## Character Memory Game

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.

1. 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.
2. Start by cutting your card stock into squares.
3. Pop the stickers on
4. 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.
5. 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 !

## Preschool Math Game

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).

1. 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.
2. Start by talking about how some of the tea bags match and how you have to group the matching ones together.
3. Count the matching tea bags.
4. Find the correct carton with the number .  And pop them in !
5. 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.
6. 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?

Math Activities

Math Books

## Amazing Alphabet Activities

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!

Car Alphabet

Letter Hunt

Magic Letter Writing

Letter Pizza !

Muffin Tin Letter Match

Custom Alphabet Book

## Math’s a blast!

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.

1. 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.
2. Number at least 2 sets of the rockets from 1-8 .
3. Place dots from 1-8 on the spinner sections.
4. To play: give each player 8 rocket pieces in order.
5. Take turns spinning the spinner. When it lands on a section count the dots and take that number out of your line up.
6. First person to have no rockets left wins.
7. 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.

## Counting Books

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.

## Preschool Counting Game

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!

1. 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.
2. 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 .
3. Tape onto your die.
4. Play! Roll the dice – see which animal you have to count and how many you need to count out!
5. Count the dots… 5!
6. 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.

## Song

Um um! Went the little green frog one day,
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.