not several miles of maze. If you do not have a kid-friendly version, don't be afraid of turning around and coming back out the entrance. We have done that several times. If you don't have an hour or two to walk through the maze, there is no problem with retreating out the entrance. 

If you go for the long haul, we have found this to be most pleasant if it is warm, so going on a Saturday in the middle of the day is better for us than trying to beat the sunset after work on a weekday. Bring a stroller for young kids--even young kids who typically walk (unless you don't mind carrying this young child). Bring blankets, hats, and coats. 

We let Brayden take the map and navigate us through the maze, which he is very happy about. If you don't want to hand it all over to the child, let the child help look at the map and talk about which way to to to get out. 

A maze is a great activity! You get exercise, you can practice map reading and maze-following as well as instruction following. Lots of fabulous fall fun!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Though the Wampanoag Indians who were involved in the first Thanksgiving did not live in Teepees, Teepees are associate with Indians in general, and Thanksgiving is a time of year we talk about Native Americans, so I thought it was an appropriate time of year to share this activity idea.

It is simple. You take a tortilla, roll it into a cone, then secure with a toothpick. You then let your child paint and decorate it. It is fun and a novel item to paint.

You could add some history to the activity by studying the Plains Indians and teepees and share the knowledge with your child as you paint. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

L is for Leaves

This was a fun activity that incorporated a fun fall hunt, fine motor skills, letter review, sensory, gluing practice, and lots of teachable moments on the walk!
Before the walk we talked about:
*Color of changing leaves
*Items that represent fall
*What to collect, what to avoid
Then off we went! We collected pine needles, pine cones, crunchy leaves, leaves that are just changing, acorns, dried branches, and anything else that represented fall.
For this activity it's best to make sure you collect some crunchy leaves.
We played some I/eye spy games:
"I spy with my little eye, something squirrels collect!"
Then at home, with a previously prepared Ll paper, they crunched and smashed the leaves, and sprinkled them like glitter over a glued surface.
L is for leaves. Enjoy!


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