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, August 31, 2011

C is for Caterpillar

I find it ironic that one of my favorite themes to do is insects when I absolutely, positively, HATE insects. Maybe I like to make insect crafts because they aren't real? I don't know.

This is a caterpillar with C words. Draw or print a series of circles on a page. Then give your child C words to color, cut out, and paste on the caterpillar's body.

If you have a younger child (toddler or younger), you will want to cut out the circles for your child. Some preschoolers will not be able to cut out a circle, either.

If you have an older child, have him draw pictures of C words rather than giving him pictures to color.

As you do the activity, talk about the letter C, the sound it makes, and say the words of the pictures you are drawing and coloring as you go.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pipe Cleaner Bead Math

Brayden made these in Kindergarten and I thought they were genius. Something they learned about in Kindergarten was what numbers could be combined to make a certain number. For example, take the number six. You can get six with 6+0, 5+1, 4+2, and 3+3. These number bracelets make it very easy for the children to see what numbers you need to make other numbers.

Making one is simple. You take a piece of pipe cleaner and the number of beads you want on the bracelet/ring. You then connect the ends with a little twist, and cover up with tape or sticky paper. You can then write the number on the tape. Then you have a very tactile math activity!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Learning Boxes

You can make learning time very simple by having a learning box set up. This makes gathering common supplies very easy and also creates a situation where you can teach your child some personal responsibility and help her learn about cleaning up after herself when a project is finished. 

This is a great time of year to buy these supplies since stores have them on super sale. You simply buy a pencil box. We got ours at Walmart for 50 cents each. Then you either buy or put in the supplies you want. We did crayons, scissors, a pencil, an eraser (pencil erasers are the first to go), and a glue stick. Brayden also has a ruler. Then, being the nerd I am, I whipped out my label maker and put their names on each box.

These are great for learning time at home and also for a child who is doing homework. Everything is in one neat box. You could even stock extra supplies in it ahead of time if you knew you would be using extra things (like glitter, tape, etc.). 

Monday, August 22, 2011


If you are like most of the world, you have at least one family member who lives far away from you. Perhaps you are the family member who lives far away. It can be hard to have your children get to know and recognize family members who live far away.

One idea to help the child be familiar is to make a slideshow with pictures of family members. Making a slideshow is much easier than you might think.

If you have a PC, you might already have software that easily creates a slideshow. It is Windows Movie Maker. If you have the newest version of Windows, you might not have it, but you can download it for free. Search "Windows Live Movie Maker" and  you will find it. I understand that Apple also has great software for making slideshows easily.

Gather some photos, put it to music, and your children will have fun watching it over and over again! I recently made a slide show for a family reunion. I included about 20 pictures from each family as well as photos from family events like Christmas, Halloween, etc. Our children love to sit and watch it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Watermelon Crepe Paper Pic

My son brought this activity home from preschool (above, age four) and Kindergarten (below, age five). I figured if it is good enough for both teachers, it is good enough to post here!

Supplies Needed:
  • paper
  • red crepe paper
  • green crepe paper
  • black marker/paint OR actual watermelon seeds
  1. Draw a half circle for your child. If your child is able, have him cut it out. If not, you cut it out.
  2. Draw a line to divide the flesh from the rind.
  3. Have your child tear or cut red crepe paper to glue in the flesh section.
  4. Have your child tear or cut green crepe paper to glue for the rind section.
  5. Glue on seeds or add black paint dots for seeds.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Simple Summer: Park Day

image source

Each week during nice weather, we join several friends at the park for park day. It is a great learning ground for social skills like taking turns and getting along with others. It allows for lots of physical exercise. And best of all, it is lots of fun with lots of play.

I am an advocate for allowing children to learn through play. Summer is great because so many of our activities through the summer center around playing. Don't let the idea of play leave your mind as you enter the "school year," whether you have children in school or not.

I found this great article on the benefits of play: Play Is Essential to Learning. Be sure to check it out! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Simple Summer Fun: Camping

2 year old McKenna getting the most out of camping
Camping has got to be one of the most enriching experiences you can give to your child. It is a time for fully getting in touch with nature. You can go for "hikes" and explore the scenery around you. You can hear the sounds of nature, see the sights, and smell the uniqueness of it all. It is a great sensory experience.

Everyone lives in different climates with different camping experiences. Some are on the beach, some in sand dunes, some in brush, and some in forests. Because of that, I can't tell you precisely what to do to get the most out of the experience, just some generalities.

Be sure to go for little walks or hikes if you are up to it. Notice the vegetation. Look at the flowers if there are any. What kinds of trees, grasses, and bushes grow there? How does it compare to home?

What about animal life? Do you see footprints or nesting beds? Do you see animals?

What do you hear? What are all of the unique sounds around you?

What smells do you notice?

What is the texture of the rocks, plants, ground, etc.?

Camping teaches so much in such a short time, and teaches children things faster than they can learn looking at picture books. I highly encourage you to make the effort for a camping trip!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Magnetic Letters: Letter recognition/sort

Another simple activity to do with the magnetic letters, would be a seek 'n' sort. Give your child a cookie sheet and a small bowl of letters. Here's some tips by age/level:
Just beginning to learn letters:
*Fill the bowl about halfway. Too many letters can be overwhelming.
*Don't put too many letters that look similar (in the eyes of a child); b, d, p, and q are too close in shape and size.
*For the true beginner, I'd offer just 2 letters to differentiate.

Knows most of the alphabet:
*Offer another challenge, but not too many. Either fill the bowl with more letter, or give a few letters to sort through (like x, a, and t).
*Watch your child for signs of needing more challenge or signs of being overwhelmed. Some signals of being overwhelmed might be picking through the letters for long periods of time, giving up, disinterest even with help.

Knows alphabet, working on sounds:
*Add more letters to sort.
*Sort by a particular letter OR have them pull out letters, making the sound as they go.
*Sort the entire bowl, rather than just hunting for one letter.

More advanced:
Sort by attribute (letter only have curves, letter only has lines, letter has lines and curves, capital vs. lower case, touches top line in writing, only touches bottom and middle line when writing, etc)
*Call out a sound and have them hunt for that letter.
*Make a chunk/family (like -at) and call out a word (like fat). Have them find the beginning sound to complete the word. Could work for ending sounds, too.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Simple Summer: the Fair

Brayden and Kaitlyn up on the tractor

Can I just say that I love the fair? I seriously love the fair. I loved it as a child, I loved it as a teenager, and I love it as a parent. I don't know what the fair is like where you live, but our fair is just jam-packed full of unique learning opportunities. You can see tons of tractors and ATVs.
McKenna on the 4-wheeler

Baby Kaitlyn checking out the pigs

You can see all sorts of livestock. Pigs, sheep, cows, rabbits, birds, goats, horses...animals everywhere! 

3 year old Brayden on a fair ride

You can also ride some fun little rides. Then you have the 4-H exhibits and other entries in sewing, cooking, gardening, and more. You have lots of food to try. You have bands and magic acts performing. You have people to watch and interact with. It is such a multi-sensory experience.

I am so excited. The fair is coming to town this week!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Word Families

So, your child knows all of his/her letters and the sounds they make. Now what? Now it's time to make some words!

For some words, for example said, the, is and love, you might want to try learning those as "sight words." In other words, helping them learn the word just by looking at it, rather than using rules/clues/phonics to figure it out.

Then there are those words that they can "sound out": take each letter, make the sound, blend together. That's one approach.

I like to mix it---take what they know, add some "rules" and help them take the word by chunks, rather than sound by sound.

A great use for a baking sheet and those magnetic letters (that you hopefully have organized now, right?) is making those chunks, or word families.

I usually start with the -at family/chunk. Take -at. Sound it out. Read it, read it, read it. Use your finger to scan left to right. Have them say it with you. Then talk about rhyming words. Remind them to make real words, as little ones like to make rhyming words like dat, yat, and wat. Arrange your letters like the above picture. Make each sound together with the letters on the bottom. Here's how our conversation would go:

Me: What are these two letters at the top here (pointing to -a, -t)?

Her: A and T.

Me: What sound does this make (pointing to a)?

Her: (short a sound)

Me: How about this one?

Her: /t/

me: Good! Now let's put that together. (Scanning with my finger from left to right). Say it with me. "aaa-ttt"

Her: -at (in unison)

Me: Good. Let's do that again. (repeat) What's this letter? (Pointing to 'c')

Her: C.

Me: What sound does that make?

Her: /k/

Me: Good. What happens when I put this at the front of our -at chunk? Can you blend that together?

Her: /k/-at.

Me: Again, a little fast this time.

Her: /k/-at. /k/ at. Cat!

Me: Great! Let's try this letter (and repeat for each letter).

Once you've done that, try mixing it up. You put a letter at the beginning, and with less help this time, let them problem solve. Remember, the idea is to recognize -at as a chunk, not as individual sounds. So it should be: c -at, not c-a-t.

Then you can have them make their own -at words, manipulating the letters themselves.

For a challenge, you can add blends to the beginning, like fl-, th-, br-, etc.

The next step could be to print/make pictures of a cat, bat, hat, mat, rat (etc) and write the word on a card, having them match the card with the words.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Kissing Hand: First Day of School

Brayden will be starting full-day school this year and is expressing some nervousness over it. He hasn't had an issue with starting preschool or Kindergarten. He says he doesn't want to leave me all day. All I can do is hug him because I feel the same way!

I wanted to come up with an idea to make the first day seem a bit easier and to do something special to let him know I love him and am thinking of him. As I said last Monday, I love the book The Kissing Hand. I think it is great for the first day of anything, especially school. We have been talking about that book and how I always love him even if I am not right with him. 

I saw this R & M Heart in Hand Cookie Cutter pictured above on Amazon and thought that was a great idea! Wouldn't that be a fun treat in his lunchbox the first day? 
I plan to do this for the first day. Either that or just do heart shapes I have already and just do the heart. 

*sniff.* My baby is growing up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Storage: Magnetic Letters

I used to have the HARDEST time keeping up with all those miniature things you use to help teach the kiddos...you know, all the things you use to practice sorting, counting, moving, stacking, and patterning. Magnetic letters were especially painful because I could only seem to find the b when I needed a p. Or I was always one letter short of exactly what I needed.
Thank you, super cheap plastic sewing organizer. I labeled each compartment w/ the correct letter, sorted, and ta-da! No more searching for 30 minutes for a 5 minute activity.
So, how about you? How do you organize all those tiny pieces?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Five Great Back to School Books

Here are five book that are great for back to school (or first time at school).

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten (Miss Bindergarten Books)

There are several of these Miss Bindergarten books, from starting, 100th day celebration, to the last day. So check these out all year long.

Mouse's First Day of School by Lauren Thompson
Mouse's First Day of School

This is from the author of the "If You Give A ____ a _____" books (give a mouse a cookie, moose a muffin, pig a pancake, etc.). If your child loves those books, she will love this one, too.

I'm Your Bus by Marilyn Singer
I'm Your Bus

If your child will be riding the bus, this is a great book! It is also helpful for other children if your school uses buses for field trip transportation.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
First Day Jitters

This book helps those children who are nervous get over their jitters.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
The Kissing Hand
By far my favorite. This is a must-own in my opinion. This is such a cute story that gives parents and children alike an idea for helping each other feel each other's love all day long.


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