Backyard Safari and Map Activity

map activity for preschoolThis map activity was a huge hit because it included pretend play. Preschoolers love jumping into a fun pretend play scenario and adding a big dose of imagination to a regular old activity. My daughter loves going on safari when she plays dress up so I used that love to turn a simple hunt into a map activity. Reading maps is an important skill not just for the future but it teaches directions ( as we played we practiced left and right)  and uses spatial thinking skills . This took less than 5 minutes to set up and even if you don’t have a yard you can pop the toys in a backpack and try this at the park, beach, or even inside your home.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some toy animals, toy binoculars ( or make some like these binoculars), safari dress up, a clip board, markers and paper for making the map.backyard safari supplies

I started by mapping out our yard. It took me two tries before I got a somewhat accurate map. You could probably google earth your house and get a great shot of your yard but I don’t plan that far ahead so I free handed it.map activity for kids backyard safari

Then I added and X for each animal. Some spots have two Xs because there are two animals together.safari map for kids

Invite your little explorer to get ready for the safari!backyard safari dress up

Show them the map and go over it with them by asking them if they know what it is. What each part represents etc… don’t explain it all to them, let them explain it to you and you can fill in any big blanks if they arise.safari map activity for kids

Get ready to find some animals. I only helped once when she was really getting frustrated. The little alligator was tiny and well hidden. backyard scavenger hunt for kidsEvery time she found an animal she kissed it and put it back. gross motor safari game for preschoolI explained that when you go on Safari you observe the animals but you don’t take them with you.map activity for preschool  As we went along she found them even faster as well as got into the character , she was running so fast from one to the next.gross motor map gameMake sure you take a few moments to talk about what kind of animals they are and a little bit about them. We talked about herbivores and carnivores and how they are different.  She was very proud of herself for being able to read a map. For older kids have them create their own maps of the yard and add the Xs on after.back yard safari scavenger hunt

Story Books Featuring Safari Animals

all our book lists include affiliate links.

books about being different

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a very sweet story about a giraffe who gets laughed at because he doesn’t know how to dance. A cricket gives him some great advice and with new found confidence that different isn’t always bad he starts to dance!  This has been a favorite in our house for years!

Elmer
Elmer by David McKee is another book with a great message. Elmer is different, he isn’t gray like all the other elephants, and he’s a little bit of a goof too! He’s not so sure he likes that though. Like all of us it takes some time for Elmer to accept who he is but in the end he sees that patchwork is just who he is!

Hilda Must Be Dancing

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson is a lovely story about a big hippo that loves to dance, although her neighbors aren’t as keen. See Hilda is bog and when she dances she shakes and rattles everything, it’s noisy and disruptive and is making her friends very angry. They suggest that she try new hobbies, but knitting and singing won’t do it’s simply not in her heart, Hilda needs to move and groove!  I loves that a solution is found that makes everyone happy, that Hilda doesn’t have to give up her passion, but that she isn’t so selfish as to simply say ” too bad” to her friends either.

Rainy Day Fun – Indoor Gross Motor Activities

active rainy day activities It’s been raining like crazy all weekend. When it gets like that even here in the Pacific North West  where kids are accustomed to it they get antsy. Antsy kids get into trouble real fast… so keep them busy and learning with these fun indoor gross motor activities. As I was compiling this collection I started noticing how many of the ideas came from Jamie over at Hands On As We Grow instead of just listing her blog over and over I decided to do a round up featuring her work with some of our old favorites thrown in. Pop over to her blog for even more ideas to keep your kids moving and learning  Hands On As We Grow .

 

Obstacle Courses

Learning Obstacle Course
Simple Obstacle Course For Crawlers
Activity Course with Balloons

Scavenger Hunts

hands on as we grow scavenger hunt for kids
Indoor Bug Hunt
Book Hunt
Spy Game Scavenger Hunt    (pictured above)
Rainy Day Puzzle Hunt
Rhyming Scavenger Hunt

Target Practice, Balance, and Concentration

balance activities

Walk The Line
Newspaper Throwing
Move & Learn Shape Recognition
Color Toss

hands on as we grow
Throw paper at A Sticky Spider Web ( this is one pictured above is one of my favorite posts of all time, anywhere!)
DIY Balance Beam
Spider Web Walking
Family Bowling

Letters, Numbers, and Movement Oh My!

gross motor letter game for kids

Move and Groove Letter Recognition Game
Sight Word Treasure Map
ABC Tape Maze
Word Scavenger Hunt

word hunt hunting for letters
Sight Word Match
Indoor Gross Motor Reading Game
Number Maze Inside!
Counting Around The House
How far can you jump? Movement and math!

Outdoor Alphabet Hunt

alphabet hunt outside learning It is so easy to turn a simple game into a educational one with a few additions. This alphabet hunt took me 5 minutes to plan and put together, including the maker test you will see below. I decided to use Duplo because even though it was sunny our yard has countless things that might get blocks wet or dirty. The Duplo are easy to clean and the connect together to create a full alphabet. This wasn’t the main purpose even though she naturally wanted to make the alphabet. Alphabetical order is not a huge concern at this age although using it as a tool to work on letter recognition can be useful. We used it as one way to see if we had all the letters. For children not eager to look for 26 letters try the letters in their name instead for older kids try sight words. For more alphabet ideas check out our Alphabet For Starters series.

Gather your materials. You will need some Duplo or other plastic interlocking blocks, a sharpie or two, a yard and you’ll want a dry erase marker to take the letters off when you are done using these blocks as letter blocks.duplo alphabet letter hunt outside

Start by doing a test on one block to make sure that the permanent markers you have will come off the blocks. I tested it out on a orange block. I wrote test on the block and waited 5 minutes. It was totally dry and then using dry erase marker I covered the whole word. Then wiped. It came off. I repeated this days later after doing the activity and the letters came off no problem. Test out your own on a small spot on the inside to make sure your marker comes off. duplo letter hunt

Write the letters on the blocks. alphabet hunt outdoors with duplo

Hide the blocks outside. We have a pretty big front yard so I spread them out!outdoor alphabet block hunt for kids

Time to search!alphabet hunt outside for preschoolers She found the first one right away. alphabet scavenger hunt for kidsNow depending on how many children are participating and what your specific learning goals are for your child you can add in some learning as they find the blocks too. I didn’t ask for every letter but every few blocks I would ask her what sound the letter made. Remember the sound is much more important than the name. I would also ask her to name something that started with the letter.alphabet hunt for kids outside

She started putting some letters together right away.alphabet hunt enjoying the sun

She took a break to soak in some sun.alphabet hunt outside for little kids

After we had many we put them into alphabetical order using the alphabet song as a guide. We also counted them and discovered we were missing some. We found all but one pretty easily. The v block was missing for a few hours. We went inside and took a break, then returned outside after a rest and snack and found it.

alphabet game outside

Have fun with letters.

Alphabet Books

Here are some great alphabet books to go with your activity. All book lists include affiliate links.

Alphabetter

Alphabetter by Dan Bar-el and Graham Ross is another great alphabet book for you to check out. Each letter is represented by a child who has something that starts with the same letter as their name but doesn’t have what they want which starts with the following letter. It’s such a cute gimmick and so effective while reading that it’s not a gimmick at all! At the end of the book all the children pass the items back down the alphabet and everyone gets what they want. Awesome book for toddlers on up !

Sleepy ABC

Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown . Although I have a legendary hatred of Runaway Bunny I generally love this author. I like this book, and the illustrations will zip you back in time for sure.  Unlike many alphabet books it has a great rhythm for reading it all without breaks. Like the title suggests it’s a good alphabet book for a bedtime read, it even ends with something I say to my kids every night  “Go to sleep!”

Alphabet soup

Alphabet Soup by Scott Gustafson is a treat! I read a lot of alphabet books and this one stands out for so many reasons. Otter is hosting a potluck and his animal friends are all bringing something to share. Each page is devoted to an animal with a coordinating food item and more. This book is reminiscent of Graham Base’s Animalia but much more toddler friendly. Where Animalia is great for older children because it’s so full of detail, this book brings it down a notch but still enchants you with stunning illustrations and fantastic coordinating text.

 

Outdoor Number Line Activity

outdoor active math game

It’s spring and it’s time to get outside and learn! This sidewalk chalk number line activity is great because it uses almost no materials and you can use it however your child needs to. My son used the line as a place to show his answers but didn’t use it as a manipulative itself, and my daughter used it to count by 5 with help. Your child may like the line as a guide to figure out the equations or as a way to show their answers to mental math like my son. Use it for whatever math goal you are working on.

Gather your materials. You will need a sidewalk or road, sidewalk chalk, some pebbles to use as place markers and a young mathematician or two.number line outdoor activity

Start by drawing a number line on the ground. Ours went from 0-50 by 5′s and I used one big step to measure between the numbers. Ours did not have marks to mark each number on the line but if you want to you can do this. I had my son estimate where those numbers would be when he needed to. My line is a little wobbly but it didn’t bother either one of my kids or change the outcome. Don’t stress about little things like this. number line outdoor math

I wrote out equations that my son has been working on doing mentally. This is our way of drilling without drilling. number line numbersIt’s fun and active and even if you are working on drills you can add an active element. Then switch gears to using the number line as a tool to help figure out the equations. number line math for kindergarten and first grade

Call out the equation and have them place a pebble on the answer.number line math activity for kids

Keep going. number line math activity for childrenThis was a big hit with my son and I went through all the equations and added more on the fly.math activity for kids with a number line

For younger players have them simply find the number and step on it. For my daughter after she walked the line and counted by 5s  I called out the numbers on either end of the line so she was bopping from one end to the other and learning as she went.number line fun for preschool

Although it often rains around here we aren’t expecting rain for a few days so we grabbed the hose and sprayed down our line when we were done.side walk chalk activity number line

 

Want more active learning ideas for kids? Check out these 21 fun ideas!

active learning activities for kids

 

Active Learning Activities for Boys and Girls

active learning activities for kids Some children will show a great need for kinesthetic learning while others like my son will just need a balance. After a full day of auditory and visual learning at school I like to provide that balance. He’s polite, mature and eager to learn at school ( or so they tell me). At home he tackles, bumps, shoves and begs to wrestle. I’m fine with this but I know that when I try to supplement his school day learning with more activities at home I need to make them dynamic. No matter how your child learns best giving them lots of different ways to learn will benefit them.

Here are some of our favorite active learning activities. These activities let kids move while they learn. Many are outdoor but most can be done indoor or out.

gross motor letter game for kids

Basic Letter Games

Move & Groove Letter Game
Gardening For Letters – Dig and Learn!
Sidewalk Chalk Letter Game
Build With Letters
Letters On The Go

letter activities spelling with sidewalk chalk

Word Games For Early Readers
Word Scavenger Hunt
Indoor Gross Motor Reading Game
Sidewalk Chalk Spelling Game
Sight Word Yard Clean Up!
Find & Rhyme gross motor rhyming game.

nerf gun backyard math for kids
Moving with Math
Nerf Gun Math
Water Balloon Math
Cheese Ball Math
Counting Around The House
Find & Count Bug Hunt

nature color hunt

Colors
Indoor bug hunt and color match.
Nature Color Match
iPhone Color Hunt

preschool science for kids

Not So Still Science
Egg Drop
Sound Safari
Squirt Gun Science