Southern Snowman

by Katy

We live so far south that we very rarely get to experience actual snow.  When we do get snow, it’s often not enough to make a snow man. Even so, there are lots of holiday songs and stories about snowmen, so I thought I’d show my son how snowmen are made with a little play doh.

I used black and white play doh for this activity.

I went ahead and rolled all of the pieces in advance. My son has a lot of sensory issues, so he’s not a big fan of play doh. I still run him through the motion of rolling the big pieces, but if he had to do it all himself, we’d have a meltdown before we finished.
So, we took each white ball, rolled it once or twice in his palm, and then stacked them. He was extremely resistant to the play doh with his left hand, so we switched it up and used his right–much better!

We then took the smaller black balls and helped him use his pointer finger to press them into the snowman creating eyes, a nose, and some buttons. We’ve worked on using pointer finger before, so this is a good  way to reinforce that skill. Overall, using one finger was much better than using his whole hand.

When you’re finished, you have a snowman guaranteed not to melt.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Real Life Angry Birds

by Kim

My house has been taken over with Angry Bird fever (the app, that is). I have it on my iPod, my husband has it on his iPad and his smartphone. It was bound to happen that my son caught the fever, as well. He has many educational apps on my iPod that he plays, but he wondered over to Angry Birds and got stuck.

So I decided to make it come to life, sort of. I grabbed various manipulatives that we have at our house.

I also grabbed some farm animal toys (to take the place of the green pigs).

Then I grabbed a toy to use in place of the Angry Birds (Mr. Potato Head Spuds worked great).

We created a scene constructed of different building materials.

I talked with my son about the differences between them. We discussed “flimsy” and “sturdy”. We also talked about chain reactions.

My son let the birds potatoes fly. The target was annihilated.

He made his own structure all by himself. He told me all about why he put animals in certain places. Some got their spots to protect themselves, while others were put there to use a throw (to get only one animal, instead of multiples). He talked about spots he wanted to hit that could cause a chain reaction, too.

I was so happy! He was listening. He was learning. He used his logic to make a video game come to life. He now asks to play his real life version more often than the app version.

I have to admit, the app version is a lot easier to clean up. ;-)

Do you let your kids play on your iPod/iPad/smartphone?

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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.

Map M – Letter of The Week and Geography Lesson.

Letter of the week has been a popular feature on our blog for a few years now, but it’s not so popular at my kitchen table anymore. My son has known his letters for what feels like forever so to get him interested it takes something special… like a map.  He loves maps, and will often ask us ” How do you get to Nebraska? How do you get to Paris? ” So we find the map and we decide if we should fly, drive or take a boat. I capitalized on that love to do this simple cutting and letter activity.

  1. Gather your materials you will need an old atlas or map ( you will be cutting it ), kid scissors, a marker, piece of construction paper and glue.
  2. Start by looking at a map . We looked at a map of the US since my son is into learning about states right now. Choose a state or country to check out. He chose Utah, we don’t know why but he loves Utah, like a lot.
  3. Flip to it if you are using an Atlas. If you just have one map to use, take some time looking at it with your child, look for different points of interest . This activity is as much a lesson to familiarize kids with maps and geography as it is one for the letter m.
  4. Tear out the page and write an M, if your child is able to have them write it. It’s easy to turn it into a block M by adding to theirs.
  5. Cut it out.  This will take time.
  6. Encourage them when it gets tricky. This was the most line cutting my son has ever done, honestly I was pleasantly surprised he did it all. He was pretty proud too.
  7. Add glue
  8. “Slam Utah down” His words. Let dry.

It’s an easy project but the cutting takes patience and builds skills , the exploration of the map sparks discussion and the letter recognition comes along for the ride!

Learning at Snack Time Too


While my son flipped through the atlas I fixed him a snack.  I knew which state he was looking for and was just thankful it was Utah, I didn’t have enough ham for any other state.

Alphabet  Books

ABC USAby Martin Jarrie is another beautiful alphabet book!  Like most alphabet books it devotes a page to each letter with vibrant illustrations . Not everything in this book is by any means unique to the United States but most are. I specifically appreciated the I for Immigrants page, both from a historical and personal perspective, my son loved the J for Jazz and we both loved all the whimsical illustrations. There are a lot of learning opportunities presented as well, school age children could really benefit from it as well the 2 letters that stood out for me for further learning were U for Underground Railroad and V for Valley Forge.  How ever you use this it’s worth a look for certain.


All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer was more fun for my husband and I than for my son but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a book of pictures, with hidden letters in them. For example the letter O is overpass with loops of road and hidden in it is an O. Some letters were easy to find some were hilariously hard. We read this to my son tonight at bedtime and while we stared at the letter H ( highway) picture debating where the h was, he fell asleep between us in his bed. This is a great alphabet book for families with children just learning and those who have mastered the alphabet. Oh and the debate was settled , we were both wrong. The final page highlights the letter in each picture in a compilation of the whole alphabet.

Leaf Rubbing Tree

Fall is in full swing around here, between the pumpkins creeping up on porches in my neighborhood to the bursts of  red, yellow and orange everywhere I had to make a leaf rubbing craft. I have to be honest my son was only kinda into this craft. He liked doing the rubbing the first few times and then after that the only thing he wanted to do was be the tape guy! We often put a craft down and return to it at our leisure, or sometimes ditch it forever. Forcing kids to do art defeats the purpose no one is creative or learning when they are forced to do anything.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper towel roll, some white paper, scissors, tape,  crayons in fall colors with the paper removed and leaves from your garden.
  2. Start by going outside and finding some fun leaves , bringing them in and pat them dry if needed.
  3. Place the leaves vein side up under a  piece of paper – for my son I taped the leaves onto a paper so they wouldn’t shift when he was trying to do the rubbing. This is where I lost him, after one exposure to the tape and well tape was all he wanted to do.
  4. Rub your crayons over the paper and watch the magic leaf appear! You can see I still had to hold his paper steady.
  5. Cut them out as you go.
  6. Time to tape. We used tape because it would be very tricky to glue with white glue and our glue stick was MIA. A glue stick would work nicely as long as you glued it horizontally and waited until it was dry to stand it up. 
  7. Attach all the leaves and stand up!

Books About Leaves

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert was the inspiration for this craft and will leave you trying to find all sorts of things like butterflies, chickens and fish in leaf piles. The book is about a leaf man who blows away in the wind and the reader is taken past all sorts of animals like chickens and ducks, past rivers filled with fish and butterflies in the air. All are leaves pieced together to make these awesome images , some are obvious, some take concentration to see the animal among the leaves. Wonderful creative book to welcome the changing seasons.

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber is a beautifully illustrated , informative book that all all about leaves in autumn. It’s not the most exciting book but is a good teaching resource and tool when you are teaching your child about the changing seasons.  I can’t say this is a must read, but it’s useful and worth a look at your local library and will probably make you and your children want to jump in a few giant piles of leaves!

Lucky Leaf by Kevin O’Malley is a funny book about a boy kicked outside and off his video game by a parent and his quest for a lucky leaf. He waits and waits for the last leaf from a tree to fall, even after his friends give up and go home. The story is cute and my son thought it was funny. I liked the comic book format of the illustrations and the little boy’s dog has some pretty funny facial expressions throughout.

Need more leaf projects? It was my theme of the week over at Craftivity Corner my FamilyEducation.com blog !

Halloween Math Activities

This month will be filled with Fall and Halloween crafts and themed activities . I had to post this one now so that all of you Target shoppers can get to the dollar spot to buy these Halloween erasers before they are gobbled up. I love using themed mini erasers for learning activities especially as  math manipulatives.

Halloween Graphing


Using manipulatives is a great way to introduce children to graphing. Explain that graphs help us see the answers to questions  . Also take the time to make predictions before graphing , such as which row will have the most , which will have the least?Ask them why? I am always fascinated by the reasons why my son makes certain predictions.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of white paper, a ruler, markers, some fun Halloween manipulatives, and a plastic jack-o-lantern container.  I think when you try to make everything themed kids get more excited and learn more.
  2. Start by making an easy graph. I used pictures and words to represent our manipulatives, my son is interested in the words but not yet ready to rely only on them.
  3. Grab the manipulatives you are using . I made sure to have 3 different amounts . Pop them in your jack-0-lantern.
  4. Invite your child(costume optional) to the table to start. My son dumped the erasers but taking them out one at a time is great too!
  5. Ask your child to make a prediction – which of the three designs do they think will have the most? Least? Why?
  6. Place them on the graph. 
  7. Keep going!
  8. Just by looking at them which has the most? Least?
  9. Count them to check.

Halloween Patterns


Patterning was one of my favorite preschool math activities to teach. I have found that if you sing song the pattern children have an easier time recognizing the pattern and start using that device themselves when encountered with a pattern they need to continue.

  1. Gather your materials. 2-3 different manipulatives like these Halloween themed erasers in a container, some sentence strips are optional but I like them because they give my son a frame for the pattern. When I simply place the erasers on the table it looks like I expect him to keep the pattern going to the edge of the table and the task seems much more daunting.
  2. Make some simple patterns .
  3. Provide a container and ask your child to keep the pattern going.
  4. If they need help try labeling the pattern out loud . For example saying ” Pumpkin, Bat, Pumpkin, Bat… what comes next?
  5. Keep going, if they are frustrated with the more difficult patterns scrap them and make multiple simpler ones. The goal is success and if it’s too challenging for them they will get frustrated and learning will be minimal.