Stuffed Animal Alphabet

stuffed animal alphabet

I’m always happy to find a way to use our plethora of stuffed friends.  We’ve made a stuffed animal zoo, and now we are using them to learn letters.  This game helps with phonics and letter recognition.  All you need are animals and letters.  We used a foam alphabet mat, but you could easily write letters on index cards or use letter flashcards instead.

For each stuffed animal ask:

  1. What animal is this?
  2. What letter does it start with?  (If they need some help offer other words that start with the same letter)
  3. Can you find the letter and place the animal on top of it?  (Again, depending on ability level you might need to give some clues about what the letter looks like or its place in the alphabet)

Then read an animal ABC book and see if you had the same animals!

Playdough Color Wheel

I tried my hand at homemade playdough for the first time.  I am no cook.  But since the end product is not supposed to be edible, how can I mess it up?  I used this recipe from Domestic Super Hero.  Don’t worry.  You don’t need to be super hero at all.  I made three batches: red, yellow, and blue.

color mixing with play dough

Then the fun part: mixing colors!  I divided each of my colors of playdough into two equal halves and then set one of the halves off to the side.  The remaining half should be divided in half again.  (Perfect time to talk about how fractions are equal parts of a whole.)  Now you have two equal fourths of each color.  Time to mix!  Take 1/4 of the red and smoosh it together with 1/4 of the blue.  It takes awhile, so you might have to help if your kiddo wears out on the mixing.  See if your kid can guess the color that you are making…then see if it actually turns out.  Our purple was a little on the gray side.  But you can always add a pinch more red or blue to tweak the color.

play dough color wheel from Mr. Printable

Our last step was to put our colors on a color wheel.  There are tons of free blank color wheels out there.  I used the secondary color wheel from Mr. Printables.  I liked how the color words were labeled so my daughters could match them up.  If you don’t have a reader yet, give them clues like “Red has three letters.  Can you find the word blue?  It starts with the letter B.  Orange is red and yellow mixed together so it should be in between them.”

play dough color wheel

 

And if you are still in the mood to play, here are 15 more ways you can learn with playdough!

Water Paint

water paint

 

How do I keep the kids entertained while I mow the lawn?  Water painting.  All you need is a bucket of water, paintbrushes, and a fence.  It’s free and it’s fun and it doesn’t make a mess.  Plus kids can practice all kinds of things:

  • letters
  • numbers
  • counting
  • patterns- use the fence pickets
  • math problems
  • sight words or spelling words
  • shapes
  • and my daughters’ favorite: splattering

It isn’t the same as practicing handwriting with a pencil and paper, but that’s the point.  Sometimes kids need a break from the routine.  Novelty makes learning fun.  Who wouldn’t want to practice their spelling words outside with a paintbrush in the sunshine instead of at the kitchen table?

Top Ten First Day of Kindergarten Books

first day of kindergarten books

My oldest daughter be going to kindergarten this week (sniff, sniff) and we have been reading lots kindergarten books to prepare.  Here are our favorites (in no particular order)…

Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt- This is the perfect book for a kid (or parent) who loves space.  Everything about the first day of kindergarten is related to a space mission.  The teacher is the commander, the classroom is a capsule, and classmates are crewmates.  Hilarious story with very cute illustrations!

Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis- Dexter’s big sister tells him all about kindergarten and helps him find his lost stuffed animal on the first day.

Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum- In this story the mom is nervous about kindergarten and her son had to reassure her that everything will be fine.  The illustrations show mom small and blue when she is anxious and big and colorful when she feels fine.

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate- This rhyming book shows the teacher and her twenty-six students (from Adam the alligator to Zach the zebra) getting ready for kindergarten.

Look Out, Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson- It is a simple story about a little mouse who is excited and then a little nervous about kindergarten.  It is written in both English and Spanish.

The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten by Maureen Fergus- Just as the title says, Mom comes to kindergarten… and embarrasses her daughter because she doesn’t know the rules.

Tom Goes to Kindergarten by Margaret Wild- Tom the Panda is nervous about kindergarten so his parents stay with him the first day.  Then they want to come back because it is so much fun!

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing- Cute book that is written in the style of “The Night Before Christmas.”  My daughter thought it was funny that the teacher had to ask the crying parents to leave.

The Berenstain Bears Go To School by Stan & Jan Berenstain- Sister Bear is nervous about going to kindergarten in the Bear Country School so she meets her teacher and checks out her classroom.  On the first day of school she has lots of fun building blocks, painting pictures, and looking at books.

Kindergarten Countdown by Anna Jane Hays- This rhyming book counts down the week before kindergarten with numbers and days of the week.

Colored Milk Experiment

We tried out the milk and dish soap experiment I saw floating around the interwebs.  It is pretty cool!  My kids were definitely entertained and wanted to do it again and again.

Materials:

  • milk (whole or 2%)
  • Q-tips
  • dish soap
  • food coloring
  • dinner plate or bowl

Fill the plate or bowl with enough milk to cover the bottom.  Then drop in some food coloring.

milk and dishsoap

Dip a Q-tip in the food coloring to see what happens (nothing).  Then dip the Q-tip in dish soap and touch it to the food coloring.  Wow!  No need to stir, the colors will explode and mix on their own.

milk soap experiment

colored milk experiment

15 Ways to Learn with Play Food

learning with play food

So you’ve got a little kitchen set for your kiddo.  Here are some ways to learn with all that plastic food (you know, instead of just tripping over it)….

  1. See if your child can name all the pieces of food.
  2. Select food and have a pretend picnic.
  3. Set up a pretend restaurant.  Take turns being the customer and waiter/waitress and cook.
  4. Arrange food in rows and go shopping with a basket.  Pretend to check-out and use real money.
  5. Sort food by color.
  6. Sort food by food group.
  7. Pick out two or more foods that start with the same letter.
  8. Look for shapes.  Which foods are spheres?  Are any flat like a circle?  What about a cylinder?
  9. Find and count certain foods.  How many eggs are there?  How many oranges?
  10. Compare quantities.  Are there more yellow foods or green foods?  How many more lemons than tomatoes?
  11. Use food to represent addition or subtraction problems.  I have four apples, then I give two to you.  How many do I have now?
  12. Play “I’m thinking of a food.”  Use adjectives to describe a piece of food to each other and take turns guessing.
  13. Play a memory game.  Place a few foods in front of your child.  Then have her close her eyes and take a food away.  Ask which one was removed.
  14. Put a food in a sack and see if you can guess what it is just by touch.
  15. Go on a food scavenger hunt.  Write down a list of foods to find (something to eat for breakfast, a vegetable, a food that starts with the letter B, etc.) and then see if your child can find them all!

Egg in Saltwater

egg in saltwater

I love ridiculously easy science experiments.  I don’t want to create a shopping list just to do something with my kids.  I know, sometimes it is worth.  But most times I just want to grab a few things around the kitchen and be done.

Materials:

  • egg
  • salt
  • water
  • glass or bowl

This is a great activity to do after “sink or float.”  Hypothesize if an egg will float in water.  Test the hypothesis.  Then add salt and try it again.  Hint- you have to add LOTS of salt!  How does it work?  A raw egg has more density than tap water.  Adding salt increases the density of water until at some point it is greater than the egg.  Then the egg floats.  Try the experiment with other materials.  Talk about swimming in saltwater vs. freshwater.