Being Together, Eating Together, Moving Together!

Active family

One of the best things about blogging is getting the opportunity to work with initiatives that matter. Together Counts™ is something I believe in and have grown very fond of since becoming an ambassador for them in 2012. If you have never heard of Together Counts™ check out their website for all the details but the gist of their mission is to spread the message of energy balance and to encourage families to eat together and get active together. I am thrilled to say I have signed on for another year of Together Counts™ and look forward to writing more about active families and energy balance.  TogetherCountsBadge

I am a huge promoter of the family meal as well as being active as a family as well being an active role model for your kids. I also think the idea of energy balance is such a wonderful way to teach our kids about a healthy lifestyle without falling into the extremes of dieting or being at the gym every day for hours. Check the articles I shared on the Together Counts™ Blog in 2013 , you might  even recognize a few regular little faces.

 Smart from the Start with Energy Balance

Let Them be The Coach

Bring Recess Home for the Summer

Spring into Activity

Get Crafty this St. Patrick’s Day

What is your favorite way to get active with your kids?

 

Flag Day Activity For Kids

patriotic activity for kidsToday is Flag Day and instead of sitting inside and crafting stars and stripes we are running and searching all over our yard for them. This Flag Day activity for kids is as simple as it gets but fits perfectly with the special day. After playing we talked about the flag, it’s evolution and what flags are for.  I plan on repeating this many times leading up to 4th of July as well.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a container and some flags. We got everything at the dollar spot at Target and as far as I know it’s all still there! We have 8 flags and a tin bucket.flag day game
  2. Hide the flags around your yard. I just pushed mine right into the ground. 4th of july activity
  3. Gather your search party.  flag daya easy activityI explained it was not a race that they are working together against the clock. This turns my super competitive 6 year old into a supportive team player and gives my daughter a chance to participate at a more equal level.
  4. Go! I used my phone to time although really they didn’t care about the time they just liked the hunt. flag day outside activity
  5. I spaced the flags out a lot.flag day race I wanted them to run as much as possible .flag day for preschool
  6. As they returned the flags to the bucket I had them count and my son figure out how many more we needed to find. See what I did there? Throwing in a little bit of math. flag day gross motor
  7. All in all it took three minutes and 43 seconds to find all 8 flags. Clearly I need to hide them better …. or give fewer hints. flag day outside activity for kids

 

If an inside activity is really what you are after check out these  Patriotic Crafts.

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Find & Rhyme – Gross Motor Rhyming Game

find and rhyme game for readingGetting my son learning after school isn’t always easy because he’s just been at school all day!  This rhyming  game was originally supposed to be a Frisbee like game with the hula hoops acting as targets but my dollar store plates were too light and even doubled up wouldn’t fly well. So we turned it into a hunt and my daughter came along for the ride and everyone had fun . You could adapt this easily for different levels using upper and lowercase as pairs to match, sight words ( writing out two and finding the match) or word families. Even though my almost 3 year old participated this activity is part of our Learning After School series . This series is filled with ideas for fun active learning after school gets out.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cheap plastic plates ( just don’t expect them to make good Frisbees… ) , a sharpie and some hula hoops.Rhyming Hunt for kindergarten
  2. Start by writing some words on the plates. I chose 4 words that offered lots of rhyming words.  Bake, car, band and hat.rhyming activity for kids with movement
  3. Write out as many rhyming words on the rest of the plates for each as you think will offer your child the right amount of challenge.  You can always have a few extra on hand to hide on the go if your child is into it and you want to extend it.
  4. Place the anchor words ( bake, car, band and hat) in the hula hoops.hunt and rhyme learning after school
  5. Hide the other plates. rhyming word hunt
  6. Get your kids ready – I had my son agree that he’d let his sister find her share and not zoom through and grab them all . He also offered up his reading and rhyming skills to help. I wasn’t sure how it would play out … if you are doing this with a number of children with similar rhyming and reading abilities a great way to do it is to start each child off with a different word and have them search only for words that rhyme with their assigned word. * Whenever I am explaining rules I start with a quick game of Simon Says. It gets them focused. hunt and rhyme learning after school game
  7. It was great. hunt and rhyme early literacy gameHe needed a reminder not to grab all the plates but one reminder was enough. They would find a plate, run over and match the rhymes. She got a few solo ( after we read them of course)gross motor rhyming game and he would do his in his head throwing them down fast. But then when she was stumped he took time to help his sister saying things like ” Do you hear they sound the same? Cake and bake rhyme.” It was still pretty much over her head but he got great practice being patient and teaching her.  You can see him stretching out the words for her as a hint. Best part is the plates store easily and you can add more when you want to play again. sounding out the rhymes - rhyming game for kids

 

Books That Rhyme

 

25 picture books that rhyme

Here are 25 great books that rhyme . When reading these books with your kids take some time to play with the rhymes , not every single on but a few. Be silly and have fun. Do things like use a synonym in the place of a rhyming word  in the familiar text. When your child corrects you explain that the word means the same thing. They will insist it’s still not right . Ask them why. Continue reading. Pretending not to know the answer and letting my kids answer for me always gets a good laugh and the lesson sticks as well.

Turkey Feather Hunt { Gross Motor Game}

This easy Thanksgiving themed game has been lovingly named ” Naked Turkey” at our house . It is so fast to make but the fun will last for a long time. Kids love searching for things and games like this not only works on concentration it also naturally leads to counting, color recognition and sorting.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clean jar, some orange or brown construction paper, some some, googly eyes , tape, markers and feathers.
  2. Start by cutting out a turkey torso. Think chubby bowling pin cut in half. Add a gobble, beak and glue on some eyes.
  3. Tape to the jar. I am taping it because I love these jam jars and plan on using it for something else after we are done with this game. As you can see my daughter was collaging scrap paper while I made it, or so I thought.
  4. Choose a spot in your house to hide the feathers. I do it in my living room because I can shut the doors and keep the kids out while I hide them. Also in a relatively small space a toddler won’t get overwhelmed. do what works for your kids. Can you see any feathers in this picture?
  5. Invite your feather finders and play! She loved this and so did my son after he got home from school ( but the light was even worse by then so no pics).
  6. After she found them all we counted them and sorted them by color, purple first of course!

Since making this on Friday we have played daily with no signs of getting tired of it. My son loves to be the hider and tried to stump my husband and I . I particularly love that the game isn’t too messy to play anytime no matter who is over for Thanksgiving dinner!

 

Move & Groove – Gross Motor Alphabet Game

alphabet for startersThis is a super simple alphabet game that gets kids moving and grooving while they learn their letters. This is part 14 of our Alphabet For Starters series, a series of alphabet activities that use play and exploration to introduce and learn letters. We did the game as a lower and uppercase match but you can adjust it for your needs and child’s abilities. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure if I was at the target level of learning for my daughter , I wanted it to be challenging but attainable so I enlisted her brother to help. He loved being her guide even though she only needed him a couple of times. Soon he had the controls and I went to warm up my coffee. Here is how you can make your own gross motor alphabet game.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper or card stock , a marker, painters tape and some good music your kids will dance to. Ours was Call Me Maybe . alphabet for starters no time for flash cards
  2. Start buy pushing some furniture out of the way and making letters our of the painter’s tape right on the floor. Don’t feel like you have to do all the letters. Every lesson doesn’t need to cover every letter. I admit I did mostly ones that were easier to make with tape. gross motor letter games
  3. Write the lowercase letters on the paper. ** Adaptations ** You can also write the same uppercase letters and simply have your child match them or for even older kids you can write a word and have them find the first letter.alphabet for starters
  4. Invite the kiddos. To have them start I have them find the first letter of their own names- hands on heads, eyes on me.
  5. Music starts and they dance !alphabet for starters
  6. Music stops and I hold up a letter.
  7. They find the match.
  8. Dance again! Match again.
  9. This went on for a long time and after it was apparent that my daughter understood and could do most of the letters herself my son wanted to be what he called the ref. So they played solo.
  10. I went for coffee and popped my head in every now and then. We’d play again but my daughter sneaked into the living room after dinner last night and tore up all the letters. Maybe sometime this week I will put new ones we didn’t have down and we’ll play again. It was a hit and both my 5.5 year old and 2 year old liked it which is not always the case.

50 Alphabet Books

Reading alphabet books has made a world of difference for both my son and my daughter learning their letters and choosing good, interesting and visually awesome books helps. These 50 alphabet books are my favorites . Many have themes and choosing a theme that appeals to your child is a great way to get more reluctant lap sitters or book listeners involved.