Early Literacy Activities with Slime

literacy activities with slime After my daughter and I explored letter recognition and upper and lowercase letter matching yesterday with slime we started looking around the playroom for more items to use with the slime. Immediately we saw the cookie cutters that we usually use with playdough. We started making letter impressions and I knew right away that this would be perfect for my preschool class that aren’t quite ready for the tiny little alphabet beads that we used yesterday. They are still learning their letters and these big cookie cutters are perfect for their newly three-year-old hands.

Gather your materials. You will need some slime ( check out this post for our recipe), and some alphabet cookie cutters.sensory alphabet activity

Explore and have fun squishing the slime through the cookie cutters and making impressions.

slime and cookie cutters with gak

As we were playing we discovered that we could also use these cookie cutters to make words. What a fun way to work on spelling words! If you have lowercase cookie cutters that would be even better ( we only have uppercase ones). What a great way to use slime for older siblings and younger siblings at the same time. Here are five basic early literacy ideas you could do using just slime and alphabet cookie cutters :

Place all the cookie cutters on the table and give your child a ball of slime to flatten.

gak with cookie cutters

1.Call out a letter sound and have your child grab the letter that makes that sound and squish it into their slime.

2. Call out a word and have your child spell it.

3. Call out a word and have your child spell a rhyming word in the slime.

4. Call out a word and have your child squish the letter that makes the initial letter sound into the slime.

5. Just let them play with the letters and slime. Trust me they are learning.

sensory activity that promotes literacy

 

How do you use sensory materials for literacy learning? Leave a comment and tell me how or pop over to No Time For Flash Cards Facebook Page and tell me!

Earth Day Crafts and Activities For 3 year olds

Earth Day Crafts For THree Year Olds from No Time For Flash Cards Earth Day might mean a lot to you ( or not ) but it doesn’t mean anything to a three year old until we teach them about it. I explain Earth Day as a special day where we take a few extra minutes or more to think about all the Earth provides and all we can do to protect its beautiful gifts. Older kids can get into the three Rs more deeply but with three year olds we stick to these basic bits of info :

It’s our job to help keep the Earth clean by picking up litter, reusing garbage for other things, and recycling what we can so we don’t have to use up more trees or other things from nature.

From there I let their questions lead my teaching but those very very basic bits of info are my launchpad. This has worked well over the years because the children who are interested and are able to see past their own immediate experience will ask questions and those who aren’t won’t. If we throw too much info at them they will just get overwhelmed.

Here are some awesome ways to celebrate Earth Day with three year olds.

Earth Day Activities For Three Year Olds

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Make Earth Day Muffins

Garden Sensory Tub
Garden Sensory Tub

earth day activity outside
Nature Detectives

recycling game
Recycling or Trash Sorting Game

painting with recycled objects
Paint with Things Out Of The Recycling Bin.

nature color hunt
Nature Color Hunt

earth day dgdhdj
Coffee Grounds Sensory Tub

Earth Day Crafts For Three Year Olds 

earth day craft

Recycled Confetti Earth 

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Earth Day Letter E Craftrp_earth-day-suncatcher-455x640.png
Earth Day Sun Catcher
Newspaper Earth

easy earth day craft for kids
Puffy Paint Earth

DIY Recycled Paper Project
Make Recycled Paper At Home

sun melted recycled crayons 1
Recycled Crayons Using Solar Energy

trash collage rainbow craft for kids
Trash Rainbow

earth day tambourine
Earth Day Tambourine

Recycling Center Activity
Table Top Recycling Center

playdoh earth
Playdough Earths

Heart Shaped Bird Feeder
All Natural Bird Feeder

Earth Day Craft

Coffee Filter Earth Garland 

Earth Day Books
earth day books

pop over to this post ( click here or on the image) to read full reviews of these books all about Earth Day many of which are perfect for three year olds.

How are you going to celebrate Earth Day with your children or students? Tell me all about your plans for Earth Day on No Time For Flash Cards Facebook page! 

9 Tips For Finger Painting With Your Toddler

finger painting for toddlers Of all the questions I get one of the most common is “How do you deal with the mess?” This is often followed by “I just can’t do messy stuff with my kids.”  If messy things really honestly upsets you I am here to tell you that it’s not worth the upset. If you will spend the whole time cleaning up after them, telling them to not do this or that it’s not worth it as an activity at your house. That’s OK. We all have our limits and not allowing messy art in your house doesn’t make you a bad parent.

If you are just nervous but eager to try it than these tips are for you. Over the years these have been my go to ways to make messy art like finger painting a wonderfully creative experience for my kids without me budding in every two minutes with a wipe interrupting their play. When we break up their play with wipes and cleaning up under them what we are saying is ” What you are doing is wrong, let me fix that.” or ” This is annoying me, let me make it right.” Sure this won’t register with every kid but most pick up on it and by nature most children want to please us. If we are going to let them be creative we need to find ways to make it work for all of us so we aren’t stepping in constantly.

These tips will help! These are old pictures of my now four and a half year old daughter, she was just under two when we did this activity.

finger painting with toddlers

1. If possible strap them in. If you use a booster seat for meals use that same chair for the activity. When their hands are covered in paint you don’t want them free to roam. If this isn’t an option position yourself so that you are between them and the area you do not want them to reach until their hands are clean. For us that’s the family room ( specifically the new couch)  only a few feet away from the kitchen where we were creating.

2. Tape their paper to a cutting board, or right to the table if the table is easily washable. This prevents the picture covered in paint from hitting the floor and other things on the way down. toddler finger painting tips to avoid mess

3. Dress your child in old clothes/ Pajamas. Little toddlers and smocks don’t really make a great pair. Avoid the dramatics and just let them wear something that you don’t care if it’s stained.

4. Use an old table cloth to protect your table. If you need to protect your floors try a shower curtain under your child’s chair.  happy tips for toddler finger painting

5. Give them control and let them have small dishes of paint to explore with. Toddlers are on the verge of a lot of new independence and giving them some control during activities is a great way to support this development. You don’t need to direct this activity at all!

6. Have extra paper ( and anything else you are using) on hand so you don’t have to leave them unattended for a second. tips for finger painting

7. Have wipes or a wet wash cloth, and a towel ready. Also don’t unbuckle the booster until after they are all the way clean.

8. If they are super messy my favorite trick is to have a big old bath towel ready and wrap them up in it, and go directly to the bath. toddler finger painting

9. After the painting is dry display it with pride! This seems obvious but it’s really important. Children need to their their art to complete the process. They are artists and should be proud of their work!

 

 

Need a great finger paint recipe? Try this one that your child can help make with you in the kitchen! Click on the image to find out how to make it.

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Exercise Eggs – Find & Move Scavenger Hunt

gross motor activities for kids I have been going through my photo archives and finding activities I have photos of but never posted. This scavenger hunt must have just gotten missed because it’s a great game and we’ve played it many times since, I don’t know why I have never posted it. The goal of the game is to get kids moving when it’s too cold or wet to run outside but it uses the novelty of finding and opening these sport themed Easter eggs ( which are already in the stores) to make it just a little more fun.

Please excuse the blurry photos – this was before I had a great camera or kids who’d freeze when I asked!

Gather your materials. You will need some plastic Easter eggs ( any theme will work), some paper, a pen, and scissors.easter egg gross motor activity

Start by cutting your paper into strips small enough to stuff into the eggs. Write different actions on the paper. If you really want to tire your kids out go big!gross motor eggs

Here are some ideas for you :

10 jumping jacks.
Sing the alphabet while skipping around the room.
March in place for 25 seconds.
Do a crab walk around the couch.
Stomp 5 times.
Touch your toes.
Jump as high as you can 5 times.
Sing Head and Shoulders.
5 burpees.
5 sit ups.
Dance like a maniac!

Pop those in and hide the eggs. Can you see any in the room? My little ones ( oh look how little they were…) were eager to find them all.sport egg

Search for the eggs. easter egg gross motor sports eggsAs you find them open them up, read it exercise eggs and do what it says. We all did the actions as a group but you can decide if the finder does it or everyone joins in. easter egg gross motor jumping

You can make this activity a quick brain break or a long full body workout. It’s all up to you. Either way it’s fast and fun to put together. So go grab some plastic eggs and get moving!

 

Squeeze Painting – Valentine’s Day Art Project

squeeze painting for preschool Squeezing isn’t just a fun way to burn off frustration, it’s also a wonderful exercise to build hand strength. The reason we want to encourage activities that build hand strength is that stronger hands leads to an easier time with handwriting, cutting, and even things like buttoning shirts and zipping jackets. This is especially true for doing any of those activities for a long time. Just like training for a marathon requires some strength training our little ones to write for a long time requires it as well. Working on developing hand strength doesn’t need to be work though. Using tools and materials that you squeeze with the whole hand is a great way you can encourage this at home or in your classroom. Tape resist is nothing new but instead of finger painting over the tape grab a few squeeze bottles and go to town. You can do this art project with kids of all ages and it’s a great option for multi-age groups. Here is how we made this squeeze painting Valentine’s Day wall art while working on hand strength.

Gather your materials. You will need a canvas, some painter’s tape, a box or something else to contain the mess, paint in 2 or more colors, and squeeze bottles.squeeze painting

Start by pouring your paint into the squeeze bottles and writing out the word you want on your canvas. You can do a shape if your child isn’t interested in letters yet. My daughter helped me with the letters telling me if I needed a long strip or a short strip of tape next for the letter.valentine's day canvas art

Next it’s time to paint. Do NOT worry about how this looks ( or how anything on this whole blog for that matter). This is really a process heavy project and I encourage you to try this simply with a canvas and no tape after. I try to make all our projects process heavy even if they have a product at the end.squeeze painting

Squeeze and splatter!squeeze paitning hand strength

She dumped a ton pf paint on and decided to move it around by tilting the box after. squeeze painting love sign for kidsThis way and that.valentine's day art canvas project

After all the paint was out of the bottles she continued to squeeze by blowing the air from the bottles and moving the paint around with the force of the air. I wanted to get closer photos but the thought of the little specks of paint on my camera lens kept me at a safe distance!squeeze painting for kids

After we let it dry for a long long long time we pulled the tape off together.love sign tape resist squeeze paint

Then together we found a great place where my daughter could SEE how much we valued her creation. love sign close up squeeze paintingWe settled on a spot in the kitchen.

 

Valentine’s Day Books For Kids

all our book lists include affiliate links.

the day it rained hearts

Day It Rained Hearts
by Felicia Bond is a sweet story that in my experience is a better bedtime story than circle time story especially for 4 and younger. The story is moving and lovely but in groups of children it just doesn’t grab them the way it does when they are snuggled up with someone they love. The story is about a little girl who collects hearts that fall from the clouds and makes incredibly touching gifts from them for special friends. The pace is just too slow for an active class that needs a hook, but perfect for bedtime when you want kids to be slowing down.

valentine friends

Valentine Friends
by April Jones Prince is one of my favorite Valentine’s Day books for 2 and 3 year olds. It’s simple, sweet, and has a great message about teamwork. The text is short enough for a circle time with very young children but the book isn’t baby-ish so older children will enjoy it too. The friends in the book all work together to make Valentine’s day treats and readers are left with the message that working together is a treat in itself.

10 valentine friends

10 Valentine Friends
by Janet Schulman is one of my daughter’s favorite counting books along with the other books in this series. While the rhymes are ta times forced the book itself is fun and it kept the attention of my 2-3 year old classroom who all participated in counting the valentines on each page. My daughter who is 4.5 likes picking out the details in each page and making up stories about the characters. I like that the children are all trying to make valentines for each other using the knowledge they have about the recipient. It’s a wonderful lesson about gift giving and how you should tailor gifts to the recipient and not just make something you’ll like.