I don’t know about where you are, but in my area it is sooooo cold! Cold enough for people to be doing those experiments you hear about every winter like throwing boiling water outdoors and it turning into snow.
It’s also a dreary time. Everything seems grayish white unless there is fresh snow in the air or it is bright and sunny, but too cold to go outside. Today is, thankfully, one of the sunny days, however, it is below zero!
It seems like the perfect day to share a fun, easy little activity we do when it gets this cold. Ice ornaments! (Adult supervision is a good idea!)
First, get out some tins, cupcake tins, empty yogurt containers, anything you’d like to use as a mold for your ornaments. (Any size will do as long as it isn’t too big to fit flat in your freezer and hang by a string/rope from something!) Outside one house a couple of years ago I saw large ice wreaths with cranberries inside, made from an angel cake mold. It was beautifully big!
As I sit writing this it is 20 degrees outside with a light wind that makes it feel -50! It seems like a good day to post a variety of ways I keep my boys active when it’s too cold outside to get that gross motor play in just by playing in the snow (or green grass as we currently have). Following are just a few of the ideas I turn to. I need a few more in my arsenal now that my almost-eight year old is getting bigger. Any ideas?
Have you been enjoying this week of simple homemade Christmas ornaments you and your child can make together? This last one I’m sharing seems like it should be for older children, but I think with supervision and help preschoolers would enjoy getting involved, too! I’ve provided an affiliate link for the ornaments for you below.
This homemade Christmas Ornament the boys and I made last year involved a heat gun (or hair dryer), crayons, clothespins and small glass ornaments. (Make sure they are glass! Using heat and glass makes this a no-brainer – adult supervision is strongly encouraged!)
These came out so beautifully that we are making some for our own tree this year! I bought the ornaments from JoAnn Crafts this year, but you can also find them on Amazon by following this (affiliate) link. I’m going to warn you making these can be addicting! It’s strangely relaxing, so you might even want to make these by yourself!
Using a grater or whatever method you find easiest to make your crayons into small pieces, crush them up! It’s up to you if you’d like to group the shavings by color, but we found that to have the best results.
As you remove the ornaments from the packaging try not to ruin the plastic package, as this makes a neat, safe place for the ornaments to cool off.
Carefully take the top hook portion off the ornament by squeezing the round loop and pulling gently. Remember, these are made of glass. They are pretty sturdy, but can still break if squeezed too hard. (If it helps to know, we didn’t break any!) Set the loop aside for now.
Decide what color(s) you’d like your ornament to be, use your imagination, and place a few crumbs of crayon in your ornament. Experiment with color – its a great activity to review colors and introduce shades of colors and color creating to younger onese. Get the science lingo going if you’d like to make this into a mini science lesson! Then carefully put the hook back into the ornament. Clip the clothespin to the round hook and hold tightly as shown above.
Use your hair dryer or heat gun to melt the crayon. I suppose you could also hold your ornament over a stove burner as well, but be very careful with whatever method you use. We used the clothespin to help keep our hands away from the heat.
Keep turning the ornament and heat source until the desired swirling effect is achieved.
Get creative with your color combinations and pattern attempts! Even one swirl of a bold or shimmering color has wonderfully beautiful results! For some ornaments, we heated until just starting to melt and it created a spotty effect! I wish I had taken pictures of all the ornaments, or at least of a couple on a tree! I loved every creation for a different reason. You’ll know what I mean when you make your own!
Once the ornaments are cooled package them in a pretty container and wish the recipient a very Merry Christmas!
If you try this with your kiddos let me know what you think! And if you missed any of the previous kid-friendly ornaments I shared, feel free to check out the star ornament or the cutout ornament!
Thank you for letting me share these homemade ornaments with you! Go spend some time with your kiddos and create something beautiful!
Continuing with the idea of homemade Christmas ornaments, here are some baked dough ornaments we made and adorned to use as gifts.
Being a rubber stamper/card maker in my pre-child years (honestly, where does my time go that I cannot craft?!) I pulled out my stamps after the kids cut simple Christmas shapes out of this great three-ingredient salt dough recipe. (We used this recipe from The Imagination Tree.)
Anyway, after cutting out your shapes, lay them as directed on a cookie sheet. Before popping them in the oven to bake, let the kiddos pick out a few stamps to adorn the ornaments. Make sure they don’t press too hard, just enough to leave a clear indentation. Another option is to roll out the dough, then stamp all over the dough if you are working only with patterned stamps. And then make your cut-outs.
We used a paisley-patterned roller stamp, swirls, initials…we even tried stamping in ink then onto the dough, but I think painting the ornaments afterwards would have worked better for us as the ink didn’t stick too well, although you can see some of the pink showing up.
These ornaments came out beautifully white and delicate-looking and my kiddos did surprisingly well keeping the shapes intact! However they turn out, this ornament gift will be special! (And you’ll be working on coordination and fine motor skills without them realizing it!)
We packaged these with the more traditional cinnamon dough ornaments and our melted crayon ornaments to make special gifts for grandparents!
Every year we try a craft for Christmas. Last year we made stars and some other ornaments that we gave as gifts. The stars are so simple to make and work on coordination skills and process thinking – some sneaky learning!
liquid glue (we found it to work best adhering the sticks together, but try glue sticks on the surface of the craft sticks for the glitter!) You can also use glitter glue for decorating!
glitter or other decorative items
craft sticks – your choice of size
First, lay out some paper on your craft surface, maybe have a paper plate nearby for catching glitter.
Next, lay out your sticks in a star shape. You’ll get to sit back for a minute watching your kiddos think through how to lay them out overlapping to make the shape. It’s a bit tricky, so its fun to watch the thought process and coordination skills! When it’s achieved, grab some more sticks and make another, this time being prepared with glue to adhere the sticks together, using the first star as a model. Letting these dry as you make more and enjoy a snack is advised because the liquid glue take a while to set up.
Third, take your glue in whatever form and apply it to the craft sticks in whatever pattern you’d like. It’s fun to try different color sticks or even use markers and create a pattern on the sticks before (or instead of) applying lots of glitter!
We found it easiest to have several plates nearby to catch the glitter as it was applied, to save on glitter (one plate per glitter type) and to help eliminate some of the mess. Of course, if you use glitter glue then you can skip this step!
The boys are already asking what we are going to make this year!
Are you making anything with your child for Christmas?
The other night as I was tucking five-year-old Sweet Pea in bed, he was really adamant I pray for something. I thought it would be for a new train (he’s always reminding us he needs one). I paused like any good mother would and asked what I should pray for.
God to give me good dreams. Only good dreams.
My heart ached. I remembered for several nights before he had been waking up sweating and crying after horrible dreams and would cling to me like he would never let go.
As moms we want to take away all the scariness, make them feel safe and secure so they can sleep at night. We give them lovies, their favorite blankets. We play soft music to cover the noises of the night and give them night lights when they are afraid of the dark. What a simple thing for a child to pray in faith that God will take away the bad dreams – the dreams we cannot do anything about!
My child has the faith God can give him good dreams (we pray for this every night now). His child-like faith reminded me how gentle God is and how powerful He is in the same moment.
This post contains an affiliate link, which is for an item I highly recommend. Making a purchase through this link in no way increases the cost of the product. It just gives this blogger a (little) extra income.
Yesterday I shared a great book about colors, counting and bullying. Today I thought I’d share a book for the shy child. I can totally relate to this book because I could have been the main character in my early elementary grades.
The Invisible Boy, by Trudy Ludwig, (links to author’s page) starts out with “Can you see Brian, the invisible boy?” The illustrations show him in pencil sketch at the beginning of the book. He was always the last to be picked for group games and was never invited to parties. No one seems to notice him. But then a new boy starts at the school and invites him to be involved. As he participates more and more he becomes more than a pencil sketch!
As a shy child I had a difficult time, hesitating to be involved because I was so unsure of myself. I could relate to Brian, sometimes feeling I was just a figment of someone’s imagination, watching everything go on around me, but not being part of it. I know there are kiddos today who will be comforted by this book.
This book is a gentle reminder for children to be nice to everyone and include all in their activities. It shows them they can make a difference by being a friend.
If you have a child who is feeling a little shy or a child who easily makes friends, this is a very good book to share with them!
What books can you recommend for a shy child?
Mom is the Only Girl participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This means there is no additional cost to you if you click on the link and purchase this item.
This post contains an affiliate link, which is for an item I highly recommend. Making a purchase through this link in no way increases the cost of the product. It just gives this blogger a little extra income.
Are you trying to help a young child learn to count or learn their colors? Or, maybe even more importantly, trying to help a younger child deal with a little bullying situation? Then you would really like this book!
One, by Kathryn Otoshi, is such a simple color and counting book (it covers the numbers one through seven), but has a hidden message about bullying.
See, in this book “Blue was a quiet color. He like being blue… except when he was with Red.” Then one comes and teaches the colors “If someone is mean and picks on me, I, for One, stand up and say, No.”
In the end all of the colors realize that “Everyone counts!” Even Red.
I love the way this book addresses bullies in such a simple way. It is simply, in our humble opinion, a great book for every early elementary child.
Mom is the Only Girl participtes in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This means there is no additional cost to you if you click on the link and purchase this item.
When the kids first went back to school I was having a really hard time when they came home at the end of their school day. I was in my own world while they were gone. It was quiet, peaceful.
The kiddos would get off the bus, come inside and ~ LOUDNESS! My oasis was gone.
Have you felt like this or do you feel like this daily? They walk through the door and immediately everything changes, your little world is taken away. It’s not that you aren’t happy to see them, are curious about their day, or want them to be home with you. It’s just that the transition to them being home is so sudden and complete. It’s hard to make the transition.
To be honest, I was having a very difficult time switching gears until very recently. I reached out to mom friends on face book and asked for their advice. Most of them responded with after school routines that work for them, which were very helpful, however one response stood out above all the rest.
My friend’s words were so simple. About 15 minutes before the kids are due to come home stop and relax for a few minutes. End any projects in progress and put them away. Maybe have a glass of water or a snack and concentrate on how I want the kids to feel when they come home. Concentrate on them, what their day might have included (i.e. art, music, PE). Concentrate on being mom.
Now, my kids are still noisier than ever when they come home and have too much energy for me, but this simple change in my focus, in my attitude has made a huge difference. I’m able to handle the transition now with a little more grace and love.
My focus has become them, not my work. It is all outward, to welcome them home. It’s to make them feel loved. I am no longer concentrating on my tasks in my life that they’ve interrupted, but I’m loving them with my life.
A simple change in focus, planned and thought out, has totally changed home-from-school-time for this mom!
Five year old Sweet Pea has been going to Kindergarten Camp for three weeks and still has not gotten over his separation anxiety. The first several days was very excited to go to camp so I thought ‘finally he’s over this.’ However, today he was still clinging to me and screaming when I left. This is really stressful for this mom, although I try very hard not to show it, especially to him. Read more
Five year old Sweet Pea and I are still reviewing the alphabet in various ways throughout the week. Letter R was especially fun and lends itself to some experiments! I did, however, remember to include making rainbow milk again! So. Much. Fun. for my kiddos every time we make it!
In the past, our letter R learning was centered around railroads and rainbows. We also did a very short Bible Story concerning the Rich and poor.
This time for a letter R activity Sweet Pea and I tried to discover what does and doesn’t roll and what the objects have in common. This was a really simple experiment to throw together and was fun, so it’s a good one to keep in your ‘rainy day’ arsenal! Gather your materials – any objects of interest, making sure some will roll, some won’t, and some are cylindrical and some are spherical. (Great vocabulary words, right?)
Set up your experiment area – make a small ramp. We made ours by positioning wood blocks with one end on top of the other, creating a gradual slope.
Pose the question – Will these objects roll down the ramp? Or create a hypothesis about the objects with your child.
Then, have fun experimenting with the objects asking prompting questions during the play.
Activity extensions: Have discussions about why some objects roll and others don’t. Come up with a list of what each group has in common. After we discovered what rolled and tried to roll the objects that didn’t roll a few other ways, Sweet Pea selected toys to try, too!
This was fun for us indoors on a small scale, but if you’d like to integrate gross motor into it, take it outdoors! Last fall we created a small, low ramp outdoors on our driveway with a 2 x 4 (with the 2″ being the height) and a piece of plywood. We tested our outdoor play toys, including rolling a scooter down the ramp (holding it with our hands, not riding it- that wouldn’t be safe!) a whiffle ball, a toy truck, a rock, a tennis racket, chalk, and a bike helmet.
I say this was gross motor, because it required a little more walking and running to get the materials to test, which the boys were happy to do on their own, and to chase after them when they rolled away. I challenged them to try rolling the objects in different ways to see if they could roll if set on the ramp in a different manner.
Are your schools on Spring Break? Ours are. That means I’ve got my guys home with me all week (and last Friday, too!)
It also means you won’t find me on the blog this week. It’s no secret that I don’t post according to an editorial calendar or very far in advance, although that’s what I’m moving towards. It helps me keep the fun and learning I share current and real.
So, what’s current and real in our lives? Spring Break! You won’t find us on a beach, or at some huge theme park…that’s not our style.
You’ll find us at the zoo…
Learning to ride bikes….
And just doing everyday things like practicing our reading…
Enjoy your week, and have a wonderful Easter, however it is you celebrate our Risen Lord!
Yesterday I posted about a simple LEGO activity I engaged 5 year old Sweet Pea with last week. Today I’m sharing a few scavenger hunt ideas for the under 5 crowd. A couple of years ago a mom’s group mom put together a scavenger hunt for the under 5 crowd.
It was basically finding certain spots along a paved path and stopping to place a sticker on that spot on the map. Then you followed the map to the next spot, which was the next spot along the path. It was very simple, yet exciting enough for the little ones. All of the clues as to where to stop were in rhyme and using a little pirate lingo. At the end was the treasure – pirate popcorn! This was so clever. I know I never could have thought of something like this on my own, so thought I’d share! I wish I had a picture!
There are other simple scavenger hunt ideas for the under 5 crowd and here are just a few you can put together quickly with no maps needed (although you could print out cards, like I did up there in that picture):
Find x number of toys
Find x number of (color) toys
Find things that start with (letter)
Like I said just a few ideas for you to pull out of your hat when you need one! There are seriously so many different things you can include in a scavenger hunt!
*This post contains affiliate links, where, at no additional cost to you, I may receive compensation for your clicking on a link.
I remember a few years ago there was a blog hop of sorts that included doing a craft after reading a book with your child. Maybe it’s still going on?
The craft would be somehow related to a character in the book, or go along with the theme of it. I think I tried this a few times with my boys, but they were never really excited about it, which is probably why I cannot remember what the linky is called. Help me if you know it, I can’t for the life of me figure out what to search for to find it!
The Little Engine That Could
Fast forward to a week ago. Five year old Sweet Pea and I read the book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Then he wanted to watch the movie, too. Did you know there was a movie? We found it on Netflix. So cute!
After reading The Little Engine That Could and watching the movie, I simply suggested my LEGO lover try to build a train that resembled The Little Engine. Sweet Pea loved the challenge! (After hearing him repeatedly tell me throughout the week that he does not like crafts, there was no way I would suggest one!)
Reading books and following it up with crafts is great, (really, because I would love to do a book-based craft with him) but for someone who doesn’t like crafts, building story characters with LEGOs is a great alternative!
(It is also a great activity for working on fine motor skills, story building, and great for older ages, too!)
I would really love to see what your little ones create with LEGOs after reading a book! Please share if you do this at home!
*Mom is the Only Girl participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. By clicking on a link and making a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I may or may not be compensated for your purchase.
Have you ever watched your kiddos drawing on the chalkboard and all they do is scribble all over it and erase it over and over? Sweet Pea loves to do that!
One day I saw an idea of putting clear tape onto the chalkboard and letting your child draw all over it then pull the tape off, sort of like resist painting, but with chalk. I didn’t want to try this for fear our cheap tape wouldn’t come off, so I replaced the clear tape with masking tape. (I tried to find the original place I saw this idea, but I couldn’t. If you know the link please let me know and I will update this!)
When Sweet Pea was once again scribbling all over the chalkboard making a dusty mess, I put some masking tape on it. He was totally confused at first, but once he helped me remove the tape after scribbling on it he was hooked!
This was great and then he started to put the tape on himself, trying to make it in the shape of his name!
What a great activity for fine motor work as well as a little gross motor drawing!
Sweet Pea is really good at coming up with opposites. He’s also really good at trying to act them out or finding them around the house. (Try to imagine that if you can!)
Hard – soft Up – down In – out
This is also a good challenge for when we need to keep the boys occupied for a few minutes…we call out a word and they have to come up with the opposite, or we sneakily ask them to call out the first word that comes to mind when we say a word. That’s always interesting!
This idea sort of piggybacks on the similar or different ‘game’ we played the other day. I’m not sure why, but it seems our boys have fun with thinking games….
Sweet Pea had quite the scary run-in with the open toy box, creating a divot in his forehead [that bled – a lot.]
I was upstairs and heard the sickening crack, came downstairs as fast as I could to see Hubby huddled over my precious 5 year old, who was laying on the floor crying his head off with blood trickling down the side of his head. Poor Cutie Pie was so scared….we all were.
It wasn’t a matter of playing more calmly, a matter of needing better coordination, simply a misstep. A scary trip! He is fine. It was more of a tissue bruise, no concussion. He has a nice little ‘T’ on his forehead, though, which I hope doesn’t scar.
It wasn’t until much later that night that I realized how scared I was and that I hadn’t flipped out like the before-kids me would have. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Sometimes being scared into a reaction can be a good thing. Right?
What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to your kiddos and how did you handle it?
Sometimes I sit here at the computer when my boys are in the living room just because I can see them. I think I can hear them better from here, too. (Especially when they whisper!)
Right now I’m listening to them talking about how exercise is good for your body and am watching them ‘exercising’.
Seven year old Cutie Pie is trying to teach 5 year old Sweet Pea how to do a burpee. Sweet Pea thinks it looks a little hard, so he wants to do a sit up instead. Cutie Pie has completed 3 burpees and just said ‘These are hard. I think they are making my body hurt. I’ve definitely exercised.’
And just like that they are on to being Luke Skywalker and some unnamed person on the Millenium Falcon.
The way these boys play the coordination ability required for each activity is definitely up there!
We had two snow days this past week. The first we expected as a blizzard made it’s way through western New York State. The second day was unexpected, due to the storm not racing through our area quite as soon as anticipated, delaying when the roads could be cleared safely for buses filled with children.
Hubby and I tried to keep the kiddos from going stir-crazy on the second (and bitterly cold) day by providing some art materials. I had also come across a dinosaur song on Made by Joel and played it for Cutie Pie, who was completely intrigued by the way Joel illustrated the song continuously on one long piece of paper.
First, Cutie Pie wanted to make the paper pieces from Joel’s website for the song and got busy with Sweet Pea cutting them out almost immediately after he saw them. As soon as he finished that, though, he was on to trying to draw what Joel did, the same way he did!
I love that Cutie Pie was so inspired to try drawing a little more out of the box than he is used to! I was also pretty shocked that he drew what Joel drew for the song, but in miniature and with only watching the video once!
You’ve really gotta check out Made by Joel for some neat paper-based play ideas that you can print and play with!
You know how cold it’s been lately. That means the snow is still sticking around. Are you as tired of the cold as me? And if you are reading this from some nice warm place, please comment so we can all live vicariously through you! And hopefully we’ll see some green grass soon!
Here’s a simple science experiment that you can do with any age – preschool up through mid-elementary would probably find it interesting and stay interested. Since we have lots of the white stuff I thought it might be fun to do a little science experiment with the boys one recent Saturday when it was bitterly cold. I grabbed 4 cups and filled them up with snow.
I asked if they thought the freezer would keep the snow just as old as the outdoors, and what would happen to the snow if we put it in other locations, too.
We set one cup on the table, put one in the refrigerator, put one in the freezer, and one outside after marking on the glass the level of the snow (using dry erase markers).
The boys thought something would happen to the snow in the freezer, that it might not be cold enough. They thought the other cups would just have ‘melted snow’ in them after a few minutes.
To test their hypothesis, we set a timer for 10 minutes. When it went off we checked the glasses of snow in each location and talked about what we observed, then set the timer for another 10 minutes. We continued the process until the evening, talking about our observations each time.
The boys were surprised by what they saw happen with the snow in the freezer. Will the same happen for your kiddos when they do this little experiment?
It was very simple, but kept the boys interest. They were determined nothing could keep the snow cold like the conditions outside.
If you do, or have done, this with your child comment and let us know your results! (And if it’s warm where you are, let us know so we know there is hope that spring really is coming!)
Letter P on the climbing wall at The Strong National Museum of Play
With the white stuff still lingering outside I thought it would be fun for Sweet Pea to have a Picnic for letter P week – indoors!
We had a lot of fun making simple food that started with P – Peanut butter and jelly, Pineapple bites, and Potato chips! Of course we followed that with some (pretend) Pie and Pancakes!
I also have to mention we had Pancakes for breakfast one day! If I had thought ahead I would have made them into the letter P! As per Sweet Pea, instead they were O’s, with the middle still in.
Switching things up and having a picnic indoors for the Letter P, and eating foods that started with the letter P seemed to reinforce the letter P sound. We had a lot of fun all week thinking of words that started with P and making up our own, too!
Grandpa also joined us for a trip to The Strong National Museum of Play at the end of the week and we found a lot of letter Ps hanging around there for Sweet Pea’s eyes to find! When you go keep your eyes peeled – there are letters hiding everywhere!
Continuing with the letter P week… We made playdough! Conditioner and corn starch playdough to be exact. I can’t say I’m crazy about this dough like so many other mom bloggers, but Sweet Pea liked it because it was soft and silky.
At kindergarten registration we learned about a few ways to make our kids’ fingers stronger to hold that pencil through fine motor play in a group meeting with the school occupational therapist. One way was putting beads in playdough and having the kiddos manipulate the playdough to ‘rescue’ the beads.
I had planned on doing this with our playdough, but after it was made realized it wasn’t ‘dough-y’ enough to make it really fun. It also wasn’t the best for rolling into snakes to shape into letters. I am planning on trying these with him when we get out our other homemade playdough next time we get it out!
Playdough alone is a great fine motor activity to build up those little fingers for writing and maintaining a good pencil grip.
Have you gone the extra step and home and put objects in playdough for your kiddos to manipulate? What objects have you used?
Letter P week has been so much fun and so colorful! We’ve been painting!
We splatter painted, painted with big brush strokes, painted lots of polka dots, painted more snow, and even painted cookies!
I think Sweet Pea’s favorite part of painting is exploring different things to paint on. He really liked painting on some shiny blue paper that was stuffed in a gift bag with a present. He loved the way the brush felt as he brushed it across the paper. Unfortunately, he didn’t like the way the paint crumbled off it as it dried.
And he always has fun mixing all of the colors – like a huge science experiment!
Sweet Pea did paint a letter P, but then had lots of fun covering it up with tons of paint (which turned brownish black)! It was a very messy process, but one that he thoroughly enjoyed!
I’ll be sharing more letter P fun throughout the week!
Everyone knows how to play tic-tac-toe, right? (Or, tic-tac-tow, as some of my friend spell it.)
Sweet Pea has really liked this game lately. In the past he only played this with blocks that had X’s and O’s on. Lately, though, he’s getting better with his pencil grip, so has liked trying to make is letters just right!
It’s a simple pencil and paper game, reinforcing the letters X and O, and takes fine motor coordination and lots of thinking through the process of playing the game!
Dr. Seuss’ birthday is celebrated practically everywhere on mom blogs. It’s also celebrated in preschools and elementary schools. This pretty much sums up what I’ve heard about all last week from my kiddos, so it was hard not to extend this focus to some of the things we did here at home, too.
Each night last week we read a different Dr. Seuss book. I had thought about making gloppity glop (flubber) after we read that, but sweet pea had a lot of playdough action last week and didn’t seem that interested, when normally he does, so we didn’t.
We read The Foot Book once at night and as always the boys loved it. I pulled it out again one morning and Sweet Pea and I did it ‘action style’. Meaning we found, or tried to find or act out, every kind of foot described in the book.
It was so much fun doing the motions with him…high feet, low feet…we even went on a search for furry feet and 24 feet! (He still has a little trouble counting to 20, so 24 was hard!)
It’s been a long time since he was this giddy doing something ‘educational’. Of course, he didn’t really see it as educational, so that was probably part of it!
Did you do anything silly and fun for Dr. Seuss’ birthday at your house? What was it?
Dots and Squares and Sprouts are two games in my ‘waiting time’ arsenal (at least, when I have access to paper and a pencil.) What are some of yours?
Oh, don’t know what Sprouts is? It’s another paper game I used to play as a child. Of course, I’m not sure why it’s called that…
How to play?
First, make dots all over a piece of paper. They don’t have to be in a neat grid like in Dots and Squares, just random.
Take turns drawing lines between the dots, making a dot on the center of each line after it is drawn. The lines do not have to be straight, since there is no grid, and can curve and loop around, but they can’t cross another line.
Each dot may have only three lines connecting to it. Remember, the lines don’t have to be straight.
The last person to draw a line wins!
This paper and pencil game is a little more complex than Dots and Squares, so its probably better for a little bit older children, or preschoolers that can understand the instructions, since they’re a little more complex than just drawing a line. It still works on many of the same skills; coordination, pencil grip, processes.
Recently I’ve pulled out both of these games for the kids and I while we had to wait for something. They were equally interested in both, but Sprouts did take a little more explaining as we were playing the game.
So, what other paper games should I add to my arsenal? Any ideas?
The other day 5 year old Sweet Pea was sitting with me at the table while I enjoyed my hot cocoa (he drank his rather quickly!) I grabbed a piece of paper that was on the table next to me and started making dots. I’m not sure why, but this game I played as a kid came into mind and I thought he’d like it!
Here’s how you play Dots and squares, in case you never played or need a refresher.
All you need are a piece of paper and a pencil (or pen, or crayon…)
Make a grid of dots, more for older players, less for younger.
Take turns drawing lines between dots.
Write your initial inside each square you complete.
After the last line is drawn, count your initials. The person with the most wins!
I had tried playing this with Cutie Pie when he was 5 and he wasn’t very interested. It all depends on the child, their interests and capabilities, but it is a great exercise in taking turns, coordination, fine motor skills, prescribing practice and processes!
If you try this with your kiddos let me know what they thought!
Remember the other day when I posted about painting snow? I had totally forgotten that I typed everything 5 year old Sweet Pea was saying as he played.
He really could’ve gotten along without me even sitting there, just talking along to himself (as you will read) so I didn’t feel guilty typing, especially because it was something he wanted to play with by himself and didn’t even want me to stick around!
Here’s his monologue:
For me snow mixing and butter mixing and color mixing, and juice mixing, those are the only mixings I know of.
Hey, it’s dotted!
It feels like foam but it’s colder.
Look at the snow after I put in the water!
I wonder what will happen if we mix it with beaters.
I like just putting little hunks of snow in cups of water so you can pretend its….when you put water in the snow it makes it less snow, I’m going to keep adding some water.
Me: What will happen if you add water?
The whole thing is going to freeze.
Why are the ice cubes sticking to the ice? Hmm, maybe we should look that up!
I think we will be doing some more little experiments with ice! Some days he just doesn’t go for whatever I set out on the table to try to interest him in a little more ‘formal’ learning. Other days he does. We’ll see!
Now, honestly…do you have constant talking in your house like this, or is it just here?
Spring is not here yet. I’m yearning for it. I love the snow, but with the weather getting warmer, then colder, then warmer then snowing again I’m trying to not get my hopes up. I mean, it’s just February, and around here that means winter weather.
So I’m remembering how much worse this weather could be. We were told to expect lots of snow one night in January. Unfortuntely, it fell during the wrong 8 hour period to give the kiddos a snow day. Well, my 5 year old and I tried to make it to afternoon preschool, but when you can’t see, it makes driving there a little dangerous, so we retreated to the comfort of home. I treated him to afternoon popcorn and a movie – something that we just don’t ever do here in the middle of the day and something I think we’d both enjoy if we did it more often. We definitely enjoyed our snow day! It was the sort of snow that, while it’s falling, it looks like millions of shards of glass. Under the street lights that night it looked like we were surrounded by diamonds piled high, just waiting to be disturbed.
That night I sat, half watching Sweet Pea drive his trains around the family room floor, also seeing the swirling snow sparkling in the air as a gentle breeze blew it past the window. I remember hesitating to take the boys out the next day, wondering if I wanted to ruin the beauty of the sparkles in the landscape, or if it would be even more beautiful with paths all over it made by joyous playing boys.
So here I sit, remembering the sudden snow storm we had earlier today which left an inch of snow in less than an hour. Remembering the wind whipping, leaving my cheeks and hands so cold I could hardly move my fingers.
But I’m also remembering just how much fun playing in a winter wonderland can be…as long as I’m either bundled up like crazy or sitting inside sipping hot cocoa watching the boys and their daddy playing in it!
My 5 year old is really getting tired of the bitter cold, having a cold and not being able to go outside and play. He loves the snow, so I decided to bring it inside for him.
Now, I know this is not a novel idea, but it’s something I hadn’t thought of doing before. He was so tickled when I suggested it!
After playing with it with our hands, making little snowmen, we got out the watercolor paints, but Sweet Pea kept adding so much water everything melted pretty quickly and there were no pretty colors.
Next, we tried some watered down tempura paints. He liked painting the snow with this, but he wanted bright colors (which is actually pretty unusual for him because when he paints, normally everything turns out a dark brown!)
So out came the food coloring and the medicine cups, along with the medicine droppers and a whole assortment of kitchen utensils! I simply put a drop of food coloring into a medicine cup of water and armed him with one or two utensils at a time. This made the snow last much longer and also made some pretty cool tie-dye-looking snow!
We had so much fun! It was like a mini-sensory lesson with lots of coordination and color-talk involved!
I know we’re all waiting for spring to arrive after some nicer temperatures. But if we have to live with it for a little while longer, we might as well get creative and enjoy it! (And by the way, you can also fill a squirt bottle and paint the snow outdoors, or take your brushes outdoors, too!)
These bitterly cold mornings keep us indoors while waiting for the bus. Once that door opens and Cutie Pie leaves, Sweet Pea and I spend a few minutes drawing on the frost-covered door before shutting the heavy door and retreating to the warmth.
I especially enjoy this time, though, when he’s using his imagination, coming up with his own ideas of what to draw. It’s like my little eye into his ideas for the day.
Sweet Pea seems to enjoy feeling the cold with his fingers then scraping some frost, or drawing on the fogged surface. Most days he draws pictures for me, or makes handprints, but some days he likes to meet my challenges.
Some mornings I challenge him to write his name, or a letter he is learning in school. Other times he draws objects he’d like to build with LEGOs later in the day.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Just thought I’d share this really quick and easy Valentine’s note that you or your preschooler can do in a jiffy! I’m sure you haven’t forgotten to make all those cards for your kiddo’s classmates, but sometimes we all forget someone in our lives that could use one or who deserves a special one from your child.
Sweet Pea’s preschool class has integrated simple sign language into their everyday learning. I thought this was perfect for Valentines for his classmates, and it took a very short time to make 20 of them!
Cut as many small hearts out of construction paper as you need.
Trace your child’s hand (or yours if this is from you!) onto construction paper of a different color.
Cut out the hand you just traced.
Glue the heart onto the palm of the hand, then bend the middle and ring fingers down over the heart, forming ‘I love you’ in sign language.
So simple, yet it can communicate so much!
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, and remember to show love to everyone on this day that it is completely acceptable to do so (at least, within reason!)
I posted earlier this week about Sweet Pea building with marshmallows and toothpicks. I thought I’d build on that a bit (get it) and share what else he likes to do with them!
Sweet Pea is big into counting anything and everything right now. We practice counting with them!
Fine motor practice at this age is great, as 5 year olds are learning to print their names and draw pictures. Picking a marshmallow up with toothpicks is great fine motor and coordination work and is fun, too! Sweet Pea likes to pick them up one at a time with the point of a toothpick (the dull-ended ones work for this, too). He likes to see how many he can fit on a toothpick. Once I challenged him to see if he could pick one up with two toothpicks. He liked that!
Sometimes we get the colored mini marshmallows. That’s always fun because he likes sorting by color, and you can make patterns with those, too!
Now, I don’t want you to think I let Sweet Pea have marshmallows all the time. This is an every once in a while treat. I just thought I’d share the fun (educational) things we do with them, rather than just eat them!