learn and play independently: tabletop surprises week 2

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tabletop surprises week two


One rockin thing about tabletop surprises is that kids can learn and play independently. On their own time, when they’re up for it.

And that flexibility has been huge for us since our summer swim and dive schedule has been totally crazy for the last few weeks.

Another cool thing about creating these open invitations for exploration is that tabletop surprises allow: one day something free and crafty, another day something that is a little more thought-provoking and complex, an activity that requires a bit more time.

Survey says that these are a big win for us so far.

If the kids are game, I’m game.

This week, we used some math and reading skills, played with water and worked those fine motor skills.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Learn and Play Independently–Tabletop Surprises Week 2:

tabletop surprises button

Quick refresher: Tabletop Surprises are fun learning or creative thinking opportunities for the kids on our craft room table. Just sitting there.  Waiting for someone to come along and try ‘em out.  Open invitations to play.

Here’s what we did this week. . .

tabletop surprises mad minute math

math facts fun pens tabletop surprises -

  • Mad Minute Math Facts with Crazy Pens:  I am a huge fan of crazy pens. Added to anything, any sort of work, crazy pens up the fun factor by like a million percent. At least in my book.

So Mad Minute Math facts, paired with crazy pens– our bumblebee pens, some fun flip flop ones, and other crazy pens, were a pretty decent hit for the kids this week.

math facts fun pens tabletop surprises -

math facts fun pens tabletop surprises - 2

I use Mad Practice Sheet –a free website where you can put in any parameters you want, and the mad minute practice sheet is ready for you to print immediately. Love. It.

I printed several double-digit addition sheets, some single digit addition and subtraction, some multiplication, and some money problems. All free.

tabletop surprises day water fun

tabletop surprises day water

  • Indoor Water Fun:  My kids love playing with water, so all I did today was set up a few trays with–you got it–water.

I raided our small recycle bin and added some recyclables–small yogurt cups, play-doh ones, spice containers, and tiny glasses–that were clean and were waiting for a fun opportunity like this to arise.

I brought out some syringes that we’ve used before, and we were good to go. Ready to roll.

Added them to the tray, poured a little h2o in the big container, and that was it.  The novelty of playing with water in the house–in the craft room–where we normally have a no snacks, no drink rule made this activity especially fun for the kids.

tabletop surprises day magazine hunt cover

  • Magazine Reading & Magazine Hunt: Magazines are a great way to sneak in some meaningful reading time when you don’t have a whole lot of time to spare.

So I put out a bunch of magazines we had around the house–ones that my kids subscribe to or that we picked up along the way.

Along with the magazines, I had the Magazine Hunt cards out so that Maddy, Owen, and Cora could grab a card, hunt for what it asked for, and be on their merry way.  I think Maddy just grabbed a magazine and hit the couch.  Owen and Cora might have tried a card or two. Either way? Fun.

abletop surprises day puzzles

puzzle morning tabletop surprises

  • Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles: Simple. We were running crazy on Thursday, so three puzzles did the trick.

Only three: a 100 piece dinosaur puzzle, Melissa & Doug Construction Puzzle Set, and the Alphabet Giraffe puzzle.

puzzle morning tabletop surprises

puzzle morning tabletop surprises

puzzle morning tabletop surprises

These are puzzles that were small enough to fit on the table and were ones that we’ve had for a while. Old favorites.

Though the 100-piece didn’t get finished, the other ones were done and re-done throughout the day.

I think we found the Alphabet Giraffe puzzle at a yard sale years ago; the best $1.00 I ever spent because Maddy, Owen, and Cora have played with this for years and years and years.

 tabletop surprises day stencils

  • Stencils: We haven’t used stencils in forEVER.

So when I put these out on the table, I thought that either the kids would love them or totally ignore them.  They really did both.  Owen and Cora loved them and Maddy ignored them.

But I’m leaving them out over the weekend in case they feel stencil-inclined on Saturday or Sunday.

tabletop surprises day stencils
tabletop surprises day stencils

What I think drove the kids to the table, maybe even more than the stencils, was the cool paper I sent the stencils out with: frame paper from Melissa & Doug. Very fun–big sheets with a different frame on each page so that a masterpiece looks like a framed work of art even if it’s a simple stencil drawing.

That’s it–just a fun bit o’ learning for the week. . . got lots of cool stuff in store for the upcoming week because swim and dive are over!

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