Valentine’s Day Lego Challenge For Girls and Boys

lego challenge for girls Lego Challenges have become a great way for me to get a few minutes to check email while completely thrilling my daughter. She loves these simple challenges and for good reason, she is really good at it, and it gives her such confidence to complete the creations without any help. I love how deeply she concentrates and that I can do this with her pretty much anywhere in our house. She liked being close to me and I can set this up in the kitchen if I am prepping dinner like in this post, in the family room if I am reading or on my office floor if I am on a conference call. These are not only easy to set up they are fun, I love creating the shapes and don’t worry you don’t have to make specific items you can do super simple ones like these in our first Lego Challenge post. Here is how we made our Valentine’s Day Lego challenge for girls and boys.

Gather your materials. You will need some Lego bricks ( just make sure you have two of each that you need) , and some sort of tray to contain the bricks. I used a cookie sheet from the dollar store.

Sit down and create some shapes or you could do a pink heart, arrow, rose and red heart like I did for a Valentine’s Day theme. When I make these challenges I always make two exact items then take one apart to make sure I have all the right pieces.lego activities for girls

Pop all the guides and the pieces on a tray and invite your master builder to come and get challenged!

She dove right into the challenge! lego challenge for preschool heart

Challenges like these aren’t just great for fine motor skills and building confidence they are also working the same pathways as puzzles. valentine's day lego challenge buildKids tap into their spacial skills, Lego is a great way to build these skills that are used for daily tasks for our children like packing a lunch box and more far off endeavors like computer engineering and other STEM jobs they may one day have. It’s no surprise that we call my daughter our ” Little Engineer”. lego challenge roses

I loved to see how she lined her roses up to see if they were matching.

fini lego challenge pour sainte valentines

After she was done with the challenge she starting taking it apart to do it all again!

Chocolate Gluten Free Play Dough

gluten free chocolate play dough recipe

Cooking together is one of my daughter’s absolute favorite activities and the only thing that makes it better is to cook play dough we can play with after! This chocolate gluten free play dough recipe was a bit of an experiment because our tried and true Bisquick play dough recipe needs a microwave and we don’t have one. So we changed it a little and the end result was a yummy smelling , soft , and gluten free.  While we don’t have any issues with wheat or gluten many kids do so we wanted to create a fun and easy recipe for everyone.  After making the dough play with it – have some fun chocolate themed tools and materials ready to play.

gluten free playdough recipe

Gather your materials. You will need Gluten Free Bisquick, cooking oil, salt, unsweetened cocoa powder, and water. You will also need a cooking pot, spoon, and all your accessories for playing like some mini cupcake liners, sprinkles, a mini rolling pin, cookie cutters, and empty chocolate boxes.

Recipe :

1 1/2 cups of Gluten Free Bisquick
1/2 cup of salt
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of oil

gluten free playdough recipe for kids

Start by reading the recipe and measuring out the ingredients with your child. I can’t do this AND take her photo so we measured them out together and then she patiently waited for me to scurry around the island and grab my camera.

homemade gluten free playdough

Add the Bisquick, salt, and water together in the pot and let your child mix it until it’s thick. Add in the oil and cocoa powder.stiring play dough gluten free play dough

Pop it in the stove on medium low and mix. It’s ready to come off the stove when it forms into a ball.chocolate gluten free playdough

Time to knead it. We added a little more Bisquick and oil as we kneaded it. It smelled SO good!kneading play dough choclate factory

Then it was time time to play. chocolate gluten free play dough candy factoryShe made me some cookies, chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and more with the play dough SHE made. chocolate gluten free playdough recipe

Quick and Easy Reading Puzzles

reading puzzles

Creating activities for your child at home or students at school shouldn’t take you all night. Whether you are a teacher or a parent ( or both ) you are busy. Creating fun holiday themed activities can wipe you out. These simple 5 minute reading puzzles can be done with ANY theme. You can find foam cut outs in pretty much any shape ( right now there are 3 different holiday ones available at the dollar store ) and together with stickers you can make a fun activity for free choice, literacy centers, or as a before lunch activity for a day when we didn’t have school.  I like using stickers because drawing is not a talent I posses and I want my daughter to focus on the word not sit there trying to decide if Mommy drew a cat or a pig. If you can draw grab a sharpie and go for it!

Gather your materials. You will need some foam shapes, we are using hearts because someone is getting very excited about Valentine’s Day, some stickers of things like animals, household items etc… and more stickers with lowercase letters. If you are going to focus only on the beginning sound  ( matching bear to B ) you could use uppercase but now that my daughter has been asking about spelling and sounding words out I have shifted to all lowercase as much as possible. Different teachers ( and districts) will teach letters in different sequences but I have never had a hard time teaching letters in tandem. In my 2 & 3 year old classroom I point out both naturally like when they see their name we take time to mention that their name has one uppercase letter and the rest are lowercase. I use both when playing games and already I have students who easily recognize both as different forms of the same letter. reading puzzles

Stick the object sticker on one sidequick & easy reading puzzles

The word on the other. easy reading puzzles

Cut. I cut each heart differently so that these simple puzzles are self correcting. If the heart doesn’t come together the child knows to keep trying.

easy reading puzzles for kidsI set them up so that the items were out and she had a pile of the words. I did this on purpose. I wanted her to read the word, then find the item. I didn’t want her to see the bear and then scan for a word that started with b. Can you see the difference? How you set it up will depend on what your goals are. My daughter has made the big leap from sounding out CVC words like cat, mop, and fan to much longer words with more syllables and complicated phonetic rules like r controlled vowels. This game lets her do that without the pressure of an adult over her shoulder but with the self correcting feature built in she can get back on track herself if she makes a mistake. reading puz

Put the puzzles together! easy reading puzzles for children

She had no trouble starting with sounding the words out then finding the match. Some of the words were challenging but she’d sound it out initially then look at what other half might make sense. This is NOT cheating this is a perfect example of how children can and should use illustrations in text as a scaffold.

easy reading puzzles for literacy centers

All these strategies in a quick and easy to put together activity.

Tips For Making Great Play Recipes With Kids

play recipes

Asia Citro has no issue with getting messy. The former science teacher turned blogger turned book author has devoted many many hours to finding just the right combinations of ingredients for amazing sensory play.  I appreciate this because much like baking I am great at playing with these recipes and even creating activities to do with them once they are done but I am no good at creating the recipes. Recipes like these are precise , not really my strong suit. It is Asia’s. I received this book free for review and you should probably know the author and I are friends. I hope it’s clear to all my readers I wouldn’t promote something unless it was rad even if my friend wrote it.

banana playdough

In her new book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids (affiliate link) she not only shares amazing screen free ideas she shares some exclusive play recipes, not even found on her blog Fun at Home With Kids. I decided to share some of my favorite recipes from her blog and then I let my daughter choose one of the exclusive ones from the book and share some one my favorite tips when you are making play recipes with your kids.

Before we get to the tips let me share my favorite play recipes you can find on Asia’s site Fun At Home With Kids:

edible paint

1. Scented Edible Paint
2. Rainbow Soap Foam Bubbles
3. Borax Free Slime
4. Polka Dot Slime
5. Foaming Dough Recipe : Magic Foaming Snowman

 

What I love about involving your kids in creating the play recipes is that it’s cooking and play all together. A lot of parents express how nervous they are about cooking with their kids or that they don’t have the patience for it. Well try this first. You aren’t a bad parent if you know that cooking dinner with your child will make you nuts. Maybe a play recipe like this will be the perfect compromise!

Browse for some recipes and let your child choose, she chose banana playdough. Letting your child choose the recipe they are going to make isn’t just a fun way to get them excited it’s a great way to model how you browse and read cookbooks. Flip through, read the ingredient lists together, and make shopping lists if need be. In this step along you are modeling real world reading and writing.

banana cooking

Measure out all the ingredients together making note of the numbers on the measuring cups. Cooking can be a wonderful intro to fractions in the real world for kids.banana mash

She loved mashing the bananas. Mashing bananas, avocados, cooked potatoes… and other mashable foods are always a good choice because kids can do this without you stepping in every two seconds. This builds their confidence.

banana cooking with kids

If a big bowl equals a big mess at your house give you child a little bit of the dough ( or whatever you are cooking) in their own smaller bowl and don’t worry if they spill it.

banana playdough

Time to play with it! Even if you are making real food play can absolutely follow. You can play restaurant with the completed meal, invite Barbie for a tea party, or my daughter’s favorite  play” TV Chef” Did I mention she would stop nursing if Giadia was on the TV as an infant? This girl has cooking in her DNA!

If you want the full recipe for the banana playdough  ( and so many others) grab a copy of 150+ Screen Free Activities For Kids by Asia Citro I can’t praise this new book enough. I think of it as my cookbook for sensory play. You can buy it on Amazon  —>  150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com! ( affiliate link) and check out the author’s blog here.

Easy Valentine’s Day Craft

easy valentine's day craftThis easy Valentine’s Day craft was inspired by these hole punch snowflakes we posted years ago. What I love about these hearts aren’t just that they are pretty , they are so simple and are a craft that you can put down and start dinner, run to the bust stop to pick up a sibling, or put away until the next day. Using a hold punch is a wonderful tool for building hand strength but make sure you have the right size punch that your child can maneuver to avoid any frustration.

Gather your materials. You will need some paper ( great way to use up scrap paper! ), hole punches, scissors, and some ribbon. You will also need some painter’s tape to hang them up without leaving too much gunk on your walls or windows. easy valentine's day craft

Start but folding some paper in half and cutting hearts. easy valentine's day craft for kids

Time to punch, hole punch heartI am telling you this one was tricky. hole punch heart craft for valentine's dayEveryone helped punch the holes. hole punch heart valentine's day craft

Make sure there is a hole in the middle of the top to thread the ribbon through. hole punch hearts

Thread it through and tie a double knot. This was too tricky for my daughter. The hearts are fragile and rip easily on this step. We decided we were a heart factory and the kids punched most of the holes and Mama tied on the ribbon. hole punch hearts in window

Hang them up in the window using painter’s tape. easy valentine's day decor

 

Books About Love & Friendship

books about love

Check out these 14 wonderful books about love and friendship after you make these fantastic hole punch hearts Valentine’s Day craft!