Gingerbread Activities

There’s something about this time of year and gingerbread.  The scent of ginger in the kitchen makes this time of year so warm and cozy!  



Gingerbread Christmas activities for kids and by kids


Gingerbread crafts and activities for kids:



Make a baby gingerbread house from Pre-K Pages
Gingerbread Man book activity from Fun-A-Day
Read gingerbread books from Pre-K Pages
Gingerbread themed activities for preschoolers will be a week of fun (from Fun-A-Day).
Make gingerbread play dough from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Create a gingerbread ornament from Powerful Mothering.
Play with gingerbread bath paints from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.
Spend quiet time with a gingerbread busy bag activity from Powerful Mothering.
Imagine and pretend with gingerbread houses on the light table from Still Playing School.
Count and learn with a gingerbread button busy bag activity from Wildflower Ramblings.


Make a gingerbread salt dough garland for Christmas decoration and play from Sugar Aunts.

gingerbread activities for kids

Christmas Handwriting Activities

Writing out that Christmas wish list is a difficult task that brings out tears instead of holiday excitement.  I’ve got a solution for your kiddo with handwriting difficulties: a packet of modified paper for all of the Christmas handwriting tasks that come up each year.  Use this handwriting pack to help kids who struggle with handwriting to participate in holiday traditions while even working on and developing their handwriting skills!

Working on handwriting with kids this Christmas season? Grab your copy of the Christmas Modified Handwriting Packet. It’s got three types of adapted paper that kids can use to write letters to Santa, Thank You notes, holiday bucket lists and much more…all while working on handwriting skills in a motivating and fun way! Read more about the adapted Christmas Paper here

Teaching Number Order First Grade Math

Math in first grade is all about number recognition and developing an understanding of numbers.  Recognizing place value for tens and ones and grouping tens and ones are important concepts that students will use again and again in future math concepts.  We built a little extra practice activity based on number order and played a few first grade math games with number order.

Teaching Number Order: Activities for first grade math

 

Number Order Math Activities for First Grade


This is such an easy way to build on concepts or practice number order.  Big Sister is a big fan of math and she always  does her math homework first.  (She does NOT get her love of math from her mom!)  

We used these craft foam sticks that we received from 

Use a permanent marker to write numbers on one side.  I chose random numbers between 1-99 so Big Sister could focus on the tens and ones.  First graders typically work on numbers up to 120 early in the year, so feel free to make number sticks including hundreds digits as well.


We started on a few activities to work on number order.  At first, I had Big Sister order the numbers from least to greatest.  She did really well with this.  Part of identifying relationships between numbers is being aware of the terms, “least” and “greatest”.  Have the child arrange the numbers from greatest to least as well, after scattering the number sticks around again.

Our second math activity was turning all of the number sticks over.  I had Big Sister turn the sticks over one at a time and name the number.  She then had to tell me how many tens and how many ones make up the number.  This is a good way to work on place value.

Arranging the numbers from greatest to least.



Our third activity used a cup.  We put all of the number sticks into the cup, number side down.  I had Big Sister draw a stick one at a time and name the number.  We then pulled a second number stick and made a greater than/less than statement using the two numbers.  (e.g. Four is less than thirty seven).  


Let us know if you try any of these activities.  

You may also be interested in the first grade math concept, skip counting by 5s.



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First Grade Teaching Comma Use Activity

Big Sister is in First Grade now.  Wait, when did THAT happen??! She is learning so much in first grade.  And I’ll be honest. I’m no teacher, I have no idea how to teach the skills needed to graduate the first grade.  I do see what she comes home with for home work, and figure out ways to make the extra practice fun.  We practice sight words and other reading and math activities in creative ways to extend the learning.  It makes it fun for her to do the homework and extend the learning.  

One concept first graders learn in English Language Arts is Comma Use.  I made up these movable comma pieces to practice using commas in different ways.


Hands on comma activity for first grade English Language Arts

Comma Activity for First Graders

In first grade, students are required to use commas correctly in dates and to separate single words in a series.  We went beyond the pencil and paper with this easy hands-on activity.

This post contains affiliate links.

To make the comma pieces, I used recycled bottle caps.  Save those milk jug, juice jug, and bottle tops!  (Using the commas, my friends!)


I cut a circle from a label sheet using a small circle cutter.  Peel the backing from the label sheets and stick the circles onto the bottle caps.

Use a black marker to draw a comma onto the bottle cap.  Instant comma.


I wrote a few large sentences on printer paper and showed Big Sister how to move the comma pieces into the correct places.



She really got into this activity.  We made date and series sentences for her to practice.  This is an activity that she wanted to do each day after school.

Practice comma usage in sentences and dates for First Grade English Language Arts


Let us know if you make this activity!  We love to hear from our readers.

Looking for more creative English Language Arts activities?  Follow along on our Sight Word and Beginning Reading Pinterest board.  

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Winter Bird Activities and Crafts

Winter Birds of a feather craft together.  These bird crafts and activities are sure to keep the kids having fun this winter. We loved this week’s round up of features and added a few extra bird ideas for winter bird fun and play.



Winter bird crafts and activities for kids


Winter Bird Crafts and Activities



B is for Birds and Beans Play Dough activity from My Bright Butterfly- perfect for winter-time indoor play.
Catapult Birds from Therapy Fun Zone- I LOVE this activity for fine motor play!
Owl Finger Puppet from Crafts On Sea
Felt Bird Ornament craft from Red Ted Art
Silly Bird Puppets from Housing a Forest
Cheerio Bird Feeders from Happy Hooligans
Redbird Craft from Craftulate
Blue Jay Craft from Sugar Aunts

Christmas Tree Gift Tags Kid Made

This is a craft we made last year during our Christmas activities and I’m just now getting around to sharing.  I love these gift tags that the kids made last year, and so did everyone on our Christmas shopping list!  When the gift tags are made by kids, they are extra special.  The fun part about these Christmas Tree Stamps are that you can use them for so many things besides gift tags: wrapping paper, Christmas art, or just for fun!



Christmas Gift Tags made By Kids:

This post contains affiliate links.

To make your gift tags, you’ll need a few supplies:
poster paints in green, brown, and red
paper tube
scissors
glue
crafting paper (this stuff is great for wrapping gifts, as well!)
white paper
hole punch

To start out, bend your paper tube into a triangle shape.  Dip it into a plate of green poster paint. Stamp this onto the paper in rows.

Next, use the cotton swabs to stamp red paint onto the Christmas trees.  You can dab ornaments onto the trees or paint garland with the red paint.  …or color the whole tree red, like Little Guy did.  It’s creative expression, here!


We used the brown paint to paint little trunks on each tree.  This part of the craft is a great way to sneak in some fine motor skills.  Work on pre-handwriting skills with the cotton swab by encouraging a tripod grasp, neutral or extended wrist, and pinkie and ring fingers tucked up into the palm for support.  This is a fun way to encourage an appropriate grasp on writing utensils.

Next allow the Christmas tree stamps to dry overnight or for several hours.  Admire the cuteness.

Cut tag shapes from the crafting paper.  Punch a hole at the top and strengthen it with hole reinforcement stickers.  Cut the Christmas trees from the white paper with a little edge.  Glue onto tags. I threaded the tags onto ribbon with help from Big Sister.  This part is a little difficult for younger kids, but older children can assist.

We used a variety of ribbon types to package up our gifts.  The Gift tags made the presents!

Let us know if you make these gift tags, or Christmas Tree stamps this season.  We would love to see them!  Share in the comments here or on our Facebook page.  We love to see what you are up to!

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Organizing Photos for Busy Moms

This post is sponsored by Kwilt and The Motherhood.  All opinions are our own.

So, as a mom to four kids, I have to say a lot has changed about being a mom to one versus being a mom to four.  I’m not talking about the seventeen loads of laundry we now have (every three days…) or the seven trips to the van to bring in the grocery bags (also every three days…). I’m talking about the little things.  Like pictures.  When I was a new mom to just one little sweet baby girl, I had professional pictures taken every three months.  We went to the department store photo department and had massive amounts of pictures taken…at three months, six months, nine months, twelve months…and displayed these pink tulle puffiness pictures in frames all over the house.





Yeah.  This mama has changed in the picture area.  Poor baby number four is six months old and has not YET been to have pictures taken.  She has not a single image of her cutie pie smile in our house.  Baby number one has photo book after photo book of pictures (stored under the bed, but still…).  Baby number four doesn’t have a single image printed or filed away in photo albums.  This didn’t happen over night, so I’m hoping she won’t hold it against me in 14 years.  With each baby, I got worse and worse with photo printing, or having professional images taken.  



 

What we DO have, is files upon files of images stored on the computer, in the Cloud (the what?), on the phone, on Google+, on Facebook…everywhere!  So, when I heard about Kwilt, I was pretty much in love at first glance.  I mean, not my future 14 year old daughter won’t be an angry teenager who hates her mom just because the tired, crazed, delirious mama of four kids 6 and under never put her pictures in albums.  With the help of Kwilt’s photo sharing and compiling, I can get all of those super sweet, wide-eyed,  drool-faced shots in ONE place.  They can easily be edited, shared, stored, and sorted.  This is a genius app for anyone who takes pictures! 


Kwilt  is an app that makes photo aggregation easy. Kwilt accesses photos streams from any social media platform onto one seamless, elegant destination and displays them in a unique mosaic design called a Kwilt. Kwilt allows users to reclaim their personal photos – often scattered across the web – by bringing images together in one beautiful streaming media platform.

Set up of Kwilt is beyond easy.  If this mama can handle it while four little ones scream, tackle, sing, and cry, then annnnnyone can!  Download, create an account, add photo streams, and your done!  Once you’re all set up, the fun begins.  Create albums with images from Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, Google Drive, Dropbox, DLNA Certified® servers, iPhone or iPad .  Turn your favorite images into one beautiful collage, then share with family and friends.  Kwilt streams your pictures live, dynamically and in real time, from your favorite photo platforms, without taking up storage capacity on your mobile device.  

I love the editing tools on Kwilt.  With stickers, borders, drawing, and more, a busy mom can enhance images quickly, then add them into a gorgeous kwilt.   I love that all of my images are organized in one place.  Usually, I can’t remember where a specific image is located when I want to show a friend the latest picture of my smooshy baby.  And I know I’m not alone-  according to a recent Ipsos survey, 1 in 5 Americans aren’t confident they know where a specific photo is stored taken from the last year.


So What are some ways that a Busy Mom can Preserve Memories?


  • Use Kwilt! Easy, Done.
  • Store images in folders on the computer based on the activity/year.  Delete duplicates.  Yes, that means those 64 selfie pictures your kid took of their adorable chubby cheeks on your iphone.
  • Print off pictures every six months.
  • Use a gift card specifically for ordering pictures.  This is a great gift idea for when Grandma asks what they can get.  Request a grocery store or money gift card that you can use for ordering images, only.  Print them out monthly.
  • Get the kids involved in organizing prints.  Kids LOVE to look at pictures of themselves.  Let them help with placing pictures in albums.
  • Work your way through tons of digital files or hard images by attacking the mess.  Work your way back through the images beginning with the most recent.
  • Keep taking pictures of those cute kids!  Edit, save, print, organize.  
  • Check out Kwilt!  For more information visit www.kwiltapp.comKwilt is available only on iOS (including iOS 8) an Android version is coming in 2015. 
How do you store images and organize pictures?

Christmas Jingle Bells Fine Motor Activity

Christmas is just around the corner, and we’ve got some fun ideas in store for you!  We’ve done our share of Christmas play activities and this Jingle Bell Sorting activity is just one way to play and learn with a Christmas theme.  We’re joining a bunch of other bloggers in a busy bag series where each month, we’ll bring you a busy bag activity to keep the kids busy and occupied (and learning!)
 
In-hand manipulation activities are a great way to boost fine motor skills needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more. 
 


 
Jingle bell color sorting activity. This is a fun busy bag activity that will keep the kids occupied for a little while!
 

 

 
This post contains affiliate links.  See our full disclosure here.  
 


What is a busy bag?

We’ve done quite a few “busy” time of activities on this blog.  These are the activities that kids can do on their own or with a little set up and explanation.  They are kept busy and learning, creating, or exploring on their own.  Busy bag activities are perfect for times when caregivers need to focus on other children, dinner preparation, or while waiting.  Modern day busy activities might be smart phone apps for some kids, as they “busy themselves” as they wait in a restaurant or doctor’s office.  A busy bag activity that is easy to set up might be something as simple as manipulating small items, or sorting sugar packets by color.
 


Independent learning in children

Independent learning is important to a child’s development.  When a child is learning on their own, they are able to come up with questions and ideas independently.  They develop problem solving skills, and exploring during the process of the activity.  When a child has an adult participating in an activity with them, they often times focus on the end product or goal rather than the process of the task. Children become aware of their own strengths and weaknesses during independent play and can gain a sense of satisfaction when they do a task on their own.  Busy bags are great for independent learning!
 


To make our jingle bell sorting activity:

 
We started with a recycled egg carton.  Technically, this isn’t a busy BAG since we made our activity in an egg carton…but it is a busy activity, and I love that it can fold up and stow away with the sorting material inside the carton.  
 
The cardboard type was needed for this activity, in order to get the paint to “stick”.  I painted the sections of the egg carton in four colors.  I LOVE these poster paints for their bold colors. 
 

Little Sister (age 3) helped me paint the sections, and we let them dry overnight…because when Little Sister helps, a lot of paint is used.



The next day, we were ready for our jingle bell sorting activity.  We used jingle bells that we received from our friends at www.craftprojectideas.com (Thanks so much!!)  I poured the bells into the top section of the egg carton, and showed Little Sister how to sort them.

This is such a great activity for color identification, fine motor skills, scanning, hand-eye coordination, and early math.

The colors are so bright and the jingle of the bells gives a great sensory input to this activity.  Little Sister sorted and sorted while I changed diapers, swept the floor, and watched her sort.

 

 

 

 



One of the cousins came over one day and these two three year olds had fun sorting together.
I showed them how to extend the play by counting the number of bells in each section.



I love this activity for it’s fine motor aspect, too.  Managing the jingle bells as they picked them up and sorted them into the sections works on many skills.  You can encourage your child to pick up a few bells at a time and pocket them into the palm of the hand as they sort the bells one at a time.


Picking up several bells works on in-hand manipulation, specifically the skill of translation.  Moving the bell from finger tips to palm as they “squirrel away” bells into their palm is a difficult task for many kids.  This is a task needed in order to manage coins or other small items.



Placing the bells into the sections requires the child to use in-hand manipulation to move the bells from the palm to the finger tips.  This is also the skill of translation and is needed for pushing coins into a piggy bank or vending machine, or managing small items like marbles.


Translation is a complex task requiring strength and dexterity of the intrinsic muscles of the hand.  It’s fun to watch these skills develop in an activity like this one!

 
We’ll be saving our painted egg carton for long after the holidays to sort lots of different items: crafting pom poms, paper clips, paper, dyed pumpkin seeds, and more!  With this activity and any other on our blog, please be sure to supervise your children when small items are involved.  If your child is one who puts items into their mouth, you may want to hold off on this activity for a while.  Use caution with this activity as it involves small parts.
 

Christmas Handwriting Activities

Writing out that Christmas wish list is a difficult task that brings out tears instead of holiday excitement.  I’ve got a solution for your kiddo with handwriting difficulties: a packet of modified paper for all of the Christmas handwriting tasks that come up each year.  Use this handwriting pack to help kids who struggle with handwriting to participate in holiday traditions while even working on and developing their handwriting skills!

Working on handwriting with kids this Christmas season? Grab your copy of the Christmas Modified Handwriting Packet. It’s got three types of adapted paper that kids can use to write letters to Santa, Thank You notes, holiday bucket lists and much more…all while working on handwriting skills in a motivating and fun way! Read more about the adapted Christmas Paper here

 
 
Check out some more busy bag activities for the holiday season:

 

15 Awesome Holiday Busy Bags for Kids.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Christmas Counting Busy Bag // Coffee Cups and Crayons
Gingerbread Button Counting Busy Bag // Wildflower Ramblings
Snowman Busy Bag // Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Reusable Christmas Sticker Busy Bag // Still Playing School
Christmas Posting Busy Bag // Adventures of Adam
Christmas Tree Busy Bag // The Pleasantest Thing
Christmas Chocolate Maker Busy Bag // Best Toys 4 Toddlers
Printable Q-tip Snowflakes // Playdough to Plato
Candy Cane Stripe Counting // Preschool Inspirations
An Early Reader Christmas Busy Bag // The Educators’ Spin on It
 
 
 
Christmas modified paper for holiday handwriting for kids

SALE! Save 25% on Modified Christmas Paper NOW THROUGH CYBER MONDAY.

Coupon code is HOLIDAY25

Use the Christmas modified paper handwriting pack to work on handwriting, letter size, letter formation, and legibility with meaningful and motivating activities:

  • Letters to Santa
  • Wish List
  • Holiday To-Do List
  • Shopping List
  • Thank You Notes
  • Recipe Sharing
  • Winter Writing Prompts

Click here to get your packet.

Little Blue Little Yellow Magic Foaming Dough

Oh, how we love sensory play activities!  From water bin play to soda dough, we love to get messy and learn through the senses.  We decided to give magic foaming dough a try, and oh boy.  Was this ever fun!  This crumbly dough is moldable, soft, and the best part is the magic.  It brings a little science into the sensory play while entrancing the kids with the foaming, goopy, messy fun.  (This post contains affiliate links.  We received a free book to complete this post. Our opinions are our own.)

We were honored to review Asia Citro’s new book, 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids and check out all of the best and easiest play time activities.  We really had a blast with our Magic Foaming Dough, but the pictures in this book really drew us in.  The kids kept pointing at each page  and saying, “OOOOh, let’s do that!” There are over 150 activities in the book that help develop creativity and skills…all without a screen.  I loved the easy directions and the fact that activities were budget friendly.  This would be a great gift idea for parents to keep kids engaged, entertained, and learning.



Magic Foaming Dough Activity for the book, Little Blue and Little Yellow:

Magic foaming dough to explore the book, Little Blue and Little Yellow

We’ve done a sensory activity to explore Little Blue and Little Yellow using Kool Aid puffy paint before so when we made this foaming dough, we were ready for the color mixing fun.

We whipped up a batch of magic foaming dough, following the easy directions in the book.  We separated the dough into two bowls and added blue food coloring to one bowl and yellow food coloring to the second bowl.   These colors looked great next to each other.

Like the directions said, it was dry and crumbly, but completely moldable.  We explored the colors and like in  Little Blue and Little Yellow, we pretended some of the yellow moved over to the blue, and vise versa.

The kids had fun guessing what color blue and yellow make when combined. (Baby Girl’s guess of It makes PINK!” was received by groans from Big Sister and Little Guy.  ((Guess we need to work on the color mixing with Baby Girl…haha!))

“Look it makes GREEN!”

Little Blue and Little Yellow made Little Green.

After the kids played for a while, I told them I had a surprise to make this dough magic.  They were SO completely excited!  I gave them a squirt bottle of vinegar.  (Icing squeeze bottles work really well for this part!) …and the magic begins!

It was really neat to see how much this dough foams up.  I wasn’t quite expecting such a reaction, but it turned out to be pretty magic for mom, too 😉

It was pretty cool to see the foaming yellow, blue, and green in different areas of our bin.



We had to get our hands in there to play.  Big Sister looooooved this!  She mixed up the colors even more to make a vivid green color.

She kept saying, “I love this stuff! I love this stuff!”



Even when the bubbles died down, it was still super fun to play with.  The mixtured turned into a silky smooth goopy sensory bin.  We really found out what happened when little blue and little green gave each other a hug.  Just like in the book 🙂


For the recipe to make Magic Foaming Dough, get the 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids book.  You won’t regret it!
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