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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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


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The Giving Tree – An Attitude of Gratitude in Preschool!

Gratitude Activities for Preschool

‘Tis the season of gift giving, thankfulness, extra kindnesses, and appreciation for others.  Helping preschoolers develop an “attitude of gratitude” begins early and at home.  When adults MODEL (MODEL, MODEL) expressions of thankfulness and gratitude, children will naturally absorb and try to imitate all that they see and hear.  Gratitude, when incorporated early, then becomes a natural DAILY expression.


This week’s #playfulpreschool theme offers activities for preschool children centered around the theme of:  GRATITUDE!  We hope you will take a moment to visit all the activities to help your children not only THINK about gratitude, but to find ways to actively participate in expressions of thankfulness.  Gratitude must be an ACTIVE term for young children.  In the words of William Arthur Ward, “Feeling Gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Disclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  For full disclosures, see the ABOUT page.

The Giving TreeThe Giving Tree:  An “Attitude of Gratitude”

We read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein with our preschoolers during the holidays and again in the spring as we near the end of our school year.  We discuss, model, and ACTIVELY PRACTICE gratitude in our classroom each and every day of the year.  Read the book to your children, but leave the book’s interpretations open for the children to discuss.  You’ll find amazing insights from children as they give their own views on the tree who loved the little boy!

Invite your children to discussions about the book:

  • How did the boy treat the tree?
  • How did the tree show LOVE for the boy?
  • How do you think the tree felt as she gave almost ALL that she had?
  • Do you think the boy was grateful to the tree?
  • How do you think the boy felt at the end of the story when he was a old man?
  • Why do you think the tree GAVE almost all that she had to the boy/man?
  • Do you think the boy/old man changed his heart at the end of the story?

By asking questions, the children will begin to formulate their own ideas about thankfulness, giving, gratitude and how we should treat others.  It’s a powerful book to read and discuss with young kids.  I’ve shared the book with our own kids for over 26 years and am still inspired by the pure love, kindness, and wisdom of preschoolers.

The Giving Tree:  Gratitude Evergreen Tree Craft for Preschool!

The Giving Tree Gratitude Craft for Preschool One of my favorite quotes from a student many years ago:  “I don’t have any money or gifts to give because I’m just a KID; my Mom and Dad do that!” :)  Gratitude, Giving, and Thankfulness require our hearts!  Brainstorm with the children things they already have that they can GIVE to another to express gratitude (friendship, hugs, a smile, cooperation, support, good manners, helpfulness, etc.).  Make a gratitude evergreen tree this holiday season to encourage daily acts of gratitude from the whole family!

Materials needed:  mounting paper (any kind of heavy weight paper), cotton ball, a clothespin, green paint, paint tray or paper plate, yellow sticker stars, small red pompoms, and a marker or the labels linked here – Gratitude is Evergreen Labels

Have the children clip the cotton ball with the clothespin to use as a painting tool.  Set out paint trays and paper.  Invite the children to paint the paper with the cotton ball clip.

The Giving Tree Evergreen Craft for Preschool

Allow the painted trees to dry thoroughly before cutting the paintings into Christmas Tree shapes.  The children can then add the sticker stars and the gratitude labels (linked above).  Set out a jar of red pompoms – each time you see a child showing gratitude, being thankful, or giving to another, have them place a red pompom on the tree (tip – poster putty works great for sticking the pompoms on the tree).  Soon the gratitude tree will be filled with red pompom “ornaments” as a visual for the children of things they can (and DO) give daily!

Gratitude Tree Craft for The Giving Tree Book in Preschool

Activities for Gratitude and Thankfulness for Young Kids


You might also like:   28 Ways to Encourage ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in Gratitude and Thanksgiving!


Life Cycle of a Christmas Tree 001To incorporate science into your activities, see LIFE CYCLE of a CHRISTMAS TREE - just as gratitude goes on and on, so does the circle of life.



For MORE great resources to help your children learn about GRATITUDE, see:

Literacy Activities:  Giving and Being Thankful Ideas from Growing Book by Book

Teaching Kids Thank You in Different Languages from Still Playing School

Thankful Rocks:  A Visual Reminder to Be Thankful from Mom Inspired Life

Gratitude Sensory Bin from Learning 2 Walk

Gratitude- Put Your Best Foot Forward Footprint Activity from Capri +3

Gratitude Sensory Jar from Tiny Tots Adventures

Non-Verbal Ways to Show Gratitude from Live Over C’s



Posted in Christmas Theme, Literacy, Parenting and Values, PreK, Preschool and Kindergarten Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The BEST Frozen-Inspired Activities for Parties, Learning, and Play in Preschool! {+ a MEGA CHRISTMAS CASH GIVEAWAY}


Today, we are honored to join bloggers from the Kid Blogger Network  to bring YOU the largest collection of Christmas/Winter suggestions for parties, play, crafts, and learning ever in one event!  Our own FROZEN-INSPIRED collection, is sure to delight your preschooler (or ANY Frozen fan) and provide hours of learning and play this winter!  The other activity round-ups will be linked below to provide great resources this holiday season!  In addition to all the round-ups, we are offering a MEGA CASH GIVEAWAY with FOUR $500 CASH PRIZES!   We hope you’ll find a wealth of inspiration to use at home or in the classroom (and take a chance to win some CASH along the way)!

Kid Blogger Network Christmas GiveawayThe following post consists of 3 main sections:

  • FROZEN-inspired ideas for parties, learning, play, and crafts
  • Links to all participating Christmas/Winter Round-ups from the Kid Blogger Network.

Frozen Sensory Play Ideas for Preschool and KindergartenFROZEN-INSPIRED SENSORY PLAY for PRESCHOOL!

Frozen Glitter Slime – A Pumpkin and a Princess - homemade Glitter Slime with a free printable – makes a great (and frugal) stocking stuffer!

Frozen Sparkle Playdough – Paging Fun Mums - a great sensory playdough – add a seasonal cookie cutter for hours of play!

Frozen Fractals Ice Painting – A Little Pinch of Perfect – FUN ice play and sensory art that is “taste-safe” for little ones!

Frozen Magic Paintings from Sunshine and Hurricanes – a magical Frozen-inspired sensory art and play experience!

Frozen Sensory Play – There’s Just One Mommy - a Frozen-themed sensory play idea with just 2 ingredients – fun for indoors or outside!

Frozen Sensory Ice Bin – J Daniel 4’s Mom - child-directed sensory play with Frozen’s Olaf!

Frozen Ice Paintings from My Sister’s Suitcase  – “special” ingredient ice paintings that are easy to set up for beautiful ice creations (PLUS an entire round-up of Party Ideas, Stocking Stuffers, and More).

Frozen-inspired Learning Activities for PreschoolFROZEN-INSPIRED PLAYFUL LEARNING for PRESCHOOL!

Invitation to Build Elsa’s Ice Castle – Left Brain Craft Brain - creative invitation for building Elsa’s Castle.

Frozen Fairy Tale Science – Fun-a-Day – explore a hands-on science activity that kids will love!

How to Turn a Train Table into a Frozen Playscape from What’s Up Fagans - creating playscapes is not only fun, but involves critical thinking and design skills!  What will your kids create this winter?

FREE Frozen Learning Pack from Totschooling - FREE playful learning ideas for toddlers and preschoolers!

Frozen Small World Play from In the Playroom - creative and pretend play in an egg carton – see how to set up and design your own!

Reindeer Craft to Accompany A New Reindeer Friend – Disney Frozen Books from My Bright Firefly - great winter Frozen book and Reindeer craft for kids to make!

Frozen-Inspired Party Ideas for PreschoolFROZEN-INSPIRED PARTY IDEAS for PRESCHOOL!

Frozen Edible “Build a Snowman” Party Invitations from One Creative Mommy – awesome idea for an edible and creative party invite!

NO-SEW Elsa Cape from Make It & Love It – don’t sew? – it’s not a problem with this easy DIY Elsa cape!

DIY Olaf Costume – East Coast Mommy – boys and girls will love this Olaf costume to make at home!

DIY Anna Dresses – What’s Up Fagans - beautiful and homemade for a party or play!

DIY Elsa Dresses -What’s Up Fagans – lovely Elsa dress you can make at home!

Olaf Juice Boxes – Here Come the Girls - easy drink boxes for a Frozen or Winter Party!

Melted Olaf Yogurt Cups from Made By A Princess – Parties in Style - great snack idea for your Frozen parties!

Frozen’s Olaf Snacks from The Chirping Moms – create and enjoy these kid-created snowman snacks!

Frozen Hot Chocolate and Olaf Cookies from Sunshine and Hurricanes - stay warm this winter with these adorable cookies and cocoa for a Frozen-inspired treat!

Frozen Printable Crown from The Realistic Mama - print and create to make easy crowns for parties or pretend play!

Frozen Holiday Table Décor Kids Can Make from Playtivities - a Christmas and Frozen-Themed tablescape that kids can help create!

Frozen Birthday Snowball Tower from Teachmama – invite the kids to build a snowball treat tower!

Frozen “Sven” Reindeer Pancakes from The Joys of Boy – a cute reindeer pancake to accompany your Frozen theme.

Frozen Cheese Sticks from It’s So Very Cheri – simple, nutritional Frozen snack idea for kids {PLUS MORE birthday party ideas}!

No-Candy Olaf Treat Bags with Printable Topper – Wikki Stix – no candy in this treat bag idea – use over and over for hours of snowman construction and play!

Frozen-Inspired Crafts for PreschoolersFROZEN-INSPIRED CRAFTS for PRESCHOOL!

Frozen Paper Elsa Dress Craft from Playtivities - great fine motor craft for learning and play!

Olaf Cardboard Tube Craft – Crafts by Amanda - recycle cardboard tubes into a fun Olaf creation this winter!  Perfect craft for a winter party or play date!

Frozen Craft – Painted Pumpkins – Love, Play, and Learn - grab a pumpkin and see how to decorate it FROZEN-STYLE!  Great winter sensory activity, too!

Frozen Puppets from Sunshine and Hurricanes - adorable stick puppet crafts for hours of pretend play!

Frozen Playdough Sensory Craft from Clare’s Little Tots - great invitation to kids to create with Frozen-Inspired Playdough!

Frozen Olaf Sock Craft from Playtivities - perfect winter party or play craft to use those socks that are without a match!

Frozen 3-D Olaf Craft from Wikki Stix - create a snowman, take apart, and rebuild!  Hours of fun with durable Wikki Stix!

Frozen Rock Trolls –There’s Just One Mommy - gather some rocks and see how to create the “ROCK TROLLS” – frugal and fun troll creations for play!

Frozen Olaf Cup Craft – J Daniel 4’s Mom - frugal, simple, and adorable cup crafts for kids to create!



Win one of FOUR $500 cash prizes directly in your PayPal account! This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 18+ years old to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please see detailed terms and conditions below the giveaway for more info. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Story Book Advent: North Pole Santa SPY Scope Craft for Kids!

Santa Scope for Story Book Advent


We are honored to join Rainy Day Mum’s Story Book Advent collection for some of the best in kids’ activities to accompany special holiday books!  We hope you’ll find new inspiration for books to read and fun activities to do with your kids this December!

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

Can You See What I See?:  Night Before ChristmasCan You See What I See?:  Night Before Christmas by Walter Wick is a picture puzzle search and solve book that will keep kids entertained and THINKING this December!  In true “I-SPY” spirit, this book captures the attention of young readers and compels them to interact.  The pictures are beautiful and kids (of ALL ages) will love searching for items hidden within.  Some of the items are located easily and some are a bit more challenging!  Our kids LOVED this book so much, we bought more of the Walter Wick titles.  It’s a wonderful book to encourage reluctant readers and a great gift for Christmas!


Walter Wick has some great hidden items within his book, but the greatest FIND of the season would be SANTA himself!  Come create an easy SANTA TELESCOPE disguised as the North Pole to spy on the jolly ‘ole fellow this Christmas Eve!

Materials needed:  one cardboard tube, one clear plastic ornament (per child), red/white wrapping paper or construction paper, tape, red ribbon (one foot per craft), cotton balls, and a hole punch.

Give each child an empty cardboard tube and invite them to wrap the tube in white/red construction paper or wrapping paper.   Take the hanger off of the clear plastic ornament and have the children stuff the ornament with cotton balls.  Before replacing the ornament’s hanger, lay the red ribbon across the ornament and insert the hanger (the hanger will keep the ribbon in place.   Have the children hole punch each side of the cardboard tube near the top.   Turn the cotton filled ornament upside down and thread each end of the red ribbon through the holes (from inside to outside) of the cardboard tube.  Tie the ribbon loosely in a knot or a bow in back of the cardboard tube.

Santa Scope Craft for Preschool and KindergartenTo spy for Santa, simply slide the ornament off the top a little and peer through the open end of the scope!  We hope your kids get a glimpse of Santa this year!

For more Christmas Activities centered around books, see:

The Polar Express – Extension Activities for the Book

The Snowman Storybook by Raymond Briggs

The Mitten by Jan Brett – Activities to Accompany the Book

This post is just part of a collection of great books with activities for Advent from Rainy Day Mum!

Story Book Advent on Rainy Day Mum

Posted in Christmas Theme, PreK, Storytelling with Young Children | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Candy Cane Learning Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten!


There are few treats that symbolize Christmas in the way that candy canes do!  If you have not read “The Legend of the Candy Cane” you can print it here.  We’ve gathered a collection of candy cane suggestions for activities across all learning areas in Preschool and Kindergarten.  We hope you enjoy creating, exploring, and playing with us this Christmas!

Candy Cane Fine Motor Craft

Candy Cane Fine Motor Craft - encourage fine motor skills by creating this adorable candy cane craft from School Time Snippets!

Candy Cane Peppermint Playdough

Candy Cane Peppermint Scented Playdough – this is a great playdough for sensory play at Christmas from Love, Play, and Learn!

Candy Canes Marbled Scented Craft

Peppermint Scented Marbled Candy Cane Craft - a wonderful sensory experience for young kids (they make great displays at home or in the classroom, too) – from Simple Fun for Kids!

Candy Cane Circle Time Game

Candy Cane Circle Time Game (plus additional activities for playful learning) – “Who Stole the Candy from the Candy Cane Jar” by Teach Preschool!

Candy Cane Sensory Math for Preschool

Candy Cane Math - encourage kids to count by 5’s with our own sensory candy cane counting game!

Candy Cane Patterning

Candy Cane Patterning – a great way to reinforce basic patterning concepts from School Time Snippets!

Candy Cane Science for Preschool

Dissolving Candy Canes Science Activity - a wonderful experiment to try with young kids!  Note:  if your kids love science, see all the preschool science experiments from Science Sparks!

Candy Cane Christmas Ornaments

Candy Cane Christmas Ornaments - I love the use of letter beads to encourage literacy in this craft from Artsy Momma!

Candy Cane Beginning Words

Candy Cane Beginning Words and Letters - invite your children to play with candy cane beginning sounds and sight words – free to print here on the blog.

Legend of the Candy Cane Cookies

Legend of the Candy Cane Cookies that Kids Can Help Make – a melt-in-your-mouth cookie that is perfect for Christmas!

Disclosure:  this post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  For full disclosures, see the ABOUT page.


Candy Cane Books for Preschool


The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

Candy Cane Christmas by Helen and David Haidle

Santa And How The Candy Cane Came To Be

J is for Jesus by Crystal Bowman

The Candy Cane Story (a Christian Version) by Amy Floyd Gillette 

For more Christmas Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten, see the Christmas Thematic Unit here on the blog!

Posted in Christmas Theme, Literacy, Math, PreK, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Textured Sensory Turkey Pre-Writing Activity for #PlayfulPreschool

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this week the #playfulpreschool team has developed activities centered around a FEATHERS THEME for PRESCHOOL!  Whether you teach in the classroom or have children at home, your kids will enjoy the many activity suggestions offered below!  The textured turkeys are a great way to encourage fine motor skills while adding the extra sensory layers.  We hope your kids enjoy learning and playing with us this week!

Textured Turkey Feathers Pre-Writing ActivityTEXTURED SENSORY TURKEYS FOR PRESCHOOL

Disclosure:  this post and others within the blog contain affiliate links.  For full disclosures, see the ABOUT page near the top.

Objective:  to encourage the foundation of fine motor skills, directionality, transferring, spatial relationships, and to raise awareness of the differences between writing and drawing through the use of line paths.

Materials needed:

  • collage (and sensory) materials commonly found at home (examples:  spaghetti or other pasta, clay, playdough, cotton balls, aluminum foil, paint, rickrack, glitter, ribbon, yarn, Wikki Stix, beans, sand, spices, sticks, leaves, orange or lemon rinds, or rice)
  • printable Turkey Template – linked here:  Sensory Turkey Template
  • liquid glue and a paintbrush (depending on the choice of sensory materials, poster putty may work best to adhere the items to the turkey/turkey’s feathers)
  • blank die (can also use index cards labeled with various line paths for the children to choose from) and a permanent marker for labeling the die
  • markers and/or crayons

Prior to the activity:  label the blank die (or index cards) with various line paths for the children to choose from; print the Sensory Turkey Template (linked above) for each of the children; and set out all of the collage supplies as an invitation for the children to create and play!

Textured Sensory Turkey Feather Learning Craft for PreschoolInvite the children to roll the die (or draw a labeled index card) and copy the patterns onto the turkey/turkey feathers with a marker or crayon.  Very young children may need assistance in transferring the patterns in the beginning, but as they gain confidence and practice in transferring the line paths, it will become second nature.  Have the children continue rolling until they are finished transferring the line paths to the various turkey parts.

Turkey Pre-Writing Activity for Preschool

The line paths on this turkey were transferred by one of our 4 yr. olds

After the children have completed the line paths, invite them to select sensory materials to reinforce the various lines.  As the children select various sensory materials, discuss descriptive words that could accompany each item:  shiny, bumpy, crunchy, smooth, prickly, squishy, sticky, rough, sweet, sour, etc.  Allow time for the turkeys to dry thoroughly before inviting each child to share their creations.

The textured turkeys are not only a playful way to encourage important early skills, but they also make great displays at home or in the classroom for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving and Turkey Books Your Kids Will Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Books for Preschool5 Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon 

Albuquerque Turkey by B. G. Ford

Pete the Cat – The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly and James Dean

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston

T is for Turkey by Tanya Lee Stone

The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing

Also see our own Thanksgiving or 5 Senses Thematic Units for additional activities for preschool and kindergarten!

Indian Feathers for Literacy and MathFor more literacy and math activities with FEATHERS, see here!  

Additional FEATHERS THEME ACTIVITIES from the Playful Preschool Team:

Name Activities: Feather Letter Turkey by Growing Book by Book
Turkey Learning Games by The Educators’ Spin On It
Turkey Geoboard by Still Playing School
Counting Feathers Sticky Wall by Mom Inspired Life
Quick & Easy Color Feather Sort by Powerful Mothering
Toilet Roll Turkey by Tiny Tots Adventures
Writing with Feathers by Rainy Day Mum





Posted in Fall Theme Activities, Thanksgiving Theme Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

28 Activities to Invite Young Kids to Actively Engage in Gratitude and Thankfulness!

This November, we invite you to explore activities, tips, and crafts that will help immerse young children in opportunities to express gratitude and thankfulness.  Gratitude and thankfulness are ACTIVE terms that require kids to participate in some manner.   Young children that have adults around them that model good manners, common courtesy, the ability to wait for the things we want (along with some items we need), and demonstrate kindnesses grow to be children who have a good foundation to build upon.  Whether you are a teacher at home or a parent with young kids, you’ll find many activities and suggestions for guiding your own children to…Thanksgiving!

Activities for Gratitude and Thankfulness for Young Kids28 Activities, Crafts, and Tips for Encouraging Gratitude and Thankfulness with Young Kids!

1.  Thankful Turkey Craft – a new twist on a cardboard Turkey craft that invites kids to think about thankfulness from The Stay at Home Educator.

2.  A Family Gratitude Journal – a family’s journey toward JOY and GRATITUDE from The Mad House.

3.  Thankful Turkey Coloring Page – a free printable turkey to encourage kids in thankfulness from Mama Miss.

4.  Gratitude Pumpkin Craft for Kids – a great display craft for gratitude through creativity by The Joys of Boys.

5.  Thankful Placemats for Kids to Make! A wonderful idea to “gift” to others on Thanksgiving from Mamas Happy Hive.

6.  Thank You Notes (it’s not a lost art)! From P is for Preschooler:   “Our simple act of kindness was merely to try to spread a smile and let others know we are happy to have them in our lives.”

7.  Thankful Pilgrim Turkeys – simple craft for kids to make and share what they are thankful for in their daily lives from The Preschool Toolbox.

Activities for Teaching Kids About Gratitude and Thankfulness8.  Thankful Bouquet: A simple idea to acknowledge kindnesses offered by kids from Fantastic Fun and Learning!

9.  Daily Thankful Postcards – a great creative center idea for kids to express gratitude and thankfulness from The Good Long Road.

10.  10 Ways to Teach Your Toddler about Gratitude – great suggestions and tips for parents of young kids from Kids Yoga Stories.

11.  Teaching Kids About the Power of Giving – tips for “…taking steps to intentionally cultivate a spirit of gift-giving…” by BPPhotoArt.

12.  Tips for Raising Kind Kids – a wonderful post with suggestions and tips for raising our kids in kindness by Idealist Mom.

13.  Tips for Parenting Children with Grateful Hearts by The Educator’s Spin On It.

14.  5 Tips for Teaching Children Gratitude: Great tips for Kids of ALL ages from Love Play and Learn.

Encouraging Gratitude and Thankfulness with Kids15.  Thankful Jar from Creative Family Fun –  “…we made this thankful jar and the kids have been filling it with all the things that make them thankful.”

16.  DIY Thank You Card to remember all the firefighters in our own communities! Great way to encourage kids and promote awareness as we come to Thanksgiving from B-Inspired Mama.

17.  Gratitude Tree with coffee filter leaves – beautiful tree for helping kids THINK about what they are thankful for (makes a great decoration, too) from Crafty Moms Share!

18.  A Different Version of a Gratitude Tree from Mom vs The Boys: “…great way to instill positivity in our hearts and to feel blessed.”

19.  Wall of Thankful Leaves - Simple (and beautiful) leaves craft to get kids thinking about thankfulness from What Do We Do All Day.

20.  Thankful Windows – Easy set-up suggestion for daily thoughtfulness from Chicken Babies.

21.  Gratitude Leaves – 30 Days of Gratitude: A leaf craft for daily use throughout the month of November from Crafty Moms Share.

Gratitude and Thankfulness Activities for Kids22.  Gratitude Sensory Bin – WONDERFUL Sensory Play to Accompany the Book, Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson from Little Bins for Little Hands.

23.  15 Thankful Scriptures: Free Printable Copywork – great way to incorporate Bible studies into the month of Gratitude and Thankfulness by My Joy Filled Life.

24.  Gratitude Game for Kids to Play – encourage writing skills and thoughts of gratitude with this fun game for November from Planet Smarty Pants.

25.  Felt Heart Thankful Cut-Outs  from P is for Preschooler - “… give a heart to show appreciation for someone, such as when they do something kind or thoughtful for us or just because we feel like it.”

26.  Start Each Day with a Thankful Heart - – a great free printable for a daily thankfulness jar from Mama Miss.

27.  TURKEY FRAME CRAFT and Tips for thinking about GIVING to others by The Chirping Moms.

28.  15 Gratitude Crafts that Kids Can Create for Thanksgiving – awesome ideas for the month of November from Mamas Happy Hive.

We’d love to hear from YOU, too.  If you have ideas, activities, or suggestions that have helped your children experience thankfulness and gratitude in your classroom or at home, please leave us a comment and let us know!





Posted in Parenting and Values, Thanksgiving Theme Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh for #PlayfulPreschool!



Photo Credit:

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

Why Do Fall Leaves Change Colors? #PlayfulPreschool

Fall Leaf Activities for Preschool Fall Colors for #PlayfulPreschool

This week’s #playfulpreschool theme contains activities centered around FALL COLORS (Red, Orange, and Yellow).  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.  Please visit the home page of this blog each Wednesday morning to see new theme-based ideas for playful learning!

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.


Almost every teacher or parent of a preschool child is asked the question:  “Why Do Fall Leaves Change Colors?”  Often, parents (and even some teachers) do not quite remember WHY leaves change colors…they JUST DO!  Experimenting with colors and exploring fall leaves with preschoolers is fun play as the vibrant colors of fall leaves appear!

Fall Leaves Change ColorsFall Leaves Change Colors by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is intended for children ages 5-6, but the book is easily adapted for preschool!  We use this book as a resource in our classroom and we read it every fall!  While some of the vocabulary may seem a bit advanced for preschoolers, you’ll be surprised at how easily they catch on!  With a little experimentation, the book can bring great insights into the brilliant colors of leaves young children find in the fall!

Why Do Leaves Change Colors?

  • Leaves need sunlight, air, water, and chlorophyll to make food (sugar) for the tree.
  • Chlorophyll is the green dominant pigment in leaves during the spring/summer.  The green pigment hides the other colors in the leaf.
  • Leaves get less light each day in the fall and stop making food to prepare for the winter.
  • The chlorophyll (green color) fades and other colors (mainly red/yellow/orange/tan) in the leaves begin to show.
  • The stems of the leaves will weaken (without food) and the leaves fall from the trees.

Fall Leaf Scratch and RevealMaple Leaf “Color, Scratch, and Reveal”

The maple leaf scratch and reveal is a fun activity to help cement the idea that the green pigment (chlorophyll) in leaves masks all the other colors.

Materials needed:  Maple leaf template (linked here – Maple Leaf Template), a coin for rubbing, and orange/yellow/red/green crayons.

Print the template for each of the children to heavy paper.  Set out the orange/yellow/red crayons and invite the children to color the maple leaf.   The children may choose to use a combination of colors or just one color.  After the children have finished coloring, invite the children to use the green crayon to color leaf until you can no longer see the color underneath the green (see photo above).  Using a coin, invite the children to scratch off the green crayon to reveal the leaf color(s) underneath.  Remind the children that as the green color (the chlorophyll) fades, the beautiful fall colors in the leaf are revealed.  NOTE:  supervise children who still mouth objects carefully when using coins or other small objects in activities.

Leaf Sort and Reveal Sugar TraysEXCAVATING FALL LEAVES – a simple leaf and sugar tray

The leaf sugar tray is another way to explore the concept of chlorophyll fading from fall leaves to expose other colors.

Materials needed:  Green Sugar or Green Sand (to make your own, rub green chalk into sugar or sand on a paper plate), a paintbrush, a large tray, and assorted colors of real leaves or assorted green/yellow/red/orange fall craft leaves or table scatter.

Fall Colors Playful Preschool 001Set all of the fall leaves out on a large tray.  Cover the leaves with green sugar or green sand.  Give the children a paintbrush and have them gently “excavate” to find the various colored leaves under the sugar.  Remind the children that the green sugar/sand is like the chlorophyll (green pigment) in leaves.  In the fall as the days get shorter, the chlorophyll fades (they brush it off) and the other colors in the leaves will appear.

Leaf Reveal and Sort for Preschool


Graphing Fall Leaves in PreschoolMaterials needed:  One graphing printable (linked here – Fall Leaf Graphing in Preschool), crayons, and red/green/orange/yellow craft (or real) leaves.

After excavating leaves from the sugar tray, invite the children to sort their leaves by color and count the number of each.  The children can color one box on the printable for each leaf of the corresponding colors they found in the sugar tray.  It’s a fun extension activity for incorporating graphing skills into fall play!

For other posts in the #playfulpreschool series, visit:





Playful Preschool Bloggers

For More FALL COLOR Themed Preschool Activities from the PLAYful Preschool Education Team: 

Fall Colors Modeled Writing in Preschool by Fun-A-Day

Fall Colors Water Mixing by Still Playing School

Exploring Fall Colors With Gourds by Little Bins For Little Hands

Why Leaves Change Colors by The Preschool Toolbox Blog

Learning With Preschool Songs: The Leaves of the Trees by Growing Book by Book

DIY Fall Color Word Book by The Educators’ Spin On It

Learning Number Words with Fall Colored Leaves by Tiny Tots Adventures

Fall Tree Number Matching by Mom Inspired Life

Colors of Fall Sensory Bin by Life Over C’s

Foot Painting The Fall Colours by Learning to Walk

Exploring Fall Colors in Paint by Powerful Mothering

Autumn Colours Plant Science at Rainy Day Mum

Make Your Own Fall Potpourri at Capri + 3

Join us tonight at 9:00 EST for a live Google Hangout where we share what activities we are doing for the fall color theme in our homes and classrooms.

Posted in Fall Theme Activities, PreK, Trees and Leaves Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Preschool and Childcare Classroom Environmental Blog Hop

Preschool and Childcare Classroom Blog Hop
photo credit: YannGarPhoto (Where are the stats??) via photopin cc
I Love Colors

I have the privilege of blogging today with a wonderful group of homeschoolers, childcare providers, and classroom teachers who are bringing YOU a little environmental inspiration!  Others always ask what curriculum and philosophy we use at home.  My answer is that we use LOTS of inspiration and playful learning activities.   Just as I think it takes a community to raise successful children, it takes a “tribe” of playful learning activities to teach children well.  In our classroom, we present materials with Montessori, Reggio, and Waldorf inspirations as well as theme-based learning activities.  If you teach at home or in the classroom, we hope that you might find something that your own kids will like as you browse through the different classrooms and home environments!

I have taught children at home for the past 30 years.  I own a private group licensed childcare home/preschool that serves children ages infant to age 6.  We operate 49 weeks out of the year and are open from 700 am to 430 pm M-F.  This year, our group of children range in age from 2-5.  We hope you enjoy a partial tour of our own setting and a little glimpse of what our kids do each day!

Preschool and Childcare Environmental Blog Hop

This is a limited view of our home preschool classroom from the doorway.

Fall Sensory Sorting

Nature Sorting – this table changes every week (sometimes every other week). Currently, our kids are sorting nature items by size:  small, medium, and large.  Mirrors are great for learning; our kids love looking as we play!  The kids sort the items by hand or with various transfer tools.

Texture and Size Sorting Nature Table

Learning and set up doesn’t have to be expensive.  The leaf-themed sorting tray was a Goodwill bargain at $2.99.  It’s perfect for sorting small, medium, and large nature objects!

Nature Size Sorting Table

Another sensory size sorting tray:  the kids use tweezers or tongs to transfer (and sort by size) the leafs, pine cones, and miniature pumpkins to the containers.

Practical Life_SciencePractical Life/Cross-over Activities (Pre-Writing/Science):  Our practical life skills table changes weekly.  This week our kids are washing, drying, and shining apples. Our kids will also do apple coring and serving, washcloth folding, and peanut cracking/making peanut butter throughout mid-October (we have no children will allergies this year)!  We often use cross-over activities at the same center/wall due to space limitations.  Currently, we have Apple Life Cycle creations and an Apple Scented Playdough/Wikki Stix Pre-Writing Tray.

Alphabet Shelf

Alphabet Shelf:  We do not introduce letters in alphabetical order.  Each week our kids hunt the classroom, magazines, and outside play areas for items that begin with any of our six focus letters.  We add to our trays daily (where possible) to enhance letter recognition and beginning sounds.  We accompany any letter introductions with various thematic literacy activities.  Since our kids are together from the time they are infants, we have many opportunities to explore literacy, letters, sounds, and beginning words.

Maths Home Preschool

Maths:  Our math center and shelves have a variety of manipulatives to cover a wide-range of objectives.  The baskets and table games change frequently as the children gain skills throughout our year.  We have mixed ages in our classroom and the kids learn alongside each other everyday.

Fine Motor Trays

Learning Trays:  We have 4 shelves that house our activity trays.  Our kids know which tray requires a table or can be done on the floor.  The trays consist of many fine motor activities at the beginning of the year.  Later, our activity trays will contain literacy, writing (pre-writing/stamping), math,  science, and other seasonal thematic activities for explorations and playful learning.

Blog Hop DocumentationDocumentation:  We have several inexpensive cameras in our home classroom.  Our preschoolers take pictures of their learning and projects then post to their own clipboards in various display locations.  It’s a fun way to integrate technology and allow them to own their learning documentation.

More photos of our home environment:

Outdoor Nature Play Center

If you ask our kids, the outdoor play center is one of their favorite activities!  We are “cooking” nature soup this week and beginning a carnation coloring experiment!  As the weather gets colder, we’ll make scarecrows/pumpkin stew and have ice/snow explorations (amongst other creative play ideas that only our kids could imagine)!

Childcare Blog Hop

All of our kids come together in a common area at various times throughout our day to paint, read, sing, dance, practice fingerplays, play games, and explore instruments!

Common Area

Childcare and Classroom Blog Hop

Home Preschool Set-up

Home Preschool Set-up

Home Childcare Set-up

 Some years are better than others for organization.  I’ve planned to paint storage shelves in our preschool classroom for the past month.  They are STILL ugly, but I LOVE the storage space!  I did get all of September’s monthly activities sorted into baskets, but obviously didn’t bother to DUST the shelves as well as I thought I had!:)  I thought about re-taking the photo, but this is real.  Sometimes DUSTING just doesn’t make our to-do list.  That’s OK…we accomplish MANY things during our days!

Childcare Storage ShelvesThanks for sharing a little of our home learning environment with us!  Playing to learn is FUN when you have special friends to share it with!

Childcare and Classroom Environmental Blog Hopt

For great inspiration from other homes/classrooms, check out the wonderful bloggers below:

 Classroom Tour Blog Hop Environments:
Katie at Preschool Inspirations
Jamie at Play to Learn Preschool
Sheryl at Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
Amy at Child Central Station
Mary Catherine at Fun-A-Day
Deborah at Teach Preschool

Posted in Back to School for Preschool and PreK, PreK, Preschool and Kindergarten Skills | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Corn Life Cycle & Sequencing Cards for #Preschool! #PlayfulPreschool


This week’s #playfulpreschool theme contains activities centered around a FARM 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.  Please visit the home page of this blog each Wednesday morning to see new theme-based ideas for playful learning!

For other posts in the #playfulpreschool series, visit:



Corn Life Cycle Paper Plate Craft

Corn Life Cycle Paper Plate Craft & Sequencing CardsCORN LIFE CYCLE SEQUENCING CARDS_LABELS

The first corn farmers in the United States were the American Indians.  Approximately 75% of the food we eat everyday contains corn in one form or another.   Teaching young kids about the growing cycle of a corn stalk is not only interesting, but it will help “plant the seeds” (pun intended) for future studies on life cycles and how plants develop.

Please note:  the paper plate corn life cycle above uses Wikki Stix.  Wikki Stix are the original wax-coated yarn sticks made here in the U.S.A.  While I do write for Omnicor, Inc. (better known as the Wikki Stix Co.), this post is NOT a sponsored post.  I’ve have used Wikki Stix for 25+ years with preschoolers and it is, by FAR, the best sensory material for creating life cycles.  In the extra resources section below, you’ll find links to many other life cycle crafts our own students have created.  Wikki Stix can be stored and used over and over again for future projects and learning activities.  Check out the Wikki Stix website, free lessons plans, or the Wikki Stix blog for creative ways to encourage playful learning!

Explain and discuss with the children the growth of a corn stalk from the corn kernels planted in the ground (seeds) to a corn plant that produces more kernels.

  • The corn kernels (seeds) are planted in the soil.
  • With water and sunlight the seed sprouts
  • The sprouts grows and form the corn stalk with leaves and then tassels/silks
  • The silks (inside the corn husks) grab pollen from the tassels to grow the corn kernels.

Remind the children that a life cycle repeats itself over and over again. Have the children divide the paper plate into four sections using Wikki Stix (as shown in photo above).

Materials needed to make the paper plate corn life cycle craft:   Green/Yellow/Orange Wikki Stix, one paper plate (per craft), scissors, and the printable labels (linked at the top of this section).

  1. The life cycle begins in the upper left corner. Have the children cut small pieces of Wikki Stix with scissors and place real corn kernels (or print the photo of corn kernels below and have the children cut out the corn) CORN KERNELS on top of the Wikki Stix inside that section. No glue is necessary as the corn kernels (or paper corn) will adhere to the Wikki Stix.
  2. In the upper right corner of the paper plate, the children can make a small sprout using the green Wikki Stix.
  3. The lower right corner of the plate should contain a corn stalk with silks/tassels (the silks grab pollen to make the corn). Have the children create a larger green stem and leaves to resemble the corn stalk and cut small pieces of yellow Wikki Stix for the silk/tassels.
  4. To complete the life cycle, the children can make the corn lower left hand corner of the plate.

The children can use markers to label their CORN LIFE CYCLE or they can cut the labels from the printable provided above. The labels will adhere directly to the Wikki Stix without the need for glue.

Corn Life Cycle Sequencing Cards

EXTENSION ACTIVITY:  Print the Corn Life Cycle Sequencing Cards in the file linked above, laminate for durability, and cut them out.  Invite the children to place the cards in the correct life cycle order from the planting of the corn seed to the actual corn.  If desired, the cards can also be used for a matching game:  print several copies of the sequencing cards and cut out.  Have the children place all of the cards face down on the floor.  The game begins by choosing two cards at a time.  If the cards match, then the children keep the cards.  If the two cards do not match, then the cards are turned over and play continues.  The game is over when all matching pairs have been located.


Books about Corn for PreschoolDisclosure:  This post and others within this blog contain affiliate links.  To see full disclosures, see the ABOUT section at the top of this blog.

CORN IS MAIZE – The Gift of the Indians by ALIKI

CORN by Gail Gibbons

Corn Up Close by Katie Franks

I Like Corn by Robin Pickering

Three Stalks of Corn by Leo Politi

The Life and Times of Corn by Charles Micucci

Life Cycle Crafts for Preschool





WIKKI STIX PARTS OF A PLANT (free lesson plan)







 Playful Preschool BloggersPlan Your Learning Week with Preschool Activities for the Farm Theme

From the ‪#‎PLAYful‬ Preschool Education Team!

Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Art, Sensory, Songs and MORE!!!!

Farm Animal Letter Sounds by Mom Inspired Life
Learning to Write: Labeling the Farm by Growing Book by Book
Make a Who Am I Farm Animal Book by The Educators’ Spin On It
Corn Life Cycle & Sequencing Cards for Preschool by The Preschool Toolbox Blog
While at the Farm:  Children’s Farm Song by Capri + 3
Farm Animal Counting and Sorting Sensory Bin by Life Over C’s
Farm Themed Count and Add Activity for Preschool by Rainy Day Mum
Corn Painting – An Art Activity for a Preschool Farm Theme by Fun-A-Day!
Preschoolers DIY Farm by Tiny Tots Adventure
Preschool Science: Duck Feather Experiment by Raising Lifelong Learners
Farm Animal Sort by Powerful Mothering
Wash the Farm: Fruits and Vegetable Sensory Play for Preschoolers by The Kennedy Adventures

Preschool Farm Activities and Sensory Play for Math, Science, and Literacy by Little Bins for Little Hands


We would like to extend an invitation to join us tonight 9/17/2014 at 9:00 P.M. EST for a live Google Hangout talking about the activities we are doing with our preschoolers for the farm theme. This hangout will be recorded and able to be viewed at a future date.

Posted in Fruits and Vegetables Theme Activities, PreK, Science, Thanksgiving Theme Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 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 , , , , , , , , , , | 17 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!

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Spring Weather Theme for Preschool – Stained Glass Umbrellas & Sunshine Math

We’ve had over 49 inches of snow so far this winter!  Our preschoolers (and teachers) are anxiously awaiting spring’s arrival!  Just in the last month, we’ve gone from -23 degrees to a stormy 50 degrees outside today!  Our kids can finally see the grass peeking out from beneath all of the melting snow!   To celebrate the warmer temperatures, we made stained glass umbrellas and played with sunshine math.  We hope your children enjoy crafting and learning with us this spring!

Stained Glass Umbrella CraftStained Glass Umbrella Craft – Stained Glass Umbrella Template

Materials needed:  One umbrella template per child or craft (linked above), blue and yellow tissue paper, scissors, glue sticks, and clear contact paper.

Prior to the craft:  Cut out the umbrella from the template including the hole in the center.  The blue and yellow tissue paper should be cut into squares (see photo above).   Younger children will need assistance with cutting.

When the template and opening is cut, place the umbrella onto a piece of clear contact paper (sticky side up).   Invite the children to use the tissue paper squares to cover the opening in the umbrella.  Once the children are finished, cover the entire umbrella with another sheet of clear contact paper.  Older children can cut the umbrella shape out, but younger children will need assistance.

The stained glass umbrellas make wonderful spring weather crafts to display at home or in the classroom!

SUNSHINE MATH – a roll, count, and cover activity- Sunshine Roll_Count_Cover

Sunshine MathMaterials needed:  One sunshine math printable (linked above) per child, two dice, and bingo dot markers (or small items/manipulatives to cover the numbers).

Invite the children to roll 2 dice, count the number of dots, and cover the corresponding numbered sun with the chosen manipulative (or mark with a bingo dot marker).  When the children have rolled all of the numbers except for the number 1, have the children roll just ONE die until the number 1 is rolled.

For younger children:  Have the children roll only one die to begin the game; it will allow the children to concentrate solely on the numbers 1-6.  As the children gain confidence with counting and number recognition skills, add the second die to work with the numbers 1-12.

Spring Weather ThemeFor more Spring Weather activities for learning and play, see the SPRING WEATHER THEME for Preschool and Kindergarten now available via this blog.

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Fishbowl Counting Mats and Fishy Letters – Ocean Theme for Preschool & Kindergarten!

While we are in the midst of the remnants of our latest snowstorm, some of our preschool friends around the world are enjoying summer weather! Regardless of the weather outside, young children can enjoy playing and learning with Ocean-Themed activities!

Fishbowl Math Mats to Create and Count

Fishbowl Math Mats to Create and Count

Fishbowl Counting Mats – Fishbowl Math Mats

Materials needed:  Fishbowl Math Mats – linked above (as many as desired for your group of students), blue tissue paper, scissors, glue sticks, and goldfish crackers.

Print off the Fishbowl Math Mats for any numbers the children are working on or have had introduced.  There are templates for numbers 1-20 (plus one blank one to label with any number desired).

Invite the children to glue blue tissue paper squares to the bottom of the fishbowl to resemble water in the bowl.  If desired, the children can color the fishbowl or use blue watercolors to paint the fishbowl.

Give each child a small container of fish-shaped crackers.   The children should count out the number of crackers that correspond to the fishbowl’s number and place them on the mat.  For younger children, introduce smaller numbers first (such as 1-5). For older children who are ready for more challenging numbers, 11-20 may be more appropriate. Older children can also use the mats to practice basic addition and subtraction skills.

Note:  If you do not have fish-shaped crackers, any ocean-shaped manipulatives or available counters can be used.

Fishy Letter Writing

Fishy Letter Writing

FISHY LETTERS – Fishy Letter Writing

Materials needed: Fishy Letter Writing.pdf – linked above (1 or 2 per child), crayons, alphabet stamps/stamp pads, or markers.

There are various ways to use the Fishy Letters file.  In each case, students can write or copy letters into the blue oxygen bubble next to each fish. Below are different ways students can do this activity:

1. Students can try to write the corresponding lower case letter next to each fish.

2. Students can copy the letter on the fish and write the matching upper case letter

3. Students can use a letter stamp to stamp the corresponding lower case or upper case  letter.

4. Students can trace the appropriate letters.

5. There are two completed worksheets for students to use. The third page of the pdf file is left intentionally blank to use with any letters the children are working on.

The activities above are just two activities offered in our Ocean Theme!  There are 7 PowerPoints, a 42 page manual with suggested literacy, math, science, art, large motor, and all accompanying pdf files to print for the activities. 

For alphabet stamps, stamp pads, and other supplies to use with the Ocean Theme Activities, see RESOURCES and SUPPLIES here on the blog!

Disclosure:  The Preschool Toolbox is a member of 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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Stop the “Summer Slide” with Fun Beach Theme Activities for Preschool!

Beach Theme Counting Practice (Instructions Below)

Children love to visit the BEACH! The activities offered below are wonderful extension lessons to do after a trip to the beach (or the chance to explore a beach theme if a visit to the beach is not possible.) The beach theme suggestions below are designed for children in Preschool or Kindergarten, but are adaptable for children of differing skill levels.

Road Trip FUN with Wikki Stix

Shara at Mommy Perks has some great ROAD TRIP suggestions for families!  Check out her post if you are taking a trip to the beach (or anywhere!) this summer!

FUN items to look for at the BEACH!

Beach Scavenger Hunt – Beach Items

Print the beach items and laminate for each of the children.  At the beach, have the children look to find each of the items.  The scavenger hunt is a fun game to reinforce letters/words at the beach.  How many of the items can your child find?   If it is not possible to go to the beach, let the children look through books/magazines to locate each of the beach items in the file.  There is a great list of beach-themed books located in the EXTRA RESOURCES section at the end of this post.

Extension Games to Play:  for older children, cut the word and picture cards apart.  Have the children work to match the word with the corresponding picture.  For younger children, print two copies of the beach items file above.  Cut the strips apart and place each strip face down on a table or the floor.  Have the children play a memory game by turning two strips over at a time to see if they match.  If the strips do not match, both strips are tuned face down and play continues to the next child.  The game is over when all strips have been matched.

Beach Theme Counting (pictured above)

Materials needed:  Small beach-themed counters/shells, beach-themed plastic cupcake flags, homemade or commercial playdough, and a dry erase marker (to label the cupcake flags).

Label several plastic cupcake flags with any number the children have had introduced.  Have the children roll large balls from playdough and then flatten to a “pancake-shape” on a table or playdough mat.  Have the children place one labeled cupcake flag on each of the playdough shapes.  The children must then press the corresponding number of beach-themed counters into the playdough shape.  The children will love playing with the playdough and beach-themed objects!  It is a great way to PLAY with one-to-one correspondence and retain basic counting skills over the summer.

Beach-themed Patterning

Beach Patterning – Blank Pattern Strips

Materials needed:  Small Beach-themed items/seashells and the blank pattern strips (linked above).

Print the blank pattern strips above for each child.  Set out an assortment of beach-themed items or seashells for the children to use.  For very young children, start an AB pattern on the blank pattern strips and see if they can finish the row. Young children might also copy a complete pattern row that has been done for them. For older children, have them make more complex patterns without using the pattern strips.

Roll and Remove Math for Preschool and Kindergarten

Roll and Remove Math for Preschool and Kindergarten – Sunshine Math

Materials needed:  Sunshine Math file (linked above), permanent or dry erase marker to label the flags, Wikki Stix, and 1-4 dice.

Print the Sunshine Math file for each child and laminate for durability (if laminating supplies are not available, clear contact paper will work).   Cut out each of the suns in the file and label with a number the children have had introduced.   Place each labeled sun on top of a Wikki Stix to make a numbered flag.   Arrange the flags in a random order on a mat or a table top.  Have the children roll 1-4 dice.  As the children roll the dice, they must count the dots and remove the corresponding numbered sun flag,  The game is over when all sun flags have been removed.

Flip Flop Craft for Kids

Wikki Stix Flip Flop Zipper Pull Craft for Kids

Materials needed:  Two colors of Wikki Stix and scissors (safety scissors will work).

Have the children make a spiral shape from two strands of the same color of Wikki Stix (this shape becomes the bottom of the flip flop).  The children can cut two small pieces of Wikki Stix from the second color to make top portion of the flip flop (^).   Our kids made zipper pulls for their backpacks by attaching a small craft circle to the back of the Wikki Stix flip flops.  It’s a fun summer craft for the kids to make!

Oyster and Pearl Cookie Craft

For MORE Beach Activities including food crafts and Seashell games, visit EXPLORING THE BEACH at Squidoo!   

Extra BEACH Resources to check out!

13 Books about the Beach 

Scented Homemade Playdough with Jello

Recipe for Play Sand

20 Nature Related Beach Activities for the Whole Family

Beach-themed Sensory Table

Sandy Handprint Keepsake Beach Craft

Seashell Crab Craft for Kids

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Wet Chalk Kite Crafts and Learning Games for Young Kids!

The wet chalk kite crafts are a fun activity to do indoors or outside this spring.  The kites make a great craft to display, but the bow activities will also enhance early math and literacy skills.   

Wet Chalk Kites

Materials needed:  One square piece of paper for each child, chalk (drawing chalk works best for this activity, but sidewalk chalk can be used), any color of Wikki Stix, and small cups (for water).

Have the children use the Wikki Stix to make any design desired on the white paper (see photo above).  The children should choose several colors of chalk to use on each of the sections of the kite.

The children can then dip the chalk into the cups of water (the water will make the colors brilliant).   The children can color each of the sections as desired.  The Wikki Stix will keep each colored section of the kites separated.

When finished coloring each section, the children can remove the Wikki Stix and allow the kites to thoroughly dry.

When the chalk kites have dried, the children can make kite strings by attaching a long strand of Wikki Stix to the bottom of the kite.

Learning Activities to Accompany the Kite Crafts

Bows Template – Kite Bow Template

The Kite Bows file (linked above) can be used in many ways to enhance learning with young children when combined with the wet chalk kite crafts above.

HINT:  Laminate the kites after drying and use a dry erase marker for some of the learning game suggestions below.  The bows can also be laminated for use with the different games, too.

CVC Words – print the bows file and label each bow with  different vowels.  Label one of the kites with two letters (for ex:  C _ t).  The children must then find a bow that could be used to make a word.  In this example, the children would find a bow labeled with the letter “a” to make the word Cat.  **The bows will adhere to the Wikki Stix kite “string” so no glue will be necessary.

Sight Words – label the kites and bows with any sight words the children have had introduced.  Place all the bows face down on a table or the floor and have the children find the bows that match the words on each of the kites.  We have also used the kites for word families (see -ar word family kite pictured below).

Names – have the children write or stamp the bows with the letters that make up their names.

Patterning – label each of the kites with a pattern the children have had introduced:  AB, ABC, AABB, etc.  The children can then use the different colors of bows to create patterns on the Wikki Stix kite strings.

Numbers – label the kites with different numbers the children are working on.  The children must place the number of bows on the kite string that corresponds to the number on the kite.  Addition/Subtraction:  label the kites with a simple addition or subtraction problem.  The bows should be labeled with the sum to the problem.

Letter Recognition:  label the kites with an uppercase letter(s) and the bows with a lowercase letter(s).  The children must find the matching letters and place them on the kite string.

Color Recognition:  print two copies of the bows and place 2 or 3 colored bows on one of the kites.  The children must find the matching colored bows and place them on the kite string.  For older children, label the kites with a color WORD and have the children place the corresponding bow on the kite string.

Additional Crafting – the kite bow file also contains an additional paper bow template.  Our older kids used the template with Wikki Stix to make paper bows.

We hope your kids enjoy the kite craft and the kite bow extension games this spring!  If you have additional suggestions for games, please leave us a comment below to share with others!

For MORE Spring Theme Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten, we have ready- made theme activities to download and print here on the blog!






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Beach Theme Activities for Preschool!

Do you plan on visiting the beach with your preschoolers this summer?  The beach offers a wide variety of fun and learning experiences for kids!  Even if you don’t live near one, the beach theme activities below will help your children explore, play, and learn!

Sand Pail Counting

Sand Pail Counting

Sand Pail Math Activities – Blank Sand Pails

Materials needed:  One Blank Sand Pails Template (linked above) and assorted shells or other beach-themed counters (suggestions:  miniature umbrellas, rocks, or beach-themed stickers).

Print the sand pail template to heavy paper and laminate if you plan to reuse (when laminated, the numbers can be made with a dry erase marker and changed as often as necessary.)   Write any numbers on the sand pails that have been introduced to your children.  Have the children practice one-to-one correspondence by placing the same number of shells (or other suggested counters) on the sand pails.

Extensions for older children:  Use larger numbers on the sand pails or have the children practice basic addition and subtraction.  For elementary children, the sand pails can be used for multiplication and division facts, too.

Literacy Extension:  Write letters on the sand pails and have the children find real beach-related objects or pictures from magazines that correspond to the letters on the sand pails. For example:  Write the letters F and G on the sand pails.  The children must then look for a picture or an object that begins with the letters F and S (flip flops, fish, fishing pole or starfish, sand dollar, and sun).

Describing Sea Shells – Describing Seashells

Materials needed:  One Describing Sea Shells Game Board pdf file (linked above)
Assorted sea shells, counters or plastic counting chips

Print the game boards for each of the children and laminate for durability. Give each child a game board and 9 counters or shells to use as markers on the squares. An adult begins by physically describing one of the shells on the game board. For example: I am round, white, and have a star in the middle (Sand Dollar). The children then find that shell on the game board and cover that square with one of their counters or shells. Continue the game until all the squares on the game board are covered.

Extension for older children: Have the older children take turns describing the shells for their peers or for the younger children.

“Shark” Cookie Food Craft for Kids – Shark Cookie Food Craft

Materials needed:  Any butter or sugar cookie, craft sticks or plastic knives, scissors, blue tube cookie frosting (or white frosting tinted blue with food coloring, and the Shark fin template linked above.

Print the shark fins to heavy paper and laminate if you plan to reuse them.   Have the children spread the blue frosting on the cookie with a craft stick or plastic knife (supervise younger children if using knifes for safety.)   Have the children cut out one shark fin per cookie and place the triangle on top of the cookie to resemble a shark.  These are simple and FUN treats to make with the children during your beach theme lessons.

For more FREE Resources for your Beach Theme, visit us on Squidoo!


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Spring and the 5 Senses: Activities for Preschool!

Spring is a magical time for kids!  After the winter, everything begins anew!  Take your kids outside and watch for signs of Spring’s arrival.  Observations over the course of only a week can provide the children with great fun and many learning experiences about Spring and the 5 senses!

Spring Nature Walks – Nature Walk Record Sheet 

Materials needed: 1 nature walk record sheet.pdf per child, 1 clipboard per child, crayons or markers. Take your students outside on a nature walk so they can use their sense of sight to find and record the items listed on the worksheet. As each child finds one of the items, they can circle or cross off the item from their list. When you return back home or to the classroom, discuss the things the children found (compare and contrast the items that each of the children found.) One child may not have seen a tree, but others may have.  See if the children can recall what kind of items they found. For example, one child may have crossed off the vehicle after seeing a blue car. Another child may have seen a red van. This activity can lead to a large follow-up discussion.

Extension: Depending on the season and your location, your students might be able to find different items or objects. Use the blank record sheet to write, draw, or glue pictures from magazines of things you want your students to find.

What can your children HEAR?  Have the children close their eyes and try to determine what they hear when outside on nature walks!  Turn up your speakers and close your eyes…listen carefully, what do you hear in the video clip below?

Rain Sticks

Set out an assortment of beans, rice, and small items in containers. Ask parents for assistance in gathering enough toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls for each child to make a rain stick. Have the children decorate the tubes with markers, crayons, fabric strips, collage materials, etc. (seal one end of the toilet paper roll with wax paper (doubled-over for strength) and a rubber band prior to setting out for the children.) Have the children fill or spoon beans, rice, and/or small items (beads, shells, etc.) into the tubes until they are approximately two-thirds full. When done filling the tubes, help the children seal the final end of the tube with wax paper (again, doubled-over) and a rubber band.

Extension idea: Have the children bring the rain sticks to circle/carpet time and listen for the different sounds they make. Is one rain stick softer or louder than the others? Do they really sound like rain or something else?

Have the children gather several items in a bag.  Bring the items inside to help the children explore the items with their sense of touch.  What do the items FEEL like?  Help the children brainstorm words that describe what they are feeling.  Are the items rough, smooth, bumpy, scratchy, itchy, soft, hard, scaly, etc.?  Glue the different items on a poster board and write the descriptive words underneath each of the items found.

What do your children SMELL on the nature walks?  Again, have the children close their eyes and use their sense of smell to find things in nature.  Collect a variety of items to have the children smell (some suggestions:  tree bark, grass, flowers, berries).  Go outside after a spring rain and ask the children to describe what they smell.  Brainstorm words that describe different smells – fresh, musty, moldy, woodsy, etc.

Make a Spring Senses Sensory Bin where the children can explore items from your nature walks.  Set out magnifying glasses, tweezers, rocks, twigs, paper or real flowers, dirt, different textured ribbons, and grasses in a large bin or drawer.  Let the children explore different items using their senses of touch, smell, sight, and hearing.  *Watch for children with seasonal or other allergies as tree bark, flowers, and grasses (among other items in nature) can make allergies worsen.

Umbrella Snacks for Spring

Set out apple slices, banana slices, chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and cheese sticks for the children.  Post a picture of an umbrella and have the children try to use the snack materials to make an umbrella.  Have the children describe the TASTE of their umbrellas (are they crunchy, sweet, sour, bitter, etc.)  It is a fun activity for snack time and the children will amaze you with their creations!

For More Activities for Spring and Spring Weather, see the Spring Weather Theme here on the blog!


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The 5 Senses Activities in Preschool: Exploring Spring Weather!

Children love to learn about the weather!  When exploring Spring weather, children have many opportunities to explore with these 5 senses activities!

Sight – Whats_the_Weather_Like

Observe the weather outside each day!

What is the weather outside TODAY?  Look in the newspaper each day and at the weather map in the paper (the children can also visit  Show the children how to tell where it will rain, snow, storm, or be sunny.  Save the week’s forecast from the newspaper for your city and compare it with the actual weather each day. Was the weather prediction in the paper correct? Have the children predict what the weather will be like tomorrow? Write down or graph what the children predict? See if they are right!

Smell  – RainbowPrintingPaper

Ask your children if they can SMELL the weather?  Take your children outside for a walk to experience the smells in nature after different types of weather (suggestions for things to smell:  tree bark, leaves, rain collecting in different areas, flowers, rocks, grasses, weeds, etc.)  *Note:  children with seasonal allergies should avoid smelling different weeds/flowers especially during the Spring*  Discuss with your children different ways to describe what they smell.  Have the children copy, stamp, or write a descriptive word (or words) onto the rainbow paper (linked above) after each of your  walks.

Scented Word Suggestions:

Bad Good Fruity
Stinky Sweet Woodsy
Yucky Yummy Perfumed
Earthy Sharp Musty
Spicy Fresh Sour

Hearing – Weather Sounds

Set out different items that could be used to make the sounds that nature makes. Set out a cookie sheet, pots, utensils, &/or storage containers and have the children make thunder with their hands.  Set out a pie tin and a cup with rice.  Have the children pour the rice into the pie plate making rain sound.  Have the children make sounds for each other. You might also have the children close their eyes while sounds are being made. What type of weather does it sound like? Make up some weather sounds of your own. You might also use shoes, paper towel tubes to blow through, beans for hail, etc.


Torn Paper Thunderstorm Craft for Preschool and Kindergarten

Torn Paper Thunderstorm Craft for Preschool and Kindergarten

Materials needed:  Blue, black, and yellow construction paper and blue tempera paint.

Use blue construction paper and invite the children to finger paint with blue tempera paint for the background of the “storm” (it is fun to add texture to the paint by adding cornmeal before finger painting).  Have the children tear (or cut) a large black “cloud” from black construction paper and lay it over the blue paint (the blue paint will act as glue so none is necessary.)  The children can then cut or tear yellow rectangles from construction paper and lay them length-wise under the black cloud. The thunderstorm now has lightning.  The storm pictures make great crafts to display at home or in the classroom during the spring!

Taste – Raindrop and Cloud Cups

Make a weather-themed snack with your kids.  Have the children layer blueberries (raindrops) and clouds (whipped topping) in individual bowls for a fun and easy snack. Serve with graham crackers and milk for a tasty and nutritional snack!

For more Spring Weather Resources, see the Spring Weather Thematic Unit here on the blog!


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