This simple activity requires very few supplies. All you need are scissors, craft foam, yarn, a marker, and a hole punch (can use scissors instead).
First cut strands of yarn about 4-5 feet long. Tie them to something extremely sturdy, such as a doorknob. This yarn is going to see a lot of action. Make a strand for each child playing.
Cut craft foam in squares and punch or cut a hole. Be sure to make the hole large. Your children will be threading the yarn through this hole.
Draw shapes, letters, words, whatever you would like them to practice learning onto the craft foam squares.
Ask your child to grab the square that is a specific color or has a certain shape/letter on it. Have them thread the yarn through the square.
The best part of this activity is that it is perfect for different stages in development. I instructed one child to do colors (2 yrs old), while the other child did shapes (3 yrs old). Later on when my 4 yr old returned home from preschool I had him play along with letters.
Now to get some great use out of competitiveness and sibling rivalry. Have each child hold the end of their yarn strand with the square at their hands. Tell them to shake the yarn to get the square to the doorknob. Make it a race!
This activity is also great for one child, too. Use their determination (which we all know they have) to jump and shake that square to the doorknob.
Be prepared for a lot of jumping, wiggling, and giggling. This was so much fun for everyone, especially me standing back watching them burn off some energy while learning and having a blast.
PLEASE NOTE: This activity is designed to be parent involved. Do not use this activity as a busy activity while you leave the room. The long strands of yarn can be dangerous with young children if not supervised. You will need to monitor your children closely and be sure they do not wrap themselves with the yarn.
Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.
This apple craft can be done two ways, lacing it for older more dexterous children and simply using a stapler for younger kids and toddlers. Either way there is something I just love about apples made from brown craft paper or my low cost alternative – grocery bags!
- Gather your materials. You will need a brown grocery bag or craft paper, newspaper, hole punch ( or stapler if you aren’t doing the lacing), ribbon, red, brown and green paint, scissors and paint brush.
- Start by drawing an apple on the paper.
- Cut out 2 apples ( back and front).
- While the paint dries crumple up your newspaper.
- When dry punch holes in the apple ( make sure you punch them in the same spot on both front and back).
- Tie your ribbon on. You can also use a button to act as a stopper.
- Start lacing.
- Stuff with your newspaper.
- Finish lacing.
Back to School Books !
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come by Nancy Carlson did not live up to my expectations. It was written in 1999 but the information seems out dated, the little mouse in the story is entering kindergarten but is still unsure of his ABCs and could only count to 10. I know this seems like a minute detail but it bugs me because most kids entering kindergarten are well aware of the alphabet and can count past 10 with ease. I felt like it covered the basics about what a child can expect but it doesn’t go into any depth and I doubt it would ease any anxiety or fulfill any honest curiosity. I hate giving bad reviews but I just don’t like this book.
Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper is a delightful book. Miss Mingo is a flamingo and teacher who wants to know about her students on the first day of school. She starts the exercise by sharing some fun facts about being a flamingo , like why she is pink, and before you know it the whole class of different animals are sharing. This book not only shows kids that it’s okay to share about themselves but it is full of fun facts about animals in the fine print. I learned something I never knew about a Narwhal! It is a bit long for a toddler but each page highlights new animals and it’s easy to skip a few for those that aren’t ready for a book of this length. This is going on my buy list!
The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.
Y is always tricky but this craft does double duty not only reinforcing the letter y, but also as a active fine motor skills lacing toy! As you can see I wasn’t fussy about how my son laced it. I wanted him to get the yarn through the holes not make perfect stitches. Holding the yarn in between his thumb and fingers also promotes the tripod grip ( proper way to hold writing tools).
- Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, a hole punch, some markers, yarn, scissors and tape.
- Write a lowercase ( would work great with uppercase too ) on your cardboard.
- Hand it to your child and invite them to color it with markers. My son has taken to tracing and writing the letter on it.
- Add more colors until they decide they are done.
- While they are coloring cut off a long piece of yarn and double it, so it make a bog loop. Tape the 2 ends together tightly so that it makes a hard end for easy lacing.
- Cut the y out.
- Hole punch time! Our card board was too thick for my son to punch the holes, if the cereal box in the picture hasn’t had writing on the inside ( why do they do that?!) it would have been great. If your child can help , have them help.
- Before you hand the y back thread the yarn through the first hole and loop it back through the yarn so it ties onto the y. This eliminates meltdowns about the yarn just zooming through all the holes. As well as keeps the 2 pieces together for later use!
- Lace! I laced the first two holes to demonstrate it to my son then let him at it.
- Keep going!
Teaching children about letters is more fun if you include as many novel and sensory experiences as you can. This was a huge hit and even bigger mess, but well worth it. My son who is in the midst of a perfectionist phase loved that he could “erase” his letters. He also loved how the bright colors magically appeared under the cornstarch.
- Gather your materials. You will need a shallow cardboard box, cornstarch, and some brightly colored markers, pastels or what I used… window markers.
- Color the bottom of your box with a few colors. If you are using anything “wet” let it dry 100% before adding the cornstarch.
- Add the cornstarch and cover the color.
- Start writing! Isn’t it cool how the colors pop? I was giddy that it worked!
- He wrote an M then exclaimed – look I can make a W too, then flipped the whole box , then wrote another M.
- We stepped outside to shake all the extra off!
Have fun this one is MESSY – I was covered, my camera was covered, my son was covered and we had a blast!
Some of our Favorite Alphabet Books
We were at the dollar store getting art mats ( the plastic place mats I use) when I spied these napkin rings. Perfect for beading when hands are still not nimble enough for smaller beads. This is a quick craft to make but one that is fun to play with long after. Make one for grandma or mama for Valentine’s day or use it as a basic patterning lesson.
- Gather your materials. You will need some napkin rings, ribbon and scissors.
- Start by cutting your ribbon into a piece log enough to comfortably fit over your child’s head.
- Tie one ring on to make a stopper for your rings. Make sure to leave enough room to have some ribbon to tie.
- Thread them on.
- Loop the last one through is you want, this is just a astetics thing for me I like them all squished together .
- Invite your child who announced that ” I am too big for this craft.” to model the necklace for all the “Other kid’s mommies”.
A Valentine For Norman Noggs by Valiska Gregory is a quite cute , it is about a new girl in school who has caught the eye of all the boys. Normal hopes and dreams that she will look at him and fall in love, but all the other bigger, stronger boys seems to be catching her attention. He is kind to her in class though, offering help without being boastful and although he doesn’t notice she does notice him. When he is made fun of by the bigger boys about a Valentine he made her she comes to his rescue. I like that her character was strong but didn’t like that she physically hurt the other boys. This is a longer picture book , my son zoned in and out while reading it, but would be great for 4-5 year olds.
If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant is a great book for preschoolers because it doesn’t just focus on romantic love or love of a parent and child but rather love of all the things this little boy is grateful for. He writes little valentines to his family members, teddy bear, even the bird and tree outside. It’s very sweet and cute without making you cringe one bit! My son loved this one , it was perfect for a 3 year old.
We had so much fun making this necklace, I really thought my son would lace a few shapes and proclaim he was done but he did every single one ! I helped him get the hang of lacing but in true 2 year old fashion he wanted no help after a few times. This can and should be made into a patterning lesson for children ready for that challenge.Fine motor skills , shape recognition and hand eye coordination all get a great workout while your little one makes something for someone special.
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam sheets, scissors, a hole punch, and a large shoe lace. Shoe laces have a nice hard tip which makes lacing possible. Smaller shoe laces will work but the beads will pool at the bottom so don’t forget to tie a knot.
- Cut out different shapes from the foam. I asked my son which shapes he wanted and cut a handful of each.
- Time to punch holes. I did this but let my son explore with the hole punch and try before moving on to the next step. He was trying so hard I never got a still shot.
- Start lacing! With this over sized lace you don’t need a know at the end, but skinny laces will.
- Celebrate when they get a shape on, ask what shape and color it is.
- Tie a bow
- Wear it proudly moms!