Last year for Mother’s Day we made these kid-painted vases for the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I was happy to find a use for the plethora of glass vases that take up residence in my kitchen cabinet. I swear, even though I rarely buy flowers, they just seem to multiply up there! Maybe it has something to do with the microwave beneath them. Hmmm… Where were we? Oh yeah. My girls are big fans of painting, so they loved it. Big Sis liked picking out “the perfect vase” for each grandmother and great-grandmother. And even if the painting looks like a mess (ahem, Little Sis’s small vase in front), it will still be a cherished modern art masterpiece by any grandma.
What is even better than paper towel art? Paper towel learning! Just write with markers on a paper towel. Then use an eye dropper filled with water to “explode” the words into art. I think this would be a great way to get reluctant writers to practice handwriting. Watching water transform their words is built-in motivation. And how easy would it be to set your kiddo up with a paper towel and marker to practice her spelling words at breakfast?
What can you do with leftover birthday balloons? How about make a number line? This is an easy game that gets kids moving and works on math skills, too.
Write numbers 1-10 on ten balloons with a sharpie. (I also wrote some letters to see if my three-year-old knew the difference between numbers and letters.)
Scatter the balloons around your backyard or around your house.
Ready, set, RUN and get a balloon!
Bring it back to a central location to make a number line. Ask questions to help little kids figure out where to place their balloon. Should 10 be on the left or right? Is 3 before or after 4? Should 8 be closer to 1 or 10?
Variations for older kids:
Write numbers 1-20
Skip count by 2’s, 5’s, or 10’s
Write random numbers 1-100
Common Core Standard
(kindergarten- Know number names and count sequence)
Rooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle is a second-grade reading level book. It is a wonderful read aloud to younger kids, especially when read with other Eric Carle favorites. It tells the story of a rooster who wants to travel and asks several animals to come along with him.
(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.)
Practice math- Do verbal or written story problems following along with the story. 1 rooster + 2 cats+ 2 frogs+ 4 turtles+ 5 fish = how many animals in all? When the animals leave, write the subtraction problems. (first grade- Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20)
Read with voice- This book makes a great read aloud. Try out different voices for each of the animals. Pay attention to words the author uses such as purred, snapped, or complained. (second grade-Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.)
Alternatives to said– This activity goes along with reading with voice. Make a list of all the words used instead of “said.” Talk about why the author used these different words. See if your child can use some of the new words in her writing.
Act it out- Use puppets or yourself to act out the story. Maybe you could be the rooster and your child play the part of the other animals.
Write the sequel– The story ends with rooster dreaming about a trip around the world. Where would he go? What would he do? Have your child make up the rest of the story and you can write it down.
Text to self connection- Ask your child to explain when he has felt like the characters in the story- excited for a trip, lonely, or homesick. (first grade- Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly)
Paper towel art is a super easy. First, draw with markers on a paper towel. Then, drop water on it with an eye dropper. That’s it. Markers alone are enough to get my daughters excited about a project. Then the water really upped the “wow” factor! So just give your kids a paper towel, markers, and water and you are free to make dinner without anyone hanging on your legs.* And for clean-up, you’ve already got a paper towel handy. 🙂
My daughters might have inherited their marker love from me. I had make some paper towel art of my own:
*Results may vary. I’m not responsible for any burnt dinners or kids that get stepped on.
I loved playing Memory (or Concentration) when I was growing up. If you are unfamiliar with the game, all of the cards are face down on a table and you take turns turning over a two at a time to get a match. It’s a great game for improving (you guessed it) memory. We have a few different versions, but I thought it would be fun to make our number game to work on math skills.
Use notecards or cut cardstock to make twenty cards.
Have your child write the numbers 1-10 on ten cards.
Have your child put stickers on the other ten cards. One sticker on the first card, two on the next, and so on.
Play Memory by matching up numerals with the correct number of stickers.
Common Core Standards
(kindergarten- Write numbers from 0-20)
(kindergarten- Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality)
(kindergarten- Understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted)
Do you have some tissue boxes? Let’s make them into monster feet! Last year the girls’ preschool made these and the kids loved them. I like the idea of recycling trash into toys. I also like crafts that are easy enough for kids to make it mostly themselves.
Cut out the plastic in the top opening of the tissue box. (I did this part.)
Paint boxes whatever color you want.
Cut out toes from construction paper and glue to the bottom of the box.
Optional step: We used a texture brush to do a final coat with sparkly paint.
The end product isn’t perfect, but it is kid-made and they had fun painting.
The scariest monster you’ve ever seen…
2 tissue boxes
texture brush (optional)
Time investment: 15 minutes (plus extra time for the paint to dry)
Difficulty: Elementary kids could it all by themselves, preschoolers might need some help with the cutting.
My girls love finding Easter eggs, so I had the idea of hiding puzzle pieces in them instead of candy. This might be a fun way to give kids a new puzzle on Easter. Or it can just be a fun non-treat egg hunt you can have around your house any day.
Confession: my original idea was to hide regular puzzle pieces in the eggs, but they didn’t fit. 😦 Never fear! This Melissa & Doug alphabet puzzle worked perfectly. Plus it had the added learning component of identifying the letter found in the egg and then finding its spot in the alphabet.
Place puzzle pieces in eggs and hide around the room (or outside).
Bring in the kids and let them look for eggs!
After finding an egg, the kiddo needs to run over to the puzzle and put in her piece before she hunts for another egg.
To make it fair for younger players, you might want to have kids take turns finding eggs and adding pieces to the puzzle. One kid can’t go find a second egg until everyone has found their first egg and so on.