Friday, September 19, 2014

Apple and Pumpkin Mini Books

Sometimes, all it takes to get a kid interested in writing is a special book to hold their thoughts. My daughter spends a lot of her time at school writing in spiral notebooks or composition books. So, I thought I'd spark her interest at home with some special fall-themed mini books. These books are little, so they're not too intimidating. Plus, they're filled with lined paper to make writing easier.

Supplies Needed:
Red and orange card stock (1 sheet for each mini book)
  *Note: You can also use construction paper. It just won't be as durable as the card stock.
Lined notebook paper
Cardboard for templates

Before beginning, create a pumpkin and an apple template from your cardboard. Make it small enough that you can cut two apples (or pumpkins) on each sheet of paper. If you use a template, it will be easy to make sure all of your pages are the same shape and size. If you are unsure of your drawing abilities, search for simple clip art or coloring pages. You should be able to find something online to serve as your template.

Trace two apples on your red card stock and two pumpkins on your orange card stock. Cut each one out. Next, take 3 sheets of notebook paper per mini book. Fold the pieces of paper in half and trace one apple (or one pumpkin) on one side of your folded paper. Now you can cut all 6 pages of your mini book at once. I used this method to save myself some cutting time. 

Stack all of your cut-out pieces so that you have a piece of card stock on the top, 6 pieces of notebook paper in the middle, and another piece of card stock on the back. Attach all the pages together with your stapler. I found that one staple on the side of each book did the trick. These mini books are very simple to make and an older child should be able to do the process from start to finish on their own. I made the books myself because I wanted to surprise my second grader with a fun writing invitation.

To set up the writing invitation, I added the mini books to a small basket with a pencil holder full of a variety of pencils. I added a couple of index cards with some pumpkin- and apple-themed writing prompts to the basket. I love writing prompts because sometimes the most overwhelming thing about writing is choosing the topic. Writing prompts help narrow down the topics and spark your kid's imagination.

Apple Writing Prompts:
  • My day at the apple orchard...
  • My favorite things from apples are...
  • I planted an apple seed one day and...
Pumpkin Writing Prompts:
  • How do you carve a jack-o-lantern?
  • I grew the biggest pumpkin and I took it to the fair...
  • My jack-o-lantern came alive tonight...

What stories will your kids come up with? Happy writing!

For more writing ideas for kids, please follow my Reading & Writing Fun Pinterest board.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Domino Doubles Game

One of my 2nd grader's goals these first few months of school is to memorize her doubles addition facts. (Examples: 3+3=6 and 7+7=14) She's doing quite well, but we want to keep working on them so she knows them without hesitation. She brought home flash cards to practice with, but I didn't really want to use those. I don't want to make math boring! 

One of the ideas I came up with is this Domino Doubles Game. I've seen many similar versions of domino math on Pinterest and at my daughter's school, but I've created this version to specifically target the doubles addition facts. You just need to print the game board on a piece of card stock and find all the doubles from your set of dominoes. 

I've uploaded the game board I created, so it's easy for you to set up this game. Please click here to print the game board. I printed on card stock for durability, but plain printer paper would work as well. 

To play the game, turn all your dominoes upside down. Have your child choose one and flip it over. They need to count only one side of the domino, such as 5. Then, they need to figure out the double addition fact, 5+5=10. Finally, put the domino on the correct spot on the board. Game play is very easy, but it's more hands-on and definitely more fun than flash cards. 

If you don't have any dominoes, don't worry, you can still play the game. Just cut 10 rectangles from paper and create paper versions of the dominoes you need. You can also find printable dominoes by Googling "printable dominoes." Either way would work just as good as regular dominoes. 

My daughter has been playing this game almost every day after school and is having loads of fun learning her doubles math facts. Give it a try! It's much more fun than flash cards!

Are you looking for more fun math games? Come follow my Number and Math Pinterest board.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Sight Word Pick and Spell

If you have kids learning to read, you know how important sights words are to the learning process. I'm always looking for ways to make learning sight words fun. We've play Sight Word Islands on the driveway and now we're playing a fun Pick & Spell game, which is similar to Bingo. It's an easy game to play and a fun way to learn your sight words.

Supplies Needed:
Sight word game sheets (click the link to download and print)
Scrap paper
Manipulatives to cover your letters (glass beads, rocks, pennies, bottle caps, etc.)
A couple of willing players

To prep the game you will need to write each letter of the alphabet on separate pieces of paper. I had some leftovers paper circles from another project, so that is what I used. Put all of your alphabet pieces in a bag.

You'll also want to print out the sight word game sheets. I used the Dolch sight word list to create the game. You'll find all the pre-primer words, except for a and I, on the game sheets. (I will be creating game sheets to go with the Primer, Grade One, and Grade Two lists in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!) I chose the Dolch lists because that is the list my girls' school uses.

How to Play:
The game play is similar to Bingo. Give each child one of the sight word game sheets and a pile of manipulatives. Have one person reach into the bag and pull out a letter. When we played, I was in charge of pulling out the letters, but the kids can also take turns doing this part. After a letter is selected, each child will cover every occurrence of letter on their board. Continue on by pulling out another letter. Keep going until someone has covered every letter on their board. Yay, you've got a winner! 

This is a fun way to help your child become familiar with these very important sight words. The more fun and playful ways you can employ to teach sight words, the easier it will be to learn them. So the next time you want to review sight words, play a little Pick & Spell!

For more ideas to make reading fun, follow my Reading & Writing Fun Pinterest Board:

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Crayon Transfer Library Totes

*This post is written in partnership with Penguin Kids in celebration of the book The Day the Crayons Quit. They provided us with copies of the books for inspiration.

Have you ever read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers? It's a delightful book that consists of letters from all of Duncan's crayons who are ready to do something different. We love it! Penguin Kids invited us to join them in their month-long celebration of this book. The crayons have gone on strike! And, we've given them reason to come back and have fun with our crayon transfer library totes. 

Supplies Needed:
Fine sandpaper
Tote bag
Crayons (use your broken pieces for this project)

Before beginning the process, decide what you wanted to draw. We made drawings inspired by all the things the crayons wanted to draw in the book, such as black rainbows and pink dinosaurs and horses. Use your crayons to draw your picture on your sandpaper. I tested a couple of different types of sandpaper and found that the fine grit worked the best for this project. The coarse grit did not transfer our designs onto the tote bag well at all, so pick up the finest grit you can find. 

Color your pictures as heavy as possible. This is a great project to use up some of your broken pieces of crayon. The sandpaper will eat away at the crayons, so you won't want to use your brand new box. Also, note that because of the iron-on transfer process, if you want to write any words, you will need to write everything backwards!

Once you're finished with your drawing, slide a piece of cardboard inside of your tote bag. Then turn your sandpaper upside down and center it onto your tote bag.

Place a sheet of newspaper over top. We had scattered bits of crayon on the back of our sandpaper and I did not want that on my iron. The newspaper will protect your iron. Heat your iron to it's highest setting and start ironing over the newspaper. Move back and forth over your newspaper to transfer your drawing. You'll need to iron for a good five minutes. If you lift up your newspaper, you'll see wax coming through to the back. This is a good way to see if you're close. Avoid lifting the sandpaper until your design is transferred. Beware, the sand paper is very hot after ironing and will need to cool a bit before you can safely lift it. My girls helped with this process, but it does require close adult supervision. After your design is transferred, throw your tote bag in the dryer for about 20 minutes to set your design.

I hope our library bags convince the crayons to come back to work!

Do you want to join in the fun? There are two things you can do. 

First, Penguin Kids is sponsoring a Pinterest sweepstakes where you can win a $100 AmEx gift card. You can find the details here at this link. The sweepstakes runs through Sept. 30, 2014. You can also click on the blue crayon below to go to the official Pinterest board for the contest.

Not only that, but I've got some extra copies of this book to give away. Yay!! Thank you Penguin Kids for helping me spread the love for The Day the Crayons Quit

Would you like your own copy? It's so easy to enter. Just comment below with your favorite Crayon color. I'll randomly choose 3 of you to receive a hardcover copy of the book. Please make sure to leave me an email address so I can get a hold of you if you win! Sweepstakes ends Sept. 16, 2014. 

Giveaway now closed.
Winners are: Virginia, Emily, and Anonymous (krrk80)

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Salt Dough and Pony Bead Decorations

I love playing around with salt dough. It's a great sensory experience, plus you can create and keep your masterpieces. With this project, we tried two new things. We colored the salt dough before creating and added pony beads to decorate our designs. The results were so pretty!

The first step in the process is making your salt dough. We use a very simple recipe that your kids can make themselves. 

Colored Salt Dough
1 c flour
1 c salt
1/2 c water
Several drops of food coloring

Mix the flour and salt together. Add your food coloring to your water until your have your desired hue. Add to the flour and salt mixture. Mix together until combined. Dig in with your fingers to help mix. Once it's thoroughly mixed, remove your dough from the bowl and start kneading until it's pliable and no longer sticky. You can knead in additional flour, one teaspoon full at a time, if your dough is too sticky. Just be careful and don't add too much. Your dough can get crumbly very quickly if you add too much! 

This makes about 2 cups worth of salt dough, which is enough for several children. I cut the original recipe in half and made two batches of the half recipe, equivalent to one whole batch. I did two half recipes so each girl could have a different color of dough. Luckily, this recipe cuts in half very easily.

Once your dough is ready to work with (and your kids are through playing with it), grab some cookie cutters and a rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about a 1/4-inch thick and cut designs with your cookie cutters. Use a drinking straw to make a hole in the top so that you can string a ribbon through later. I've tried several methods for making a hole and have found that a drinking straw works best. 

Next, get creative with your pony beads. Squish the beads into the dough, but be careful not to push them all the way through. Use as many or as few as you like. We only had a package of white beads, but multi-colored beads would also be pretty. 

Once your ornaments are complete, place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. To speed up the drying process, put them in the oven at the lowest setting for awhile. I baked ours for 1 and 1/2 hours at 250 degrees. After baking, your ornaments may still not be completely. I always have to flip our ornaments over after they are done baking and let the bottom side dry. I usually leave them out overnight to finish drying. 

Once they are dry, add some ribbon and hang them up! You can string several on one length of ribbon to create a bunting, or you can hang them on a few bare branches to create a decorative tree. They're so pretty no matter what you do with them. Have fun and get crafting with salt dough!

For more kid crafts, you can follow my Kid's Crafts Pinterest board below.  

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 Are you looking for more art project?  Check out Three to Five: Playful Preschool. Get over 25 activities, 10 printables, and links to even more play-based preschool activities in this fantastic e-book. Purchase it here.