Monday, July 6, 2015

Learn with Play Book

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I'm so excited to be writing this post today because I finally get to show you the book I have been working on. Over 90 kid's bloggers have joined together to create this incredible resource of fun, play-filled learning activities.

It's available in several convenient formats, too. You can choose the one that's most convenient for you, whether it's ebook, kindle or a paperback. For a very short time, you can purchase the ebook version for only $9.95 U.S. 

I'm really excited to be a part of this amazing book. I know that it will be a valuable resource for parents, grandparents, homeschoolers, preschool teachers and anyone who works with or cares for children. As a bonus, if you order the the ebook or kindle version you are going to get even more than the 150+ activities you'll find in the print version. That's because each activity includes two more links to two more activities. So there's another 300 or so! You'll also be introduced to all the authors and be able to check out all the activities offered on their blogs that's 90-some authors with hundreds (or more) activities on each of their blogs! That will keep your kids busy learning and playing for a long, long, time. Such an incredible investment in your child's learning.

To order yours, simply click on the version you'd prefer from the selection below:

(As a co-author and affiliate, I may make a profit from the purchase of this book.)

Happy Playing!

Learning Shapes with Playdough

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As part of the Cool Maths for Cool Kids series, I am sharing this post about learning shapes with playdough.

It's not often that I join the children when they play with playdough. I am hesitant to interfere in their own play ideas. I know my buddies are inclined to watch and copy what I am doing, and I would rather they create from their own ideas than from mine.  When I do join in, it's usually because I have an idea I want to introduce into their play.

learning shapes with playdough photo Shapes .png

This day, I decided I would like to introduce SHAPES. My buddies are already familiar with standard two dimensional shapes. Squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, and the like. Playdough offers the ability to create three dimensional shapes so it is ideal for this purpose.

I quietly  joined them and started creating shapes. I created a 


Cone photo cone.png


cylinder photo cylinder.png


cube photo cube.png

and sphere.

sphere photo sphere.png

Right away, they were interested in what I was doing. They wanted to know what I was making and they wanted me to make them shapes, too. Older children would be able to make shapes themselves, but the buddies that were with me that day were younger. They could make spheres, and cylinder "snakes" but couldn't master the cone or cube.

At first they wanted to use the familiar shape names, "circle" and "square" for these shapes. To show the difference,  I created some flat playdough shapes to show them.

As a follow up, throughout the day we would take note of other objects that were cone, sphere, cylinder or cube shaped. This was a very easy and fun way to introduce shapes to my preschool buddies.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Printable Math Games

Math Games : a fun way to learn and practice math

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It's summer holidays and my school-age grandchildren have joined us. To keep up with the skills they learned and still have a fun break from school, I created a couple of math games that would utilize the skills I wanted to them to work on. You can find this, and many more math ideas as part of the Cool Maths for Cool Kids series. 

These games are really easy to play and I'm including the printable for you here in this post.

Cover Up - A great co-operative math game for one or two players photo Math Games 2.png

Cover Up 


* 6 dice
* 2 kinds of counters - we used green glass gems and mini purple glass gems

The rules of the game are simple. Start at the bottom of the page (or at the top, if you prefer) with one row of numbers. Roll all 6 dice and see how many of the numbers you've rolled correspond with numbers in that row. We used the dice to cover the numbers as we matched them up. Then replace the dice with counters.
Move on to the next line. If you are playing with two players, this will be the next players turn. Roll the dice as before, matching the dice to the corresponding number in the row and replace the dice with counters.
Keep moving up (or down) row by row, alternating turns. There will be uncovered numbers and unused dice when numbers come up that you don't need.
When you come to the end of the rows the game changes. Roll all the dice again and find the numbers anywhere on the page. Cover those numbers with different counters. Keep going this way, still alternating turns until all the numbers are covered. 
When all the numbers are covered, you've practiced your math, had fun & everybody wins!

Math Games - a fun way to practice math photo Math Games 4.png

Roll the Dice

Roll the Dice - A simple one player math game photo Math Games 3.png


* Roll the Dice game sheet
* 20 dice (I bought mine at the dollar store in a multi-pack of 36.)

This game is a very fast time filling game for one player. You simply roll all 20 dice and place them in the corresponding row. You may roll more of a number than will fit in a row. Like we did for the number four in the collage picture above.  If that happens, set that die aside until the end and re-roll it to find it a home. I like that this game is short and sweet so that my buddies won't get bored before the game finishes. You can always do it again, too! 

 photo FREE Math.png

Monday, June 15, 2015

Early Childhood Heroes - Jeff Johnson

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If you're involved in early childhood education, you have probably heard the name Jeff Johnson. I had the opportunity to meet him and listen to him speak. He is an amazing and passionate speaker. I was so excited to meet him! I especially loved that Jeff Johnson and his wife, Tasha have a background in Family Child Care.

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See! That's JEFF JOHNSON and me! I don't take a lot of selfies and the pic turned out horrible but there it is!

He had many fantastic ideas, and they were displayed on tables so that we could check them out for ourselves if we wanted. I walked around the room and then I saw it. I was in love. Oh my buddies would have fun with this I thought. I already had a ton of ideas of how we would use it.

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The Catapult

I started imagining how I could distract Jeff and smuggle it out but I think he knew I had my eye on it He whisked it away very quickly after the presentation was over. What's up with that, Jeff? I neeeeeeeeed one! I am working on getting my husband to build me one, but since I'm kind of impatient, I might end up building it myself. Look out power tools!

If you haven't heard of Jeff Johnson, his site is Explorations Early Learning and you should really check it out. I'm sure you'll find tons of ideas there.  I couldn't find instructions for his catapult, but I did find this one: Catapult DIY. I think I would have to make some modifications to it before my buddies could use it, though. If you've built one already do share with me. If not, wish me luck & I'll share mine with you when it's built. :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bubble Squishers

Bubble Squishers photo Bubble Squishers.png

My buddies and I all had so much fun with this activity!  I whipped up a batch of bubbles with my electric mixer.  I used a little water, and dish soap. I tried some additives to make the bubbles last longer, too, but didn't find anything particularly effective. I used about a half cup of water and a tablespoon or so of dish soap (a generous squirt should do). You can also add colouring to the foam with food colouring or liquid water colours. Then turn your mixer on high speed and beat it until it is really foamy. 

mixing soap suds photo mixer.png

Scoop it into some large plastic bags and close the bags up.  Then snip off a tiny little corner of the bag.  

Kids can squish and squirt the soap foam into containers and cups and just up into the air.  They really loved this activity and I've saved the plastic bags so that we can do it again and I won't have to cut holes in more bags.  (I'm going to have to figure out how to temporarily close the corners while I fill the bags.)  

We will definitely be doing this again!  I will keep trying to find something will prolong the bubbles as they do start to return back to a watery state if left for very long. Let me know if you try this fun activity & if you happen to know what will make the foam last longer.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Gnome Homes

Gnome Homes - an alternative to fairy gardens photo Gnome Homes.png

While fairy gardens seem to be all the rage, at my house we do things a little differently. I have a window box in front of my house that is mostly hidden by a shrub.  You can't see it except when you're inside the house.  It gets very little sun and no rain so it's really hard to grow things in it.

I thought it would be fun to build a fairy garden, but I didn't have any fairies.  I did have gnomes, though.  And I had a bird house and a few garden ornaments.  I mainly used what I had lying around but I did pick up some moss to make a base.  

The most complex part of this gnome home was making the little well.  I used a tin can and glued craft sticks around it.  The roof is bent cardboard from a cereal box, and each shingle was cut from the same cardboard.  I painted a little medicine cup with silver paint and put a wire handle on it.  Voila!  Well.  It was perfect for the climbing gnome to be coming out of.  (The gnomes were intended to be in planters.)

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I painted up a bird house, too, and used craft sticks to make a door and enhance a window. 

Gnome Home photo Gnome Home A.png

I had a mushroom garden ornament that seemed to be the right size so it got a fresh coat of paint, too. I eventually added a pathway of little square tiles, a fence of craft sticks and little artificial flowers that I cut from stems from the dollar store.  

Gnome Home photo Gnome Home C.png

I love that it's kind of a secret waiting to be discovered when they look out the window. Like a secret garden - but without the trying to keep plants alive without proper sun or water!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Foil Painting

Foil Painting - a relaxing creative art activity for all ages photo Foil Painting Collage.png
painting on foil is a wonderfully relaxing art activity

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The other day, someone asked me if we did a lot of crafts at daycare. I cringed, just a little and told her, no, we didn't do a lot of crafts. Most of my buddies were 3 and under at the time, so traditional crafting was a little beyond them.

Instead, what I have found, and this works for buddies of all ages, is open-ended art activities. This allows every child, regardless of age or ability, to explore the materials, to choose their design and create at will.  Each child can feel successful and feel pleasure in the process of creating.  

This simple foil painting activity was an excellent example.  We did this a few years ago (with older and younger buddies) and are due to do it again.  I had prepared their foil ahead of time by taping it onto some shirt cards that had been donated.  This gave them a surface to paint on that was sturdier and less likely to crinkle or tear as they painted.

I also provided a tray of paints and some brushes, though they were free to paint with their fingers.  Paint on foil has a cool and slippery feel that some of my buddies particularly enjoyed.  Other buddies used brushes and carefully picked colours and placement on their foil.

The best part of open-ended art in a multi-age group is that the children lead the activity.  I'm not telling them what to cut, or where to paste or what to do at all. I'm not doing it for them either. It's all them.  They enjoy themselves, it's a relaxing and pleasant activity.  Some of my buddies spent a long time on this activity, while others finished more quickly and went on to other things.  

In the end, my buddies had a creation to take home that was all theirs, made by them. We'll do a craft, perhaps, another day, but not this day.