by Allison McDonald Kids love to sort and sorting is a stepping stone to recognizing and making patterns. Using toys and playful activities to work on math skills is the only way I do it with preschoolers. My son loved doing more structured work so I offered it to him but my daughter is much more into using manipulatives and toys for learning . These block tower patterns let your kids explore patterns and even if they don’t complete the pattern they are still building a tower . Depending on your child and your goals for them you can choose to correct them or simply have fun building towers knowing that they might not be ready for this challenge yet .
- Gather your materials. All you will need are some blocks that stay together . Duplo or Little People Builders are my favorite for this age group but if you are doing this with older children regular Lego is awesome. I like blocks that inter-lock because the goal is to pattern and/or build and if your child is spending all their time rebuilding towers that fall apart they could get frustrated and in our house frustration often leads to the end of an activity.
- Make some simple pattern towers with the blocks. Set the blocks needed to complete the patterns to the side. Depending on your child’s ability you can put only the blocks needed here to work as prompts or have lots of options to make it more of a challenge.
- Invite your little tower builder over to check it out. All I told her was that I built some towers and needed help to figure out which blocks go next. If she was older I would have said something more like ” Do you notice anything about these towers? ” If they don’t notice the pattern I would say ” I see a pattern. Do you think we could keep the pattern going ?”
- She was on these towers like a house on fire. Once I saw that she was getting it I would question her if she put a block that wasn’t in the pattern on . Saying something like ” Let’s sing this pattern. Blue red white blue red … what ‘s next? ” of ” Do you see that color in the tower?” It’s a fine line of keeping it playful but giving your child a challenge they can do. I don’t always say the right things.
- After she completed each tower she built a huge one and knocked it over in celebration. Then we did it all again! That’s the best part of this you can do it over and over again. Each time we celebrated!
Keeping learning playful is a huge goal of mine and even though you see the more structured side of this on the blog these activities make up only a very tiny part of our day and some days not even that much. Noticing patterns during every day play is a great way to introduce them to your child. Observations don’t have to spin into drawn out lessons just observe, talk and keep playing. For more fun math ideas for your preschooler check out our Math is Fun board on Pinterest.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- File down the sharp edges and sand so they are smooth enough for kids to handle.
- Cut your monster pictures out, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge on the wood, and apply the picture.
- Apply another thin layer on top. Let dry overnight.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The goal for our Alphabet For Starters series is to give you ways to introduce letters to your children through all sorts of play. This activity the 7th post in our series pairs gross motor play with letter recognition perfectly! Don’t forget that the number one thing you can do to teach your children about letters is to read to them so after the activity we’ve included some of our favorite books and if you are looking for alphabet books for kids we have 50 Alphabet Books too!
- Gather your materials. You will need some big blocks like these from Melissa & Doug ( cardboard boxes will work just great too ) ,scissors, painters tape if you don’t want to alter your blocks forever or a sharpie if you do.
- Using the tape make letters on the blocks. I did this obviously but she wanted to help , it was tricky…
- So she got in the bin and supervised while I made a bunch of letters that she suggested and I popped in a few others too.
- Then my son came to help too. He wanted the O to be on a blue so he suggested making the o I’d already made into a Q. I was all for it.
- We didn’t make every letter because they were super eager to play. But don’t feel like you have to do every letter. If you think 26 letters will overwhelm then focus on s few that your child knows well and a few that they have yet to recognize so you balance challenge with success.
- BUILD! The most fascinating thing was that every time she grabbed a block she’d recognize and say the letter without prompting. As we built I would sometimes say ” Should we put the W on top?” or ” Grab the T and I’ll put it here.” We were playing with letters without testing or drilling and while we were building someone decided to start spelling too.
- Knock it down and build another.
Last night I had to make more letters because my son was begging to spell all sorts of words. I was excited to see him sit down and sound out words first before asking me if it was right . I absolutely love that they both have enjoyed such an easy to make activity using their favorite blocks.
Our Bedtime Books
Baby Giggles (Beautiful Babies) by Rachael Hale is a simple board book that my daughter adores. She can’t go to bed without reading it and saying goodnight to the babies. Now something about my daughter is that she is baby obsessed which is why this book was bought for her in the first place, it’s page after page of all sorts of babies. The text is simple and rhymes but isn’t anything to be wowed by. The photos are adorable and even after a million readings she giggles at the baby picking her nose and kisses the sleeping babies at the end of the book goodnight. Definitely a favorite at our house even if it will never be a classic.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is another 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. My son enjoyed this book and loves reading it to his sister now but she absolutely adores this book. We have read it every night before nap and bed for a few weeks and I think it’s going to be a bedtime favorite for a while. I also completely credit this book for teaching her some of her colors. It’s a great bedtime book because of the even rhythm and predictability that is calming and great to wind down to. 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 and my daughter’s very favorite!
Taking your kids to Paris, London or Pisa might not be in the budget but you can turn their building blocks into the city’s most famous landmarks. What a great way to introduce learning about far away places by using your kid’s own blocks. This was so simple and can be redone with so many different themes like these animal ones ,or faces you don’t even need a printer if you want to hand draw the pictures. My son didn’t participate in making the blocks ( I think he gets enough crafts, what do you think?) but from toddler to school age kids can color or draw the buildings too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some building blocks. Any will do but here is my opinion- we used Fisher-Price Little People Builders Blocks, they are big, snap together but not too tightly. They let me be sorta sloppy with the contact paper. If there was some bunched up I could still snap them together. Duplo is less forgiving so you will need to only get contact paper on the side none on the top where the blocks come together. Wood blocks would work well but might frustrate younger ones who want them to stay together. You will also need pictures of whatever buildings you want to use, scissors, contact paper and clear tape.
- Start by laying out what blocks you will need for each building.
- Now here I did it two ways. I first cut the image into the pieces for the blocks, then cut the contact paper and put it on. It was tedious.
- The other way was to use one large piece of contact paper place the image on it face down, lay the blocks on it, make snips where you need to cut.
- Cut and apply to the blocks. This worked WAY better. I am not the most patient or careful because my window for doing anything without kids interrupting is tiny these days but as you can see even not too careful turned out great.
- Put them together!
- Time to play – he may not have participated in the making but he sure did with the playing.
- It’s mega-landmark!