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! 

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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. 

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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.  

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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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Simple Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Easy to make, chocolate chip pancakes!  A hit with kids & grandkids everywhere! photo Chocolate Chip Pancakes.png

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When the grandchildren visit, they like to have pancakes in the morning. Unfortunately for them, their grandma isn't really a morning person. I'm not likely to spring out of bed on a weekend and throw together some fancy pancake concoction that would make Martha Stewart proud. Fortunately for them, I am crazy about them and love to see them happy. Fortunately for me, that's pretty easy.

Here's my trick: I have them make the pancakes AND I use a mix.  Just add chocolate chips.  They do the measuring and the mixing and the pouring and the stirring.  All I do is fry them up. And serve. They think they're the best pancakes in the world. I think they are the easiest pancakes in the world.  And if we're feeling really fancy-schmancy, we add whipped cream and caramel or chocolate syrup.  Maybe Martha would be proud. Nah...probably not.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Drying Art Projects

Stack Trays to dry artwork. photo Tip 3 - Stacking Trays.png

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Have you ever looked with envy at those fancy art drying racks in the supply catalogues? I know I have, even though I really don't have the space for one. I've found something even better, though. If you're like me, you probably have several serving trays that you use for art activities and play dough. They can easily serve the same purpose. They're convenient, too, because it's one less piece of equipment to store and the kids can work on the same tray that their art will be kept on.  Just leave the wet paint or glue covered work on the tray and stack them as shown above.  Find an unused desk or countertop and set them aside to dry.  I love that I can throw these trays through my dishwasher to clean them and they stack and store away on the shelf when not in use. I hope this tip helps you out with your next art project!