St. Patrick’s Day LEGO Challenge!

St.Patrick's Day Lego ChallengeWe love LEGO challenges, but my 4 year old and I love them for very different reasons. I love them because they build confidence, fine motor skills, and they keep her totally engaged while I cook/check email/have a conference call. She loves them because they are fun and challenging. Our most recent LEGO challenge was a St.Patrick’s Day themed one and I really thought that the LEGO leprechaun and pot of gold would be super tricky but I was super wrong. She plowed through them like a pro. When I find and activity my daughter ( or my students at school) really likes and engages her I will adapt it from theme to theme. It’s familiar but still new and she is excited to do something with the new theme. It keeps her interested and learning and I don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

Gather your materials. I admit I LOVE creating these little LEGO creations. It takes me back to when I’d challenge myself as a child with LEGO. If this isn’t your thing you can still do challenges with simple creations like these we did a few months back. St.Patrick's Day Lego Activity

I always make two exactly the same and then dismantle one so my daughter has a model and all the pieces she needs to recreate it. Soon I will be putting all the pieces for all 4 in one pot and let her sort them, but we aren’t there yet. No need to make this more challenging that needed. It’s supposed to be fun.

I had planned to do this at my desk but when she saw the tray on the floor where I was getting an overhead shot of the materials she started building right there. lego challenge for kids

As she completed each creation she shifted around the tray. Lego challenge for children Oh and I have been asked by numerous readers about where I got this tray – Dollar Tree. It’s held up very well too.Lego challenge for preschool st paddy's day

The pot of gold was shockingly simple for her to recreate, I thought the rainbow on the diagonal would pose a challenge but it didn’t!pot of gold

Even though the challenge wasn’t easy she still loved them and these symbols of St.Patrick’s Day gave us a chance to talk about leprechauns, rainbows with pots of gold and the end of them, and Ireland. That is the other main goal of these holiday themed activities to spark interest in the holiday, it’s symbols and traditions.lego challenge st.patrick's day

Valentine’s Day Lego Challenge For Girls and Boys

lego challenge for girls Lego Challenges have become a great way for me to get a few minutes to check email while completely thrilling my daughter. She loves these simple challenges and for good reason, she is really good at it, and it gives her such confidence to complete the creations without any help. I love how deeply she concentrates and that I can do this with her pretty much anywhere in our house. She liked being close to me and I can set this up in the kitchen if I am prepping dinner like in this post, in the family room if I am reading or on my office floor if I am on a conference call. These are not only easy to set up they are fun, I love creating the shapes and don’t worry you don’t have to make specific items you can do super simple ones like these in our first Lego Challenge post. Here is how we made our Valentine’s Day Lego challenge for girls and boys.

Gather your materials. You will need some Lego bricks ( just make sure you have two of each that you need) , and some sort of tray to contain the bricks. I used a cookie sheet from the dollar store.

Sit down and create some shapes or you could do a pink heart, arrow, rose and red heart like I did for a Valentine’s Day theme. When I make these challenges I always make two exact items then take one apart to make sure I have all the right pieces.lego activities for girls

Pop all the guides and the pieces on a tray and invite your master builder to come and get challenged!

She dove right into the challenge! lego challenge for preschool heart

Challenges like these aren’t just great for fine motor skills and building confidence they are also working the same pathways as puzzles. valentine's day lego challenge buildKids tap into their spacial skills, Lego is a great way to build these skills that are used for daily tasks for our children like packing a lunch box and more far off endeavors like computer engineering and other STEM jobs they may one day have. It’s no surprise that we call my daughter our ” Little Engineer”. lego challenge roses

I loved to see how she lined her roses up to see if they were matching.

fini lego challenge pour sainte valentines

After she was done with the challenge she starting taking it apart to do it all again!

Easy Gem Letters – Alphabet Activities

alphabet activity Playing and creating with letters has been a fun way for my children and students over the years to get comfortable with letters, learn their shapes, and spark discussion about letters as we craft. As children color, paint, glue, and handle letters  while doing alphabet activities like this one they are learning. You can do this letter with upper or lowercase letters. I chose uppercase for my daughter because she is very comfortable and familiar with recognizing both and my goal for her is to get comfy with the shapes of the letters for writing. The handwriting program she uses at preschool and will be using in kindergarten next year focuses on uppercase first so we are focusing more on uppercase at this stage, though by no means ignoring the lowercase letters.  Adding jewels, buttons, stickers… is a novel way of personalizing this activity. My daughter adores these gems which made this activity a shoe in from the start. You don’t have to make a name sign but as we make the letters she wanted to make something and I suggested a name sign for a bedroom. She loved that idea.

Gather your materials. You will need some acrylic gems, sticky back foam, permanent double stick tape, scissors, and multiple sheets of card stock if you want to make a sign. alphabet actvity

Start by writing the outlines to the letters on the back of the foam. Don’t forget to make them backwards so when you cut them out they are correct. jeweld alphabet

Cut out. alphabet activity

Add the double stick tape. jeweled letters gemsI find this is way better on foam than glue. Once it’s down if you give it time to sit it will stay on forever. We did this craft before Christmas ( all those Christmas crafts pushed this one to drafts) and not a single gem has fallen off. This is VERY tricky. She did the straight letters and the curves ones I took care of. alphabet activity

Add the gems. This is where the literacy activity can easily morph into counting, patterns, shape recognition, even estimation. How many gems do you think will fit on this letter? Take cues for your kids to decide how much to push just make sure it doesn’t feel like pushing. gem lettersI had put them into pretty little containers to make it easier for her to grab them, but there was no point as she just dumped them on the table to get a better view.  This took a lot of patience and if your child is struggling let the tape settle and really adhere to the foam first before adding the gems. alphabet activity

Let them sit for a while. We used them to spell all sorts of things before settling on her name.

alphabet activity

Arrange them in whatever display you want . I layered a few sheets of card stock with more double stick tape to make the base of the sign.  You could do the same or get a cheap canvas and add them to that. callie gem letters

Peel the back of the foam off and stick onto the card stock. gem letters alphabet

Find the perfect place for it and hang it up. Like I said we made this before Christmas and since we hung it up she traces it every night before we turn the light off. It’s a sweet reminder of how proud she is of making it as well as just a good literacy activity. alphabet activity

 

Q-tip Painted Snowflake Crafts

snowflake crafts for preschool This is a simple winter craft that I have planned for my class of two and three year olds. I often test out my lesson plans on my 4 year old and today when she asked what I was going to do with my class I told her we were going to make Q-tip painted snowflake crafts and she asked if she could make one too. Of course! Since she is older she glued her paper strips down herself and if you are going to do this activity one on one with a toddler I would encourage them to do it too. For my class I glued them down and they will focus on painting.

Gather your materials. You will need some blue construction paper, scissors, a glue stick, q-tips, a paper plate, some paint in silver, white, and light blue. Using different tools to paint is a great way to work in some extra creativity as well as in this case fine motor skills. It’s tough handling a skinny little q-tip! q-tip snowflake crafts for preschool

Start by cutting the paper into strips.snowflake crafts for kids

Time to glue.q-tip painted snowflake crafts for children She loved this step and gluedsnowflake crafts for kids and glued and glued!snowflake crafts

 

While your child is gluing pop the paint on a plate and add the q-tips to each color.q-tip painted snowflake craft for preK Time to paint!q-tip painted snowflakes for preschool

One of the best ways to really enjoy crafting with your kids is to do it with them. Don’t do their craft , do your own. Seeing you enjoy it sets a great example for them.q-tip painted snowflake craft for kindergarten

Our Favorite Fine Motor Activities of 2014

fine motor activities

I try to work in activities with some element of fine motor work every day. It’s not hard when you have a child who loves to draw and color but when you don’t you might need to get a little more crafty. Fine motor work is important for many daily activities like writing, tying shoes, and eventually typing too. In the short term it’s also important for getting dressed and other tasks that help kids feel independent. What I am trying to say is that these skills are important so working on developing and fine tuning them is worth your time.

Here are the posts that we think are the very best fine motor activities of 2014.

cutting station

This is one of our most popular posts of 2014 and for good reason, it’s easy to do, fun , and functional. My daughter’s been using our Cutting Station for months and it’s found a permanent spot in our playroom.

fine motor activities

Simple is important because if an activity is simple parents will do it with their kids and teachers can throw it into a lesson plan no problem. That is why I LOVE this simple idea from Sugar Aunts.  Check out their Feather Beading here.

fine motor activities

Our Halloween Lego Challenge was a huge hit. You may not be making vampires and pumpkins for a while but this post can still inspire you to make your own Lego Challenge with any theme.

fine motor activity

Are you seeing a theme with these posts? I love simple activities and this one from Hands On As We Grow is no exception. This easy Fine Motor Activity will keep your kids busy while working on their skills.

lego fine motor

Use your kid’s Duplo for these super fun Lego Fine Motor Activities from Fun At Home With Kids.

fine motor activities

This Sticker Station is another fine motor activity I shared this year that was such a hit with my preschooler that we still use it months later.

fine motor activities

Why not use up those caps you can’t recycle for a little fun fine motor activity? This Plastic Cap Water Play from Fantastic Fun and Learning is a great little idea that kids will love.

fine motor activities

These little Dotted Snowflakes don’t look like much but the highlighters on the foam almost glowed. My daughter was in heaven and carefully dotting them was great practice for writing. She had to carefully hold the highlighters with a proper grip.

fine motor activities

This Zipper Board  from Laughing Kids Learn caught my eye on Pinterest and I added it to my Fine Motor board immediately. Now I am adding it to my favorite posts of 2014!

threading for toddlers

Imagination Tree wrote this lovely tutorial for Toddler Threading & Beading.
fine motor activities
For kids a little older than toddlers they can use twigs and beads to make these rad Fairy Wands! They will be having so much fun they won’t know they are working on some serious fine motor skills.