Halloween Lego Challenge

Halloween Lego Challenge for kidsSince we posted our first Lego Challenge for preschoolers my daughter and I have been doing these little challenges a lot. They are simple to put together and she loves them. I decided to kick it up a notch and try a themed challenge. Halloween is just around the corner so I decided to go with a Halloween theme. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the items built , I think they were harder for me than her! I made 4 different challenges and she did 3 first thing in the morning and then the last before we left for preschool. When you child is doing a harder challenge be on hand to help but try to attack it as a team. I find that frustration levels are much lower for us when I say ” This is tricky what do you think we should do next?” vs ” Let ME see if I can help you.”

Gather your materials. You will need some Lego – when I create these little challenges I build both at the same time then dismantle the one I want her to build. I just grabbed all the Lego I could find in our bucket that were the colors I thought I needed.  You may also want a divided tray too.

halloween lego challenge supplies

Make your scary Lego creations! We made a pumpkin, ghost, Frankenstein, and candy corn. I am not including patterns because these are all odds and ends pieces. I just want to INSPIRE you to make your own and present the activity the same way. Halloween Lego Challenge big

After you have made your creations make sure that you have the exact pieces to create another. As I said above I create them at the same time which means I often run upsatirs to dig through my son’s room for more so everything is exactly duplicated.

Present the Lego with one guide and all the pieces to create the matching piece.

halloween Lego challenge for preschool

Challenge accepted!

Halloween Lego challenge for kids

She needed a little help with some of the building but not as much as I thought she would. She is methodical about where she starts and how she builds them up. I know who will be putting together all the IKEA furniture in our house in a few years! I thought the ghost was going to be the hardest but the candy corn was not because of the pattern but because the pieces were small and her four year old fingers had to work extra hard to get those tricky pieces together even though the pattern was simple for her to follow. Halloween Lego challenge for girls and boys

After a quick change for school it was time to make “ghosty”.

LEGO challenge for halloween

When she was done she immediately started taking them all apart so she could make me a challenge. Taking apart Lego is great for building hand strength too so I am all for it!

Word Building With Letter Magnets & Word Families

word family activity with letter magnets As children get a firm grasp on letter sounds they will be able to manipulate those sounds to create new ones.  My daughter has been playing with letter sounds for a while ( I think she is desperate to catch up to her big brother) and rhyming is one of her favorite things to do. All of her time rhyming has definitely helped her be able to isolate and substitute sounds and I wondered if she was ready for some word families. She was. I chose the word families that we used in this activity ( all, ap, at, it ) because she can sound them out without help. I wanted her to be able to build the words without me, because you are using masking tape you can easily switch up the word families as your child develops.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some masking tape, some letter magnets ( try to find ones that are fully magnetic instead of having little magnets glued on the back to be safe) , a cookie sheet, and a marker. The older brother overseeing the activity is completely optional. word building word families with magnets supplies

 

Add a few strips of masking tape on your cookie sheet.Write the word families you want to work on with your child. You can do a few or stick to just one. Here is a list of the 37 most common word families. word building with magnets

Take a few moments to have your child sound out the word families for you to make sure that this activity will be challenging but not impossible. When we give children challenges they grow but if we give them impossible tasks we end up discouraging them and sending them the message that learning is too hard for them. word building with magnets

 

Add a bunch of letter magnets ( I had 3 packs available) and help your child do the first modeling sounding out the word family and then adding the first sound and sounding out the word again.  Then let them at it.word building with word families

She started adding the magnets then sounding them out with her brother overseeing under strict instructions “To let her do it herself.” Sometimes she’d add one that didn’t make sense, he’d shake his head ,  and she’d just remove it and try with another letter. After a few letters he declared he wasn’t needed and left. I left words that she sounded out but might not know the definition of like pall. Even though should couldn’t tell me what a pall was she was sounding out the words correctly so I decided to leave it be. When kids are a little older I would ask is that a real word? Then ask them to look it up to find out.word building with letter magnets

I am so happy I caught this picture. After she made a word it was so amazing to her she turned to me saying ” Mama I did it again!” as if the other times were just flukes. I LOVE moments like this when kids take ownership of their abilities. She KNEW she could do it at that moment and continued to build the rest of the words.word building learning is fun

We will do this again soon with a few of these word families and mix in one or two new ones. Remember kids love repetition, it feels good to know what to expect and it gives them a chance to master something.word building with magnets and cookie sheets

 

Fall Art For Kids – Pom Pom Tree

autumn leaves art I love using contact paper for murals. I did zero instruction during this fall art for kids activity. My daughter counted pom poms, called out colors, and even noticed the size difference of the pom poms. Your child may not label all this learning and verbally clue you into what they are learning but trust me they aren’t just mindlessly adding them. They notice the different textures, they connect the colors to the changing colors outside ( our maple tree is already home to many red leaves), and they create! They are learning even when we don’t say a word.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper, painter’s tape, pom poms in fall leaf colors in various sizes if possible, and something to pop them in.

fall mural pom pom tree

Start by attaching the contact paper to a wall or window. pom pom sticky wall fall tree

Draw a bare tree on it with a permanent marker. fall pom pom tree for preschool mural

Place the pom poms where your child can reach them and invite them to create.

pom pom fall tree for preschool

She invited her dad to play too.  fall pom pom tree family activityThey played a game where he’d give her a number and she’d add that many pom poms. fall pom pom tree for kids

After  while I was cooking dinner she took them all off noting that the pom poms left “fuzz prints” but only if they were stuck on for ” a little bit of a long time”. She was right when I tried to make the fuzz prints just by placing and removing a pom pom right away it didn’t work. Loved these observations. pom pom tree deconstruction

 

Books About Fall Leaves

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leaf man lois elhert

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert  will leave you trying to find all sorts of things like butterflies, chickens and fish in leaf piles. The book is about a leaf man who blows away in the wind and the reader is taken past all sorts of animals like chickens and ducks, past rivers filled with fish and butterflies in the air. All are leaves pieced together to make these awesome images , some are obvious, some take concentration to see the animal among the leaves. Wonderful creative book to welcome the changing seasons.

Leaf Jumpers

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber is a beautifully illustrated , informative book that all all about leaves in autumn. It’s not the most exciting book but is a good teaching resource and tool when you are teaching your child about the changing seasons.  I can’t say this is a must read, but it’s useful and worth a look at your local library and will probably make you and your children want to jump in a few giant piles of leaves!

When_Autumn_Falls

When Autumn Falls by Kelli Nidey is a stunning book, the illustrations which are painted paper collages, by Susan Swan are so richly colored you will want more after turning the last page. The text is clever as well. Readers will discover that fall is well named not just because of falling leaves, but also pumpkins falling from the vines, temperatures falling, seeds falling from their leaves and even football players falling! The text is the perfect length for toddlers but not too short for preschoolers too.  Cute book for this time of year.

Backyard Safari and Map Activity

map activity for preschoolThis map activity was a huge hit because it included pretend play. Preschoolers love jumping into a fun pretend play scenario and adding a big dose of imagination to a regular old activity. My daughter loves going on safari when she plays dress up so I used that love to turn a simple hunt into a map activity. Reading maps is an important skill not just for the future but it teaches directions ( as we played we practiced left and right)  and uses spatial thinking skills . This took less than 5 minutes to set up and even if you don’t have a yard you can pop the toys in a backpack and try this at the park, beach, or even inside your home.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some toy animals, toy binoculars ( or make some like these binoculars), safari dress up, a clip board, markers and paper for making the map.backyard safari supplies

I started by mapping out our yard. It took me two tries before I got a somewhat accurate map. You could probably google earth your house and get a great shot of your yard but I don’t plan that far ahead so I free handed it.map activity for kids backyard safari

Then I added and X for each animal. Some spots have two Xs because there are two animals together.safari map for kids

Invite your little explorer to get ready for the safari!backyard safari dress up

Show them the map and go over it with them by asking them if they know what it is. What each part represents etc… don’t explain it all to them, let them explain it to you and you can fill in any big blanks if they arise.safari map activity for kids

Get ready to find some animals. I only helped once when she was really getting frustrated. The little alligator was tiny and well hidden. backyard scavenger hunt for kidsEvery time she found an animal she kissed it and put it back. gross motor safari game for preschoolI explained that when you go on Safari you observe the animals but you don’t take them with you.map activity for preschool  As we went along she found them even faster as well as got into the character , she was running so fast from one to the next.gross motor map gameMake sure you take a few moments to talk about what kind of animals they are and a little bit about them. We talked about herbivores and carnivores and how they are different.  She was very proud of herself for being able to read a map. For older kids have them create their own maps of the yard and add the Xs on after.back yard safari scavenger hunt

Story Books Featuring Safari Animals

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books about being different

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a very sweet story about a giraffe who gets laughed at because he doesn’t know how to dance. A cricket gives him some great advice and with new found confidence that different isn’t always bad he starts to dance!  This has been a favorite in our house for years!

Elmer
Elmer by David McKee is another book with a great message. Elmer is different, he isn’t gray like all the other elephants, and he’s a little bit of a goof too! He’s not so sure he likes that though. Like all of us it takes some time for Elmer to accept who he is but in the end he sees that patchwork is just who he is!

Hilda Must Be Dancing

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson is a lovely story about a big hippo that loves to dance, although her neighbors aren’t as keen. See Hilda is bog and when she dances she shakes and rattles everything, it’s noisy and disruptive and is making her friends very angry. They suggest that she try new hobbies, but knitting and singing won’t do it’s simply not in her heart, Hilda needs to move and groove!  I loves that a solution is found that makes everyone happy, that Hilda doesn’t have to give up her passion, but that she isn’t so selfish as to simply say ” too bad” to her friends either.

Twig & Bead Fairy Wands

twig and bead fairy wand craft for kidsI love exploring in the woods and while my children enjoy it they take it for granted. I love finding new ways to get them exploring their own environment and finding creative ways to use what we have in our yard. These twig and bead fairy wands were so much fun to make. We brought some of our favorite art supplies down to create with twigs. My daughter was all over this idea and I think this was the longest she’d ever beaded anything without asking me to take over. Beading is a fantastic fine motor activity and beyond that it often leads naturally to counting so you can slip some math in there too.  We also had a friend over who is 11 and she used the same materials to make her own funky twig and bead fairy wand.

Gather your materials. You will need some twigs, pony beads, yarn or cord, markers and scissors. bead fairy wands supplies

Before sitting down to create explore and find some twigs. I had found some that would work before inviting the girls to create in case they gathered the wrong size. twig hunting fiary wand tutorial

Break off any of the little bits and bobs on the twig and color it if you want to. I loved how much concentration this required. We used smelly markers because you can’t really see the color on the twig but the scent stayed and made it extra special. twig and bead fairy wand craft for preschool

Bead! Most twigs will naturally get wider at the base but if they don’t you can put a little dollop of hit glue to create a wider base. I just love how many great skills she is using by doing this fun activity. Her fine motor skills got a great work out!beading with twigs and beads

Wow look at all those beads! This is when you will want to casually say ” How many beads do you think are on there?” If you are trying to sneak in even more counting ask about specific colors too. ” How many green ones?” twig and bead fairy wand fine motor craft for kids

While my daughter was beading our 11 year old friend was beading on to the cord and then wrapping it around the twig and securing it with some tape. bead and fairy wands for older kids too

When my daughter was all done beading we attached some string to a bead and tied a knot.fairy wand tutorial Then beaded it on to the twig. fairy wand tutorial for kids

Next we wrapped the cord around the twig and make a handle. When it was all wrapped we tied it a few times and trimmed. magic wand tutorial

Now it’s ready for some serious fairy spells! magic wand tutorial for kids

You can see the rad wand our dear friend made too !beaded fairy wands for kids

Books About Fairies

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princess books for girls

The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton is a cute book about a little girl who loves all things princess related. What I like about this book is that it’s message isn’t heavy handed and it celebrates princesses while sneaking in some very positive messages too. In a world where many parents ( me included) have issues with this whole princess thing and struggle to find that balance this book has it. It tells you it’s OK to want to be a princess and to “let your sparkle out!” and talks about confidence in the process. I must admit though I am a total Julie Andrews fan and I am not sure I’d ever dislike anything Maria , I mean Mary Poppins I mean Julie Andrews wrote.

Alice the fairy

Alice The Fairy is such a sweet book about a fairy who is still learning the ropes. I love the spells she casts and kids relate to her type of magic, I promise! I love that this book is about a fairy but not the Disney idea that we are so often bombarded with. It’s fresh, fun and my daughter absolutely loves it. I have been in love with this book for many years and to see my daughter connect with Alice so well just tickles me to pieces.

princess in the forest

Princess in the Forest by Sibylle Von Olfers is more than 100 years old yet my toddler absolutely loved this book. The story is amazingly simple and the illustrations are what a fairytale should look like. The princess is met at different times of the day by various magical fairy children and forest creatures who care for and play with her. My daughter loves babies and the Dew Children who come to help the princess get dressed , the Moss Children who bring her food and the Star Children who illuminate her night enchanted her. She would immediately turn to each page with these angelic creatures and touch each one with her little fingers. This book doesn’t have a strong moral message but it’s simplicity is so peaceful and calming that it makes a wonderful bedtime book for young kids.