Animal Print Puzzles

animal print puzzles for kids

My daughter loves matching things and has done well with simple pattern match activities like this one so I decided to make it a little more complicated. These animal print puzzles for kids are quick to make ( they honestly took one minute to make all four)  but for young kids matching the patterns up so the prints line up can be a challenge. This is a great activity to develop attention and concentration but because there are only two pieces to each puzzle it shouldn’t create too great a challenge and end up frustrating your child.

  1. Gather your materials. We used animal print foam sheets but you could use scrap book paper instead just make sure that the pieces are sturdy enough for your child to handle. If they get crinkled or ripped it will be harder to match up . You will also need some scissors.rainy day activities tod
  2. Cut your foam into squares and then cut the squares into two halves using different cutting patterns. I made 4 puzzles for my daughter who is just 3. For older children try 2 in each pattern to create a bigger challenge.rainy day activities
  3. Present the puzzles to your child and ask them to put the squares back together. If they are struggling you can also make a square out of painter’s tape on the table to give them a guide.  When I make puzzles like these I pop them on a tray and leave them out for a few days after our initial play and then pop them in a ziploc and into storage for a while. After a trip to the zoo or when we read one of our favorite books about the zoo I pull them out and we play again.25 simple rainy day activities for toddlers

Books About The Zoo

inside_a_zoo_in_the_city

Inside a Zoo in the City by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a rebus read along , so children who can’t read words yet can help read this with pictures put right into the text! The story is repetitive and builds with one animal and page at a time. Preschoolers love these books and the repetitive nature of it makes it interactive and fun!

peek-a-zoo

Peek-a-Zoo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a vibrant lift the flap book that goes through sounds different animals make while playing peek a boo with the reader. What I like about this book is that the flaps offer a chance for your baby or toddler to anticipate what animal it hiding as well as the sound , so it grows with them. Also the flaps are large enough that little hands can grab them and won’t get frustrated.

goodnight gorilla

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is simply one of my favorite books ever. I love it and love that my daughter doesn’t fuss when I read it to her because it was a special book for my son when he was little and it’s a book he will still curl up and read quietly with us, making it fun cuddle time for all three of us. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s all about a sneaky gorilla who unlocks all the animals at the zoo and they quietly follow the zoo keeper home and climb into bed with him, until his wife wakes up! I love this book cause I relate to the zoo keepers wife , when I wake up there is always a sneaky 3 year old gorilla in my bed!

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Simple Father’s Day Craft

kid made father's day craft Sometimes crafts don’t go exactly as you planned but you roll with it. When my daughter was given a new pack of Do-A-Dot Markers for her birthday I knew what I wanted to use them for. A few years ago my son made my husband a Dad Canvas for Father’s Day and today was my daughter’s turn at this simple Father’s Day craft. As you will see that the project did not turn out as planned but it’s still a great kid made present for Father’s Day. Here is how we made it.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a canvas , some Dot-A-Dot Markers or any other paint, contact paper, letter stickers, a marker and scissors. father's day craft
  2. Draw a tie on the backing of the contact paper. father's day craft
  3. Cut it out , peel the backing off and press onto the canvas. Add the letter stickers to spell out Dad, Daddy, Papa etc…craft for father's day
  4. Start painting!  My daughter started with a few good whacks of each color.father's day canvas art gift Then she carefully added pink and purple. father's day gift from kids paintingNormally if my daughter says she is done painting I would say great and move on but for a project like this there really needs to be lots of paint at least around the image so you might need a few tricks to keep your little one going . ftaher's day canvasWhat I did with my daughter was to spin the canvas around to encourage her to paint all over, then I asked her to count to 5 while we both make dots , then 10, 11, 12 and then she counted to 27 all on her own.  father's day art when things go wrong
  5. Peel off. Make a sad face, but only for a moment because this isn’t the end of the world.  I had a feeling this was going to happen because my canvas was old and the stickers didn’t stick to it very well. You can always place a heavy book over it and let it sit for a few hours before painting. I left it up to my daughter and she wanted to paint over it. Do not make a child change their art . It’s their creation but if they ask don’t resist, it’s their art . father's day craft oops
  6.   I outlined the tie with a silver Sharpie. Now we just have to hide it until Father’s Day. father's day craft for kids

 

Need more ideas for Father’s Day ? Check out our Father’s Day Rocks Pinterest board. Also don’t forget to swing by our Facebook page because today I will be asking our community about what they are doing for Father’s Day … because I need ideas!

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Easy Letter Rubbings Board

how to make a letter rubbing boardI love re-using household items for learning activities and I had the glue gun out for something else when inspiration struck. My daughter loved the magic letters activity we did months ago and I wanted to create another easy alphabet activity that had an element of surprise. This easy to make board was perfect. You and I may not be surprised by the letters appearing on the paper but for someone just shy of 3 years old this was a super cool activity. The letter rubbings she made are a simple craft  but memorable. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters series which is a series of activities that let your children play and discover letters.

  1. Gather your materials. To make the letter rubbing board you will need a cutting board ( I used our old playdough board) , some hot glue, and a glue gun. To make the rubbings you will also need some paper and crayons. You may also want some clips to keep the paper in place while rubbing. letter rubbing board
  2. Heat up your glue gun and write letters on the board with it . I did uppercase but you can do lowercase or a mix, whatever you want. alphabet activity
  3. If you make a mistake just wait until it’s cooled and using a butter knife you can pry it off. Let cool. DIY Letter Rubbing Board for kids
  4. My daughter explored the letters once they were cool. diy letter board rubbing letter tracing
  5. Invite your helper to come and peel some crayon wrappers off. It’s great fine motor skill practice and to tell you the truth my most hated task. Do any of you know if they have unwrapped crayons? I would pay extra for those!  { Um well yes there are unwrapped crayons and our friends at Melissa & Doug have them } diy letter tracing board peeling crayons
  6. Time to start rubbing and revealing the letters.She loved it. DIY Letter Tracing BoardI was worried it might be kinda blah but she enjoyed changing crayon colors, trying to guess what letter would be next and eventually announcing the letter. DIY Letter Tracing board for preschool

Alphabet Books

No Alphabet For Starters activity is complete without some rad alphabet books to deepen the lesson. Here are a few fun ones for beginners.

alphabetbook

Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others) was an amazing gas station find. Yes I said gas station. I ran in for some diet coke and came out with an alphabet book ! This book is amazing, bright beautiful and even though I bought it for my daughter since it’s bright colors and sturdy pages are perfect for a baby, my almost 4 year old son adores it. What I love is when he reads it to her . The Native art is gorgeous and if you are unfamiliar with north west coast art you are in for a treat.

alphabet under construction

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but my 19 month old will sit through Z every time. {This review is from when my son was 19 months old in 2008. His love of this book was really a jumping off point for his love of letters in general. I wish I could say I taught him his letters but really reading this one particular book over and over at his request probably did the trick. }

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. It’s an incredibly fun book!  I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

Painting with Cookie Cutters

abc activityWith summer around the corner I usually shift from more involved activities to simpler ones . We used these alphabet cookie cutters for a playdough activity ages ago and they were the perfect tool for this painting activity.  I loved how amazed my daughter was every time she lifted the cookie cutter up to reveal the letter below. This is such an easy way to play with letters. There is no structure just colors, tools and exploration. This post is part of our Alphabet For Starters series. A series of posts that introduce and play with letters.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint, plates, alphabet cookie cutters ( or any shape really you don’t have to do the alphabet) and some paper.
  2. If you want to extend the activity a little take some time to mix colors with the paint. We used different colors and added white paint with each . My daughter called them ice cream colors. I have to agree! There are no pictures of us mixing the colors because her mixing got rather exuberant . Remember to have a wet cloth on hand so you don’t have to stash the toddler covered in paint under your arm while running to get one like I did.abc painting mixing
  3. Spread the paint on the paper plates, lay your paper down and go for it!abc painting colors
  4. She had a blast and it’s such a natural activity for letter recognition. You don’t even have to prompt your child if they are at all familiar with letters they will likely announce which they are using.  If not feel free to say things like ” Look you made an orange H ! Cool! ” but keep it light. I have no clue why her foot is on the window ledge but I am rather in awe of her flexibility.abc painting with letter cookie cutters
  5. Keep going and if your paper is large rotate it for more room to stamp.abc letter painting
  6. Let dry and display. Try to always display your children’s creations even if you only hang them up for a short while. Let them feel pride in their accomplishments.

Awesome ABC Books 

eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F eek, since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

alphabeep

Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list.

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Simple Play Stations For Busy Days

simple play stations for busy daysEvery parent has those days at home when you HAVE to get stuff done. Maybe it’s work , homeschooling older children, or maybe you are fighting a bad cold and just don’t have the time to plan and play like you like to. Before you reach for the remote try simple themed play stations instead. This may look like a lot of work to set up but trust me it took 5 minutes. If construction isn’t your child’s thing don’t worry I have ideas below for 6 more themes. You may need to look through the toys in your house to see what you can use but once you write a list it will be a snap to put it together when you need it. What a set up like this does is gives your child stations to move to and from and gives you a little extra time to get things done. The day we did this I was sicker than a dog and this kept my almost 3 year old happy while I tried to get work I normally do after her bedtime done early so I could have a good sleep that night. She did end up watching some PBS Kids but much less than she would have if I had not set this all up.

  1. Choose the theme. Your best bet is to choose something that your child is really interested in. A new theme is best introduced when you can act as a guide.
  2. Choose what stations to set up. Again this isn’t a time for too much novelty . Old favorites, things they can do independently and toys that they love . Toys they love but have been put away for a while work great. My stations were :playdoughdress up , puzzles ,and books. Gather your toys and materials for the stations. Keep it simple you don’t need to make huge sensory bins or elaborate block areas. I had a puzzle, some playdough with a little people construction worker and some Duplo, a few pretend play props and some books on the theme.theme days
  3. Play . theme puzzleShow your child the stations ( space them out to your child’s liking) and ask them which they want to start with. theme playdoughMost kids will go to each briefly and then go back to each for a second look to really play. theme dress upWhen my daughter went to the book station I asked her to please read the books first by herself and then I would come and read them to her. This gave me enough time to pause what I was doing and join her.theme books

Other Theme Ideas

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Princess Books  , pink playdough with sequins or beads, princess costume or crown for dress up, build a castle with blocks, make a princess bracelet with a pipe cleaner and pony beads.

Ocean : Books about fish , Tub of water with sea animals, swimming goggles for simple pretend play, under the sea pictures ( blue paper and fish stickers) , fish puzzles.

Bugs : Books about bugs, playdough bugs (add some straws and googly eyes)  , egg carton and pipe cleaner caterpillar, draw your own bug ( crayons and paper) ,bug puzzles.

ABCs : Alphabet books, playdough with alphabet cookie cutters, alphabet stickers on paper, letter rainbowing, alphabet puzzle.

Cars and Trucks : Car books, make tracks in playdough with cars, make a city with blocks and cars, simple car wash, draw a road on paper and fill it with car and truck stickers.

Cooking : Books about food, cook in the sink, paint with a potato masher, simple grocery store play in the kitchen.