Mining For Shapes

by Kim

My daughter is learning her shapes and colors. She is doing fabulous, but I remember my son having trouble with certain shapes simply because we didn’t talk about them as much. Let’s face it diamonds, ovals, and octagons (other than stop signs) don’t really come up that often. So I came up with this sensory box as a fun way to practice these shapes.

You will need scissors, craft foam, cardboard, aluminum foil, and black beans.

I drew some shapes onto the craft foam and cardboard. Rectangles on green (for emeralds), octagons on red (for rubies), ovals on blue (for sapphires), and diamonds on the cardboard.

Cut the shapes out and wrap the diamond shapes with small pieces of foil.

Pour the black beans and shapes in the bowl. I chose black beans because I thought it would look more like coal. It really makes the colors stand out, too.

To make it a tad more authentic for mining, you can cut strips of construction paper and tape them together to fit around your child’s head. Then cut a 1 inch section off of a toilet paper roll and tape it to the headband. I thought we had yellow tissue paper (very cute for the headlamp, but we didn’t). He’s still cute, I think.

You can give your child tongs, sifter, strainer, colander, or measuring cups. Try anything to make it feel more like mining. It’s all about having fun.

Every time my daughter found a shape I would say “Wow, you found a blue oval. Great job!” or the corresponding shape and color. We had a blast mining. My son had to play along after he saw how much fun my daughter was having.

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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.

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.

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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.

Snake and Worm Crafts

Ewww! Snakes and worms? Who would want to make snake and worm crafts? Kids! They love them . Here are some of our snake and worm crafts and activities for you and your kids to enjoy.

Shape Snake

Worm Painting

Snake S

Worm Hunting

Jingle Bell Rattle Snake

Worms in the Dirt Dessert

Shape Bulldozer Craft For Kids

Bulldozer craft for kids

I can’t take full credit for this craft, instead I must admit it’s inspired by an episode of Team Umizoomi ( a show I just love). I like crafts like this because it allows my son to manipulate the shapes , as you will see though his favorite part was the cutting step, it went on forever!  Even if your child isn’t into bulldozers find something they love and see if you can break it down into shapes.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper in 4 colors ( brown, black, yellow and green), some kid scissors, adult scissors, markers or crayons and glue.
  2. Start by drawing a square, rectangle, and crescent on the yellow paper.
  3. Draw circles on the black.
  4. Invite your child to draw a construction site. The older they are the more time they will likely take, don’t fret if they make a scribble or two and declare that they are finished.
  5. Hand them the brown paper and tell them that’s the dirt and they will be making piles so they need to cut it into small pieces. Mine cut. And cut. And cut.
  6. While they cut , cut out the shapes.
  7. Time to glue – woo hoo!
  8. Add your shapes.
  9. Add glue for the cut paper dirt.
  10. Add the dirt too and let dry.

Construction Books !

Machines at Work by Byron Barton is a bold and bright book that is perfect for toddlers who are obsessed with construction vehicles. The text is brief but effective. My son loved this book as an infant ,  at 2 he enjoyed reading it, as well as counting the workers and trucks on each page. Now at almost 4 he will still grab it and read it to his imaginary friend Sammy who ” can’t read yet”.  All in all it’s been well loved over the years !

Road Builders

Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy was a birthday gift for my son in November and he was not interested at first. Maybe because of the plethora of lego that was taking over our house… however it has since become such a favorite he recently “read” it to my sister’s dog. It’s a story all about how a road is built , explaining what the crew does, and how each type of construction vehicle has a different role in building a road.  I like that it explains the process from start to finish, in just the right level of detail for preschoolers.  I also like that there is a female crew member and her participation is seamless .

Construction Countdownby K.C Olson is a counting book that uses backhoes, dump trucks and cement mixers among other things to count. Before I even closed the book my son was signing for more. I read it 4 times since getting it out of the library today. A huge hit here!  <–  That was written in 2008 and now over 2 years later my son still likes this book and has grown with it, now doing the counting all by himself.

 

DIY Geoboard

by Kim

My son had these in his preschool class. I thought they were really neat and wanted to have one at home. Have you seen the prices of these? I know they are worth it, but if I can make one inexpensively…why not?

All you need are colored rubber bands, black paint (helps the rubber bands show up better), ruler, rounded tip nails, hammer, and a wood plaque. You can use any piece of wood, but the store bought plaques are already have smooth routed edges.

I bought the rubber bands, plaque, and nails at Walmart and spent only $5.50. Your prices may vary, but it should be close. Here are the exact nails I bought. I had a hard time finding adequate ones at the home improvement store.

I had my son paint the plaque black with a small roller. This provides a nice even coat with quick drying time.

While he was painting I marked the nails with a red marker. This way I could keep the height of the nails even. I just lined a bunch up and made one mark across then at once. It was very easy.

Once the paint dried I made a grid on the board of 1 inch squares. [When I make another one I will make 1.5 inch squares, to give a little more space.]

Then I hammered the nails until the red line was in the wood. This is what it looked like all done.

It looks a like a medieval torture device, but it isn’t sharp at all. It could still hurt someone if not properly supervised, though.

This is definitely for preschoolers and not toddlers. I would suggest supervising, at least the first few times it is played with.

My son had a great time with it. He was so excited and recognized this from his classroom. What a great way to practice fine motor skills and experiment with shapes.

We plan on making a few more for friends. They were such a hit.

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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.