My cousin recommended this idea after seeing J’s grocery list on this post (My Little Helper: Grocery Shopping) and we finally tried it out at the store.
Prep: I did a quick search for some of the logos of items on my grocery list, copy and paste and I’m done. The internet makes this so simple and quick!
I didn’t pull it out at the grocery store until I knew we were about to start hitting the items on the list so basically we’d already gone through produce and meats. J’s list also did not include everything on my list. It was funny how he immediately knew what certain items were when I handed him the list. Like he knew that the Yoplait logo meant yogurt or the Lactaid logo was milk. This not only keeps them busy while shopping, it was also great practice with word recognition and letter recognition.
J really liked this, even better than the other grocery lists honestly. I think it helped too that I gave him a highlighter to check off his list rather than the normal crayon or pen
For younger ones, I would put the items in the order that you’ll reach them in the store. Another thing that works well is to fold the list in half or in thirds so they are just looking at a few items on the list at a time.
You could use this as a scavenger hunt rather than a grocery list that kids would love (which means they’re focused while you shop!). And this would actually make the list even easier to create since it wouldn’t matter which items you included.
Age attempted: 33 months
Posted in Age Range, Chores, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Games, Homemade Games, Letters, Life Skills, My Little Helper, Outside, Preschool (4-5 years), Reading and Writing, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Chores, Homemade Games, Life Skills
Here’s the card J made one of his cousins for Valentines Day. It was actually a fun way to practice letters. We’ll probably reuse this activity some other time.
What You Need: Pull and Peel Twizzlers, Glue, Cardstock, pencil
Prep: I actually precut for the Twizzlers for him and already had the message written in pencil on the cardstock for him.
He traced the letters with glue and then added the Twizzlers. After awhile he got tired of gluing, so I took over that part. To incorporate some learning, I asked him how many long/short pieces were needed for each letter prior to gluing. We also had lots of opportunities to repeat the words verticle and horizontal. He then added some math practice of his own as he decided to pattern the heart stickers and later the heart twizzler shapes.
I did help him on the spirals since it was a little too intricate for him to do alone. They’re supposed to be flowers, but J thought they looked like lollipops. Either one works!
Age: 34 months
Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is a book I happened upon at the library. It’s a non-fiction book actually, but told in story-book fashion about a boy named Willie Bentley who was fascinated with snowflakes. As a child he would catch the snowflakes and attempt to draw them on paper before they melted. Eventually his parents bought him a microscope camera to photograph the snowflakes. Can you imagine trying to photograph a snowflake using an 1882 camera!?! I’m sure we’d all have trouble with our modern DSLRs! Amazingly, he stuck to his goal. He held slideshows for townspeople to come see his photographs which were eventually published in a book called Snow Crystals that is used by colleges and universities. His fascination led to the discovery that all snowflakes are unique.
Throughout the book there are sidebars with extra facts about snow, William Bentley and his work. I’m so glad I came across this book. We used it to kick-start a discussion about snowflakes, photography, persistence, dedication and a job well-done.
Here’s a couple activities we did to go along with the book:
1. Snowflake matching - I googled Snowflake Bentley photographs and printed out two copies of the same photos. At first I presented 3-4 to match at a time since you have to really examine some to find the differences. As he got better, he could match more at a time.
2. Snowflake puzzle – I cut some of Bentley’s photos in half, mixed them all up and J found the two symmetrical sides to join together and create a snowflake. This was a great way to emphasize the meaning of symmetrical. These 2 activities really met J’s current ability level since I could easily make the level of difficulty was just right for him by picking and choosing the snowflakes to match.
Age attempted: 33 months; you could go into so much more detail for older kids and increase the difficulty of the activities by using snowflakes that are more similar in comparison
“The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers His name”
…exactly the purpose of the Bible, presented in a kid-friendly way.
This is BY FAR my favorite children’s Bible. Most children’s Bibles tell a simple story of Noah building the ark or Jesus healing the blind man and leave it at that. They give no attempt as explaining WHY these stories are important for us. They miss the meat of the message God has for us in the Bible.
“There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story.”
The Jesus Storybook Bible goes above and beyond others by giving the big picture. Starting with God creating us to “share his Forever Happiness” to God remaining firm in His “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” even after Adam and Eve’s sin to His promise to come back for us, to rescue us, and finally to His arrival on earth, putting His resuce plan into action. “He was going to get His people back.” Each story foreshadows the coming of Christ, explains the reasons for His coming and the purpose for this time we live in today, between His ascension and His final return.
Honestly, that’s a deep message. Amazingly the author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, explains this message in a way a child can understand.
“The Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes.
The Bible is most of all… an adventure story about
a brave Prince who leaves his palace…
to rescue the one he loves.
The best thing about this Story is – it’s true.”
I am confident you will adore this children’s Bible as much as I do and as much as J does. Oh and they also have an audio version if you purchase the deluxe edition. I don’t have this yet, so no personal experience with that portion. It’s on order though, so stay tuned for my thoughts on that too!
Posted in Age Range, Bible, Childhood (5+ years), Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Preschool (4-5 years), Products, Reading and Writing, Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Bible, Great Products
When I was little my grandmother used to record stories on tape for us. We still have some of them! She also sent some to my cousins who were overseas at the time. I think this is an awesome gift for little ones that live far away. They get to hear your voice on a consistent basis, acting out your love from thousands of miles away by reading stories to them!
A few years ago I took the same concept and made a set of books on CD for my nephews (age 2 and 3 at the time). I chose some favorite books from childhood and recorded myself (and my husband) reading them using my computer.
I used a free recording software called Audacity. It worked well. Their software was easy to use and easy to edit. I later went in and added a little chime sound for when the page should be turned. The software made it easy to dub the chime to my saved recording. Just Google “free sound effects” to find a wide array of choices. Finally I burned all the stories onto a cd, made a cute little cover for it and packaged cd and books together for my nephews.
We also recorded some fun family stories and songs and I added a few stories from my grandma and grandpa (using the tapes they gave us as kids).
I should add that I am not a technological expert by any means. I have trouble with Facebook! I guarantee that if I could do this, anyone could.
It really wasn’t a difficult project to complete and I think it’s a great gift. I recently burned all those same stories onto a cd for J so it’s become a gift that keeps on giving! It’s been great to use on road trips and plane trips. It also works great while cooking dinner.
If you’re still deciding on a Christmas gift for a little one in your family, you should try this out!
Age attempted: 2 and 3 (for nephews and for J)
Posted in Age Range, Birthday, Childhood (5+ years), Christmas, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Toys, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Preschool (4-5 years), Reading and Writing, Toddler (2-3 years), Travel Activities
Tagged Homemade Toys, Rainy Days, Travel
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
Posted in Age Range, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Letters, Math, Reading and Writing, Shapes, Size, Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Size
This idea came to me as I was getting out construction paper for J to make his Great Grandpa a card to send in the mail. I got the materials ready in a matter of minutes while J waited patiently It’s certainly not a flashy card, but it offered great reinforcement with his letters and J enjoyed creating it.
PREP: I wrote out a message on the construction paper, leaving out the first letter of each word. I placed in its stead (is that how you use that word??) an empty box so that J knew where the glue (and letter) should go. Then, with another color of paper, I wrote the missing letters and cut them out.
With J: I set out all the missing letters along with some glue and the actual card in front of him. We started with the first word of the message (_appy); I pointed out that this was a word but it was missing the first letter. I said the word, emphasizing the H sound and then told him he needed to added the letter H to finish the word. He would search out the correct letter and glue it in place. **One of the tv shows he gets to watch a few times each week is Word World where they build words to create the different characters and props for the show. J has been pushing letters together ever since, claiming he created a word like on the show. This activity really just put into practice what he saw on tv.**
He finished all the words in the message, added the hearts, stickers and a drawing on the card. It’s really a simple card, but it was a great way to emphasize the letter sounds and reinforce the letter names. In fact, I discovered that he knows the letter Y, something I personally haven’t taught him.
As I was picking up, I realized that I could’ve used letter stickers instead of having to write and cut out the letters. That would’ve made for even less prep for the activity.
Age: 26 months
Future Use: I think next time I will use this as a way to test his knowledge of the letter sounds. Instead of giving him the name of the letter along with the sound, I will just ask him to find the letter that makes the sound “sss”…
This would also be a good plane activity, but I would definitely use stickers rather than glue on the plane.
Posted in Age Range, Childhood (5+ years), Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Father's Day, Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Cards, Letters, Preschool (4-5 years), Reading and Writing, Subject, Toddler (2-3 years), Travel Activities
Tagged Letters, Travel
I put together these activities for a friend’s little girl. While mommy is serving in Iraq, I thought this busy box might help to keep her little one busy and hopefully even allow her dad some much needed time off from entertaining. Most of the activities are homemade, repurposing items from around the house as is my norm. I housed them in a simple decorative box. J’s own “busy box” is kept in a closet and the activities are only brought out at certain times throughout the week. This helps keep it’s novelty. Some of the activities are repeats from the 1 year old Busy Box I made my niece awhile back, though I tried to make them a bit more difficult for the older age. You’ll also notice that these activities are mostly ones I’ve mentioned in previous posts. When I make a busy box, I try to pick the most successful activities from J’s experience, many of these are motor skill activities. Some of these activities are things Ella can enjoy now and some she will grow into in the next few months.
You’ll have to excuse my poor decorating abilities. That is certainly not my forte. Most of the original toys that I made for J aren’t decorated at all. J never seemed to mind, so hopefully little Ella will look past the covers and still enjoy the meat of the activities!
1. Pushing Puff Balls – this is a fine motor activity and has always kept J entertained; see this post for more info
2. Color Sorting Pipe Cleaners – again a fine motor activity and I added practice with colors; this is probably the favorite homemade toy for J; see this post and this post for more info
3. Color Wheel – practice with colors and fine motor skills; you can use the wheel in other ways too. See this post and this post fore more.
4. Puzzles -These foam puzzles were one of the best buys for J. They were just $1 at our local grocery store and I picked them up on the fly one time. When I saw them there months later, I bought a few more as gifts. I bring the color puzzle on plane trips sometimes since there are few pieces and it’s very light.
5. Family Bag – this is similar to J’s family magnet pics. I added each family member’s name to Ella’s pics, laminated them (with contact paper) and gave her a little purse to carry them in. J has loved his family pics since before he was one. I thought adding the names could encourage name recognition.
6. Seed Family Worship CD – I had previously sent one of their CDs to my friend while she’s in Iraq, but thought her daughter might like one too. These cd’s are really great and not just for kids IMO. They are an excellent way to help us write God’s Word on our hearts. See this post for more.
7. Fish Counting and Matching file folder game – J has a similar matching game, I just made this one a bit more durable by adding it to a file folder for safe keeping. The envelope holds the laminated fish cards to match as well as the fish to place on the counting page. I found the counting template here from Tot school and have used it many times with J.
8. Sponge Jewelry – a fine motor activity and again a favorite of J’s, simply thread the sponges onto the pipe cleaners. I found a greater variety of sponges for Ella’s jewelry. A girl needs to match! See this post for more info.
Posted in Age Range, Birthday, Colors, Counting, Early Toddler (18-24 months), Games, Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Toys, Letters, Math, Motor Skills, Music, Patterns, Products, Reading and Writing, Subject, Table Time
Tagged Busy Box, Colors, Counting, Great Products, Homemade Toys, matching, Motor Skills
I made a simple mailman activity for my niece to include in her 1 Year old Busy Box (check out #3 on the link). At her level, it basically included the foam envelopes and a small metal mailbox. She could open and close the mailbox, lift up the flag, and play the “In and Out” game that ALL 1 year olds seem to love! I kept wanting to make something similar for J.
I got the first mailbox at Michael’s Craft Store but haven’t been able to find them since so I decided to make one with a shoebox… until I came across this mailbox in the Valentine’s clearance section at Target.
It’s made of cardboard and opens and closes like normal on the side. It also has a small slit at the top (originally to place valentine’s card inside). Regular size foam fits perfectly in the slit on top. I cut the foam envelopes according the the length of the slit and then labeled each with both a mailing and a return “address” and drew a stamp in the upper right. If you wanted, you could use real stickers and have your toddler place the stamp on each envelope.
I’ve had this activity made for ever, but just brought it out this week. I’m glad I waited. Since the foam envelopes barely fit in the mailbox slit, it makes it an appropriately challenging activity for J’s current level. He has to be very careful to get the foam inside the slit and then he has to work slowly to push the foam envelope down. Since foam bends if he pushes too hard or moves to fast the long envelopes will just bend over the top of the mailbox instead of falling inside. It was a GREAT fine motor skill activity for him.
Lots of concentration going on!!
He got really frustrated at first. Dad stepped in and showed him how to hold the envelope on the sides with both hands and SLOWLY push it into the mailbox. From then on he loved it. He stuck with it for awhile. The fact that he had to focus so much and was, in the end, able to complete the task tells me he’s at the right developmental level for this. I’m actually glad the slit was so small. If I had made one myslef, I wouldn’t have made the slit that small which would’ve made it to easy for him.
It can also act as a name recognition game… he can “deliver” the envelopes to the correct person (in this case, Mommy, Daddy, and J) or he can just stack them according to name. When he’s older, I could add more recipients and J could sort them next to the recipients picture.
He can of course also sort them by color, count the numbe of envelopes each person recieved (or according to color).
Age attempted: 25 months; a younger toddler can insert the mail through a larger slit or through the door on the mailbox.
Here’s the picture of my niece’s Mailman game
Posted in Age Range, Colors, Early Toddler (18-24 months), Homemade Toys, Motor Skills, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Reading and Writing, Subject, Table Time, Toddler (2-3 years), Valentines Day
Tagged Colors, Letters, Motor Skills