## Leaf Matching Puzzles

by Kim

Looking for a fun way to practice number recognition? Then look no further. Playing with these letter and number recognition puzzles is a fun way to get little fingers and mind active. This is an activity you will want to do ahead of time and have ready for the little ones.

Grab a piece of corrugated cardboard, a marker, and a pair of scissors. You can use posterboard or craft foam, but corrugated cardboard is so much thicker and it is easier for your child to see that they are matching the pieces up correctly.

Draw some leaves on the cardboard. Then draw a line through them. I like to do a squiggly line to help the pieces “lock” in together better. Now draw a number on one side of the leaf and dots corresponding to that number on the other side.

Cut out the leaves. This is the part where you will be glad you are not making these pieces with your children. Cutting the cardboard can be tricky because it is so thick.

You can also draw and cut out leaves with upper and lower case letters to match up.

*VARIATION- Math equations would offer a more challenging task for older siblings that want to join in the fun, too. For younger children (and ambitious caregivers) you could color the leaves for color matching.

Cut along the line you drew that divides the leaf.

Now divide your leaf pieces into two sections. One section with the numbers written on them and one section with the dots drawn on them, or upper case letters and lower case letters.

Watch your child match them up. It is fun to watch them match different ways each time. Sometimes my daughter would match by number recognition and then counting the dots. While other times she matched the shape of the leaves.

Any way they match is great practice for reasoning and logic skills. Putting the pieces together make great motor skill exercise, too.

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.

## Craft by Numbers – Christmas Tree

Do you remember paint by numbers? I used to love doing them but mixing the numbers up ( yeah I was that kid) my son however is all about numbers and this was a fun way to make something festive but also let his interest in math be spotlighted. You could do this with shapes, or letters too.  I didn’t tell him that the final result was a Christmas tree so it was fun to have him “decode” the craft as we went.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some pom-poms in different colors, cups to sort them in,  construction paper, glue and a marker.
2. Start by sorting your pom-poms by color into different cups, write different numbers on each cup. I wrote 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 on mine since we’d just been chatting about counting by 10s.  To have your child help sort the pom poms just put on of each color in one cup to use as a guide.
3. Write out the numbers on the paper in a design. I did green outline, with random colors and green in the middle.
4. Start gluing the pom poms on using the code.
5. hmmmm what could it be?
6. All done! Let dry.

Great Christmas Book!

a creature was stirring by Clement C. Moore and  Carter Goodrich  was a recent find at the library. Around the holidays ( any holiday) my son and I attack the stacks like soldiers on a mission and look for the sticker on the binding indicating it’s a Christmas themed book. This was one of the few we found yesterday , and what a find! The book is an adaptation of the classic ‘Twas a NIght Before Christmas with a little boy interupting the poem with his own rhyming story.  It’s an adorable story about a little boy who simply can’t sleep , wants to be good but is oh so worried Santa will think he is naughty. I adore this book, it’s simple and fun and a great addition to the classic that so many of us have been read and will read to our kids this Christmas.

## Santa Themed Math Game

One of the things I love most about blogging is how one post will inspire another and not just on the same blog but from one blogger to another . I wasn’t going to post this yet but when Kristina from Toddler Approved posted this Corn Roll  game that we inspired with our Candy Corn Counting I knew I needed to share this game. Also we have been playing it a lot, and not just because the tv is broken, because it’s fun!

1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, markers, marshmallows or even cotton balls, a die and someone to play against.
2. Start by drawing Santa , I couldn’t find a good printable with a beard big enough for the numbers. Which was good since my printer is out of ink anyway. So I drew the santas.
4. I put the sheets on clip board to keep them from blowing around, but you could laminated them or pop them on a cookie sheet with some magnets too.
5. The objective is simple you want to fill up Santa’s beard first but covering all the numbers with marshmallows. The way you do that is to roll that number on the die.
6. Roll.
7. Add the marshmallow… oh and look who is getting a little fine motor practice too. I’m so sneaky.
8. We ended up playing a few times and by request one was a boys against girls. My daughter even rolled the die for the girls’ team!

I love games like this because they use a few novelties like Santa and marshmallows but are still packed with learning not only math but about sportsmanship and good game play.

Christmas Morning by Cheryl Ryan Harshman  wasn’t what I expected , it was more. It’s written in the spirit of ” The House That Jack Built” and the text builds and builds starting with snow falling on a house as children sleep and ending with Christmas morning. What I wasn’t expecting is that the author tells the story of The Nutcracker , albeit a very simplistic version, in the rhyming text as well.  The illustrations of the Rat King is a little frightening but nothing that will prevent you from reading it.

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky is a fun and surprisingly practical story about Santa and how he developed the skills needed for his one of a kind job.  It starts with Santa as a young man and as he keeps bouncing from job to job he acquires skills like going in and out of chimneys as a chimney sweep with ease and without getting dirty,  develops a relationship with reindeer as a zoo worker and gets chubby eating all the food at a all night diner gig!  There are more but i don’t want to spoil the story. My son loved it, especially once the elves showed up, which was when the toys did too! I know when i was a kid I wanted to know how Santa got his job, and there are movies dedicated to this so this book  jumped on the bandwagon and did a great job , it’s very cute!

McDuff’s New Friend by Rosemary Wells was a classroom classic in my last year teaching. I think I read it every day for 3 weeks straight and then a few weeks after Christmas too! In it McDuff the little Westie dog saves the day finding Santa stuck in the snow! I love Susan Jeffer’s retro illustrations and the little details like the dad feeding the baby, the doggy sweaters the McDuff wears in the snow, and how Santa gave them all gifts they needed in the story .

## Gross Motor Reading Game – Pizza Delivery

I didn’t know what to call this game because it uses so many skills . The player needs to recognize sizes , sound out words for the street names as well as recognize numbers for the house addresses. Also it incorporates gross motor and balance as they push the car along the streets. Of course I wouldn’t be posting an activity like this without making adaptations easy. The street names could be turned to letters  such as  A Street. B Street etc… and the houses could be colors instead of numbers!  My son who is almost 5 loves this game, we have played with with friends and alone over the past week. The best part is that new street names and house numbers can be added so easily!

1. Gather your materials. You will need a patch of floor, painter’s tape, some construction paper ( I used black, brown , orange and yellow), a glue stick, a marker , white paper and some sicssors. Oh and a toy car , my son wanted one with space to actually put the pizza in it so ours is huge. Use your favorite.
2. Start by choosing the words you want to make into the street names.  The player will have to find the right address to deliver the pizza and will have to read all the streets they drive on. I chose to do all sm , sn and sp blends but any words will do. For us my son needed to work on sounding out so I chose words he wouldn’t be as apt to read by sight. Write them on white paper.
3. Glue them on black construction paper and cut out.
4. Next up make the houses. As you can see my goal is not perfection , it’s fun so as long as my son can tell it’s a house , I am happy.
5. Pop some numbers on the houses. Try to make some that are “easy” for your child, ones they will recognize immediately and some that are a challenge.
6. Time for pizza. If your child is gaga for crafts have them make the pizza while you do the previous steps. We made 6 total – 2 large, 2 medium and 2 small.
7. Don’t forget the pizzeria – ours is elaborate 😉
9. Place the streets and houses with numbers on the roadway.
10. Invite your player to come and deliver the pizzas! How to play:   Pretend to call the pizza place asking for any combo of the pizza sizes such as one large and two smalls.  Give them your address ( which of course is determined by the house on the street… so ours was #77 Smoke street ), then as they deliver the pizza they have to read the streets they use to get there.
11. Keep going until all the pizzas are delivered!
12. Switch up where each road is and move the houses around for the next round! This was such a hit we played for a long time.

The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza!

The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philomen Sturges is a great retelling of the classic story. Kids will be able to relate to this hen not getting any help for all her hard work. Luckily her friends realize their mistake and do the dishes after she shares her yummy pizza. Since originally recommending this book it’s made a move from the bookshelf to the dresser pile of books that are in rotation for before nap and bedtime reading. A sure sign it’s kid approved!

Pizza at Sally’s is another great look at a small business owner , and how she does her work everyday and feeds the masses with her yummy pizza! I like how it not only explains how to make pizza but it also looks at the ingredients and how they are grown and processed.  Of course it’s not explained in depth but it is explained enough to start a dialogue with interested preschoolers for further investigation.  My son loves the cat in this book, the same cat is in many of the other books but for some reason he particularly loves it’s presence in this one. It’s inspired me to make the dough from scratch with my son next time we have pizza!  A lovely book!

## Turkey Counting – Thanksgiving Math Activity

by Kim

Stores may already have winter holiday decorations out, but fall is not over with. There is so much more time to enjoy it. Here is a fun way to incorporate learning, crafting, and turkeys. Yep, turkeys.

You will need some construction paper, glue, scissors, and markers. For a reusable (and glue-free) version of this activity use felt instead of construction paper.

Trace circles onto brown construction paper. I used a drinking glass to trace. Make a circle for each number you would like to use in this activity.

Cut out the circles and glue them onto smaller sheets of colored paper. At this point you could have your child cut and glue. I prepared all of mine ahead of time because this activity was done simultaneously with 9 children and only me. Draw little wings, feet, and turkey heads on. At the top write the number for each sheet.

Now cut out lots of feathers in an array of colors.

Now your child can read the number (or count the dots) and set out how many feathers need to be glued onto the turkey.

Let your child start gluing away. With so many small children and just me, I used glue sticks.

Have them count out the feathers to make sure they have the correct amount. Then they can be a silly turkey themselves.

This is a fun activity that helps number recognition, counting, colors, sorting, you can even do the feathers in a pattern, motor skills, and is just plain fun.

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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