How Do I Introduce the ABC’s and 123’s to Preschoolers?

ABCs and 123s Playful Learning eBook for Kids

ABC’s and 123’s Book for Playful Learning

As an educator for 33 years, I’ve often fielded questions from parents and colleagues about appropriate ways to introduce literacy and math concepts to preschoolers.  I’m honored to co-author the ABC’s and 123’s Book to guide parents and teachers toward developmentally appropriate practices for playful learning with their own kids at home or in the classroom.

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

ABCs and 123s Book for Preschoolers - playful learning at its BEST!YOU and YOUR KIDS will LOVE the EASY to Set-Up Activities:

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All the activities in the book are FUN! Every activity has been tried, tested, and approved by our own children. The activities are based on play –  your children will be exploring and learning through their senses.  Preschoolers will love the engaging invitations while  building important skills through play.

The activities have been carefully chosen to offer a wide range of math and literacy skills, working across the curriculum to incorporate play, imagination, science, sensory, and art.  When kids are challenged to use critical thinking and to problem solve while PLAYING, they gain skills to last a lifetime.

What you’ll get in this book:

:: 40+ hands-on play ideas that will help your child build their letter and math skills :: multisensory activities for children aged 2 to 8 :: resources for parents and teachers, at home or in the classroom, with ideas for indoor and outdoor learning :: material lists, step-by-step instructions and full color photographs of every activity

:: suggestions for variations and extensions so you can adapt the activities to suit your child

:: a wide range of learning activities, across literacy and math, including:

  • learning to recognize and write letters and numbers
  • understanding both upper and lower case letters
  • drawing shapes and making marks
  • working on alphabetic order
  • working on spelling names, sight words, cvc words, and other vocabulary
  • developing language skills
  • understanding one-to-one correspondence
  • learning to count, to add, and subtract
  • base-ten understanding and double digit addition

ABCs and 123s eBook for Preschoolers

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This is an ebook, which means you will be sent a link that allows you to download a PDF containing the ebook and all the resources. You can save it to your computer or iPad* and then either read it on screen or print some/all of the pages, as you prefer. You can buy the ebook wherever you are in the world. You pay via PayPal, which will take care of any currency conversion for you.

Please note:  You can buy the ebook now, on any device, and then download it when you are ready. Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system, you might be able to download the ebook on your mobile device. However, if you have any doubts or problems, I recommend you use a computer to download the book and then share it to your mobile devices. You will be sent download instructions when you purchase the ebook.

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The ABCs and 123s ebook is published and sold by Cathy James at Please direct any customer service queries regarding purchases of the ebook to [email protected] or refer to the NurtureStore FAQ

The ABCs and 123s ebook is protected under copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.



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38 Ocean Themed Activities for Preschool!

As our own preschoolers prepare to end our school year, we’d like to offer a special round-up of playful learning activities from the Early Childhood Education Team.  We hope your own kids will love playing and learning this summer with activities centered around an Ocean Theme!

38 Ocean Themed Activities for Preschool38 Ocean-Themed Activities for Preschool!

Top Ten Ocean/Beach Themed Activities Across All Learning Areas:

Top 10 Ocean and Beach Theme Activities

Literacy/Book Activities for Preschool:

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean Story Book and Activity

A House For Hermit Crab Activities

Commotion in the Ocean Book and Activity

There’s a Shark in the Sea Beginning Sounds Song

Message in a Bottle Craft

Story Telling Sea Shells

Alphabet Ocean Sensory Bin

Alphabet Fun with Seashells

Under the Sea Painting with Pout Pout Fish

Ocean-Themed Math Activities for Preschool:

Find the Hidden Numbers Ocean Clip Cards

Ocean Color Sorting and Threading

Fishbowl Counting Mats and Fishy Letters

Making 10 Addition Puzzles

Ocean I Spy Counting Printable

Ocean Animal Tangram Cards

Free Ocean Matching Pack Printable

Ocean-Themed Science Activities for Preschool:

Sea Turtle Life Cycle and Sensory Bag

Hunting for Sharks Teeth with Kids

Sea Turtle Life Cycles

Jello Ocean Exploration on the Light Table

Ocean-Themed Arts/Crafts/Sensory Play for Preschool:

Collaborative Ocean Art Project for Kids

Ocean Play Dough Invitation to Play and Learn

Small World Ocean Play (Without Water)

Play Sand – Ocean Play

Spin Art Fish

Paper Plate Shell Craft

Ocean Inspired Mono Printing

Laundry Hamper Sailboat

Under the Sea Play Plus Search and Find

Super Simple Ocean Sensory Bin

Ocean-Themed Playdate Suggestions for Preschool:

There are 5 Oceans Children’s Song

DIY Mermaid Tiara to Make and Wear

Host an Ocean Theme Playdate

Ocean Themed I Spy Jar

Ocean Animal Busy Bag

Painted Shells Art Project

Make Rainbow Sea Shells

Water Color and Salt Coral Reef

Ocean Animals Thematic Unit from The Preschool Toolbox

For even MORE ways to play and learn this summer, please see the OCEAN THEMATIC UNIT here on the blog!

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The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments

the 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments (1)

Rachel Miller, Holly Homer, and Jamie Harrington of Kids Activities Blog and Quirky Momma bring the FUN of science explorations to everyday play in their newest book, the 101 coolest simple science experiments.  The book comes complete with colorful photos and simple instructions that invite kids to use critical thinking skills, explore outcomes, and have FUN doing it!   If you are a parent, childcare provider, childcare center or classroom teacher, the book is must have for your own resource library!

Disclosure:  this post and others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links.  Please see the ABOUT page for further disclosures.

The 101 coolest simple science experiments book is grouped into 4 categories for everyday playful learning explorations:

  • Kitchen Chemistry
  • Physics and Making Things Move
  • Exploring the World
  • The Human Body

Have your own kids try DISSOLVING INK explorations (from the Kitchen Chemistry Section).  For FULL instructions, see here!

the 101 coolest simple science experiments_Dissolving Ink Exploration

Our own kids are experimenting with various kinds of catapults (from the Physics and Making Things Move section) and testing which constructed catapult will successfully launch an item the farthest!  The catapult building lesson (pg. 63) is an inquiry and solution-based experiment that is fun for kids, but it also provides the opportunity for kids to gain knowledge that can be carried beyond the classroom (or home) to solve problems encountered in the larger community.

As the kids build the initial catapult from the book, they will begin experimenting on their own with various construction materials and developing their own ideas!

Catapult Design inspired by the 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments by Holly Homer, Jamie Harrington, and Rachel Miller

Catapult Design inspired by the 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments by Holly Homer, Jamie Harrington, and Rachel Miller

The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments will challenge your own kids to critical thinking about how things in the world work through simple explorations! Be sure to pick up your own copy today and join us for a summer of playful learning and FUN!



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Rainforest Tree Frog Math Games for Preschoolers!

If you are new to the Wednesday #TeachECE series, we WELCOME you!  Each week, we partner with other early childhood professionals to offer playful learning activities centered around a weekly theme.  This week, activity suggestions revolve around a RAINFOREST THEME.  Come play to learn in preschool with FUN Tree Frog Math Games to encourage developing skills!

Rainforest Tree Frog Math Games for Preschool

Rainforest Tree Frog Math Games for Preschool!

Materials needed:

Prior to the activity – print the tree frogs, laminate for durability, and cut out each frog.  Print as many of the lily pads as necessary for the numbers your own children are learning or currently working on (laminate the lily pads, cut them out, and number with a dry erase marker).  Tape the lily pads onto a table, large tray, or a work mat before introducing the activities below.

Math Game Suggestions

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

Rainforest Tree Frog Math Game for Preschool

One-to-One Correspondence:   invite the kids to count out the number of tree frogs that correspond to the number on the lily pad.  The kids should place the number of frogs on the lily pad (remind preschoolers to count out loud as they place each frog on the corresponding numbered lily pad).

Subitizing:   place a predetermined small number of tree frogs on top of a lily pad.  See if the kids can tell how many frogs are on the mat without counting the individual cards.

Addition:  invite the kids to place the corresponding number of tree frogs on two of the numbered lily pads.  The kids should then count the total number of tree frogs on both lily pads for practice with basic addition.  Begin with lower numbers until the kids gain confidence.

Tree Frog Math Games for Preschool

Subtraction:  set a pre-determined number of tree frogs on top of one of the printable lily pads.   Invite the kids to roll a die and TAKE OFF the corresponding number of tree frogs from the lily pad.  The game is over when all the tree frogs have been removed.

Plus 1 or Plus 2:  have the kids roll a die one time and place that number of tree frogs on a lily pad.  To do mental math, invite the kids to add (+1) or (+2) to the number of tree frogs on the lily pad.  To self-check, have the kids physically add (+1) or (+2) tree frogs to the number of frogs on the lily pad and count again to check their answer.

Skip Counting: practice counting up by 2’s or 5’s by placing the appropriate numbers of tree frogs on several of the lily pads.  Tip:  making a number line (1-20) will help kids have a visual when beginning skip counting skills.

Print the 5 and 10 Frames for further practice with the paper Rainforest frogs or for use with miniature tree frogs.


For more playful learning ideas with a RAINFOREST THEME, please the wonderful activity suggestions below:

Phonemic Awareness Activity:  Rainforest Animal Slide by Growing Book by Book

Find the Hidden Preschool Letters- Rainforest Alphabet Game by Learning to Walk

Easy DIY Rainforest Inspired Container Garden by Capri + 3

Rainforest Matching Activity for Preschoolers by Life Over C’s

Leaf Cutter Ant Craft by Still Playing School

Rainforest Fine Motor Activity by Munchkins and Moms



The Ultimate Guide to Scissor Skills in Preschool!

I am often asked by teachers and parents how to teach scissor skills to preschoolers.  Young kids need plenty of practice with fine motor activities to develop the small muscles required for cutting.  We introduce scissors to our 3’s, but do not formally work on cutting skills until the 4th year.  By the time most kids are four (reminder that not every child will develop at the same pace), they are ready to begin cutting and have the fine motor control necessary to have success!

The Ultimate Guide to Scissor Skills in Preschool

The Ultimate Guide to Scissor Skills in Preschool

Cutting with scissors takes patience and practice.  Make a tray activity for each of the children as the kids will develop skills at various paces and trays can be differentiated for each child.  Label the tray with the child’s name so they can practice during downtime or center activity times, if desired.  It is also helpful to include an envelope in the tray where the kids can save precious cuttings.

Prior to cutting:  Invite the children to hold the scissors in their dominant hand with the thumb up (place a small piece of tape around the thumb hole as a reminder).  Have the children practice opening and closing the scissors WITHOUT paper to help them gain confidence.  Observe the children to note which child needs additional help and practice before moving on to actual cutting.  The child should be able to open and close the scissor with ease before adding paper (or other materials to cut).

Materials needed:

  • Trays (to contain individual cutting practice sheets, scissors, and envelopes)
  • Envelopes (to hold cuttings)
  • Paper (vary the weight as skills progress – copy paper, heavy paper, light weight cardboard (such as cereal boxes), tissue paper, etc.)
  • Permanent Marker (to create lines for cutting)
  • Scissors (Fiskars brand is, by far, the best brand for preschoolers – there is nothing more frustrating than to have good cutting form and poor quality scissors that fail to cut).

Cutting the fringe of the paper in preschool

Step One:  Cut “fringe” on the bottom of a standard weight piece of paper.  Preschoolers should practice opening the scissors and making just ONE cut before moving across the paper.  Practice until fringe can be cut all the way across the paper by moving the scissors and opening and closing to make the cut.

Cutting straight lines in preschool

Step Two:  As the kids are able to make the fringe cuts, progress to cutting straight lines.  In order to cut multiple times, the kids must open the scissors fully and move them forward before cutting.  It isn’t as simple as it looks!  In the beginning, most preschoolers will tear the paper as they forget to OPEN the scissors before trying to move up the paper line to cut.  We practice saying or singing, “OPEN, CUT, OPEN, CUT” so it becomes routine.  Start with shorter lines in the beginning and then progress to cutting longer lines as the kids gain confidence and skills.  Parents and teachers can also tape “lines” as a guide.  The tape will help serve as an edge when cutting (we use colored tape as it adds a little flair to cutting practice).

Cutting Zig-Zags in Preschool

Step Three:  Cutting Zig-Zag lines is no easy task as they must turn the paper and keep thumbs up while doing it to cut well.  Remind kids to watch the tape to make sure they have their hand in proper position.  Practice over and over and the kids will catch on!

Cutting Circles in Preschool

Step Four:  Progress to circular shapes when the kids have mastered the scissor skills above.  Again remind the kids to keep thumbs up for good scissor form while turning the paper to cut circular shapes.

As the kids mature and fine motor skills develop, the kids will have great success!  Squares and rectangles with corners can be introduced as the kids further develop scissor skills.  Be sure to note all the cuttings in the envelopes as they are precious pieces of paper that make a milestone in each preschooler’s development!

For more Tips, Practice Sheets, Seasonal Ideas, and Suggestions for Encouraging Scissor Skills, please check out all the wonderful activities below!

Guide to Scissor Skills in Preschool

Cutting Grass by Simple Fun for Kids – see how adding texture can enhance cutting skills!

Cutting Shapes from Coloring Books by Mama Smiles – an inexpensive way to cut more difficult shapes.

Cutting Activities That Won’t Put Your Kids To Sleep by Carrots Are Orange – turn cutting work into FUN!

Baby Penguin Cutting Practice Free Printable by Simple Fun for Kids

Cutting Strings of Beads by Living Montessori Now – read the post for great ideas for tray/center cutting.

Spring-themed Cutting Strips by Carrots are Orange – at $1.49 these strips are a bargain for spring scissor work.

Snowflake and Sunburst Cutting – further practice with FUN cutting techniques from Picklebums.

Developing Fine Motor and Scissor Skills  by Pre-K Pages – great tips and insights for developing the skill sets necessary for scissor skills!

Sticky Cutting Tray Invitation to Play by Picklebums – a FUN way to play and enhance skills!

Scissor Activities for Cutting Practice from Little Bins for Little Hands – check out various ways to play and practice.

Rainbow Scissors Skills Practice from Little Bins for Little Hands – a FUN way to practice and incorporate color matching!

Quick TIP Suggestion for Aiding Cutting Skills by The Inspired Treehouse – check it out!

Cutting Straws – a busy box or center activity by Little Bins for Little Hands – this is a great “on the go” activity too for outside!

Practice Cutting Strips by Tiny Tots Adventure – save time with cutting strips for practice.

Paper Cutting “NO-PREP” Activities from Schooling a Monkey – some FUN ideas for paper cutting.

Cutting Junk Mail by Schooltime Snippets – great suggestions and hints for developing scissor skills.


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Spring STEM for Preschool: Flower Construction Challenge

If you are new to the #TeachECE Wednesday series, WELCOME!  Each week we partner with other Early Childhood professionals to offer you, our valued readers, activities and suggestions centered around a weekly theme.  This week we’ll focus on SPRING STEM ideas to encourage your own kids at home or in the classroom!

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities compel preschoolers to use cross-disciplinary tools and critical thinking skills to solve a basic problem.  By integrating STEM activities into normal daily routines, preschoolers can gain new knowledge that they can take with them beyond the classroom or home environment and apply to problems found in their everyday world.  Come explore the FUN of spring STEM with a Flower Construction Challenge in Preschool!

Spring STEM in Preschool_Flower Construction Challenge

Spring STEM in Preschool:  Free-Standing Flower Construction Challenge

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

Objective:  To encourage preschoolers to use critical thinking skills and cross-disciplinary tools to gain new problem solving knowledge that can be applied to the everyday world.

Skills Presented in this Simple Challenge:

Science:  Preschoolers will use skills within the scientific method (observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating) while planning, constructing, and documenting learning in the playdough flower challenge.

Technology:  Students will use digital cameras to photograph their own flower designs and print the photos to share with peers.

Engineering:  Preschoolers will construct a free-standing flower from simple supplies that exhibit early attempts at engineering.

Math:  Preschoolers will use mathematical skills (estimation, same/different, lines, patterns) to construct the flower and gain knowledge of mathematical relationships in the challenge.

Discuss the STEPS for STEM SUCCESS before the challenge and while the kids are constructing their own designs:


STEM INQUIRY: Preschoolers are asked to engineer a basic free-standing flower using only the simple supplies below.

  • Playdough – commercial or homemade
  • Craft Sticks – 10 per student

The kids will ask HOW to construct their flowers.  Try to answer their questions with open-ended feedback to allow them to use critical thinking tools to solve the problem independently.  Invite the kids to draw a picture of how they want their flower to look.  It is truly amazing to watch young kids creating, thinking, and learning through play.

Documentation of Learning and Use of Technology:  As the kids construct, have them take digital photos of their constructions to print and share with their peers.  Kids will often develop “new” ideas from looking at photos of other flower constructions.

A few of our own preschool free-standing flower design photos:

Spring STEM_Flower Construction in Preschool

STEM in Preschool_Flower Construction Challenge

Building Challenge Wrap-Up:  Have the kids come together to share the photos of their flower creations. Invite the kids to explain why they decided to construct their flower in the manner they chose. If any of the kids made improvements (adjustments) to their initial designs, ask them to share why the improvements were necessary.  In the photo above, the student initially had too many playdough petals on his flower.  The flower was heavy and caused his construction to topple over.  The child reduced the amount of playdough used for the flower portion – what a beautiful flower he designed!  As the kids look at the various photos, ask students what they would change in their own flower design (if anything) if they had the opportunity to do the challenge again.  STEM challenges in preschool invite kids to think critically, play, gain new knowledge, and explore how that knowledge can be used in the future.

We hope your own kids enjoy playing and learning with STEM challenges!  For more SPRING STEM activities from The Early Childhood Education Team, please check out the awesome suggestions below!

Spring STEM Activities with Eggs from The Educators’ Spin on It

Spring FLOWER STEM Investigation from Life Over C’s

Your kids might also enjoy:

Lavender PreWriting Sensory Activity for Preschool

Lavender Pre-Writing – free flower printable with a sensory paint idea for playful learning!