Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ten Frames

My daughter ( 3 years 1 month) is fascinated with counting. She showed the other day how many blocks she had and was able to count to 19 with one to one correspondence. Wow! When did she learn that? I certainly haven't been working on that skill with her.

I thought making some ten frames and working on some math skills would be a great summer learning project. My son (6 years 9 months) loves math and is eager to 'teach sissy' some new math things. So I envision printing the ten frames and then letting them play together with them.

I'm sure I can figure out how to make my own files that I can share via Google Docs, but every time I decide I'm going to make something I find a similar (or even better file) as a free printable somewhere on the blogosphere! Here's some great resources:
I love the free printable here - http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Free-Printable-Ten-Frames
I know my daughter will love the stars because they look similar to the stars on Dora! I'm planning on coming up with some fun "Dora Counting Games" using these ten frames.

This link has free printable ten frames with some unusual dot themes (alien, lightning bolt, hearts, and ying yangs)
This article does a great job of explaining ten frames and ways to build number sense -

And thanks to all the bloggers that share free printables!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Milk Caps Math

My three year old loves to play with the growing collection of milk caps and lids. I am planning some sort of mural using the recycled lids, but until then we are getting lots of fun math skills in! So far we have used the milk caps for:

Milk caps make great math counters for little fingers.

Milk caps make great eyes in art projects.

I have made up a couple of Busy Bags for my kids that have a collection of milk caps with stickers on them to decorate. It's a simple but fun activity when you are waiting in a restaurant!

My older son is becoming a chess fanatic and it's frustrating to my daughter because he's busy and she can't touch the chess pieces. So I brought out a checkers board...and it didn't interest her at all. Then I sat our collection of lids next to the board and VOILA, instant activity. She slowly put the caps onto the board until every space was covered. At times she seemed to be matching the lids by color and size too. What a fun way to practice one-to-one correspondence. 

Later we sorted the collection by color and began to build a simple graph. Big brother stopped by to explain that they had to be lined up just so you could compare the number. She listened attentively and even helped him rearrange the graph. Ahhhhhhhh....I love having his voice in teaching our little girl.

Activity Popsicle Sticks

One of the blogs I follow, Activity-Mom (see link below), had a great idea about writing activities onto popsicle sticks for the kids to pick and then play. I am going to use these as independent play ideas for the kids to do together while I accomplish a task.

With my kids, we brainstormed a big list of activities they could do together (with little to no adult supervision) and that required no pre-planning on my part. So this required a lot of discussion but I found that explaining that we needed to already have the "stuff" around the house and that the activity would be safe for the kids to do by themselves.Therefore we quickly ruled out "Go to Chucky Cheese." or "Build an tree house."

I think making the sticks has built interest in toys that have been neglected and forgotten. It inspired me to clean up and get out some older toys and make nice displays to get the kids excited.

And yes, much to my son's relief, the kids can play with the toys any time and don't have to wait for a stick to be pulled out!

I color coded the sticks with green & red dots so that we could easily keep track of which ones we did. Once they all get turned over and are red, we will flip them and start over again.

Here are the ideas we have written on our sticks so far:

Indoor Activities:
Crazy Fort Building
Domino Building
Colored Wooden Blocks - build, then draw it
Play Dinosaurs
Gears, Gears, Gears
Pegs - build a high multi-layer birthday cake!
Marble Run

Lego Challenge - build a bridge
Lego Challenge - build the tallest free standing structure
Play Doctor
Pretend Birthday Party
Mario Dress Up
Water Colors
Bean Stick Making

Match It Math Puzzles
U.S. Puzzle
20 Puzzle Set

Candy Land
I Spy Bingo
Colorful Caterpillars
Diego I Spy
Diggity Dog
Mighty Mind
Mini Hockey Game
Pillow Fort: Bring pillows behind couch for reading & slumber party

Later on when we learn how to play together:
Super Mario Memory
Snap Circuits

Extra ideas for later in the summer!
Build a castle with blocks
Cardboard Blocks tumble down
Jigsaw Puzzles
Hide and Seek
Sticky wall
Do a Dot Painting
Yard Sale in the Playroom
Play Restaurant
Rubber Stamp Art
Indoor Obstacle Course
Body Tracing
Play Library
Dance Party
Balloon Bop - keep the balloon in the air as long as you can
Build a fort with blankets

Outdoor Activities: (kept in a separate cup!)
Sidewalk Chalk
Water Table
Sand Box
Sensory or Water Table
Pretend Cooking
Obstacle Course
Water Painting with Brushes & Spray Bottles
Make a pretend campfire
Play donut shop in play house
Build a fairy house
Soccer shoot out
Balance beams with 2x4's on the grass

Hot days required:
Water balloons
Wigglin' Water Sprinkler
Clown Sprinkler

Inspired by this post:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ladybug Math

My sweet girl loves counting so I thought I should whip up a new set of math manipulatives for her to play and learn with!

I made a set of ladybugs out of milk jug lids (see where I got inspired at the bottom of this post). On each ladybug I put dots for her to count. On the inside of the lid I wrote the numeral. Then I made a paper leaf for her to match the ladybugs to the correct numeral. She can look on the inside of the lid as a way to self check. I didn't laminate the leaf since this was an impromptu project.

I like the idea so much though that I am going to make up a couple of sets for my preschool class. I was think of making several different types of leaves and maybe a few different types of bugs. I'll post more when I finish them.

My daughter got the set of ladybugs below for her birthday last year. They come apart so she can match the three pieces of the same color, and then count the dots, and 'read' the numeral on the bugs head. She has played with these for over a year and loves them. This morning I thought I would ask her to put them in order starting with one. We haven't really worked on that skill but she put them in order 1, 2, 3, and then needed help deciding if 5 or 4 should come next. I love toys that are both fun and educational!

And here's just a random picture of my sweet girl and me. We were doing a scratch art project at Kids Fest in Burlington. I am excited for summer full of fun activities as a family!!!

Where I got the idea to transform milk jug lids into ladybugs - http://vandenbrandewendy.blogspot.com/2012/05/knutselen-lieveheersbeestje.html

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Stop and Go!

My son has decided that he is going to teach his little sister some important things this summer. First up is to read the word "STOP".

So he made up a fun "stop and go" sign to play a game that he 'invented'. It looks a lot like "Red Light, Green Light" but it's called Stop and Go instead. We mounted the paper onto cardboard and used a paint stirrer for the handle. I might use contact paper to make it a bit more durable too!

I love these self directed projects and hope he continues to make lots of things like this during our summer vacation together!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Writing Center at Home

We have an ever changing writing center downstairs. At the beginning of each month I try to spruce it up, switch out some of the supplies, and give it a fresh look so both the kids continue to be inspired to sit down to create.

The writing center is made from two drop leaf tables from IKEA. I cover the tables with brown paper that comes from the never ending orders that we receive from Amazon. The paper is held on with large binder clips. The paper protects the surface of the tables and serves as a doodle paper for the kids. I switch out the paper when it gets too messy or ripped.
The chairs are not ideal but they work for now. My three year old kneels on the stationary chair on the left and my six year works at the swivel desk chair. They each have their 'own' supplies and projects stored at the writing center but most of the materials are shared between them.
This week I added the little shelf which I picked up at Family Dollar. The shelf is supposed to be an above the sink shelf but I liked that it was made of real wood, lightweight, and only cost $6!

My goal is to get both of the kids writing and creating this summer. My son needs to work on a variety of writing skills since he is skipping first grade, but rather than making writing boring I am hoping to get him excited about the writing process. Then we can work on writing conventions by editing some of his stories.

Currently the writing center is stocked with the following...

Supplies for both to share:
Wide variety of writing utensils - glitter fat crayons, regular crayons, markers (which are all dying and slowing being faded out to better tools!), colored pencils, regular pencils.
Kid Scissors
Blank paper of different sizes and colors (tucked into a plastic 2 pocket folder so it stays crisp and a certain little sister doesn't go overboard)
Actual pictures so the kids can 'scrapbook' or make cards with them. (My son is almost in shock that we have "real pictures and not just on the computer screen". Geeez)

My son is enjoying:
Learn to Draw types of books so I pulled out one we had about Animals
Sketch book - so we can start making double page spreads (inspired by Tinker Lab)
Copying pictures - check out the Monarch butterfly and the postcard he used as a model!

Bookmaking - so I pre-made blank books using a variety of paper types, colors and sizes

Clip board - so he can take his writing & art projects on the go

"My Books" Binder - which is a 3 ring binder with plastic page protectors to store all of his books. I have added every 'book' that I can find that he has made. This has been a great motivator to keep him writing! Later in the summer I plan on doing some sort of "author's tea" and have some special friends come check out his book collection!

My daughter is currently enjoying:
Butterfly stickers (left over from her butterfly birthday party)
Foam stickers
Index cards - she loves these things!
Smaller 'Radish' sketch book - which we will use for her double page spreads
Envelopes & pre-folded cards

Located near by but out of the reach of a certain little sister:
Glue sticks
White glue
Rubber stamps - letters & pictures

I took lots of pictures to make this post my jazzy but Blogger seems to be on the fritz for uploads today. Oh well...maybe it's a sign I should get back to playing with the kiddos!

Bubble Day

~ Bubble Day ~
the perfect way to celebrate the first day of Summer Vacation!


The Night Before:

Sweep up the sun room, so post bubble play we can mop the floor! (Woohoo, a win win activity!)

Make our favorite homemade bubble recipe: 1 cup of dish soap (I used Dawn, but many websites suggest Joy brand), 9 cups of water, and the secret ingredient to making super strong bubbles-- glycerin. The original recipe called for 8 tablespoons of glycerin, but I don't usually use that much.
Directions: Pour in the dish soap first then fill the rest of the bottle with water. Lastly add the glycerin and stir or shake. Then let it sit overnight! The longer you let it sit, the better the bubbles.

Let the Bubble Day festivities begin!!!

Project 1: Beaded Bubble Wands

We started the day my making our own bubble  wands by using pipe cleaners and pony beads. These are best to make BEFORE you bring out the bubbles.
Use cookie cutters to bend the pipe cleaners around to make a wide variety of shapes, then put on the beads to make them colorful and a little more durable. If you want to make really sturdy wands, make a handle out of chopstick or Popsicle stick and then wrap the pipe cleaner around it.These are so easy to make that even my 3 year old made hers on her own!

Project 2: Wash Up Station - I explained to the kids that we needed to wash all of our empty bubble bottles and wands before we could get started outside. (This became an activity in itself!)
I put an under the bed storage bin on a small table in our sun room. I filled a metal bowl with warm soapy water. The kids splashed and played and eventually everything got a thorough wash.
I like that this kept the kids busy for a while in the morning before it warmed up outside, and because their 'messy play' was just soapy water the floor in the sun room got a bit cleaner in the process!


Project 3: Homemade Bubble Machines - to make simply hole punch two holes on opposites side of a plastic lid. Fill the container with a small amount of water and dish soap, and then blow until bubbles come pouring out of the top.
Be sure kids know how to blow out so they don't get soap in their mouth. The first time I did this my then 2.5 year old could not remember to blow out and got a large mouthful of soapy water. These bubble machines are great for tub time too! (Tip:Put a pin prick at the top of the straw to prevent, or slow down, soap being sucked up. Use shorter containers like hummus tubs for little hands. The cottage cheese container worked well for my six year old.)

Project 4: Filling Station
I explained to the kids that we wanted to fill up all of our bubble jars so that we could play bubbles anytime we wanted. We filled them in a dishpan and then used the dishpan "overflow" as our main bubble tub for outside bubble time. I stashed the majority of the filled bubble bottles away so we could use them over the next few weeks. I also immediately put the remaining mixture away and out of reach so we didn't use it all in one playtime.

My three year old loves to just dump the bubbles so I got her busy at the wash station filling her bottles with soapy water (not the concentrated bubble mix). This way she could fill, dump, fill, dump (repeat, repeat) and I didn't have to get all bent out of shape that she was wasting our mix. {This was a bone of contention before....but I think giving her alternatives and me being a bit more understanding has made Bubble Day more fun for all parties involved!}

Project 5: Play with the bubbles outside while mommy mops the sun room floor!

To make this a peaceful playtime, I set up two stations for my kids. My son got the dishpan and selected a bunch of wands. For my three year old, I set up the outdoor water table with soapy water on one side, and bubble jars on the other side. I explained why we don't dump them...but then I left her to play to her hearts content without policing the bottles. The next time I checked on her the bottles were dumped but she has having a blast. {Deep breath...it's all good!}

Project 6: Bubble Challenges!
Playing bubbles is fun and very open ended. Certainly you don't need to make Bubble Day structured but I thought that it might make my older child more engaged if he had some challenges to complete. So I came up with a little list that I would whip out when he began to lose interest~

Bubble Challenges:
Catch a bubble upside down
Find the largest bubble
Find the smallest bubble
Count how many seconds you can hold a bubble for
How many bubbles can you get to connect together? Talk about double, triple, quadruple


Other thoughts that bubbled into my mind as we played today:

Indoors? We have had a successful indoor bubble station at our local children's day. We found that if you do the activity on a tile or linoleum floor and then lay down huge pieces of cardboard, it's not slippery and very easy to clean up afterwards. Obviously outdoors is more fun though!

The beginning of summer is the perfect time to make a big batch of bubbles! If the bubbles are going to be stored for awhile you may want to use distilled water. I didn't worry about it because I am pretty sure we will use up our batch pretty quickly!

Tell the kids about "Bubble Hands". If the kids dip their hands into the soapy mixture they have a better chance of catching bubbles without them popping. It's a great cooperative game to have the kids work together to see how many bubbles they can catch.
Saving up empty bubble bottles, wands, and mini bubble jars is an economical way to have a huge selection of bubble jars for the kids. My kids love having a wide variety of wands and after saving them for a few years we have gathered a nice selection of different shapes, sizes, and lengths.

On my son's final day of kindergarten one of the activities was bubbles. At the end of the day I asked the teacher if I could take the empty bottles out of her recycling bin. So now I have 3 more giant jars that I plan on making up and giving as gifts or using at Summer Nature Camp! {It pays to be a trash picker!}

Other fun wand making ideas:
LIDS: Draw shapes onto recycled plastic yogurt lids, and then I cut out the design. (These are fun to use as tracers at the Writing Center as well.)
CYLINDERS: Raid the recycling bin for cylinder shaped containers and then cut off the bottoms so they are tubes. Kids can dip and then blow through to make bubbles. Small sections of PVC pipe or PVC connectors would be good...I'll add that to list of important play things to buy!

Next time we do bubble day I want to:
  • Straighten wire coat hangers and make them into over sized shapes. One tip is to use duct tape to make sure the ends are not sharp.
  • Borrow a mini baby pool from someone and try the hula hoop bubble making trick
  • Create a pulley with a straight bar so the kids can make a 'bubble wall' like they have at our local children's science museum
  • Bubble painting
  • Bubble Machine, Electric version - I don't think I would buy one of these, but maybe a friend has one we could borrow one day.
  • Bubble Wrap Rubbings - lay it on a table, place paper over it and do a crayon rubbing. A Lego base board is fun to do rubbings on as well.
  • Bubble Wrap dance party - put large pieces of bubble wrap on the floor and jump & dance!
~~Now if only someone would drop off a large Bubble Tea, this bubble party would be complete!

How about you....what are some bubble ideas you like? I'd love to hear some feedback!!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coin Sorting

We worked on sorting coins today. My little ladybug loves money. "Me money." is her favorite saying whenever she see cash in hand!

I found these great sorting mats for U.S. coins. There are two printables - one showing the fronts of the coins and one showing the backs. One other nifty feature of these mats is that each column is labeled with the word for the coin in both singular and plural. My six year old picked up on this right away and had lots of questions -- even noticing that penny doesn't just get an s added, but changes to -ies!

Now to make some more bean sticks to work on counting this summer....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Step Up Day!

My sweet boy at the start of this school year!

I am home after a busy morning. I'm processing the fact that my sweet little boy will be going to second grade in the fall. After much contemplation we decided that the best fit academically would be for him to skip first grade.

He has an early September birthday and missed the cut-off by just 3 days. We felt good about him being the oldest in his class to help him be a leader and build his confidence. That trend of 'red shirting' wasn't our plan but proponents of that makes sense.

Our son had a great year in kindergarten but was working well above grade level. Luckily he was able to receive math tutoring several times a week at school and this spring was able to go to first grade for his reading block. These accommodations made it possible for him to be challenged academically but moving forward it would be hard for a public school to guarantee those accommodations and the fear is that he would feel isolated being pulled out or moved to another grade throughout the day.

What a huge decision this was, but today was Step Up Day at school and despite his jitters he seems to fit well with his future second grade class. The teacher seems lovely and he already knows at least 3 or 4 of the other students. He doesn't seem short or "littler" compared to his classmates, but will definitely be the youngest in his class.

It may just be me who is having a hard time adjusting to this. Second grade just sounds so grown up and so much closer to high school than 'kindergarten'.

Maybe it's just that there's been so many changes in the last couple of weeks-- my son is now riding without training wheels. He's going to baseball practice without me bribing him to participate. He can play chess amazingly well, and is reading chapter books!
On top of that, my sweet little girl turned 3, started wearing big girl underwear, and then got her first haircut this morning!

Oh my....life is just going by too fast. Luckily summer vacation starts in just a couple of days and I can slow down with my family and savor each and every day.