Monthly Archives: November 2010

More Sticker Sorting for Travel (or anytime)

This is an activity we’ve done on an airplane that works really well.  

Prep: I printed out pictures of a road, the water and the sky. You could definitely just draw these as part of the activity on the plane.  I then cut out stickers of things that were found in each location.  I placed the stickers in a zip-up pencil bag.  J pulled out one sticker at a time and decided which setting it should be placed in.  This worked really well and kept him occupied for awhile (he had a lot of stickers to place). 

We’ve also done a similar activity in a hotel room.  I drew a train track, road and lake on some paper and he found stickers to place on each.  He was then quite content to drive his cars around the tiny road for quite awhile!

Finally we’ve done something similar at a restaurant.  I have a random assortment of items in my purse at any given moment.  In this case stickers and index cards.  We drew a setting on each one and he sorted the stickers. 

These type of activities would also work well for long doctor appointments and car rides

We do lots of sticker sorting around here since it is a great way for J to practice categories and also helps him with fine motor skills (getting the stickers off really works those pincher muscles).  It also requires little prep on my part and the only supplies necessary are paper and stickers! 

Here are a couple other examples I’ve posted on in the past:

Sorting Colors with Stickers

Counting with Stickers  

We’ve also done shapes, seasons, letters and animal homes.  The possibilities are limited only by your sticker collection.

Pilgrim Cookies a Toddler Can Make!

I saw these pilgrim hat cookies and thought they were adorable and something even a toddler could accomplish.  I did make a few quick changes from the original I saw here.  Their cookies were more accurate and cuter, but a few changes meant J could be that much more involved (and truth be told, I don’t think I could’ve iced a buckle so small). 

We used yellow Reeces Pieces for the buckle instead of the yellow icing and I went with a chocolate covered cookie instead of the ginger snaps (because I don’t like ginger snaps so much!).  I did try cutting a marshmallow for the white band around the middle, thinking J could create every part.  I couldn’t get the marshmallow to look right, so I scrapped that.  Maybe someone else has good luck with it though.

TO MAKE:

You need: 

  • small brown cookies (I used Archer Farms “Dark Chocolate & Caramel indulgent cookies from Target, just 8 in the box, so good for a small group)
  • Small Reeces Peanut Butter Cups
  • Yellow Reeces Pieces (or M&Ms)
  • White icing

What you do:

  • Squeeze a drop of icing onto the center of the cookie.  Stack the Reeces Peanut Butter Cup on top (upside down).  Line the base of the RPC with white icing.  Use the icing to “glue” the yellow Reeces Pieces on as a buckle. 

These cookies were really good and REALLY rich (dark chocolate caramel cookie with Reeces Pieces AND Reeces peanut butter cup…. not really part of any diet).  I had some friends try them and they loved them too.  I’m thinking I’ll get the kids working on these the morning of Thanksgiving so they can have a part in preparing the meal (the best part of the meal… dessert!). 

They have the side benefit of providing the opportunity talk about the origin of Thanksgiving.  I used it as a review of who the pilgrims were. 

Age attempted: 31 months

Teaching Thanksgiving to Toddlers and Preschoolers

This is really the first year I included lessons on Thanksgiving prior to Thanksgiving day. The majority of what we do comes in day to day conversations.  I’ve used books, pictures, activities, games, and videos to give J a visual image of the different aspects of Thanksgiving.  You don’t have to do ALL of them, one book or one activity is enough to jump start many conversations throughout your day.  In my experience, those conversations are where they learn the most.  They are often asking questions and therefore paying close attention to the answers.  It’s all really simple and easy to do.  

Here are a few resources I used to help me introduce the history and purpose of Thanksgiving to J (at 2.5 yrs old). You might have seen most of these links on my Thanksgiving index post, but I wanted to highlight a few that have been helpful for us in teaching.

SCRIPTURE:

Thankfulness List - “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. —Psalm 9:1″ You don’t have to WOW them with fancy crafts, the beauty of a toddler!   I wrote the scripture on construction paper, we talked about it and then taped it up where near where he plays.  There’s a cup of strips nearby to add new things as inspiration strikes him.  My goal is to help him learn how to recognize things he’s thankful for all throughout the day and to thank God right then and there.  This means we stop whatever we’re doing to add to the poster.  It’s worth that tiny effort.  I review the scripture each time and we say a quick thank you prayer for that particular “wonderful deed” God did (or allowed in J’s life). 

SONG:

“If I Were a Butterfly” – This is an adorable song that kids love about being thankful for how God made us.  I played this song for him (used just the audio from youtube since the pictures weren’t great IMO) and had pictures of the different animals up on the computer.  I just copied the pictures real quick from google images.  He could follow along with the song by pointing at the different animals.  Now we sing it together all the time.  Sometimes we pull the pictures out again and he can choose which animal to sing about next, sometimes he calls out a random animal and I make up a verse about it.  We make it a fun game this way. 

BOOK:

“Let’s Celebrate God’s Blessings On Thanksgiving” by Lise CaldwellI loved how this book incorporates the history of Thanksgiving, applicable scripture and the modern day Thanksgiving our little one’s will experience.  (I found it for $2 at our local Christian Bookstore)

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Thanksgiving: With Turkey, Family, and Counting Blessings“Celebrate Thanksgiving with Turkey, Family, and Counting Blessings” by Deborah Heiligman - I like to use non-fiction books as well as fiction, just to get J used to seeing both type of books.  This is a book published by National Geographic that takes you from Pilgrims on the Mayflower to the Thanksgiving parade to pumpkin pie.  I wouldn’t buy this book, but it’s a helpful library check-out this time of year. 

VIDEOS:

“The Story of Thanksgiving Basically” – This is a cute cartoon video that tells the BASIC story (with some humor) and does a decent job connecting it to our lives today.  It’s no more than 2 minutes long, so will easily keep the attention of young ones. 

This is America, Charlie Brown, The Mayflower Voyagers – this video is longer than the first one I linked to, but does OK at telling the story in a way little ones can understand.  (the link will bring you to part one of the story; here’s part two)

CRAFT:

Pilgrim, Pilgrim – This is a create your own coloring book about the pilgrims.  It’s told in a similar fashion to Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  I was surprised at how into coloring J was on this activity.  We just added a few quick staples and were done, nothing flashy.  We now have a good review book. 

Crafty Canned Food Drive - I love this (scroll down to the bottom of that link to see the canned food “craft”).  This is so simple, yet a great way to incorporate the lesson of WHY we give and be a witnessing tool as well.  You can bring this back to the history of Thanksgiving by explaining how we can be a blessing by bringing food to others, just like the Native Americans blessed the Pilgrims. 

GAME:

Thanksgiving through pictures - J loved this game and still asks to play a full week later.  You can choose whichever Thanksgiving images you want to reinforce whichever aspect of Thanksgiving you want.  I made both cards for the historical aspect of Thanksgiving as well as images of things J will actually see when the family gets together. 

LEARNING:

Thanksgiving Worksheet Packet – These are printable worksheets that add Thanksgiving imagery to basic skills like letters, writing, colors, sorting, and counting. They are really well done.  We won’t be doing all of the pages, but I’ve chosen a few that will challenge J.

Shoeboxes En Route!

We dropped off our shoeboxes today.  Look at the excitement on J’s face when we were ready to load them in the car and give them away! 

You have until Monday, November 22th to drop off your box. No worries, you have plenty of time! You can find a drop off location near you by typing in your zip code here.  If you haven’t started but would like to get your little ones involved, you have time!  It really doesn’t take long to put them together, even on toddler time. 

If you haven’t heard about this great opportunity to teach your little one the blessing of giving, check out my other posts here and here.  Or check out Operation Christmas Child’s website

christmas shoebox

My First Recipe Cards

I thought I’d share something that I’m giving my 4 year old nephew for his birthday busy box.  He loves to cook, so I thought we’d start helping him work through simple (VERY simple) recipes on his own.  Many of the recipes involve no actual cooking, focusing on just the basic skills of working in a kitchen (ingredients, measurements, and following steps). They are recipes that preschoolers would enjoy eating as much as they enjoy “cooking”.  I included pictures to go along with most steps to help a non-reader out.

I’m going to try to do one of the easier ones with J pretty soon. I already have some modifications in mind to make it even easier for younger ones, but I do think these will work well in their current state.

Here’s the entire set of cards. My First Recipe Cards

To prepare them, I printed them on cardstock.  I then cut along the horizontal line and folded along the vertical one to create a front and back for each card.  I then hole punched along the left side of the cards (the open side) and used two small binder rings to combine the cards together. 

Add some measuring spoons, cups, mixing spoons, a hat and apron and laminate these great toddler/preschool food charts  as a placemat and you have an easy gift for birthday or Christmas.  If their interest continues, you could easily add a few recipes to their collection each year. 

If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes!

Apple Picking Practice

I think everyone should go apple picking in the autumn.  It’s a perfect activity for little ones.  Our trip kept getting pushed back for one reason or another throughout the whole month of October.  In that interim, I made this pretend apple picking sheet for J to work on. He uses his magnetic pompom balls (on a cookie sheet) to complete his apple picking.  I just set out a basket of “apples” for him to choose from, but I think it would be fun to add a hunt around the house for them too.  I originally saw the idea here and just adapted it a little.  After he was finished we counted the number or red, green and yellow “apples” and discussed which color had the most/least apples. 

I'm blaming the blur on my iphone!

I know apple season is over but if you want to try this activity yourself, you can print this pdf form for yourself.  It also has some apple counting and apple pattern worksheets along with it.  Apple picking and patterns

**I’m just noticing that I never posted about the magnetic pompoms, I’ll get back to you on that soon**

Age attempted: 29 months

We did finally make it to the real apple orchard.  Lots of fun!

I wish I could blame the blur on my iphone!

Introducing Thanksgiving to Toddlers

Each holiday (or season) I make a list of activities I might do with J.  I try to include books, videos, crafts, games, printables, field trips, and scripture/Bible stories that apply.  I never get all of the activities accomplished. I don’t really intend to do so when I create the list.  It’s just nice to have a quick go-to list when I’m planning out our weeks.  On the weeks I don’t get around to planning at all, I have a list to quickly pull from when the fancy strikes (or the toddler needs to be put to work!). 

I create the lists in powerpoint because, well, it’s my favorite.    I include any links to printables or the original idea right there in the list.  Any manipulatives that need to be created can be done there in the same file.  So when I open up my Autumn activities ppt, I have one page of activities specific to the season itself, one for Halloween and one for Thanksgiving.  All the remaining pages have manipulatives I created for the activities, as well as clip art and photos that might come in handy too.  Since the planning calendar I have is from I can easily fit that season’s activities into the calendar on the same file.

As we complete an activity I change the color font for quick reference. So far, we’ve completed the orange activities this year. 

Here’s my current Thanksgiving list:

2.Pilgrim hat cookies
3.Hand and foot print turkey
4.Popcorn corn craft
5.Operation Christmas Child (Nov. 15-20)- explain, shop, pack, About Me, Christmas Cards
8.Countdown to Thanksgiving
9.Bucket Filling
10.Pilgrim hat (styrofoam)
12.Thanksgiving Locational game or memory 
13.Post it note turkey
14.Spoon turkey
15.Quick story of Thanksgiving video
16.Mayflower Compact cartoon video (from Charlie Brown Thanksgiving)
17.Psalm 100
18. Thanksgiving library books

 I save the lists in case we want to reuse activities next year or complete activities we didn’t get to.  I can always add to it throughout the year if something extra special comes to mind.  I do try to keep the list reasonable and only include activities that are helpful in teaching (and, lets be honest, activities I think are just plain cute!).

You’ll notice that I DO NOT create all the activities myself.  Check out the links to some great activities! I might highlight a few later as I complete them, but no need to wait for me!  Thanksgiving is coming soon!

Snacktime Numbers and Letters

This isn’t flashy and I’m even a bit embarassed to show this activity.  BUT it’s a good way to incorporate some extra practice into your day.  No need to get extravagant to teach a toddler! You really can’t get any easier than this and your little one will love it.   

We had some leftover Cheez-it from a Sunday school activity, so I brought it home and put it to good use.  I figured it doesn’t provide much nutritional value so I might as well get some education value out of it!

We’ve used it for counting practice.  I called out a number and he had to find the cracker with that many dots to eat.

We’ve used it for letter practice.  I set up a column of upper case letters and a column of lower case letters and he matched them together.  I then called out a letter sound and he got to eat that letter. 

You could easily introduce numbers or letters this way or of course practice shapes and size too. 

Age attempted: 2 years; can certainly be done earlier

Leaf Sorting Pictures

This was an activity J did sometime during the summer when we were talking about how God created the plants.  It was simple yet effective and included very little prep work! My favorite :)

During a morning walk, we gathered a group of leaves from a few different trees (or bushes; J was adamant we chose a certain leaf from a bush!).  When we got home we examined the different kinds of leaves we chose.  How many points do they have?  Shape? Color?  Smooth or rough? 

Sorry for the dark photo. My normal camera was packed away in a boz so I used my iphone.

Then I mixed all the leaves together, cut out three tree trunks (we used 3 different types of leaves) and J sorted the leaves to replicate the three different trees. 

He did this activity on contact paper since I wasn’t sure if glue would hold the leaves in place quickly enough. I imagined a mess honestly and didn’t have time for one this day. :)

Age attempted: between 2 and 2.5 years

Patterns for Homemade Geoboards

In lieu of Christmas soon arriving, I thought I would introduce/reintroduce some of the great homemade toys that we have around our house.  Homemade toys are perfect for little ones!  Why spend tons of money on things you can make easily?

Remember this Homemade Geoboard post?  J still enjoys it today.  I recently put one together for his older cousin and included some example patterns with the board.  I took example photos of shapes, patterns, letters, numbers and pictures on the geoboard for him to replicate.  For even older ones, you could simply include a list of things to create and leave off the pictures.  That would add a level of difficulty. 

I think this would made a great homemade Christmas gift!