Shoot & Add { Nerf Gun Math For Kids }

nerf gun learning activityThis outdoor math for kids can be done with beanbags, baseballs, water balloons… or Nerf guns like we used. My mantra is to use what they love to make them love learning and that is what we did. Nerf guns are big news at our house right now because I just relented and let my kids have them. Using the darts are an outside only activity although they are loved less for their shooting ability and more for a pretend play prop. Either way they are the bright shiny new and novel item at our house so I used them to make learning fun after school. My goal with all the activities in the Learning After School series is to make the activities for school age kids that are educational without making them feel like homework. Here is what we did with this math for kids activity and yes they LOVED it!

Gather your materials. You will need some plastic cups, a permanent marker, something to use to write down the tally, a nerf blaster , and eye protection. If you don’t want to use a Nerf gun you could use a bean bag or ball.  math activity for kids

Start by writing out numbers on the cups. We did 1-6 but you could number them anything you like. Set them up in a pyramid. nerf gun counting and adding

Get your glasses on and get ready! nerf gun backyard math for kids

Knock those numbers down!!nerf gun math gross motor activity

Add all the numbers on the cups together and record on the chalkboard. nerf gun math tally up

This activity was made for my 6 year old not my 3 year old but so when she shot them down I had her simply identify the numbers on the cups. I am planning on doing this again with her using a bean bag instead of a Nerf gun and the goal of hitting specific cups down. I will post it when I do. nerf gun math number recognition

Set the cups back up and go again. nerf collage 1Add the tally up. I did the addition for my daughter but got her to write some. My son did his own writing. It’s not a ton of practice but it’s a little something in the midst of a fun activity so I will take it! nerf gun addition

Like I said this was designed for my almost 7 year old not my 3 year old. She did well with it and had fun but I would never use this activity with a group of 3 year olds – nerf guns while safe to play with still hurt if you get one in the eye or at close range which is why they had safety glasses on. You know best what your kids are ready for but I just wanted to be clear that this is meant for our big kids !

 

Read & Draw Picnic – Comprehension Activity

read and draw picnic for kidsI love lazy summer days and trying to have a few before we all head back to school. This is such a simple reading comprehension activity and can be done with kids of any age. There is something awesome about reading outside, I love grabbing a blanket and some books and reading with my kids under a huge blue sky. This art activity takes that simple idea one step further by adding on an artistic retelling activity. I have been working hard to get my son to draw and write more this summer and drawing with his younger sister helps boost his confidence , lets him show her how to do things, and it’s made such a difference. Also his strength in retelling helps balance his lack of confidence in the drawing.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a book , some clip boards, a blanket and your art materials. We used paper ,watercolor colored pencils, water , paint brushes, and some water.read and draw outside book activity for kids
  2. Start by finding the right spot. We found some shade in our yard and spread out the blanket.read and draw outside art and literacy activity for kids
  3. Pass out the clip boards and art material.read and draw outside for kids
  4. Start reading. As you read encourage your kids to draw what is happening in the story or something that sticks out for them from the book. Their favorite part, the saddest or happiest part … they can or you can choose.read and draw comprehension
  5. Make sure to have extra paper on hand my son made 3.read and draw outdoor reading picnic
  6. After they are done with their art work as them about it. Instead of saying ‘ What is that?’ which could make them question their artistic ability as well as gibe a much shorter answer say “Tell me about your picture.” I have found that when we do activities like this both my kids end up retelling the whole story naturally which is an important part of early literacy development. It builds comprehension and because it happens very organically no one feels like they are being quizzed on a lazy summer day. If they don’t retell the story on their own try asking :
  • Where  did the story take place?
  • Who was the story about?
  • What happened to them in the story? What happened next?
  • How did it end?read and draw outdoors

Try having your child retell stories from time to time and if they struggle do it more often. If they are really not understanding what is going on try simpler books and  try asking these questions throughout the reading not only after finishing the book.

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picture books for retelling

 

All of these books have story lines that are clear and younger children can successfully retell the major events while older children could use them and retell in greater detail. These links are affiliate links.

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Nature Cuttings – Outdoor Scissor Skills Activity

scissor practice One of the great things about the summer is to take plain old activities like cutting and finding fresh ways of doing them outside. This scissor skills activity was inspired by a pin I saw from Raise A Boy and I re-worked it for our yard and my daughter’s love of picking flowers and plants out of our garden. Scissor skills develop differently with all kids. My daughter loves to cut things and we are trying very hard to get her to hold the scissors correctly- but it’s a challenge. In the photos below she is NOT holding the scissors in the proper way. Her index finger should not be in the handle of the scissors. Offer kids lots of practice with activities like this so you can work on issues like these gently with lots of time before they develop bad habits that are harder to break. Scissor skills work on building the muscles and coordination needed for writing so don’t shy away from cutting practice!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some kid safe scissors, a bucket, a bin or water table ( without the water) and a yard to gather things to cut. The goggles are completely optional though very fashionable. cutting practice
  2. Start by exploring your yard. cutting nature - scissor skills for toddlers and kidsThis step took a long time, we went all around our yard talking about the flowers that were blooming, the flowers that were dying, grass etc… take as long as you can with this step. Also if they aren’t into the exploring no biggie, there is nothing wrong with our kids not loving every idea we have. I have had many that never got blogged about because they didn’t get finished. It happens to all of us sometimes. cutting nature gathering the flowers
  3. Bring your spoils back to your water table or bin and dump them out. cutting into nature flowers and leaves
  4. Start cutting ( with your goggles on if you have them) . I like providing a few different pairs of scissors in an attempt to find the one that feels good in the proper grip. My daughter would hold them correctly at first then pop all three fingers back in the handle. It’s just going to take time and persistence which is always fun with a stubborn child…no clue where she got that trait!cutting into nature outdoor scissor skillsWhile you cut together talk about what you are cutting, explore with your senses. I invited my daughter smell many of the items ( especially the herbs)  and crush some in her hands and smell her hands. We talked about which things were easy to cut ( petals) and which were harder to cut like the stem of a dead daffodil. cutting flowers in the gardenI playfully asked her how her “pointer” finger sneaked back in that handle and she pretended to be shocked. cutting nature scissor skills with outdoor activity
  5. Leave the scissors and cuttings out and return to it later. My son joined in and they pretended to be in herbology class at Hogwarts. My daughter had no clue what that was all about but happily went along with her brother who could use some scissor practice too. scissor practice outside
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Flower Petal Placemats

fresh picked flower petal placemats craftMy daughter loves flowers , especially picking the petals off so I channeled that into a fun summer craft. These easy to make placemats aren’t only cute they are functional too. We’ve been using ours all week. The other thing I really love about this activity is that it gets kids outside exploring their garden. Another way to explore the garden is to go on a scavenger hunt or try our sticky window for flowers.  Here is how we did it.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a full sheet of construction paper or card stock , scissors, clear contact paper, and a bucket to collect flowers. You will also obviously need some flowers to pick.flower petal placemat summer craft for kids
  2. Start by folding your paper in half horizontally. flower petal placemats
  3. Cut the middle out so you have a frame. flower petal place mats for kids
  4. Send your little one off to pick flowers. Our back garden is very small so she can’t wander too far. I was able to get the contact paper cut and the back peeled off without her offering any help. flower petal placemat craft
  5. Place or frame on the contact paper. The sticky side should be up. flower placemat for kids
  6. Time to pull the flowers apart. My daughter loved this. She does it all the time and it’s great for her fine motor development. flower peatl place mat craft for kids
  7. Add the single petals to the contact paper. Make sure they are inside the frame. My daughter only wanted pink petals so I made a mat with some of the other petals she picked. flower place mat for kids
  8. After all the petals are added Add a second layer of contact paper and carefully sandwich the petals between them.flower place mat for kids Press. My daughter decided to sit on hers to press it. flower place mat
  9. Trim the edges and you are ready to go! flower craft

Books About Flowers

A-Gardeners-Alphabet

A Gardener’s Alphabet by Mary Azarian is a fresh and so richly illustrated alphabet book you will likely have the same thoughts I did while reading it with my son ” I need to frame these pages!” they are that awesome. What I think the main benefit of this book is , is that the words chosen for each letter are not the same old ones you see over and over in alphabet books. The words used are things like Japanese Garden for J, Lawn Ornaments for L and my favorite was Underground for U with a cool illustrations of worms, root vegetables and roots !

tiny seed

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle is a story about a tiny seed who unlike the other seeds from his flower makes it against all odds to continue the cycle of life. I really enjoy this book and love how it shows all the obstacles along the way for a simple little seed. My son liked this book but didn’t make it all the way through, which I expected since it is a long book for a 2 year old.

chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence, loosing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can’t relate to this? I know I can . Thankfully my son  has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience . I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author.

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Water Balloon Game { Learning After School}

outside learningMy 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 .

  1. 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. water balloon math
  2. Start by making the targets.water balloon math 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. water balloon math 2
  3. 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.water balloon math 3
  4. Set up your targets. water balloon math activity for kidsI added bean bags inside the page protectors to weight them down. water balloon math 4
  5. Get ready. water balloon math activity for kids 2
  6. Go! Read the equations, find the answer on one of the targets and throw!water balloon math for kids 1
  7. 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. water balloon math activity for kids 3
  8. After the game – play more! We ended up using all the extra balloons and running through the sprinkler before retreating to the house. aftergame

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.