Polar Bear Activities and Books for Preschool!

This week the #PlayfulPreschool Team is back with a POLAR ANIMALS THEME designed just for preschoolers!  We hope your own kids enjoy playing to learn with us as we continue offering free resources for use at home or in the classroom!

Polar Bear Math Game for PreschoolPolar Bear Math for Preschool!

Disclosure:  the post below contains affiliate links.  For FULL disclosures, please see the ABOUT page near the top of this blog.

Materials needed:

Bear Tracks Math Game for PreschoolPaw Print Bear Tracks.pdf – download and print here: Bears Math Activity for Preschool

Small plastic polar bears or colored bear counters

One die (we use large foam dice for many math activities with our preschoolers).


Glue or Tape

Construction paper

Cut apart one (or more) strips of the Paw Print Bear Tracks (linked above).  Glue or tape the paw print strip onto construction paper and laminate for durability if desired.

Invite the children to place a bear on the paw print farthest from the bear cave photo. Roll the die.  Move the bear one paw print for each number rolled on the dice. For example, if your child rolls a “3,” they would move their bear 3 paw prints forward.  Keep rolling and moving the bear until it gets to the bear cave.

For older children, have the child continue rolling the die until they get their bear to the bear cave with an exact roll.

Extension:  set out number or number word cards.  Have the children draw a number or read the number word to move the bear instead of rolling a die.

Polar Bear Books for PreschoolPolar Bear Books for Preschool!

The books below are some of our own favorite titles:

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Eric Carle

Polar Opposites by Erik Brooks

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson

Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer

The Snow Bear by Miriam Moss

The Polar Bear’s Gift by Jeanne Bushley

Polar Animals Large Motor Game for PreschoolPolar Bear Large Motor Game for Toddlers and Preschoolers! – Large Bear Paw Print

The polar bear large motor game is a great way to get kids MOVING inside this winter!  Print several copies of the LARGE BEAR PAW PRINT.pdf (linked above), laminate for durability if desired, and then set out materials to make a bear cave (for our game we used a small table and brown wrapping paper for just the front of the cave).   The ends of the cave were open and allowed for free movement in and out!

Randomly tape the large paw prints in a circle leading to and away from the created bear cave. We discussed different movements that the kids might do to get from one paw print to another:  bear crawling, baby crawling, hopping, jumping, frog jumping, giant steps, etc.  As the kids come to the cave, they have to duck and crawl through then continue on their journey!  It’s a simple and FUN way for kids to play and practice various large motor movements!

Please take a moment to visit other resources and suggestions for a POLAR ANIMAL THEME from the #PlayfulPreschool Team!

Polar Animal Literacy Activities:

Walrus Dive for Letters from Capri + 3
Polar Bear Paw Walk Preschool Alphabet Game by Growing Book by Book

Polar Animal Science and Sensory Activities:

How do Animals Stay Warm by Rainy Day Mum
Penguin Sorting Sensory Bin by Powerful Mothering
Arctic World by Learning 2 Walk

Polar Animal Movement Activities
Polar Animals Gross Motor Games by Still Playing School

Polar Animal Math Games and Activities:

Polar Bear Math Game by The Educators’ Spin On It
Counting to 5 with Penguins by Life Over C’s
Polar Animals Mega Blocks Puzzle by Tiny Tots Adventures




Posted in PreK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Reindeer Noses Playdough Math Mats for Preschool: 1-to-1 Correspondence

Reindeer Noses Playdough Math Mats for Preschool REINDEER THEME for PRESCHOOL!

Each Wednesday throughout the school year, we will share activities centered around various topics of interest to preschoolers.  This week, the #playfulpreschool blogging team has developed learning ideas with a REINDEER THEME!  Please take a moment to browse all the wonderful activity suggestions that are linked below for your convenience!


 Reindeer Nose Playdough Counting Mats

Objective:  To offer opportunities to playfully practice 1-to-1 Correspondence in order to learn how a certain number relates to a specific quantity of objects.

The goal of 1-to-1 Correspondence is to help young children gain confidence not only with number recognition, but to help them move beyond basic recognition and toward the question: How many items make up any specific number?

Materials needed:  Red Playdough (to incorporate a sensory experience try the Peppermint or Apple Spice Playdough) and the printable files linked above.

Prior to the activity – laminate the counting mats (or cover with clear contact paper) for durability.

Place the playdough out on a table or a tray as an invitation to play.  Demonstrate for the children how to tear off a piece of playdough and roll it around in the palm of their hands to form a ball (a reindeer “nose”).  Younger kids may wish to only tear small pieces of  playdough to use on their mats.  Tearing and rolling playdough balls, while FUN, builds important fine motor strength and control for preschoolers!

Playdough Math for Preschool 002Set out the lower numbered playdough mats to begin.  Invite the children to count the number of circles in one of the boxes and then place the corresponding number of playdough balls (reindeer nose) in each of the boxes.  Remind the children to count out loud as they place the playdough balls on the mat. Preschoolers will often count ahead of physically placing the balls in the circles OR count slower than the number of balls placed on the mat.   Observe the children to find counting successes or where errors are made. Young children need a great deal of practice with the numbers 1-5.  Please don’t feel the need to move on too quickly.  The number 5 is an important math anchor; having substantial practice with the numbers 1-5 will help with all future math concepts.  As the children gain confidence in counting accurately, larger numbers can be introduced.

Reindeer Theme Math Mats for Preschool

 COLOR, COUNT, and CLIP – Reindeer Nose Math for Preschool!

Print the Reindeer Math Mats (linked above) to heavy paper and cut apart the reindeer number cards and the boxes with circles (see photo above).

Materials needed:  12 clothespins labeled with one number (1-12), crayons, and the reindeer cards/circle boxes from the printable.

To begin:  choose any 3 numbers that the children are familiar with and lay those reindeer cards/circle boxes out in random order on a tray or a table.  Invite the children to color the circles in boxes to resemble reindeer noses.   Encourage the children to count the number of circles as they color each one on the individual cards.

Count, Color, and Clip Reindeer Math Activity for PreschoolWhen the children are finished coloring the reindeer noses (circles), invite them to match the number of circles to the numbered reindeer card.  The children can then choose the corresponding numbered clothespin and clip the two cards together (see photo above). Again, begin with lower numbers until the children are very familiar with the numbers 1-5.

The REINDEER NOSES PLAYDOUGH MATS are a great way to encourage 1-to-1 Correspondence skills!  The children will play and not quite realize all the important skills under construction!

For MORE ways to encourage MATH through PLAY, see our MATH SERIES for Preschool and Kindergarten!

Intuitive Math:  1-to-1 Correspondence and Subitizing

Intuitive Math:  Subitizing and 5/10 Frames

Intuitive Math:  Part-Part=Whole

Intuitive Math:  Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To


Swat the Letter: Reindeer Preschool Literacy Activity from Learning 2 Walk

Alphabet Activities: Reindeer Roll from Growing Book by Book

Reindeer Preschool Activities with Play Dough and Songs from Life Over C’s

Palm Print Reindeer Craft and Poem from Capri +3

Racing Reindeer Number Line Activity from Mom Inspired Life

Reindeer Christmas Snacks for Kids from Fun-A-Day

Reindeer Math Games for Preschool Learning from The Educators’ Spin On It


Posted in Christmas Theme, Math, PreK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Nuts and Seeds Theme: Listening Games with Sensory Sound Shakers for #PlayfulPreschool


Nuts and Seeds Sound Shakers

Each Wednesday throughout the school year, we will continue offering learning activities along with the brilliant #playfulpreschool blogging team.  This week’s activities are centered around a Nuts and Seeds Theme for Preschool.  If you have missed the previous theme-based activities, they are linked for your convenience below.  Also, please take a moment and visit links to additional Nuts and Seeds Theme resources from the Playful Preschool Team for learning inspiration at home or in the classroom!

Discriminating Sounds with Nuts and Seeds in Preschool

The Sense of Hearing (Sound)

The Sense of Hearing  is powerful learning for preschoolers!  In order for the children to explore sounds, they must be able to locate the primary body parts that provide sensory sound information: the EARS!

Introductory (Circle Time) Games:

  • Mirror Play – Invite the children to look for their own ears in a mirror.  Note: hand held mirrors are durable, but supervision is necessary with young children if using real glass. The children can also partner with an adult or siblings/peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries of other body parts that provide sensory information. Children will think it’s silly to look at each other, but they are gaining important information!

Sensory Mirror Discoveries

  • Listening Chant – Invite the children to LISTEN by saying:  “Close your eyes (NO PEEKING!) and open your ears, listen carefully to the sounds you can hear!”  Some of the children will want to make sounds instead of listening.  Remind the children that the goal is to listen for sounds coming from the environment, not the sounds they can make.  It takes a little practice, but the children will love playing this game.  After a few seconds of listening, have the children open their eyes and share what sounds they heard.  The listening game can be played indoors or outside (weather permitting).
  •  Loud/Soft Sounds – Brainstorm with the children places where LOUD voices would be appropriate or where SOFTER voices should be used.   Chart the answers the children give and add to the list as the children become familiar with loud and soft sounds.

Nuts and Seeds Cracking and SortingNuts and Seeds Sensory Sound Shakers

Materials needed:  assorted seeds or nuts, any container (we used glass salt/pepper shakers, but cardboard tubes sealed with waxed paper and a rubber bank will work great, too).

Note:  when making sound shakers with children who still put objects in their mouths, supervise closely.  Seeds and nuts are a choking hazard.  Please also note any children who have allergies, especially peanut/nut allergies.

Prior to the sound activities we incorporated cross-over lessons by inviting the kids to shell or crack some of the varieties of nuts as part of our practical life center.  Set the nuts and seeds out on a table or a tray and demonstrate for the children how to crack the shell of the nut open with a nut cracker. Most preschoolers will need to use both hands with a nut cracker or their hands/fingers to crack or open the shell.   Nut cracking is a wonderful fine motor challenge for preschoolers!  Note – leave some of the nuts/seeds in the shell to create a range of sounds for for the children to hear.

To make the Sound Shakers:  for additional fine motor practice, set out various transfer tools that the children can use to move the seeds/nuts from a tray into the various sound containers (ex:  spoon/melon scoop/tweezers/chop sticks/small tongs).  Each container should only be filled half-way with nuts or seeds.

Nuts and Seeds Sensory Sound Shakers 011

Sensory Sound Shakers with Nuts and Seeds

Sound Games to Try With Preschoolers

  1. Begin with just two of the sound shakers.  Hold a hand towel over the sound shakers (one at a time) with one hand and shake the container with the other hand.  See if the children can determine what KIND of seed/nut is placed inside the shaker using only their sense of hearing.
  2. One at a time, invite the children to shake the containers to determine which container makes the LOUDEST or SOFTEST sound.  With younger children, limit the number of shakers until they gain confidence discriminating between the sounds.
  3. Make matching sound shakers and have the children locate the matching seed/nut containers by listening to the sound the container makes.  Note:  this activity works best using the cardboard tubes to hold the seeds/nuts as the children cannot SEE what is inside the container.  The children then can only rely on listening skills to match the shakers.
  4. Invite the children to order the sound shakers from the softest to loudest (or loudest to softest) sounds (see below).
Nuts and Seed Sound Shakers and Listening Games for Preschool

Ordering the Sound Shakers from LOUDEST to SOFTEST

Come together after exploring the sound shakers for discussions about the sound discoveries.  Some examples of questions to explore with the children:   What seeds/nuts created the louder sounds?  Did the shells on the nuts/seeds make a difference in the sound?  Did the louder sounds bother any of the children? Sometimes loud sounds (sirens, thunder, workplace machinery), when heard repeatedly, can cause stress and anxiety for children, teachers, and parents.   Softer sounds are usually more pleasant to hear for longer periods of time.

Playing with different sounds is not only fun for preschoolers, but it provides great opportunities for important sensory learning!  For more playful learning with all 5 Senses, see the 5 Senses Thematic Unit here on the blog!

We gave our FB group a “sneak peak” of this activity and while they didn’t quite guess how the containers were used, many offered great extension activities for the nuts/seeds.  Come join us and learn from other professionals in ECE on Facebook.

Plan Your Nut and Seeds Learning Week With Activities from the #PlayfulPreschool Team

Colorful Pumpkin Seed Names by Fun-A-Day
Nuts to You!: Squirrel Feeder by Mom Inspired Life
Number Word Punch: Counting Nuts by Tiny Tots Adventures
Turkey Patterns with Pistashio Shells by Still Playing School
Seed and Letter Sensory Bin by Growing Book by Book
Growing Seeds by Learning 2 Walk
Exploring Chia Seeds by Powerful Mothering
Nutty Science–A Lesson in Buoyancy by Capri + 3
3 Fun Activities with Seeds for Preschoolers by Life Over C’s
Easy Sight Word Acorn Game by The Educators’ Spin On It

All Playful Preschool Themes





Posted in 5 Senses Theme Activities, Fall Theme Activities, PreK, Trees and Leaves Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh for #PlayfulPreschool!


STARRY NIGHT by VINCENT VAN GOGH Photo Credit:  http://www.wikiart.org/en/vincent-van-gogh/the-starry-night-1889

Photo Credit: http://www.wikiart.org/en/vincent-van-gogh/the-starry-night-1889

NIGHT SKY THEME for PRESCHOOL:  Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Children and adults of all ages are drawn to the wonder of the night sky.  The moon, planets, and stars present a source of hope, inquiry, and majesty in our world.  This week’s #playfulpreschool theme contains activities centered around a NIGHT SKY THEME.   All throughout the school year, the Playful Preschool blogging team will be working behind the scenes to offer activities and suggestions just for your students or children.  We hope your children will enjoy discovering, playing, learning, and creating with us this week!

Purpose:  To introduce the artist, Vincent Van Gogh, to preschoolers and explore his masterpiece, Starry Night.

Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 (for preschoolers, a long time ago) and grew up in Holland.  Show the children on a globe or world map (National Geographic has a great online map resource) where Holland is located in relation to where they live.  Vincent studied to be a minister, but found his passion for painting.  Vincent changed the way he painted pictures as he grew.  Eventually he began painting things around him with more colors, thick paint, and bold brush strokes like in Starry Night.  Vincent painted Starry Night in 1889 while at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in France.  Today, Vincent Van Gogh is considered one of the world’s greatest artists.  Starry Night is Vincent’s most famous painting.

Invite the children to look at a photograph of Starry Night.  Encourage the children to share what they see:  the crescent moon, swirling clouds, a big black “thing” :), the stars, a church, a quiet town, and houses with lights on.  Ask the children what colors they can find in the painting.  Vincent’s use of curved lines for the swirling clouds, the thick colors of paint, and the luminous moon and stars make this painting a fun one to explore with preschoolers.  Invite the children to share what they think the BIG BLACK THING in the painting is.  In the painting it is a cypress bush, but it is a great conversation point with young children.  The answers they give are really quite amazing!  Ask the children if they LIKE the painting.  Remind the children that it is OK not to like an artist’s work, but we must be respectful of the artist (person) when we make comments.

Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  Please see the ABOUT section at the top of this page for full disclosures.

The First Starry NightThe First Starry Night

The First Starry Night by Joan Shaddox Isom is a great book for introducing Vincent Van Gogh to preschoolers!  It is always a little challenging to decide what information is appropriate to share about Vincent with younger children.  This book solves the problem as it focuses ONLY on a loving and caring Vincent; it does not address his mental illness.  The book shares a bond of friendship between a boy and Vincent Van Gogh.  Preschoolers will delight in the beautiful illustrations that make the book come to life.  This book is definitely a must for anyone who wishes to introduce Starry Night and Vincent Van Gogh to young kids.

 Starry Night Mixed Media CollageStarry Night Mixed Media Collage for Preschool

Mixed media collages provide wonderful sensory opportunities for preschoolers to create art.   Our kids created their own version of Starry Night after our discussions about Vincent Van Gogh.

Materials needed:  white paper, paintbrushes, paint cups (we use cupcake liners), smocks or an old T-Shirt to protect clothing, tempera paint (shades of blues and white), and any mixed media items the children can find around the classroom or house to re-create Starry Night.

Mixed Media Assortment:  In order to make the mixed media collages, our kids had to really look at the painting to see what materials we could find in our classroom that would work to create our own version.  We went on a scavenger hunt together and found:  yellow paper, yellow/green/orange crayons, black crumpled paper, mustache stickers, gold paper stars, and swirling pearl stickers – PERFECT mixed media materials! Note:  glue sticks/liquid glue &/or scissors may be necessary for the items your own children locate for their collage.

The Starry Night Mixed Media Collage for Preschool Invite the children to brush or finger paint the white paper with the shades of blue and white tempera paint.  Allow the paint to thoroughly dry before adding mixed media items.

 Starry Night Playful Preschool 004 Have the children collect various mixed media items to create with.

Starry Night Playful Preschool 007The children can look at a copy of the painting to create their own version using all of the collected mixed media materials.  Our kids LOVED their creations!

This is a great video to show preschoolers more of Van Gogh’s paintings:

For other posts in the #playfulpreschool series, visit:






Playful Preschool Bloggers

For MORE Playful Preschool Nighttime Activities:

Nighttime Alphabet Treasure Hunt at Growing Book by Book
Shoe Box Constellations at Rainy Day Mum
Nighttime Sky Sensory Bin at Life Over C’s
Find the Big Dipper at Tiny Tots Adventures
Nocturnal Animals KWL Chart at Still Playing School
Night Time Musical and Dance at Learning 2 Walk
Night Owl Painting and Books at The Educators’ Spin On It

Join us tonight for a live Google + Hangout at 9:00 PM EST. We will discuss Night Activities for Preschoolers. NO worries if the time doesn’t work for you, it will be recorded and available to watch afterwards.

Posted in Artists and Masterpieces, PreK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Apple Theme for #Preschool: Scented Playdough Pre-Writing Activity #PlayfulPreschool

Apple Playdough Pre-Writing Activity

 Apples Theme for #PlayfulPreschool

Fall offers many opportunities for playful learning in preschool.  This fall (and throughout the school year) we will be combining forces with some of the best preschool bloggers to provide hands-on and playful activities designed JUST for YOUR kids!  The #PlayfulPreschool blogging team is working diligently on a variety of learning experiences centered around a weekly theme.  This week’s activities are designed around an APPLES THEME.  Be sure to visit this blog each Wednesday throughout the school year for creative and playful learning suggestions that can be used in the childcare classroom, at home, or at school!

Apple Theme Playdough Writing


Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  Please see our ABOUT page for full disclosures.

Using apple-scented playdough for pre-writing is a fun way to combine fine motor development with sensory learning!  The sense of smell is powerful for children (and adults)!  The fall scents of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon used in the playdough will provide lasting memories for the children.  By inviting preschoolers to use as many of The 5 Senses as possible, parents and educators can offer learning opportunities that will last long after the activity has ended!

OBJECTIVE:   The creation of the apple-scented playdough line paths will encourage the fine motor development necessary for writing through hands-on playful learning.

Materials needed:  Homemade apple playdough (or red commercial playdough and apple pie spice),  large wooden craft sticks, and a permanent marker.  If desired, the children can create the line paths on the APPLE TREE PLAYDOUGH MAT (linked above). Laminate the playdough line path mat for durability or to re-use later.  Note – if laminating supplies are not available, clear contact paper will work, too. **If using the commercial playdough, invite the children to press the playdough into a large circle.  Sprinkle the circle with 2 tsp. of apple pie spice.  The children can then fold the circle over (in half) and then knead the dough to distribute the spices.  When the children are finished kneading the playdough, demonstrate for the children how to roll the dough with the palm of their hand to make long playdough worms.  Experiment and practice rolling worms with the scented dough.  The playdough worms will be used to form the line paths when the children are ready for a more challenging task. Line Paths for Preschool 001 Prior to the activity:  Make different line paths with a permanent marker on wooden craft sticks.   Note: the line paths in the photo above are suggestions, but any line path can be used. Invite the children to choose one craft stick at a time and try to copy the pattern (re-create the line path) shown on the craft stick to the apple printable using the spiced playdough worms. Apple scented playdough line paths for preschool


APPLES THEMATIC UNIT – literacy, math, science, large motor, dramatic play, songs/fingerplays, foods and food crafts.  This is an entire preschool theme for apples and includes over 80+ pages of playful learning and activity suggestions.




APPLES ALPHABET MATCHING CARDS – free printable alphabet and numbers



Meet the #PlayfulPreschool Blogging Team:

Playful Preschool Bloggers

Plan your learning week with Preschool Apple Theme Activities from the Playful Preschool Education Team:

SOCIAL STUDIES  From Orchard to Table. Watch and Make  at The Educators’ Spin On It SCIENCE  Examining Apple Parts, How Does It Grow, Sink/Float at Little Bins For Little Hands MUSIC & MOVEMENT Apple Hop at Learning 2 Walk MATH Counting Apples with Preschoolers: Real-Life Math at Life Over C’s Apple Math Fun in Preschool – Tasting and Graphing Apples at Fun-A-Day LITERACY Alphabet Activity: Apple Tree Letter Matching at Mom Inspired Life Alphabet Learning: Apple Stamping at Growing Book by Book Apple-Bet Match : Matching Lowercase with Upper Case Letters at Tiny Tots Adventures SENSORY  Applesauce Dough for Sensory Play at Still Playing School COOKING  How to Make Homemade Apple Pie – Cooking with Preschoolers at Powerful Mothering SCIENCE  Apple Oxidation Experiment at Raising Lifelong Learners CRAFT Paper Plate Apple Craft at The Kennedy Adventures

We would also like to extend an invitation to join in and watch our APPLE THEME Google+ On Air Hangout tonight, September 2 at 9:00 EST. Hope to see you there!
Posted in Apples Theme Activities, Fine Motor Skills for Tiny Fingers, Fruits and Vegetables Theme Activities, Preschool and Kindergarten Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Apple Prints Pinwheel Craft for Preschool & Kindergarten

Apple Printed Pinwheels Craft for Preschool & Kindergarten

Apple Printed Pinwheels Craft

(Disclaimer:  this post and others within the blog contain affiliate links.  For full disclosures, visit ABOUT US!)

Every fall our Pre-Kindergarten children practice apple coring in the practical life center.  The children core the apples, place the apple slices on a serving tray, and carry the slices around the room serving other children who would like to taste them.  It is a great activity for practicing life skills, tasting a variety of apples, and using good manners.  The children ask their peers, “Excuse me, would you like an apple slice?”  The peers respond with, “Yes, please” or “No, but thank you for offering.”  Apple coring and serving is always one of our favorite fall centers!

Our kids stumbled upon printing with apple slices (instead of printing with apple halves) quite by accident.  One of the children chose to press their apple slice into an ink pad and make a circular pattern with the apple slice instead of eating it.  It was a great print, but we refined the process by making the prints with paint instead.  What you’ll find below is our preschool rendition of an APPLE PRINTED PINWHEEL!

Apple Printed Pinwheels in Preschool 003

 Materials needed:  Apples to core, an apple corer – for a good apple corer for young kids, see the bottom of this post (or apples can be cut in slices prior to the activity), paper to make the prints on, red/green/yellow paint, paint trays (or paper plates), old T-shirts (or paint smocks), red, green, and yellow pompoms, poster putty, and seasonal paper straws (for the pinwheel stems).

Invite the children to create by assembling all the supplies at a table.  If the children are coring the apples, demonstrate how to safely hold the corer and how to press down to make the apple slices – NOTE:  remind the children to never put their fingers under the corer, but to hold the HANDLES of the corer ONLY.  Young kids are very proficient at coring apples with guidance, supervision, and a good apple corer!  It is a challenging task for 3’s, but most 4 year olds can safely handle an apple corer to make their own slices.

Apple Printed Pinwheels in Preschool 004

To make the apple prints:  Have the children lay the apple slice flat to cover one side of the slice with paint.  For those children who do not like messy painting, a fork can be used to hold the apple slice.  The children should make apple prints in a circular fashion to form the pinwheel shape (see photo below).

apple printing in preschool and kindergarten


Allow the prints to thoroughly dry before adding a paper straw straw for the pinwheel’s stem and a colored pompom for the center (poster putty pieces work better than glue for holding the straws and pompoms in place).

The finished pinwheels are not only fun to make, but they are great fall displays at home or in the classroom!

Note:  We have the Calphalon Apple Corer in our classroom and the grips help keep fingers away from the corer –  Calphalon Easy Grip Apple Slicer.

For more fun crafts and an entire unit designed around an APPLE THEME, please see the APPLES THEMATIC UNIT here on the blog!

Posted in Apples Theme Activities, Fall Theme Activities, Trees and Leaves Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Penguin and Pinecone” by Salina Yoon – Extension Activities for Kids!

a friendship story

a friendship story

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon is a delightful story of a friendship, separation, and reunion between a Penguin and a Pinecone.   The book is wonderfully illustrated and will capture the interest of young children (and those who are young at heart!).  It is one of our children’s favorite books and is sure to become one of yours, too!



The activities offered are extension activities to use with young children after reading and discussing the story.   The suggestions below are designed for children ages 3-7, but adaptations are given, where possible, for slightly older or younger children.

Fingerprint and Thumbprint Penguins

Fingerprint and Thumbprint Penguin Craft

Materials needed:  Black/White/Orange Tempera Paint, Paintbrushes, Paint Smocks/Trays (or an old T-Shirt and Paper Plates), White “Scratch” Paper (to practice printing), and Heavy Blue Paper (for the final prints).

Invite the children to create the prints by assembling all the materials on a large tray or a table.  Tell the children they are creating Penguins and ask them to practice dipping their thumbs and index fingers into black paint and making prints on a separate sheet of practice paper.  To make the Penguins:  have the children make one index finger print for the head and one thumb print underneath the head for the Penguin’s body.  Once the children are comfortable making prints, provide each child with a sheet of heavy blue paper.  After making the Penguins, allow the prints to thoroughly dry.

When the black Penguins are dry, the children can add a white print on top of the black “body” thumbprint (our kids used their pinky fingers to make the white tummy prints).  **Note:  make sure the black prints are thoroughly dry or you’ll end up with GREY Penguin tummies!

The children may wish to add other features to their Penguin crafts:  our kids used the non-brush end of  paintbrushes to make the eyes (white dots and then black centers) and an orange nose/dots for the feet.

Older children may wish to make a background for their craft with pinecones, snow, pinetrees, or any other scenes from the book.

Penguin and Pinecone Math and Literacy Puzzles

DIY Math and Literacy Penguin Puzzles

Materials needed:  Pre-cut Blank Puzzle Pieces, Penguin Stickers, Black Permanent Markers, and Smocks (or old t-shirts) to protect clothing.

There are various ways to use blank puzzle pieces to create math and literacy centers/games for use at home or in the classroom.  Below are just a few suggestions:


  • Make 2 piece puzzles:  Mark any puzzle piece with a number the children have had introduced.  The children should then place the corresponding number of Penguin Stickers on the second puzzle piece.   The children could also match a numbered puzzle piece to the number word, tally marks, or dots.
  • Make 3 piece puzzles with any of the above:  Numbers, Number Words, Tally Marks, Dots, and/or Penguin Stickers.
  • Make 4 piece puzzles with any of the above:  Numbers, Number Words, Tally Marks, Dots, and/or Penguin Stickers (we made sets of 4 piece puzzles in the photo above).
  • Make 5 piece puzzles with any of the above:  Numbers, Number Words, Tally Marks, Dots, and/or Penguin Stickers.


  • Make 2 piece puzzles where the children write or stamp an uppercase letter on one piece and a lowercase letter on the second piece.  The children might also write/stamp a word on one piece and the BEGINNING letter of the word on another piece.
  • Make 3 piece puzzles – CVC words or any word families the children are working on
  • Make 4 piece puzzles – CVVC, CCVC, CVCe, etc.

We’d love to hear how you and your children use blank puzzle pieces to create various games to play!  Leave us a comment below when you have a chance to explore, play, and create!

The Penguin and the Pinecone Stacking Cups

Penguin Stacking Cups

Materials needed:  10 Black paper or plastic cups and Penguin Stickers (per child/group/or set desired).

The stacking cups are so simple to make, but it is one of our favorite centers.  Set the cups out and have the children peel and press the Penguin stickers to the cups (stickers are a challenging fine motor task!).

Games to play:  

  • Stack the cups on top of each other  (can set a timer for individual races).
  • Stack the cups in a pyramid formation (ask smaller groups to make their own designs).
  • Play “What’s Missing” with 2 or more cups:  Show the children two or more small items. Have one child hide the objects, one at a time, under the stacking cups.  The other children should then close their eyes, while one item is removed from underneath the cups.  When the children open their eyes they must guess which items has been removed.  As the children gain confidence in playing the game, add more cups and additional items.
  • Make “kindness” cups and label a cup with each child’s name.  The children can write/stamp notes to each other on slips of paper and place the notes inside the cups.  It makes a fun writing station/center for the kids!  Be sure to read some of the notes each day to encourage kindnesses in the classroom or at home!

We hope your children enjoy reading, exploring, and playing with Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon!

For MORE Winter Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten, see the Winter Theme here on the blog!

For a Science Activity, visit The Life Cycle of a Conifer Tree!

Blank Puzzle Pieces

Black Paper Cups

Penguin Stickers

Disclosure:  The Preschool Toolbox is a participating member in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

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Patriotic Activities for Kids to Celebrate the 4th of July!

Children adore special celebrations!  It is a time for family and friends to come together and create special memories.  In the United States, we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July each year!  

Our children love learning with Patriotic Theme Activities in anticipation of the 4th of July! Below you will find suggestions to help make your celebrations special, too!

Sensory Firecracker Craft

Download and print the Firecracker Template here.   Have the children cut out the firecrackers (assist younger children or cut out prior to the activity).  Set out a variety of textured items that the children can use to decorate the firecracker.  Some suggestions:  colored sand/rice/pasta, felt, pompoms, cornmeal, oatmeal, feathers, tissue paper, or paper scraps.

In the photo above, our kids used Patriotic colors of Wikki Stix to make the firecrackers.  The child who made the featured firecracker choose to add the “sparks” coming out of the tail!

Extension idea:  Create the firecrackers by making each one with a different texture. Place the firecrackers under a large blanket or towel and have students feel each fire cracker one at a time and try to guess what material(s) are on the firecracker.  Children should only use their sense of touch for this activity and try not to peek under the cover. For younger children, you may want to have samples of each of the materials that were used so the children can point to the material(s) they are feeling.

The firecracker crafts make great displays at home or in the classroom!

PATRIOTIC PRE-WRITING – Patriotic Pre-Writing

Download and print one Patriotic Pre-Writing Mat (linked above) for each child.  Tell the children the goal is to make a path for the star to get to the flag.  Allow the children to experiment making any paths desired.   In the photo above, our children used Wikki Stix to make the various paths.  The children can also use markers/crayons to make the paths, but the Wikki Stix will add a layer of sensory/fine motor depth to the activity.


Materials needed:  Assorted colors of  Wikki Stix and red/white/blue pony beads.

Set out trays of Wikki Stix and the 3 colors of pony beads.  Demonstrate for the children how to make a simple ABC pattern with the pony beads by placing the 3 colors of beads onto the Wikki Stix.  Say the colors out loud as they are placed on the Wikki Stix.   Remind the children that a pattern repeats itself; ask the children if they know what color of bead should be placed on the sample pattern stick next?  Build an ABC pattern row on the sample Wikki Stix together with your children.  Ask the children to say the names of the colors as they are placed on the sample pattern stick.

Extension idea:  have the children make Patriotic bracelets/bands to wear after patterning!

Children will be delighted when they grasp the idea of patterning!  Soon the children will begin pointing out patterns that exist in their world.  If you have a chance to view a fireworks display, ask the children if they can find any patterns in the fireworks they see!

Extra Patriotic Resources:

Check out other Fabulous Patriotic Activities, Crafts, and Play Ideas for Kids:

Wikki Stix “No Candy” Treat Bags for Kids

Patriotic Salt Dough Ornament Craft by Early Childhood News

Patriotic Colored Ice Sensory Play by Fun-a-Day

Patriotic Montessori Ball Transfers with Ping Pong Balls and Golf Balls by Living Montessori Now

DIY Personalized Family Picture Bingo Cards – great fun to play with family and friends by eighteen25


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10 Groundhog Day Activities for Kids!

On Groundhog Day, February 2, many will look for Punxsutawney Phil to predict whether WINTER will stay around a while or not.  If you are not familiar with the history and events surrounding Groundhog Day, check out the link for information on Punxsutawney Phil.  For more groundhog pictures, sights, and sounds, visit Hoghaven on the web!

Great blog post using Oreos with a free printable from: Lizard & Ladybugs.

Some wonderful Groundhog Day Activities for Kindergarten from Mrs. Williamson’s Class.

GroundhogA great selection of Groundhog Day Crafts from The Crafty Crow!

Groundhog Heart Art from Lucky Me Crafts and Kids!

I’m a Little Groundhog Song  by Harry Kindergarten.

Groundhog CraftEasy and Fun – Groundhog Craft from Almost Unschoolers

Groundhog Day Beginning Sounds Activity from Making Learning Fun.

Groundhog Day Oval Shapes from Classified Mom.

Groundhog Day Activity Work Box from Teach Preschool.

Cute Groundhog Grub Gummy Worm Treat Bag Toppers from Teaching Resource Resort.

We love these ideas for teaching and FUN on Groundhog Day!  Please check out the links for some creative learning at HOME or in the CLASSROOM!

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Snowman Crafts for Creative Learning with Mixed Age Groups!

 Marshmallow Print Snowmen Craft – Snowman Features 2 

Materials needed:  White tempera paint, large marshmallows, paint trays or paper plates, Snowman Features (linked above), paint smocks or old T-shirts, scissors, and markers/crayons for letters or numbers (use dry erase markers if laminating the snowmen.)

Let the children practice making circles with the marshmallows after dipping in the white paint.  Tell the children they can make snowmen by making the marshmallow circle prints on top (demonstrate the positional word for younger childen) of one another.  The children can write any letters/numbers they are learning on the hats from the file above. Have the older children practice writing lowercase letters or larger numbers. The younger children can practice on uppercase letters only or the numbers 1-9.  When the snowmen prints are dry, the children can use markers/crayons to make facial features or they can use the snowmen features from the file linked above.  Have the children cut out the snowmen prints and find a peer’s snowman with the same letter or number.  For mixed ages:  Older children can practice matching their lowercase lettered snowmen to a younger child’s uppercase one.

Extension #1:  Use the snowman hats for color recognition or for use with any shapes the children are working on.

Extension #2:  Use the snowmen to make sight words or word families.  When the snowmen prints are dry, laminate them for durability (clear contact paper will work, too.) Have the children use dry erase markers to make sight words or word families.

Snowman Cup Bowling 

Materials needed:  Large Clear Plastic Cups, Cotton Balls, Duct Tape, Snowman Features 2 Printable (linked above), Old Sock for the Snowman Hat (or cut on from the file above), and glue sticks.

Have the younger children “stuff” both plastic cups with cotton balls.  The older children can cut out the facial features from the printable file (the children may need assistance with hole punching skills for the eyes/mouth.)  *The children can also use markers to draw facial features on the cups.  Invert one of the cups carefully and seal the two together with duct tape (adult). The children can use an old sock as the snowman’s hat or cut one out from the file above.  Make several cups for the children to use as “bowling” pins.

Literacy/Math Extension:  With a dry erase marker,  label each of the cups with different letters or numbers the children are learning.  In the photo above, we had the children roll dice or draw a index card from a shoe box.  The children then had to roll the ball and try to knock down the “snowman” pin with the corresponding letter or number.  Younger children who do not have letter/number recognition skills yet, can simply bowl or ask a peer/older child for assistance.  We had a bowling ball from a commercial bowling set, but any small plastic ball can be used.  Our kids loved to make the snowmen cups and ask everyday if they can bowl for snowmen!

For more Snowmen or Winter Literacy and Math ideas for classroom or home use, see the Winter Thematic Unit at The Preschool Toolbox Blog!



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Activities for use with “The Snowman Storybook,” by Raymond Briggs

The Snowman Storybook is a classic for young children. Below are some suggested extension activities for use with this book.

Literacy –  Snowman -AT Word Families – Snowman Word Families


Materials needed:  One Snowman Word Families.pdf per student (linked above), 1 basket/tray labeled with the –AT snowman from page 8 of the word families file, scissors, clothespins labeled with the individual letters to each of the 6 –AT words on the cards, and dry erase markers.

Print the snowman cards on heavy paper and laminate for durability, if desired. Have the children cut out the word and letter cards. Label one basket with the –AT snowman from page 8 of the file. Place all the individually lettered clothespins in the basket. Have the children work to clip the appropriate individual letters to each of the word cards. When the children have finished clipping the clothespin letters to the word cards, they can use dry erase markers to copy the letters clipped to the blank lines on the snowmen on pages 5-8.

The children can also turn the letter cards face down and work to find the matching letters to their word family cards.  When all the letters that make up the word have been found, clip that word together with one clothespin.

Extension idea for younger children: Students can clip only the beginning letter of each word card. They can use the blank snowmen on pages 5-8 and stamp or write the beginning letters to each of the word cards. The blank snowmen could also be used for different word families: -OP, -IT, -AN, -AR, etc.

Extension idea: Have the children place all the beginning letter snowmen cards face down on a table.  Have the children turn over the card, say the letter sound, and clip to the A and T letter cards to form the word. As the children begin to recognize the rhyme of the words and the change in the beginning letter sounds, reading the word will become less difficult.

We use the Crayola Dry Erase Activity Centers with the kids at home as they help us save on laminating costs and are durable!

Math – Snowball Patterning – Blank Pattern Strips


Materials needed: Blank pattern Strips.pdf for each student, marshmallows or white pompoms (snowballs), seasonal winter stickers.

Print the blank pattern strips and have the children use the pompoms, marshmallows, and stickers to create different patterns.  For younger children:  Make a pattern on one of the strips and see if they can copy the pattern onto the second strip.  Older children can make their own patterns with the “snowballs” and stickers.

Science – Properties of SNOW – Melting Snowballs


Materials needed: 3 containers, snow or shaved ice, Melting Snowballs.pdf (linked above) recording sheet, pencil, scissors, crayons/markers, and poster putty or tape.

Make 3 snowballs (as close to the same size as possible) and place them in containers in different areas of the room (ex: close to the heater, near a window, on the counter, etc.). If you live in an area that does not have snow, shaved ice (or even an ice cube) can be substituted. Observe and record which snowball melts first, second, or third on the recording sheet. Cut out the clock circle and arrows from the worksheet (assist younger children or pre-cut for them.) Use crayons, stamps, or markers to make the numbers on the circle for the time the 1st snowball melted. Stick the arrows on the clock with poster putty or tape.

Young children may not have the ability to grasp the actual concept of TIME, but when they watch the hands move on a clock at home (or the change in digital numbers), children become aware of the passing of TIME.

ART – Cardboard Tube Snowman – Snowman Features 1

Materials needed:  One empty cardboard tube for each child, white paint, paintbrushes (we used sponges), hole punch, scissors, snowman features template linked above, smocks or old t-shirts to protect clothing, and fabric scraps.

Ask the children to paint the cardboard tube white with a small sponge or large paintbrush. Using fabric or paper scraps, let the children add a hat and a scarf (the paint will act like “glue” so none is needed unless the cardboard tubes have dried.)  Print the snowman features (linked above) and have the children punch out eyes from the black dots (assist younger children with the hole punch.)  If the children want, they can punch more black dots for the mouth of the snowman.  The children can cut the nose from the template and even the hat, if desired.

Extension:  With a few modifications, the children can make penguins from the cardboard tubes/template for use with a penguin or winter unit.

Large Motor/Large Group Activities - Color Match Snowball Toss

Crumble white grocery bags (be cautious when using plastic bags around young children as they pose a suffocation hazard – *SUPERVISE CHILDREN WELL) into balls and secure with clear tape. Add a colored dot to each snowball. Label laundry baskets or large bins with color words. Line the baskets up on one side of the carpet and have students stand on the other.  Students then throw the snowballs into the correct baskets.

For more snowman, snowball, and snow activities, please see the Winter Theme here on the blog!





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Extension Activities for “The Mitten” by Jan Brett

The Mitten by Jan Brett is a beloved winter book that both young and old adore.  These are some of the activities our children like to do after reading the book.  We hope your children enjoy them, too!  If you have not read the story to your own children, you may purchase the book below.

Print the masks for hours of acting out the story and pretend play!

Acting Out “The Mitten” 

Print the masks from Jan Brett’s website to heavy paper (or glue the masks to cardboard after printing and cut out).  Hole punch the sides and thread elastic or yarn through the holes and knot.  Cut out the animal eyes on each of the masks (adult only).  Tie the strings to the back of the child’s head.

Read the book to the children and have the children pick one mask to wear (if playing with a small number of children, have the children pretend to be more than just one of the animals.)  The children can use a blanket-covered table (as the mitten) and crawl under it as each animal is read in the story.  We have also played with parachutes (an old sheet will work, too) and the children crawl under it as we name the animals one-by-one.  As the children become familiar with the story, it is fun to let the children try independently to re-tell the story.  Pick one child to be the “narrator” and call the other children one-by-one into a hiding spot.  Switch the “narrator child” often so that each child has a turn to call out peers and re-tell the story.

Mitten Hunt

Materials:  Mismatched mittens are great for this game. Ask your parents for assistance or visit the local Goodwill or thrift store to buy inexpensive pairs.

Hide the mittens around the room before the students arrive for the day.  During carpet/circle time, read the “3 Little Kittens” to the children and have them go on a Mitten Hunt.

Mitten Hunt Extension – Mittens_for_Sorting_Matching

Print several copies of the mitten pattern, cut out, and then write any numbers desired on the right-handed mittens with matching numbers on the left-handed ones. Laminate or cover with clear contact paper.  Have the children match the numbers on the mittens and clip together with a clothespin. You could also make shapes, sight words, color words, or the letters R and L on the mittens for a simple matching game.

Mitten Play Dough Mats for Preschool

Play Dough Mitten Math Mat – Playdough Mitten Math

Print the Math Mat (one for each child or one for each small group) to heavy paper and laminate for durability (clear contact paper will work for laminating if you do not have access to supplies.) 

Count the number of white circles (snowballs) inside the mitten and record on the math mat.  Have the children use white play dough to make 10  “snowballs” for the mitten and place inside the 10 white circles.  Next, tell the children they are to fit as many snowballs (play dough balls) as they can into the mitten (miniature marshmallows can be substituted, if desired).  Have the children roll play dough balls or tear off small pieces to fit inside the mitten.  When finished, have the children count all the snowballs inside the mitten and record on the math mat.

For older children:  after counting the total number of snowballs inside the mitten, have the children REMOVE 10 snowballs.   How many snowballs are now inside the mitten?  Record the findings on the math mat.  For very young children:  have them make and count only 10 snowballs (or any number that has been previously introduced).

Mitten Letter Recognition and Matching – Mittens Literacy Activity

There are many ways you can use the Mitten file linked above.  Here are a few suggestions:

1).  Print the picture cards and laminate.  Cut out the cards and place face-down in a “scrambled” pile on a table or the floor.  Have the children play a matching game to find the like pairs of mittens.  More advanced version:  in order to keep the matching pair, the children must identify the beginning letter, the beginning letter sound, or spell the word.(mittens).  Use the picture cards (the ones without the words) for use with any sight words, numbers, shapes, etc. the children might be working on.

2).  Print the entire file and have the children work to match the upper and lowercase letters to the picture cards.  Have the children clip the letter cards to the picture cards using a clothespin.  Younger children can match uppercase letters only.

3).  Scramble the picture cards and the letter cards on a table.  The children must find a matching picture pair and clip all the letters to form the word:  Mittens.  Have the older children find the lowercase letters for the word and younger students find only the uppercase letters.

For more mitten activities and suggestions, please see the Winter Thematic Unit at:  The Preschool Toolbox!

Disclosure:  The book below is an affiliate link.  For full disclosures, please see the ABOUT page at the top of this blog.


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“Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!” Winter Activities for Kids!

For those of you that live in climates that have snow, it can be a magical time for children. We had our first “dusting” of snow yesterday.  ALL the kids had to touch it, smell it, look at it, and try to make the season’s first snowball…rather unsuccessfully.  For teachers, the mere presence of snow can make make for some wonderful “teaching moments!”  Here are a few suggestions from our Winter Thematic Unit.  

Winter Introduction – I like to Snowman

Have your children brainstorm what they like to do best on a snowy day.  Chart all the answers the children give on a separate sheet of paper.  Have the children write their answer on their own snowman (linked above).  Younger children can use alphabet stamps on their sheet or you can write their answers for them.  The children can color the snowman, if desired.  “I like to ____________in the snow.” 


Action Song:

I’m a Little Snowman (Tune: I’m a Little Teapot) – have all the children form a circle

I’m a little snowman, round and fat; (children make a circle with their hand in front of body)

Here is my carrot nose, and here is my hat;  (children make a triangle with fingers for the nose and pat their heads for the snowman’s hat)

When the sun comes out; I’ll melt away;  (children “melt” down to the floor slowly)

Down, down, down; I’ll go away! (children sit down on the floor and tuck their heads into their laps) ~Author Unknown


Winter Math Activity – Snowman Math Estimation  and  Snowman Graphing Table

Print the Snowman for Math Estimation (one for a large group activity or several if doing in small groups) and one Snowman Graphing Table (both linked above) for each student. Decide what “non-standard” measuring items you would like to use (ex:  foam blocks, unifix cubes, paper clips, wood blocks, game counters, etc.) Print the snowman template and have the children predict how many cubes (or other measuring items) it will take to measure the snowman picture (see photo at the beginning of this post.)

Talk about good guesses as estimation is a difficult concept for younger children to grasp. Some children like to consistently say, “100!” Discuss whether 100 would be a good guess or not by measuring some other things.  See how many cubes it takes to “measure” the hand of a child.  Is the snowman bigger than a child’s hand?  See what other things around your room you could “measure” for perspective.  Chart each of the student’s predictions on a separate sheet of paper.  Ask each child to put one cube at the bottom of the picture until you have enough to “measure” the snowman.  Count together how many cubes it took and graph the correct number on the Snowman Graphing Table.pdf. (linked above).

Extension idea: “Measure” other objects around the room and graph how many cubes, etc. were used.


Snowman Literacy Activity – Snowman Dress-up and Words Play

Materials needed: Winter clothing items that can be worn by the students. Gather several hats, gloves, scarves, and boots then select one child to be the “snowman.” Dress him/her up in the winter clothes. Have the other students close their eyes as you remove one article of winter clothing from the “snowman.” When students open their eyes ask, “What’s Missing?” The children have to remember what the “snowman” was wearing and tell you what has been removed.

Extensions:  1)  Have the children try to determine what beginning letter the missing item starts with.  Select another child to call out the beginning letter of one of the items on the snowman child.   The “snowman” then must remove a corresponding article of clothing.   2)  Write words on index cards and practice the words with all the children.  Lay the card pile face down on the floor and choose one child at a time to draw a card.  The “snowman” child must try to read the card (can ask for help from peers) and remove that article of clothing (i.e. hat, cap, mittens, scarf, boots.).  For younger children, have them work to identify the beginning letter on the word card and then, as a group, name the articles of winter clothing on the snowman child that begin with that letter.  The snowman child can then remove that piece of clothing or accessory.

For songs, powerpoint presentations, literacy, math, science, and MORE – see the WINTER THEMATIC UNIT here on the blog!

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Healthy Food Habits in Preschool: Sorting and a Paper Plate Project

This week the #PlayfulPreschool Team is offering thematic activities centered around HEALTHY HABITS in preschool!  Encouraging preschoolers to develop good food choices will help build a foundation for a lifetime of sensible eating.  We hope your own children will enjoy the healthy foods activities to encourage good habits at school and at home!

Healthy Habits with Foods in PreschoolHealthy Food Habits for Preschoolers!

Teaching kids to make good food choices isn’t always easy! Today, we have more processed and sugar laden foods than ever before.  Teaching kids about good food choices and allowing them some input into menu planning will help “plant the seeds” for a future of sensible eating habits.

Families with young children are busy and need a simple plan for encouraging healthy eating and menu planning. The old food pyramid (and measuring foods to ensure healthy nutrition) isn’t practical in daily application. A better way to encourage kids to choose the right kind of foods is found in Choose My Plate. Choose My Plate provides a visual to get kids thinking about what foods should be eaten and how a healthy meal plate should look.

Choose My PlateThere are 5 Main Food Groups:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains – rice/pasta/whole grain cereals and breads
  • Dairy – milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Proteins – leans meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, and for simplification, I’ll add nuts/seeds and nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut) in this group.

Oils should be limited to healthy oils and used in moderation. Sweets are an occasional treat that can be enjoyed SOMETIMES, but not excessively.

Choose My Plate Paper Plate Learning Craft for Preschool – Discussion and Paper Plate Craft Labels

Materials needed: one paper plate per child/craft, old magazines with photos of various foods, glue sticks, markers or crayons, yarn or string, hole punch, and the printable labels –one set for discussions and one set of labels for each child’s paper plate craft (linked above).

Healthy Food Sorting Game for PreschoolPrior to creating the craft: Print the labels and laminate for durability if desired.  Cut out the labels and arrange on a table or the floor. Discuss with the children what kinds of foods belong in each of the 5 food groups. Invite the children to tear or cut various pictures from old magazines and discuss what food groups the pictures should go under.

Randomly mix the magazine pictures and invite the children to sort the photos into the food groups independently.  Come together after sorting to discuss which food pictures the children chose to place under each of the food group categories.

Give each child a paper plate and invite them to draw a line down the middle of the plate (vertically). Assist the children in drawing the dividing lines for the fruit/vegetable half of the plate and then the grains/protein half (as shown in the CHOOSE MY PLATE photo above).

Choose My Plate Paper Plate Craft for PreschoolInvite the children to gather photos of foods that correspond to each of the categories on the paper plate and then glue the pictures into each of the 4 sections.   Remind children that drinking milk with meals or having cheese/yogurt at snack time is a great way to fulfill the dairy needs for their growing bodies.

To finish the paper plate craft, have the children punch two holes near the bottom of the paper plate.  Thread yarn through the holes in the plate.  Invite the children to pick a picture of one sweet and one fat/oil to add to their craft.  Hole punch the magazine pictures and hang from the plate.  Remind the children that fats/oils/sweets can be eaten sometimes, but not excessively.

MY MENU – Good Foods for Preschool Menu Activity

Choose My Plate and Menu Activity for PreschoolExtension Activity:  Encourage kids to think about the food groups on the plate in the paper plate craft. What foods would they like on their own menu?  Print the menu (linked above) and invite the children to consider what foods from each of the food groups they want to eat.  Younger children can glue pictures of foods on the lines of the menu; older children may wish to write or stamp words or beginning letters for the foods/food groups they choose on the lines provided.

There are 4 lines on the printable menu for each of the 4 food groups on the paper plate craft: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Lean Meats.  Again, remind kids that the DAIRY requirement can be met by drinking milk with meals or by having yogurt/cheese at snack times.

Hang the menus and paper plate crafts in the kitchen or in the classroom to encourage healthy eating habits daily!

Be sure to visit the wonderful activities and suggestions below for MORE ways to inspire preschoolers to develop HEALTHY HABITS!


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Christmas Lights Activities for Preschool: Pony Bead Counting Sticks

Christmas Lights Activities for PreschoolChristmas Lights Activities for Preschool

Christmas lights are awe inspiring for children and adults!  For most families, taking walks or driving around the city to look at light displays has become a cherished Christmas tradition.  This week the #playfulpreschool team is offering activities centered around LIGHTS for playful learning at home or in the classroom!

Background information:  In 1882, Edward H. Johnson (vice president of Thomas Edison’s electric company) decorated his evergreen with 80 red, white, and blue light bulbs.  The tree then rotated on an electric crank.  In 1901, pre-lit trees were advertised, but they were too expensive for the average household to afford.  From those humble beginnings to present day, strings of Christmas lights are now readily available, affordable, and have become symbolic of the holiday season!

Christmas Lights Math Activity for PreschoolChristmas Lights Pony Bead Counting Sticks for Preschool – Christmas Lights Math and Colors Activity for Preschool

Objective:  To encourage practice with 1-to-1 Correspondence through the use of seasonal activities for playful participation.

Materials needed:  Various colors of pony beads that correspond to the colors on the free printable (linked above), scissors, and 10 Wikki Stix.   PLEASE NOTE:  pony beads are a choking hazard and should not be used with children who still mouth objects or children under 3.  As an alternative, larger pompoms can be used with younger children. Please supervise all children closely.

Prior to the activity:  Print the Christmas Lights file (linked above) and label each colored bulb with one number that the children are working on or have had introduced.  For durability, laminate the bulbs before cutting each colored light out.  Each of the bulbs will adhere to the top of Wikki Stix strands without the need for glue or tape.

Pony Bead Counting Sticks for PreschoolSet out the colors of pony beads and invite the children to count out the quantity of pony beads that correspond to the number on each of the colored bulbs from the printable. Pony beads fit perfectly on Wikki Stix and it is great fine motor work for growing fingers, too!

Additional Activities to Extend Learning:

1) Label 10 Christmas lights with the numbers 1-10.  Invite the children work as a group to place their bulbs in the correct order – 1-10. Variation: Label the bulbs with the numbers 5-15 and have the children work to place the lights in the correct number order (starting at a number OTHER than 1).

2) Label 10 bulbs with the number 10. Have the children place 10 pony beads on each of the Wikki Stix strands. The strands make great “10 bars” for counting to 100 by 10’s. For younger children, label the individual bulbs with various numbers for practice with skip counting by 2’s and 5’s.

3) Write number WORDS on the bulbs. Have the children place the corresponding number of beads on the Wikki Stix.  This activity will help the children understand that the number name refers to a specific quantity of beads.

4) Write any basic pattern on the bulbs (ex:  AB, ABC, AABB, AABBCC).  Invite the children create those patterns with various colors of pony beads. For older children: use a wider assortment of colors for more complex patterning.

Christmas Lights Matching Activity for Preschool

Christmas Lights Memory Style Color Matching Game

5)  Print two copies of the Christmas lights file and cut the individual colored bulbs out. Lay the bulbs face down in rows on a table or the floor.  Invite the children to turn over two cards at a time to locate the color matches.  If no match is found, both cards are turned face down again and play continues until all color matches have been located.

Christmas Lights Name Activity fro Preschool

Creating NAMES with Christmas Bulbs

6)  Print the colored bulbs or invite the children to color the blank bulbs (page 2 of the file).  The children can then cut out the number of bulbs that correspond to the number of letters in their names.  Have the children stamp or write each letter on the individual bulbs and then string their NAME IN LIGHTS from Wikki Stix strands.

For Additional Pony Bead and Wikki Stix Math Activities, see the DIY Rekenreks!

For MORE Hands-on Light Theme Play and Learn Activities:

Matching ABCs Lights Activity by Mom Inspired Life
abc Christmas Lights by Powerful Mothering
Making Books: Colored Lights by Growing Book by Book
5+ Christmas Lights Math Activities for Preschoolers by LIfe Over C’s
Lights on the Tree Sensory Play by Fun-A-Day!
Scented Fingerprint Christmas Lights by Learning 2 Walk
Make a Light Bulb Model by Capri + 3
How to Make Shadow Puppets: Play and Learn with Lights by The Educators’ Spin On It


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