This month for our Book Club Play Date series we’re sharing a craft based on the book, Big Red Barn. What a fun book for preschool aged children! (And, don’t tell, but my older kids really got into this book, too!) We made pretend play Farm Animals Puppets and a barn craft puppet show stage, perfect for farm pretend play. This fun craft goes perfectly with a fun farm animal book!
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Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is a quiet and calming book with it’s tone and rhythmic text. The Farm is full of life and this book is all about the animals. We see how the animals play and explore while the children are away. The detailed illustrations are creative and my kids loved looking for the tiny mice or butterfly on the pages of the book. This was a new book to us, but it quickly became a hit in our house. Margaret Wise Brown also authored Goodnight Moon (one of our favorites! Remember our Goodnight Moon Goodnight Moon Memory Game?) It was fun to talk about the author and recall parts of Goodnight Moon that appear in this book–the barn in the picture, the mouse, and the moon. We wondered if the Big Red Barn from our story was the same as the barn in the picture in Goodnight Moon. We love coming up with extension activities based on children’s books (more than a little bit!) and this book and activity rose to the top of our favorites!
Big Red Barn craft
You’ll need a few materials for your barn craft and puppets:
First, we made the barn craft. Arrange the red craft sticks like we did in the picture above. Use glue to stick the top and bottom sticks on top of the vertical sticks. I made a barn as my preschooler copied the steps beside me. This was a good way to practice direction following with visual cues. I was sure to craft my barn slowly so she could follow along with hers. Count out the Popsicle sticks as you go. We used 12 red sticks all together. You’ll want to make your barn on a piece of paper or waxed paper for easy transporting as it dries.
Then we used a piece of Red cardstock to make the barn roof. Simply cut the roof into an angled shape. I had the roofs already cut out and showed my daughter how to glue it onto the back of the Popsicle stick barn. You’ll need to let the barn dry for a few hours or overnight. Just let it rest right on the paper.
Next, color in our Barn Animal Coloring Sheet. You can get the free printable HERE.
Cut out the animals and tape onto craft sticks.
Once the barn has dried, you’ll be ready to play Barn Puppet Show with the farm animals. Act out the story in Beg Red Barn, or create your own farm animal stories. We had a lot of fun with our barn puppet animals.
Looking for more Big Red Barn activities? See what the Book Club Playdates team have created to go along with this book. With a snack, game, and sensory activity, you’ll have this book covered for your Preschool Book Club:
Learn to write cursive letters and words with this free cursive writing journal and creative cursive handwriting activities.
My daughter has made herself a goal for her second grade school year. She wants to learn how to learn to write in cursive. We’ve done a few cursive handwriting activities this summer, but have a long way to go as she learns to write letters in cursive, connect cursive lines, and write upper case letters. Then there is reading cursive handwriting which can be a difficult processing task for some kids. Forming letters on lines with smooth pencil strokes and re-trace of lines requires practice. I’ve got some fun and creative ways to learn and practice cursive handwriting to share with you. Today’s Cursive Handwriting Daily Journal is a creative way to practice letter formation and use learned letters in daily journaling.
Learn to Write Cursive with a Cursive Writing Journal
We made this Cursive Handwriting Journal to practice cursive letter formation on a daily basis. Using creative handwriting ideas are a fun way to practice letter formation. These worksheets are great for practicing cursive letter formation in a variety of ways. (Try a new creative cursive technique each day!) They also have an area to use what your child has learned in a daily journal entry. You can print off the journal along with a tips and tools sheet for creative cursive handwriting. Get yours HERE.
Try a few of our other ideas for practicing cursive letters:
To use the Cursive Handwriting Journal:
First, print your journal. Print off the Journal Cover, the Practice Sheets, and the Journal Entry Sheets. Print as many of these pages as you like. We have also included a printable copy of our Creative Cursive Tips sheet.
We used our journal worksheets to form a few new letters with pipe cleaners. Write the letter in the large space at the top of the page. Use a pipe cleaner to form the letter. Encourage your child to use the written letter as a guide to correctly form the pipe cleaner letter. You can create a permanently formed fuzzy letter by adding a dab of glue at the connecting parts of the pipe cleaner letters. Then, trace the pipe cleaner with your finger to further practice cursive letter formation.
This is a hands-on way to practice and learn to write cursive letters.
Next, practice writing the letter on the lines below. Encourage your child to write a few words using the letter and letters they’ve already learned. You can write a model word for them to copy.
You can then use the journal sheets to write sentences using the words that they’ve practiced and learned in cursive.
Children can explore books through their senses and with a hands-on approach while learning and making memories. These preschool books and the activities that we’ve come up with…are popular children’s books that are fun to read, and fun to play along with! These are book extension activities that we’ve read and come up with book-based sensory play ideas, regulation ideas, fine motor activities, crafts, and more. Check out the list below, because these are some of our favorite ways to use books in therapy activities and learning!
Preschool ACTIVITY Books
We love coming up with fun crafts and activities based on favorite books. This is a collection of crafts and activities that go along with some fun books for Preschoolers, Toddlers, and School-aged kids.
Kids remember the activity that you create for a book long after they’ve read a book. So often, my kids will say (out of the blue), “Hey Mom, remember when we made bear puppets?” in reference to our We’re Going on a Bear Hunt activity.
We love to create multi-sensory play and learning enrichment activities to extend themes of books. We’ve covered many Preschool books and activities in our blogging days, but also many school-aged books with creative play and learning ideas. We’ll be adding to this page, so be sure to stop back for more fun ideas!
Preschool, Toddler, and School-aged Children’s Books and Crafts Activities
Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books! This digital e-book (or physical book, available on Amazon), contains 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development. This resource includes activities, crafts, hands-on play ideas, and so much more. There are activities based on 10 popular children’s books:
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
The Day the Crayons Quit
Leonardo the Terrible Monster
Boy + Bot
Little Blue and Little Yellow
The Adventures of Beekle
Penguin and Pinecone
Whoever You Are
Each activity is designed to be hands-on and encourage acceptance, empathy, and friendship through play and sensory exploration. This book allows children to explore their favorite children’s books with their senses! Includes printable resources.
Kids’ parties don’t need to be outrageous and extravagant. We love to throw easy and creative birthday parties and themed play dates (occasionally-themed days are NOT an every day thing. Or even a frequent thing around here!). Sometimes it is nice to celebrate the child and the excitement of youth with a special day. Sure it can be easy to get out of control with themed days or celebrations. But, childhood is such a fleeting time and being a mother to a child is such a thing to celebrate. It is an honor to use creative ideas in celebration of the day…whether it be a birthday or a special play date. Then there are the creative ways to celebrate neighbors or special people in you life. A thoughtful special day would be a fun way to spend time and build memories with a niece or nephew. Put together a quick and easy water bead tea party or a sleepover waffle bar for special time with your special little ones!
Party Theme Ideas for Kids
Some of our favorite ways to celebrate special times with our kids and nieces and nephews: Kids party themes, games, themed food and snacks, decorations, activities, favors, and crafts can be found for each party theme. Have fun planning your child’s party or themed play date. Don’t stress about making the day extra special, just enjoy the being creative in honor of your special someone!
We’ve been busy cooking our way through the alphabet with our Cooking With Kids A-Z series. You can find all of the recipes here. We love the learning and therapeutic benefits to cooking with kids so this series is a winner for us. Try all of these recipes for tasty dishes that you can cook together as a family.
This is a space where we share our favorite play ideas for babies. The youngest kids can have fun while learning through play at home, too!
Babies are such an amazing miniature human. They are developing at a rapid pace and taking in the senses of our world with wide eyes. Simply holding and talking to your baby is such a wonderful sensory experience. Then there is the sensory overload of bath time. We’ve got some easy play ideas for babies and young toddlers here, as they take on and take in the world around them.
Resource for New Parents
Many people think new parents are the only ones that need baby advice. Maybe you found yourself as a new mother who suddenly had a lot of questions on sleep patterns, eating and childhood milestones. But, if there is one thing that therapists wish they could tell new parents, it’s that parents could have a better understanding of how movement plays into development.
Therapists are many times, seeking resources to share with parents to support a family through the first year of baby’s development so they can thrive.
Remarkable Infants is a great opportunity for parents and professionals alike to educate more people on how to support a baby’s first-year development for future learning development.
Yes, this course does provide information on helping a baby sleep and eat, but this course is the other more comprehensive sections. The pieces most other baby trainings don’t provide.
It’s a 5-step, all-inclusive online training for new moms focusing on the development of the whole child from birth through 12 months of age. It includes the following:
Language Development (Talking with your baby)
Healthy Sleep Habits (Understanding baby sleep)
Cognitive Development and Motor Development (Playing with your Baby)
Reading with your Baby (Vocabulary, visual-motor, speech and language)
Infant Nutrition (Feeding your baby)
Even though this course is geared to moms, it’s also great for professionals. It can be a HUGE help to clients, expecting moms you work with and those that have kids with learning challenges. The more we can help educate parents on the necessity of building a baby’s cognition, speech and language and motor movements in their first year, the further ahead that child will be later in life.
The 2 best parts are:
1. Each section is taught by a specific professional (Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Pathologist, Pediatric Sleep Sleep Specialists and Registered Dietitian) with evidence-based research. So you know you’re getting advice from the pros!
2. If you are a professional, you can get CEU credits/Certificate of Completion for taking this course.
You can also get an additional 10% discount when you use our coupon code “COLLEEN10.” To join the Mommy Academy, click here. Don’t forget to enter the discount code!
This spatial awareness for babies post shares tips and tools for promoting child development through play, especially tummy time for babies.
For more information on development, check out this development of eye-hand coordination information post to better understand how fine motor skills and visual processing develop in babies and toddlers.
Additionally, the baby stage and development is an important time for the integration of primitive reflexes. Check out some of these books on primitive reflexes to read more on child development.
Also important in the baby stage is the development of oral motor skills. It’s through the mouth that babies explore their world around them and gain the skills needed to progress from liquid feedings to more complex foods.
Typical Baby Development:
Baby development begins before birth and continues to evolve into functional skills each and every day. From birth, a baby typically demonstrates random limb movements and a rounded back with drooped head. Asymmetrical postures dominate and no weight is bared through the legs when a baby is held up. By one month, baby is able to rotate their head and lift their head momentarily. Asymmetrical postures continue to dominate At three months, baby holds their head mostly in midline and is able to bob their head in supported sitting. At three month, baby can visually follow a dangling toy from side to side. Baby may roll to either side from their back. At 4-5 months, baby kicks and waves arms and shows excitement with movements. They are unable to typically manipulate or purposefully grasp items. However, baby will demonstrate a strong grasp when an item such as a rattle is placed in their hand. They are unable to let go of an item in their hand. By six months, baby will demonstrate a greater variety of gross motor patterns. You will see movements of elbows and knees and they follow objects with their eyes in all directions. At 6 months, object exploration begins with crude manipulation. At 7-8 months, baby will take objects out of a container and drop them with crude manipulations and exaggerated movements. Baby is typically able to sit up by leaning forward for support. At 9-10 months, baby will explore more of his environment and will show isolated movements of fingers as they poke and explore items. They can pick up small items and begin to demonstrate purposeful play.
Note: This is not a complete list of Baby’s development. There are stages of typical development and changes in each skill area, as well as positional developmental changes. Watch this space for more baby developmental play and information.
Beyond this, baby is continuously developing in their gross motor, fine motor, hand dominance, language, and visual perceptual, skills. All of these areas can be built on with stimulating and encouraging play environments. Try some of these play ideas with your baby:
We’re adding new and older posts every day to our collection of baby and toddler play ideas. Be sure to stop back and see what’s new! As always, keep a close eye on little ones while playing with babies and toddlers with any activity. Children should always be supervised while completing any of these activities. Some children may be able to participate in a particular activity, while others are not developmentally appropriate. Please use your judgment and adjust the activity to meet the needs of your child. Or, pull out these ideas in a few months when it is safer for your child to participate.
Looking for more Baby Play ideas? Stop by and follow along on our Baby Play Pinterest board for creative play and learning for babies.
Kindergarten is such a fun age. Kids in kindergarten strive when they are given the chance to learn through play and hands-on activities. These are our favorite Kindergarten activities that we’ve shared on the site, with Kindergarten math, reading and letter awareness, Kindergarten Crafts, and Kindergarten Play. This page will be updated frequently as we add new Kindergarten activities.
Kindergarten is all about letters, upper case and lower case letters, and sounds. They learn how letters go with sounds and work on decodable reading. These letter learning activities will help your kindergarten student with identification, sounds, and beginning reading skills.
Kindergarten students work with manipulating items to discover and explore numbers and patterns. They solve simple addition and subtraction problems, more or less, comparing amounts, and shapes. These Kindergarten math ideas will be a fun way to discover math ideas with playful learning.
Extending book ideas with crafts and activities are a fun way for Kindergarten students to become engaged with reading. Listening to an adult read is a powerful tool for pre-readers. They learn language, speech, articulation, volume, and tone of voice. These book related activities will extend popular stories and engage your Kindergartner.
Fine motor skills in Kindergarten students are essential for effective pencil control and handwriting, scissor use, and clothing and tool manipulation. Kindergartners may have little experience with tools like scissors, pencils, hole punches, staplers, and pencil sharpeners. All of these items require dexterity and strength. These fine motor activities will engage your student in fine motor skills for effective hand use in functional school tasks.
Play in Kindergarten is essential for so many areas. Kindergartners are young students who need brain breaks from desk work. Not only for that reason, but for turn-taking, language, social interaction, self-confidence, problem-solving, and interaction, play is an important part of your Kindergarten student’s daily lives. Try these play ideas in the classroom or at home for fun learning (through play)!
Crafts in Kindergarten are a great tool for so many areas. Students can work on direction following, order, patterns, task completion, scissor skills, fine motor dexterity, tool use, and more by completing crafts in Kindergarten. Try a few (or all!) of these Kindergarten crafts for fun arts and play with your student.