Monday, April 27, 2015

Think Outside the Box with Store Bought Games

Store bought games can be fun but we don't always have to play by the rules!  Take for example our Elefun game which we love and which has been enjoyed by both of my kids.  

We have been learning CVC words for awhile now and the last thing I want is for it to become boring.  I thought using this game, that my daughter already really enjoys, would help keep her interest. Here's how we changed the rules:

We took out the butterflies that come with Elefun and I replaced them with cut pieces of party streamers.  Shortly before we played this game we celebrated my husband's birthday, and instead of tossing the streamers I gave them a second life with this game.  I wrote a CVC word on each cut piece of streamer, which would now act as the 'butterflies.'  I decided to only use animal CVC words which I also wrote on a piece of paper and later laminated. The point of the new game was when one of the pieces of paper were caught my daughter would have to do two things:
1. Sound out the word 
 2. Act out the word

Once all the 'butterflies' were caught she matched the word  to the word on the paper and wrote either her first name letter or mine in the box next to the word. This showed which one of us caught that word, and whoever filled up all the CVC words first won the game.  




Here's what we learned playing by the new rules:

1. Recognizing and Sounding out CVC words
2. Acting out/identifying with animals and animal sounds
3. Writing skills
4. Counting
5. Hand/eye coordination

Take a peek at your games and see how you can think outside the box and change the rules in a way that will help your child learn while having fun!  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Learning While Pretending

Pretend play is important for building many different developmental skills such as language, thinking, social and emotional skills.  The best part is they are learning while pretending and imagining!

Recently, while cleaning out one of our kitchen cabinets I had a bunch of food boxes and instead of tossing them I used them for a pretend play grocery store.

Here's what I used to set up our grocery store pretend play:

Play money
Toy cash register
Empty food boxes/containers
Toy carriage
Plastic grocery bags
Toy purse/wallet

I began by setting up the empty food boxes and containers around the house.  I wrote a grocery list but because my 4 year old can not read yet, I told her what the word on the list was.  As she 'shopped' she had to match the word on the list to the word/letters on the item.  Some of the items she simply remembered from our own 'real' trips to the grocery store.

As she shopped she crossed off items from her list just like Mommy does!  Once she found all the things on the list it was time to check out.  I set up her toy cash register had some plastic grocery bags ready and gave her some play money.  After I rang up all the items I told my daughter how much money she owed.  At this point I had her count out how many dollars she needed so that she could pay for her groceries.

Finally, she was ready to load up her carriage with all her goodies and off she went........"thanks for shopping - come again!!"

Their are many ways to share pretend play with your child.  Most times you don't have to 'set up' anything.  Children tend to pretend play and use their imaginations on their own.  However, here are some other ideas to encourage pretend play with your child:

Dress up clothes
Stuffed animals
Cardboard box

How does your child pretend play?  Share with us in the comments below or visit us on our Facebook page.

Friday, April 10, 2015

What's In The Egg Game?

Just because Easter is over doesn't mean you have to put away all the plastic Easter eggs you've probably collected.  I usually keep them out for about a month or so after Easter before finally putting them away for the season.

Last Easter my daughter got the book The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown.  This is such a sweet book about a bunny who was alone and found an egg.  He had know idea what was in the egg so he tried different things like pushing it, shaking it, jumping on it to try and figure out what was hiding inside. The bunny was so sleepy that he fell asleep and it was then that the egg cracked open to reveal his new friend!

I decided to pair this sweet book with a game I called, "What's in the Egg?"  This game is super simple to set up just grab some plastic Easter eggs and some things from around the house to hide inside of them.

I showed my daughter the things I was going to hide inside the eggs before I hid them.  I wanted to give her a little hint otherwise I think she would have been totally stumped and frustrated.

Here are the things I hid inside the eggs:

Squinky toys
Bear counters

Even though my preschooler had seen the items before I hid them she still had some challenge, which was a good thing!  She mostly shook the eggs to try and figure out what was inside.  But when she got stumped I suggested she roll the egg like the bunny did in the book or hold it up to the light to see if she could see through the egg.

I love this picture....reminds of the part in the book where the bunny sits very still next to the egg

After my daughter was finished she asked to hide things for me to figure out.  The only difference was she randomly picked things and I had NO clue ahead of time what she was hiding (little stinker!)

We both had alot of fun with this game and it was a fun way to get some extra use from our Easter eggs.  It's a good game to work on memory and listening skills too!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Fruit Smoothie Ice Pops

Recently my daughter was not feeling well and running a fever so I made a fruit smoothie and stuck it in the freezer!  It was a nice treat to help keep her cool with the fever while also providing some vitamin C and other vitamins and nutrients from the fruit!

Strawberries and blueberries (you can use any fruits you like!)
4oz blueberry yogurt (again can use any flavor you like) 
1/2 C Orange juice
2 TBSP Honey
Pinch or so of Flax Seed
Crushed ice
Water (just a little bit)

I'll be honest I don't usually measure.  I just add what I think I'll like and have always been happy with the outcome.  When I make smoothies for myself I usually don't add the juice but instead just add water.  Since these are for my kids I use the juice for the extra taste!

These fruit smoothie ice pops are so good, so easy to make and super healthy! Also perfect for those hot summer days which will be here before we know it!  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

X is for X-ray

 We have really enjoyed our letter of the week.  Some of the letters were more challenging than others for figuring out an activity to go along with the letter and letter X was definitely one of them! After some searching on Pinterest and Google we came up with an X-ray activity which turned out to be one of our favorites!

Here are the materials we used:
Black construction paper
White crayon

We started off by tracing our hand and part of our forearm with white crayon.  This was a great fine motor and tracing activity!  After that we simply used some glue (used the squeeze glue bottle so another opportunity to use those fine motor skills) to stick on our q-tips which act as the 'bones.'

We also found a fun skeleton printable (child size) which my preschooler was able to piece together to form a full child size skeleton.  We had fun laying next to it and learning about the parts of our body.

Do you do letter of the week, if so we would love to hear which letter or letters are your favorites!  Visit us on our Facebook page or comment below!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Search and Build Springtime Sensory Bin

 Spring is FINALLY in the air!  To help get us in the spirit I made up a Spring Sensory Bin using some decorative grass, and various other things to help build some indoor spring!

Here's everything we used:

Decorative grass (not shown below)
Pipe cleaners
Googly eyes
Pom poms
Black beans (not shown below)
Empty soap container (not shown below)

My daughter loves a hunt so I thought how about a mini hunt in a bin?!  I added flower 'parts' to the bin by using green pipe cleaners to act as the flower stem and cut out foam in the shape of flowers.  I also added a bunny also cut from foam and things like googly eyes and pom poms so that my daughter could 'put together' her bunny.

I added a few pieces and then would add some grass and continued layering.

Beginning her 'hunt!'

Finding pieces!

Building the flower...

Building the bunny....

After our flowers were all put together we used an old soap container for our vase and added our flowers and bunny to it. I also had some black beans from our Halloween Garden and used the beans as 'soil' for our flowers. This part is completely optional and if interested in doing this you do not have to put in a 'vase' at all but just glue your flowers and bunny to construction paper. 
Since our soap container had a bit of glue on the front from the label we added our bunny to the front of the vase and it stuck perfectly!

So now we have a bit of spring indoors!

My daughter LOVED the decorative grass and I was feeling brave this day and let her have some fun throwing the grass around.  Believe it or not it was a super easy clean up!  She even helped, happily!  I would not recommend letting your child do this with the grass if you have pets as I'm sure ingesting this would be bad for them. 

Sorry for the blurry shots, so much moving and throwing!

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

W is for Watermelon

 We are approaching the end of the alphabet for our letter of the week program.  I can't believe it's been 26 weeks already and this week we will finally hit letter Z!

As we are getting to the end I'm losing a bit of steam as these last few letters seem to be the trickiest, especially our friend X!  But that's for another post!

My daughter had fun making a watermelon craft turned simple math activity.

Here's what we used:
Paper plate
Green marker
Pink marker
Black marker
Black beans
Double sided tape

For the watermelon craft:
Simply cut a paper plate in half and let your child begin coloring it with the colors of a watermelon! So easy but yet the watermelon turns out so cute!

For math activity:
After our craft I decided to put our black beans to use for some simple preschool math.  The beans acted as the 'watermelon seeds!'

I used double sided tape which made it super easy for the beans to stick.

My daughter had a great big smile when she saw the 'watermelon seeds.'  We have been doing simple addition and subtraction and I thought this watermelon would make adding a bit more fun!

I love crafts and I love learning activities and in this case we got a 2 for 1!  Craft and learning activity all in 1!