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, March 31, 2011

Sticker Sorting

We do a lot of sticker sorting in this house. It is a great way for J to practice categories and also helps him with fine motor skills (getting the stickers off really works those pincher muscles).  It requires little prep on my part and the only supplies necessary are paper and stickers! These activities also work really well on airplanes (easy to pack and keeps them occupied for a long time!).  We travel a lot and I always have some type of sticker sorting included in our carry-on bag.

Prep: I printed out pictures of a road, the water and the sky. You could definitely just draw these as part of the activity on the plane.  I then cut out stickers of things that were found in each location.  I placed the stickers in a zip-up pencil bag.  J pulled out one sticker at a time and decided which setting it should be placed in.  This worked really well and kept him occupied for awhile (he had a lot of stickers to place).


We’ve also done a similar activity in a hotel room.  I drew a train track, road and lake on some paper and he found stickers to place on each.  He was then quite content to drive his cars around the tiny road for quite awhile!

Finally we’ve done something similar at a restaurant.  I have a random assortment of items in my purse at any given moment.  In this case stickers and index cards.  We drew a setting on each one and he sorted the stickers.
These type of activities would also work well for long doctor appointments and car rides too or at home of course.

Here are a couple other examples I’ve posted on in the past:
Sorting Colors with Stickers
Counting with Stickers

We’ve also done shapes, seasons, letters and animal homes.  The possibilities are limited only by your sticker collection.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weekend Craft Workshops

I wanted to tell you all about a fabulous, free, fun craft activity you can do each month. They happen and Lowe's and also at Home Depot. The photo above is from Lowe's (made by Kaitlyn). I haven't taken a photo of Brayden's latest creation at Home Depot, but it is a wood car that he painted and put together. It looks like this:

These happen on different Saturdays of the month, so you can do both stores if you want to. They provide the items, you provide the child :). You get an apron at each store (though Home Depots is honestly a better apron). At Home Depot, you get a pin to put on your apron for each project completed. At Lowe's, you get a patch to sew on your apron for each project completed. 

Home Depot Information
  • Home Depot Kid Workshops.
  • Designed for kids 5-12 (but we have taken Brayden off and on since he was about 18 months)
  • Free
  • First Saturday of the month
  • 9-12 AM (open house style)
  • No reservations required (at least at my store)
April's Project: 

Lowe's Information
  • Lowe's Build and Grow
  • Ages vary based on project
  • Free
  • 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month (I believe)
  • 10 AM
  • Sign-up recommended--see linked website above--some places would need a sign up depending on how many people go.
April's Project (April 9)

April's Project (April 23)


Monday, March 28, 2011

U Words

This is something Brayden made in preschool last year. It is a simple activity to learn about the letter U, talk about rain, and do some fine motor practice while also working on gluing skills.

Age Range
Preschoolers through Kindergarteners. Some older toddlers might be able to do this, too. If you have an older child do this, challenge him by having him cut around the rain drop, not just a rectangle around the raindrop.

Supplies Needed
  • Paper with umbrella on it
  • Paper with raindrops with pictures of U items--including the letter U
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Crayons
  1. Have your child color the pictures. Be sure to talk about the words and the "U" sound they start with.
  2. Have your child cut out the rain drops.
  3. Have your child glue the raindrops onto the picture.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stringing Sponges

In one of my trips through the dollar store, in search of cheap, light weight “toys” to keep my toddler busy on planes, I came up with this version of stringing beads.

I bought a couple packages of sponge curlers (the kind some of us slept in when we were little).  They came in black and pink in our dollar store.  I took them home and sliced some in thirds, some in half, and kept others the full length.  I keep them in a small wipee box with some pipe cleaners.  The sponges are perfect to string on the pipe cleaners.  I think it’s a little easier for them use the pipe cleaners than regular string, making this activity possible at a younger age.  You could also use thin straws.  We also make jewelry with them or link them together to create a chain (thought J needs a lot of help with that).  **Since this original post, I came across a larger color selection of the sponges which allowed him to play a matching game too (matching them to the colored pipe cleaners)**

This makes a good plane/travel activity because it keeps them occupied for awhile, it reuses the same materials from other plane activities (so you have to pack less), and it’s lightweight.  The disadvantage is that the sponges can be decidedly fun to throw around on the plane.  J just learned that was not an option.  But in the meantime, at least they don’t hurt if they hit you and they’re so cheap that it’s not terrible if some are lost.  This worked well for J at 23 months; our first experience with this plane activity (at 14 months) didn’t go as well.

Of course you can also use these at home!

Age attempted:  14 months (too young for on the plane), better by 18 months and good at it by 23 months

Teachable Moments:  We’ve worked on the meaning of push and pull with this.  Fine motor skills get a lot of practice.  You can make patterns with the different colors, match colors, practice counting by assigning a different number of sponge beads for each pipe cleaner, etc.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Painting With Texture

Last month, Brayden had a "night of the arts," which is akin to "Reflections" (we have a PTO instead of a PTA). 

The theme was treasures, and being a 5 year old boy, he naturally wanted to paint a picture of a treasure chest on a desert island.

He decided to make it a bit more interesting, though, by adding some texture. For the "gold," he used glitter. For the sand, he went to our sandbox and literally took sand. He applied some glue, then rubbed sand on the paper (yes, messy). I think it turned out cute and I plan to try to work more texture into our painting. It combines sensory with art. It was lots of fun!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Round-Up

Yesterday was the first day of Spring, so I wanted to do a Spring round-up today. I also want to get you thinking about some events that happen in April (or at least are this year).  Easter and Earth Day are happening in April this year, so be sure to keep those in mind as you plan your April activities.

Paper Plate Rainbow Streamer
This was posted recently. Rainbows are a fun thing to learn about at this time of year because of all of the rain...leading to rainbows.

Spring Chick
Another fun thing that happens this time of year is a high number of baby animals born. This is a fun activity for talking about how baby chicks are "born."

Spring Collections
A fun, simple way to introduce Spring to your child.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucky Charms Math

I gave J a little bowl of Lucky Charms cereal and first had him sort the marshmallows using the sorting printout here.  I actually had a bowl of cereal to sort myself.  I've found this often helps J stay focused and work more independently.  Sometimes if he's doing an activity with me just sitting there next to him, he'll ask for my help more often.  If I have my own activity to work on, he's fine doing this by himself.  It's also a great way to teach something new since I'm basically modeling what to do (and helped a lot when we did the charting later).

After sorting the marshmallows, he graphed them using the chart here.  We practiced reading the graph to find out how many marshmallows he had in each category (without actually counting), and quickly determine which category had the most and the least.
 J did really well on this.  He waited so patiently to eat his marshmallows (I did let him eat the broken ones and the cereal as we sorted).

Here's another chart that would work well for coloring, but there's not enough space for actually charting the marshmallows.

Age attempted: 35 months

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clover Cookie Cutter Prints

Age Range: Definitely toddler and up. You might try this with a pre-toddler if you are willing to referee mouth attempts and other messy situations.

Supplies Needed
  • paper
  • paint
  • cookie cutter in shape of choice
  • paper plate or pie plate (or something) to hold paint in 
  • Also optional: glitter
  1. Pour some paint into the paper plate or pie plate
  2. Have your child dip the cookie cutter in the paint, then press on the paper. You can pour glitter on while wet

Monday, March 14, 2011

Paper Plate Streamer Rainbow

This is a great time of year to talk about rainbows. The rainy season of spring brings rainbows. And rainbows are something fun to tie into any St. Patrick's Day learning you may be doing.

This is a very simple activity. It is a fun, simple craft that can morph into a fun gross motor activity.

Age Range
Toddler and up.

  • Gather supplies
  • Cut flat circle out of paper plate (as shown above)
  • Paper plate
  • Streamers in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple (two shades if you can find them)
  • Glue
Talk about colors and rainbows and the order of a rainbow. The picture above is a picture of one Brayden made in preschool last year; obviously he didn't put the colors in order. You can decide if you want to focus on color order or just let the child put them on in any order.

Have your child glue the streamers onto one side of the plate. 

Now you can run around with your rainbow! One side (the empty side) is perfect for holding while your streamers stream behind you!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day Shamrock

Saint Patrick's story is actually pretty neat, especially for little boys who like a little adventure :) See, he was kidnapped by the Irish as a teenager and lived in captivity for 4 or 6 years (different sources claim different time periods) During that time he persevered in praying to God, and when he was grown he felt it was time to escape back to his home. After his successful escape he began studying to be a priest. He returned to Ireland, the place of his capture, and spent the rest of his life walking around Ireland converting people to Christianity.

St. Patrick would use a shamrock to explain the idea of the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) to the pagans, that God was three persons in one, just as a shamrock has 3 parts but is 1 plant.

One great activity for Saint Patrick's day is to go outside, find a shamrock, and talk about God to your kids! (hopefully your snow has melted already) We were able to do this two days ago when the ground was fairly dry for once.

Inside, we did a shamrock craft in preparation for Saint Patrick's day (which is March 17th this year).

Age Range:
18 months and up


-rubbing alcohol
-green food coloring
-plastic bag
-shamrock outline traced on a piece of paper

  1. Combine 3/4 cup of rice in a baggie with 2TBSP of rubbing alcohol and several drops of green food coloring
  2. Shake and mix together (your child can do this)
  3. Pour rice onto wax paper or a plate to dry (takes several hours so it's best to do the first part either in the morning or the night before the craft)
  4. Spread glue all over the shamrock.
  5. Sprinkle the colored rice over the shamrock where the glue is.
  6. Dump off the excess and set the project aside to dry.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Silhouette Matching

This activity took J’s matching skills up a notch and was cheap, very easy to prepare and from start to finish allowed for lots of play time.

First, we got some of those growing sponges from the dollar section as Target.  I have no clue what these are actually called, but they come in little pill shapes and grow in warm water?  I gave J a few new ones to play with during bathtime over the past few days.  He’s still entertained by 2 or 3 at a time, so I might as well get good use out of that dollar.  I tried implementing some learning during this time, keeping one in hot water and one in cooler water to see which grew the fastest.  On another night we kept one still in a cup and the other he got to pour from one cup to the other to see if that made it grow faster.  Honestly though, J was paying little attention to the mini-science experiment and just wanted to play with them.

We saved all the sponge creatures and when he finished the entire package I dried them all out and stored them with the packaging for a rainy day.  On the back of the package, there is a silhouette of each creature along with its name.  I cut those out into individual pieces and had J match the sponge creature to its silhouette.  I keep a few different sets of these in ziploc baggies to pull out every now and then.  As he improves, I increase the number to match each time.  He thinks it’s a puzzle (and he loves puzzles).
This type of matching is actually a little more difficult because…
  • they aren’t matching two exact items but rather an object and an image
  • there is a size difference in the objects and images
  • the silhoueete factor means there is little detail to each object and image, forcing to look at the outline of each object (and J often does not actually know what the object is so he must focus on shape)
  • the colors of the image and object aren’t always the same

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Surviving Winter: Television Time (and other Technology)

Side note: Remember when TVs looked like that? How quickly things change these days.

Okay, television and technology (computers, video games, computer games, etc.) are a couple of options at your disposal for keeping some peace during the winter. 

We definitely watch more television in the winter than in the summer. I pretty much don't turn the TV on for the kids at all if it is nice weather outside. My kids all didn't start watching TV in life until January after they turned 1. For all three, that was 20 months, 21 months, and 22 months old. So in the winter, we use it some. 

I start slowly each January. I don't immediately go to TV each day for 30-60 minutes. I might do one day a week. By the end of the winter, it seems we are watching TV almost daily for 30-60 minutes. TV is great for filling some time....

...but it also defeats some of your purposes for surviving winter. It stops kids from moving around, which they don't need in the winter. They need activities to get them moving. 

It also gets addictive and leads to sleep and behavior problems if too much screen time happens daily.

So use with caution. If you start to use it and notice behavior issues and/or sleep issues, you probably have the TV on too much. Use it as a special activity to do, but not as your life for the winter months. 

Also, don't think the television is necessary at all to get through difficult weather months. Last year, we had moved and didn't have it for about six months. When it isn't an option, the kids use their imagination. They don't think of TV because it isn't part of life. They think of other things to do. 

So in your TV use, I say be wise and mindful. 

A tip for preventing TV time from completely absorbing your children is to have other things for them to do while they watch TV. Maybe color, maybe play with toys (my toddlers always want to play with toys while watching TV), maybe jumping on the mini-tramp while watching ("You are free to watch TV so long as you are jumping on the trampoline" :) ). So you can make it more than just sitting and staring.

By the way, I plan for this to be my last Surviving Winter post for this winter season because I plan for winter to be over soon. Hopefully winter will obey :) 

I do have a full list of ideas ready for next winter, so be excited...but enjoy the nice weather first. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

St. Patrick's Round-Up

Here are a couple of ideas from last year for St.Patrick's Day activities. We will of course be adding to this this year!

A fun little craft for making a leprechaun face.

Shamrock Potato Print

Kids love paint, they love dipping stuff in paint, and they love seeing the prints paint make. A great fine-motor craft that produces a recognizable picture for the holiday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Name is...

When we started working on spelling and writing my oldest daughter's name (and currently learning to recognize the letters in my middle's name), we tried an activity that we used to start the year with when I taught Kindergarten.
You also get the benefit of teaching glue skills ("a tiny dot, not a big splot" is what I tell her). Fun! (Note the slight sarcasm. Gluing can be very frustrating, so if you aren't up for it, I recommend a glue stick. Or glue in a lid and a cotton swab.)
I demonstrate first, and then let her go for it.
Write out their name as it should look on paper, twice. Cut up one of the names so they have blocks to glue. Demonstrate gluing and checking order of letters. I had her do it first without glue. Then I mixed up the letters and let her try it again. Once I saw that she had that part down, we moved on to gluing. She knows how to spell her name, but gets 2 of the letters mixed up. Gluing she loooooved, so this was fun practice for her.
For my barely 2 year old, it was a good chance to work on letter recognition and get some one-on-one instruction in another area while my oldest didn't need as much help.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hunt in the Dark

This was one of the first “games” J ever played (when he was 16 months old).

I brought a flashlight, plastic cup, and 10 pompom balls into his room.  I “hid” (in plain sight) the balls throughout his room, we turned out the light and used the flashlight to try and find them. As we found them, he would put them in his cup. So simple and such a winner! It took almost 20 minutes to get all the balls in his cup. He kept accidentally dropping one (or more) out of the cup while reaching for another one. He would bend down, pick up the ball (while the last one fell out of the cup), put the ball inside the cup then look down and see ANOTHER ball right there too! Or he would manage to get 5 or 6 balls in the cup, bend down to pick up the 7th, put it in his empty cup, turn around and find 6 more right there behind him. When he finally finished, he was happy to play again and again.

My basic teaching goal going into this was to encourage him to finish what he started.  To me that’s the requirement of a “game”.  You’re given a task, told what is required to win and you play until the win/end is achieved.  True, he had no competition in this game (unless you count the sneaky cup that just kept tossing out all those balls!), but at his age the task itself is competition enough.

As he's gotten older, I can hide items in more difficult spots or even hide in the dark myself and he has to use the flashlight to find me. Since all toddlers seem to love flashlights, this just adds extra fun to the traditional hide and seek.

(This is cross-posted, here

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rhyming Cards

Today is Dr. Seuss's birthday! In honor, I thought a rhyming game was appropriate. 

This is simple. You print off two pictures that rhyme. These cards have "duck/truck", "bee/tree", "goat/boat", "fish/dish", and "mouse/house."

You then have your child color the pictures, cut them out, mix the cards up, and match the words that rhyme. 

Simple and fun!

While this game is simple enough, it is not uncommon for children to have a difficulty with rhyming. Stress that words that rhyme sound the same at the end of the word, not the beginning. 

If you want more lots of Dr. Seuss activity ideas, check out Seussville.com games at: http://www.seussville.com/#/games

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shape matching

I recently had baby #3, and had multiple procedures done during that surgery, so things have been slow moving around here. Finally hopping back into things, I decided to start slow w/ the learning activities.
It's a simple activity you can do to evaluate progress, have a simple matching game, teach shapes (or other skill), or have a game you can pull out later that is easy for them to handle.
I went to the Dollar Store locally and bought packs of bulletin boarders in the teacher section. These are great for game pieces, making file folder games, hiding shapes, matching, sorting, etc.
Then I drew a few of the shapes on a paper and let her match them. After she matched them, I asked her to find the ____ (circle, square,etc). We also worked on colors.
Easy, quick, cheap. Great for those busy days!


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