Friday, February 27, 2015

Baking Soda Bubbles

I found the idea for the great letter B science activity here, and while it's not anything ground breaking or new, it's still a fun one. Especially when you have a goofball like this to work with:
For your supplies, you'll need:
baking soda
dish soap
an empty bottle
a small bowl
a wash cloth
a funnel
a cake pan or cookie sheet to contain any spills

*Check the original website  for amounts and more detailed instructions

Erik loved helping me do the prep work. He is very interested in measuring, pouring, mixing, and just about anything that goes on in the kitchen. 

 This is just your classic baking soda/vinegar eruption, but when you add a cloth soaked in soapy water over the top of your container you get a surprise.
We played around with the soapy cloth for a while, then we just took it off and just played around with the baking soda and vinegar (and maybe a bit of food coloring...) 
Even Sharli (who does get to wear cute girly clothes more often then not, despite the fact that for some reason they never seem to make it into the pictures on our blog) really enjoyed watching what was going on. She was right there in her highchair the whole time observing our every move. And pigging out on crackers, but what's a good show without some munchies?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

TBT: Large Group Toy Matching Game

For today's Throw Back Thursday post, I wanted to show you how I took the Toy Matching Game I shared a while back to the next level, and made it possible to use it for group play. Here's the original set-up:
A single sheet of paper, and a few toys. This is perfect for one child to play with, but not so great when you've got a half a dozen kids at your house for a play date. So, how do you make this work for a larger group? 
 We had children ages 2-10 coming to play, so I wanted this to be fun for as many of them as possible. The night before everyone came, I went through the kids' toy boxes and picked out all the toys I could find that would be fairly simple to trace, while still presenting a challenge. I especially tried to find pairs of things that were of similar shape, but not identical. For example, a toy hammer with a long skinny handle and one with a short fat handle, or a five pointed star and a six pointed star, etc.
Once I gathered the toys, I spread a sheet of paper (I used the back side of some leftover Christmas wrapping paper, but craft paper would work great too) across my coffee table and used painters tape to attach it all the way around. Then I laid out all the toys and traced them onto the paper.
When our friends started arriving this is what they found waiting for them:
I didn't give any instruction, just let them do with it as they pleased. This worked great as a way to keep kids busy while we waited for everyone to get here. It was fun to watch the kids work on figuring out where everything went. There was enough room that 4-6 kids could each work independently in their own little area, but most of them chose to work together in small teams or groups. 
So what if you don't have a large surface that would work for this? Or what if you're going to have more kids than will fit around a single table?
One other idea I toyed with when planning this activity was to make a bunch of individual papers so that each kid had their own to work on (like individual bingo cards). I think this would have worked out okay, but I think it would have kept the kids from joining forces to figure out the puzzle together. If that's the best you can do in your situation I'm sure the kiddos will still have fun. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Book About Me

I found this fun idea for a social studies activity for preschoolers here, and thought that making our own book fit nicely with our letter B theme. I didn't take the time the day we made this to pull up my computer to look up the exact page ideas used in the link, but I think I like ours better anyways. 

So let's gather our materials:
-sturdy paper (we used construction paper)
-stickers, yarn, misc. embellishments
-small dollar store photo album (or you could just use a stapler and staple your pages together)
I started by cutting out blank pages from a variety of colors of paper, though plain white would have worked as well. I used a marker to write the words on each page (and make simple drawings on a few, you'll see what I mean), then showed him how to complete the details on each page to make them personal to him. 
I feel like we're lacking in fine-motor skills, so this activity was also meant as a way to encourage some practice in that area. I tried to make it so that for each page we used a different skill/technique to make the page itself. I wrote words with dotted-line letters for Erik to trace...
...I had him cut out shapes from different colors of paper...

 ...I let him glue items to the different pages...
...some pages he got to color with crayons or colored pencils, most he decorated with stickers.  Here are some of our pages:
Other page ideas:
A page for each member of the family
The child's birthday
The child's pet
Favorite book, food, movie, toy, etc
Where you live
Hair color

Once you've made all the pages you want, stick them in a small photo album or staple them together. Enjoy reading your creation together!

 In the end we wound up with a book all about one of his favorite subjects, that he made with his own hands. It's fun to watch him pull it out and flip through the pages. He loves trying to remember what all the words are on the pages. I love that he got a glimpse into where books come from, as well as the assurance that he's important. So important there's a whole book about nothing but him. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bashing Baked Cotton Balls

This is actually an activity we did a few months ago and I never got around to posting. I thought it went great with the letter B theme we've got going on though, so I went ahead and included it, despite the crappy quality of the cell phone pictures. I found this fun idea here. It does take some prep work, but there's no reason why your little one can't be involved in that aspect of the fun too. 

Erik loves helping out in the kitchen, so getting to help make the goo to roll the cotton balls in was a big hit. He does have a thing against getting his fingers messy though (unless we're painting, go figure...) so he was not interested in actually rolling the cotton balls in the goo. 

Once the balls were done cooking, they did have some sharp edges. I took some scissors and clipped those off as best I could and we just went for it.
I pulled out the heftiest toy hammer we have and turned him loose. I think he really enjoyed having freedom to destroy things. It was nice that it gave him a great way to build his hand-eye coordination while also strengthening his arms.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Letter B Butterfly Craft

 For our letter B craft we decided to use this idea as our inspiration. I wanted our letter B to look more like the letter would when found in a book or elsewhere in print, so we didn't use her printable. Instead I used my trick of finding a font I like in my word processor and copying the outline of the letter onto a paper. Also, I couldn't find my roll of contact paper, so we had to improvise. Let's gather our supplies:
-Sheet of plain paper
-Large letter B cut our of colored construction paper
-Black (or gray, or whatever you like) butterfly body cut out of construction paper
-Squares of tissue paper
-White glue

Start by gluing the B and the body to your paper.
 We used a marker to make up a simple sentence about our creation. I did this before we were finished because I didn't want to smash the tissue paper while writing.
Apply a light layer of glue (Erik helped me with the glue, so it wasn't quite as controlled as I wanted, but it worked) on your letter. Wrap a square of tissue paper around the end of the pencil and stick it on the glue.
 The idea was to do the entire B with the little tufts of tissue paper, but that was a lot of work for Erik's little fingers.
He eventually gave up and just stuck the squares of paper directly onto the paper, and that was just fine. This is HIS work of art after all. 
 When the B was completely covered in tissue paper squares we set our creation aside to dry and went outside to play. It now hangs proudly on the wall next to our Alligator A.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Filling up the Letter B

To help introduce the sound the letter B makes, we used this idea from The Measured Mom (she has TONS of alphabet activities, you should check it out!). The first time we did this I handed Erik a bunch of teddy Bear counters and a paper with a large letter B on it. I didn't tell him what to do with it, I just handed it over. He immediately started filling the letter up with bears. We talked about the different colors, we lined them up in a row, we made up little stories about them. At some point I asked him what sound a B makes and made the connection to the bear counters, but I didn't dwell on it. I wanted this to be fun. 
 The next day I put our letter B on a cookie sheet along with another piece of paper with four circles, each colored a different color and labelled with the correct color name. Again, I didn't give any instructions, just turned him loose. He never did sort the buttons by color (he's just not really into sorting things), but he did ask what the words said and we talked about that. He started to outline the B with the buttons, but got distracted just enjoying looking at all the different kinds of buttons. He's asked for this activity several times since this, but due to the choking hazard for Sharli we just haven't had another good opportunity to pull the buttons back out. We will though, don't worry.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

TBT: Fun with Contact Paper

For my next installment of Throw Back Thursday, I thought I'd share with you some of the fun we've had with contact paper. This stuff is pretty cheap and can be used in so many ways!

Get creative and build fine motor skills with a Sticky Story Board (here's a mini version of this for taking on the go)

Encourage imaginative play with a home made car mat.

Let your baby explore the concept of "sticky".

Create a unique work of art.

Expand on the story board idea and build those fine motor skills with some sticky fun.

Practice basic math skills.

Teach your preschooler how to spell their name.

Protect activities you've worked hard to prepare for your little one so they'll last months instead of minutes.

*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, February 18, 2015

Beach Math Flannel Board

This flannel board set is one of many great resources my mother-in-law saved from when her children were young. She has given us use of anything we want out of her many boxes of materials, and we're loving it! 
While I know that most of you don't have access to such a treasure trove, that doesn't mean you can't find a way to do something like this at home. You could make something like our Weather Counting Wall in just about any theme you can dream up and draw. You could use felt and fabric paint to make your own flannel board set. OR, I did the research and found this exact flannel set for sale on this neat website. You're welcome.
We sorted all the different objects (classification) by type and counted how many there were of each. 
We made up little stories about the different children and the things they brought to or saw at the beach, then counted the total number of objects (beginning addition). We made up similar stories for some basic subtraction (Bob saw three fish, but then one swam away. How many are left?)
 Mostly we just played with this and had fun. Erik loves to help make up stories (creative expression) about anything, so we had a lot of fun just imagining what all the felt boys and girls were doing at the beach. Not every story had math involved, but some did.
 My favorite part of this was when my hubby walked in the door for his lunch break and saw the beach scene stuck to the back of our couch (because I don't have a real flannel board to stick these to, but the couch works great). He was SO surprised to see this relic from his childhood sitting in our living room.
The best part? Erik loved this and would happily play with it every day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Books for the Letter B

We managed to find a good selection of books that work with the letter B. About half of them came from our public library and the other half came out of our Book Nook. It was fun to discover how many of our own books worked for this theme. If you need help coming up with books for the letter B, you can find some good lists here and here
I won't give you details about all the books, but I will highlight a few of our favorites. 

 How Will We Get to the Beach? is one of Erik's favorite books to borrow from the library. It details the struggles of a young mother who just wants to enjoy a day at the beach with her baby, but can't get there after her car breaks down. There is a fun element of hide and seek as you try to figure out which item is missing from each page.
 Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes was a fun read. It's the story of two neighbors each trying to grow a tomato garden with varying levels of success. Don't worry, everyone ends up with a good tomato harvest in the end, though maybe not as they thought it would all play out.
 Bunny my Honey is the sweet story of a mommy rabbit and her love for her baby bunny. The baby gets lost in the woods, but it all works out in the end thanks to his loving mommy.
I'm a Big Brother (and it's companion book, I'm a Big Sister) is a cute little book all about the good things that come along with having a new baby. We bought this book for Erik a few weeks before Sharli was born, and I think he really liked it. He didn't really get that the big brother in the book represented him until a few days after Sharli came home, but I still think it was worth the purchase. 

So there you have it, all our favorite books for learning the letter B. 

*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.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Letter B Preschool Activities

We had a lot of fun with our letter B activities. Here's our lesson plan so you can join in the fun. Hope you have as much fun as we did!

Language Development:
     -Read LOTS of books

Math Concepts:
     -Beach Math

Social Studies
     -A Book About Me

     -Baking Soda Bubbles

Health and Physical Development:
     -Filling up a B (fine motor)
     -Bashing Baked Cotton Balls (Gross Motor)

Creative Arts:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Salt and Glue Science

I saw this fun science experiment on Pinterest and knew it would be a great one for Erik. Fine motor skills have always been one of his weakest areas, so anything I can do to challenge him in that area is awesome. 
I took some note cards and used white school glue to write the letter A on them. Then, I covered these in salt and (because I didn't actually read the instructions before doing this) left them to dry overnight. The next morning I mixed some food coloring in some water and turned Erik loose with a medicine dropper. 
 The idea is that the child is supposed to be able to watch as the salt absorbs the liquid, so they get to observe absorption and color mixing, all while working out their little fingers. I don't know if it's because I let the glue dry first, but it seemed like all it took was one good squirt of colored water and each letter was completely colored. Adding more liquid just made a puddle on the card. All the fun was over WAY to quickly for Erik, who was enjoying the eye dropper, so we decided to recreate this activity and extend the fine motor practice/fun.
 Set up was easy, just dump some baking soda in a pan, and mix some food coloring into some vinegar. Turn your kid loose and go read a book. Or stay and play because it really is fun!
At first, Erik just kept squirting the vinegar in the same place, which actually created a fun effect. It took a few minutes before he branched out into the rest of the soda, but when he did he really went for it! 
As with everything we do, he tried to turn it into finger painting, but that ended up getting too much soda in the vinegar, which neutralized the acid and we lost the ability to make bubbles. Oh well, we still had fun!
I think both the ideas are ones we'll try again. I want to see what the salt/glue activity does when you actually follow the directions, and Erik would think I was the best mom in the world if I turned him loose with the baking soda and vinegar again!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Letter A Sorting

An important pre-operational math skill is classifying (aka sorting). Children need to be able to compare items and determine common characteristics to build up to more complex math concepts. I thought that this might be a good way to help Erik cement the difference between lower-case and upper-case A, so we gave it a shot. 

I took all the letter a items I had collected for our sensory bin and put them in a pile on the table. Then I wrote "A" on one paper and "a" on another. 
Despite everything I've read that says little kids come with a love of sorting things, Erik has never been real excited by the idea. He stuck with this for a few minutes, but got bored quickly. That's okay though, the goal wasn't really to get him to sort every single letter a, but to get him engaged with and exposed to the letter. He picked up and manipulated lots of A's, each with it's own size, texture, weight, etc. He was comparing them to each other and really thinking about which was which.