When you find something your child genuinely loves use it! My son adores painting with this roller sponge, he calls it his steam roller and pretends to be making a road on any painting we make with it. When I suggested we make a magic number painting with it he all but leaped into the kitchen, which delighted me since he has not been as keen about art since the weather has been amazing, really who can blame the kid?
- Gather your materials. You will need a sheet of light colored paper, some vinyl number stickers, paint, plates and a sponge or roller sponge paint brush. Using a sponge is much easier when you want coverage. This activity doesn’t work well if the whole paper isn’t covered in paint.
- Start by placing the number sticker on the paper. Depending on your child’s ability you can simple pop them on , or challenge them to make numbers with them. For example say ” Can you make 23? Or 51? ” don’t push it though having fun with learning is the point not quizzing your kids.
- Pour paint onto the plates.
- Start painting.
- I called out the numbers at first for my son to cover with paint asking him if he could find 7 or 4 etc… but then he started to pretend that he was building a road and I sat back and listened to his pretend play.
- Let dry.
- Peel off. As adults we know that the number will peel off and white will be beneath it but at least for my 3 year old it was a fun and awesome surprise – and he even thought it was magic that they were white!
Museum 123 by The Metropolitan Museum Of Art is another simple but beautiful counting book. What I love about this book is that the number is not on the same page as the onbjects/images the child is being asked to count. Instead a simple question of how many is followed by a painting with the objects, and the next page has a large number. My son loved counting then flipping the page exclaiming ” I knew it , I said that number I was right!” My only complaint is that it only went to 10!
We have giant daisies in our backyard and thank goodness we do because all my son has wanted to do for art lately has been firetruck or dirt related. Not that most of my readers can’t appreciate that but it’s nice to squeeze some prettier more genteel themes in with the diggers and sirens. This was fast but substantial and after making it we picked a few daisies and counted their petals too!
- Gather your materials. You will need 4 colors ( white, yellow, green and blue) of construction paper ( really you only need one full piece , the others can be scrap) , a marker, glue , scissors and a circle paper punch if you have it.
- Start by punching out some yellow circles, for the center of the daisies. My son adored this step and I had to get him some scrap paper to keep going.
- Cut some stems from the green paper. You can make leaves too, we just chose not to.
- Cut out petals from the white paper.
- Ask your child for numbers to put in the middle of the flowers. Alternatively you can write in the numbers you know your child is struggling with , if you do that write a few they are consistently successful with as well. By setting them up for success with some of the numbers you will boost their confidence and they are more likely to take on the challenge of a “trickier” number.
- Glue the stems on.
- Add glue for the centers.
- Add the centers.
- Add the petals. I had my son read me the number, then he counted the petals as he added them. Then after he was done we “checked his work” by counting them again.
- Let dry.
I’m a little daisy
tall and slim.
Here are my petals and here is my stem.
When the sun comes up and the rain comes down
I grow and grow up from the ground.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence, loosing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can’t relate to this? I know I can . Thankfully my son has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience . I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart Is a really touching book that I would happily recommend for school age children. It’s a beautiful story about a little girl during the depression who is shipped to the city to work in her uncle’s bakery because both her parents are out of work. She is obviously nervous but knows that it’s something she has to do. She takes a little of the country with her in seed packets which she plants in the city while she learns about baking and becomes friends with her uncles employees. This is more a story about making the most of hard times, and would be a great way to talk about the great depression with your child. There are so many little things in the illustrations by David Small to talk about , from a picture of FDR to traveling by train and the general sense of sadness . In the end it’s a warm hearted book that I can’t wait to share with my son in a few years.
The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!
I often go to the dollar store for inspiration, and I found these fun paper cuts and spinners on my last trip and decided to put together a math game with a rocket theme. My son likes numbers and rockets so I thought easy peasy, sure fire hit. No. Not with me but for some reason when daddy got home they played after dinner until I had to break it up for bedtime. Goes to show you that if something doesn’t go smoothly at first tweak it ( like maybe let daddy do it) and try again.
- Gather your materials. I bought these rocket cut outs but you could make them ( a helpful time saver would be to find a rocket cookie cutter and trace it), I also got the spinner at the dollar store as well. You will also need a marker.
- Number at least 2 sets of the rockets from 1-8 .
- Place dots from 1-8 on the spinner sections.
- To play: give each player 8 rocket pieces in order.
- Take turns spinning the spinner. When it lands on a section count the dots and take that number out of your line up.
- First person to have no rockets left wins.
- Also to make it more fun, my son and husband would do a count down every time they removed a rocket. They started with whatever the number they had to remove . For example if the spinner landed on a 7 they would say 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 BLAST OFF then launch the rocket into a pile, and spin the next number.
Goodnight Moon 123 by Margaret Wise Brown uses the familiar illustrations from the classic book by Margaret Wise Brown and turns it into a counting book. The page with 100 stars really has 100 stars on it, count and see!
One, Two, Three by Tom Slaughter is super simple, bold, bright and a great counting book! These aren’t complex books, pictures matter because they should encourage the reader to want to count and connect the number they have counted with the number printed on the page. I would happily recommend this book to families with babies through preschoolers , my 3 year old loved it and partly because he read all the pictures and numbers himself!
Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh is another gem from this author illustrator. In this book the mice outsmart a hungry snake and save themselves from his belly. In the meantime the reader counts along as the mouse are caught and put in a jar , then again when they escape. The simple illustrations are so effective and my son loved this book.
This is the first time I have played a dice game with my son. I decided to incorporate fun manipulatives to help reinforce proper one to one correspondence. He is still at the stage that most preschoolers stay at for some time where they will sometimes count and re-count objects in groups instead of counting each object only once. To help teach proper grouping, using manipulatives that they can physically move from one group to another as they count will naturally force them to stop. This gives them a chance to be successful with little parental/ teacher involvement and develops pride and confidence in their own abilities! Also frogs and snakes are fun!
- Gather your materials. I am using 2 over sized dice ( you can use just one die to keep it simpler), some card stock, scissors, double stick tape, markers, plastic frogs and snakes, and 3 containers.
- Start by cutting the card stock into a size that will cover your die- if you are using small dice you can simply use little stickers. It’s really not a must to have a 2nd die with the animals , I decided to use both to give the activity some variety. Using just one with just one sort of manipulative to count would be perfectly fine. If you are using two make 3 pictures for each .
- Tape onto your die.
- Play! Roll the dice – see which animal you have to count and how many you need to count out!
- Count the dots… 5!
- Count out the snakes!
A variation for younger ages would be to ONLY use the dice with pictures and simply have the child sort through the two different animals, then count with you the two separate piles.
Um um , went the little green frog.
Um um went the little green frog one day,
and they all went um um ahhh!
But we all know frogs go ,
la di da di da,
la di da di da
la di da di da
We all know frogs go la di da di da,
They don’t go um um ah!!!
Frog Books !
Too Many Frogs by Sandy Asher is a funny tale about a introverted Rabbit and a friendly Froggie who is a little clueless that he is imposing on Rabbit’s politeness when he invites himself over to listen to stories every night. Rabbit eventually breaks down and has had enough when Froggie brings his whole family reunion with him one evening to hear the stories as well. You will like how this story ends , the goofy but warm characters and expressive illustrations.
Fribbity Ribbit! by Suzanne C. Johnson is a simple but deceptively detailed book about a frog that just can’t be caught! The frog jumps from the backyard where a little boy is this close to grabbing him through the house and along the way runs into every family member who joins in the attempts to grab him. I love the different situations each family member is in when the frog interrupts, I particularly like that the grandfather is cooking , if you look closely you can see his cook book is titled “Frog Legs” . There are more frog details on every page, see if you can find them.
Little Critter Where Is My Frog? by Mercer Mayer was a wonderful surprise sent to me by the publisher to review. I have been a fan of this series since I was a little girl and was excited to see a lift the flap book for the younger set. As any fan of the Littler Critter series knows there are hidden spiders, mice or frogs on the pages of the stories but it’s not the easiest for toddlers to find. This format is perfect, story is simple Little Critter goes fishing with his dad , takes his frog along and then the frog goes missing! While lifting the flaps, you find all sorts of animals small and large. Even though my son is able to enjoy much more sophisticated books at three-and-a-half he still finds joy in lifting the flaps, that are so wonderful for younger toddlers to stay interested in otherwise static books.