I am still calling this an alphabet for starters activity but really my little girls is graduating to just plain alphabet activities. Matching upper and lowercase letters is not really a beginner activity but the playful way to learn with a memory game still meets the goal of this series . Playful alphabet activities. This game would be a cinch to adjust for more novice learners. Simply stick to only one case of letters or scrap the memory game and try something more straight forward like my friend Jamie did a few days ago on Hands On As We Grow. To make it tougher skip using the scaffold of the matching colors and use only one color of hearts. To see our other Alphabet for Starters activities see our list here.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sharpie and some colorful foam hearts. I got both at the dollar store for a buck each.
- Write out letter pairs with one upper and one lowercase letter. I didn’t do the whole alphabet , I rarely do. I choose letters I know she knows ( M, A, J) and some I know she struggles with ( Q, G, ) and fill in the gaps randomly. Also each pair is done in the same color. When we played I told my daughter to find the same color. This made the game much more accessible for a 2 year old and gave her color recognition work to boot.
- Lay out your hearts face down.
- Play. She was enthusiastic immediately. I demonstrated once and she was off. We left our letters face up in their own spaces when we matched them up. She was thrilled when her letter ( M) was flipped over and even happier when she made a match. The first time we played she called the Q a “funny O” we tried to figure out what letter is was and I ended up labeling it for her and we kept playing. The next day ( we’ve played daily for 5 days in a row so far) she called it a Q and matched it to it’s lowercase letter without any prompting. No drill needed , just a fun game.
- Celebrate with each match and hoot and holler when you have completed the whole game! I often gets asked if I play against my kids for memory games. Sometime I do but usually I don’t. We play as a team . For my daughter with a game like this I will narrate with her after she identifies a letter unprompted I will say ” Hmm I wonder which heart the lowercase B is under ?” or some such thing. If she is having a hard time with a letter. I will try to ask questions to help her instead of just telling her. Like with the Q I said ” What letter do you have ?” and she answered ” A funny O.” then I said ” What makes it funny?” ” It has a tail Mama!” . To which I replied ” Do O’s have tails.” and she giggled saying “No!” and I said ” That is a an uppercase Q.” Even at such a young age kids can help figure things out and when we engage them like this they learn to ask questions , answer others and not just guess at the right answer.
My kids and I had a blast playing memory with this homemade memory game that we made with pictures of some of our favorite memories of 2012. As you will see both my kids played ( although they aren’t ready to play against each other yet – their gap in abilities is still too vast) and both loved not only beating mom ( I am terrible at this game) but also retelling stories about each picture and the memory that went with it. Oh and it’s so easy to make.
- Gather your materials. You will need some card stock, double stick tape, digital photos , scissors and marker.
- Choose 6 or more photos of favorite memories of 2012. You can print them out in a collage using a service like picmonkey.com or individually. Make sure you have 2 copies of each picture.
- Cut your pictures out. Mine are all black and white because I ran out of color ink not for any grand reason.
- Tape to the card stock.
- Cut out.
- I added the year on the back for fun. Also I plan on making this year after year.
- Time to play. First up was my wee one. I laid out 8 matches for her although I probably could have done 6.
- She loved seeing the photos of herself – her first day of school with her teacher was her favorite. The excitement was genuine when she made a match. She made six before she asked if she could play with her tea set Next time I will keep the number of cards lower.
- Then we set it up for my 6 year old. He got the whole deck and was eager to show off. He didn’t know what photos I chose for the game and was happy to recount the stories that went with many of the photos. His favorite was a photo of him playing with our contributing writer Kim’s son . He made matches so quickly and counted them up after each one. It was a perfect opportunity to skip count by two as well.
Happy New Year!
One of the best parts of Halloween is getting a chance to dress up in costumes and dressing up shouldn’t just be for kids, it should be for minions too! When I was asked to help spread the word about Despicable Me 2 coming to theaters this summer I knew exactly what sort of activities I wanted to do. These activities are perfect for Halloween parties or to prepare your little ones for all the unusual costumes they might see. They can play with the minion and see that he’s the same under every single costume we made him and on Halloween night there is nothing to be afraid of it’s just a person under that scary costume too. The simple memory game can be made in a snap and would be a cute quiet game for a Halloween party.
Dress Your Minion For Halloween!
- Gather your materials. You will need some yellow , black and white construction paper, yellow, black , brown and metallic markers, double stick tape, contact paper, scissors, heavy card stock ( full page sheet) and dry erase markers in various colors.
- Start by drawing and cutting out a minion.
- Cut some black construction paper for it’s goggle band.
- Cut out a circle of white paper and outline it in the metallic silver. Add a brown eye with a black pupil. Add yellow at the bottom.
- Using the double stick tape tape the band and eye on. Color the boots and gloves black.
- Tape everything on to the card stock.
- Peel the backing off your contact paper and put the minion face down on the sticky side.
- Press, fold the sides and trim edges. Now you have a dry erase minion!
- Dress him up for Halloween using the dry erase markers. We turned him into a princess, witch , butterfly, vampire and messy monster.
- Everything wipes clean beautifully!
You can also use him for talking about emotions and have your little ones draw his emotions, or dress him up for upcoming holidays too!
Easy Memory Game
I hear from a lot of parents how playing memory with their child is terrible and my first question is always ” Did you play with all the pieces?” When toddlers and young kids are learning games break them down a little and make them more accessible. This is why I love making my own memory games.
Using the Despicable Me 2 Halloween Temporary Tattoo Printables I made this game in a snap!
- Gather your materials. You will need the printables ( 2 copies) from Despicable Me 2. Some orange card stock, black card stock , double stick tape and scissors.
- Cut all your images and card stock into squares. Remember that you want the squares progressively larger so the minion paper is the smallest, orange middle and the black paper is the largest.
- Tape the minion to the orange paper and then the orange to the black paper. Make 4 pairs for toddlers, 6-8 for preschoolers and 10 + for school age kids.
- Flip and play!
After you play and learn (kids are always learning) with these adorable Despicable Me Halloween activities don’t forget to mark your calendar because Despicable Me 2 hits the theaters this July! Check out some other fun FREE Despicable Me Halloween printables including treat bag toppers and pumpkin carving stencils.
About the film
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster, Despicable Me, delighted audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In Summer 2013, get ready for more minion madness in Despicable Me 2. Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed film making team create an all-new comedy animated adventure featuring the return of Gru (Steve Carell), the girls, the unpredictably hilarious minions…and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.
Visit the official website
Watch the teaser trailer for Despicable Me 2
Like Despicable Me on FacebookI was compensated for my participation in this campaign. The crafts are my own creations.
What could be better than a fun and educational game that your kids like and you can also use as Halloween decor? One that you can make really easily and also sparkles! Lucky for you that is exactly what we made and will show you how to make. Thanks to Mod Podge for sending me just what I needed to make these monster blocks. They were a cinch to make and will do double duty working as a fun toy by day and as funky Halloween decorations after my little monsters go to bed.
- Gather your materials. You will need some wood blocks (ours were cut to 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″), pictures you want to use (download ours here), Mod Podge Washout For Kids, Mod Podge brush applicator, scissors, a wood file or sand paper, some paper plates, and my favorite material: sparkle Mod Podge.
- Start by cutting your wood blocks. My husband makes a rare appearance and somehow made exactly what I envisioned even though my description was far from exact.
- File down the sharp edges and sand so they are smooth enough for kids to handle.
- Cut your monster pictures out, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge on the wood, and apply the picture.
- Apply another thin layer on top. Let dry overnight.
- My son couldn’t wait for the final sparkle layer. We played, and he pummeled me at memory before I added the layer of sparkle Mod Podge.
- Add the sparkle – this dries fast! As soon as I saw how much it sparkled, I started thinking of all the other crafts we can make with this. Expect great things! Let it dry for at least a day before playing. If it gets tacky (ours was not tacky at all) Mod Podge suggests applying a clear acrylic sealer after the Mod Podge cures.
- Time to play. As soon as I showed my daughter the finished monster blocks, she couldn’t wait to play. I showed her where all the pieces were, flipped them over, and she surprised me with how many she matched up. Her excitement with each match was adorable to watch. Also, the big blocks were perfect for her hands. Many other match or memory games are on cards, and while she can flip the cards over, sometimes they get tricky and frustration ruins the fun. That didn’t happen with these monster blocks.
While browsing through the kid section of the gift shop at The Art Institute of Chicago I saw a fine art memory game that I wanted, what I didn’t want was the price tag, or the extra weight in my suitcase on the trip home. So instead I grabbed a few packs of Art Stickers ( for $1.50 each) and made my own. Memory games like this are great to teach basic game playing etiquette , good sportsmanship as well as an appreciation of the subject matter.
- Gather your materials. You will need some card stock, fine art stickers and scissors.
- Start by cutting your card stock into squares. I made 16 ( 8 pairs) which seems to be a great and manageable number of pairs for my son . Memory games have never been his strong suit so follow your own child’s abilities and you can always add or remove cards as needed.
- Pop the stickers on. I made the pairs match up with card color too as an extra hint for my son since I am trying to encourage him to play this game more without it ending in frustration over not getting it right away.
- All done.
- Flip over .
- Time to play.
- He made a match!
This game was a bigger hit this time than memory has ever been before, not sure if it was the color hint , subject matter or simply the right game on the right day. All I know is to keep trying lessons, games and activities even if they weren’t hits initially.
Books About Fine Art
Touch the Art: Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo is the inspiration for this post and my son’s new found love of Renaissance Art. The book is a board book with touch and feel aspects to it. The text is cute but not a story, each page asks the reader to do something with the touch and feel item . The real gem is bringing the art to young eyes. The book includes wonderful masterpieces : Girl with A Pearl Earring , Birth of Venus, The Arnolfini Portrait and more!
Katie Meets The Impressionists by James Mayhew is a art fairytale! Katie goes to the museum with her grandmother and before she knows it she is in the paintings and the world of the painters and their families. Katie goes from painting to painting gathering flowers for her grandma and exploring a world on the other side of the canvas. What I enjoy about this book is that it brings the paintings to life for readers and it shares the back story in a way that children can connect to and imagine the possibilities when they go to museums! Of all these books this one held my son’s attention the least. I like to think it’s because he’s not a fan of impressionism, but I think it was simply a little long for his not quite 3 year old attention span. Maybe if Renoir had painted garbage trucks… seriously though this is a fabulous book and worth a read!
Here’s Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is devoted to self portraits and the story behind each one in this fascinating book. This is a book for children older than my son who is 4 but I still showed him every painting ( all self portraits) and read highlights of the text which I found fascinating and can’t wait to share it with my kids when they are a little older. I read a lot of art history books for fun and I learned a few things reading this. I can’t think of a better book to couple with a lesson about self portraits for kids 6-12.