Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Cc}

By Tiffany Rudd
I realize this isn't a very holiday-ish topic to post on Halloween, but I found tons of fun candy corn activities to make up for it. Candy Corn are obviously a great "Cc" treat and since they'll be around through Thanksgiving you have plenty of time to try out these super fun activities!

 Snack Ideas:
      *Candy Corn Patterns: I love this idea from A Mommy's Adventures. All you need is a bag of Brach's Candy Corn Harvest Mix. First sort the candy by type and then work on candy patterns together.
      * Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina - This is one of my kids all time favorites to act out. One day I'll have a big box of funky hats to use with this book like my mom used to. 
      * The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - This is a fantastic book that teaches days of the week, counting, and even the life cycle of a butterfly. We read this classic in preschool this week and created the egg carton caterpillars below.
      * Egg Carton Caterpillars: This is one of those crafts where the process is more important than the result. These turned out looking kinda goofy, but the kids absolutely loved them! All I did was cut my big Costco egg carton into rows of 4. I punched holes in both sides of 3 sections and then let the kids paint them. After they dried we added google eyes, chenille straw legs and smiles. By the kids reactions, you would have thought this was a fancy/expensive art project. Brooklyn's still has a place of honor on her dresser.
       *Candy Corn Math: Another candy corn activity as promised! :) This is a great one for learning numbers and practicing counting. All you need is some construction paper and candy corn. You can find this activity here.
Free Printables:
      * When I was planning my curriculum for the letter Cc I was all prepared to create some fun candy corn number and letter puzzles. The three sections make them the perfect design for practicing both. Luckily I searched a little first and saved myself a bunch of time. Click on the pictures below for free printable candy corn puzzles for practicing numbers and letters. 
      * Click on the photos below to print the writing practice worksheet and the flashcard. I hope you have a fantastic Halloween and a fun week learning the Letter Cc!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Toddler Activities: Itsy Bitsy Spider Gloves

By: Deborah Pace Rowley
For this fun toddler finger play, save a plastic spider from Halloween and glue it onto one mitten. On the other mitten, glue some felt shapes. Glue the water drops on the back of the mitten and the sun in the  palm of the mitten. Then you can either wear the gloves yourself or have your child wear the gloves as you sing and act out the song together.
Oh, the itsy, bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.  (Act out the spider climbing.)

Down came the rain and washed the spider out.  (Take the other glove and wiggle your fingers as you bring the rain down on top of the spider.)
Up came the sun and dried up all the rain. (Raise the glove with the palm out so you can see the sun.)
And the itsy, bitsy spider climbed up the spout again. (Act out the spider climbing again.)

P.S. Not exactly our brightest moment - photographing these black gloves on a cutie wearing a black sweater in front of a black background. :) Oh well, she loves them anyway!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Elementary Activities: Halloween Cards

By: Deborah Pace Rowley
In my elementary school class, we have been studying Ancient Egypt. After learning about the pyramids, we made these fun pop-up pyramid cards that the students could give to their family or friends. Find the tutorial about how to make the simple pop up pyramid here.
Go here to find the mummies and the funny slogans that we added to our cards.

My favorite card includes this lovely Halloween sentiment:
This Halloween I want to give you my heart.....
And every other organ that has been ripped out of my body.
Perfectly gruesome and educational at the same time. What more could you want? (especially if you are a ten year old boy!) Pin It

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Bb}

by Tiffany Rudd
Snack Ideas:
      * Let Your Child Shop! It was Brooklyn's turn to bring our preschool snack on a Bb day, so we headed to the store together to look for food that begin with the letter Bb. It was a good reminder for me that quite often the best learning activities are child directed. We walked the isles together with Brooklyn repeating "Bb says Buh!" over and over again and testing out different items that looked good to her. It went something like this with each new item..."Ch-Ch-Chips. Nope, not a Bb" I just enjoyed listening to her practice her beginning sounds and helped when needed. She ended up with Big Bold Gummy Bears, Teddy (Bear) Grams and Blue Squeeze-It drinks. Not the healthiest of snacks, but she found every Bb item and I was incredibly proud! :)

      * Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle
      *The Berenstains' B Book by Stan and Jan Berenstain

      * Bear Day! Our big Bb activity this year was a "bear day" where each of the kids were invited to bring a teddybear from home. We sorted the bears by color and clothing, ordered them from smallest to biggest, and even danced with our bears. Gather as many stuffed bears as you have around the house (or invite the neighbor kids and their bears), and have your own bear party!
      * Comparing Bears: I created a simple book for my preschoolers to graph the information we gathered on our bears. Just print out the "Let's Compare Bears!" book and the bear cards to go with it. Have your child cut out the bear cards and then clue them on each page's graph based on your bear collection. For example, on the size page you would divide your bears into small, medium and large groups. Then just glue one bear card above the category for each stuffed bear that is that size. You can see in the photo below that in our class we had 2 big bears, 2 medium sized bears, and 3 small bears.

      * Button Sort: Click on the photo below to find instructions for this simple and fun activity.

Free Printables:
      *Click on the photos below to print the Bb practice worksheet and the Bb flashcards.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Toddler Activities: Butterfly Blanket

By: Deborah Pace Rowley

All you need is for this fun activity is a blanket. We added in the butterfly wings but they aren't necessary. Tell this simple story and help your toddler perform the corresponding actions. (Feel free to make this caterpillar a boy or a girl according to the sex of your child.)  This has been a favorite with all my children.  Trust me, you will get to repeat this again and again and you will be teaching a basic science lesson on metamorphosis at the same time! 

One day, a baby caterpillar was born. She yawned and she stretched. Then she realized that she was hungry. She started to crawl around on her leaf. She ate and she ate and she ate some more. (Have your toddler crawl around on the blanket and pretend to eat the edges.)

As the caterpillar ate, she began to grow bigger. Soon she was a big caterpillar and it was time for her to spin a cocoon. (Have your toddler lie down on one side of the blanket while you roll her up inside.)
When she was all snug and warm inside her cocoon, she went to sleep. The caterpillar slept and slept and slept. One spring day, the caterpillar woke up and she started to wiggle inside her cocoon. She wigged and wiggled so much that the cocoon broke open. (Have your toddler start to wiggle in the cocoon and then quickly unroll the blanket and help your child pop out.)
When the caterpillar popped out of the cocoon, she realized that she had grown wings. She was no longer a caterpillar, she was a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly flew around and around the garden. (Have your child flap her arms and fly around the room.) 
Repeat as often as desired! 

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Elementary Activities: Learning To Tell Time

By Tiffany Rudd
Since Cameron is in 1st grade this year, they have started learning how to tell time. Reading an analog clock can definitely be difficult for kids, so we've been practicing extra at home. Here are a few of the activities and websites that have been a hit.
      * Homemade Practice Clock: This clock (see photo above) was super simple to make. I just cut a short and long hand out of construction paper and attached them to the plate using a brad fastener. I recommend making the hands different colors as it makes it easier to distinguish for a beginning learner. I then added the numbers 1-12 around the edge of the plate. I also added the minutes (5, 10, 15, 20, etc.) along the inside edge.
      * For an even easier homemade practice clock, you can just print and assemble one HERE
      * Telling Time Memory Game: All I did to make this fun time memory game was print two copies of these CLOCK FLASHCARDS. Then I just cut them out and clued them to pieces of construction paper so you couldn't see through them. You just play with these like any memory game, where you take turns turning over two cards to see if they match. When you find a match you just have to tell what time the clocks say before you can keep them. The two of us have had so much fun playing this simple matching game.  
      * This is one of my favorite learning websites and it has a really fun time travel game for learning to tell time.
      * Click HERE to print telling time practice worksheets.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Parenting Tips: Learn Some Trivia Today

by Deborah Pace Rowley

Last October I attended a Utah Education Association presentation that featured Ken Jennings, the longest running champion of the game show Jeopardy. Mr. Jennings was a dynamic speaker and kept us all entertained with stories about his Jeopardy experience. The most profound part of the presentation occurred when Mr. Jennings answered this series of questions: Why should we learn trivia? Why should we encourage our kids and our students to learn trivia? Why in this age of smart phones, shouldn’t we just google anything and everything that we need to know? 

Those are some great questions and I was very curious to hear his answers. Is trivia knowledge now unnecessary or obsolete? It shouldn’t be, according to Mr. Jennings. He said trivia knowledge has tremendous value because it does two things. 

First, it increases our sense of wonder with the world. Haven’t you ever watched your seven-year-old’s eyes light up when he learns that sharks travel 40 miles per hour or that wolf spiders eat their mates? This world is amazing and learning about all its complexity just increases the awe we feel each and every day that we get to be apart of it all. 

Second, a knowledge of trivia increases our connection with wonderful people from around the world. Knowing that women wear burqas in Saudi Arabia and that burqas were originally banned from the 2012 Olympics means you have a connection when you meet a Saudi woman on a plane flying to Phoenix, Arizona. You also happen to know that Phoenix, Arizona is the home of the Cardinals and that Kurt Warner, the former grocery store clerk turned pro quarterback, played for that team. This can help you start a conversation with the young man you sit next to in the Arizona airport. And who knows what more you could learn or where that conversation could lead. 

As parents, we can set a great example for our children in this area. We can share the amazing things that we learn about the Mars Rover Curiosity and encourage them to share with us the cool facts they learn in their reading or in school. Smart phones can never give us the wonder and connection that learning about the world together can. 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Aa}

By Tiffany Rudd
{Aa} is one of my favorite letters to teach because it makes a fun and memorable sound, like someone yelling"Ahhh!" :) Don't forget to remind your child that {Aa} can also say it's own name.

Snack Ideas: 
      *Apple Sandwiches: This is a fun way to change up that same-old peanut butter sandwich and is one of my son's favorite lunches. Just slice the apple into 1/2 inch circles, cut out the core and put peanut butter between two pieces. If you have a child with peanut allergies these are also great with almond or sunflower butter. Or, if you need to be nut free use cream cheese. 
      * While you are preparing your apple sandwiches, make sure you stop to show your child the cross section of the apple. We so often cut apples from top to bottom many children have never seen the star pattern the seeds make when cut from side to side. It's a simple thing that always gets a fun reaction!

      * Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss
      * Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett

Arts & Crafts:
      * Paper Plate Apple: This is a fun and simple activity that is always a favorite! All you need is a cheep white paper plate and a little construction paper. Simply cut a leaf and stem out of the construction paper (or have your child do it) and cut a "worm sized" hole in the plate. Have your child color the apple and glue on the stem and leaf. Then, use a black marker to give your child's pointer finger eyes and a smile. Then the "worm" can munch right through the apple while you sing this apple song.

Apple Song: 
      * I apologize to the writer of little song because I have no idea where I got it from. I just have it in my preschool notes. It is sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

 "Apple, Apple, On The Tree"
Apple, apple on the tree,
I know that you are good for me.
You are fun to munch and crunch
For a snack or un my lunch.
Apple, apple, on the tree,
I know that you are good for me!"

      * I always add a "Crunch, crunch, munch..." to the end while the "worms" enjoy their apples. :)

Apple Poem (With Actions):
      * This is another one that I don't know where I found. Anything you can add actions to is always a hit with preschoolers.
Five little apples lying on the floor.
I roll one away, and that leaves four.
(Make rolling motion with arms.)

Four little apples hanging in a tree.
I pick one off, and that leaves three.
(Pick and imaginary apple.)

Three little apples, I know what to do!
I put one in my pocket, and that leaves two.
(Put imaginary apple in pocket)

Two little apples sitting in the sun.
I pick one up, and that leaves one.
(Pick imaginary apple up off the floor.)

One little apple waiting in my lunch.
I eat it up with a crunch, crunch, crunch!
(Pretend to eat the apple.)

Imaginary Play: 
      * Animal Hospital: My preschoolers had so much fun imagining that our preschool room was an animal hospital and caring for sick pets and even wild animals.

Free Printables:
      * Click on the photo below to print the {Aa} page.
      *Click on the photo below to print these super cute alphabet flash cards. Each letter comes with a real picture or a cartoon.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Toddler Activities: Crepe Paper Fun

By Deborah Pace Rowley
All you need for this fun toddler activity is a few rolls of streamers in bright colors. There are lots of different ways to play. You can hold the streamers while you dance and wave them in the air. Two people can dance together while holding a streamer between them. Toss the streamers in the air and try to catch them while they float to the ground. Call out the color of streamer your older toddler should try to catch.
Tie some long streamers to a hat rack or broom handle and dance around the May Pole. Leave a trail of streamers on the floor and let your toddler follow the trail to find you. Let the streamers trail in the breeze behind you as you run. Use your imagination and think of even more ways to have fun. The ideas listed here come from the book Wonderplay Too! by Freeta Reitzes and Beth Teitelman.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Elementary Activities: Adopted Grandmas

By Deborah Pace Rowley

One of the most powerful lessons that I took from the book Girls on the Edge is the need for our daughters to be part of a community of women. As Leonard Sax explains, “The right kind of community bridges the generations. the right kind of community involves girls learning from women their mothers’ age and their grandmother’s age.” (pg 205) 

Most girls are only involved in a community of same-age peers but girls cannot learn wisdom, perspective and depth of spirit from girls their own age. Girl Talk among same age peers is often toxic to girls. They rehash problems and share negative emotions to such a degree that it can create anxiety and depression in girls. Without a community of caring older woman, a girl struggles to learn how to become a woman herself. 

It takes effort to create these communities but the effort is worth it. If you do not have a grandmother living close by, you may want to start an adopt a grandma project while your daughter is young. Choose an older woman in your neighborhood that you admire. Ask if you can visit her with your daughter. Listen to her life stories, look through her old photo albums and admire her collected treasures. Invite her over to dinner and include her in family activities. Deliver treats and small gifts on holidays or special occasions. Everyone in the family will benefit from this service but the relationship you nurture with an older woman will be particularly valuable to your girls. 
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Preschool Activities: Letter of the Week {Introducing the Alphabet}

By Tiffany Rudd
I'm so excited to start a Letter of the Week series here on the blog! Hopefully the activities, crafts and tips I share will help you in learning with your own children at home. Learning to read starts with a great alphabet foundation, so let's get going!

      *Slow Down! I have to say, the classic alphabet song drives me crazy! I mean, who's idea was it to race through l-m-n-o-p like it is one letter?! So, my first advice is to slow that part way down when you sing it with your child and really pronounce each letter. Even better, print the alphabet poster below and point to each letter as you sing. 

Favorite Alphabet Movie:
      *Leap Frog Letter Factory! This will most likely be one of the few times I recommend using a dvd to teach your child. This movie really is fantastic for introducing your preschooler to the letters and the sounds they make. I show this movie to my students at the beginning of the year and months later they are still singing the catchy songs and in doing so practicing the letters and their sounds. Click on the photo below to find this dvd on
Snack Ideas:
      *Alphabet cereal, alphabet soup, or any other letter shaped food. Kids love to pick out letters they know and especially the letters in their names. 
      *Pretzel Letters: Click on the photo below to find and recipe and instructions for making your own letter shaped pretzel snacks!
Favorite Book:
      *Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin is by far my favorite alphabet book. It's a simple and fun story that includes all the letters of the alphabet. I highly recommend picking this book up at your local library. or click on the photo below to find it on There are so many fun activities and crafts you can do to go along with this book!
      *ABC Coconut Tree: This simple coconut tree is a fun art project to go along with the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Just have your child paint a brown trunk and then help her make two green handprints. Add a few coconuts with brown marker and your coconut tree is ready for the letters to climb! You can add letters with stamps, stickers, or just colored markers.
      *Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Play! This cute book is also a fun one to act out. You don't really need a coconut tree like this one, just use your imagination and act out each of the letters heading up the tree and then falling out. 
      *Catch Anything: Click on the photo below to find this fun activity and the printable alphabet page to use with it.
      *Alphabet Eggs: Click on the photo below to find instructions for this fun activity.
Free Printables:
      *Click on the photo below to print this super cute alphabet wall hanging and flashcards that match from 

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