Letter Flashcard Path

Little Sis is learning her letters.  We have several packs of alphabet flashcards that people have given us, but going through flashcards is not her (or most kids’) idea of a fun time.  I don’t think flashcard memorization is the best way to learn letters.  However, I do like flashcards as a quick assessment tool.

I wanted to see which letters she knew, so I laid the flashcards down in a path for her to jump on.  We started with them in alphabetical order so she could sing the ABCs.  Then I made a new path with the letters out of order.  To jump to the next card, she had to say the letter name.  If she didn’t know it, I told her and then took the flashcard after she hopped to the next one.  We finished with a path of letters that she knew, and a stack in my hand of letters that she needed to work on.


Other ideas to try:

  • making the path a zig-zag line, circle, or different shape
  • spreading the letters out to cover a whole level of your house…or even up the stairs!
  • jumping, hopping, skipping, tiptoeing, walking backwards to the next letter
  • building the path as you go (the kiddo says a letter and puts it on the floor to step on and builds her own path)

CANstruction- Learning with Cans

Our local food pantry, Harvesters, does a yearly competition where businesses build structures out of cans.  Then when the competition is over, all the cans are donated to Harvesters to feed those in need.  The designs are on display at the mall for about a month.


IMG_4765We got inspired to make our own CANstruction at home!  Can you tell what we made?  (ha- unintentionally pun)




Did you guess?  It was a giraffe, rainbow, and castle.  Constructing with cans was free, fun, and (bonus!) I had an organized pantry when we were all done.  It would be a great activity for the kids while you put away groceries.  And of course there is all sorts of learning that can be done with cans…

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • Colors- Talk about the different colors on the cans, then divide them into groups or make a rainbow.
  • Size- Compare sizes of cans.  Find all the cans that are the same size.  What happens when you stack a large can on a small one?
  • Counting– How many cans in all?  Count how many you can stack in a tower.
  • Addition and Subtraction– How many bean cans plus tuna cans do we have? (first grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
  • Geometry- Talk about 2D vs 3D.  Use the word cylinder.  Point out the circles on top and bottom of a cylinder.   (kindergarten- Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional)
  • Measurement–  Measure things around the room with cans.  How many cans long is the couch?  (first grade- Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object end to end)
  • Classification- Sort the cans into groups based on color, size, or type of food.   (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
  • Reading– Beginning readers might be able to read some of the labels using the picture as a clue.  If they know it is a can of corn, see if they can pick out the word “corn” on the can.
  • Letters- Try to make letters or even words out of the cans.
  • Creative building– And the most fun, building!

Printmaking with Fingerpaint

During our recent packing paper fingerpainting extravaganza, we also made prints.  There was so much paint from the color mixing that Big Sis started making designs with her finger. I gently pressed white paper over it and… ta da!



Multiple prints can be made from the same design (depending on how much paint you use and how hard you press).  We made our design on packing paper, but I’m sure it would also work on tin foil, wax paper, a cookie sheet, or the table itself.  It would be fun to experiment with writing letters or numbers and see how they come out backwards!  Let me know if you try it and how it works!

Four Ways to Make Art with Packing Paper

Packing paper is big, easy to clean up, and free.  Perfect material for kid art.  Now what can you do with it?

1.  Cover the table.  Put packing paper over a table (it completely covered our kid table) and let them finger paint all over it.  Give them some primary colors and let them mix it by hand to make secondary colors.  The best way to learn is by doing, so let them get messy.  Not feeling the paint?  Give them crayons and markers and let them draw on the table while you make dinner.


2. Hang it on the wall.  Tape up the packing paper to a long wall and let them create a mural.

3.  Lay it out on the floor.  The floor is the perfect place for sitting babies that haven’t mastered walking.  Plop them in the middle of the packing paper and let them go to town.  Have older kids lay down on the paper and trace around them.  Then they can color themselves and design an outfit with paint, markers, or chalk.


4.  Take it outside.  On a nice day, put packing paper down on the driveway, deck, or sidewalk.  Take off those shoes and make paint footprints!

Egg Carton Ten Frame

A ten frame is a math tool to help kids visualize numbers and math facts.  It is usually drawn with squares on paper, but I thought it would be neat to make it 3D with an egg carton.  It is much more fun to drop items in a little hole than place them on a paper, right?  Are they even called holes?  Okay, I looked it up.  Wikipedia says they are called dimples.  That’s funny. 🙂


How to make it:

  1. Cut off the lid of an egg carton and two of the dimples.  Yep, it is still making me smile   .
  2. Number them 1-10.  Usually ten frames aren’t numbered, so if this is for an older kid feel free to leave it blank.
  3. Find small objects to count.  For a reluctant little mathematician, use food.  Snacks will motivate anyone to do math!


Now use it to teach:

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • one-to-one correspondence– Toddlers might be able to count to ten, but they might not understand what the numbers actually mean.  Touching objects as they count teaches one-to-one correspondence.  Show them how to pick up an object, say the number, and place it in the egg carton.  For more of a challenge, try to pick up objects using a spoon or chopsticks! (kindergarten-  When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object)
  • number recognition- If you number your egg carton, then they will be able to SEE the number as they SAY the number and drop in the item.
  • addition facts to ten– Using the egg carton, it will be easy to “see” the facts.  There are seven items in the egg carton and three empty spaces.  See if your child can write the addition fact 7+3=10.  (kindergarten- For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation)
  • relationship between addition and subtraction- The egg carton is a good visual to show how fact families work.  Place six objects in the carton and then write all the facts.  Another way to think about 10-6 is to find the number that makes 10 when added to 6.  Say “Six plus what equals ten?” and write 6+__=10.  (first grade- Understand subtraction as an unknown-addend problem)
  • place value-  Make some more egg carton ten frames to count larger numbers.  Each carton is a “ten.”   (first grade- Understand that the two digits of a two-digit number represent amounts of tens and ones)
  • estimation-  Practice guessing how many objects and then checking by counting them in the egg carton.
  • even and odd– Explain that a number is even if it can be divided into two equal groups.  I talked about “even means it is fair” with my students.  Kids always have a concept of what is “fair and even” when dividing up goodies.  The egg carton is divided into two rows, so it is easy to see if a number is even (split equally and fairly) or odd.  This works even better if you are using food in your egg carton and actually split it up between two kids!   (second grade- Determine whether a group of objects (up to 20) has an odd or even number of members)

We used our egg carton to do some math with our morning snack (goldfish and blueberries).  Little Sis worked on counting and one-to-one correspondence and Big Sis practiced some addition problems.


Basic Sight Word Game

Some kids don’t like practicing sight words.  Maybe they think it is boring.  Or maybe they just learn words better in context.  If they hate it, don’t push it.  There are lots of ways to learn words.  Sight word flashcards are just one way to help your child read.  If they are willing, I think looking at flashcards is great for beginning readers to memorize words and feel more confident about reading.  Flashcards are also a good pre-reading activity for any reader with a difficult book.  Pick out words you think your child might not know in the book plus some that they DO know, make some flashcards, and then do this activity.  (Psst: here’s how I made my own sight words, but you could also buy some flashcards or just write words on notecards.)


1.  Pick out 9 or 12 sight word flashcards and lay them face up on a table.

2. Ask your child to pick up any word they know and say it aloud.  If they are right, they keep it in a pile.  If not, say the word for them and they try again.

3.  Replace the missing flashcard with a new one (or not if you want a shorter game).

4.  Repeat until your child has found all the words she can name.

5.  Then say, “Pick up the word ________” and you name the word.  It is easier for kids to recognize words than naming the word themselves, so they should be able to pick up a few more this way.  If they can identify the word, it goes in the pile.  If not, say the word and ask for it again later.

6.  When all of the cards in the pile, count them up and celebrate their success!  Now those words will be fresh in their mind when they read the story.

Click on “Sight Words” on the right to see more games and activities.

(Common Core kindergarten standard: Read common high-frequency words by sight )

More Snow Books


These are some of our favorite snow books…

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett- This is a fun Goldilocks story, except set in the far north.  This time the bears are polar bears!  Kids will love the gorgeous pictures.  Jan Brett is known for her beautiful illustrations, with sidebars showing even more of the story.  While you are reading, compare/contrast this story with the traditional Goldilocks.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz-  Caldecott Award-winning illustrations and simple sentences tell the story of a boy’s excitement as snow starts to fall.  This is a good book for beginning readers.

Snowy, Blowy, Winter by Bob Raczka- This is a quick, fun read with lots of rhyming with words that end in ‘y’.  See if you can come up with some more snowy words while you read!

Snow Happy! by Patricia Hubbell- This book has cute watercolor illustrations and fun rhyming words to tell what one family does out in the snow.

Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker- In this a boy describes his love of snow (in blue print) and his sister tells why she doesn’t like snow (in red print).  It would be fun to read this together with your child reading one part and you reading another.  Or read it yourself in two different voices.

Snow by Cynthia Rylant-  It is a very sweet story of a girl excited about snow.  She tells about how she feels and what she will do in outside in the snow.

Marco Flamingo by Sheila Jarkins- Marco is the only flamingo that wants to go north to see the snow.  The story is told in both English and Spanish, so it would be great exposure to another language.  It also has a large section with no words, just pictures of Marco’s activities in the snow.  See if your kiddo can use their own words to tell that part of the story!