Archive for the ‘ Preschool and Toddler Activities ’ Category

PreK Craft: Spaghetti Yarn Art

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

This is a cute, quick craft you can do with your 2-5 year old. This was a really good project even for ED, who was age 2 at the time.  She could pretty much do it on her own as long as I reminded her of the steps along the way.

For this activity we needed cooked spaghetti (we used fettuccine), bits of yarn or string, and glue. We had one bowl of plain glue, and a bowl of glue + red food coloring another with glue/yellow and another with glue/green.

This activity worked best when I had them use a fork. My kids didn’t dip it in well enough to get a lot of glue. They really needed to stir it around a bit (and they were reluctant to put their hands in the glue to push the string or spaghetti down in). They then dumped the glue covered spaghetti or yarn onto a plastic plate, criss-crossing the pieces.


Let it all dry overnight (or longer depending on your climate). It will dry hard and firm and you’ll be able to pop it off the plate. Put a piece of yarn through one of the loops and you can hang it up.


So that’s it: 

Put the spaghetti (or yarn) in the glue
Stir, stir, stir
Dump it on your (plastic) plate
Let it dry for 2-4 days.
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Preschool at Home: Alphabet Activities for 2-4 year olds

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Here are some alphabet activity ideas you can do with your little one: At first we played these activities just for letter identification, but as the kids learned their letters we would play these games and identify the sound/s they make. Above all, be enthusiastic and have FUN with the kids!!

Jump on Letters:We did this activity with everything from contact paper in the kitchen to letters written in chalk on the driveway. This active game was a huge hit with all my kids. “Find the “R.”  ”Go jump on the “K.”   You get the idea!

Sandpaper Letters: When my kids were letter, we ordered some sandpaper letters from  didax.com. The kids traced the letters which helped as they transitioned into writing letters (because it shows the order in which to make the strokes). It helped LD with some of the letters he hadn’t been forming properly.

Erase the Letter: You can write a letter on a white-board and have the kids practice “writing” by using the eraser size of the white board marker.

Paint in a Bag – Hair gel and dye: This activity only ever worked for a couple of letters with my kids before they lost interest, but it’s worth a mention. Anything to add creativity and piques the kids’ interest is worth a go, right?! We just put hair gel into a ziploc bag with some dye. Don’t add too much gel or the letter won’t show up. Then the kids practiced writing their letters.  I’ve heard of people using ketchup or liquid paint instead.

 

Writing in Sand: We did this in combination with a scavenger hunt and a “mail box” with a slot to mail the letter. We just had a tray of sand and ED had to write the letter before mailing off her letter!  I never wound up making more “letters” for her to mail, but if you’re interested in   A, B, C, E, L, M, N, O, R or S you can download them free here.

Alphabet discover bottle search and find bottle: Fill a bottle with rice, beads, glitter and the letter/s you are focusing on. Have your tot twist and turn the bottle to find the letter as quickly as possible.

Letter Scavenger Hunts: I can’t tell you how many scavenger hunts my kids went on when they were little. At first, I just hid letters and had them race back to tell me what they had found Enthusiasm was EVERYTHING in this activity! My kids were much more hyped when I was yelling out “Go, go, go! What’d ya find? Is it an “L” like in your name?!!!”

Improving Small Motor Skills

Do-a-dot Letter Painting: When the kids were little, we go a lot of mileage out of our do-a-dot markers.  I would print out an alphabet mat when it fit in with whatever theme-time table or unit we were covering. (Check out our theme time tables here.)

Q-tip painting: As the kids were learning their letters, I tried to change things up for them.  Sometimes I brought out Q-tips which they could dip into paint to practice “writing” their letters. Here are some alphabet mats I made that you can download as you need them:

Alphabet Mats: A to Z

(font licence purchased from Kimberly Geswein Fonts)

Play Dough Letters: Once the kids were old enough to roll out play dough snakes, they could make letters (either with a mat or not).  We also made letters from time to time out of pretzel dough or bread dough. Here are our edible letter Bb’s! The beans are there because these were from our Fairy Tale Unit: Jack and the Beanstalk activities.

Glue-and-Glitter: I’d have the kids “write” their name (or letters) with glue and let them go to town with the glitter.

Fishing for Letters: Some good old fashioned fishing fun! Either matching upper and lower case letters or simply catching a letter and identifying it.  These are with shamrocks for St. Patrick’s day but you could cut out any shape appropriate for your unit, the holiday or season.

Hide-and-Seek Name Game: Place hair gel in a sealed ziploc bag along with the letters of your child’s name,  glitter, and color beads… have them try to find all the letters of their name and squish the bag around to place the letters in the proper order.

Letter Factory: All three of my kids loved the Letter Factory movies. The tune is catchy and it helped the kids learned the sounds of the letter.

I hope you found a few ideas you can use with your kids!  If you found anything useful or have other ideas to share, I’d love to hear from you at our Homeschool Den Facebook page.

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Pattern Block Templates (Ages 18mo-4 years)

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

When my kids were little I bought a set of Pattern Blocks. It’s been one of the most enduring resources we have. We still bring them out occasionally and also use them for math now and then.

The kids have used templates like these:

And they’ve also used the pattern blocks for free play:

There are lots of places where you can find free pattern block templates:

One of the best places to get free pattern block mats is over at Prekinders.  There you have the option to print out black-and-white cards or full-color versions.

Kelly’s Kindergarten has two sets of pattern block pictures you can download as well.

Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler made a whole series of pattern block cards: Numbers 1-20; Alphabet Cards

If your kids are older, pattern blocks can be used for more advanced math problems. Mathwire  has a half-dozen problem solving activities that use pattern blocks for grades 3-4.

And there is a really neat set of Pattern Block Building Scenes mosques and temples here, though I don’t know the original website it came from.

You might be interested in this related post:

Long List of Activities for Tots and Preschoolers (Ages 2-6)

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4 More Science EggSperiments: (Part 3 of 4)

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

EggSperiment #4

Will an egg float or sink in water? What happens when we add salt to the water?

We added a lot of salt to one cup and had plain water in the other cup.

The egg in salty water floated, while the other egg sunk. We talked about why that was the case and how salt molecules changed the density of the water.

Egg Activity #5

Do eggs breathe?

Have the kids discuss this. Then take an egg and place it in warm water or vinegar. Have them watch as bubble form around the egg and start rising towards the surface.

Eggs are porous:
• Eggshells have to have little holes in them so that air can move through and into the egg for the growing baby bird. This lets the growing embryo get oxygen.
• We can see evidence that there are little holes in an eggshell by putting it in water and seeing air bubbles. Air can not only get into the egg, but come out of it, too.

Eggs and Pollution

We then talked about how since it is porous it can let things through — like acid (vinegar), acid rain and pollutants. We talked about DDT (how eagles nearly became extinct)– and how poisons, pesticides and so forth can harm the animal populations. Also, this means that eggs can take on the smell/flavor of things around it so it is important to keep eggs in their carton in the fridge so they don’t begin to smell like stinky cheese!

Egg Activity #6

Chick Development

After talking about the growing chick embryo, we brought out this set I made a few years ago. You can buy the same thing (for example Learning Resources makes a set), but since we only use it for 10 minutes once every couple of years, it wasn’t worth the $30 price to our homeschooling family. Instead I bought some wooden eggs from a craft store and printed pictures out from the Internet.

EggSperiment #8

Is this egg hard boiled or raw?

Give the kids a hardboiled egg and a raw egg and have them try to figure out which is which. Suggest that they spin them around. Can they figure out which is which?

If the egg spins well, it is hard boiled. If the egg spins and wobbles slowly, it is raw. Since the raw egg is fluid inside, its center of gravity changes as the egg spins around. This results in the wobbling motion.

If you touch the eggs slightly to try to stop them, the raw egg will continue to spin for just a moment. That’s because of the inertia of the fluid in the egg.

Did you miss the first post in this series?

You’ll find the free EggSperiment Pack at the last post in this series:

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Science Egg-speriments! Just in Time for Easter! (Part 1 of 4)

Friday, April 11th, 2014

EggSpect the UnEggSpected with this series of fun Science EggSperiments! In this series you’ll find a dozen terrific egg activities to do with you kids. So… for the first EggSperiment…

Because Easter is coming up, we devoted the past week to some fun science EggSperiments.

This experiments requires you to soak a raw egg for two days in vinegar, so I’ll share this experiment first so you have time to get it ready for your kids!

We soaked 3 eggs in vinegar so each of my kids had an egg to work with:

When the eggs are ready, gently remove them from the vinegar. The egg will feel very rubbery and pliable! We used old baby food jars for this experiment.  Make sure that you don’t press on the egg to hard or the membrane will burst.  Both ED and DD’s eggs broke within the first five minutes:

LD was having better luck.  We decided to start over again with his egg because he stopped making progress. We ran the baby food jar under hot water and placed the egg on top. Then we packed some frozen veggies around the outside since cool air contracts. That seemed to do the trick. Slowly, agonizingly slowly, the egg began to work its way down into the baby food jar!

The more he worked with the egg, the more of the shell came off leaving behind just the membrane between success and disaster!  We shouted with joy when the egg made it into the jar without breaking!

We have another dozen EggSperiments to share with you… and I’m almost done putting them together into a printable pack. I shared that at the end of this series.

In the meantime, start soaking your eggs in vinegar and buy two or three dozen eggs to be prepared for more Egg Activities! You’ll need some hard boiled eggs as well.  We’ll see you back for three more EggSperiments tomorrow!

Other posts in this series:

Do you an your kids like science experiments? You might enjoy these posts. You’ll find free Science Experiment Packs that you can download there as well.

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Find cool crafts you and the kids can do at home with our activity finder!

Easter Chicken and String Egg
Easter Chicken and String Egg
Easter Chicken and String Egg

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