There is no way I would have ever expected this game to be half as popular as it is with my son. He has always loved garbage and recycling, but he took what I thought would be a fun activity and made it something he uses with this other toys. Calling it his recycling depot he has plopped it down on our family room floor all weekend next to the lego fire station and ferry dock. Oh and he continues to sort and re sort the items too! He’s using his imagination, pre math skills and problem solving too!
- Gather your materials. You will need 2-3 containers, some card stock, magazines , scissors, and double stick tape.
- Start by cutting out different recyclable and non recyclable items. This is where they need to really stop and think . If you are doing this with a younger or easily frustrated kiddo do this step yourself and have the game ready for them to figure out. My son was reading when I did this step , it would have been too much for him to make and play the game.
- Tape them onto the card stock. I am using some of the 250 plus business cards that read notimeforflashcards,com <— did you catch the comma? I digress.
- Make simple recycle and garbage signs on some card stock and place in the containers.
- Ok time to play.
- Something I loved about this was how hard he thought about each picture. With the kleenex he said ” Well we throw away the tissue with boogers but recycle the box…” then thought for a while before deciding. After this super simple activity he has been asking ” Is this recyclable Mama? “About everything in our house!
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome! I only wish that my son was old enough to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s not aimed at 2 year olds at all, but he did like to open it to the page with the recycling truck and point out all the parts to me. The book itself takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5 year olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text. Also the book was printed on 100% post consumer waste paper.
Little Pirate: Why Do We Recycle? by Innovative Kids is a really fun book about recycling with a pirate theme. Yes a pirate theme. Readers learn about recycling, composting and garbage along with two young pirates who need to clean up their ship. The pirates ask questions about different waste and the wise parrot fills them into the facts like the best bag to use while shopping is a cloth one, and what happens to the metal, glass and paper after we put them in the recycle bin.
Trash And Recycling by Stephanie Turnball is a great book ! I learned more about garbage and the recycling process reading this to my son over lunch than I ever knew! He loved it and despite being a pretty sophisticated book for a 3 year old immediately asked to read it again as soon as I closed it. It explains the whole process from curbside pick up, land fills, incineration and recycling. The idea for today’s activity came from the sorting of recyclable garbage from this book!
I tried to keep characters, TV and movies away from my son for as long as I could. That lasted about a year, now he recognizes most characters even ones he’s never seen anywhere but the store like Spider man . Seeing all the merchandise in the store is tempting for kids and the last thing I need in my house is another plastic toy that offers few learning opportunities, so instead I made this. I spent one dollar on these Toy Story stickers and we have been having fun playing and learning since. It’s a great compromise.
- Gather your materials. You will need some character stickers ( 2 sheets of matching), some card stock, scissors or a paper cutter, and some family members to play.
- Start by cutting your card stock into squares.
- Pop the stickers on
- Make sure the stickers on on the same colors, I made it a little tricky for my 3 year old by having multiple characters , but used different colored card stock to help act as a hint.
- Gather some grandparents to play with your child !
This was one of the games we took with us on our road trip to the beach, it’s small, packs easily and fits into our Travel Craft Box !
I use what I have to teach my son and for this game I used tea bags. I love tea and these bags were so colorful that they were the perfect available manipulative. Have you ever seen how expensive math manipulatives are? You can use legos for this, fun colorful cut outs or even marbles ( provided your child is past the “I’ll pop that in my mouth” stage).
- Gather your materials. We are using 5 different colors of tea bag packages, berry cartons ( 5) a bowl to hold all of the tea bags to start with and I made number cards 2-6 for the berry cartons.
- Start by talking about how some of the tea bags match and how you have to group the matching ones together.
- Count the matching tea bags.
- Find the correct carton with the number . And pop them in !
- Keep going! If your child is frustrated by too many steps, scale it back. Simply group the colors. Ditch the numbers and matching them up, if they are still game after that count the piles. The next time you play see if they are ready to take it to the next level and match the counted number with the written number in the carton. If not don’t push. Make this fun, they will get there when they are ready. In the mean time even if all they do is match up colors they are still practicing math skills, matching and color recognition so do not stress.
- For really reluctant mathematicians try using something they love like matchbox cars, Polly pockets, legos… be creative and you will be shocked at how receptive they may be.
Need more math activities? What about math books?
Learning the alphabet can be a real hurdle for some children, and we need to find activities that are more than simply pointing out the letters, repeating them and hoping they stick. All these activities are fun, dynamic and teach letter recognition through play and fun!
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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.