Mystery Mitten Tactile Counting Game for Preschool!

If you are new to the Wednesday articles from the #TeachECE Team, we wish you a warm WELCOME!  Every week, we partner with some amazing blogs to bring YOU new ideas for playful learning at home or for use in the classroom.  This week’s activities are centered around a MITTEN THEME for preschool.   Gather some real mittens and come play a tactile mystery mitten counting game to encourage early math intuition with tactile support!

Mystery Mitten Tactile Counting Games for Preschool


Materials needed:

  • 10 Mittens – any color (ask your students, solicit parents, or mittens can often be found at dollar stores or Goodwill)
  • Large Tray
  • Counting Manipulatives (bear counters, keys (real or pretend), wooden beads, Unifix cubes, small blocks, or Magnetic numbers)
  • One printable 1 through 10 cards (laminate and cut out) – print here:  1 to 10 Number Cards

Mystery Mitten Counting Games for Preschool

Prior to the activity: 

Decide what numbers your children will focus on.  If the children do not have a good understanding of the numbers 1-5, work with those numbers until the kids have confidence with one-to-one correspondence and subitizing skills before moving on to the numbers 6-10.  Set out 5 mittens and randomly place counters in each mitten that correspond to the numbers 1-5 (or 6-10) – see photo above.

Set each of the filled mittens randomly on a tray.  Ask the kids to feel each mitten and try to figure out the number of items in each of the mittens by TOUCH ALONE.  Once the kids think they have a guess at how many counters are inside the mitten, they should sort through the numbered cards and place that numbered card on top of the individual mittens.

Mystery Mittens Sensory Counting Games for Preschool

Have the kids take out the counters in each mitten (one at a time) and count the number to see if they were right!  For very young children, attach a copy of the numbered cards to the backside of the mitten (or sticky notes work well, too).  As the children count the items, they can turn the mitten over to see if they got it right.

Mitten Theme Math Activity for Preschool

Extension Activities: 

  • Have the kids sort the mittens in correct number order 1-5 or 6-10 after feeling the number of items inside the mittens.  Lay the corresponding numbered card below the mittens and then count the items inside the mittens to see if they are correct.
  • Fill a pair of mittens with matching numbers of items.  Make another pair of mittens with a different number of counters inside. Randomly place the mittens out of on a large tray or table.  See if the kids can find the matching pairs of mittens by touch alone.  As the kids gain confidence, add more pairs of mittens to the center or activity tray.
  • Fill mittens with counters that correspond to the numbers 2-7.  Invite the kids to count and sort the mittens into a number line starting with a number other than 1.  Again, the kids should count with touch alone, add the number cards (printed above), and then count the items inside to see if they were correct.

For MORE ways to play and learn with a MITTEN THEME, please visit the wonderful resources below!

Mystery Mitten Letter Sound Game by Growing Book by Book
Mitten Letter Matching on a Clothesline by Mom Inspired Life
Pass the Mitten Storytelling Game by Capri + 3
Mitten Matching Activities for Preschool by Life Over C’s
3 Hands-On Mitten Activities for Preschoolers by Tiny Tots Adventures
Number Bonds 0-10 by Rainy Day Mumm
The Mitten Experiment by Powerful Mothering
Mitten Sight Word Games by The Educators’ Spin On It



Posted in 5 Senses Theme Activities, Extension Activities for "The Mitten", Math, Winter Theme Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Arctic Animals Preschool Science: Blubber and Ice Explorations!

For those of you who are new to the #TeachECE Wednesday activities, WELCOME!  Each Wednesday throughout the year, we partner with the Early Childhood Educational Team  to offer you, our valued readers, playful learning suggestions for use at home or in the classroom.  This week’s activities are centered around an ARCTIC TUNDRA theme.  Come explore a simple science experiment with “blubber” and ice that will help preschoolers visualize how polar animals survive in the extreme temperatures of the Arctic!

Arctic Animals Science_Blubber and Ice in Preschool

Background Information for Parents and Teachers:  Animals that live in the Arctic region (Arctic Ocean, parts of Canada, Russia, Alaska, and some Nordic Countries) are known as Arctic animals.   Arctic animals have special adaptations that allow them to survive on the frozen tundra in this unique region of the world.  One of the special adaptations is BLUBBER.  Blubber is a thick fatty tissue just under the skin of many arctic animals such as seals, whales, and polar bears.  The fatty tissue not only keeps the animals warm in the extreme cold, but it serves as a fuel source when food is scarce.  To help preschoolers visualize the insulating properties of blubber, try the following simple science experiment!


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

Show the children on a world map where the Arctic region is located in relationship to where they live.  There are also some wonderful maps online if the children have access to technology.  Ask the children if they know what blubber is?  Some of the children may already know, but many will not.  Discuss what blubber does and show the children some of the Arctic animals that have blubber.  We have several of the Safari Ltd Arctic Toobs that are great for playful learning and Arctic explorations.

Inquiry for the investigation:  Given the same room temperature, which ice cube will melt faster – the one coated in shortening OR the uncoated ice?

Materials needed:

  • Ice Cubes
  • Two Bowls (per student or small group)
  • Shortening
  • Timer or Digital Stopwatch
  • Paper and Pencils or Markers
Blubber Coated Ice - Arctic Experiment for Preschool

“Blubber” Coated Ice Cube Balls

Invite the kids to place 2-3 ice cubes in each of the two bowls.  In one bowl, have the children surround the ice cube in a thick coating of shortening (fair warning – it is messy, but our kids did great)!  Set the bowls out on a table and start the stopwatch.  Have the kids record the starting time on a sheet of paper.   Invite the kids to periodically observe when the ice melts in each of the two bowls.  Record the time that the non-coated ice melts on the recording sheet (indoors it took our non-coated ice cubes an hour and 3 minutes to fully melt).  Come together as a group to discuss why the ice coated in shortening took longer to melt.  The shortening acts as blubber (protection/insulation) for the ice in this simple experiment.

When the uncoated ice melts, cut into the blubber coated ice. What will the kids find?

When the uncoated ice melts, cut into the blubber on the coated ice. What will the kids find?

As the children are waiting for the ice to melt, teach them a simple song about Blubber and Polar Bears:

Bear is Sleeping (sung to Frere Jacques)

Bear is sleeping, bear is sleeping,

Nice and warm, nice and warm.

Blubber keeps bears cozy, blubber keeps bears cozy,

When it’s COLD, when it’s COLD!

MORE Arctic Tundra Learning Activities from The Early Childhood Education Team:

Arctic Animal Sensory Writing Tray by Fun-A-Day

Home-made Books: Tundra by Powerful Mothering

Arctic Animals Writing Prompts by The Educators’ Spin On It

Why Are Polar Bears White? | Animal Adaptations on the Arctic Tundra by Raising Lifelong Learners

Tundra Animal Sharing and Halving by Rainy Day Mum
Arctic Edition, Mother May I Gross Motor Game by Tiny Tots Adventures

Arctic Animal Matching Games by Life Over C’s

Science Fun-Learning About the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Capri + 3

Arctic Preschool Letter Hunt by Learning 2 Walk

Polar Bear Sound Activity by Growing Book by Book

For more WINTER activities, please see the WINTER category here on the blog!

Some items we also use in our classroom that your children might enjoy.


Posted in Ocean Theme Activities, PreK, Science, Winter Theme Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Snowman and Santa Handmade Ornament Crafts for Kids!

If you are new to this blog, then WELCOME!  Each week we collaborate with the #TeachECE Early Childhood Team to offer playful activity suggestions that span all learning areas.  This week, you’ll find awesome handmade gift ideas that kids can make!  The Snowman and Santa Ornament Crafts are fun to create and make adorable gifts from kids to family and friends!

Snowman and Santa Handmade Ornaments Crafts


‘Tis the season for crafting!  The snowman and Santa ornaments are FUN for kids to make and easy enough for even the smallest of crafters to create for a memorable gift to family and friends.

Santa and Snowman Books

Prior to creating the ornaments, take a few moments to share a special Santa and/or snowman book with your kids.  A few of our favorites:

Santa Handmade Ornament Craft for Kids


Materials needed:

Invite kids to fill the clear ornament with the red glitter balls.  If using plastic ornaments that open, just pour in the glitter balls and close shut.  If using top loading ornaments, place one glitter ball on top of the opening and gently push the glitter balls through the opening with the eraser end of a pencil.

To make Santa’s belt:  The kids should cut one strip of black construction paper that will fit around the ornament.  Glue dots will hold the paper strip on the ornament.  Any left-over paper can simply be cut away.  Cut a square from the gold metallic paper to resemble the belt buckle and glue it on top of the black paper belt.  If desired, older kids can cut away a “square inside the square” for a more authentic looking buckle.

Snowman Ornament Craft for Kids to Make and Give


Materials needed:

Have the kids place the miniature marshmallows inside the ornament and close.  The eyes and mouth for the snowman can be made by hole punching the black craft foam.  Attach the black circles to the ornament with liquid glue or glue dots.  The nose can be cut from the orange craft foam.  Younger children will need assistance cutting the nose for the craft.  Attach the nose with glue dots or liquid glue to the ornament.  Add a festive ribbon for a hanger and the kids will have a wonderful handmade ornament for gifting this holiday season!

Your kids might also enjoy:


Learning and Play with The Mitten by Jan Brett

For more awesome ideas for creating handmade gifts with kids, please visit the wonderful suggestions from the Early Childhood Education Team below!

Cinnamon Sugar-Kid Made Gift by Capri + 3

 Memory Jar: Kid Made Gifts by Life Over C’s

Gift Tag Memory Game byMunchkins and Moms

DIY Crayon Lip Balm byRaising Lifelong Learners

Fill the Ball: Kid-Made Christmas Ornaments by Mom Inspired Life

Gingerbread Snowflakes: Kid-Made gift for friends byRainy Day Mum

Easy Kid Craft Ideas: DIY Picture Frame byLearning 2 Walk

Posted in Christmas Theme, Craft Kits for Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Winter STEM Activity for Preschool: Evergreen Tree Building Challenge

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 Winter STEM with an Evergreen Tree Building Challenge designed just for preschoolers!

Winter STEM for Preschool Christmas Tree Building Challenge

WINTER STEM ACTIVITY FOR PRESCHOOL:  Evergreen Tree Building Challenge

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.

STEM Skills Presented:

Science:  Preschoolers will use skills within the scientific method to solve a basic challenge inquiry.

Technology:  Preschoolers will watch a video of the life cycle of an evergreen tree.

Engineering:  Preschoolers will engineer a basic Evergreen tree (Christmas tree) using simple supplies.

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

Background Information for Parents and Teachers:

Christmas trees are conifers.  A conifer is a needle-leaved tree that produces cones.  Conifers are called EVERGREENS because when the needled leaves fall off, they are always being replaced with new green needles.  The usual 6-8 foot Christmas tree can take 10 years or more to grow.

Winter STEM Evergreen Tree Building Challenge for Preschool

STEM INQUIRY: Preschoolers are asked to build a simple Evergreen tree using only the simple supplies below.

  • Green Playdough
  • Craft Sticks
  • Stars or other decorations (optional)

The kids will ask HOW to build a tree.  Try to answer their questions with open-ended feedback to allow them to use critical thinking tools to solve the problem independently.  It is truly amazing to watch young kids creating, thinking, and learning through play.

Some of our own preschool designs:

Evergreen Tree STEM Building Challenge for Preschoolers

STEM Christmas Tree Building Challenge for Preschool
Christmas Tree STEM Activity for Preschool

Building Challenge Wrap-Up:  Have the kids come together to share their creations.  Invite the kids to explain why they decided to construct the tree in the manner they chose. If any of the kids made improvements to their initial designs, ask them to share why the improvements were necessary.  In the photo above, one 4 year old decided to “stabilize” the tree with another outside craft stick.  The reinforcement was a necessary improvement to allow the tree to stand independently.   Show the kids the video below on the Life Cycle of an Evergreen tree and discuss the stages from seed to adult tree.

Winter Theme

For playful learning with preschoolers this winter, see all the activity suggestions in the Christmas or Winter Thematic Units here on the blog.  All units come with literacy, math, science, art and craft activities, foods/food crafts, pretend play, and large motor suggestions for FUN and learning all winter long!

For more STEM activities for WINTER with kids, please visit other great suggestions from the #TeachECE team below:

Snowball Catapult Alphabet Activity by Mom Inspired Life
Winter STEM Activity – Build a Snowflake by Fun-A-Day
Winter Inspired Tinker Tray by Still Playing School
Make a Peppermint Stick Straw (and Sip Fresh Orange Juice!)by Capri + 3
Gingerbread House Construction Ideas by The Educators’ Spin On IT

Posted in Christmas Theme, PreK, Science, Winter Theme Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers!

If you are new to this blog, WELCOME!  Each Wednesday throughout the year, we partner with the #TeachECE team to offer activity suggestions centered around a weekly theme.  This week, come play to learn with us as we explore a NURSERY RHYMES theme!

There are few things as captivating for preschoolers as a COOKIE that leaps from a baking sheet and RUNS AWAY!  The Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft are FUN activities to extend the adventures of the bold little cookie with your own preschoolers at home or in the classroom!

Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers (2)Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House Craft for Preschoolers!

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

51vc6s-vOrL._SX432_BO1,204,203,200_Preschoolers LOVE the story of The Gingerbread Man!  Read the book and invite kids to share the main events of the story.  The Gingerbread Man rhyming chant and candy house craft are great ways to extend the story and promote early literacy, name recognition, and fine motor skills.

Materials needed:

  • One printable Gingerbread Man Rhyme and Candy House per student/craft
  • Various collage materials – suggestions:  fabric scraps, ribbon, real candy, construction paper, candy stickers, marshmallows, pom-poms, buttons, or any other materials readily available at home or in the classroom.
  • Liquid Glue, Poster Putty, and/or Glue Dots.
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or Markers

Print one copy of the Gingerbread Man Rhyme for each student.  The kids can write or stamp their names on the line provided.   Read the rhyme several times to the kids (insert a different child’s name each time) and ask them to say the rhyme with you.

Gingerbread Rhyming Chant and Candy House for Preschool“I’m the GINGERBREAD MAN as DELICIOUS as can be!  I live in a CANDY HOUSE that __________(insert a child’s name) built for ME!”

The kids will love hearing their names and will even ask to put parents or teachers names into the rhyme!

Set out a variety of collage materials/candies/stickers and invite the kids to decorate their candy houses as they wish!  The gingerbread man houses make great bulletin board displays for the holidays.  They also make great class books when finished.  The children will love looking for their name and created house.  These are truly child-designed crafts that are so FUN!

Extension:  Teach the children the Gingerbread Man Song below. 

Gingerbread Man Song (Tune: Do you know the Muffin Man)
Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man?
Oh, do you know the Gingerbread Man, who ran and ran and ran?
He said, “Catch me if you can. If you can, if you can.”
He said, “Catch me if you can,” then ran and ran and ran.

I can run like the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man, the Gingerbread Man.
I can run like the Gingerbread Man, now catch me if you can!
~Author Unknown

Gingerbread Theme Main PhotoFor an entire Gingerbread Theme, please see the Gingerbread Thematic Unit for Preschool and Kindergarten here on the blog.

 Gingerbread Man Activities your kids might also enjoy:

Gingerbread Cookie Cutter and "Splatter" PaintingsGingerbread Crafts, Math, and Pre-Writing Lines FREE Printable

Gingerbread Theme Pre-Writing Free Printable

Gingerbread Activities for Preschool

Free Printable Gingerbread Man Alphabet/Pictures for Literacy Games

For MORE ways to engage kids in playful learning with NURSERY RHYMES, please visit the links from the Early Childhood Educational Team below:

The Three Little Kittens Rhyming Mittens by Growing Book by Book

Printable Preschool Nursery Rhymes Journal by Fun-a-Day

Cow Jumped Over the Moon Craft by Still Playing School

I Wish I May I Wish I Might – Star Headband by Capri + 3

Old MacDonald’s Farm Sensory Bin by Tiny Tots Adventures

Nursery Rhyme Sorting Activity by Munchkins and Moms





Posted in Christmas Theme, Gingerbread Theme, PreK, Preschool Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool!

If you are new to this blog, WELCOME!  Each Wednesday throughout the year, the Early Childhood Education Team develops collaborative activities centered around themes for use in ECE.  This week, we’ll share our own activities to promote sensory knowledge using ALL 5 Senses.  Be sure to check out the other great activities from the #TeachECE Educators that are linked at the bottom of this post!

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool

5 Senses Theme Activities for Preschool!

Exploring The 5 Senses in Early Childhood will help preschoolers identify and discover the body parts that are used to gain sensory information:  Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands.

The activities suggested below will offer opportunities for hands-on play with the senses of:  Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.  Through play and experimentation, the children will develop an awareness of how The 5 Senses are used to gain knowledge about their world.

Introduction to The 5 Senses:

Sensory-Mirror-DiscoveriesIn order for children to explore The 5 Senses, preschoolers must be able to locate the 5 primary body parts that provide sensory information:  Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands.   Allow for plenty of time for play with mirrors.  Ask the children to identify the different body parts they see in the mirror.  The children can also partner with peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries (the children will think it’s funny to look at each other with magnifying glasses, but they are gaining important information).

Exploring the Sense of SIGHT in Preschool:

  • Nature Walk Recording Sheet – Take the kids outside so they can use their sense of sight to locate the various items on the recording sheet.  It’s free to print and FUN to do!
  • Christmas Lights – looking at Christmas Lights is a simple activity to promote visual information.  Print the recording sheet below and complete together when you get home or back in the classroom.


Exploring the Sense of SOUND in Preschool:


  • SOUND Discrimination: Invite children to use their sense of sound to ask critical thinking questions?  WHAT/WHO is making the sound, WHERE would I hear that sound, HOW is that sound created, and/or WHEN have I heard that sound before?  Free printable cards and games for playful learning!

Exploring the Sense of SMELL in Preschool:


  • Christmas Smelling Jars are a FUN way to invite kids to see which SMELLS they like or dislike.  Free recording sheet for preschool and kindergarten is here!
  • Lavender Pre-writing Practice – free printable with a lovely lavender paint to enhance sensory play with the SENSE of SMELL!


Exploring the Sense of TOUCH in Preschool:

Exploring the Sense of Touch with Braille Alphabet Names in Preschool

  • Explore the Sense of Touch by learning about the Braille Alphabet with a sensory name activity!

Exploring the Sense of TASTE in Preschool:


  • Make fun snacks with a variety of textures for kids to explore different taste sensations!  Set out apple slices, banana slices, chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and cheese sticks for the children. Set out a  picture of an umbrella and have the children try to use the snack materials to re-create the photo.  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!

The-5-Senses Theme for Preschool, Home Preschool, or ChildcareFor MORE ways to play to learn through ALL 5 Senses, see the 5 SENSES THEMATIC UNIT here on the blog!  The unit is a large theme with over 100 ways to gain sensory information through:  literacy, math, science, arts and crafts, large motor, dramatic play, and foods/food crafts!

Please also take a moment to visit the links to other 5 Senses activities from the dedicated #TeachECE Team below!

Number Sound Boxes by Munchkins and Moms
My Five Senses Book by Still Playing School
Writing Letters in a Sugar Cookie Sensory Tray by Mom Inspired Life
Winter Theme Alphabet Sensory Bin by The Educators’ Spin On It
My Christmas 5 Senses Book by Life Over C’s
Exploring the Senses Using Cardboard Tubes by Capri + 3


Posted in 5 Senses Theme Activities, PreK | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments