Styrofoam Building Shapes

Styrofoam isn’t just for packaging!  We saved a few sheets of these packaging sheets before they went into the trash and created a learning and play activity a while back. 

Styrofoam building shapes

I cut a couple of sheets into different shapes and showed the kids how we could make pictures on the table.  We made houses, buildings, and cars with our DIY tangrams.  We talked about shapes with Baby Girl and Little Guy.  This was a fun beginning math activity for both of them.

After a while with 2 dimensional play, I pulled out the tooth picks and we began building.  Things got fun at this point!

We made trees, houses, furniture, and more with these shapes.  Little Guy LOVED this!  He built challenges for his cars to jump and drive around. 

What a fun way to create and imagine! 

NOTE:  This should definitely be a supervised activity.  Those tooth picks are sharp, for sure.  With adult supervision, this is a great building activity and lots of fun for the imagination. 

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Teaching Math Through Play

Math is such a fun subject for kids to learn.  They begin at such a small age with sorting, patterns, and then grow in their skills during each step of development.  It’s been really cool to watch Big Sister this past school year as she started to learn Kindergarten math skills and then become confident with those abilities.  She even said at her end of the school year Kindergarten graduation that her favorite memory of the year was “math”! 

There is so much talk about the “summer slide” that happens with kids during their summer break.  These ideas from the Share It Saturday link up are a great way to prevent the slide…or just have fun with math!  I love that these activities promote math skills in a fun way.  And, they don’t need to be done during the summer, they are perfect for year-round math fun!

We’re keeping the linky party live all month so be sure to stop back each week and link up your posts!

Playful ways to teach math

Playful Math Activities for Kids

LEGO Math Games from JDaniel4’s Mom

Montessori Math Trays from Racheous

Teach Multiplication the Easy Way from True Aim Education

Rubber Duck Math from Fantastic Fun and Learning

Patterns with gems from Dabbling Mama

Composing and Decomposing Numbers from Sugar Aunts

Nature Math from Sugar Aunts

Shape sorting and patterns from Sugar Aunts

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Check out who the other hosts are featuring today:
 Life & Lessons From a Country Road 

The Share It Saturday Pinterest board has loads of fun ideas for play and learning.
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You may like more math activities on our Playful Math Pinterest board:

Teaching Kids to Give to the Less Fortunate

We’re so blessed to have food on our table, a garden growing with tons of fresh veggies, and half a dozen grocery stores within a few miles of our house.  So many children and families are not so fortunate and are hungry at any given moment.  How can we educate our kids on the needs of others and encourage them to give to the less fortunate in ways that they can understand?  Giving to others does not have to be a huge burden or a difficult task.  Kids can help in little ways to make a big difference!

Teaching kids to give to the less-frtunate.  Simple ideas for kids to help in a big way.

Disclosure: We participated in this program through Champions for Kids and The Motherhood.  All opinions are our own.

We’re honored to team up with Walmart and Champions for Kids and their sponsors to feed hungry kids through the Summer of Giving Program. 
Champions for Kids makes it simple to give children in local communities the
resources they need to thrive.  They are seeking to make a difference by encouraging a ‘habit of giving’ among youth and parents in America for those in need. 
The core values of Champions for Kids are simple, yet profound, and drive their efforts to “mobilize millions” to help children — All children should have: Someone who cares; a Place to belong; Hope for tomorrow and provisions for their journey. All children.

Did you know that 10 percent of children in the US live in homes where they don’t know when their next meal is coming?  This is especially difficult during the summer months when school meal programs are not providing lunches/breakfasts.  This is a great need that the whole family can get involved in helping to give!

How can you help? 
The Champions for Kids SIMPLE Service Projects can help you provide for the needy in your community.  It’s simple! 1.) Gather your family and friends. 2.) Learn about the needs of children in your community. 3.) Give items to help the needy. 4.) Share your story with Champions for Kids so you can inspire others!


and Champions for Kids are teaming up with sponsors Tyson, Birds Eye, and State Fair brands to feed hungry children this summer. And
you can help them and their sponsors provide 5 million meals through the Summer
of Giving
program! All you have to do is shop the Walmart Super Center freezer section and
support the sponsor brands, Tyson, Birds Eye and State Fair. When you do,
you’ll be helping to feed hungry kids in your local community.  Not only that, but when you submit your SIMPLE act of kindness in the Summer of Giving program, you could possibly win one of three $25,000 awards for your local school district.  Just complete a SIMPLE Service Project with your family and friends and submit your information here:


We set out to Walmart with a buggy full of kids (and two were missing out on the shopping fun as they went to vacation bible school).  We’ve been talking about giving to the needy in our community through collections of food that happens once a month at our church.  Our library also collects food for the less-fortunate in our community with a big box right in the lobby.  Every time we enter the library, we see the box of donations and talk a little about kids and families who may not have enough food.  We love to bring a canned good in with our books and drop it into the box.  It’s such an easy way to introduce giving to those in need with the kids.

Simple ideas for encouraging kids to give to the less-fortunate

  • Host a “Giving Play Date”:  Invite a few friends over for a summer fun play date.  Ask the invitees to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to a food panty.  This is a great way to kick off the summer while thinking of others who may be hungry this summer.
  • Organize a neighborhood yard sale.  Donate proceeds to a local food pantry.  Hang signs to alert the customers of the good deeds of your kids.  This is a sure way to get rid of more junk!
  • Help the kids set up a lemonade stand in the lawn.  Make a sign along with the kids stating that all proceeds will benefit a local food pantry.  Cute kids + donating to those in need will bring in the funds from neighbors!
  • Start a donation box in your church or library.  Kids see those boxes and will love to watch the piles of food grow as the community works together to support the less-fortunate. 

UPDATE: We hosted a food drive play date in the park with friends.  I brought snacks, including Tyson chicken poppers, popcorn, graham cracker bunnies, juice boxes, and popsicles.  A few plates and napkins and we were set on the munchies.  I invited friends to bring non-perishable goods and back to school items.  We donated these items to a local food bank and the frozen Tyson, State Fair, and Birds Eye items to a local church who operates a fellowship and activity service for kids.  The children receive dinner, activities, crafts, and worship.  The Tyson chicken fingers and school supplies will really come in handy!

Can you think of any easy ways for the kids to become more involved in giving to the less-fortunate?  Let’s encourage a “habit of giving” and foster change among kids to give to those in need!

Fireworks Art

Summer brings cookouts, backyard parties, swimming pools, and fireworks!  We were in the mood for some summer fun and creating these fireworks painting art did the job.  A little bit of sparkle made the artwork really pop.  And what art isn’t better without a little glitter, right??

Stamped fireworks art! This is perfect for fourth of july, memorial day, and any day with fireworks!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  Your purchases through these links help to support our blog.  As always, thank you for your support!

Fireworks Artwork Craft

We started with blobs of red paint
blue paint on a Styrofoam tray.  Add a handful of
cotton swabs
and we were ready to go.

We used the cotton swabs to stamp the red and blue paint onto white paper into our fireworks shapes.  Stamping the paint covered cotton swabs was a super messy and sensory painting experience.  We mixed the colors for some of the fireworks to get a nice red and blue mixture into purple.  This was a great time to talk about the colors and how they mix to make purple.

The fireworks painting needed a little something.


Fine Motor Fireworks Activity

We used clear glitter
and sprinkled it on while the paint was still wet.  It stuck right onto the paint and made our fireworks really pop. 
Pinching the glitter was such a good way to work on fine motor strength during a fun craft activity.  Using the index, middle finger, and thumb to grab up the glitter and sprinkle it around is a great tripod grasp task.  Using those three fingers to manipulate a material like glitter in a controlled manner strengthens the intrinsic muscles of the hand.  Intrinsic muscles are those little muscles within the hand that are essential for controlled pencil manipulation and many other fine motor tasks.
This fireworks painting craft was just right for some easy sensory summer fun.  Celebrate the season with fireworks art! 
If you decide to make this craft, stop over to our facebook page and let us know. We’d love to see your craft and chat!
You may be interested in more patriotic crafts and activities.  Try these:

Sensory Bin Base Ideas

If you read our blog, you’ll see that we are both huge fans of sensory play.  Sensory bins are such a fun way for kids to explore textures and the senses while learning about the world and themselves.  Sensory bins can be tailored to any learning theme and are just fun for exploration. 
We wanted to put together a collection of sensory bin base ideas.  These are the materials that you start your sensory bin with.  Add letters, numbers, animals, sight words…the possibilities for sensory play is endless!
Add to these base materials for sensory bin play.

Sensory Bin Base Ideas

Add colored noodles to a bin and add cups, spoons, funnels, and more for fine motor play.  Crayon Box Chronicles made this concept sensory bin in their dyed noodles sensory bin.

Shredded paper makes a great sensory base.  Save the junk mail and send it through the shredder to make a shredded paper reptile sensory bin from Crayon Box Chronicles.

Something as simple as rocks can make a great base for a sensory bin.  We make this rock sensory bin and explored the senses.
Explore letters in like in this rock letter sensory bin.

The dollar store has a vast amount of ways to incorporate learning into sensory bins.  Crayon Box Chronicles made this colored hay sensory bin.  How fun!

Colored water is an easy way to create a sensory bin.  We made this dyed water swamp sensory bin and explored colors, animals, and more in a swamp theme.

Have you ever made snow dough?  Seriously the coolest stuff!  This snow dough Arctic Circle sensory bin is one of my favorites from Crayon Box Chronicles .

It doesn’t take much to make a sensory bin.  This letter sensory bin required nothing other than the letters for learning and play.

Dirt makes a great sensory bin base.  How many ways can you think of to play?  I love what Crayon Box Chronicles did with their dirt monster truck sensory bin.

Many sensory bin bases can be found in your pantry.  We used split peas as the base in our split pea sensory bin.

Sand is one way to create a simple sensory bin.  A few ingredients is all it takes to make the sand into sand dough link in this sand dough beach sensory bin from Crayon Box Chronicles.

Water Beads can be found in the floral section of many stores.  The non-toxic material makes a great base for sensory play.  We had a blast with our waterbead sensory bin.

Jello is such an interesting material to eat…and to play with!  The texture is perfect for sensory exploration.  Crayon Box Chronicles used it to create this jello iceberg sensory bin.

Sparkle Collage Art Painting

Do you have a little one who LOVES all things art and painting?  Baby Girl is all about painting and will get messy with paints every day.  In fact, she asks almost every day to paint (and so we do, almost every day!) 
This Sparkle Collage Art painting was very fun for Baby Girl (and me!)  We sat for a long time and just painted away, with loads of sparkly texture added.  What isn’t better with sparkle and sequins???


Sparkle Collage Art

{Note: This post contains affiliate links.  In other words, this blog will receive monetary compensation when any purchases are made through the links in this post.  Our opinions and ideas are in no way affected.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.  As always, we thank you for your support and community here at Sugar Aunts.}
We recieved the spangles free from and they really made our paintings shine.  The sparkly shapes were the perfect touch to this multi-textural painting.
Other supplies needed for this activity are Markers, paints,
Spill Proof Paint Cups,
glue, and
paint brushes.

We poured paint into the spill proof cups and dumped in a handful of the spangle mix.  Add a bit of glue and mix it all together.

I drew a few pictures and doodles on with the markers and let Baby Girl start painting.  She started out just using the paint to color in the pictures, but once I showed her how to paint on the sparkles and sequins, she got in on the sparkly fun.

These spill proof cups are big hits in our house.  For this painting activity, we didn’t use the sloped part so we could get at the sequins with the paint brushes.

Painting on those sequins required a little bit of dexterity, but Baby Girl did a pretty good job of it!  It was fun to paint on the sparkly shapes.

How pretty is this??

Older children could draw the pictures themselves and then paint on the sparkles and sequins.
You could also add glitter into your paint.  What a gorgeous work of art this is!

Baby girl was very proud of her painting.  These turned out to be so pretty.


Let us know if you try this painting activity.  We would love to see your works of art!
Looking for more ways to paint in a creative way?  Stop by and follow along on our Creative Painting Pinterest board.  I’m loving all of the creative ideas over there!

Circus Preschool Toddler Theme Summer Camp at Home

We’re joining up with the awesome bloggers in the All Things Kids community to bring your creative and fun ideas to get your summer off to a great start.  So, the kids are out of school and ready for some fun.  The running around in the sprinkler and riding bikes are perfect to start off a summer of freedom.  But, what happens when the first “I’m bored” starts?  We’ve got you covered on ideas to keep the kids moving, learning, and creating this summer.  Each of us All Things Kids bloggers are bringing you ideas for themed activities.  These would be perfect too in place of a summer camp or vacation bible school and just do an at-home summer camp with the kids.  Why not invite a few friends over and start your own backyard summer camp for the kids? 

Backyard Summer Camp

It’s that simple to create a neighborhood summer camp!  Pull up the ideas from the all things kids bloggers and you’ve got 7 weeks of themes covered for a summer of camp fun.  We’ve found the best crafts, activities, snacks, and more all based on each week’s theme.  I’m ready for a backyard summer!
Check out all of the summer camp ideas: RobotsBugs  Around the World , Animals, Ocean and Beach, Nature, and today’s post by us…Circus!

We’re scouring the net for the best and most creative ways to make your own Circus themed Summer Camp for preschoolers and toddlers.  We’ve got circus crafts, circus snacks, circus fine motor and gross motor activities to get the summer off to great start. 

Circus Theme Crafts

The kids will love a few circus crafts.  These lion, tiger, and monkey masks (Danya Banya) will keep the kids occupied and pretending. Or try this elephant mask craft (East Coast Mommy) for more pretend play.  For more circus animal crafts, try this activity from Inspired Treehouse.  

Kids will love making a craft a day at your backyard camp.  Make this elephant mask (Mamas Like Me) and they can wear it throughout the week. Children can work on so many important developmental areas while developing their scissor skills.  If painting is more your thing, this lion craft (Sassy Dealz) is a super cute circus animal to make.   Need a few more crafts to keep the kids busy with your circus theme?  I love these circus clown costumes (KangarooBoo blog) made with party hats and paper plates.

We loved making our circus tent craft.  This trapeze artist craft (Boy Mama Teacher Mama) is equally cute! A handprint zoo (House of Burke) would be a great memento to remember your week of circus fun.

Circus Theme Snacks

A backyard summer camp or themed learning unit definitely needs snacks to keep little ones going and energy levels high.  Here’s a few circus themed ideas for snack time:
  • Goldfish in a bag (You won goldfish!)
  • animal crackers
  • popcorn
  • Sandwiches cut into fun circus shapes with circus cookie cutters (and then reuse those cookie cutters for stamp art painting later in the week!)

  • A
    dd these things to a little peanut butter (or other nut butter) for some protein.

Circus Theme Gross Motor Backyard Activities

I know a few little ones who would LOVE this water gun game (Driven By Décor).  Use a few ping pong balls and a squirt gun for an easy (and summer-ific) carnival game. Inspired Treehouse put together put together three gross motor circus activities.  A ball toss game would be easy to set up with a few bins and some bean bags or balls. 

Circus Theme Sensory Activities

The kids (and moms) will get a kick out of a fun circus sensory activity.  How cool is this popcorn painting activity (Mess for Less)? We put together a few fun ideas for circus sensory bins in our circus party essentials post


Circus Theme Learning

Any circus unit or backyard camp needs circus books!  These are some of our favorites.

Circus Tent Craft

We’ve been on a little Circus theme around here lately.  You might have seen our roundup of favorite circus books or our ideas for a circus party.  This circus craft was easy to put together and the kids loved it.  They were itching for a painting craft and this one hit the mark. 

Circus tent craft for kids

This post contains affiliate links. 

Circus Craft Idea for a Circus Theme:

Start with a few supplies:
paint brush
orange paper
black marker

To begin your circus tents, cut the coffee filters as shown.  This is a great way for little scissor users to practice their scissor skills.  Cutting coffee filters is more difficult than regular paper and a great way to practice accuracy as they cut along the folded parts of the coffee filter.  Adults can make marks on the coffee filter where needed for the kiddos to cut along. 

Once cut, start the painting!  We painted our circus tents with red paint on every other folded section of the coffee filters.  Use your imagination on your circus tents.  Circus tents come in many different colors and designs!

Once the paint is dry, place the smaller section of coffee filter under the larger piece.  Glue onto a sheet of paper.  Cut a small slit on the smaller section, and fold the doors of the circus tent open.  The circus is open! 
Use the black marker to make flag poles and glue small triangles of orange (or any color) paper to make flags.  Done!  This would be a great craft to do before an outing to the circus or just for fun when you read a few circus books. 
You may also enjoy our Kids’ Crafts Pinterest Board. Stop by and follow along: