Age 5 and older
This is not something I thought up at all. This idea has been around for ages but when my husband had to run to Home Depot for something else I asked him to grab us some nuts and bolts. If you are a regular reader you may know that I am forever trying to get my son to work on his fine motor skills. The way I approach this is to mix them with a task he really likes and excels at. For him that is anything language related like reading or spelling. There are way fancier tutorials out there but I am a busy mom so I needed to make this activity quickly . It’s bare bones but it works.
- Gather your materials. You will need bolts, nuts and a sharpie. A fine tip one would be best but mine was dried out and I’d already told my son we were doing a project so I used my huge one. Also my nuts and bolts are matte not glossy which makes the sharpie stay on better. Please test yours out to make sure it adheres before playing.
- Write out simple CVC ( consonant vowel consonant) words on the end of the bolt. We did cat, rug, tub, top, jar and bug. This could easily be adapted for younger children by writing uppercase letters on the bolt and matching lowercase ones on the bolts.
- Write the letters on the bolt. You can chose to only use a handful of bolts and make your child take them off one bolt to use on another word or make multiple copies of the same letter on different nuts. I decided only one copy of each letter because I was trying my hardest to get my son to work his fingers putting the nuts on and off.
- Invite your word builder and go for it. The first thing he was to me was ‘ How about we do this together. I will do the spelling, find the letters and you can screw them on. ” Nice try buddy. No. He figured out that it matters which way the bolts go on. Here his U was upside down and bug looked like bng.
- Soon he had the hang of it and I felt good knowing he was working on his fine motor skills. He told me the words were too easy so I am going to get longer bolts and give him a bigger challenge soon.
After he was done his sister decided she wanted to try. This was really tricky ( near impossible) for her which means you will see some preschool fine motor posts in the near future! If you want to see more check this round up of fine motor activities out.
Anyone who thinks that sensory play is just for toddlers needs to see this post. Since making the swamp sensory tub last year my kids have asked to do another one just like it. I didn’t mean for so long to go by but we finally go around to it and this time made it into an ocean sensory tub with blue gelatin. Play like this is fun and simple and perfect for summer . We leave ours out covered in our yard for a few days and observe how the gelatin changes throughout the day.
- Gather your materials. You will need a container to make the gelatin in, a large container to play in ( we use our … ) , some fun sea animals and glass pebbles, plain gelatin ( I used 5 boxes) and some blue food coloring. You will also need a little bow, scissors, many cups of water and a pot or kettle for the boiling water.
- Start by pouring all the gelatin into a little bowl – 5boxes = 20 packets of gelatin.
- Boil 5 cups of water . Add a few drops of blue coloring to the water.
- Pour 15 cups of cool water into your container.
- Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let rest for one minute.
- Pour the boiling water in and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
- Hide in your fridge behind yogurt. Well that’s what I did because the last thing I wanted was blue gelatin all over my kitchen . When I made the rainbow gelatin sensory tub I spilled some blue and it it forever to get that stuff off.
- When the gelatin is set about 3 hours ( ours was a little under done but the kids were eager) grab the sea animals and get the table prepared.
- They explored the gelatin before putting it in the table. Touching and tasting it. ” It tastes like zero, nada, nothing .”
- Then we added the gelatin.
- Play!! Clearly the 6 yer old was into it. Literally.
- Because ours was a little under done it was stickier than normal and required more washing off – so they ran to the water in our yard and cleaned themselves off.
Getting my son learning after school isn’t always easy because he’s just been at school all day! This rhyming game was originally supposed to be a Frisbee like game with the hula hoops acting as targets but my dollar store plates were too light and even doubled up wouldn’t fly well. So we turned it into a hunt and my daughter came along for the ride and everyone had fun . You could adapt this easily for different levels using upper and lowercase as pairs to match, sight words ( writing out two and finding the match) or word families. Even though my almost 3 year old participated this activity is part of our Learning After School series . This series is filled with ideas for fun active learning after school gets out.
- Gather your materials. You will need some cheap plastic plates ( just don’t expect them to be good Frisbee… ) , a sharpie and some hula hoops.
- Start by writing some words on the plates. I chose 4 words that offered lots of rhyming words. Bake, car, band and hat.
- Write out many rhyming words for each as you think will challenge your kids just the right amount. You can always have a few extra on hand to hide on the go if your kids are into it and the end is near.
- Place the anchor words ( bake, car, band and hat) in the hula hoops.
- Hide the other plates.
- Get your kids ready – I had my son agree that he’d let his sister find her share and not zoom through and grab them all . He also offered up his reading and rhyming skills to help. I wasn’t sure how it would play out … if you are doing this with a number of children with similar rhyming and reading abilities a great way to do it is to start each child off with a different word and have them search only for words that rhyme with their word. * Whenever I am explaining rules I start with a quick game of Simon Says. It gets them focused.
- It was great. He needed a reminder not to grab all the plates but one reminder was enough. They would find a plate, run over and match the rhymes. She got a few solo and he would do his in his head throwing them down fast. But then when she was stumped he took time to help his sister saying things like ” Do you hear they sound the same? Cake and bake rhyme.” It was still pretty much over her head but he got great practice being patient and teaching her. You can see him stretching out the words for her as a hint. Best part is the plates store easily and you can add more when you want to play again.
Books That Rhyme
Here are 25 great books that rhyme . When reading these books with your kids take some time to play with the rhymes , not every single on but a few. Be silly and have fun. Do things like use a synonym in the place of a rhyming word in the familiar text. When your child corrects you explain that the word means the same thing. They will insit it’s still not right . Ask them why. Continue reading. Pretending not to know the answer and letting my kids answer for me always gets a good laugh and the lesson sticks as well.
Making a mural is a great opportunity for learning, especially cooperative learning. When I was teaching PreK I had a very spirited class and although I made many missteps as a new teacher one thing I did well was to encourage cooperative art projects when bad behaviors started popping up. Murals aren’t only great for making kids work together they are also wonderful for long term projects, getting up from the table to learn and encouraging kids to use proper hand form for writing while writing and drawing on vertical surfaces. Each of these mural projects have other more specific learning goals like shape recognition, counting and fine motor skills but the emphasis is always on fun.
Spring Garden Mural
Math Around The House Mural
Flower Petal Sticky Wall
Heart Rainbow Mural
Letter Flowers Sticky Wall
Jar Lid Match Mural
Peel & Pick Apple Tree
Alphabet Wall Mural
Ocean Shapes Mural
Christmas Tree Sticky Wall
This painting with sound activity was too brilliant to not share. It’s a perfect addition to a 5 senses theme. I can’t claim any credit for this other than choosing a great preschool for my kids. This came directly from my daughter’s teachers and when I saw it Wednesday I gasped because it’s pretty rare when I see something new to me. The only thing I changed was to put it on a vertical surface but that was because I was duplicating the activity only a few hours after my daughter did it at school and wanted to change it a little for her. I love using my doors as makeshift easels.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paintbrushes ( these were sent to me from craftprojectideas.com and worked well! ) , jingle bells, pipe cleaners, paper, and paint. If you are doing this on a window like we did you will want some painter’s tape to keep the paper up without leaving crud on your window.
- Start by threading the bells on the pipe cleaners. I put different numbers of bells on each to create slightly different sounds.
- Wrap around the end of the paint brushes.
- Let your little one explore the brushes and shake before they get covered in paint . She shook them as hard as she could before they were covered in paint.
- Grab some paint and paper.
- Add your artist. She really liked this and loved hearing the jiggle bells as she painting. We talked about which ones made the prettiest sound and she decided she only liked 3 out of the 4 and refused to use the largest one at all. Using the vertical surface seemed to encourage her to make big strokes which really made the bells jingle. We ended up learning all about color mixing too. She wanted to make red so we tried all the combinations to discover how close we could come to it. Don’t shy away from lessons like color mixing that emerge from other ones. Yes the plan was to talk about sound but there is always room for more or different lessons.
- I even managed to step away and start dinner while she painted and made beautiful tinkling sounds.