Instagram Challenge – #ConnectANDCapture

connect and capture Parenting doesn’t have to be a drag. Yes, it’s hard. I am not going to tell you that it shouldn’t be. I think important things are usually challenging especially if you are doing them with your whole heart. BUT parenting CAN and should also be fun. My newest Instagram challenge is all about that. It’s about connecting with your kids during the easy playful times and  hard times when connections are harder to make. This challenge is to try to find that silver lining on the days when it’s not easy to as well as simply sharing those easy days when it is all fun to be a parent. Inspiring other parents to BE playful especially when it’s hardest.

Follow along with the prompts in order or bounce around. Tag me @allienoflashcards when you want me to comment on your photo and maybe I will feature it in a #connectANDcapture round up!

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Easter Egg Play Dough Tray Activity

easter play dough Finding that fine line between setting something up that is exciting and interesting for your child ( or students ) and letting go of how they decide to use it can be hard. You envision this awesome idea but when you let go of it and they dive in they don’t always use it the way you intended. Maybe they spend a fraction of the amount of time you expect them to on it, maybe they turn it into a completely new idea, or maybe they ignore it completely. Don’t sweat it. Let them create their own experience and let go of your expectations. Observe and see what they are learning from how they have decided to play with the materials you have put on the tray. I imagined wonderfully patterned Easter eggs like ones she’d been drawing for days before I created this Easter egg play dough for her. Instead what she learned was that if you dip and roll the play dough in the collage materials , they stick. I think her lesson was a lot more exciting.

Gather your materials. I put out a egg mold, some play dough, gems, buttons, and beads.easter play dough

Start by making your eggs. I showed her how to make one then rolled it back into a ball so she could make it herself.  easter sensory

After that she added a few things. Not very enthusiastically.  easter egg sesory

She made a few more.easter egg fine motor

Then her face lit up as she dumped the decorations out and rolled her purple egg in it. easter egg discoveryNow it’s fun! She then took out the pieces she didn’t want, leaving only a few pink ones.

easter egg free choice activity

The white egg was next. When she didn’t do it at all I asked her why ” I am leaving it for you.” So I made it the way I wanted to now that it was my turn and she praised me after noticing my patterns . She still got the lesson about patterns I was angling for and one about me trusting her choices. When we follow their leads not only do they have more fun but they learn we trust their choices and value their ideas. There will be times when we chose to push ahead with our plan for the activity but when you don’t have to be inflexible I encourage you to throw the plan and sit back and watch.

Easter Sensory Activities that you can touch, taste, see, smell, and hear!

easter sensory activities As a preschool teacher I get asked a lot about how I teach. One thing I usually say is that in my class my students explore with all their senses. This isn’t because of careful planning it’s just a fact. Young children use all their senses to make sense of what they are experiencing. Because that is how they learn we also have to teach that way. Here are 18 Easter sensory activities that are wonderful experiences for all their senses.

easter sensory activities

Marshmallow Easter Bunny – fantastic for touch and taste!
Texture Easter Eggs – explore how the materials feel so different!
Polka Dot Slime – feel it and be amazed at what you are seeing from Fun At Home With Kids
Sandpaper and Felt Carrot Puzzles – Feel the different textures and see the different shapes.

easter sensory
Shaving Cream Marbled Easter Eggs – use almost all your senses for this activity from Hands On As We Grow
Frozen Yogurt Easter Eggs Make them and taste them.
Easter Egg Sticky Wall – Fun sensory activity from Toddler Approved
Easter Egg Collages – explore silky and smooth textures with this ribbon craft.

sensory ideas for easter
Easter Sound Match – explore sounds with this fun game from A Mom With A Lesson Plan
Shaving Cream Easter Bunny – Get your hands messy with this great craft from How Wee Learn.
Easter Sensory Tub – Dig through spring with this multi-sensory activity.
Paint & Eat Easter Egg Waffles – not only for taste these are visually stimulating too!

easter touch and feel
Soft Cotton Ball Bunny – Make it and feel it!
Fancy Egg Shakers - these shakers from Mama Smiles are visually stimulating and perfect for learning about sound.
Marshmallow Easter Egg - children love the feeling, smell, and not surprisingly taste of these colorful marshmallows.

easter ideas for kids
Candy Play Dough – I can’t imagine kids NOT wanting to taste this from Kids Activity Blog.
Bunny Color Match – Bright visuals help make this activity a hit!
Easter Writing and Printing with Carrots – explore how carrots, taste, smell, and feel with this activity from Nurture Store.

LEGO Game – Roll, Build, and Create!

DIY LEGO game for kids LEGO is huge at our house. Even if some of their marketing to girls efforts miss the mark ( did you read this?), the toy is still amazing for boys and girls. LEGO is creative as well as great for spatial and fine motor skills. This LEGO game is super simple and my kids play it often building on to their creations or making new ones. What I love about this game that wasn’t really part of the design was that it’s a great way to kickstart LEGO creations. When kids feel like building but don’t know what to build this game acts as kindling and helps start the fire for bigger ideas. Of course players are also working on subitizing skills ( recognizing amounts without counting – on dominoes, dice, tally marks etc…)  and number recognition. If that is your goal you could use multiple dice for older children and have the add or subtract and match up the sum or difference to the numbered sections. It’s so versatile!

Gather your materials. You will need some LEGO or DUPLO , a divided tray or individual bowls, a die, and a permanent marker.

lego game for kids

Write the numbers 1-6 on the divided tray. Don’t worry you can use a dry erase marker to remove the permanent marker when you are done playing. boost creativity with lego

Fill the sections of your tray with different types of LEGO bricks. You can have your children help you sort them as well. Sorting is an important skill so any time you have to practice is worthwhile. I included a lot of mini figures because in my experience kids tend to create more stories with the figures and my daughter loves to make stories with her LEGO.

lego game for children

Once they are all sorted it’s time to play. Use the center section to roll the die and whatever number they roll is the type of brick they get to build with. lego game for preschool

She was into it immediately.lego games for kids Soon she had an audience and hearing her explain the game to her dad was awesome. lego game for families Understanding multiple steps is important and when she taught her dad she had all the steps down pat! LEGO roll and build math game

One of the great things about this activity is that there is no strict ending point. Kids can stop when they feel their creation is complete or pop it to the side and come back another day. Ours is STILL in our sunroom two weeks after getting it out. I find both my kids playing with it most days.