## Candy Apple Math Game For 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.

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Start sorting the candies and placing them on the matching trees.
5. Which has the most? Which has the least? How many do they all have? Count to find out.
6. Sneak a few candies… or every single green candy when mom is busy taking pictures of your big brother counting.
7. 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.

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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.

## Peace Sign Activity For Kids

Trying to explain inner peace to young kids is not easy. Trying to suggest creating a place for your child to recharge, think positively and find balance isn’t either. Last year my son went off to full day kindergarten. The academics weren’t a big challenge for him but the length of the school day was. He had very little time to recharge and when he got off the bus he was a tornado. He was struggling because he didn’t have all the tools he needed to find little ways to recharge throughout the day. He couldn’t find peace through all the activity.

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This week my son and I explored Playful Learning Ecademy ‘s Be A Peacemaker eCourse and after learning many new tools the activity in this post sponsored by Playful Learning was created to reinforce some of what we learned.

Of all the lesson in the course the one that we both connected most deeply to was one where participants are asked to describe what peace looks, feels,smells, tastes and sounds like. My son’s answers were on one hand wiser than his years and the next perfectly perfect for a 6 year old. After we took the course I decided to extend the learning by combining creating a peace spot and a sign or poster of what he thought peace looked like. My hope is that when is is out of control, anxious, or just unable to stop thinking he can see his peace poster and think about what peace looks like and all he learned about how to turn those negative thoughts and worries into positive ones and be at peace.

Here is how you can make a peace sign ( as my son calls it)  with your child and use it as a conversation starter to talk about being a peacemaker. One of my hopes for this activity was for my son to take a moment of peace and create. Usually when we make things we do it together and when you get the two of us together you can bet at least one of us is talking. So going outside alone to create was as much the lesson as what he created.

1. Gather your materials. You will need the a piece of paper , a clip board, some pencils and/ or pencil crayons. I had multiple copies of my poster outline so that if he wanted to start again he didn’t have to leave the yard and break his creative space. That is also why I had the clip board in case he wanted to take it off the deck and into our woods to complete.
2. Encourage your child to find a quiet spot outside to sit and think about peace. Bring them all the materials and make sure they know there are no right or wrong answers. Do not tell them to keep going if they are done in 2 seconds. This is their peace poster.
3. Ask them to explain the poster to you even if you think you can figure it out. I found this so important. Knowing that love is how my son sees peace makes so much sense and I think you will find a certain insight into your children’s minds too.
4. Put it up in the spot where your child feels the most peaceful. I love that his is by his bed because it gives me a chance to talk about it before he falls asleep at night.
5. After he was done my daughter who is still a little young for the course proved she wasn’t too young to create her own peace. Her answer was pink. Peace looks like pink.

This exercise is just a tiny taste of what Playful Learning Ecademy Be A Peacemaker course can offer you and your kids. I really do believe in the value these course can offer families and know that my family has been helped by taking them. Before school starts and my son gets overwhelmed we will be reviewing the tools he has learned so he is better prepared for the long days ahead.

What tools do you use with your family use to practice finding peace and staying positive ? Share your ideas below or on our Facebook Page!

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## Paint & Read { and sound it out }

Two skills children need to master in their journey to independent reading are segmenting and blending sounds. Segmenting is breaking a word apart into individual sounds and blending is very simply the ability to combine the sounds together smoothly. When we tell a child to sound it out , this is really what we are asking them to do.  This activity was designed for my son who is a great reader but who will often read so quickly that if he encounters a word he doesn’t know he simply guesses and continues. If I ask him to sound the word out he will  still often guess and get frustrated at me for asking instead of slowing down and doing it even though he is perfectly capable of doing so.  I had to come up with a playful way that would force him to chill a little, slow it all down and focus on the sounds.  This activity can be adapted for any level even single sounds or sight words. We did a similar one for toddlers exploring letters here.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, white wax crayon, dark water color ( container is you need one) , a little water and a paint brush. I also used a clipboard to keep the pages secure while painting.
2. Start by writing out the words you want your child to stretch out. I used a book we’ve recently read to help me think of some words. Many of the words I chose were not a challenge to read , the challenge is to get him to slow down and stretch them out. For new readers you will want to do words like cat, dog, ball, map, off, snap etc…  but know that older children and more proficient readers can still work on this skill with more complex words.
3. Next I popped the black water color into the jar and added just a little water. To do this well you want a lot of color but not too much water .
4. I invited my little reader and explained that he needed to paint over the words SLOWLY and read as he went, then to read the whole word normally. I had to emphasize that the goal was not to guess the word after painting over the first few letters, that the right way to do it was to carefully say each sound then put the word back together.
5. The activity was an instant hit. It really did get him to slow it down and pay attention to all the sounds in the words instead of just guessing. I was happy to find a tool for him to keep working on these skills without making him feel like I was giving him a remedial task.  Quick activities likes this one can be thrown together easily with some really fantastic benefits to your child’s reading ability.

## Cork Board Letters

Over the summer my son is focusing on play but I am focusing on working on his fine motor skills.  This activity satisfies both .  The best part of these letter puzzles are how adaptable they are. You can make letters, shapes, even spell simple words. You could provide your child with a card next to each group of pegs to let them know what letter it is or leave it as a puzzle for them to figure out like I did to combine fine motor and spacial skills.

1. Gather your materials. You will need a cork board, some pushpins and elastics.
2. Start by stretching two elastics across the board to make 4 distinct areas.
3. Using the push pins I created 4 letters. I wanted to make sure that they could be made into letters so created them myself. Then removed the elastics and called my son.
4. He dove right in. The A was easy but the B was tricky. It took a while for him to see that it was a B but once he did he couldn’t make the B fast enough.
5. I took all the pegs out ( adults only if you aren’t careful the elastics can pull the pegs out and they go flying) and reconfigured them into 4 new letters.  These were easier and he flew through them but he was still getting lots of opportunity to fine tune his fine motor skills.

These books aren’t your basic alphabet book. They offer challenges that will appeal to school age children but could still be shared with kids 5 and under.

Animalia by Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can loose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as for the letter L ” Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids a like will fall in love.

All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer was more fun for my husband and I than for my son when he was a toddler, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a book of pictures, with hidden letters in them. For example the letter O is overpass with loops of road and hidden in it is an O. Some letters were easy to find some were hilariously hard. We read this to my son tonight at bedtime and while we stared at the letter H ( highway) picture debating where the h was, he fell asleep between us in his bed. This is a great alphabet book for families with children just learning and those who have mastered the alphabet. Oh and the debate was settled , we were both wrong. The final page highlights the letter in each picture in a compilation of the whole alphabet.

Al Pha’s Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a rare find. An alphabet book that can keep a 5 year old who says alphabet books are for babies, completely engaged. The story follows Al who has bet himself that he can win a contest ordered by the King figure out an order for the brand new 26 letters that were just invented. In a string of adorable events and a little chance the alphabet as we know it is put together. My son thought it was hysterical that P was put in the line up after Al went pee. It’s a cute idea for a book and abstract enough to be a bit of a challenge for preschoolers but just the right level of interest for kids that think they know it all when it comes to the alphabet.

## Spelling With Nuts & Bolts

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.

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Invite your word builder and go for it. The first thing he said 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. Don’t forget to put the letters on right side up. You must pay attention to which way they are on or your bug will look like bng … my son had to unscrew , flip it and screw it back on.
5. 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.