Shape Shake

This simple activity requires very few supplies. All you need are scissors, craft foam, yarn, a marker, and a hole punch (can use scissors instead).

First cut strands of yarn about 4-5 feet long. Tie them to something extremely sturdy, such as a doorknob. This yarn is going to see a lot of action. Make a strand for each child playing.

Cut craft foam in squares and punch or cut a hole. Be sure to make the hole large. Your children will be threading the yarn through this hole.

Draw shapes, letters, words, whatever you would like them to practice learning onto the craft foam squares.

Ask your child to grab the square that is a specific color or has a certain shape/letter on it. Have them thread the yarn through the square.

The best part of this activity is that it is perfect for different stages in development. I instructed one child to do colors (2 yrs old), while the other child did shapes (3 yrs old). Later on when my 4 yr old returned home from preschool I had him play along with letters.

Now to get some great use out of competitiveness and sibling rivalry. Have each child hold the end of their yarn strand with the square at their hands. Tell them to shake the yarn to get the square to the doorknob. Make it a race!

This activity is also great for one child, too. Use their determination (which we all know they have) to jump and shake that square to the doorknob.

Be prepared for a lot of jumping, wiggling, and giggling. This was so much fun for everyone, especially me standing back watching them burn off some energy while learning and having a blast.

PLEASE NOTE: This activity is designed to be parent involved. Do not use this activity as a busy activity while you leave the room. The long strands of yarn can be dangerous with young children if not supervised. You will need to monitor your children closely and be sure they do not wrap themselves with the yarn.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

Letter of the Week – L Love

For the past few weeks the most popular searches bringing traffic to my site have been “Letter of the Week” and ” Valentine’s Craft” so today I thought I would try to satisfy both and make a Valentine’s Day Letter of the Week. This L is super easy to make and fast too. You can make it easier with paint , or more complex by having your child draw pictures of the people they love instead of using photos.  The goal is to have fun with the letter so tailor it to your child and their favorite materials.

  1. Before gathering your materials, sit down with your child and ask them who they love. Find photos or have your child draw pictures of these people.
  2. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, tissue paper, tape, family photos, heart punch , red paper, glue and scissors.
  3. Start by cutting the cardboard into a L .
  4. I used gift wrap tissue paper to cover the L  but this was only per my son’s specific request. You can paint, color with crayons, glitter… whatever your child is into . Keeping crafts fun means keeping your kids learning and playing with letters!
  5. If you are using tissue paper tape it on – another big treat for my son, using the tape!
  6. While my son taped I trimmed the family photos.
  7. Next add glue for the photos.
  8. Pop them on.  Let dry.

Books We Love

Valentine’s Day by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell is a lovely book with a a cute twist. The story follows a class making special valentines for each other , some are very touching others goofy. The story doesn’t reveal who the Valentine’s are for. There are pictures of the same girl with the various students though so after a while you are clued into that they are for her we still don’t know why. I was so worried she was sick in the hospital, as it turns out the class goes to the post office to send it away to a classmate that is far far away! I like the idea of a class all writing to a friend far away, focusing on friendship and not candy! I also love any book that causes my son to say ” Let’s go see a map of where she lives mama!”

If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant is a great book for preschoolers because it doesn’t just focus on romantic love or love of a parent and child but rather love of all the things this little boy is grateful for. He writes little valentines to his family members, teddy bear, even the bird and tree outside. It’s very sweet and cute without making you cringe one bit!  My son loved this one , it was perfect for a 3 year old.

I Lost My Kisses by Trudie Trewin is cute story about a little cow who has lost her kisses! She looks everywhere for them, gives wonderful descriptions of what kisses are, sound and feel like but she just can’t find them. The thing is , is that she is picking her daddy up at the airport and has to give him a kiss when he arrives! Luckily her heart find them when she sees her daddy.  My son loved this book, he is an affectionate kid and loves to tease us that he is “all out of kisses” so this book was right up his alley! Very cute and I love the mostly black and white illustrations by Nick Bland.

While I’m Away Mailbox Activity

mommy mail letter activity for kids

Going away for work is never easy for kids or parents, but activities like this can make an anxious time a little easier on everyone. I will be going to a conference this week and both my son and I have been feeling increasingly anxious about being apart. I came up with this activity when we saw these mailboxes at Target and he begged m for it.  I hope this little mailbox and the letters I leave for him give him some comfort and something to look forward to every day while I’m away. We will also have our Kissing Hand Necklaces that we made last year .

  1. Gather your materials . You will need a little mailbox, paper and envelopes for each day you are away, pens/ markers and stickers if you want.
  2. Label each envelope with the day. I did it like this so that my husband who will place the letters in the mailbox every night knows which to grab, and it helps teach days of the week as well.
  3. Write the notes. I tried to hype up what he gets to do every day. I did this because every morning before we are even out of bed my son asks me ” Mama what are we going to do today?” One of the days I included money for him to take my mom out for lunch. He’s been learning about money so he’ll love getting to pay.
  4. Seal them up.
  5. Hide them from your child and get someone at home to play postal carrier by placing them in the mailbox every night so in the morning your child has mail.

Board Books – Not Just For Teething

My daughter loves going to the library with my son and me . She sits happily in front of me while I crane my neck to the side and find books that I could use in a post, or the lone fire truck book we’ve never borrowed before. But her favorite part by far is when we get to the board books where she can grab, lift and chew. So today’s post are a review of 5 books she grabbed and yes chewed at the library . She’s got pretty good taste!

Jet-Set Babies Wear Wings by Michelle Sinclair Coleman is a cute book all about traveling babies that is really more for the adults reading it than the babies.  It’s cute and simple but not really simple enough for infants or toddlers to grasp why adults like this book. That said it’s so important to read to your baby that I think there is a great market for books like this. If parents like reading them, find them amusing they are more likely to read to their babies who are still too little to voice obvious opinions. My daughter thought it was tasty and I appreciated the white text on black pages , the high contrast was obviously attractive to my 6 month old. There are a ton of other books in this Urban Babies Wear Black Series


In My Tree by Sara Gillingham is such a sweet book I wish my daughter would let me read it to her . The book is all about a little owl and what that owl does in it’s tree. The novelty is that the pages have cut outs in them and the owl is a finger puppet that is in the middle of the cut outs . My daughter who at the moment is 6 months old, only wants to grab and try to bite the owl. Do not let this turn you off, it’s such a pretty little book and my 4 year old loved it. Perhaps when my daughter is done teething I will read it to her again!

Beddy-bye, Baby: A Touch-and-Feel Bookby Karen Katz is a cute bedtime book for the baby crowd.  I like the rhyming text and that it’s a feel and touch book  but with the exception of the final page the textured pieces are too small . Fumbly flappy infant hands have a a hard time hitting the small textured sections. Ideally they would be larger so the child can explore as the adult reads. It’s not a huge complaint and I love Karen Katz so I would still recommend this book for families with little ones.

The Busy Little Squirrelby Nancy Tafuri is a great book for babies and toddlers. The readers follow along with a squirrel as she gathers nuts , seeds and berries for the winter. As she hunts for her treasure she encounters many animals who all make their respective sounds and ask her to play, of course she is too busy and continues on.  Even though the idea is not groundbreaking  I like that this book can be used to introduce animal sounds without simply sitting down with let’s say flash cards and teaching them to your toddler. Even if you have no real animals near by books like this one are a great way to authentically teach very young kids.

Bye-Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick is a great book for toddlers who are anxious about separation.  It goes through drop off time at school between a little girl and her dad. When I worked in a childcare setting bye bye time was a huge source of anxiety for many students, books like this one are such great tools for parents and teachers. There are wonderful tips at the back that in my experience are all great advice. This book is just one of many by the same author that are all wonderful tools for families and classrooms. My favorite being Teeth Are Not for Biting and Words are Not for Hurting

Alphabet Sensory Tub

Sensory tubs are great for all sorts of learning  and you don’t need fancy things to get your kids interested … but it’s so fun to give them a theme! This one is a great one for preschoolers who want to do a little more than scoop and pour. It’s easy enough to simplify using plain rice or beans ,  only the  larger letters and adding cups to fill and spill! Do not feel like you have to be directing your kids while they play with sensory tubs, some kids need it but most do not, just let them play. If they are older and looking for a game to play with it follow our instructions for the letter hunt .

  1. Gather your materials. For this sensory tub we used a handful of magnetic letters, some huge floor puzzle letters,small foam letters,  small letter beads, plain white beans a plastic dish tub ,  alphabet pasta. If you want to do the letter hunt game, you will also need an ice cube tray and some tongs.
  2. Start by putting the beans in the tub .
  3. Next the pasta.
  4. Now add the letter beads – my son was playing outside and came in to help.
  5. Next the foam, magnets and jumbo puzzle pieces.
  6. If you are doing a letter hunt place some letters in your ice tray for your child to find.
  7. Go for it!
  8. Found it!
  9. This was such a big hit that he pulled it back out later that evening.

More Fun with Letters

Fishing For Letters