Monster Blocks & Memory Game For Halloween

halloween craft What could be better than a fun and educational game that your kids like and you can also use as Halloween decor? One that you can make really easily and also sparkles! Lucky for you that is exactly what we made and will show you how to make. Thanks to Mod Podge for sending me just what I needed to make these monster blocks. They were a cinch to make and will do double duty working as a fun toy by day and as funky Halloween decorations after my little monsters go to bed.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some wood blocks (ours were cut to 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″), pictures you want to use (download ours here), Mod Podge Washout For Kids, Mod Podge brush applicator, scissors, a wood file or sand paper, some paper plates, and my favorite material: sparkle Mod Podge.
  2. Start by cutting your wood blocks. My husband makes a rare appearance and somehow made exactly what I envisioned even though my description was far from exact.
  3. File down the sharp edges and sand so they are smooth enough for kids to handle.
  4. Cut your monster pictures out, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge on the wood, and apply the picture.
  5. Apply another thin layer on top. Let dry overnight.
  6. My son couldn’t wait for the final sparkle layer. We played, and he pummeled me at memory before I added the layer of sparkle Mod Podge.
  7. Add the sparkle – this dries fast! As soon as I saw how much it sparkled, I started thinking of all the other crafts we can make with this. Expect great things! Let it dry for at least a day before playing. If it gets tacky (ours was not tacky at all) Mod Podge suggests applying a clear acrylic sealer after the Mod Podge cures.
  8. Time to play. As soon as I showed my daughter the finished monster blocks, she couldn’t wait to play. I showed her where all the pieces were, flipped them over, and she surprised me with how many she matched up. Her excitement with each match was adorable to watch.  Also, the big blocks were perfect for her hands. Many other match or memory games are on cards, and while she can flip the cards over, sometimes they get tricky and frustration ruins the fun. That didn’t happen with these monster blocks.mod podge
I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Mod Podge and Blueprint Social. The opinions in this post are my own.

Sorting Activities For Kids

math activities for kids Sorting is an important skill for preschool aged children to learn and practice. You may have noticed that your toddler or preschooler has a natural tendency to sort and they do. Sorting is a way to organize and make sense of their environment.  Activities like these provide concrete objects for your child to sort and organize. Colors, shapes and sizes are all great attributes to sort by but for older or more advanced learners try sorting my more than one or more subtle attributes. Here are 9 of our favorite sorting activities for kids.

City Shape Sorting
Habitat Sorting
Lego Sorting
Bunny Match
Balanced Meal Sorting
Recycling Think & Sort Game
Shell Sorting
Star Sorting and Sensory Tub
Cereal Sorting

27 Ways For Kids To Play With Food

I know your mom probably told you not to play with your food but I really think you should. Kids can learn so many great concepts by playing with food as well as become more familiar with new foods and even make dinner time struggles to try new things easier. Here are some of our very favorite ways for kids to play with food .

Ice Cream Taste Test
Salt Art
Yogurt Painting
Wormy Dirt Treats
Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub
Emotional Snowmen
Ice Cream Cone Witches Hat
Heart Shaped Pizza
Marshmallow Structures
Letter C Cookies
Paint & Eat Waffles
Worm Painting with Noodles
Mushroom Painting
Marshmallow Rainbow
Garden Vegetable Painting
Banana Ghosts
Apple Print Wreath
Baby’s First Finger Painting with Puree
Homemade Kid’s Meal
Potato Prints
Coffee Grounds Sensory Tub
Pretend Play Grocery Store
Egg Toss
Orange Printing
Turn Dinner into Playtime
Cereal Bracelet
Marshmallow Skull

 

21 Board Books For Babies and Toddlers

board books Many books have board book editions but aren’t always available at your library or bookstore. The 21 board books for babies and toddlers listed here are generally found in this format anywhere you find books. If you have a favorite board book you don’t see listed here please leave a comment for me and other readers about why it’s your favorite!

 

How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton is a favorite in our house and has been for both my kids. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text. My daughter loves taking this one in the stroller while I run and because it’s a board book I can give it to her without worrying that after a few miles it’s ripped and ruined.

Doggies by Sandra Boynton has been one of my daughter’s favorite books for ages. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a simple counting book about dogs, their different barks and one pesky cat. Toddlers love barking along with it so it’s a great book for places where they don’t have to be shushed, it’s not a great one for quiet only places like a church service.

Moo Baa La La Laby Sandra Boynton always makes me laugh. There is something about the facial expressions her animals always have that crack me up, and lets me honest if the book is good for the adult reading it, it’s always a plus. Super bright colors on each page is a huge plus for my baby girl as I flip the pages, and even though she doesn’t get the humor yet she will soon enough and it’s a book that will grow with her.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton.  This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown isn’t an innovative choice but I make babies who love this book. My son could be “Goodnight Mooned ” to sleep as a baby if we simply recited the words and while my daughter isn’t at that point yet she sits happily listening to our voices as we read it to her. I will be the first to admit I didn’t always love this book but as a mom it’s been more than a book, it’s been a signal to my son that it’s bedtime and I hope that it becomes part of my daughter’s routine soon too.  The story is simple , it’s not even really a story so much as a baby bunny saying goodnight to all the objects in his room including the moon peeking in the window.

The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle was one of my son’s favorite books to read before bed when he was a toddler, not so much because of the story but because the board book version has flashing lights at the end ! The story is all about a firefly looking for another firefly but mistaking all different light for a friend. Toddlers love this book because it gives them a chance to be bossy and say ” No that’s a flashlight” to the firefly. The text is the right length for little guys but not boring for older kids , and I need to mention the little lights are really quite magical in a dark bedroom, especially if you are in a place that doesn’t have fireflies!

Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others) was an amazing gas station find. Yes I said gas station. I ran in for some diet coke and came out with an alphabet book ! This book is amazing, bright beautiful and even though I bought it for my daughter since it’s bright colors and sturdy pages are perfect for a baby, my almost 4 year old son adores it. What I love is when he reads it to her . The Native art is gorgeous and if you are unfamiliar with North West coast art you are in for a treat.

Clap Your Handsby Lorinda Bryan Cauley is a rhythmic rhyming book that suggests movements for the readers ( perhaps when she is sitting or standing she will follow along) with fun and silly pictures of kids mixed with animals doing the actions. What probably appeals to my 3 month old are the bright colors on the white background and the rhythm of the text.Also it’s a fun book to have an older sibling join in with and do the actions as you read.

Beddy-bye, Baby: A Touch-and-Feel Bookby Karen Katz is a cute bedtime book for the toddler crowd.  I like the rhyming text and that it’s a feel and touch book  but with the exception of the final page the textured pieces are too small . Fumbly flappy infant hands have a a hard time hitting the small textured sections. Ideally they would be larger so the child can explore as the adult reads . It’s not a huge complaint and I love Karen Katz so I would still recommend this book for families with little ones.

Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. This lift and flap book is the newest addition to our Karen Katz collection. My son adores these books. I read this in the check out line 3 times and he was asking for more before I could get my groceries in the fridge. I like this book because it’s a cute and gentle introduction to Halloween and all the creatures that go along with it. Also there are fun textures to many of the illustrations which help keep little hands busy! Edited for 2012 : Even though this is a Halloween book both my kids loved it and it’s never been put away since I bought it in 2009. It’s easily one of my daughter’s all time favorites.

This Little Chick by John Lawrence is just about the perfect board book for my daughter right now, she didn’t even try to eat it! The rhymes are melodic the text full of animal sounds is spot on for our littlest readers . My son and I had fun reading this old favorite to my daughter for the first time.  The illustrations are fantastic with lots of contrast and is the perfect length for  a quick snuggle and read for wiggly babies who are eager to move.

Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski is a cute cowboy book for the younger set. We have the board book edition and it’s been loved for a long time at our house, although since our return from the Calgary Stampede it’s been read constantly. The text is simple, the drawings are charming and the book covers all the basics of what a cowboys does day and night. My son loves that Cowboy small has a guitar, and is pretty fond of the part when he gets bucked off a bronco as well.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter actually sits looking at these pages instead of simply trying to eat the book, which in my opinion is a great review from a 6 month old!

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault  is a fantastic board book and shorter version of the longer book. My son loves this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler, the illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even very young babies will respond to it! A must have for all bookshelves.

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee .This  book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do.  My daughter points out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text . So maybe you are thinking ” What’s so great about babies and text that rhymes?” nothing, that isn’t what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of it’s diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families.  The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest most precious member with love . What I adore about the diversity of the illustrations is that readers are left to put whatever assumption we wish on the families in the book. What I assumed were two mommies my husband thought was a husband and wife, I thought a lady was a grandma and my son said it was just a older mom. This is why I love this book, my daughter doesn’t see why this message is outstanding, what she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all sorts of  families being the norm and this is the world we want her to know.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is simply one of my favorite books ever. I love it and love that my daughter doesn’t fuss when I read it to her because it was a special book for my son when he was little and it’s a book he will still curl up and read quietly with us, making it fun cuddle time for all three of us. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s all about a sneaky gorilla who unlocks all the animals at the zoo and they quietly follow the zoo keeper home and climb into bed with him, until his wife wakes up! I love this book cause I relate to the zoo keepers wife , when I wake up there is always a sneaky 3 year old gorilla in my bed!

One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root looks like an everyday book , but inside you will find a brilliantly repetitive storyline, that promotes teamwork, and mathematical skills! See a duck gets stuck in the muck and while others are eager to help the duck isn’t unstuck until they all work together. My class was nuts about this book a few years ago and my son has greatly enjoyed it since infancy. Don’t pass this book up.

Dinosaur Roar! Board Book by Paul and  Henrietta Stickland and is a board book that I’ve read often enough that I don’t need to look at the book. The premise is simple, using 2 different dinosaurs every page illustrates a pair of opposites. Toddlers and young preschoolers adore this book and I can’t blame them, it’s adorable and a great tool for teaching ! My son loves how funny the illustrations are and clearly enjoys the rigidity of the opposite concepts.

 The Busy Little Squirrelby Nancy Tafuri is a great book for babies and toddlers. The readers follow along with a squirrel as she gathers nuts , seeds and berries for the winter. As she hunts for her treasure she encounters many animals who all make their respective sounds and ask her to play, of course she is too busy and continues on.  Even though the idea is not groundbreaking  I like that this book can be used to introduce animal sounds without simply sitting down with let’s say flash cards and teaching them to your toddler. Even if you have no real animals near by books like this one are a great way to authentically teach very young kids.

Bye-Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick is a great book for toddlers who are anxious about separation.  It goes through drop off time at school between a little girl and her dad. When I worked in a childcare setting bye bye time was a huge source of anxiety for many students, books like this one are such great tools for parents and teachers. There are wonderful tips at the back that in my experience are all great advice. This book is just one of many by the same author that are all wonderful tools for families and classrooms. My favorite being Teeth Are Not for Biting and Words are Not for Hurting

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell was an instant hit with my son. I knew it would be, much like little Bill the smallest of the three baby owls my son is fond of saying “I want my mommy”. The three birds are distraught when they discover mama owl is not there. I love how they huddle together, and think a lot before mama Owl returns non- challant about the fact that she’d returned. The illustrations of the owls are so expressive , which with very few facial features is impressive. Patrick Benson did a wonderful job bringing all three owl’s personalities out visually as well as making the setting ominous without being frightening to young readers. Great book!

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Olympic Medal Kids Craft

easy olympic craftsThis is the easiest Olympic craft ever and even better than being simple it uses something so many of us having laying around our houses during the summer, paper plates! After watching a medal ceremony my daughter pointed out and asked for a “necklace” so even though I made an Olympic medal kids craft like this with my son it was time to give her a chance. We’ll show you all a few tips for making this craft  easily with your toddler too!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper plates, glitter paint( we love this stuff ), wide paint brush, ribbon, tape and scissors. easy olympic craft
  2. Start by flipping your plates over and using the non coated side. The glitter paint will adhere to this side much better. Also do not cut the extra off the plate it will act as a splat mat of sorts.
  3. Choose your bling! This is a great time to fit in some color recognition too. I will ask her what color she wants and most of the time she will say it, but if she just grabs it I will label it for her ” You chose the red one.”
  4. Squeeze it on.
  5. Spread. Using a wide brush is really key for a toddler since it will cover so much more with less effort and help avoid the frustration of ” I want it covered but I can’t co-ordinate my hand muscles to do it .” help them be successful but don’t do it all for them. 
  6. Add more as they wish . While she was crafting I made a medal for her brother who was at day camp, I knew he’d want one too. Also crafting alongside your toddler is a great way to model without barking directions.
  7. Let dry.
  8. Cut out.
  9. Cut your ribbon .
  10. Tape it on .olympic craft for kids
  11. Celebrate with your own champion! olympic craft for kids