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!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Chinese New Year Fine Motor Activity

This Thursday (February 3) is the Chinese New Year. I decided it would be fun to celebrate by doing a fine motor activity with chopsticks.

I ordered the chopsticks above from Oriental Trading Company. They are "cheater" chopsticks because they are connected at the top.

You then get two containers. Maybe bowls, jars (with a large opening), cups, etc. You then put whatever you want in one of the containers. Paper, flower petals, foamies, etc. You have your child transfer the items from one container to the other using the chopsticks.

Another idea is to combine sorting with the fine motor. Put all items in a pile and have your child sort them into a container. You can sort by type, size, color, etc.

Happy New Year! Again.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Surviving Winter: Snow Sculptures

Anything you can do to get your kids outside during the winter is great. Having some fun ideas for them to do will get them moving so they are warm and get that exercise in. I have already shared the ideas of building a snowman and sledding. Last year, Raegan shared the fun idea of Snow Painting.

Another great idea is to build snow sculptures. You could do shapes for the children who are not as coordinated. As children get older, you can do more complicated items. Above you can see the couch we made--kind of. If you didn't realize, they are sitting on a couch :).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Surviving Winter: Sledding

Another great way to get exercise during the winter and also enjoy the snow is to go sledding. You are outside. You have to walk up the hill again if you want to go down it again. Great exercise, and great fun!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Valentine Round-Up

It is almost "that heart time" as Brayden refers to it. Here are our Valentine posts from last year!

Clay Hearts

A fun craft activity you can give as gifts. This is great for baby on up.

Sensory Activities

This activity was so popular that my kids have hardly left it alone for the last year! I think it will be a hit with your children too!

Valentines Day Snacks
Raegan compiled a list of snack ideas for you to make!

Valentines Galore!

Since we were in our infant year last year, we had no archive of Valentine activities. I searched the web and created a list of fun ideas to do for Valentines Day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Surviving Winter: Once There Was a Snowman

Making a snowman is a great winter activity. It gets you outside and can really be a great workout. Last weekend, we spent two hours making this beauty--which is indeed over 6 feet tall. 

The process is simple--so long as you have snow that will stick to itself. You just start a little snowball and start rolling it. You can actually make a snowman with a small amount of snow (inch-wise) if you have the square footage to do it. Or acreage. After we were done, the kids were tired and my arms hurt.Great winter fun!

 You also might enjoy licking your giant snowball. That can be fun, too :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Toilet Paper Roll Penguins

I have been saving toilet paper rolls for months now. I just knew someday I would want them. The day came! 

I was searching around for fun penguin ideas and found this one. I will give a brief synopsis, but will direct you to the website I found the idea at because it gives instructions.

You will go to DLTK's website and print off the printable page.

Have your child color it. Then have your child cut it out. Brayden (5) was able to cut all of it out, but there were things that proved too technical for Kaitlyn's (3) cutting skills.

You will then glue things together. I also decided to add a cotton ball to the penguins tummy for some texture. You can unroll cotton balls. Here is a photo:

The top picture is an unrolled cotton ball and the bottom is a regular cotton ball. One cotton ball will easily do two penguins. 

We also used "googly eyes" instead of the paper eyes.

You just glue it all together and you are done! Easy as that. My kids have had fun playing with their little penguins.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Raising a Grateful Child

Our city has a great newsletter that comes out each season and usually features great articles. Since most of you don't have the opportunity to read them, I thought I'd share with you the most helpful tips and parts of each article from the Winter Issue . The first article was entitled "How To Raise a Grateful Child" and was written by Kristen Carter from YMCA/Early Discoveries in the Winter 2010-2011 GrowSmart Newsletter.

"It is more than just good manners for children to express thanks and show appreciation when they are grateful. Studies indicate that the happiest children are those who feel and appreciation for life regardless of their financial or personal situation. They are also more joyful, determined, optimistic, resilient, healthier, and even less stressed!" (I know that's true for me, too!)

So here are some tips from Kristen about how to improve the "attitude of gratitude:"
  • Make a list of things you are grateful for, with each family member participating.

  • Blessings/Grace- helps foster an atmosphere of thankfulness.

  • Thank you notes- This is true for gifts, but also helping them with writing thank you letters to others that have been meaningful, helpful, or encouraging.

  • Set limits- Avoid overindulging w/ material items to learn to appreciate what they have. "A little sacrifice causes us to miss things that we take for granted and helps us to be humble and grateful."

  • Offer service- Volunteer together! Some examples: homeless shelter, nursing home, SPCA, shopping for a food pantry,etc. This helps build an appreciation for their blessings.

  • Set an example- Thank people!! This includes your kids, sales people, the mailman, etc. Look for people doing good deeds and point it out to your children.

Some recommended books for stories about gratitude and having a grateful heart from the article:

The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman. "One day the very greedy bee finds a meadow full of flowers and decides to keep all of the pollen for himself. He ends up so full that he cannot fly. It's getting dark and he doesn't know how to get home unless he flies. With the help of some friends, the greedy bee is able to return home safely, learning that it is better to share."
Little Bear's Big Sweater by David Bedford "This is a story reminding us to be grateful for our siblings. Little Bear is excited to get his brother's hand-me-down sweater but upsets Big Bear when he falls and gets it dirty. Big Bear refuses to play with Little Bear, but a solo seesaw experience makes him realize how lonely he is without his brother."
Thank You Bear by Greg Foley. "Bear has found a present for his friend Mouse, but by the time Bear shows it to him, he is not convinced of its value. Everyone Bear has met along the way has devalued his gift, causing him to question if Mouse will like it. Unlike everyone else, Mouse is thankful for his friend's thoughtfulness and agrees that the gift is the greatest thing ever."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Surviving Winter: The Easel

The easel is one of those sweet blessing from heaven. This thing keeps my children happy for hours, upon hours, upon hours (not in a row, just in general). Our easel is from IKEA--it was 20-30 dollars. Amazing. It can have paper, has a white board, and has a chalkboard. That means writing with markers, crayons, chalk, paint, pencils, pens, etc. We like it so much we got the Melissa & Doug Easel Accessory Set for Christmas. It is about as much as our easel was alone, but well worth it if you don't have the supplies. And those paint cups are fabulous. Oh, and by the way, the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel is only $43 and has a tray on both sides of the easel, so that is a nice feature. It is very, very well rated.

Anyway, this is a great activity to have for indoor play. I highly recommend it. It is great for creative art projects and gross motor as well as fine motor control.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Letter Factory

I'm not usually one to rave about a certain learning DVD...probably because I've come across few that you can really rave about. I heard mom after mom recommend this DVD and reluctantly I watched it. It's a really cute DVD with a super-catchy song. But what really struck me was how much and how quickly my daughters (1 and 3) remembered the letters, what they look like, and the sounds that go with them. It's completely amazing. We've been learning and practicing letters for what seems like forever. I'm constantly trying to find and utilize teachable moments to help facilitate learning for the girls. My youngest loves to learn and can't seem to get enough, even at her young age. My oldest (3.5) would rather daydream and pretend. She literally used to cry when I'd get out the craft supplies.

I wouldn't use this tool alone, but it was certainly worth every penny I paid to add this to our "tool belt." We also have the Word Factory DVD, a great supplement to this DVD.

I'm so thrilled with this DVD I had to share it with you all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Me Encanta Tu Blog Award!

Many thanks to Lori at Montessori MOMents (love that title) for this award! This award is fun because it involves different questions for accepting it. 

1. Why did you create the blog?
We orginally started it wanting to keep track of great resources we had found for learning actvities for children. We quickly started sharing our own ideas, and that is where we currently sit is sharing our ideas, though we do still share other great resources.
2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
Blogs of friends, other learning blogs, parenting blogs, craft blogs (that's Val), and religious blogs.
3. Do you have a favorite brand of makeup?
Val here...I honestly don't care what brand my make-up is. I have a hard time paying a lot of money for something you wash off every single day. I happen to own and use Mary Kay make-up, but I wouldn't mind it being something cheap, either.

I do, however, care about skin care. That is something that I find value in spending money on. Again, I do primarily Mary Kay with some Sea Breeze and St. Ives thrown in there.
4. And a favorite clothing brand?
Val here...no, I don't much care what brand it is.

5. What makeup products are essential for you?
Val here...I am not a big make-up person. I didn't even wear foundation or mascara on my wedding day. Very true. If I had to choose only one thing to use for the rest of my life it would be eyeliner.
6. What’s your favorite color?
Val here...I really like all colors. Right now, I am all about gray (which I happen to spell grey).
7. What’s your favorite perfume?
Val here...I like Ralph by Ralph Lauren. But I don't even wear perfume monthly anymore...wow I sound boring :)
8. What’s the film you liked the most?
Val here...am I really expected to answer a question like that? I don't think I could do that for a specific genre, much less the blanket category of "film." 
I guess I will just offer a list: Lord of the Rings Trilogy (but it must be extended version or I get mad about the inconsistencies with the books), Legally Blonde, Pride and Prejudice, the original Star Wars Trilogy. 
9. What countries would you like to go to?
Val here...all of them. Really. I would love to visit any and all countries...well...so long as I would be safe. I don't have the desire to visit any country where I would feel like I was in danger. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Feed The Penguin

This is a fun math activity for penguins. 

Your child needs to be old enough to be able to count dots and recognize numbers. This will vary greatly from child to child. My 3 year old could do it, as could my 5 year old. 

Counting Skills

You want to have a penguin with a number on the belly as well as a fish with dots. I Googled "penguin clip art" and choose an image I liked. I then put it into Microsoft Word, copied it 11 times, and ended up with 12 penguins. I then created a text box and typed a number in for each penguin. I made the border and the fill as "no border" and "no fill" so that the box didn't cover up the penguin, then I put the number over each penguin. 

I Googled "fish clip art" and choose a fish that looked like one a penguin would eat. I then copied it and put it into Word and copied it 11 times. I then used the shape tool to draw dots on each fish.

I then printed the documents. I have uploaded two versions of this into my Google Documents. You can click on these Documents for blank Word file of just penguins and just fish. These documents have no numbers and no fish. If you plan to edit, please save it to your computer and edit your own copy. I also saved the exact files I usd in a PDF here:

Then I laminated the pages. I got a laminator for Christmas and I LOVE it. 

I then cut everything out.

The idea is to tell your child the penguins are hungry. A number four penguin needs a number four fish to get full. You have your child match the penguins to the fish.

Younger children will do best with starting with numbers 1-5. The higher numbers get hard to count the dots, especially because I made it a little challenging intentionally. That is one reason I provided  you with blank fish so you can make it how you want it. You could also do dots on the penguins and numbers on the fish if you want. 

There are further extensions. If your child needs more of a challenge, you could tell him to feed the penguin two fish to feed it. So a number three penguin would get a two fish and a one fish.

You could also do numbers or dots on the penguins but then just print out blank fish and have  your child feed the penguin the correct number of fish. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Toothpick Letters

As the kids learn letters, I'm always looking for new ways to practice with sounds, letter formation, or just reviewing what they've learned. One of my daughter's favorite things for lunch is turkey or chicken, rolled up, and on a toothpick. (Basically she'll eat anything if it's on a toothpick.) As we sat eating lunch together and she emptied her toothpicks, she started creating shapes. It turned into a letter review and a great fine motor activity. We talked about why some letters can be made w/ toothpicks (straight lines) and how some need curves to make them correctly. So we went straight through the alphabet, trying each letter and making new discoveries. I also got the chance to see which letters she was having a harder time making and we got some extra fun practice in.
After our activity, I took out some index cards and drew the letters. Now we have a great independent practice activity for her to do while I prepare dinner or during another learning time.
*If toothpicks + preschoolers make you nervous, try other things, like straws, crayons....basically anything straight!
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Surviving Winter: Dancing

One of the major problems with being stuck in the house is a lack of exercise. Exercise is good for the body, but also good for the brain. Okay, the brain is part of the body...but you get what I mean. So an important element to surviving winter is getting exercise in. A great and easy way to do that is with dancing.

There are many ways to get dancing into your day.

The simplest and most basic way to do this is by turning music on and dancing with your child. Back when it was just Brayden and me at home, this is what we did. I did everything from children's music, to modern tunes with a beat, to big band swing music. We just danced and danced. We of course still do this today, and it is even more fun with a group of children :)

Another fun element you can add in is dress up. You can see in the picture that my girls love to wear tutus to dance in.

Many children's CDs have songs that you can play that offer some guidance for how to dance. Examples are The Hokey Pokey, The Ants Go Marching, and If You're Happy And You Know It.

You can also get DVDs that are interactive about dance. The only ones I have that I can speak to are the Prima Princessa Ballet DVDs. I reviewed one on my babywise blog last year and liked it so much I ordered one for Kaitlyn for Christmas.

Another idea is to take dance lessons. You could either do a parent/child dance class or a class just for your child.

A final idea from me is the many interactive dance video games. A good one is Just Dance Kids. These really provide good exercise and are a lot of fun.

Do you have any fun ways you dance with your children? Any great DVDs? CDs? Video games? Please share!
Playing Just Dance at a friend's house

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter Round-Up

If you are looking for some ideas to do around winter themes, we have some for you! Here they are:

Marshmallow Snowman

This is a fun treat you can make while learning about snowmen.

Paper Plate Snowman

A fun way to make a snowman indoors :)

Cotton Ball Snowman

Fun texture activity for building a snowman.

Snowmen Rice Krispie Treats

YUM! I love rice krispie treats so this one fills me nicely.

Nutter Butter Snowman

A simple treat that looks a bit silly, but works.

Winter Games

A fun gross motor activity.

Icy Winter Scenes

Icy art.

Snow Painting

Have some fun outside with this snow painting activity!

Slippery Roads: A Science Lesson
Fun ice activity for getting science into your day.

Snowball Fight
Have an indoor snowball fight and burn some energy! But with paper snowballs.

De-Frosty The Snowman

This is a fun one for when (if) your snow starts melting.

And don't forget about the Winter Books Recommendations.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks to Deb over at Living Montessori Now for this award!

Rules for this award are similar to others:
  1. Thank and link to the person who gave it to you
  2. Share 7 things about yourself
  3. Pass it on to others
So, 7 things about us:
  1. Amanda now has two children--her second baby was born relatively recently.
  2. Raegan is pregnant with her third child and actually due very soon.
  3. Valerie's favorite football team is the Kansas City Chiefs. I have big plans for them this playoff season.
  4. Amanda lives where it is cold in the winter...and basically no one else lives where she lives.
  5. Raegan lives where it is warm most of the time (warm in my eyes).
  6. Valerie lives where it is 10 degrees as a high today.
  7. We are moms.
Ha! I cheated on the last one! But I had to do something that is true of all three of us so I went with that.

Now for the new awardees

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Surviving Winter: Bath Play

Last summer, we ran a popular series on simple summer fun ideas. I live in a very wintery climate and have had questions both from friends here and from readers on one of my other blogs on how to entertain children during a long winter. So I will be doing a Surviving Winter series this winter! Hurray for surviving winter!

We can easily have snow on the ground from October until May. Last "winter," we ditched the snow around the end of March/beginning of April, but it literally rained and rained and rained until Father's Day (which is odd for us because we live in a desert climate). So we can get a little house-bound and need to come up with ideas for keeping our children (and therefore ourselves) sane.

First up...Bath Play!

At my house, bath time has ALWAYS been just another playtime. This is true year round. A couple of months ago, my neighbor asked me for ideas to keep her almost four year old occupied in the day. He is the fourth child in their family, and his older brothers are all at school. I listed off things I do with Kaitlyn, and playing in the tub stuck out to her. She started doing that with her son each day and says he LOVES it. He loves to play in the tub and will stay occupied for a long time.

My kids also love the bath. The bathtub is one giant water play activity. You can easily get at least 30 minutes out of a bath. Oftentimes, I have to force my kids out after an hour! 

So what do you play with in the tub? Anything you would use with water play and more. We have several posts on water play on this blog. Here are some ideas:
  • Bubbles
  • Spoons/measuring spoons
  • Cups of various sizes
  • Pitchers
  • Measuring cups
  • Washcloth (my kids like to wipe the walls)
  • Squirt bottle
  • Goggles 
  • Paint brushes
  • Tub Painting
There are also a whole lot of bath toys out there!
And what about you? What will you do during this loooong bath play each day? Here are a few ideas:
  • Play with the kids
  • Sneak extra learning in there (like with the alphabet letters--"What sound does A say?"
  • Sit and quietly read a book. This is very relaxing! It is nice and warm and humid! 
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Call a friend if you can still focus on the kids
  • Take pictures--enjoy these sweet moments
  • Get ready for the day
  • Sit and do nothing! How fun does that sound?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Storing Kid Crafts

Pile of Projects

Do you have a New Year's resolution to be more organized? Or are you already there? Kids' crafts pose a problem for the organization of homes everywhere. What do you do with all of the many, many crafts your kids make?

Even though you want to, you can't possibly save them all. It really starts to take up quite a lot of space. Here is what I do.

First, I take a picture of each craft as soon as they are done with it or as soon as they bring it home. That way I get the photo when it is fresh. Also, I can save things in a photo and can then easier throw items away.

Next, I put it in a certain place in a closet.

Then about twice a year, I go through the items. I sort them into three piles: keep, maybe, throw away. I throw away the throw away pile, put the keeps in my storage container, and go through my maybe pile again. I don't keep anything that exceeds the size of my storage container. I like giving it some time to think about because with time I become more removed from the item.

By the end of the year, I get the items I want to keep down to what will fit into a pizza box (my storage container). Last year, Brayden's preschool teacher gave us a clean pizza box all decorated. I saved only enough items that could fit in that box with it shut.

I do plan to cut this back more in the future. I will have to keep only a few items from every year.

I know there are lots of good ideas out there, so please share yours!


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