Age 5 and older
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 make good Frisbees… ) , 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 as many rhyming words on the rest of the plates for each as you think will offer your child the right amount of challenge. You can always have a few extra on hand to hide on the go if your child is into it and you want to extend it.
- 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 assigned 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 ( after we read them of course) 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 insist 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 was 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.
Painting rocks is a classic craft and a family favorite around here. When my daughter and I gathered rocks outside I didn’t tell her what they were for knowing if I asked her what she wanted to do with them she’d say ” Let’s paint!” and she did. We used Martha Stewart paints that I got for this post last spring. I love these paints for adult crafts but they are not at all washable. Have wet sponges on hand for anything that might get paint on it like little boots that trail across your deck… for example. You could do this with more kid friendly paint but I just love the colors that this paint comes in and frankly it’s what I had on hand.
- Gather your materials. You will need some rocks , paint ( this is all weather so the eggs can be put outside) , brushes, a drop cloth like a paper grocery bag and sponges or a wet rag to clean up spills.
- After some pink she decided like many of her favorite clothes this egg needed to have polka dots.
- While she made the dots I made a striped egg.
- She helped me choose a few of the colors for the other eggs but after her big polka dot one she was ready to move on to playing in our garden while I had a blast painting in the sun. She came back a few times to observe and give me tips like ” Make it polka dots!” . Toddlers aren’t made to sit for a long time carefully working on projects so don’t take it personally if they have enough way before you thought they would.
I am not sure I ever thought the day would come when I’d hand one of my kids a hot glue gun and sit back and take pictures but it did and look at the results! Inspired by Kandinsky’s Squares with Concentric Circles , this recycled project was a big hit with my 6 year old who took the responsibility of using a hot glue gun very seriously. One of my goals with my son right now is for him to take his time with school work and having a project that forces him to slow down and pay attention is a great way to practice this without nagging. Our glue gun is not a low temp but they are available so this project could be done by younger kids if you feel it’s safe and can properly supervise. We made sure my daughter was napping so that she wouldn’t want to “help” us at our house this was a big kid only project.
- Gather your materials. You will need a hot glue gun and extra glue sticks, jar lids and bottle tops in various colors and sizes, and a card board box lid ( ours is a gift box from Christmas that lost it’s mate to an overzealous gift opener) . We also used a plastic plate and cutting board .
- Start by warming up your glue gun and having your child practice squeezing out the glue, holding the gun properly and avoiding the hot glue .He was so careful .
- Lay out your first set of circles. He decided on 2 rows of 3.
- Flip over and add the glue. Be careful not to touch the glue through the lid even through the lid it can get hot!
- Keep gluing adding layers and layers of lids. I think this project really made him feel special and grown up. He knew his sister could NOT do this and that really made him feel proud and encouraged him to take special care choosing which lids would look the best. I just like watching him take his time creating.
- I thought we were done but he wanted to add a big glob of glue on each stack. This actually took a great deal of control and worked on his hand eye coordination skills. There is always layers of learning in a project hiding under the fun.
- Let dry and display. Ours has proudly been above our TV for days.
You don’t have to live within walking distance of one of the world’s best museums to expose your kids to art you just need a few great books. These picture books about art are a wonderful place to start. Check out our post about art books for kids here.