## Lily Pad Math – Subtraction Activity

We love math lessons and after going to a presentation all about teaching math to young children I am pumped for a ton of cool math activities for kids!  Nothing makes math more fun than using a theme and cool manipulatives. Even better than cool manipulatives are frugal ones made from dollar store items.  This whole activity cost me \$2! Best part is that because the lily pads are foam even using permanent markers I can write equations on both sides to get more bang for my buck. Frugal, fun and educational.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some foam circles, permanent marker , plastic frogs and scissors.
2. Start by cutting a wedge out of your foam circles.
3. Next add some equations. Gear these to your child. Do not worry about what your neighbor is doing or that your great aunt’s second cousins’ kid is multiplying at the age of 2  … everyone loves to share their pride in their kids and who can blame them?!  But all that matters is helping our kids learn at their own pace.  You can do equations like we did or you can simply write numbers and have your child place that many frogs on each lily pad.
4. Add the frogs and your child. I totally goofed and didn’t have enough frogs for all the equations but my son just borrowed from an equation he had already completed.
5. When we started my son was determined to do the math in his head. I immediately explained to him that in Kindergarten ( he is crazy excited about kindergarten) that he will always have to show his work, how he got to a number and to feel free to use the frogs, or his fingers.
6. He chose his fingers … and amazingly the math was a breeze after that.
7. Use proper math terms like equation, difference, subtract or the terms that fit the equations you are attempting.  Using the proper terms is part of math knowledge as well.

Although my son opted to use his fingers encourage your child to use the frogs for each equation especially if they are challenged by the equations. Fingers are great too but I find manipulatives even more effective than fingers for subtraction. Also when they move up to multiplication in later years using manipulatives like this are magic in my experience . If you do not have enough frogs simply present the lily pads one at a time.

## Books About Frogs

Too Many Frogs by Sandy Asher is a funny tale about a introverted Rabbit and a friendly Froggie who is a little clueless that he is imposing on Rabbit’s politeness when he invites himself over to listen to stories every night. Rabbit eventually breaks down and has had enough when Froggie brings his whole family reunion with him one evening to hear the stories as well. You will like how this story ends , the goofy but warm characters and expressive illustrations.

Wendy the Wide-Mouthed Frog by Sam Lloyd Like it or not, our kids will probably encounter someone who thinks they are better than anyone else (or they may go through a stage of this themselves). Wendy is a frog who thinks just that and criticises the other animals in the wild for not being as great as she is. That is, until she meets a squid. At first I thought, with Wendy poking fun of other animals, that the book was somewhat negative in nature. Although Wendy isn’t nice and does change her tune at the end (though doesn’t apologize to others for her behavior), the book does open up an opportunity to discuss how negative comments can make our friends feel bad. Wendy herself is a hand puppet which mom can use to bring Wendy to life but the kids will love the squid page where they too can stick their hand in to be the squid’s tentacles. This moves kids from being passive listeners to interacting with the book too. ( reviewed by contributing writer Carrie Anne)

Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson gave me goosebumps and made me want to give the author a high five. The little frog leaps away from mama frog going further and further away but leaps back home to his mama each time with then end being spot on with the text changing from ” then leap home to me” to ” when you leap back home , here I’ll be”. My heart was aching seeing the little frog grow so fast! I love this book. It’s got very simple repetitive text ( great for emergent readers!), the illustrations by Matthew Cordell are goofy and sweet. They match the text perfectly so they give great clues to readers who may be struggling with a word. As a read aloud this book is awesome , not only because the repetitive text has a great rhythm but as the little frog gets more independent and goes further from home the things he is leaping over are pretty goofy and will get more than a few laughs from any audience you are reading it to!

## Word Family Game

Reading isn’t the only way you can work on reading skills ( although please do read as much and as often as you can ! ) you can also play games to build skills and confidence. This game is designed to work on word family knowledge. Word families are groups of words that share common combination of letters and similar sound.  When new readers play with word families they become more confident as they see the common ending and can quickly read the new word. This game was great as my son read words without surrounding context successfully because of the other words in the family acting as a scaffold.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some magazines or family photos you can cut up, construction paper, double stick tape , painter’s tape, scissors and a marker.
2. Start by making your frames. Simply fold the construction paper in half and cut the middle out.
3. Next cut moms, dads, babies and kids out.  Tape them to construction paper making sure you leave room on the bottom to write the words under the people.
4. Cut out and write the words. The best list of word families I have ever found was here . I tried to do some words I knew he’d find “easy” and others that would be more of a challenge, his reading ability is changing so quickly I was honestly unsure of exactly what would be sweet spot for his learning. Do not be afraid to try something , you can change it as you go if need be.
5. I taped the frames to the table using painter’s tape. Then I wrote out the family name but when we do this again I will be leaving these off and instead placing one word /family member in the frame to start. These titles really confused my son . After he matched up a person into the family he was golden. I’d suggest skipping the names and just taping the frames.
6. Play.
7. He was unsure at first .
8. But he did it ! The confidence grew quickly.
9. Soon he was being his old goofy self saying ” Here is your Mama baby !”
10. The ail family was the tricky one for him and when he completed the family he exclaimed ” I did it!” which is music to any parent or teacher’s ears.

To make this simpler try having 2-3 family members already in the frames and only fill in the blank with a missing family member instead of having to create the whole family.

To make it more challenging provide the frames and family members with no family names ( an, ack, ail…) at the start. Let your child sort and group with no starting point.

## Books About Families

Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas: Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne is a wonderful book about grandparents who are raising their grand daughter.  There is no long drawn out explanation about where her parents are, or what led to her grandparents having custody and I don’t think there needs to be. They are her parents, love her, snuggle her, read with her and love her just like any parents.  She does wonder about her parents and shows signs of feeling different but the security and love her grandparents provide overcome those insecurities. The author’s note at the back of the book explains that she herself is raising her grandchild and offers more resources for grandparents who are primary caregivers as well.

Daddy and I… by Eloise Greenfield is a great little board book about the every day things that a toddler son may help his dad with.  From painting, to shopping to stopping for some hugs this book is great for toddlers to see all the things that make up being a dad and caring for your family. It also has a great lesson about children pitching in to help keep a family going too.

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee . The concept is simple but the results are wonderful. The book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do.  My daughter ( who is 14 months) points out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text . So maybe you are thinking ” What’s so great about babies and text that rhymes?” nothing, that isn’t what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of it’s diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families.  The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest most precious member with love . What I adore about the diversity of the illustrations is that readers are left to put whatever assumption we wish on the families in the book. What I assumed were two mommies my husband thought was a husband and wife, I thought a lady was a grandma and my son said it was just a older mom. This is why I love this book, my 14 month old doesn’t see why this message is outstanding, what she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all sorts of  families being the norm and this is the world we want her to know.

## Sea Animal Crafts & Activities

As our archive of kids crafts and art project ideas continues to grow I like to take a day each week (or so) to do a round up. They help you find what you need fast! Here are 15 sea animal crafts and activities for you to try with your kids.

## Listen & Find Word Search

Many moons ago ( OK 2003) I was student teaching the 6th grade ( yes most were taller than me) and I was teaching a unit on the book  Holes by Louis Sachar. I was reading the book to my students and losing their attention . To keep it I created a bingo game of words in each chapter. I’d hand out the sheets, they’d listen for the words and mark ones they heard. It was exactly what they needed to stay engaged and our discussions at the end of the chapters went from 2 kids to most of the class. Today I am sharing how I modified this for my son who is 5 and just starting to read independently.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, a marker, a book and a dot paint marker .
2. Before calling your child to play flip through the book and choose some words. I only chose each word once, and did one for every two pages so I could read it out loud to him at a normal speed without him having to stop too often to bam the paper. With one kid I just had a sheet to fill, not a bingo format.
4. It was a hit from the start . I will be doing this with many other books in the future.
5. Bam!
6. When he missed a word I invited him to look for it in the book.
7. Got it!

Making reading a game has been a big part of my son’s ease into reading. Still even now that he is reading well he doesn’t always want to read books to my husband or I opting to read to his sister or alone. Building confidence is tricky. Instead of forcing them to read aloud  when they don’t want to , play some games and let the fun build the confidence. After their confidence builds they will be much more apt to read aloud .

## Habitat Sorting

On the way to preschool a few weeks ago my son and I got to talking about foreign species of animals and how destructive they are to the habitats they invade. In that rather complex conversation I realized my son knew a lot about habitats but there were some animals he simply said  came from the zoo … it was time for some learning cloaked as a game. I finally got around to making this over the weekend and we had fun.

1. Gather your materials. I used construction paper and scissors for the paper habitat mats I made, double stick tape and a glue stick. You will also need a marker and lots of animal toys. Some of ours are bath toys that weren’t all the way dry… oops.
2. Start by cutting the sheets of construction paper in half , this size is perfect for the mats and then you can use the other half for the cut outs.
3. Decide which habitats you will make. I decided on jungle, farm, antarctic, and forest because of the animals we had on hand.  Remember to use the toys you have for learning, with some brain storming you can save money and play with all those extras that don’t get much use. My helper played with the animals while I brain stormed, with her goggles on of course.
4. Create. I loved doing this. If you have older kids see if they want to create this for their younger sibling(s).
5. Label them and call for someone to come play!
6. With my five year old I let him sort and when he tried to put the raccoon in the jungle I asked ” Have you seen racoons around here? Do we live in the jungle?” and let him answer and adjust. Always ask why because sometimes they have a darn good reason that may only make sense to them but it will likely open up a teaching opportunity for you.  Younger kids like my daughter can do an simplified version with only one mat and a simple yes or no sorting activity. I’d focus mostly on labeling the animals and their attributes at that age.
7. After he sorted the rest I took some and placed them in the wrong place. Asking why a monkey couldn’t live in the antarctic, or why a whale wouldn’t enjoy swimming in the pond in a forest. This forced him to consider why animals live in specific places. We also touched on domestication and how farms and zoos are different. It was the best part of the lesson and wouldn’t have happened without the sorting game as an ice breaker.

The Next Step

These are my ideas for extending the activity for children who are ready for it . The next step for this would be to purposefully put an animal in the wrong habitat and ask your child to write down a list of things they would need to survive in the wrong habitat. For example a monkey in the antarctic would need warm clothing, fresh fruit delivered, a enclosure built off the ice, maybe even some snow boots!  Let them make the list but make sure they answer why they need each item too!

## Book

A House for Hermit Crab is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one.  The book teaches about sea creatures habitats, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is  difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable.