Sight Word Dominoes & Speed Racer Game

sight word dominoes and race gameLearning after school is something we try to do most days but we keep it fun.  Making learning a game is my magic trick for my son who is possibly the world’s most competitive 6 year old. I set this up quickly and had it all ready for him before he got home.  I wish I could take all the credit for this idea but it’s spin off from our contributing writer Kim’s amazing letter dominoes post from last year. After you read this one make sure you check it out.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sentence strips, a marker, scissors and  a list of about 20 dolch sight words . We used a mix of levels 1, 2 and 3.  Dolch sight words are high frequency words that are often thought to be best to teach children to read by memorization not through decoding ( sounding out/using other clues like context ) . sight word race game for kindergarten
  2. I chose some words that I knew would be easy for my son, some that I wasn’t sure and a few that would take a few seconds to figure out. I always try to boost confidence with some easy, hit right on target for most and challenge him with some as well.
  3. Cut the sentence strips.sight words game for kids
  4. Draw a line down the middle and write a word on each side . sight words
  5. Play! sight word dominoes game
  6. We played dominoes by placing one card down on the table and flipping the rest over from a pile over until we found a match .sight word game for kids We played on the table because of the terrible light ( winter weather is not blog friendly!) but later on we moved to the floor where we had much more room to make a bigger better domino structure. sight word dominoes
  7. The next game we played with the cards was even more fun. Start with one card each on the same spot on the floor or a table with a clear finish line.
  8. Place all the other cards in a pile.
  9. Flip the card and when a match is found add it to your line. sight word race game for kids
  10. The person to reach the finish line first wins. He was counting to see who was ahead but we were neck and neck!sight word race for kindergarten Repeat! This game got him reading so quickly wanting to hurry up and flip to the next. sight word race game for kindergarten kids

Valentine’s Day Rainbow Wall

valentine heart muralWe needed some extra happy cheer in our playroom after a week of cold, gloomy weather. My kids had fun making something cheerful for their playroom while working on fine motor skills, color recognition and counting. Oh and cooperative projects like these were always the very first thing I’d set up for my class ( and now my kids) when bickering started popping up. Working together has a great way of allowing them to work out their differences and feel like a team again.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper ( or craft paper with double stick tape ) , many sheets of all different color paper, a heart punch, and markers in every color of the rainbow.valentine's day rainbow craft
  2. Start by pinning the contact paper to the wall sticky side out. I prefer contact paper because it allows kids to change where they put a heart if they don’t like their original placement. I pop the paper on with the backing still on then peel. I find it way easier than putting in on with the sticky already exposed. valentines day rainbow
  3. Next punch out a whole bunch of hearts. My kids helped with some but I did most of the punching . valentine's day rainbow craft mural
  4. Draw the rainbow with markers directly on the contact paper.valentine rainbow mural
  5. Set up a heart station ( ours was a plate and a stool) by the contact paper.valentine's day rainbow activity for kids
  6. Let them at it.valentines' day color matching activity for toddlersMy daughter liked taking her time finding the exact right spot for each heart. My son liked gathering a handful of one color and adding them on in a bunch.valentines' day heart mural for kids Clearly they weren’t having any fun at all.valentines' day heart mural for cooperative play
  7. My daughter fizzled out about half way through, if I was making this for just toddlers I’d make a much much smaller rainbow and maybe larger hearts as well. My son and I had a race to see which colors could be filled in first. I was reminded how much I love just working on something like this with my kids. It really does make you feel more like a team and is by far the number one reason we do projects together. He counted each color to see which won and noticed that of course the first few colors would have more than the last few. I love it when learning like that comes so naturally in a self directed way.valentine's day heart mural counting
  8. All done. Now our gloomy winter weather can’t bring us down. Valentine's day heart mural for preschool

3D Hand Print Turkey Craft

I try to include my kids in as much of the brainstorming and decision making about what crafts we make , especially around holidays. When I suggested we make a Thanksgiving craft to give to his grandparents my son immediately suggested a hand print turkey. I knew exactly what I wanted to make and set it up. Both my almost 6 year old and 2 year old enjoyed this craft , I just helped them in different ways to make it appropriate for both of them.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper grocery bag ( construction paper is fine too) ,pencils, some crayons, glue, googly eyes, scissors , colored paper and adhesive foam dots. 
  2. Star by tracing your child’s hands. I traced my daughters and my son traced his own. Now we traced them 3 times and you can ( just make sure it’s the same hand) or you can just trace one and in step 4 simple layer other paper under to make multiples.
  3. Now color the hands. You can color them all or just one.
  4. Cut the hands out.
  5. While I cut my daughter played with her tea set and tea party place mats and my son grabbed another paper and wrote a Thanksgiving message.
  6. Now it’s time to glue the eyes on.
  7. Add the adhesive dots. Layer each hand print on top of the other with the colored one in front.
  8. Add to your backing of choice.
  9. Send away to some very proud grandparents! 

21 Easy Thanksgiving Crafts For Kids

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kids crafts Every time I’ve asked my kids what they wanted to make this week they both said ” Turkeys!” I warn you now that there may be a bunch of turkey crafts around here this year. Before I start posting too many new Thanksgiving crafts I wanted to make sure we shared our archives of easy Thanksgiving crafts . I have gathered simple crafts for Thanksgiving from years past for you to find easily all in one place. Also do not miss our Walk Through History . It will take your child from England , across the Atlantic on the Mayflower and finally to the table at the very first Thanksgiving. Check it out here.

Thankful Garland
Foam Turkey Magnet
Stuffed Football Craft
Mosaic Indian Corn
Turkey Baster Painting
Thank You Handprint Wreath
Shape Scarecrow
Bubble Wrap Indian Corn
Thankful Box
Counting Turkey
Turkey Craft For Toddlers
Pumpkin Printing
Thanksgiving Sensory Tub
Candy Corn Math Tray
Shape Turkey Craft
Paper Plate Scarecrow
Fine Motor Turkey Craft
Marshmallow Indian Corn
Potato Print Turkey
Pilgrim Hat Cookies
Confetti Corn Craft

 

Native American Headdress – this craft was removed after a fantastic discussion with an Native American educator who explained the sacredness of Headdresses and how even a well intentioned craft was not appropriate.I know many of us have created these crafts with children for may years with good intentions but when you know better you do better so I have removed it from my site.

Toy Catalog Drawing Prompts

drawing activity for kindergartenDrawing wasn’t always something my son liked to do. He loved to paint and craft but his perfectionist side reared it’s ugly head when he wanted to draw ” It doesn’t look the way I want it to.” After much encouragement that he draws just like a 3 or 4 or 5 year old should and a lot of displaying every single thing he drew it got better. But he still wasn’t enjoying drawing as much as I had hoped. Now you may say ” Why worry?” I wasn’t worried but I wanted to encourage it as much as possible as part of handwriting practice and basic fine motor development. When he started to want to draw his Lego scenes from catalogs I adapted this drawing activity idea after seeing this pin on Pinterest that lead to this blog post from ArtMommie using magazines.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some toy catalogs, brochures or instruction booklets you don’t mine cutting up. A pencil with eraser, double stick tape, plain paper and scissors. lego drawing activity
  2. Cut out some images that are full of action. You want it to look unfinished so they want to finish the picture.
  3. Tape to plain paper.
  4. Invite your artist- he was super excited to see them.
  5. Have your child choose one and start drawing. There was no lag time or whining about not liking to draw he just dove in! 
  6. He even wrote a caption. When you are working on something like this and your child uses invented spelling let it go. Do not correct it. Let them sound out the words and spell what they hear. This is a really crucial step in literacy if we only give them the right spellings without them trying to make sense of it they will skip this building block. There is plenty of time to get it right, but it’s a developmental process and you have to let it develop.
  7. I am glad I made a bunch because as soon as he was done the first he grabbed a second and started drawing. Oh and like I mentioned above these drawings are already on my fridge for all to see. Confidence is such a huge component of ability and when we display our kids art that builds their confidence even if it clutters our kitchens. It’s totally worth it.

Lego Books

LEGO City: All Hands on Deck! (Level 1) by Marlyn Easton is another Lego City themed book. If you have any of the Lego City building sets it’s likely you’ll recognize a few in the illustrations. My son loved seeing ones he recognized and loved telling me which of his friends have this set or that.  I think being able to relate to a book via favorite toys is actually really positive. Some parents will be apprehensive about books that sprang from a toy franchise but at this age when many children ( boys especially) start showing less interest in books , it can be a great tool. My son loves to read but loves reading these books even more and I am all for it! This story is even simpler following a group of sailors that save a windsurfer from disaster on the water. It’s also shorter than the previous with only 160 words which is great to build children’s confidence in reading which is also key to keeping interest high. MY one complaint is the complete lack of girls in this book. I know the audience is boys but by not including a single girl the audience of girls will drop even more.

LEGO City: Ready for Takeoff! (Level 1) by Sonia Sander is not just a cute book for Lego fans but also for anyone taking a trip by plane to get their kids ready for what to expect.  I was pleasently surprised by the quality of the details and how well it helps my son prep for air travel. We got it for a trip from Seattle to Chicago we took this summer and it was an instant hit. The text is a great mix of sight words, words that need to be sounded out and the illustrations are wonderfully helpful for kids needing visual clues for some words.  Even if you aren’t going on a plane any time soon this is a good book all about air travel, and it just happens to also be set in Lego City.

LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia was the most loved 5th birthday gift my son received.  I can not tell you how much my son loves this book and as someone who adores reference materials herself I can’t say I blame him. I love this book too, it’s helping me speak his language and know who and what he’s talking about all the time. So like the cover says  it’s a character encyclopedia, there is no story, instead every page is dedicated to one Star Wars character turned mini figure. Now most of the text tells you about the Lego sets the mini figure comes in , variations on the mini figure and when it first appeared in the toy. However there is still a great description of the characters and huge illustrations of each. The small amount of text is perfect for my son and since he is into the characters not the collector like details he simply skips that without missing out on anything. I should say that this unlike the previous books is not a leveled reader. If I was making a guess I would say that it’s geared towards the average 8 year old. I definitely had to help read the majority of this book at first but now he’s got even the tricky names down pat. I love that we can read a little or read a lot . ** Since this original review was written in 2011 this book as become a all time favorite, one we pack for all long trips and we’ve even turned it into a quiz game as my son has memorized an amazing amount of it . We have since bought more similar books and he loves them all.