Age 5 and older
These easy Christmas ornament crafts are so simple to make and the perfect craft for school age kids that are busy but still want to make a fun Christmas craft. They really sparkle and are ready to go in just minutes which makes them perfect for impatient kids like my son. Also the addition of a low temp glue gun sealed the deal, my son was so excited to get to use this very grown up tool. Low temp glue guns are safe for even younger kids if you have taken the time to teach them how to use them safely. Of course if your child isn’t ready for that you can do this step for them.
Gather your materials. You will need some jar lids ( ours are from my favorite Trader Joe’s salsa I love the gold tone) , holographic tape from the dollar store, shiny pipe cleaners, and a low temp glue gun.
Start by adding the tape to the jar lids. My son decided he was making these for some of his buddies so he had clear idea of designs for each. The tape was tricky to get going at first even for a 7 year old for younger kids I would possibly pre-cut some and have it on the edge of a table or box for easy handling.
Plug in your hot glue gun and add a glob on top of the jar lid then place the pipe cleaner in and stay still for a minute while the glue hardens enough to lay it down. I helped my son do the first one and then when he was more confident he did the others.
My first grader is naturally inclined to math and history and if it was up to him I would only ever create games with numbers or facts about past wars. I am happy to have him learn about those things but as his mom I need to stretch him to learn about other things as well. This is an science for kids game that asks players to classify each animal into omnivore, herbivore or carnivore. The hands on aspect of the game is great of young learners and can encourage later imaginative play as well. I like to keep activities like this short since my son attends school full time and my goal is to use these bite sized activities to spark interest and further investigation. For more check out our other Learning After School activities.
Gather your materials. You will need some card stock ( I use the back of sentence strips), marker, and a mix of animal figurines. I like these Safari Ltd North American Wildlife Toob from amazon ( that’s an affiliate link ).
When I invited my son to come do the activity I first had him answer a question on the chalkboard. This isn’t a must do but I will explain why I do it with my son. He loves to know the answer so by starting the activity with a question he can answer it starts him off on a strong confident foot. Then I challenge him with the sorting.
Some were not . After he made his final decision he asked ” Can you Google it to see if we are right?” I loved that he wasn’t looking to get the answer but to check if he was right. This also let me slip in a quick lesson about using reliable online sources. He won’t be searching online without me for a while yet but it’s still a good lesson to start cementing.
For more quick but meaningful learning for after school or any time check out our Learning After School series.
My son loves math. Adores it. What he doesn’t love is writing practice. So even though this printable worksheet I made ( a rare thing in itself) is a math review my goal was actually getting him to write and specifically to write smaller. You may notice that my son looks a little younger in this post and you are right we did this 6 months ago just as he was finishing up Kindergarten. He is a good student but handwriting has always been a struggle so to mix in a little practice with something he loves like math is a good way to make use of a little after school time. Homework may be all you have time to do and please do not push your kids to do more if they are given homework often or a heavy load. That is your priority. These Learning After School activities are meant for times when you have free time. They are short but worthwhile and hopefully fun!
Gather your materials. You will need a Bug Math Printable ( click for the sheet) , a pencil with good eraser and a kiddo ready to learn.
Go over the first example with them and then let them at it. I made this sheet specifically for my son. I included many easy bits but spelling out eight as well as how small the spaces were to write the answers were a good challenge. I am such a firm believer in balancing success and challenge to engage kids.
Review their answers. If something is wrong don’t correct it immediately. Instead say something like ” Does this one look right to you? ” if they dismiss it as right ask them to explain their answer to you or try again. As you can see I suggest encouraging “kid spelling” also known as invented or phonetic spelling. Allowing children to use their existing knowledge about letter sounds to construct words will help them become better spellers in the long run. When my son specifically asks how something is spelled I will ask him to try first and then walk him through it. Some words can’t be spelled phonetically but giving kids the chance to try is really beneficial.
Simple and quick little bits of practice pay off just make sure that before you do an activity like this that your child has a clear understanding of the concepts presented. I prefer to use independent activities like this for review and reinforcement. Worksheets are not my style of teaching and you won’t find a lot of them in my preschool materials. However for older kids who are eager to do short independent activities like this they aren’t a bad choice as long as they aren’t the only choice. For some outdoor math activities check out these ideas.
Need some bug books to go with the worksheet? Here are our favorites!
Check out these books about bugs with mini reviews of each here.
This outdoor math for kids can be done with beanbags, baseballs, water balloons… or Nerf guns like we used. My mantra is to use what they love to make them love learning and that is what we did. Nerf guns are big news at our house right now because I just relented and let my kids have them. Using the darts are an outside only activity although they are loved less for their shooting ability and more for a pretend play prop. Either way they are the bright shiny new and novel item at our house so I used them to make learning fun after school. My goal with all the activities in the Learning After School series is to make the activities for school age kids that are educational without making them feel like homework. Here is what we did with this math for kids activity and yes they LOVED it!
Gather your materials. You will need some plastic cups, a permanent marker, something to use to write down the tally, a nerf blaster , and eye protection. If you don’t want to use a Nerf gun you could use a bean bag or ball.
This activity was made for my 6 year old not my 3 year old but so when she shot them down I had her simply identify the numbers on the cups. I am planning on doing this again with her using a bean bag instead of a Nerf gun and the goal of hitting specific cups down. I will post it when I do.
Set the cups back up and go again. Add the tally up. I did the addition for my daughter but got her to write some. My son did his own writing. It’s not a ton of practice but it’s a little something in the midst of a fun activity so I will take it!
Like I said this was designed for my almost 7 year old not my 3 year old. She did well with it and had fun but I would never use this activity with a group of 3 year olds – nerf guns while safe to play with still hurt if you get one in the eye or at close range which is why they had safety glasses on. You know best what your kids are ready for but I just wanted to be clear that this is meant for our big kids !
Candy is a great motivator. It’s not the main motivator I want to use but from time to time it’s novelty is useful and a fun break from more everyday things. This is a simple math game for kids that works on sorting, estimation ,and counting. When working with kids and edibles my rule is that if you do not sneak any you get a small pile at the end of the activity. My son is a rule follower by nature and did this as we have in the past. His 3 year old sister did not. Every child is different but that rule has worked for me over the years much more often than not. Have pom poms or buttons on hand if you need to swap out or prefer not to use candy at all.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sheet of paper with three trees on it ( you can print mine here) , cookie sheets to keep the candies from rolling away, candies ( our natural dyed red is sorta wine colored but the kids didn’t bat an eye), a small dish for each player, and a jar with a lid.
- Give each child a sheet with three trees and a small dish. Shake up the jar with all 3 colors of candies in it and pour some into each child’s dish.
- Have them guess which tree will have the most apples on it by estimating which color is the most prevalent in their dish of candies.
- Start sorting the candies and placing them on the matching trees.
- Which has the most? Which has the least? How many do they all have? Count to find out.
- Sneak a few candies… or every single green candy when mom is busy taking pictures of your big brother counting.
- Pour the candies back in the jar, shake, and repeat the game. For my son I had him figure out how many more the tree with the most had than the tree with the least and do some other simple addition and subtraction by allowing him to eat a few and then telling me how many there were after eating them. For my daughter I had her simply count and sort. I loved how easy it was to adapt to both their levels.
Books About Apple Trees
Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard. This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking. The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book, I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.
Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace will not be returned to the library on time. We got it out today and my son has had me read it to him 3 times, and his dad read it twice. Clearly it gets the 3 year old seal of approval. It also gets mine. The story is more than just a story about a afmily going apple picking at an orchard. It explains all sorts of apple facts but what I really love is that it also explains that there are different kinds of apples and each are used for different things. Since each member of the family is using their apples for different purposes that fact is driven home . Great book for preschoolers going on a apple picking field trip , making applesauce or apple prints.
One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert is stunning. I really enjoy this author but most of my praise for this book lands squarely on the illustrator Karla Gudeon’s shoulders. WOW. I just adore the look, and creativity of this book. The story follows the cycle of one apple from orchard, to market back to seed, tree and back into the hands of a child. I enjoy books like this that simply explain the cycles of the natural world to young kids , but you can’t miss this one. As I turned each page I gasped, it’s one of those books you just need to sit and look at because each time you do you find some little detail you missed before.This post contains affiliate links.