Friday, January 23, 2015

Is It Alive?

I'm not really sure where this came from, but lately Erik has been asking a lot of questions about what it means to be alive or dead. I decided that it was time to talk about what "alive" is and thought that it worked great as part of our letter A theme. 
We started by watching this awesome movie about the scientific way to tell if something is alive: 

And if for some reason you don't want to watch Robin Williams, then you can listen to Cookie Monster tell you the same information (in a slightly less funny way) with this video:
After discussing how to know if something is alive or dead, we practiced asking these questions ourselves. 
I took two pieces of paper and wrote "Alive" on one and "Not Alive" on the other. I chose to write "Not Alive" instead of "Dead" because those aren't quite the same thing. Something dead was once alive but is not anymore, while some things never have and never will be alive. I gathered a pile of toys to represent things that belong in both categories so that we could ask the questions mentioned in the videos to figure out how to sort them. 
It was a bit tricky for Erik, because our "alive" things really were just toys representing something living. It's a bit hard to observe things like "Does it eat? Does it breathe? Does it grow?" when all you have to observe are toys.
I ended up looking up pictures of baby animals and mature animals so he could compare and see how they grow. We talked about the noises the animals make to show that they would have to be able to breathe to make any noise. We talked about what kinds of food the animal in question would like to eat. I think he eventually understood what I was getting at, but it took some work. 
 This was a fun science discussion, and also counts as a pre-operational math activity because of the classifying element. Yay for two-in-one activities!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

TBT: Foam Craft Sheets

In case you missed last week's Throw Back Thursday post, I am doing a series of posts highlighting some of my favorite and most used materials. Last week was Pom Poms, but for this week I'm showcasing ways to use foam sheets to put together lots of fun activities for your kiddo.

We have used our foam sheets  A LOT and I love coming up with new things to do with them. You can cut them into any shape you want or need just like you would paper, but they are so much more durable. This makes them ideal for activities where you need something easy for little fingers to manipulate but strong enough to hold up to some abuse. And they're super cheap, so that's always a plus! Here are some of the ways we've played with them:

Learn shapes and colors with these fun DIY bath stickers

Create some fun pictures with a Sticky Story Board (here's another way to enjoy this, and here's how to take this idea on the road)

Practice Hand-Eye coordination with these fun DIY lacing cards

Have some sensory play fun with this Ocean in a Bag

Teach your child how to spell their name with this cute Christmas Tree

Practice one-to-one number correspondence with your preschooler with this fun counting wall

Did I miss any awesome way to use these things? Let me know in the comments!

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Letter "A" Alligator Craft

We found this cute alligator craft on and knew we wanted to give it a try. The directions here are easy to follow and come with free printables, so you can easily enjoy this one with us!
As I've mentioned before, I don't have a printer, so instead of using the printable, I found a font I liked in the word processor on my computer and traced the image from the screen onto a paper.
I cut a piece of green construction paper into strips and then gave them to Erik so he could cut the strips into little chunks. While he did that I cut circles for the eyes and triangles for the teeth. I also wrote the letter in in both upper and lower case and cut those out.
Erik helped glue everything together and we made up a sentence about our creation that had as many a's in it as I could manage to squeeze in.
What a fun way to learn a letter and it's sound, practice cutting (fine motor), and have fun with glue.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Letter Stomp

I saw this idea on Pinterest, but wanted to adjust it to work for one letter at a time. Here's what I came up with. 
First, let's gather our material:
    We used painter's tape, a small cube shaped box, and some blank paper. 

I started by writing the letter A on six different pieces of paper, three as uppercase and three as lowercase. Tape these papers on to the box to make a giant die. 
Next I used the tape to make a bunch of a's all over the living room floor. I handed Erik the dice and let him roll it. Then he had to jump on either a lower or upper case A, whichever one he rolled. 
This was a really good way to learn the difference between the upper and lower case, while also working on gross motor skills at the same time. Both throwing the dice and jumping on the letters count as gross motor and are really good for your kiddo. 
It was also great fine motor practice for Sharli, who was working as fast as she could to pull up all the tape on the floor. Maybe it was her revenge for my letting her look like a homeless ragamuffin that day... 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Letter "A" Activities

Erik has been really interested in the alphabet lately so I decided it would be fun to start focusing on the different letters. I don't know yet if we'll do a unit for every single letter, but for now we're going to see how far we can get. So, for this week's activities we have:
**Links will go active as the posts go up over the next week or two.
Language Arts:
     Letter A books
     Letter recognition sensory bin
     Matching starting sounds

Creative Arts:
     Alligator "A" Craft

     Salt letters
     Is it Alive?

Health and Physical Development
     Letter Stomp

     Sorting A's

Thursday, January 15, 2015

TBT: Pom Poms!!!

I realized there are several different materials that we have gotten LOTS of mileage out of and thought it would be fun to share those with you in a series of Throw Back Thursday posts.

So for this week, here is a round up of ways to play with pom poms.

A good sized package of pom poms is pretty cheap, and can provide hours and hours of fun. For example, you can:

Dump them in a bowl and enjoy some free play (why is free play so awesome? Check this out)

Strengthen finger muscles by poking them into a home-made toy (bet you have the stuff to make it without having to leave your house)

Work on hand eye coordination by dropping them down a tunnel you can make yourself (again, bet you already have the supplies)

Build fine motor skills by pairing them with some contact paper.

Work on pre-operational math skills by sorting them according to color or size

Create a work of art by painting with them

Keep your little one busy and entertained (and out of your hair) by sticking a handful in an empty egg carton

Enjoy some sensory play when you use them to create a sensory bin

Teach new vocabulary to your baby as you discover what "soft" or "fuzzy" means

How have you and your kiddos played with pom poms? Leave a comment so we can join in the fun too!

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ginger Bread Man Pre-writting Activity

I try to stay away from things like worksheets, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. Erik doesn't have much interest in coloring or really any fine motor activity, but I know how critical it is for him to build those skills so he can learn to write. So, since he has been reading the story of the Ginger Bread Man lately, I thought maybe I could get him to do a bit of tracing. I found this idea here, but don't have a printer to take advantage of her handy printable so I made my own worksheet. 
I handed it to Erik and told him these ginger bread men need his help getting home. I told him he needed to draw a road for them to take to get to their houses. He was thrilled and did the worksheet over and over, each time using a different color of crayon. He didn't follow the dotted lines perfectly, but I was impressed at how well he did, as this was the first time we've done anything like this.