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.
Dinner isn’t always peaceful at our house. With a 2 year old who pops out of her chair and a negotiating 6 year old who’s food taste changes more often than his socks it sometimes feels like it’s kids vs. parents. That’s not how I want to spend my evening and I don’t like to view my kids as the opposing team either . To change the focus from getting of her chair and getting out of eating whatever is on his plate we often play games. This Valentine’s day themed dinner table conversation starter does double duty as decor as well!
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam hearts in various colors ( dollar store!), a red marker, pen, ribbon and clothes pins.
- Start by writing the classic conversation hearts sayings all in uppercase letters on your hearts.
- Next write out interesting and conversation provoking questions on the opposite side. No yes or no questions!
- Hang your ribbon close to your dinner table. You could make a garland, wreath or even pop them in a bowl too. Get your kids interested in this before dinner.
- At dinner have a child choose a heart and read both sides. We went around in a circle giving our answers and letting others comment and ask questions about each answer.
- My daughter wanted to read too – we aren’t sure what her’s really said but she asked us ” You like candy?” We all shared our favorite types of candy . We will keep this up until Valentine’s Day and hopefully have as enjoyable dinners ( most days) as we did tonight.
A preschool board meeting prevented me from posting this when I had planned and we have now had 3 dinner with these conversation hearts. All have been fun, informative and really great family time. My kids have been racing to the table to be the one chosen to pick the first heart. My daughter has chosen the same heart every night but asks us new questions that we can usually decipher. Tonight I learned that my son loves a new book , my daughter loves her brother more than princesses, that my husband loves math more than sports and when it comes down to it I like reading about educational psychology more than art history, even if the pictures aren’t as pretty.
Here is the list of questions I included:
What is your favorite game to play?
What is your favorite subject to learn about?
What do you want to get better at?
What is your favorite book?
What is your favorite sport?
What character from a book/movie or TV show would you like to be?
What was your least favorite ride at at Disneyland?
What is your favorite food?
How old do you have to be to get married? ( My son said ” Well the law is 18 right? So I’ll stick with the law.” I almost choked on my dinner.)
What is your favorite room in the house to read in?
If you could visit any country in the world where would you go?
what do you want to be when you grow up?
This is another part of our learning after school series. I try to engage my son in fun things after school and when I asked him what he wanted to work on he said math. He loves math and comes by it very very naturally. His dad has a bachelors degree in engineering with a minor in math and a MBA in finance. Yeah numbers are well loved in our house . Even I love math although I didn’t always. It wasn’t until I was teaching it to students that I found the fun in numbers.
- Gather your materials. You will need a jar , some hearts ( any hearts will do – we used foam ones but paper, heart erasers, heart candies will all work), The printable found here and again below and a pencil with an eraser.
- Start by printing out the printable – click here or on the image for download. It looks grainy in the pdf but it’s clear when downloaded.
- Lay out the sheet, pencil and hearts and let your little math whiz at it. Of course this is more than just a math lesson. My son is working on writing numbers in kindergarten right now and this is my tricky way of practicing without making him write them over and over again. If the 8 questions are too much do 2 or 3 and put it away for a day or two and complete the rest after. Learning isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon so go slow if needed! He estimated, counted, sorted and counted and wrote some more.
Valentine’s Day is in less than a month and it’s time to celebrate love and friendship while being creative, learning a little about shapes and getting ( a little) messy. Here are 14 of our favorite Valentine’s Day Crafts that are all about hearts!
Princess Wand Valentine
Sorting Hearts Math Activity
Shake Painted Heart Valentine
Circle of Friends Heart Wreath
Musical Hearts Game
Hearts Playing Card Banner ( great for a math lesson too!)
Puffy Heart Wreath
Love Bug with Heart Wings
Heart Sun Catcher
Heart Filled Dump Truck Craft
We needed some extra happy cheer in our playroom after a week of cold, gloomy weather. My kids had fun making something cheerful for their playroom while working on fine motor skills, color recognition and counting. Oh and cooperative projects like these were always the very first thing I’d set up for my class ( and now my kids) when bickering started popping up. Working together has a great way of allowing them to work out their differences and feel like a team again.
- Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper ( or craft paper with double stick tape ) , many sheets of all different color paper, a heart punch, and markers in every color of the rainbow.
- Start by pinning the contact paper to the wall sticky side out. I prefer contact paper because it allows kids to change where they put a heart if they don’t like their original placement. I pop the paper on with the backing still on then peel. I find it way easier than putting in on with the sticky already exposed.
- Next punch out a whole bunch of hearts. My kids helped with some but I did most of the punching .
- Draw the rainbow with markers directly on the contact paper.
- Set up a heart station ( ours was a plate and a stool) by the contact paper.
- Let them at it.My daughter liked taking her time finding the exact right spot for each heart. My son liked gathering a handful of one color and adding them on in a bunch. Clearly they weren’t having any fun at all.
- My daughter fizzled out about half way through, if I was making this for just toddlers I’d make a much much smaller rainbow and maybe larger hearts as well. My son and I had a race to see which colors could be filled in first. I was reminded how much I love just working on something like this with my kids. It really does make you feel more like a team and is by far the number one reason we do projects together. He counted each color to see which won and noticed that of course the first few colors would have more than the last few. I love it when learning like that comes so naturally in a self directed way.
- All done. Now our gloomy winter weather can’t bring us down.