One of our favorite car games is “I Spy.” The traditional game uses colors (at least the one I always played)…
- Player 1 chooses a color of an object in sight of all players and says “I spy with my little eye something (insert color of object here).”
- Other players take turns guessing objects that are the given color.
- Some people allow players to ask yes/no questions such as “Is it inside the car? Is it smaller than my hand? Is on the left side of the car?”
- A player wins when she guesses the object correctly. Then it is her turn to say “I spy….”
I Spy is a fun way to pass the time on a long car ride or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. As a bonus, kids are also learning! What concepts could you work on using the game I Spy?
- colors- “I spy with my little eye something blue.”
- shapes– “I spy with my little eye something square.”
- numbers– “I spy with my little eye three of something.” This would work best if you are in a room where the kids could walk around and easily count objects.
- letters- “I spy with my little eye the letter B.” You could spy letters on billboards while you are driving, or letters on a page while you are reading.”
- words- “I spy with my little eye the word go.” Again, this could work on billboards on the road or in books in a waiting room.
- spelling- “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the letter C.” You could just give the first letter, spell out a whole word, or maybe even letter patterns inside the word like “ee.”
- phonics- “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the sound /s/.” Same playing with letters, but this time use letter sounds.
- rhymes- “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with bee.”
- adjectives- “I spy with my little eye something smooth.” This is another game that would be best played in a room where kids could feel the different textures.
- measurement– “I spy with my little eye something about one inch tall.” Be sure to review unit measurements before you play. If you play this at your house, they could walk around and measure things with a ruler.
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.
We 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!
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!
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!
We saw snow paint on Pinterest and had to try it out. It is just water with food coloring in a squirt bottle or spray bottle. We found the squirt bottle works best for little hands. Although you have more control with the spray bottle (with jet option).
Some ideas to try with snow paint:
- Let the kids see how colors are made by squirting in a couple drops of yellow and red food coloring to make orange
- Practice writing numbers or letters
- See if they can guess the word you write
- Make a pattern of shapes and ask them to do the next one
- Practice making different kinds of lines- straight, curvy, dotted, etc.
- Take turns making a design and then the other person has to recreate it
- Experiment with different body movements. Run while painting. Skip. Hop.
- Free draw!
What can you on a cold day? Go to a museum! Hopefully you have a free museum in your area. If you don’t, try local galleries, college campuses (especially the art department), or even local art displays in malls. You don’t need to go to a museum for your kids to see some art.
WARNING: Taking toddlers to a museum is not for the faint of heart. I’ve found museum outings work best with babies in carriers, toddlers in strollers, or preschoolers and older kids with good self-control. If they don’t have good self-control….it’s a great opportunity to PRACTICE! On our last outing I took my two-year-old, who was too big for the stroller (in her opinion) but a little too young to understand museum etiquette (in my opinion). But we managed. You can, too. Just go over a few basic museum rules before you get there. No touching or running. Keep it simple. And then leave if they can’t follow the rules. Don’t worry. You’ll be able to stay longer next time.
While my goal with Little Sis (the two-year-old) was just keeping her from licking sculptures, I aimed a little higher with Big Sis (my four-year-old). We made a museum scavenger hunt before we set off on our adventure. Some museums have their own pre-made scavenger hunts for kids and you can also find some online printable worksheets on Pinterest. I liked our DIY version because we could make it up together and tailor it to her age-level. I came up with categories (shapes, colors, materials, feelings), and she brainstormed the ideas. She also colored in the color boxes….
and made a little mistake. Notice the yellow and green boxes. No problem. It was good opportunity to do some problem solving to fix it.
While we walked around the museum, she marked off boxes on her paper. TIP: Use a pencil to mark off boxes since pens/markers aren’t allowed in most museums. The scavenger hunt helped her focus on one piece of art long enough to really look at it. We talked about how we could check off several boxes with one painting.
We chose a few different categories, but you could also focus on only one. Here are some ideas to make your own museum scavenger hunt:
- types of lines
- feelings you get when looking at the artwork
- particular works of art that are in the museum (look up names/pictures before you go)
- subject of the artwork- people, animals, houses, etc.
And a few ideas for older elementary kids:
- painting styles- impressionism, cubism, surrealism, etc.
- mediums- paint, pastel, pencil, etc.
- time periods
- country of origin
Here’s an easy Christmas craft…and a great way to practice shapes and colors, too! This would work great at a preschool/kindergarten holiday party. I did the first two steps myself because my girls aren’t great with scissors.
1. Cut out 5 green triangles. Start with a small one and get gradually bigger. My smallest is about 3 inches across the largest is about 8 inches.
2. Cut out shapes in different colors. I stuck with circle, triangle, square, and rectangle, but you could get all fancy with hexagons, ovals, and trapezoids for older kiddos.
3. Get your crafty kiddos and talk about how triangles could make a tree. Have them arrange the triangles from largest to smallest.
4. Glue the top couple inches of the biggest triangle and place the next biggest triangle on top of it. Continue until all triangles are glued together.
5. Glue on the shape ornaments. I found it is easier for kids to make a dot with the glue stick directly on the tree, then stick the ornament on the dot.
6. Have fun decorating the tree with shapes! Identify the shape and color of the ornament when they pick it up or ask them to identify. See if they want to make a pattern.
Here’s my four-year-old’s masterpiece glued on red paper. She is so proud that it is now part of our Christmas decorations!
- colored construction paper
- glue stick
Time investment: 10 minutes for adult cutting prep and 10-15 minutes for kids to glue craft
Difficulty: The only difficult part is cleaning up all those extra shapes that will scattered on the floor. 🙂