Gross Motor Activities
My son’s all time favorite activity we’ve ever done was our Angry Birds Water Balloon Game. Warm weather and a half day of school made yesterday the perfect day to get drenched in the front yard and do a little Learning After School. We did this with math but it would be as simple to make letters , shapes or sight words as targets. Here is what we did .
- Gather your materials. You will need some water balloons, a sharpie, some number targets , page protectors, bean bags, and hula hoops. You will also want a laundry type basket to carry the filled balloons.
- Start by making the targets. I chose the numbers 7, 9 ,10 ,and 15. All the equations will equal one of these numbers. I used picmonkey.com to make simple images. Printed them out one per page and slid them into page protectors.
- Fill your balloons . Carefully write equations that equal the numbers on the targets such as 3+4 or 15-5 . For younger children you could simply write numbers on the balloons and have them match them with the targets.
- Set up your targets. I added bean bags inside the page protectors to weight them down.
- Get ready.
- Go! Read the equations, find the answer on one of the targets and throw!
- They loved this. My son would read his sister’s equations and tell her where to throw it. I was seriously amazed at how accurate he was. I should have remembered that later when we filled up more to throw at each other. It was kids against Mom and the kids won.
- After the game – play more! We ended up using all the extra balloons and running through the sprinkler before retreating to the house.
Learning After School is our series of simple learning activities for families to do together after school. They are meant to be bite size and engaging . They aren’t meant to replace homework just add a little more learning without making your child feel like they doing any extra work.
Getting my son learning after school isn’t always easy because he’s just been at school all day! This rhyming game was originally supposed to be a Frisbee like game with the hula hoops acting as targets but my dollar store plates were too light and even doubled up wouldn’t fly well. So we turned it into a hunt and my daughter came along for the ride and everyone had fun . You could adapt this easily for different levels using upper and lowercase as pairs to match, sight words ( writing out two and finding the match) or word families. Even though my almost 3 year old participated this activity is part of our Learning After School series . This series is filled with ideas for fun active learning after school gets out.
- Gather your materials. You will need some cheap plastic plates ( just don’t expect them to make good Frisbees… ) , a sharpie and some hula hoops.
- Start by writing some words on the plates. I chose 4 words that offered lots of rhyming words. Bake, car, band and hat.
- Write out as many rhyming words on the rest of the plates for each as you think will offer your child the right amount of challenge. You can always have a few extra on hand to hide on the go if your child is into it and you want to extend it.
- Place the anchor words ( bake, car, band and hat) in the hula hoops.
- Hide the other plates.
- Get your kids ready – I had my son agree that he’d let his sister find her share and not zoom through and grab them all . He also offered up his reading and rhyming skills to help. I wasn’t sure how it would play out … if you are doing this with a number of children with similar rhyming and reading abilities a great way to do it is to start each child off with a different word and have them search only for words that rhyme with their assigned word. * Whenever I am explaining rules I start with a quick game of Simon Says. It gets them focused.
- It was great. He needed a reminder not to grab all the plates but one reminder was enough. They would find a plate, run over and match the rhymes. She got a few solo ( after we read them of course) and he would do his in his head throwing them down fast. But then when she was stumped he took time to help his sister saying things like ” Do you hear they sound the same? Cake and bake rhyme.” It was still pretty much over her head but he got great practice being patient and teaching her. You can see him stretching out the words for her as a hint. Best part is the plates store easily and you can add more when you want to play again.
Books That Rhyme
Here are 25 great books that rhyme . When reading these books with your kids take some time to play with the rhymes , not every single on but a few. Be silly and have fun. Do things like use a synonym in the place of a rhyming word in the familiar text. When your child corrects you explain that the word means the same thing. They will insist it’s still not right . Ask them why. Continue reading. Pretending not to know the answer and letting my kids answer for me always gets a good laugh and the lesson sticks as well.
Finding activities that both my two year old and her six year old brother enjoy isn’t always easy. More and more he wants to do something she doesn’t have the patience or skill for yet. One thing they both love are hunts. Simple materials, fun game and a ton of learning. This bug hunt has color matching , counting and sorting as well as a ton of fun. This activity was a great way for both of them to play and learn together. As you will see they worked at their own level while working together. Although we used bugs you could use any small items like plastic Easter eggs, simple blocks or even cut out shapes.
- Gather your materials. You will need many multi colored small objects to hide, construction paper in the same colors ( we chose a rainbow theme but you could do any colors) and some kids eager to find things.
- Spread your colors out on a flat surface like the floor or table.
- Hide your bugs. Can you see any in this picture ?
- Explain the rules of the game. Find the bug and sort it in the correct color. For my son I added the following challenges : After he found a bug and put it in the right color I asked him to see which color had the most bugs and which had the least. This made him pause so his sister had a slight chance at finding some of the bugs and gave him a little math lesson too.
- Start finding those bugs! They were so quick it was hard for me to catch any pictures.
- My daughter loved sorting them and every now and then I would sneak one into the wrong color and she’d fix it.
- When we found them all I asked them to count. My daughter counted all the bugs in each color and my son counted all the bugs in every color. He also told me which color had the most, which had the least .
- After that he went off to play Lego but my daughter and I played two more times.
Books About Bugs
We try to always match up activities with books to reinforce active play with quality reading time. Here are 19 great bug books for you and your little bug hunters to check out.
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.
- Gather your materials. You will need a clean jar, some orange or brown construction paper, some some, googly eyes , tape, markers and feathers.
- Start by cutting out a turkey torso. Think chubby bowling pin cut in half. Add a gobble, beak and glue on some eyes.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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).
- 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!
This 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.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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.
- Invite the kiddos. To have them start I have them find the first letter of their own names- hands on heads, eyes on me.
- Music starts and they dance !
- Music stops and I hold up a letter.
- They find the match.
- Dance again! Match again.
- 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.
- 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.