Active play…

Active play is important for children, raising two kids in a small house can make it challenging on rainy days when going outside isn’t a practical thing. Yesterday was one of those rainy type of days where we stayed inside and played.

Something we do every day is dance, the best thing about dancing is that it’s free essentially we don’t have to buy anything I just put on music and dance with my daughter’s. We often hold hands and dance around in a circle, as my daughter’s laugh. I often play education songs in the background during dance time.

Here are a few of the songs we listen to often…

See it Say it Sign It
Welcome to the Zoo Count by 1’s
Going on a Bear Hunt

We make obstacle courses out of stepping stones and wiggle seats. In which I’m able to combine a physical activity in with a simple color practice by my oldest saying the colors out loud teaching her youngest sister color words.

My oldest plugging her nose as she pretends to dive under water.

My daughter’s and I play fishes and shark. In which we lay on our bellies on a the slippery blanket and have to wiggle away from each other. The rules according to my oldest is that a person gets a power up and it allows them to jump out of the water and run away from the shark. The power up option is for her whenever she chooses according to her game rules.

Besides physical activities we also incorporate some sort of art practice within our day. As I mentioned earlier yesterday was a rainy day, therefore we kept it fun and simple, by bringing out body paint and drawing on ourselves and each other.

Today my daughters helped me with household chores.

Helping clean under the couch cushion.
Taking a short cleaning break.
Time to vacuum.
Time to dust the walls and more vacuuming.

When we finished with our chores my oldest asked if we could count that as our exercise for the day because she said it was hard work. The great thing about my kids helping me clean is that it keeps them busy allowing me to actually clean the couches and get the floors cleaned, and it doubles as a physical activity.

I had told her yes that we’d count that as our exercise for the day because I knew she had a dentist appointment late in the afternoon, and she also had a reading lesson on the list for the day. After her dentist appointment my daughter’s played with Play-Doh shortly after that it was my youngest daughter’s bedtime.

These are great items to incorporate active play in a home with limited space like mine. My youngest loves the small slide sport activity center. My husband and I bought it around the time she turned 9 months old to get her to move and climb more. As her physical therapist had determined she was showing a slight motor delay for her age at that time. It definitely helped. Now she’s right on track where she should be for her age. Although she’s able to climb the taller slide we have and go down on her own, I often bring it out when she’s acting really hyper to use as a safe alternative to the bigger slide. When she gets real hyper and tells me no to helping her I’m always nervous she’ll fall off the bigger slide. Not that it’s a large drop, its still enough to raise concern, making the smaller slide a safer play option.

The body paint is something I bring out on days I don’t feel like thinking of a craft activity. Therefore I bring out the body paint and we color ourselves and each other, free drawing whatever we feel like. Allowing me to incorporate art in a fun easy non-plan ahead sort of way.

Listed above are some of the cleaning toys my daughter’s have that they love to play with and use to clean along side with me.
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Keeping it simple over the summer.

Since it is summer I’ve been keeping lessons simple and fun. I’ve been allowing for a more relaxed lesson based mindset that’s all about going over the basics to make sure my oldest is fully Kindergarten ready, and that my youngest is being exposed to important basic skills. We also lost power a few times over the last few weeks so we’ve just been finding things to do to stay busy and learn in fun hands on way that doesn’t feel like learning.

Playing with Play-Doh

I’m sure you’ve read or heard many times Play-Doh is a great fine motor activity. I know I have, even with that info I have to admit a terrible secret I hate Play-Doh it’s messy and it dries up and my daughters mix all the colors together. If I’m being honest the neurotic over paranoid neat freak in me dreads Play-Doh time because it’s messy and my youngest wants to eat everything. So of course I have to be on high alert and not take my eyes off her for a single second. Now your probably asking why would you share playing with Play-Doh as as simple fun learning activity if you hate it so much? The answer my kids love it, it keeps them entertained and I’m able to talk about shapes, colors, and talk about brushing our teeth and why with the silly head guy. I try to incorporate a Play-Doh activity once a week minimum.

Making and talking about shapes.
A drawing made by my oldest daughter age 5.

When I don’t feel like going by a rigid lesson plan sometimes I just draw shapes for my youngest as my oldest draws whatever she wants. Then I cut out the shapes as I say their names several times and randomly glue them onto a page, then my youngest tries to rip the shapes off. A fine motor activity. When dealing with a four year age gap, I have to stay patient and diligent, as I continue to find activities to do with both my daughter’s at the same time.

Cookie cutters to use to trace and create with. Yes my oldest wears Footy Christmas pajamas in the summer she loves them that much.
My youngest joining in on the tracing fun.
Made by my oldest age 5 using cookie cutters and then adding people in by free hand.

When my oldest was around the age of one and half I never would have brought out cookie cutters to trace with, I was super paranoid I never had given her toys to play with that weren’t for children under the age of three. Being as my youngest at one and a half has an older sister who has tons of toys for different ages, I’m more laid back only because she’s exposed to it. I’m still the same paranoid mom I was before, only now it’s much more difficult to keep things away from her when her older sister is bringing all the stuff out. If her sister is doing something she wants to be involved therefore she’s always right there in the middle of it all when we do arts and crafts using cookie cutters to trace with.

Rearranging our toy room so my daughters could use both side of their play kitchen.
Playing on the dollhouse side of the toy kitchen.

With my daughter starting Online Kindergarten in September my husband and I have been working on setting up a quiet place for her to do her online lessons. We determined it would be best in her bedroom that way we could store all the books we have to return in a safe place away from our youngest otherwise they wouldn’t be returnable. In order to get a desk in her room we had to do some rearranging and decided to get rid of her Barbie House in her bedroom and replace it in the future with a different dollhouse that she’ll be getting for Christmas. I took all the Barbie furniture that house came with and stuffed it into the dollhouse we have upstairs. For over a year now we’ve had it up against a wall and the dollhouse side unusable to save on space. They both enjoyed playing with the dollhouse together.

Using fidget spinners and linking blocks.
Sorting by colors.
In/out of the slipper.

My oldest brought out the linking blocks and colorful fidget spinners and began sorting them by color. After my oldest grew bored of the activity that left my youngest and I to play around with the blocks. I would place one inside the slipper and say purple block in the slipper, then I’d take it out and say purple block out of the slipper. Sometimes simple is enough when it comes to laying the basic building blocks of education.

Mrs. Potato Head, lets talk body parts.
Working on fine motor skills.
Playing along as I read Learning Colors with Nana Hedgehog.

It’s not often my youngest wakes up before my oldest. Yesterday she had because our power went out and that meant that I was unable to use the baby monitor to check up on her. Being an over paranoid parent I opened the door to check in on her and she woke up. It gave us some time just the two of us to explore and play.

We played with stacking rings, talked about colors and size; big, small pertaining to the size of the rings. We also played with Mrs. Potato head and I asked her to tell me what each body part was called as she put Mrs. Potato head back together. I also read Learning Colors with Nana Hedgehog to her as she played with different color hedgehogs and I helped her give each Hedgehog their correct color matching snack. She made eating noises and laughed as we fed each Hedgehog.

Hopefully some of these simple fun play based educational activities will either give you more engaging ideas to incorporate in your day or remind you of simple things you’ve already done to do again with your young learners. (I am a participant in Amazon Affiliates and any qualifying purchases made through links above I may earn a commission on at no extra cost to you.)

Life Cycle of a Frog

My oldest daughter wanted to know more about tadpoles and frogs. Therefore I decided to create printable activities and charts to create a week all about frogs that covered information about frogs and provided frog themed math and reading lessons.

Most the charts and activities I printed out I had laminated and placed sticky magnets to the back of to place upon our educational magnetic wall.
Life cycle of a frog Chart.
Life cycle of a frog magnets.
Words that are used throughout the frog unit.

For math I made a math activity involving frogs. It looks like this…

I laminated the activity for durability, and stuck magnets on the back of it. The subtraction and addition cards I laminated and cut out. I use it as a math game in which my oldest picks a card from the pile and I help her read the sentence in which she recreates using the frogs. I even added preposition words such as in, on and at. My youngest enjoys placing the frogs onto the scene and taking them off. I chose to add magnets to the back and place it on our magnetic wall, also we played with it on a magnetic board as well.

Cut and paste sequencing activity.

I included the above cut and paste life cycle of a frog sequencing activity that involves cutting out each life cycle stage and gluing them back in correct sequence order. Starting as an egg and developing into an adult frog.

My oldest daughter knows her upper and lower case letters most of the time. I believe in repetition and revisiting skills over and over again therefore I try to plug in alphabet practice often. Since our theme was frogs I came up with letter practice activities concentrated around the word frog.

One activity involved letter dots. The blue dots I scrambled the letter in the word frog hidden within other letters and had my oldest daughter search for f r o g and spell the word frog. I wrote the word frog on a piece of paper for reference. On the green dots I wrote the letter f many times. I asked her what letter it was and what words besides frog starts with the letter f. I also asked which ones were upper case F and which ones were lower case f.

Constructing the word Frog using alphabet beanbags.
Constructing the word frog using alphabet acorns.

I used alphabet beanbags and alphabet acorns as tools for her to reconstruct the word frog and to work on various letter sounds.

In order to incorporate a simple reading lesson into our frog theme I made five coloring pages all about frogs. I tried to keep them simple, informative and easy to read along with for early readers.

Enjoy the all about frog theme printable activities : ) please keep in mind all activities are intended to be done under adult supervision.
(I am a participant in the Amazon associates program and any qualifying purchases made through any of Amazon links throughout post I may earn a commission on at no extra cost to you.)

Updated Animals We See Outside Graphing Activity.

I recently posted a graphing activity I did with my daughters in which we marked down how many animals we saw outside and after coming back inside we went ahead and placed that data upon a graph. The first version had five types of animals one of them being bugs. I updated the original version and expanded the concept by making two charts instead of one. The first chart now has deer instead of bug as a category it looks like this…

The second chart has five different types of bugs to look for outside. It looks like this…

Before marking our data on the graph I went over what a graph looks like again with my daughter using our reference graph that I had laminated previously. It looks like this…

I laminated and used dry erase markers to reuse again later.
I laminated and used dry erase markers to reuse again later.
Simple math.

I used math link cubes and a dry erase board to do a simple math problem with the data we found. My daughter chose orange cubes to represent butterflies because we saw an orange butterfly and that was her favorite one. She chose purple cubes to represent birds because she says some times their poop is purple. I had her count the cubes as I wrote down the numbers and we talked about how many we saw total between butterflies and birds.

After we filled out graphs with the data we collected. My youngest as she often is was right in the middle of it all trying to get her hands on everything.

Rainbow Person.

My daughter started off with the butterfly category, and decided she didn’t want to leave all the other categories blank even though we hadn’t seen the other types of bugs. She went ahead and made a rainbow person to fully decorate her graph. I also laminated the graphs because I knew we’d do this activity again and I wanted to be a little less wasteful therefore I made the activity reusable.

If you don’t own a laminator dry erase pocket sleeves are a great solution. I often use them when I want to reserve lamination sheets. Also I often use them as storage and hang them on walls. (I am a participant in the Amazon affiliates program and any qualifying purchases made through links above I may earn a commission on at no extra cost to you.)

Teaching months of the year and days of the week to young kids.

Homeschool Calendar door with a rose made out of construction paper and tape made by oldest daughter.

In the process of preparing my oldest for Kindergarten I’ve been having a hard time finding an engaging and organized method of teaching her the concepts of Months, Days of the weeks, Seasons, and Weather. I’ve made her several Daily Activity Journals. In which had pages she was suppose to fill out daily in which she was prompted to circle the day of the week, month of the year and circle the corresponding number that represented which day of the Month we were on. I realized days later the attempt was a fail because I forgot the number 22. I was able to get her to participate some days, most days she’d roll her eyes and reluctantly filled out the page.

I tried buying a magnetic calendar to hang on the kitchen wall I was optimistic until the first week went by, and I stared at the horrid mess of numbers and months scattered all out of place all over the board, and down on the floor. I threw it away several months later when I had finally accepted it was a fail after my daughter looked at it with me explaining the calendar is a mess and to messy to play with.

When I set up our main homeschool wall I made a simple sheet to fill out daily. In which prompted me to ask my daughters which day of the week we are on, and to recite the months of the year to my daughters daily.

I’ve been debating on buying a pocket chart calendar that way I’d have something large and easily readable for my daughters to see and help me update daily. With the small size of my house and the limited wall space left I wasn’t sure if I could accommodate a calendar. Ultimately I went ahead and bought it placing it upon our front door. My husbands first comment was this is going to be a mess to clean daily. The youngest is going to take everything out of the bottom pockets.

Although he was right and the cards end up all over the floor it works much better than the magnetic calendar we had because the cards are large enough that they’re easy to find and durable enough they should hold up to typical toddler curiosity. As of now I really enjoy it as an addition to our homeschool set up. I’ve been trying to find items that helps my daughter accept a more non traditional approach to school. We’ve recently enrolled her in an online school that starts in September therefore I’m really trying to rethink our current set up to accommodate Kindergarten rather than only preschool. My husband and I wanted our daughter to get the best education she could in the midst of recent events due to Covid-19.

I hung the pocket calendar using 6 command hook clips. The calendar comes with storage pockets at the bottom in which I used to store the extra days of the weeks, months, weather, and birthday cake cards. The rest I placed in a bag that I hung on a clip above the calendar to keep the storage pockets form being overfilled.

The bag I used to place the extra pieces from the calendar in come in three color assortments, plain black, plain white, and assorted colors. I bought them in plain white because I often use them as present bags for my daughters grandparents. In plain white my daughter is able to draw all over them with fabric markers as an extra sentimental present to go along with their other presents. (I am a participant in the Amazon affiliate program and any qualifying purchases made through links throughout post I may earn a commission on at no extra cost to you.)