Find & Fill Nativity Scene Game

We are a church going family and even though I am quite private about our faith I wanted to share this simple nativity activity with you. Every year since my son was 1 we have put out our Little People Christmas Story Nativity Scene Playset and played with it. I have tried to teach my son and now my daughter about who everyone is in it but it didn’t really stick. My 2 year old refuses to call the angel Gabriel anything other than the Tooth fairy .  I decided it was time to learn more about who these people were and the roles they played in the Christmas story. Kids play to learn so making it a game was just what we needed.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, pen , a basket, a nativity scene with figurines and a book about the Christmas story.
  2. Write out clues for each figure. Mine were super simple like ” I am the Son of God. I was born in a manger. Who am I? Find me in the dining room. ” Adjust the info about each person based on your child’s age and knowledge. I hand wrote mine because as always I decided to do this spur of the moment. My messy handwriting completely frustrated my son while he was reading . Type it out if you have the time.
  3. Read the story first ( see below for the story we read). I find that reading it first is the best way to create a connection with who each figure is. Let them identify the figures in the scene too.
  4. Next send the kids away and hide the figures. My favorite was the Angel on the soup can in the pantry.
  5. Put the basket of clues in the manger. Have your children tell you who is missing. Read the first clue.
  6. Find the missing pieces.  Ask your kids who they are and why they are important.
  7. Place them back in the manger and pull the next clue. My son read the clues but my daughter mimicked him much to my total pleasure. It was adorable and really great early literacy learning!
  8. Keep going until the nativity scene is complete.

Books About Christmas

What Is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams is a great board book for little children about Christmas. It touches on all the fun and cultural aspects of Christmas in a positive way but reminds the readers that really it’s about Jesus’ birth. I like the book because it doesn’t make the rest of the traditions out to be wrong or bad but explains that the holiday’s Christian origin in a simple matter of fact way.

The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids by Brendan Powell Smith is actually one of my favorite Christmas books this year. I grabbed it at Costco because my son is all about Lego but I have read it over and over to my kids because it is a great telling of the Christmas story. Now it doesn’t sugar coat much so if you don’t want to read about mean old King Herod and how he ordered babies to be killed then skip it. It really helped explain the story of Jesus’ birth to my 6 year old and the Lego photographs were a great novelty.

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Turkey Feather Hunt { Gross Motor Game}

This easy Thanksgiving themed game has been lovingly named ” Naked Turkey” at our house . It is so fast to make but the fun will last for a long time. Kids love searching for things and games like this not only works on concentration it also naturally leads to counting, color recognition and sorting.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clean jar, some orange or brown construction paper, some some, googly eyes , tape, markers and feathers.
  2. Start by cutting out a turkey torso. Think chubby bowling pin cut in half. Add a gobble, beak and glue on some eyes.
  3. Tape to the jar. I am taping it because I love these jam jars and plan on using it for something else after we are done with this game. As you can see my daughter was collaging scrap paper while I made it, or so I thought.
  4. Choose a spot in your house to hide the feathers. I do it in my living room because I can shut the doors and keep the kids out while I hide them. Also in a relatively small space a toddler won’t get overwhelmed. do what works for your kids. Can you see any feathers in this picture?
  5. Invite your feather finders and play! She loved this and so did my son after he got home from school ( but the light was even worse by then so no pics).
  6. After she found them all we counted them and sorted them by color, purple first of course!

Since making this on Friday we have played daily with no signs of getting tired of it. My son loves to be the hider and tried to stump my husband and I . I particularly love that the game isn’t too messy to play anytime no matter who is over for Thanksgiving dinner!

 

Ghost Bottle Bowling – Halloween Game For Kids

halloween game for kids There are a lot of homemade Halloween bowling games but the goal of this one isn’t just to have fun knocking down a few ghosts ( although my son sure has had a blast!) it’s also about building fine motor skills, counting and making something together as siblings.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some empty water bottles , sticky back black foam, scissors, a few packages of cotton balls and a pumpkin ball. halloween game for kids
  2. Start by filling your bottles with cotton balls. My two year old and I worked together filling her bottle. This was a challenge for her and her fine motor skills. My son had no problem and happily filled his first bottle in a snap.Halloween Game
  3. Make it a challenge for fast finishers. I decided to give my son a challenge and asked him to estimate how many cotton balls it takes to fill a bottle, then count to see the difference.
  4. While your kids fill the bottles cut some eyes from the foam. This sticky back foam is great for crafts when you don’t want to wait for glue to dry .
  5. When all the bottles are filled peel the backing off the eyes ( more fine motor work) and pop them on the bottles.
  6. Can you tell which one my daughter made?
  7. Now it’s time to bowl. My daughter got frustrated pretty quickly but I am going to try again today when her brother is at school. I don’t thin it was the activity that frustrated her so much as not being able to do it just like her much more coordinated older brother. He had a blast.  On his own he decided to try out different ways to arrange the ghosts. In a horizontal line, diagonal one, a bunch and then in this X. All I know is he was working on gross motor skills while also experimenting with the most basic of a physics lesson. 

 

Halloween Books

AlphaOops: H Is for Halloweenby Althea Kontis is a really sophisticated alphabet book that works well for a wide range of kids. A toddler will enjoy the bright illustrations by Bob Kolar and older children will be able to follow along with the silly storyline about the letters putting on a Halloween show. What I adore about this book is that the letters are completely out of order and some of the things they represent are far from ordinary.  Instead of werewolf the author used the word lycanthrope which I had never heard and my son loved learning something at the same time as I did.  The few trickier words were great for my son who often guesses words even though he can sound them out. It forced him to work harder . As soon as we were done reading  it together he asked to read it again. Super awesome alphabet book for Halloween !

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen is a sweet monster book with minimal text and very rich illustrations by Kelly Murphy.  The story is really about the daily wind down and bedtime for two monsters. You and your child will absolutely relate to them on one page or another ( or all). These little monsters are just like our little monsters resisting bedtime, trying to avoid baths… well you know the daily struggle. My daughter was not into the book but my son liked it even though I’d gear it towards the 2-4 crowd. We chose our favorite monsters on each page and found interesting details like the recipe for tentacle soup on the page where the mom is making dinner . Cute, your child will relate to it and it’s not at all scary!

Move & Groove – Gross Motor Alphabet Game

alphabet for startersThis is a super simple alphabet game that gets kids moving and grooving while they learn their letters. This is part 14 of our Alphabet For Starters series, a series of alphabet activities that use play and exploration to introduce and learn letters. We did the game as a lower and uppercase match but you can adjust it for your needs and child’s abilities. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure if I was at the target level of learning for my daughter , I wanted it to be challenging but attainable so I enlisted her brother to help. He loved being her guide even though she only needed him a couple of times. Soon he had the controls and I went to warm up my coffee. Here is how you can make your own gross motor alphabet game.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper or card stock , a marker, painters tape and some good music your kids will dance to. Ours was Call Me Maybe . alphabet for starters no time for flash cards
  2. Start buy pushing some furniture out of the way and making letters our of the painter’s tape right on the floor. Don’t feel like you have to do all the letters. Every lesson doesn’t need to cover every letter. I admit I did mostly ones that were easier to make with tape. gross motor letter games
  3. Write the lowercase letters on the paper. ** Adaptations ** You can also write the same uppercase letters and simply have your child match them or for even older kids you can write a word and have them find the first letter.alphabet for starters
  4. Invite the kiddos. To have them start I have them find the first letter of their own names- hands on heads, eyes on me.
  5. Music starts and they dance !alphabet for starters
  6. Music stops and I hold up a letter.
  7. They find the match.
  8. Dance again! Match again.
  9. This went on for a long time and after it was apparent that my daughter understood and could do most of the letters herself my son wanted to be what he called the ref. So they played solo.
  10. I went for coffee and popped my head in every now and then. We’d play again but my daughter sneaked into the living room after dinner last night and tore up all the letters. Maybe sometime this week I will put new ones we didn’t have down and we’ll play again. It was a hit and both my 5.5 year old and 2 year old liked it which is not always the case.

50 Alphabet Books

Reading alphabet books has made a world of difference for both my son and my daughter learning their letters and choosing good, interesting and visually awesome books helps. These 50 alphabet books are my favorites . Many have themes and choosing a theme that appeals to your child is a great way to get more reluctant lap sitters or book listeners involved.

Does The Word Fit ? Simple Word Puzzles For Kids

While doing a purge of toys in our playroom I found 3 cheap puzzles I bought years ago that have never once been played with. I popped two into the donate box but kept one to make these  easy word puzzles for my son. The unique thing about these word puzzles is that the shape of pieces help give the players clues to the correct word choice. This goes along with the question that we often ask new readers as they work on reading new words ” Does the word fit?” and this game helps work on those new reader skills.

  1. Gather your materials. Both of these games require almost nothing. Puzzle pieces, markers and paper.

Rhyming Game

  1. Write out a few pages with something along the lines of ” These words rhyme with ____.” Make sure to use words that your child can read for the main word on the paper. For the matching words you write on the puzzle pieces add one or two words that may challenge them a little. Trace the puzzle pieces on the paper for an added clue.
  2. After writing out a few pages and corresponding pieces with rhyming words add a few puzzle pieces that do not rhyme to add into the mix.
  3. Play. I set both games up and presented them to him at the same time – scroll down for the 2nd game instructions.
  4. Hmm does the word fit ? Yes! My son enjoyed this and understood that he could sound the words out to match the rhymes as well as check if he was correct with the shapes matching as well.

Simple stories

This activity was a huge hit. My son was in stitches and learning at the same time.

  1. Write out simple sentences that appeal to your child with some words missing. Leave large spaces.  The ones I wrote for my son included sentences like  ” I forgot to put the milk in the fridge and now it smells so gross.” and ” The enemy place dropped a bomb on the base but no one was injured.” Write what will interest your child, it will make all the difference. Make figuring out the sentence fun and worth it.
  2. Write the missing words on puzzle pieces and trace them on the paper.
  3. Make sure to add words on other puzzle pieces that don’t make sense but are in the same shape as the ones that do. This is what makes it funny. Funny is good, laughing while learning is a fantastic thing.
  4. Play. Start by reading it.
  5. Now find the right missing words.
  6. Read the whole thing when the puzzle is done.
  7. With the next sheet he was laughing so hard I was worried he was going to wake his sleeping sister. It would have been worth it.