Fun Stuff for Kids

ABC – ABC Basket

Like most moms, I am always looking for ways to reinforce concepts that my child is learning in school or at child care.  Since Hank is now in the Pre-K class at preschool, a large focus is on school readiness and early literacy skills.  To help bridge the gap between school and home, I put together Our ABC Basket.  Now, whenever we have some down time and need an activity, we can pull one out and have fun learning in the process.  We can also continue to add to the basket throughout the year to reinforce other concepts as well (i.e. math, science, etc.).  The most important thing for me is for Hank to have fun while learning, and the more active I can get him in the activity, the better.  If the activity isn’t fun any longer, we just put it back in the basket and grab something else.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

Alphabet Match

A couple of weeks ago while looking for fall activities, I ran across a blog post from Toddler Approved called Fall Leaf Alphabet Movement Activity.  This post inspired me to create my own version of the alphabet games to use throughout the year with my son.  I printed out 2 sets of Alphabet cards (one set to use on the floor with painters tape and another set for the letter cards).   I found some alphabet cards from Homeschool Creations that I liked because it had actual pictures along with both the upper and lower case letter.  I show Hank a card at random and see if he can identify the letter.  Then I hand him the letter card and say, “Can you put the B on the ball?” He then looks around on the floor to find the picture of the card with a picture of a ball on it and places the letter card on top to match.  When he is ready, we can incorporate letter sounds, i.e. “What sound does it make?”  You can also play without the extra letter cards, but just the ones on the floor.  I tell Hank to walk around on the letter cards and following different directions, i.e. “Put your nose on the dog,” “Sit on the apple,” “Hop on the cat,” “Can you put your elbow on the picture that starts with the sound ‘h’?”, “Can you hop to the letter that makes the ‘s’ sound?” etc.

 

ABC Movement Cards

I loved this idea I saw a couple of weeks ago.   The 26 ways to Exercise through the ABC’sblog from Kids Activities blog. Presenting a list of movement suggestions of exercising/moving to each letter. While the list is great, I really wanted to have a set of cards that I could print out with the letter and exercise on it that I could use for the activity.  So I searched some more and found a set of Exercise ABC Cards from The Home Teacher.   Most people would have stopped there, but I went further.  I decided to make my own set ABC Movement Cards specifically for my kids with inspiration from both ideas.  Whether you use the list from the Kids Activities Blog, the cards from The Home Teacher blog, or my movement cards, it doesn’t matter.  The point is to get your kids moving and learning about the alphabet at the same time.

 

Feed The Alphabet Frog

I was already collecting bottle caps for an art project when I came across an alphabet activity from I Can Teach My Child called Feed the Alphabet Monster.   I love reusing items that we would normally throw out into something usable.  Hank is a little recycler, so he was very excited to help collect the caps.  Hank wanted to Feed a Frog instead of a Monster, so we modified the activity.  I used an old kid’s meal bucket (the plastic ones that they have around Halloween) instead of the baby wipe container.  I then printed out some Fly Stickers using Avery 5160 labels to put on the top of each cap.  Then under each lid, I used scrapbooking stickers so that I didn’t have to manually write the letters on each cap.  I decided to use both upper and lower case letters, so I used 52 lids in all.  We placed the frog on the floor and then made a pile of all of the lids about 5 ft. away.  Then Hank picked out a lid, told me the letter, and then got to “feed” the lid to the frog by tossing it into the “frog’s” mouth.

 

Alphabet Tunnels

They are going to have so much fun with this activity.  Hank and Faith both love to play with cars.  So what better way to incorporate literacy into their play than with letter tunnels inspired from Toddler Approved.   Instead of hand printing the letters on the tunnels, I designed a Tunnel Template so that I could print the tunnels with my printer.  As a bonus, I added number tunnels as well.  I also made a couple of “Road Trip” maps for both Hank and Faith (since she has to do everything that big brother does) to follow and “drive through” the tunnels in a specific order.  On the maps I used letters and numbers that actually look like roads that came from Making Learning Fun .  You could even use the letters by themselves as roads scattered on the floor to drive on between the tunnels.  After I got all materials ready, I put them in the bag along with some painters tape to attach them to the floor.  I can also see Hank wanting to use the tunnels with his wooden train set, and if so, that will be fun as well.

 

Target The Letters

After seeing this idea on the More Mom Time blog, I decided to do our own version.  Instead of using a shower curtain and using markers to draw circles and print the letters on it, I wanted to make Letter Targets to just print out and scatter out on the floor. I then printed a set of the Letter Target Cards.  To play, we put the letter targets on the floor and put the cards in a pile.  Hank picks a letter card and tells me what letter is on the card.   Then he takes a beanbag and tries to hit the matching letter target.  Lots of fun!

 

The Alphabet Mystery

We have a Leapfrog magnet alphabet set that a friend gave us for the refrigerator.  I thought it would be fun to hide the letters and have Hank go on a “mission.”  His mission (if he should choose to accept it) is to find the missing letters that have disappeared from the fridge.  I have previously used this Alphabet Word Game printable that has the capital letter listed, but it also has a blank box next to the letter in which to put the corresponding letter magnet. We will just tape it to the fridge.   I then give him a magnifying glass and send him on his mission.  After he finds a letter, he will run back to the fridge, and we can discuss what letter it is.  We then put the magnet in the player to see if he’s correct and learn about what the letter sounds like as well.  Then he can put it on the chart and see what letters are left to find.  You could also play this with the magnet letters that can be purchased at WalMart, the Dollar Store, etc.

ABC – Our Favorite ABC Books

Alphabet books are a wonderful way to introduce children to letters and foster a love of reading.  If you are looking for alphabet books, you don’t have to search very far.  Favorite characters like Clifford, the Berenstein Bears, and Thomas have alphabet books available as well as favorite authors like Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton, etc. There are also ABC books about almost any topic that your kids enjoy, such as construction, trains, the farm, beach, etc.  The choices seem endless.

Several years ago I taught preschool, and I saved a large collection of books that I now read and share with my children.  This collection includes our 10 favorite alphabet books that we included in Our ABC Basket (from last week). However, I have many more that are still in the closet waiting to be discovered.

What is your favorite alphabet book?

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

ABCBooks

 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

In this lively alphabet rhyme, all the letters of the alphabet race each other up the coconut tree. Will there be enough room? Oh, no — Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

Note:  I loved this book as a teacher, and I love this book as a parent as well.  After reading it, my kids like to go around the house chanting Chicka Chicka Boom Boom over and over again, so be prepared!

 

I Stink by Kate & Jim McMullan

Know what I do at night while you’re asleep? Eat your trash, that’s what! See those bags? I smell breakfast!  With ten wide tires, one really big appetite, and an even bigger smell, this truck’s got it all. His job? Eating your garbage and loving every stinky second of it!  And you thought nighttime was just for sleeping.

Note:  One of Hank’s favorites.  He loves the Alphabet Soup Recipe

 

The Little Engine That Could ABC Time by Watty Piper

The Little Blue Engine chug-chug-chugs through the countryside, and puff-puff-puffs through the alphabet as she goes. Come along and help her find some apples for A, butterflies for B, and other objects and animals from A to Z.

Note:  My son is train crazy.  He likes everything to do with trains.  As a child, I loved “The Little Engine That Could,” and now I enjoy sharing her with my kids.  This is always a favorite.

 

The Three Bears ABC – An Alphabet Book by Grace MacCarone

“F is for Forest. While their porridge cooled, the bears walked in the forest, where they sniffed fragrant flowers.” The classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears meets the alphabet in this fairy-tale-meets-concept-book story.

Note:  I love this book.  It still tells the story of the three bears, but in a clever way.  Fun read for everyone.

 

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

From A to Z—and Acrobat Peas to Zoologist Peas—every letter is exciting!  Get ready to roll through the alphabet with a jaunty cast of extremely cute and busy little peas. This fresh and fun alphabet book features bright colors, bouncy rhyming text, and silly pea characters who highlight the wide variety of interests, hobbies, and careers that make the world such a colorful place!

Note:  Great way to introduce not only the alphabet, but all of the things that people can do as well.

 

Alphabet Adventure & Alphabet Mystery by Audrey & Bruce Wood

In Alphabet Adventure – After working hard all summer with their teacher, “Capital T,” the lower case letters of the alphabet are on their way to the first day of school. But they’re held up when the letter “i” loses her dot. The letters come up with a plan, and race around to find a substitute for Little “i” to wear: “s” offers a star, “h” a heart but at the last moment the mischievous dot returns (anxious about being replaced).  While in Alphabet Mystery – Little “x” has left, upset he’s hardly used, and the other letters set out to find him. They find “x” playing the castle xylophone for the mysterious Master, capital “M,” who threatens to turn them into alphabet soup! Some quick thinking by Little “x” saves the day, and soon they are all on their way home–just in time to make Mom’s birthday surprise: a cake with Little “x” all over. He’s the only one who stands for kisses!

Note:  My mom got these for Hank last Christmas.  He loves reading one right after the other, so they are basically one book – part 1 and part 2.

 

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

and other Miss Bindergarten books by Joseph Slate

In Gets Ready for Kindergarten it’s the first day of kindergarten, and Miss Bindergarten is hard at work getting the classroom ready for her twenty-six new students. Meanwhile, Adam Krupp wakes up, Brenda Heath brushes her teeth, and Christopher Beaker finds his sneaker. Miss Bindergarten puts the finishing touches on the room just in time, and the students arrive. Now the fun can begin! This rhyming, brightly illustrated book is the perfect way to practice the alphabet and to introduce young children to kindergarten.  Other books in the series include: Stays Home from Kindergarten, Has a Wild Day in Kindergarten, Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten, Takes a Field Trip with Kindergarten, Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten, Plans a Circus with Kindergarten.

Note:  My mom was a kindergarten teacher for years, and this always reminds me of her when I read it to the kids.  All of the books in the series are equally fun and interesting to read.

 

Q is for Duck – An Alphabet Guessing Game by Mary Elting & Michael Folsom

This is no ordinary alphabet book. Why is “Q” for “Duck”? Because a duck quacks, of course. Even the youngest readers will delight in the riddle-like text and lively, humorous illustrations.

Note:  What a great book!  Unexpected alphabet book that really keeps you guessing and engaged.

 

The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin

Presents the handshape for each letter of the American manual alphabet accompanied by an object whose name begins with that letter.

Note:  One of my best friends teaches deaf education.  While in college I took a course in sign language and fell in love.  I love the beautiful pictures in this book, and the kids love to try to make the letters with their hands as well.

 

Animalia by Graeme Base

Animalia is more than A is for Apple.  As you travel from A to Z, each scene reveals is filled with a wealth of hidden objects and on each new page the details discovered begin with the letter for that page.  It is an incredible imaginary world that will intrigue youngsters of all ages, whether or not they know their ABCs.

Note:  We literally spend a half hour or more on this book each time we read it.  Sometimes we don’t even get through the entire book.  Hank loves to help find as many things as he can in the illustrations that start with each letter.  However, that is no surprise since it is somewhat similar to “I Spy” books.

Tell Me A Story Tuesday – Growing Vegetable Soup

Fall is the time of year where we harvest food. Once the weather starts to cool down, it’s natural to grab a sweater and start up a pot of soup for warmth. Growing Vegetable Soup,by Lois Ehlert, presents the perfect opportunity to talk about the things that we naturally do at this time of year. Children benefit by learning from relevant events in their lives. Read this book with your child. There are SO MANY ways that you can extend this book into so much more than it is alone. You can develop vocabulary by talking about the names of vegetables, develop taste buds by sampling different kinds of vegetables, develop narrative skills and numeracy skills by making a pot of soup, and so on.

Here is an activity you can do with this book:

from_the_garden_to_soup

From the Garden to Soup 

  • Create vegetables using craft foam.
  • Place vegetables in some dirt you may have left over from your garden. You can also use a blanket to simulate earth.
  • Invite one child to be a “sounder” and another to be a “matcher.” Have the sounder secretly choose an item from the “dirt” and say the first sound of the item. For example, say “C-c-c” for carrot. Depending on your children’s ability level, you should be the sounder for the first few times that you model the game.
  • Once the sound has been heard, the matcher finds an item in the “dirt” that starts with the same sound. If that item is not the item the sounder has chosen, you can help the matcher by giving clues. Continue until the matcher holds up the correct item. When the matcher selects the correct item, he can put it into a soup pot. Play again using another set of children as a sounder and a matcher.
  • This activity can help younger children label things that grow in a garden. If you are working with younger children, you could ask them to find colors, “Can you please find me the white onion, orange carrot, red tomato….
  • You could also add some foam alphabet letters to the soup to work on letter recognition. Say, “Can anyone find a letter ‘A’ and or the letter that starts with the sound /a/ to add to our soup?”

 

Picture1

Different Ways to “Tell the Story” with children.

 

Retell the Story, Create a Recipe

  • Recall the story with the children and write down the recipe for making vegetable soup
  • Attach pictures to each step in the recipe
  • With the children, follow the recipe and make vegetable soup

flannel_board

Flannel Board or Story Bag

  • Retell the story with a flannel board or Story Bag.
  • Place the object on the flannel board or in the bag and solicit vocabulary and story from children
  • Pass out pieces to children and as you retell the story, invite the children to place the pieces on the flannel board on the story bag
  • Place the flannel board or story bag in the reading area for children to recreate their own stories

Watch (or Make) a You Tube Video

  • Watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOidUBm_ZEU
  • Compare/Contrast the book to the video
    • pictures VS drawn pictures
  • Create your own video
    • Assign children jobs to create video
      • Cook
      • Narrator
      • Camera man
      • Props

What else would you do with this book?

 

vegetable_finds

Vegetable Finds

MATERIALS (Needed per child and adult):

  • paper plates
  • small paper cups
  • large bowl
  • safety knives
  • small cutting board
  • 2 whole vegetables  (don’t have to be the same for each child – have 6 types for variety)

ACTIVTY:

Willie the Worm crawled into the vegetable bowl. Inch your forefinger along the table. “Which vegetable should I eat first?” he asked. Name the vegetables with the children. “His sharp teeth bit into the soft skin of a round, red tomato. He wondered what it was like inside of the tomato. Willie crawled in, and what do you think he found?” Cut the tomato, give each child a small piece and discuss their observations. Put extra pieces in the large bowl. “Willie ate ‘til he was so full he fell asleep. He didn’t try any other vegetables. But our stomachs are bigger so we can try them all and make a vegetable salad!”  Distribute materials, and say, “I wonder what we’ll discover about our vegetables.” Remind children to use their own cup and only put untasted pieces in the large bowl to share later.

Encourage children to use all five senses as they explore the vegetables. Describe and encourage them to describe visual characteristics, sound, texture, smell and taste. Ask what the attributes remind them of.  Encourage children to predict what a vegetable will look like or feel like inside and verify predictions when they cut open the vegetables.

FOLLOW UP:

Survey vegetables the children liked best and create a chart. Use information from survey to create a recipe. Send home the recipe with the children to re-create salad with their families. Encourage the children to represent the vegetable they cut up (draw or print). Create a book from their representations.

 

snack

What’s For Snack?

MATERIALS (Needed per child):

  • Small paper bag (lunch bag) with
  • 1-2 vegetables per bag and stapled shut
  • Paper
  • Drawing materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.)

ACTIVITY:

Hand each child the paper bag. I made a snack for each of us last night that I thought we could enjoy today. I stapled the bags shut so the snack would not fall out as I brought them to school. But now I have forgotten what I put in the bags for our snack. Do you think you could figure out what is in your bag without looking?

Encourage the children to feel the bags. What is the shape of the item(s)? Encourage children to use descriptive words such as round, hard, soft, rough, smooth, oval, oblong, large and small. For those children who are struggling, open up the bags and invite the children to touch the object, without looking. What do they feel now?

FOLLOW UP:

Encourage the children to draw what they think the item(s) is in their bag. Open the bag. Were their predictions correct? Draw what was actually in the bag. Ask the children for suggestions as to what to do with the vegetables.

 

potato

Where’s The Potato?

MATERIALS:

  • 10 cups or pots numbered 1-10
  • a potato

ACTIVITY:

Hank was making vegetable soup in the kitchen, and he had a mess. He had pots, spoons, bowls and vegetables all over the kitchen. He needed the potato, but could not find it. There were 10 pots in the kitchen upside down and he thought the potato might be under one of the pots. Do you think you can help me find the potato for Hank so he can finish his soup? Invite the children, one at a time, to guess a number.

If a child chooses 3, emphasize that the child chose the third cup and that the 3 is in between 2 and 4. If the potato is not under that pot, offer a clue. For example, if the potato is under the 7, provide the clue: the potato is not under the 3.  The potato is under a pot after the 3 but before the 8. Continue to use these clues, emphasizing before, after and between; what number the potato is not under; and using ordinal numbers to restate the child’s choice.

FOLLOW UP:

Place the game on a table for the children to play on their own at choice time. You could use colors, shapes, letters, symbols, or vocabulary pictures on the pots to reinforce concepts.

 

scale
Weigh In

MATERIALS:

  • Scale
  • Corn seeds, beans seeds, pea seeds, sunflower seeds
  • 2×2 inch cards with pictures of seeds
  • Large bar graph
  • 1 cup measuring cups

ACTIVITY:

Introduce the scale to the group. Ask if anyone knows what the scale is and what they would do with the scale. Take a measuring cup and scoop one cup of corn seeds on one side of the scale. Ask the children, What do you think will happen when I put this cup of  bean seeds into the other side of the scale? Take one cup of bean seeds in the other side. Ask, “What happened? Why is one side lower than the other?”   As children respond, restate their responses, emphasizing vocabulary that pertains to weight and measurement.   “I have 4 different kinds of seeds – corn seeds, bean seeds, pea seeds and sunflower seeds. I wonder which seed is heavier?” Ask the children to guess which seed they think is heaviest. Ask the children to place a picture of the seed that they think is heaviest on the chart.

“How do you think we can do that? What would we do first to find out which seed weighs the most?” Write down the process for answering the question, “Which seed is heaviest?” Carry out the procedure with the children.

FOLLOW UP:

Invite the children to draw the steps they took to find out which seed was heaviest.  Compare their prediction to their results. Discuss if and why their predictions did not match their results.  Place other materials in the science area for the children to experiment with weight.

 

kid_cook

How to Make Vegetable Soup

MATERIALS:

  • Broccoli, onion, carrots, potato, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes, green pepper, zucchini, ear of corn, pot, spoons, safety knives, cutting boards, water, peas, seasonings (parsley, marjoram, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf)
  • chart paper
  • markers
  • stove
  • hot pads
  • bowls
  • spoons
  • napkins

ACTIVITY:

Ask the children to recall how vegetable soup was made in the book. “What happened first? What ingredients do we need? What kitchen utensils do we need? What do we need to do to prepare the vegetables for the soup? What do we need to do to be safe in the kitchen?”  Use the information to create a recipe with the children. Draw/Add pictures to the different steps in the recipe to help children “read” the recipe. Using the recipe, make vegetable soup.

While following the recipe, invite children to take turns reading the recipe and directing the class/group as to what to do next. Encourage children to talk about what they are doing, using vocabulary from the story.

FOLLOW UP:

Take pictures of process and create a book, documenting how children made vegetable soup. Solicit pictures from children of their favorite part of the process and include in the book. Include children’s comments in book. Send copies of the book home to parents or invite parents to come in and make vegetable soup with their children. Take a survey of the class – Did you like the vegetable soup? Yes or no? Graph their responses.

 

veggie_people

Veggie People

MATERIALS:

  • Whole carrot
  • Various vegetables cut into different sizes and shapes
  • toothpicks

ACTIVITY:

Lay out a whole carrot (with leaves, stem and roots still intact). Discuss with the children the different parts of the carrot, naming the parts of the plant. Now, take the carrot and cut the carrot and clean the carrot. Lay out other various vegetables cut into various sizes. Invite the children to use the pieces to create a veggie person.

As they create their veggie people, encourage the children to describe their creations and how they are attaching pieces and what size, vegetable and shape they are using. Ask questions such as “who has a veggie person that has a round head?” or “does anyone have a person with a body made from a triangle shaped root?”

FOLLOW UP:

Display or take pictures of their creations. Invite children to dictate how they created their person – what pieces did they use, what shapes are the pieces, what parts of the plant were used?

 

Close-up mid section of woman holding seedling --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Close-up mid section of woman holding seedling — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

 

Growing Plants

MATERIALS:

  • Recording of calming music

ACTIVITY:

Ask the children, “Where does a plant come from?” As the children come up with seed, invite the children to pretend to be a seed. “What would that look like?” (put your hand into a fist or your body into a ball) “What happens next? The seed sends out root into ground below. Can you show me how a seed sends out its roots?” (put fingers out or stretch out legs) “Then the sprouts begin to push their way through the ground” (move your fingers or arms upward). “What does the plant need to grow?”  (sun, water) Then the warm sun hits the plant, the rain sprinkles down, and it begins to stretch upward.”  (reach your hands and arms up) “Then the breeze comes along and the branches of the plant are blown gently” (sway your hands and arms above your head)  “Now we are ripe and ready to be picked.”

FOLLOW-UP:

Encourage the children to make their own drawings of a plant growing from a seed to a plant. Place sequencing cards of a plant’s life cycle in the science area and invite the children to place the cards in sequential order.

 

I created an Activity Handout with a printable version of the listed activities

Want more ideas? I also created a handout with Other_Fruits_and_Vegetable_Activities.
Have a Great Week!

Kacey

Kacey Deverell is the Mentor Supervisor at Early Childhood Alliance. She coordinates the mentoring team as well as provides mentoring and technical assistance for Paths to QUALITY programs. She has a Master’s degree in education from Ball State University. You can email or contact her at 800-423-1498 extension 2483.

Take A Walk

What is your favorite season?  Mine is fall.  I love everything about it – the cooler weather, the leaves changing color, football, the local street fair, etc.  On one of these beautiful fall days the kids and I are going to go on a walk around the neighborhood.  Here are some ideas I have for before, along the way, and after we get back home.  I can’t wait!

 

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

walk

 

Before we go on our walk we are going to make a snack to take with us.  I found a recipe from snackpics.com for a snack mix that I can make in the crockpot, and modified the recipe to make our own NatureWalkSnackMix

I have all of the stuff I need in the pantry so whenever the day comes for our walk, I will be all set.  If it is a day that Hank is in preschool, Faith and I will make it up while he is gone.  If it happens to be a Friday when he is off, we can all do it together.   We will then put the snack mix in snack bags to take along with us.  I will also take along some water bottles for everyone.

 

We are going to play our I Spy Nature game for a fun activity.  I printed all of the Nature I Spy cards from Spell Outloud onto cardstock. Then I put them on an “o” ring in for usability.  A quick, easy activity that is ready to go.

 

We are going to be collecting items (leaves, acorns, pinecones, sticks, etc.) to make a Fall Wreath inspired by a My Kids Adventures post.  I went to the craft store and bought a bare wreath to decorate.  While there I also found little bags for the kids to fill with the treasures they find.  When we get home from the walk, we will glue the treasures onto the wreath with a glue gun.  Then we can hang it on the door as a fall decoration.

 

We are also going to collect acorns and loose acorn tops to use after the walk for some math activities inspired by Living Montessori Now’s post about Outdoor Acorn Math Activities.  I made a template for the Acorn Number Cards, the Acorn Size Cards, and the Venn Diagram.  This way we can do the activities again inside even after our outside time is over.

 

After our walk we are also going to drink cider and read books about fall.  One of our favorites is Clifford’s First Autumn, by Norman Bridwell.  Clifford has been a favorite of mine since I was in kindergarten, and my kids love the stories as well.  Besides, Bridwell has Indiana (Kokomo) roots, and I love exposing my kids to Hoosier connections.

 

rXfjZz1407761855

 

ABC – Alphabet Boxes

Last spring we took our son to Kindergarten Round Up.  In one of the rooms there were shoebox-sized boxes.  Each box represented a different letter and was filled with an assortment of items starting with that letter.  Needless to say when we got home, all he could talk about was the letter boxes and how we needed to make some for our house.

Over the next several weeks I found some reasonably priced small boxes with lids and we proceeded to gather items to place into each box.  First we went through his room and selected items that would fit in the boxes.  Then we looked throughout the house for additional things.  After that we made a list of the letter boxes that were low on items, and I went on a search of the dollar stores, bargain bins, and craft stores to complete our collections.  We labeled the boxes on the lid and side so that we knew what went together.  I used the free Play Dough Mats, Wall Posters or Flashcards download from All ABCs.  I liked this download because I could print multiple letters on a page and resize it.  I ended up printing a larger tag for the top of the box and a smaller tag for the side of the box.  We used clear package tape to secure the tags on the boxes.  He loved those boxes and would play with them for hours.  Then over the summer they were delegated to the closet, and he explored them less and less, but they still came out occasionally.

Then all of a sudden there has been a renewed interest in the letter boxes. So recently we moved them back out so that he has easy access.  Each day he comes out of his room and asks about things that start with “so and so” letter.  He is constantly looking through magazines, catalogs, and anything else he can get his hands on and cutting out pictures of things starting with the letter. Now he is also cutting out words that start with the letter as well.

Today I wanted to share a list of ideas for things you could include in your own letter boxes.  Have fun!  We had such a good time creating these boxes together.  I hope you do as well!

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

ABC Boxes

AlphabetFun

 

Aa apple, ant, alligator, ax, acorn, artichoke, alarm clock, ace, arctic wolf, airplane, anchor, angel, arch,
Bb beach ball, blast board, book, bookmark, bear, rubber ball, blimp, bandana, brush, Band-Aid, bell, banana, bowl, block, blue, bottle cap, broccoli, bobber, beluga whale, bone, balloon, basket, bow, barrette, beads, buttons, box, bat, bookmark, barn, bird, birdhouse, bubbles, bottle, baby, belt, butterfly, boat, bag, beans, bed, bang
Cc Clifford, cheetah, coin, cat, car, crayon, cookie, cake, candle, cupcake, can, cow, coke, cup, candy, card, comb, cards, coconut tree, cap, collar, candy cane, caterpillar, calendar, carrot, calculator, corn, cotton ball, chap stick, caribou, chopsticks, cross, cactus, chicks, chicken, coffee coupon
Dd dog, doll, deer, donkey, dime, dollar, dinosaur, duck, dolphin. dump truck, dice, dirt, dominos, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, door, “Do Not Enter” sign, drum,
Ee Earth, egg, elephant, envelope, eraser, eggplant, Eskimos, eight, eyes
Ff fish, fan, fingernail file, fork, firetruck, farmer, feather, foot,  football, fence, Frisbee, football player, Flash, fruit, flower, fingerprint, flashlight, fairy
Gg goat, ghost, game, gold coin, gorilla, gift, Goofy, grass, glove, globe, guitar, grapes, Green Lantern, glue stick, giraffe
Hh Hand, hammer, hat, horse, hamburger, hotdog, helmet, heart, hair, hippopotamus, hay bale, Honeybee, huskie dog, harp seal, handkerchief
Ii ice cream cone, invitation, Indian corn, igloo, ice skates, ivy
Jj jump rope, jacks, jeep, jack-o-lantern, jar, jellybeans, jam, juice, joker
Kk kangaroo, kite, key, king, ketchup, keychain, kazoo, koala bear, komodo dragon, knight
Ll Lollipop, list, ladybug, lion, lei, lemon, lime, lipstick, leaf, Lego, letters, letter, lamb, Liberty Bell, leprechaun, log
Mm marker, monkey, mask, milk, marble, moon, mailbox, motorcycle, magnet, mitten, map, mouse, microwave, money, marshmallows, macaroni, maracas, mirror, mower, mail truck, Mater, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
Nn napkin, nail, nickel, numbers, necklace, nut, newspaper, notebook, nametag, names (list), notebook, Nemo, NASCAR, nail clippers, nest, nail file
Oo octopus, orange, oval, owl, Olympics, olive
Pp pen, pencil, paper, penny, paperclip, picture, pipe cleaner, paint brush, pig, pickle, puppet, palm tree, ponytail holder, purse, pumpkin, pony, policeman, pillow, pan, pot, pear, pineapple, potato, pompom, potholder, pinecone, poinsettia, puzzle, pin, puzzle piece, play dough, picture, Purdue, Pluto, ping pong ball, polar bear, paper plate, piston cup, parsnip, paper towel
Qq quarter, queen, quilt, Q-tip, quartz
Rr ruler, rose, ring, ribbon, rainbow, rug, rubber band, reindeer, rock, rat, raisins, radio, rice, recycle, rocket, rabbit, red, Railroad sign, rhinoceros
Ss scissors, spoon, sucker, string, sunglasses, sock, soap, Santa, seahorse, sand, Super Man, sushi, star, seal, shark, snowplow, Saki, saw, speed limit sign, stripes, spool, Scooby Doo, Snoopy, skateboard, soccer, strawberry, shamrock, snake, stop sign, safety pin
Tt toothbrush, tape, telephone, tiger, tie, tomato, tag, turkey, toaster, toothpicks, truck, tractor, taxi, turtle, tee pee, traffic light, tissue, toilet paper, tennis racquet, triangle, ticket, tree, tent
Uu paper umbrella, unicycle, underwear, unicorn, umpire
Vv valentine, vase, van, violin, Velcro, velociraptor, votive candle, vegetables, Vee (from Chuggington), vest, vise
Ww wagon, wheel, washcloth, worm, Winnie the Pooh, watch, wallet, witch, whistle, wiggle eyes, wood, wallpaper, window, wand, walrus, whale, wooden nickel, windmill
Xx x-ray, xylophone, x marks the spot
Yy yarn, yogurt container, yellow, yo-yo, yield sign, yeti
zz zebra, zipper, zig zag, zero, zoo keeper

*Alphabet puzzles make a great resource to break apart into each letter box.

Printable List of ABC Box Ideas

 

inspirations

 

virtualvine

From The Virtual Vine

wildflowerramblings

From Wildflower Ramblings

Mommas

From Momma’s Fun World

homeschoolvillage

From The Homeschool Village

pinkandgreenmama

From Pink and Green Mama

123 – Read

We all know the benefits of reading with children.  Why not use your reading time to explore math as well?  In fact, books are frequently used as a way to introduce/reinforce mathematical concepts with children.   Books explore endless math concepts like Counting,Division and fractions, Geometry, Multiplication, Ordinal numbers, Size, Addition,Subtraction, Time, and more.

There are numerous children’s books with math-related themes and content.  Pick a topic – most likely there is a math related book to go with it.  There are even books that you can use crayons, dominoes, jelly beans, M&M’s©, candy bars, Cheerios®, and other items to play (and learn) right along with the story.  So next time you are at the library or book store, look to see what math you can read!

For some inspiration, here are my kids’ top 12 favorites (a dozen favorites to read) – so far.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

 

  • Duck & Goose 123 By Tad Hill
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle
  • Hoot: A Hide-and-Seek Book of Counting (My Little World) By Jonathan Litton
  • John Deere Farm 123 By Parachute Press
  • Five Tumbling Tigers By Debbie Tarbett
  • 10 Trick or Treaters By Janet Schulman (also 10 Valentine Friends, 10 Easter Egg Hunters, & Trim-The-Tree’ers)
  • Five Little Monkeys Sitting In A Tree (A Five Little Monkeys Story) By Eileen Christelow (many more books in this series)
  • Who Sank the Boat By Pamela Allen
  • I’m Dirty By Kate McMullan
  • 1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom! A Counting Book By Sarah Lynn
  • 100 Animals on Parade By Masayuki Sebe
  • 1-2-3 Peas (The Peas Series) By Keith Baker

 

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Want to extend your story time even further?  Here is a great resource for Math Activities inspired by books from Inspiration Laboratories.

book-inspired-math0

Reading With Dad

Some of my best memories of childhood involve my parents reading aloud to my three brothers and me.  I remember us all piled on my parents bed listening to Mom read a “Bobbsey Twins” adventure by Laura Lee Hope.  But some of my fondest memories are of the quiet Sunday afternoon moments when I would crawl into Dad’s lap and he would read the comics from the newspaper to me.

If you are a dad, do you spend time reading with your child?  Reading with your child is fun, and a great way to spend time together. It not only increases your child’s literacy skills, but research shows that children who enjoy reading do better in school. But better than that, it helps you build a strong and loving relationship with your child.

ReadAloud.org is a great website dedicated to the importance of reading to children.  It encourages every parent to read to his/her kids 15 minutes each day.  That’s right – Read aloud 15 minutes – Every Child.  Every Parent.  Every Day.  Every parent includes you Dad!

Why the emphasis on reading to children?

  1. Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.
  2. Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to improve a child’s readiness to read and learn.
  3. By making 15 minutes of daily reading the new parenting standard, we will change the face of education in this country.

summer_2015_fishing_8.5x11

Dads do make a difference so start reading tonight!

Have a GREAT day!

Lisa

 

Resources:

  • Read Aloud Dad – a good blog written by a dad dedicated to reading aloud to his kids that includes tips and books reviews.
  • Dad’s Playbook – Helping Kid’s to Read a downloadable pdf from the Government Printing Office – pamphlet is geared to get dads to help their kids to read, using case studies and helpful tips.
  • Tips for Reading Together by booktrust.org.uk – specifically encourages dads in Britain to read more to their children, but the information is for any dad.

Family Activity – Camping Adventure

There is something very appealing about unplugging, spending time in the fresh air and sunshine, cooking over an open fire, and relaxing with family.  What better way to do that than to go camping?  I grew up with a family that camped.  When I was younger, we would pitch our massive tent at the lake.  We spent our summers swimming, reading, relaxing, enjoying times with family and friends, and sleeping in that old tent.  Then Mom and Dad purchased a pop-up camper.  We took many a family trip with that camper exploring Indiana and staying at many of the state parks.  I was a typical child that went through phases with liking to camp and not wanting to camp at all.  However, as I get older, I look back on all of the memories of family campouts, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Now as an adult, I enjoy the weekends where I can get away with my own family and leave everything behind for a camping trip. In fact, I like almost everything about camping.  I like being outdoors, not having a schedule, the food, and the memories made around a campfire.  Sure, it is a lot of work to plan and pack, but once camp is set, it is a very enjoyable time.  In fact, every August we go camping with a group of friends to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton.  This year, my parents and brother Bryan will be joining us, so we are taking both the camper and tent to accommodate our family.  Hank is soooo excited that we are taking the tent.  It will be his first experience with tent camping.  Or like my brother Scott likes to say, “Real Camping.”  Scott doesn’t believe that taking a camper (equipped with a refrigerator, stove, bathroom, and air conditioning) qualifies as camping.  However, with the crazy warm weather we have had the past couple of years and the time-saving convenience, I gladly disagree with him and love taking a camper.

Want to go camping, but don’t have equipment?  No problem!  Have a camping adventure around your home.

  • Sleep “under the stars” in the living room
  • Go on a bear hunt throughout the backyard or neighborhood
  • Read stories by flashlight on the couch
  • Fix camp food in the convenience of your own kitchen

Here are some of the menu items and activities we are planning to do on this year’s campout.  You can adapt them for your own campout as well.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

images

 

Camping foods:

 

S’mores

For Each S’more:

  • Marshmallow roasting stick
  • 1 large marshmallow
  • 1 graham cracker
  • 1 (1.5 oz) chocolate bar

Directions

  1. Heat the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown and melt.
  2. Break the graham cracker in half. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the hot marshmallow. Allow the marshmallow to cool a moment before eating.

 

Pudgie Pies

For Each Pie:

  • Pie iron
  • 2 Slices bread
  • Butter
  • Canned pie filling; apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, etc.

Basic Directions

  1. Place slice of bread, butter side down, on lower half of cooker. Spoon fruit filling on center of bread.
  2. Place second slice of bread, butter side up, on top of fillings. Latch the pie iron; trim off excess bread if necessary.
  3. Toast over campfire, fireplace or fire pit until golden brown on both sides. A delicious snack in 4 – 6 minutes.

 

Tacos in a Bag

For Each Bag:

  • Taco Meat
  • 1 (2.5 ounce) package corn chips or Doritos
  • Taco toppings:  shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, chopped avocado, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream

Directions

  1. Heat your favorite taco meat.  I usually do this in the microwave in the camper, but it can be done over the fire if needed.  Note: I like to make and freeze the taco meat ahead of our camping trip.  Then when it’s time for camping, I let it thaw in the cooler or in the camper’s refrigerator.
  2. With the bags unopened, gently crush the corn chips. Snip the corners off the bags with scissors and slit open the bags along the side edge. Spoon in toppings. Serve in the bag and eat, using a fork.

 

Camping Crafts:

 

Rainstick

  • Mailing tube
  • Nails
  • Child-Size hammer
  • Duct tape
  1. Hammer many nails into the cardboard mailing tube. (I put dots on the tube with a marker where the nails would go to make it easier for Hank to see.)
  2. Fill the tube with river stones, pipe cleaner pieces, and rice.  (I put the materials that Hank was going to put in the tube into an empty water bottle.  That way, when it was time to pour it in we didn’t have to use a funnel.)
  3. Decorate with Duct Tape.  (I found some great duct tape decorated with leaves and pinecones on it to go along with the camping theme.)

 

Bubble Creature

  • 1 empty green plastic bottle (such as Mt. Dew)
  • Scissors
  • 1 sock
  • 1 rubber band
  • 2 Google eyes
  • 1 piece of green foam
  • Hot glue gun
  • Bubble solution
  1. Cut the bottom off plastic bottle with scissors.
  2. Place the cut end of the bottle into the sock and pulled it tightly onto the bottle.
  3. Place a rubber band around the sock to keep it in place and then fold the sock back over the rubber band.
  4. Glue the eyes in place.
  5. Cut 3 triangles out of the green foam for the back decoration and glue to snake.

To blow bubbles, dip your sock end of snake into bubble solution to get the fabric wet, and then blow through the mouthpiece of the bottle. To add color to the bubbles, put drops of food coloring directly on the sock.

*Original idea from Two-daloo.com

 

Camping Fun:

 

Frisbee

Bocce Ball

Ladder Golf

Bike Riding – The park has a wonderful bike trail for hours of fun.

Swimming

Balls

Scavenger Hunt (printable from Creative Homemakers.com)

 

Camping Games:

By now you know that my family plays games whenever we can, and camping is no exception.  We have accumulated a surprising number of outdoor-/camp-themed games that always seem to find their way on the packing list.  These come in very handy if there is inclement weather, or for late-night fun around the picnic table.

 

EcoFlux, by Loony Labs – In the wild, you must adapt to survive! Will you win by having your Bears Eat Fish? Or will some change the goal so that their Frogs and Insects can make Night Music? Play ecology-themed Actions and Rules like Scavenger or Composting, but watch out for Creeper cards, such as Forest Fire, that can hurt everyone! Discover a little about how things go together, with EcoFluxx – the nature game of ever-changing rules!

Scavengers, by Zombie State Games – Each year the Hamburger family escapes into the great outdoors for a little rest and relaxation. During their stay eager animals scavenge for food that has been left unattended to take home and make meals of their own.

Squarrels, by Home Lantern Games – If you enjoy playing card games, you will fall in love with S’Quarrels! S’Quarrels is an exciting (and addicting) card game built around the theme of squirrels collecting acorns before winter. Ambushing, Hoards, Quarrels, and Whirlwinds are all part of the fun. Get the Golden Acorn but watch out for the Rotten Acorn.

Hike, by Moosetache Games – Brave the Elements, Blaze the Trail in Hike! Go for a trek, get lost on a trail, ride out avalanches, and always remember to watch out for Poop! There’s no littering allowed in Hike: The Card Game!

Camp, by Education Outdoors – Camp is a game where both children and adults can play and learn fun facts about the great outdoors. The game is designed to grow with the player, starting at level one questions, which are primarily identification of animals. As the players increase in their knowledge about the outdoors, they grow into the higher level questions. A fun and educational game where parents and children can play against each other to get to camp first.

S’mores The Card Game, by Education Outdoors –  S’Mores the Card game is fun for the whole family. Be the first player to get all of the ingredients to make the perfect S’mores.

Hit The Trail, by Education Outdoors –  A unique, fast paced, nature-inspired family game that comes packaged in a handy mini backpack. Test your knowledge and have fun doing it, inspired by the great outdoors.

Bears, by Fireside Games – You and your friends are on a relaxing camping trip. But as you hammer in the last stake, you hear rustling. Bears are romping through the campsite. Who will survive the rampage? And who will be eaten by bears? Bears is a fast-playing, competitive game in which you score points by pairing dice. Shoot bears and run from tents for a few points, or take a risk and score big by sleeping through the attack. But watch out. If Bears are left at the end of the round, your sleeping campers are done for.

 

After Dark Fun:

 

Glow Toys – Instead of the usual glow sticks, this year I found some light up glow wands.  You press the button and the top of the wand (which looks like a pinwheel) starts spinning and changes all sorts of glow in the dark colors.  It runs on batteries so it can be used over and over again.

 

Catch The Firefly Game – The firefly carries a flashlight and silently counts to 10 as he walks away from the group. When the firefly reaches 10, he flashes the light once. Other players then count to 10 and take off to find the firefly, who tries to evade his pursuers. The firefly continuously counts to 10 and flashes the light at the end of each count. The first one to tag the firefly becomes the new firefly.

 

Campfire StoriesNo camping trip is complete without stories around a campfire. To make it easier to see, we read stories by flashlight. I know that typically you tell ghost stories, but since we have a 5-year-old and almost 2-year-old, ghost stories are a little too scary.

  • The Very Lonely Firefly, by Eric Carle
  • The Very Quiet Cricket, by Eric Carle
  • Let’s Have A Tree Party, by David Martin
  • We’re Going on a Nature Hunt, by Steve Metzger
  • Bear Feels Scared, by Karma Wilson
  • Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell
  • S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet, by Helen Foster James

Read With Me

“Up!  Up!”  I look down, and there is my smiley-faced almost two-year-old reaching up to me with a book in her hand – a frequent scene at our home.  Faith loves to have books read to her.  She will pick books off the shelf and bring them to me throughout the day, or to anyone, to read.  I am amazed that this bundle of energy, who will not sit still for much these days, will intently sit on a lap if a story is being read.  She will participate by pointing at pictures, helping to turn the page, and “telling” the story along with whomever is reading.  However, she is not the only one who enjoys being read to on a daily basis.  Her big brother likes to have stories read to him just as much.

My kids get it honestly.  Some of the best memories I have of childhood revolve around being read stories by the people around me – at home, at Grandma’s, at church, at school, etc.  I am grateful that my children are getting to have some of same experience and opportunities that I had growing up.  Nothing warms my heart more than to see my children curled up in a lap being read a story.

However, they are both at ages where they enjoy listening to the same stories over and over again.  Therefore it’s important for me to find books that I (along with others) enjoy reading as much as the kids enjoy hearing.  Following is a list of a dozen of our current favorites that we read again and again.

It is important keep the books interesting, I like to try different voices, ask questions throughout the book, point out something new in the illustrations, etc.  Here is a link to an article that gives some great tips for reading with kids:  Tips for Sharing Books with Babies and Toddlers

For the moment I can still fit both children on my lap at the same time to read.  However, too soon this moment will pass, and then one day they won’t want to have me read to them at all.  Until then I am going to cherish every moment and maybe someday they will look back fondly on our time together.

Do you have favorite books that you share with your toddler or preschooler?  Please share!  I’m always looking for books to add to our ever-growing library.

Have a Great Week!

Lisa

 

My_Kid_Pics

 

Faith’s Board Book Picks

  • Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin, by Tad Hills – In fact, she likes all of the Duck & Goose books in the series.
  • Little Blue Truck, by Alice Schertle
  • Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton
  • Open the Barn Door, by Christopher Santoro

Hank’s Picks

  • I’m Dirty, by Kate and Jim McMullan – He also really likes I Stink and I’m Mighty by the same authors.
  • The Three Bears ABC, by Grace Maccarone
  • I Love Trains, by Philemon Sturges
  • Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice, by Steve Metzger – Yes, I know it is not wintertime, but with books, it can be all seasons any time of the year.

Both Kids Picks

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Helen Oxenbury
  • What Makes a Rainbow, by Betty Ann Schwartz
  • Ladybug Colors, by Kidsbooks – This is really Faith’s book, but every time I read it, Hank makes his way onto my lap and reads along as well.

Make It Monday – ABC Art

This past summer my kids and I created a schedule of activities to do each day of the week (to help our summer run a little smoother).  Together we came up with:

  • Make it Monday (art exploration)
  • Tell Me a Story Tuesday (read old and new stories together – usually in our storytelling tent or a special place and then  do an activity based on the story)
  • Wonderful Adventure Wednesday (go on a special outing or do a fun activity at home)
  • Tasty Treats Thursday (make a snack together)
  • Family Fun Friday (have family movie night, game night, themed dinner, etc.)

It was such a hit this past summer that we plan to do it again.  In fact, I have also started using it with my daughter on the days she doesn’t have preschool.  It gives us something to look forward to and keeps her entertained.

Thought I would share one of the ideas that was a huge hit for Make It Monday – An ABC Art Book.  This activity took us a couple of Mondays to complete and was a very interactive project.  I am a firm believer of giving a child materials to create with and letting them explore the materials on his/her own.

As you know, my son loves trains.  In looking for some ideas to do over the summer, I found an idea for a Train ABC Book by Craftulate.  This is a printable book that you can use to explore art while focusing on each letter of the alphabet.  Hank enjoyed it, but it got me thinking about other ABC art books that might be available.  In looking at the following resources, I compiled a list ways to explore art through each letter of the alphabet. I would also try giving your child a blank page and let him/her practice writing the letter at the top instead of pre-printed ABC papers.

ABC Art Ideas

Aa- Apple prints, Acrylic Paint
Bb- Blue, Brown, Black, Bubble prints, Block Stamping, Band-Aids, Beans, Bark Rubbing, Blending
Cc- Colorful, Colors, Collage, Cotton ball prints, Car Tracks, Carrot prints, Corn Collage, Coffee Paint, Cork Stamping, Celery Painting, Circle,
Dd- Dot Art (Dot Art painters, circle stickers), Diamond
Ee- Elbow painting, Eye collage (wiggly eyes), Engraving
Ff- Finger painting, Feather painting or collage, Fork painting, Fingerprint Flowers, Fabric collage
Gg- Green, Glitter Glue, Glitter, Glow,
Hh- Hand prints, Hearts, Hay, Hue
Ii- Ice cube painting, Ink (rubber stamps with a variety of inks), Illustration
Jj- Junk prints, Jewels, Joining
Kk- Keys Rubbing, Kleenex, Kaleidoscope
Ll- Lavender, Letter Collage, Leave Rubbings, Lace, Lines
Mm- Marble painting, Mosaic, Metallic
Nn- Newspaper Numbers, Nickel rubbings, Neon, Nature Rubbing
Oo- Orange, O’s (toilet paper tubes), Orange (the fruit) prints, Oval, Overlapping
Pp- Purple, Pink, Paint, Potato prints. Penny rubbings, Polka Dots, Photo Collage
Qq- Quarter rubbings, Q-tip painting, Quilt (squares of paper)
Rr- Red, Rubbings, Rainbows, Ribbon, Rectangle, Rock painting, Rice, Relief
Ss- Sponge paint, Stamping, Sand Art, Stickers, Stained Glass, Squirt Gun painting, Square Art, Stars, Shading
Tt- Torn Paper collage, Toothpick Triangles, Tissue Paper, Tire Tracks prints, Tape, Tinting
Uu- Upside-down picture, Underwater art, Unbelievable
Vv- Vegetable prints, Valentines, Vibrant Colors, Value
Ww- White, Watercolor, Wallpaper, Wooden Train Wheel Prints
Xx- X-ray (q-tips), X marks the spot map, X collage, X stamping, Xerox
Yy- Yellow, Yarn pictures, Yo-yo painting
Zz- Zigzags, Zipper rubbing

Printable Copy:  ABC_Art_Ideas

Let your imagination take flight!

Have a Great Week!

Lisa