Water Table Activity – Make A Mess and Explore!

sensory play outside As parents and teachers we often create activities with something specific in mind, then when we add our little ones the activity takes a turn. That is the moment when we can encourage or lose our cool and stop everything and fight against our little charges and get the activity “back on track”. There will be days when the best choice IS to redirect the children and stick to the plan but many more where we can trust our children and follow their learning and exploration.

My plan was to have a desert and swamp water table activity her plan was to explore what happens when things get wet. We went with her plan, I’ll still share mine in case it’s useful for you. water table outside fun

Gather your materials. You will need some sand, rocks, and desert animal figurines for the desert side of the table. For the swamp side you will need water, pebbles, grass clippings, frogs and other swamp animal figurines.

sand in water table

Pour your sand into one side.

water table swampAnd your water in the other. Add all the extras.

 

I envisioned exploring the differences and for a few minutes she did. water table swamp small worldWe talked about the frog life cycle and made snake prints in the sand… and then went off-book and the real fun started. desert snake prints

The kinetic sand went into the water, and out, and in. sand with water in water table

Flowers were added. water table activity for kids

More water!

water table mess

She stirred the water and let it settle, found the animals and hid then under the water again… and kept exploring.

messy water play in water table

Parenting and teaching is a balance of choosing your battles, but it’s only a battle if we choose to look at it that way. If we choose to think about how they are exploring, how they are learning about their world through their senses and following their own curiosity we can battle bigger issues than sticking to the plan all the time.

 

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!

Alphabet Slime – Match Upper & Lowercase Letters

alphabet slime with glue and starch I am part of Elmer’s Crafty Teachers Crew and they asked me to create a fun learning activity with some of their products and share them with you. I knew exactly what I wanted to do…. make some alphabet slime!  Sensory materials like slime are fun all by themselves but adding a few items can turn a completely sensory experience into a sensorial literacy one. My daughter has known her letters for quite some time but still confuses lowercase b and d from time to time. This activity is a great way to work on upper and lowercase letter identification as well as fine motor development as your child or students dig through the slime for the small beads. My preferred way to use this activity is to set it all up and let the child explore, let them match up the letters or just PLAY. They will benefit from both options.

alphabet slime with elmer's glue

Gather your materials. You will need some Elmer’s clear school glue, Elmer’s glitter glue, glitter, liquid starch, alphabet beads, two ice cube trays, a marker, some bowls, and a spatula.

upper and lowercase matching activity from no time for flash cards

Before you mix up the slime write the lowercase letters in the ice cube tray with a permanent marker.

glue slime with elmer's glue

Here is the recipe I used – our slime was not very sticky and pretty thick. I kneaded it a lot! I like it strong and thick so little bits don’t go flying.

1 bottle of Elmer’s Clear School Glue
1/2 bottle of Elmer’s Glitter Glue
1 squeeze ( about a tablespoon) of Elmer’s School Glue
Glitter – We used the glitter from Elmer’s Craft Bond Glitter & Glue. One full tube for each color.
1/4 cup of liquid starch

sensory alphabet activity

I mixed the first four ingredients then added the starch and kneaded by hand. It got messy at times but,  it was quick to make.

alphabet slime

I made four colors, but my little assistant wanted to mix them together. The photos would have been SO much prettier if we didn’t but let’s all keep a good perspective on these activities. They aren’t for us or even Pinterest they are for our little ones SO MIX THE COLORS even if they end up brown or in our case a gun metal gray.

alphabet slime

Add the alphabet beads and mix.

alphabet slime

Set out the trays and the slime for your little letter finder.letter matching game with slime

Dig in!

alphabet slime

She spent about half the time digging for letters and putting them in the correct sections and the other half just playing and exploring the slime. alphabet slime letter activity

We sat together both digging in and picking out letters. sensory alphabet activity As well as giggling at the not so proper noises that the slime made as she pushed into it.

After a while we went looking for letters that we hadn’t found yet, she noticed which letters had the most beads in their sections and which were empty.

alphabet activity

Then she played some more!

alphabet activity

Using some novelty to reinforce or even introduce basic concepts makes them mush more fun. Using sensory materials like slime can offer children that need to squish and grab and squeeze an outlet to do that while still reaching more specific goals.

sensory play alphabet activity

Tomorrow I will share another simple idea we created with this slime after we got all the alphabet beads out – I will be taking it to my preschool class to explore with my students. Don’t miss it!

Alphabet Slime sensory activity for kids

As stated above this post is part of a sponsored program with Elmer’s Glue.

Fill In The Blank Life Cycles – Preschool Science

fill in the blank life cycles for kidsChildren are natural sorters. They like order and understand steps very early on if we present them in a fun hands-on way. Nothing beats seeing a lifecycle in action. I encourage all of you to get a Butterfly Garden ( affiliate link), or find a frog pond where you can visit multiple times to see the changing stages first hand. If you can NOT do either of those this hands-on activity is a great alternative and what I love about these life cycle manipulatives is that kids will play with them over and over again. As I type this our frog and tadpoles you see in this post have just been relocated to our swampy sensory table.Of course, if you don’t have access to these models or the budget to spend on them you can always hand draw the stages, cut out, color and laminate them. I am often asked if I read then do the activities or the other way around. In this case, if you are introducing the life cycles for the first time read the books first and do these fill in the blank life cycles after.

fill in the blank life cycles 1

To create these super simple fill in the blank life cycles you will need some life cycle manipulatives like these ones I got at Michael’s ( or draw your own), some good quality paper, markers, and a tray or two.

frog life cycle

Trace around each step in the life cycle. If your child is a reader add the stage with a word but if not skip it. I added it at first and my daughter was so intent on sounding it out that when she couldn’t ( chrysalis ) it frustrated her. The shape of the item will be an effective prompt. If you are drawing your own make sure the shapes are distinct after you cut them out. life cycle fill in the blank sheetsMy helper took this picture of me tracing I think it’s the first picture of me prepping an activity in 7 years. butterfly life cycle activity

Add arrows to show the direction of the transformation. I had help with this step. Too bad my order was off ( this friends is what happens when you blog on too little sleep… please note the correct order is egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly…. ) fill in the blank life cycle of frog

Label the life cycle in the middle so your child can identify which mat they need. My daughter can recognize these words so I didn’t include a picture but for a classroom with all different levels I would include a picture of a frog, butterfly, or turtle in the middle and laminate.

Pop the manipulatives on a second tray or in a shallow dish.turtle life cycle activity

Start matching them up.life cycles for preschool

If you are doing this in a free choice setting for a class I’d suggest doing it at circle time first and then either later that day or the next time you meet having it out for individuals to use their prior knowledge. Don’t forget that you can place as many or as few of the pieces on the sheet to start with to help your child be successful

life cycles

 

As she placed the pieces of the life cycles we talked about each of them.

Books About Life Cycles

all book lists contain affiliate links.

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book, not only does it explain the life cycle of a butterfly it also is useful for a the lesson about the days of the week and healthy eating. Children love relating to the caterpillar who eats too many treats and ends up with a belly ache before eating one more healthy leaf and spinning a chrysalis.

fish

Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni is a cute book that not only talks about friendship but it also explains the transformation of a tadpole into a frog in an entertaining way. I have used this book in classrooms while doing animal life cycles and kids always love how the fish in the book imagines humans as fish with legs! The story of the friendship between the little tadpole and minnow can’t be ignored either, it’s a great message about change and the way friendships if true can withstand change.from tadpole to frog

From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer is another gem from the “Let’s- Read-And-Find-Out” series. It goes into great detail without offering too much for young readers. When I was reading it to my 2-year-old, I skipped some pages, it’s a little long for him still, but 3-5-year-olds are the perfect age for this nonfiction book. The illustrations are interesting and kept my wiggly man into the book when the text went above his head.

 

Need a song to help teach about the butterfly life cycle? Try this one! 

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

rp_earth-day-muffins-021-300x225.jpg
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 

rp_earth-day-e-012-225x300.jpg
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!