Shell Sorting

When I buy something specifically for an activity and spend more than I want to for only one experience, I try to brainstorm other things to use the item for. That is where this idea came from . I bought these shells for the Beach Sensory Tub we made last week, but wanted to use them for something else as well. Sorting is more than just a time filler in preschools , it’s a math lesson about matching, shapes and counting. Using tongs adds in fine motor and hand eye coordination too. I knew my son would like this but he sorted every single one , dumped them back in and did it again! I got my money’s worth out of these shells!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sea shells, a divided platter ( ours is a chip and dip plate from the dollar store) , and some tongs or kiddie chopsticks ! Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  2. Start by placing one of each shell in the divided sections of your platter as a guide for your child.Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  3. Invite them to the table and have them use the tongs to pick up and sort the shells. If this is too frustrating, ditch the tongs and just use their hands.Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  4. Keep going! Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  5. Talk about the shells as you play, we googled sea shells after we finished to look at even more variety of shells .
  6. Celebrate their efforts- if they sorted 4 shells or all !Preschool Shell Sorting Activity

Beach Books

 

One White Wishing Stone by Doris K. Gayzagian is a beautiful book. Visually it reminds me of an impressionist painting, the soft beach colors used by illustrator Kristina Swarner are calming and pretty. This is more than just a counting book, there is a story of a little girl at the beach,what she finds and how she plans to use them when she takes them home. It’s so beautifully done that it almost makes me forget how much I hate finding sand in my car after a trip to the beach.
Beach Party! by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback reminds me of “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle , and that comparison is a compliment. This large board book is a fun and cute way to introduce toddlers to movement as well as animals you find or want to avoid at the beach. The reader is asked how they want to walk today then they see how each animal moves. This would be a fun read for a circle time where kids could get up and move!
The Seashore Book
by Charlotte Zolotow is a touching story of a little boy excited to go to the sea for the first time from his mountain home. The mother describes it so well that you will be aching for a trip too! I must admit though that my son and I barely paid attention to the words, we were both so moved by Wendell Minor’s paintings. We couldn’t help but ooh and awe every time we turned the page. My son’s favorite page was the one with the crab, of course!

Fishing Alphabet Game

I think I have made one of these fishing games for every class I have ever taught, my son loves it and it was a huge part of him learning his letters, all while playing!

Cereal Bracelet Craft

Contributing Writer Kim shares this tasty , easy and really fantastically educational activity with us ! I love her perspective of having two children at different levels, enjoy!

Do you remember candy bracelets?  This activity puts an educational and healthier twist to that bracelet from your past.  All you will need are chenille stems, loop cereal (such as Fruit Cheerios or Fruit Loops), and an egg carton or muffin tin.

This activity is perfect if you have children at different levels of development because it can be implemented in so many different ways.  I have a toddler and a preschooler.  Activities that they can both do at the same time score big points with me.  I gave my daughter an egg carton and asked her to put the cereal in each compartment.  This works great for developing motor skills.

My son was given a muffin tin and asked to sort the cereal by colors.  While both of the children put the cereal in their containers, I folded the tips of the chenille stems inward to make sure the wire did not poke the children.

After my son was finished sorting, I gave him a chenille straw.  I asked which colors he would like to use to make a bracelet.  Out of six colors, he only wanted to use two.  So I asked him to thread the cereal onto the stem in a pattern of green, green, orange, orange. Depending on your child, you can do patterns of ABAB, AABB (like we did), ABCABC, or any other pattern.

While my son was threading his cereal, I tried to show my daughter how to thread the cereal onto the stem.  As soon as we got one piece of cereal on she would chomp on it and giggle.  It was extremely cute and provided her with a ton of fine motor skill practice, but didn’t help me get a picture to share with you.  My daughter is only 19 months old and is not ready for patterns, but simply threading the cereal onto the stem is a great activity.  She also just used the chenille stem as a hockey stick to shoot the cereal onto the floor.  We will just call that a hand-eye coordination building exercise.  Mommy didn’t appreciate it very much and put an end to it quickly.

When my son was finished threading the cereal we talked about the pattern and how it made the string look a certain way because of the pattern.  I put on a purple and a red at the very end and asked him if those two matched the rest.  We talked about how those two didn’t fit in with the pattern, so he decided they needed to be taken off.

To make it a neat bracelet we simply wrapped the chenille stem around his wrist and twisted the ends together.  Now you have a great snack to finish up your fun learning activity.  The best thing about this snack is that it is portable and can be taken along for the fun.

My son’s preschool class does this activity on a regular basis.  As you can imagine it is a big hit with the girls, but met with the same enthusiasm from the boys.  I want to thank my son’s preschool teachers for providing me with a fun learning activity that is so easy to do at home.  I know they aren’t the ones that originated it, but they shared it with me and I thought I would share it with you.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Letter of The Week

Yarn y

Letter of the week y craft

Y is always tricky but this craft does double duty not only reinforcing the letter y, but also as a active fine motor skills lacing toy! As you can see I wasn’t fussy about how my son laced it. I wanted him to get the yarn through the holes not make perfect stitches. Holding the yarn in between his thumb and fingers also promotes the tripod grip ( proper way to hold writing tools).

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, a hole punch, some markers, yarn, scissors and tape. Letter of the week y craft
  2. Write a lowercase ( would work great with uppercase too ) on your cardboard. Letter of the week craft
  3. Hand it to your child and invite them to color it with markers.  My son has taken to tracing and writing the letter on it. Letter of the week craft
  4. Add more colors until they decide they are done. Letter of the week craft
  5. While they are coloring cut off a long piece  of yarn and double it, so it make a bog loop. Tape the 2 ends together tightly so that it makes a hard end for easy lacing. Letter of the week craft
  6. Cut the y out. Letter of the week craft
  7. Hole punch time!  Our card board was too thick for my son to punch the holes, if the cereal box in the picture hasn’t had writing on the inside ( why do they do that?!) it would have been great. If your child can help , have them help. Letter of the week craft
  8. Before you hand the y back thread the yarn through the first hole and loop it back through the yarn so it ties onto the y. This eliminates meltdowns about the yarn just zooming through all the holes. As well as keeps the 2 pieces together for later use! Letter of the week craft
  9. Lace! I laced the first two holes to demonstrate it to my son then let him at it. Letter of the week craft
  10. Keep going! Letter of the week craft

Teaching children about letters is more fun if you include as many novel and sensory experiences as you can. This was a huge hit and even bigger mess, but well worth it. My son who is in the midst of a perfectionist phase loved that he could “erase” his letters. He also loved how the bright colors magically appeared under the cornstarch.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a shallow cardboard box, cornstarch, and some brightly colored markers, pastels or what I used… window markers.  Letter of the week craft
  2. Color the bottom of your box with a few colors. If you are using anything “wet” let it dry 100% before adding the cornstarch. Letter of the week craft
  3. Add the cornstarch and cover the color. Letter of the week craft
  4. Start writing! Isn’t it cool how the colors pop? I was giddy that it worked! Letter of the week craft
  5. Explore! Letter of the week craft
  6. He wrote an M then exclaimed – look I can make a W too, then flipped the whole box , then wrote another M.
  7. Letter of the week craft Letter of the week craft We stepped outside to shake all the extra off! Letter of the week craft

Have fun this one is MESSY – I was covered, my camera was covered, my son was covered and we had a blast!

Some of our Favorite Alphabet Books

Pattern Lesson

preschool patterning lesson

Whenever I do little lessons like this with my son , I set them up when he is not around. I introduce them as “puzzles” for him to help me solve and that peaks his interest and makes it fun, not some “lesson” mom is doing cause she misses teaching . Seriously though it is fun because he uses what he calls his “detective skills” to figure out the pattern. He’s also getting a good fine motor work out pinching them onto the sentence strip.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some colored clothes pins. If you don’t have colored ones available, grab the good old wood ones and color them with markers. You will also need some stiff paper like cardboard, card stock or sentence strips like we are using.  preschool patterning lesson
  2. Set out a number of patterns with the clothes pins. I did 3, a general rule of thumb is to provide a challenge but not overwhelm them, or challenge them too much to the point of frustration . I have done patterns before with my son but it had been a while, I also wanted to provide choices for him, something if you have a toddler or preschooler is at times an absolute must have.  Preschool patterning lesson
  3. Give them the pegs and ask them if they can solve the puzzle and figure out what comes next. preschool patterning lesson
  4. If they are not sure sing a song ” White , Blue, White , Blue…” that is normally get them going if they are ready for patterns. preschool patterning lesson
  5. If an ABABA pattern is too easy try a ABCABC one.

Next time we do this I will be doing it with 3 colors in one pattern, my son needed me to sing the pattern for the first strip but them completed the next 2 on fast forward with no input. Which tells me next time to make it a little more challenging, but to also provide some at this level to give him a balance of challenge and independent success. Best part – nothing you used gets ruined. The pins can be used again and so can the sentence strips.

Marshmallow Easter Egg

Going to the grocery store while pregnant can be dangerous, I left the store yesterday not with 1 but 2 bags of mini marshmallows.  Buyers regret stepped in but then I thought I could make a fun Easter craft with them too. So glad I got both bags because my son loved this and I think the Easter egg is adorable. Whenever I do crafts with tempting treats like marshmallows I give my son a number he needs to add to it before he can pop one in his mouth! So we limit gorging and practice counting.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white and colored mini marshmallows, construction paper, glue and a marker. Marshmallow Easter Egg
  2. Start by drawing an Easter egg on your paper. Marshmallow Easter Egg
  3. Add glue along the line. Marshmallow Easter Egg
  4. Add your white marshmallows along the edge. We did 15 then ate one, 21 then ate one , and 17 and ate one. Yes I did help too. My son said ” Mommy I will share my activity with you and tell daddy we shared.”  Marshmallow Easter Egg
  5. Next ask your child how many stripes they want. I caution you perhaps give them a range, my son said 8 and wouldn’t budge. I ended up doing 3 rows because 8 is a lot for a 3 year old to do. Marshmallow Easter Egg
  6. Add your colored marshmallows. We decided to add a sorting element by saying the lines can be any color, but it must be all one color. So my son was forced to sort the colors when adding them. Worked great! With younger toddlers I’d just let them go for it. Older children can add a patterning lesson in too. Marshmallow Easter Egg
  7. Keep going! Marshmallow Easter Egg
  8. Let dry.

I want to know YOUR favorite Easter books!

Leave a short review of your favorite Easter book in the comments and I will feature it ( and a link to you) in a reader’s favorites section of an upcoming  post.