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, March 28, 2012

Straw Flowers

This is one of those simple crafts that are low mess that your child will still love to do. 

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Straw
  • Crayons, markers, glitter, etc. as desired

Depending on the age and skills of your child, either you or your child draw a flower on paper. Decorate if desired. Then you or your child cut out the flower. Draw petals and cut out. Tape pieces to the straw. You can make a nice bouquet or just give out single flowers. This could be a fun gift your child could create for moms, grandmas, or anyone else they want to give it away to.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easter Pre-K Pack

Over the Big Moon has this great Preschool pack of activities, ready to print! It's 31 pages of puzzles, cutting, matching, sorting, and more! Did I mention it's free??!?!?!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Caterpillar to Butterfly

Last year, my neighbor caught a caterpillar for us to raise until it became a monarch butterfly. I hadn't ever caught a caterpillar before, but she has done it every year since childhood. She just brought me the caterpillar in the jar. We enjoyed it so much I think we will make it our own tradition!

I figured someone on the Internet would have more experience and advice on the topic than myself, and I found it here: http://www.butterflyschool.org/teacher/raising.html

We broke some of the things listed on this site--like we obviously used a jar with a lid with holes in it (apparently a no-no), but our butterfly survived and thrived. You probably will want to ask around with people who live by you as to what type of caterpillars you can find, where to find them, and when. This site said most caterpillars pupate in the winter. Ours was late summer and turned into a beautiful butterfly late in September. So when this activity is right for you will depend on your climate and what types of butterflies you can find.

Raising a caterpillar into a butterfly is a lot of fun and a great science activity. You watch the caterpillar get bigger and bigger. Then you see it in its chrysalis. Then it comes out, you watch its wings grow stronger, you can hold the butterfly, and then when it is strong enough, you release it and watch it fly away! 

Here is our butterfly exercising the wings:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Easter Round-Up 2012

Here are the Easter ideas we shared with you last year!

Color Matching--Easter Style
A great activity for teaching colors while using those Easter Eggs and cartons.

Counting With Eggs
Using Easter Eggs to do some counting activities!

Easter Basket Sensory Activity
Sensory activities are always a hit. Easter grass is a great texture you don't often find other times of year.

Easter Cupcakes
Turn cupcakes into an Easter treat!

Dye Eggs
Let's not forget the grand tradition of egg-dying at Easter!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Round-Up 2012

Tomorrow is 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.

U Words
Learning about the letter U.

Pussy Willows
A fun art project to make some pussy willows.

Pom-pom Spring Chick
If you have an animal lover, this will be a big hit. A cute little craft to make a little baby chick.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St.Patrick's Day!

Easy St. Patrick's Day (or any day!) snack or lunch:
Fruity Rainbows!
You'll need one type of fruit for each color of the rainbow, plus whipped cream for the puffy clouds!
I cut the fruit to make them lay flat easier. Sort into muffin tins and let the kids make their own! Fun and nutritious! (Well, minus the clouds). :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simple for Mom: Stamps

The other day for our learning activity time, I got out a pile of paper and our tote full of stamps. I just told the girls to make whatever they wanted. They completely loved it. McKenna (2) was so proud of her pictures that she literally carried them around for hours--and that wasn't just at our house. She showed everyone she saw her picture. 

Stamps are great for working the muscles in hands, which is great for fine motor development. 

This activity took no prep time and was fast to clean up! Very simple for mom!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Teaching Writing Sentences: When Are They Ready?

Please let me remind you that it's a process. It's not an overnight accomplishment, or even one that will come a month from now. Nervous? Don't be! Writing is so much fun and there is a huge sense of accomplishment (from mom and child) when you start to see progress.
How do I know if my child is ready?
Well, some of it will depend on you and your knowledge of your child. Some will never attempt (out of fear of not being perfect, not knowing where to start, not seeing examples, not caring) independently. Some will want to ("Mom, how do you spell... How do I write...?") but continuously ask you for guidance and help. How do you move the first (the never-attempters) and the latter (clearly ready, but at a standstill) to writing independently?
*If your child is not ready to write words yet, but can draw some shapes, see this site for great readiness worksheets. http://donnayoung.org/penmanship/redines.htm
I kind of do a mental checklist to see if it's time. This is just a guide!
1. Do they know their letters by sight (lower and uppercase)?
2. Do they know the sounds that match the letters?
3. Can they form each of the letters mostly the correct way (not counting backwards letters and development related mistakes)? Can they use handwriting paper to write letters? http://donnayoung.org/penmanship/handwriting-paper-bw.htm
4. For the most part, can they tell you the beginning sound of a word?
5. Do they attempt any writing at all (strings of random letters, labeling of pictures, etc)?
If so (especially 1-4), it just may be time to start!!
Pencil Grip (**You do NOT need to wait until letter/sound mastery to begin teaching this. Start as early as your child begins coloring/scribbling!)
I will be doing a series of posts on teaching writing. My first recommendation is to get golf pencils, especially if you are working on correct pencil grasp. Or, break your pencils in half (**gasp**). If you have fat pencils/crayons, don't use them. Small hands = small pencils/crayons. Giving a kid a regular length fat pencil is like an adult trying to write with one of those silly giant pencils you get at dollar stores. Smaller pencils/crayons encourage better grip. (For those of you trying to teach grip to a left handed child, remember that they should grip the pencil 1- 1.5 inches above the tip. Right handed children grip the pencil closer to the tip). Try to teach them to rest the pencil on the middle finger, rather than the ring finger. A little song we sing here goes like this, "My thumb is bent, pointer points to the tip, tall man uses his side. I tuck the last two fingers in and take them for a ride. I'm holding it just right, but not too tight..." (Handwriting Without Tears).
Helpful book:
Spelling Through Phonics (McCracken). I'll take a little more about this book and the principles during the next posts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Simple For Mom: Toothpicks and Fine Motor Skills

One day at Dollar Tree, I found these toothpicks in these little jars. They have different sized holes in them--perfect for various age groups to use for fine motor activities. This is one of those things children find fascinating for some reason. You could use any variety of salt shakers for this activity, also. Simple for mom and fun for kids!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Teachable Moments: Coloring

Coloring has always seemed like an easy, fun, and effortless activity, especially for me as a mom. My oldest loves to color, to create, and would spend hours drawing if I would let her. Coloring has never crossed my mind as an activity that needed a lesson. That is, until daughter #2 came along. The very idea of crayons and paper combined strikes fear into her little wiggly body. And fun? Not on your life. When I noticed her running to hide when the crayons came out, I started to get suspicious. When I realized (after working for months on drawing circles) that she's a lefty (being taught by a righty) and has an incredibly weak grasp we started getting serious. (And to clarify, by weak I mean she'd draw and the pencil would literally fall out of her hands when it touched the paper). Using pencils, crayons, and chalk (anything to create a drag and strengthen her hand muscles) we started making coloring a regularly scheduled activity around here. Her hand strength has improved slowly, but her coloring didn't. Hmmm....
This is her coloring...on her 3rd attempt at this particular paper (I had multiple copies).

So, to switch it up a bit, we changed sheets. Again...yikes.
As you can see, the face and pants I colored. I sat with her and thought, maybe coloring isn't something you should always just let go without some instruction. And I wondered, Has she ever seen me color? Really color? How about learning how to make the strokes? Decide which colors to use?
So I sat with her. Talked about what colors we could use. We've worked on correct positioning for pencils/crayons, but we continued to talk about how smaller strokes help with staying in the lines. Lighter, controlled motions help mistakes not seem so noticeable. Because they ARE going to make a mistake. And some, like my oldest will want to redo the entire sheet. And others, like my second daughter, will chalk it up as "too hard" and list it among Activities I Don't Enjoy or Care About. (Also known as Scribble Everywhere So I Can Get Through This Faster).
So I taught. And she watched.
And something happened.
My child that abhors coloring sat and colored. Happily. And even drew a duck at the top of her paper (I haven't worked out why yet, but I see the duck). :)
We've got lots of work to do, but it certainly was a teachable moment. And fun.
I forgot how much I love coloring, too.
Be on the lookout for some teachable moments at your house this week. Take advantage of it and forget about the laundry for a few minutes. It'll be worth it. :)


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