gallon ziploc bag activities for preschoolers

gallon ziplock bag activities for preschoolers

The following rockstar guest post is written by Barb of  A Life in Balance. Barb has a ton of awesome ideas, and you should totally check out her blog. 

Gallon bag activities.

Plastic bag activities. Ziploc or Ziplock or Glad or store brand, it doesn’t matter. All you need is a large-sized plastic bag with a tight seal to totally rock these activities. Your preschooler will totally heart you. We promise.

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  • Gallon Ziplock Bag Activities for Preschoolers, by Barb Hoyer.

gallon-ziplock-bag-activities-for-preschoolers

 

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling was coming up with activities in a bag to keep my young ones occupied while I was working with my oldest son.

Since I had 2 and then 3 little ones to manage while homeschooling, I kept a wide variety of Bag Activities on hand, and we rotated through them to keep the kids interested.

Some of these ideas are perfect for car trips or to bring along to a restaurant when you go out for a meal. I’ve also brought a few to the sports field like the bubble solution and notebook with stickers.

At the preschool level, the emphasis is on developing fine motor skills during play. Many preschoolers like my youngest son are not ready for heavy academics, however, they still need to learn how to handle a pencil, cut with scissors, and learn the basics of color and shapes.

The beauty of the gallon ziplock bag is that many creative play-based learning activities can fit into them for easy access and storage. Use plastic shoe boxes to organize the activities by type, days of the week, or place (car, restaurant, sports field).

Here are some ideas: 

  • Shaving cream in a closed bag used for drawing pictures and shapes
  • Shoelaces or straws and large beads for stringing and cards with patterns for imitatingPaper towel tube and car to run through it
  • Tongs, 2 bowls, and stuff to pick up with tongs; same activity can be done with tweezers
  • Texture cards – felt, fake fur, leather, sandpaper
  • Magnifying glass with a few items for examining – rock, leaf, bark, patterned fabric
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Finger puppets
  • Shape cards for matching
  • Pom poms for sorting
  • Make Your Own Mobile kit – seasonal, interests
  • I-Spy soda bottle – shoe, key, dime, marble, lego brick, paper clip, birdseed, photos of items for searching
  • Blank book and stickers or roll of paper with shapes drawn on it for filling with stickers
  • Egg carton with items for sorting – nuts, bolts, beans, pasta, paper clips, buttons
  • Alphabet book – small booklet made of papers stapled together with a glue stick and scissors
  • Paper and scissors
  • Bubble solution and bubble blowing wands
  • Shape and object cards for matching together or matching to the environment
  • Playdough

Where to Buy Supplies:

Thrift stores and garage sales – Fabric for cutting up, seasonal items like ornaments, small plastic kitchenware, toy figures
Ikea – finger puppets, child-sized plastic dishes, utensils, cups and kitchen items
Dollar Store – Craft supplies, gallon freezer bags, kitchen items, paper goods, stickers, seasonal items, birthday treat bag items
Dollar bin at craft stores and Target – small notebooks, crayons, markers, stickers
Hardware store – nuts and bolts, small tools, measuring tape, chain

Thank you, Barb! You have fabulous ideas!!

is a mom of 5 kids who spends her day keeping track of socks, stuffed animals, library books, and a 5 year old when she isn’t writing about all the frugality, gardening, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the chaotic moments. She can be found at A Life in Balance.

Connect with Barb:
Pinterest | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog

Looking for more ways to teach toddlers and preschoolers? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

 

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

25+ playful preschool activities eBook

playful preschool activities ebook | teachmama.com

25+ playful preschool activities ebook | teachmama.com

For many families, preschool ends this week or next, which means that 3-5 year olds will be home, hanging around, and looking for some fun.

Preschool’s almost out.  Seriously.

And it means that moms and dads will need things to do with their kiddos.

Parents need activities that can keep those preschoolers’ brains moving, hands drawing, and creativity flowing. Activities that are easy and fun to prepare. Activities that count.

Parents need activities that will get those kiddos ready for the next year of preschool, maybe even kindergarten in the fall.

Woot. I have just the thing–and it totally won’t break the bank.

It’s an eBook filled with over 25 playful activities that your kids will love: The Playful Preschool Activities eBook, and it’s one thing that’s kept me busy this spring.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 25+ Playful Preschool Activities eBook: It’s awesome, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

It’s a super-amazing resource.

Tons of hands-on, play-based learning ideas all in one happy little place.

playful activities ebook

playful preschool activities ebook | buy now

The Playful Preschool Activities eBook features:

  • over 25 ideas for preschoolers;
  • great range of activities: hands-on, learning through play, math, language, literacy, science, art and play;
  • printable resources (including city scape play scene, My First Journal pages, recipe card, numbers game, weather chart printables, and more!);

25+ playful preschool activities eBook | teachmama.com

 

The Playful Preschool Activities eBook also features:

  • printable alphabet play mats, unique hand-drawn art pages, conversation cards, block building challenge cards;
  • reading comprehension bookmarks–so that you know how to make the most of your read-alouds!
  • additional links to over 50 more activities;
  • it’s only $8.99–so buy now!!

playful preschool activities ebook

playful preschool activities ebook | buy now

Some important bots o’ info for you: 

– You can buy the book anywhere in the world, and that Paypal will take care of the currency conversion.

– You can buy it now, on any device, and then download it when you are ready.

– Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system you might be able to go ahead and download the book on your mobile device, but if you have any doubts or problems, I recommend you use a computer to download the book and then share it to your mobile devices.

– You. Will. Love. It.

The amazing Cathy James–who is the mastermind behind this eBook–even made a trailer for it:

 

Check it out.

And really, I’m betting you’ll be super-happy you did.

It’s yours for a cool $8.99 (the cost of just one coffee and scone!). . . okay, or close to it! Either way, it’s a great deal for all the awesome you’re getting. 

And that’s it–just a little something I’m thrilled about and think you will be too! 

Any questions? I’d love to hear ’em!

easter egg pattern match game: for kids, by kids

easter egg pattern match teachmama.com

Easter is right around the corner, and we’re psyched.easter egg pattern match  teachmama.com

Not only does Easter mean egg painting and candy, family time and spring flowers, fresh starts and new hope, it means my kids get to spend some time with faraway cousins.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora are thrilled to see their little cousins who are much younger than they.  My kids are 10, 8, and 7 years old, and their Pennsylvania cousins are 3 years, 19 months, 12 months, and 4 months old.

So this year, as we relaxed a bit after a whirlwind Disneyland adventure (more on that later!), the kids put some time into a little homemade gift for their Keystone State cousins.

We worked together to make Easter Egg Pattern Match–a super-fun, made-with-love game for their 3-year-old cousin.  Matching. Patterns.

Perfect for a 3-year-old!

And really? Creating matching patterns was a fun mathy, brain-stretching exercise for my own kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Easter Egg Pattern Match Game–For Kids, By Kids:  These eggs are simple but full o’ love.

All I did was print out Blank Egg patterns, much like our Alphabet Egg Hunt–Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Match set but obviously without the letters.

I printed the eggs out on white cardstock, which I highly recommend so they are a bit more sturdy.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

The  BLANK alphabet egg hunt  are here to download if you’d like: BLANK alphabet egg hunt.

This afternoon, after our third tv show and hundredth game on the iPad, I asked the kids to meet me at the counter.

I said, I found a really cute game that we can make for our cousins and bring to them at Easter, and I think you’ll love it. Who wants to grab a marker, crayon, and some stickers and give me a hand?

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

They were all game, even though it was 2pm and we were all still wearing pjs.

We’re going to make a matching game for Wyatt–matching is a super-important skill for 3-year-olds, and you know what? If Wyatt knows that his cool older cousins made him a game, I’m betting he’ll love playing it.

So here’s the deal: just like the Alphabet Egg Hunt where we matched uppercase letters with lowercase letters, this game will be similar. But instead of letter matching, we’ll make patterns that match.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Your challenge will be to create matching tops and bottoms for our eggs, like this: (I showed them two really simple eggs I did, each with one sticker on the top and bottom half of the egg.

The pattern-making and designing matching eggs proved to be a bit difficult for Cora, but even Maddy and Owen each had one ‘do-over’ egg. Sometimes they made eggs that just mirrored the pattern, and sometimes the pattern wasn’t clear after the egg split–it didn’t start low enough.

So we tried to keep it simple for the most part, but we did add a few challenge eggs:

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

We wanted to have several eggs that had the same colors, basic shapes, and same layout so that our little loves would have to look just a tad bit closer.

We didn’t want to totally frustrate him, but we thought that his name and his brother’s name, written in similar colors, and stickers with similar shapes, or even two with farm animals or vehicles would give him an extra challenge.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

And after we were finished with all of the eggs, Cora and I matched them all up to make sure they worked. We checked patterns and we checked them again.

We eliminated some that didn’t work, and we included only the best.

easter egg pattern match | teachmama

Then Cora made a label: Wyatt & Myles Easter Egg Match. We threw the eggs in a plastic baggie, and we were ready to roll!

The kids cannot wait to play the game with their cousins!

Love these little ways that empower kids to create and teach other little ones.  The pattern-making and generating of top and bottom matches was a great brain exercise for my three spring breakers!

Just a quickie little something you can print out, bring to your Easter gathering, and have cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends create for the little ones of the crew!

Will these work for you? Let me know how your family will use them! I’d love to hear it!

fractions with FOOD: hands-on math

fractions with food

fractions with food cover

This post about fun with food and fractions is written by Jen of Beyond Traditional Math.

Hopefully after reading it, you’ll never look at food quite the same! Thank you, Jen, for your time, effort, and expertise!

____________________

  • Fractions with Our Favorite Thing…Food! by Jen

Before you first meet me, I should tell you that I am certifiably nuts about being anti-worksheets right now, so I am going to try to dial it back a bit to write this post.

This past school year, we adopted a new math series that is very heavy on worksheets and giving tons of practice problems. When we piloted the series, we knew that we’d need to supplement and scale back as needed.

It is difficult for me to expect children to work out between 30 and 50 problems a day.

I particularly struggle with this style of teaching when the concept is very abstract.  Right now, our team is introducing fractions, and I can’t tell you how difficult this is for third graders.

The idea of shading in boxes and naming fractions of symbols was so abstract that students had nothing to connect it to. It was actually making me crazy. The idea of doing it with 30 problems on a worksheet made me even crazier!

So I came up with a series of activities that would allow them to explore fractions with one of their favorite things: Food! (OK, I will admit it is my favorite thing, too.)

This change has made ALL the difference.  By cutting an apple in half, we could explore the definition of a fraction.  Then, we discovered the concepts of equal parts, numerators and denominators with a pan of brownies.

But my favorite activity that I believe was most effective is graham cracker fractions.  Instead of randomly coloring in boxes to show fractions, we laid a graham cracker down on a piece of paper and drew a symbol of it below.

fractions with food | teachmama.com

Now when it came time to shade in ¼ of the box, it made sense, because they had broken their graham cracker into four equal parts. When we eat a quarter of it, we can shade it in.

To extend this the next day, we took a graham cracker and transferred what we did the previous day to a number line.  This was the easiest it has ever been to teach fractions on a number line.  Again, since number lines represent counting, we simply counted by quarters instead of by whole numbers.

The best part was that when the graham cracker disappeared, they could still plot the numbers on the line!

fractions with food | teachmama.com

All things in math must absolutely be connected to the real world for students right from the start.

So often we jump right to symbols and numbers without giving them proper background knowledge needed.  This is truly a disservice to kids.  Helping them connect to real life (especially yummy snacks) will make us all successful!

 Thank you, thank you, THANK you, Jen, for sharing your math expertise–and totally cool idea!– with us!

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 9.29.25 PM
Jen is a third grade teacher with 8 years of experience teaching elementary students. Her passion is teaching math with a focus on conceptual knowledge through real world projects and rigorous problem solving. You can find more teaching tips and resources (and hear about how much she has learned from her mistakes) at her blog: Beyond Traditional Math. You can also connect with her on PinterestTpTTwitter, and Facebook.

 

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards, filled with more fab sneaky learning ideas:

Or check out the following math-happy posts:

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

toddler shapes: learn and play

toddler shapes learn and play | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

toddler shapes learn and play

The following guest post is written by talented and creative Australian homeschooling mom of two, Rachel Brown.

Rachel writes the blog, Racheous, where she shares Lovable Learning ideas!

____________________

  • Toddler Shapes: Learn & Play, by Rachel Brown

Learning and play go hand and hand, particularly during the toddler years!

I love watching my almost 2 year old explore the world around her – everything is new and exciting.

Similar to exploring colours with a toddler, learning about shapes begins with simple sensory explorations and play.

Then you can move forward to sorting, matching and more involved vocabulary.

 

toddler shapes: learn and play sorting | teachmama.com

 

Our favourite tools and toys for exploring shapes are:

 

toddler shapes: learn and play sorting | teachmama.com

Readers of Racheous – Lovable Learning, will know that we love DIY Montessori-inspired activities. I adapted our usual posting activities to create a shape posting game with my toddler. This is great for fun identifying and fine motor skills!

I first made a dice with a couple of our wooden blocks – one for colours and one for shapes (doubled up on each – circle, square and triangle; but you could include other shapes instead for an older toddler or preschooler!).

toddler shapes: learn and play  posting gameThen I explained to Lucy that we roll each dice and post the corresponding shape!

This was very challenging for her (she wanted to put them all in the coin box) as she is only learning her secondary colours now. This will be an activity we will revisit.

Shapes are the perfect starting point for early-mathematics. I hope you found something inspiring to do with your toddler!

————————————————

Thank you, thank you, Rachel! We appreciate your post and expertise!!

toddler shapes learn and play | teachmama.comRachel is an Australian homeschooling mama of two who shares many educational kids activities over at racheous.com.

You can connect with Rachel on PinterestGoogle+, Facebook and Twitter!

 

Looking for more ways to teach toddlers and preschoolers? Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

 

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

money poems, money songs: fun ways to teach kids about money

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originally published on 5.14.10

post contains affiliate links

 

 

money poems, money poems  teachmama.com

Maddy’s been learning about money in school. Pennies, nickels, dimes–and she’s been talking 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s like nobody’s business.

Add her big half-dollars from her Pap and the ever-busy Tooth Fairy, and Maddy’s money jars are growing along her knowledge of coins and money.

So today, while she was home from school with a pinkish eye (which didn’t even turn out to be pink eye–woo-hoo!), we poemed it up a bit. And sang a little. And some of it’s even on video.

  • Money Poems, Money Songs: Many thanks to Maddy’s awesome kindergarten team of teachers who sent her home with several of these money-poems a few weeks back.

Along with a few that I added myself, we sang money songs and read money poems between baking, playing, gardening, and (of course) tending to that somewhat sore, slightly pink eye.

I printed out the money poems, money songs sheet which you may certainly download. I didn’t even use cardstock this time, although I always think that’s helpful.

money poems, money poems  teachmama.comtwo of the poems: I Have a Shiny Penny & Ten Pennies
money poems, money poems  teachmama.com

Maddy cut out the piggy bank and coins, and I cut the opening for her. Unlike her excitement over decorating the Cookie Jar Poem pieces, she wasn’t too keen on beautifying her piggy bank. She was more into preparing to ham it up for the video camera, which I brought out after she read the poems a few times to Owen, Cora, and me.

Because Maddy had read some of these poems several times already, I brought out the video camera so she could watch herself do the reading. She was pumped–ready to roll–and once the camera started recording, she got funny and nervous. We watched her read two poems, and then she said it was enough.

money poems, money poems teachmama.com

Maybe she really felt uncomfortable with how she looked or sounded; I’m not sure. Maybe it was because Cora and Owen lost interest and started making flowers and sippy cups (don’t ask) out of Tinker Toys.

Either way, I didn’t push it. I was happy to have her home, happy to have her excited about reading the poems, and happy that she was looking forward to playing with her brother and sister. (From a distance, of course, for fear of them catching her pinkish-eye.)

money poems, money poems teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of these Money Poems, Money Songs I love, and some are just well, not my favorites. I’m not a fan of slant rhyme (thin/ten; coin/find), and I did take some liberties with changing punctuation or wording here and there. Be forewarned, and my apologies to the real poets, wherever they may be.

But I am a huge fan of the big re-read as an attempt to increase emerging readers’ confidence, familiarity with a text, and overall fluency. With shorter pieces, like poems and leveled texts, re-reading is especially easy and incredibly worthwhile.

It’s no secret that the best approach to supporting our emerging readers is providing them with a balanced reading program–one that promotes phonological awareness, fluency, phonics, reading comprehension strategies, and writing development on a daily basis (NICHD 2000).

Fluency is an incredibly easy element to work on at home, with our little learners, and there’s tons of cool ways of doing so. Whether it’s with a video recording, an echo read, a choral read, or reading into the ole mic, re-reading texts is important. Fluency can be increased through repeated oral reading with feedback and guidance (NICHD 2000); it’s just a matter of coming up with interesting ways of convincing our kiddos to pick up that book again. And again. And again. And then maybe one more time.

I know it’s something that I have been working on with Maddy for the last few months, and it’s something I’ll make more of an effort to share in future posts. Thanks for reading!

thanks for the inspiration:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching Children to Read: Reports of the Subgroups. (NIH Publication No. 00–4754. Washington, DC. US Government Printing Office.

Pressley, M., Gaskins, I.W., & Fingeret, L. (2006). Instruction and Development of Reading Fluency in Struggling Readers. In S. Samuels, & A.E. Farstrup (Eds.), What Research Has to Say About Fluency Instruction (pp. 47-69). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

 

Want a few more posts about money, money, money money!?

quick and easy addition game: finding addends

quick and easy addition game: finding addends | teachmama.com | math printable #weteach

quick and easy addition game |  teachmama.comCora has really been into playing math games lately.

That’s right. Math games. I love it.

Like while Maddy and Owen are doing their homework, all my littlest one wants to do is math.

So I’m doing what I can to run with it.

She came home with a Finding Addends game a few weeks back, so lately, that’s been in our rotation.

Finding Addends is a quick and easy addition game that gets kids thinking, practicing their facts, and flexing their mental calculators.

Though it looks like it came from a program or texbook, I mirrored the game and have it here as a freebie printable. Because some days Cora and I like to write in our own numbers instead of the game ones.

We crazy like that.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quick and Easy Addition Game– Finding Addends:  Super-simple premise here.

The idea is that players take turns flipping cards from a pile which have numbers 1-10 on them.

Once you get your number, you try to find the addends–or the numbers that, when added together, equal the number on the card.

quick and easy addition game | finding addends | teachmama.com

quick and easy addition game | finding addends | teachmama.com

Each player has his or her own tokens to cover the addends, and the winner is the person who has the most color blocks on the board at the end of the game.

No ‘tokens’? Use stickers (two different ones), coins (dimes and pennies), legos, cheerios, candy hearts, you name it.  Or just color in the blocks using crayons. No biggie.

Or something like that. I’m sure there are a million ways to play this, but that’s how we’ve been rolling lately.

quick and easy addition game | finding addends | teachmama.com

We’ve also played with mixed up manipulatives and did our best to cover each square of the board.

That works, too.

quick and easy addition game | teachmama.com

Want the Quick and Easy Addition Game to play today after school?

Download it here: addends game _ teachmama.com

It is a pretty basic download–one page is the board and the other is the set of cards. Print the cards out on cardstock so you can’t see through the back.

Or if you want to personalize your game, use the last two pages–they’re the board and cards but blank. Write in the numbers you need to work on, and you’re done.

So fun.

Looking for more super-fun, sneaky math activities?

Or check out the following math-happy posts:

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

using iPad apps to create

using the ipad to create teachmama.com

The following guest post is written by the amazing and incredible Susan Stephenson, of The Book Chook. Susan is my Australian friend who has tons of fab ideas on children’s literacy, learning, and more.

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using the ipad to create | teachmama.com

  • Using iPad Apps to Create, by Susan Stephenson

I love what the iPad offers young learners.

I’m especially excited about opportunities it gives to create their own content, whether that be in the form of text, images, video and other media, or combinations of these.

Creative thinking is incredibly important to children’s future learning, and finding opportunities for kids to create rather than consume via technology is fantastic.

Even pre-schoolers can create on the iPad, and an iPad Mini is kinder to little hands. The camera is a built-in tool that little ones love exploring with. Not only that, but parents enjoy viewing a child’s perspective on life!

Beginning writers can learn to send a picture to Grandma from the camera roll with some words that explain it. Grandma will love the contact and I just bet she’ll enjoy those invented spellings.

One app I discovered recently, ABC Spy HD by Stealth Education,  invites kids to use the iPad camera within the app. They find objects starting with each letter of the alphabet to photograph, then type the object’s name. To share with others, they make a little video within the app.

Other interesting apps where young children can use the camera are Eye Paint Monsters and Eye Paint Animals by Curious Hat.

Note: I am a firm advocate for limiting screen time for children. But I believe SOME screen time plus lots of time for stories, cuddles, chats, imaginative play and outdoor fun, makes for a balanced parenting approach.

When it’s time for screen play, think about the following apps for your preschooler or young learners:

  • Draw Along with Stella and Sam:  Based on the picture books by Marie-Louise Gay, in this app children choose shapes, decorate them and watch them come to life in very cute animation.
  • Little Fox Music Box: As well as delightful animated songs that kids can interact with and listen to, Little Fox Music Box encourages kids to record themselves singing and making music.
  • Night Zookeeper Drawing TorchThe Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch’s emphasis is on story. It encourages kids to imagine and draw creatures like spying giraffes, time-travelling elephants and singing fish.

 

UsingiPadAppstoCreate

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of apps that older kids can use. As with pre-schoolers, having them use the camera helps them to “look” at their environment from a new perspective, and become more aware of art elements like colour, pattern, texture and line.

Here are some other apps I like that I believe encourage children to create.

  • Strip Designer: Children often need to present information visually, especially if they need to show they understand something, or to explain it. Strip Designer is also a neat app for kids to use when they want to tell a digital story.
  • Moku Hanga: Image editors offer kids exciting opportunities to tweak photos they take. Moku Hanga has a “wood-block” look and it’s simple enough for older primary students to experiment with. It would make a great accompaniment for when kids try writing their own haiku.
  • Pic CollageMore than just a photography app, Pic Collage is a way for children to create a digital story. They could record a family outing, tell the tale of a lost tooth, or capture and caption their friends’ scariest Halloween costumes.
  • The Daily Monster Monster Maker: Here kids will find loads of opportunities to create by “blowing” paint, then customizing a monster and taking its pic, in-app. Incorporate literacy into the fun by encouraging kids to add speech bubbles and have their monsters “talk”. The pictures produced can be added to an app like Pic Collage, or Strip Designer (mentioned above) to tell a story.

Combining apps is a wonderful way for children to get even more from the iPad. The emphasis here is on kids thinking creatively, using apps and iPad as tools to express themselves.

By starting in one app, then continuing in another, children learn how to develop a work flow that suits their needs. The iPad is such a powerful tool for creation, offering kids many opportunities to create, communicate – and above all, have fun with it!

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these super iPad app ideas, Susan!! We love them!

SusanStephensonsmlCheck out The Book Chook blog  for educational tips and resources for parents, teachers and librarians. Find lots of free PDFs via www.susanstephenson.com, and follow Susan on Twitter,  Facebook,  Scholastic Parents,Google+ and ScoopIt.

 

 

 

Looking for more information about children’s learning?

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rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

musical hearts: reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game  teachmama.comThe snow and freezing cold temps has cause my three kids to be on energy overload lately.

They need to burn steam.

They need to run, jump, skip, hop, spin, and then do it all again.

They need to loosen up, wiggle out those wiggles, laugh hard, and be super silly.

So when I was looking for some cool indoor games for us to play in the down time between school and homework, I stumbled upon my dear friend Allie’s Musical Hearts game.  And like everything she does, it’s awesome.

When the girls and I were at the craft store this week, you better believe I added big foam hearts to our cart so that I could make Musical Hearts work for us and hold up for more than one game.

And it sure did.

I turned Musical Hearts into a reading game, a moving game, and a crazy-fun after school, burn-some-serious-steam game.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Musical Hearts– Reading, Moving, and Crazy-Fun Kid Game:

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

musical hearts | reading, moving, crazy fun game for kids - 03
I wrote my actions on the fly, thinking about what I both wanted my kids to read and what I wanted them to do. I wanted simple but fun. And I wanted Cora, Owen, and Maddy to be able to play.

My list of Musical Hearts Actions is here for you to check out, print, and use as inspiration: valentine musical hearts game.

It includes 30+ ideas, like:

  • Hula dance.
  • Do 5 jumping jacks.
  • Spin on one foot five times then spin on the other.
  • Do 5 pushups.
  • Hop on one foot 10 times.
  • Hug the person on your right.
  • Plank for 10 seconds.
  • Jump as high as you can—8 times.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

 

It took virtually no persuading for the kids to try out this game.

I said, Hey, you guys, after your snack I’d like for you to try out something that I found online that I think will be a lot of fun. I know you haven’t had recess outside lately, so this will get us up and moving.  Who’s game?

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.comMaddy’s nose was buried in a book, so she sat this one out–for a bit.Literally Cora and Owen dropped their snacks, jumped down from their stools at the snack bar, and found me in the kitchen.

Okay, so here’s the deal: We flip these hearts upside down and put them in a huge circle.

And then I blast some Frozen soundtrack and we play just like Musical Chairs–except this is called Musical Hearts. And there are no chairs. Instead, there are hearts with little messages underneath. When the music stops, you flip your heart and do what’s on the other side. Get it?

They did.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

 

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

We played and played and played.

And laughed and laughed and laughed.

Music on, kids walking on the hearts. Music off. Hearts flipped. Kids jumping, planking, spinning, and singing. Music on. Kids up. . . 

Maddy even ditched the book and joined us, and before I knew it, they were all overheated and burning some much-needed energy.

It got hilarious. And surprisingly, they didn’t want to stop.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game  teachmama.com

But after the millionth time, when I looked at the clock and realized that OHMYGOSH! we needed to do homework–ack! homework!–before we took Maddy to gymnastics, we had to wrap up the game.

But I’m betting they’ll ask to play tomorrow. . .

 

And really, that was that.

Just a really fun, super-cool way to get kids up, reading, and moving–and laughing!–on a freezing cold, grey winter afternoon.

Love this idea and cannot thank Allie enough for sharing.  The possibilities for adapting Musical Hearts are endless:

 

Want a few more fun Valentine’s Day ideas? Check out: 

how to throw a rockstar valentine's day party teachmama.com 2

 

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

game design for kids: innovation and creativity with #intelAIO

game design for kids innovation and creativity with #intelAIO teachmama.com

game design for kids innovation and creativity with #intelAIO teachmama.com

My kids have long been interested in electronics and technology, but only recently have they been interested in trying their hand at game design.

Right. As in my kids, 10, 8, and 6 years old, designing their own games.

Thinking about, planning, and creating games.  Plotting challenges, goals, and objectives. Making levels, sub-levels, and clues.  Trying to trick each other and be the one who designs the best of the best, the hardest of the hardest games.

On the computer.

Actually, on our Intel All-in-One PC. The one we’ve had the opportunity to explore and discover for the last few months.

As an Intel Partner, I’ve shared my experiences, when we first got the device and why I was thankful for it. And often on twitter and instagram I’ve shared shots of my digital kids doing their digital thing on our rad IntelAIO.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Game Design for Kids–Innovation and Creativity with #IntelAIO:  Maddy, Owen, and Cora have fallen hard for our Intel AIO, and it’s no wonder–it’s easy to use, and its touch screen mirrors the mobile devices they use every day.

But the AIO has really fostered innovation and creativity in my kids in new and exciting ways–the game design is just one. Their familiarity and comfort in using the device makes exploring new content online easier.

At Digital Family Summit this year, my kids participated in a totally fab Game Design Workshop, and I really think that it was here that the seed was planted for their interest in exploring this new side of technology: the creation side.

This workshop introduced Maddy, Owen, and Cora to Gamestar Mechanic.  Brian Alspach of E-Line Media and the creator of Gamestar Mechanic facilitated this hands-on workshop, and my kids were hooked from the beginning.

game design for kids: innovation and creativity with #intelAIO | teachmama.com

Gamestar Mechanic is simply “a game and community designed to teach kids the principles of game design and systems thinking in a highly engaging environment . . . it is designed for 7- to 14-year-olds but is open to everyone” (from the Gamestar Mechanic site).  You’ve got to check it out.

Kids can play, take courses (NO joke! It’s my summer plan for the kids. . . ), make games, and join a community of game creators. I love, though, that in order to publish your game and have others play it, kids must complete the course on game creation. So smart.

game design for kids: innovation and creativity with #intelAIO | teachmama.com
According to Owen, “Gamestar Mechanic is that site where you can make games yourself or play the ones they have.  It’s cool because I’m in charge.”

Game design requires innovation, creativity, and a new way of thinking.  My kids are stretching their brains like never before, doing things I never imagined they’d be interested in doing.

But the really fab thing is that what they learned at Digital Family, they could bring home thanks to our IntelAIO PC.

The possibilities are endless.

 Three cheers for our Digital Kids and for friends at Intel All-in-One PC for giving us the opportunity to explore this  rockin device.

 

#spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.

our cookie baking day: favorite family annual holiday tradition

holiday baking day cookies

Every year, one of our advent calendar activities reads: Cookie Baking Day!  annual cookie baking day

And what that means is that no matter the day–it’s always a surprise!–the kids and I ditch everything (and I mean, everything. . . ahem. . . ), don our aprons, and bake.

All. Day. Long.

My mom did this for us when we were growing up, and it’s one of my most fond childhood memories. It was special. It was crazy. It was busy and fun.

I knew that when I had children I’d do the same. It’s not hard. And when the kids are really young, baking one or two kinds of cookies is all we did.

As they get older, their roles in the day become bigger, and they become responsible for a bit more.

It’s a favorite family annual tradition.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Our Cookie Baking Day–Favorite Family Annual Holiday Tradition: Our Cookie Baking Day is a day we all look forward to.

It’s a lot of work, but in the end, we have dozens and dozens of cookies that we take to holiday parties and give to our neighbors as gifts.

Kiss Cookie Recipe 2013 Teachmama

Kiss Cookie Recipe 2013 Teachmama

The teacher in me looks at the day as an opportunity for some real-life reading, math, and science learning. The parent in me knows that the day is an opportunity for the kids to spend one special, unexpected day together, making memories and working hard at something that is important to each one of us.

Do the days always go picture-perfect? Um, no.

Do the cookies always look beautiful, taste scrumptious, and look bakery-fab? No, no, and no.

holiday baking day cookies -

holiday baking day cookies

holiday baking day cookies

Do the kids get along harmoniously, taking perfect turns and following instructions top to bottom? No and no.

Does the kitchen get totally rocked by the end of the day, like a small bomb exploded in our house? Absolutely.

holiday baking day cookies

holiday baking day cookies

There was the time that Maddy slid across the counter and sent the salt shaker splattering into our dough.

The many times, while the kids were learning to crack eggs, that eggs exploded like fireworks in tiny hands.

We’ve had milk spilled, cookies fall, and ingredients forgotten.

We’ve spilled bags of chocolate chips.

We’ve seen Brady steal aprons and oven mitts; we’ve experienced burns and power outages.

holiday baking day cookies

Some years are easier than others.

How we schedule our day:

  • Light planning: Before our Cookie Baking Day, Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I talk about what kinds of cookies we’ll bake that year.  Some years we try new kinds, and other years, we stick to old faves.
  • Big shopping: I take their suggestions into account and do the shopping for ingredients. Because the day is a surprise for them, I make the general cookie-baking plan. I hide the ingredients so no one notices.

 

holiday baking day cookies

holiday baking day cookies

holiday baking day cookies

 

  • Big surprising.  The kids wake and get ready for the day as normal. Then whomever’s day it is opens the Advent Calendar and reads that day’s Advent Activity: It’s Cookie Baking Day! Let’s bake, bake, BAKE!!
  • Serious baking. We start before breakfast, making one dough and refrigerating it. We make another dough and send the first tray into the oven. We continue all day long, through dinner.

 

holiday baking day cookies

 

holiday baking day cookies

 

holiday baking day cookies

 

holiday baking day cookies

 

  • Some eating. We break for meals while cookies bake.   Of course we test the cookies along the way. Come ON.
  • Light resting.  Really, the kids only rest for one show after lunch, and even then, somebody takes a turn to stay with me in the kitchen. When I say we work all day, we really do work all day.

 

holiday baking day cookies

 

holiday baking day cookies

 

holiday baking day cookies

 

  • Big sharing. We put many of our cookies away in tins, but one thing we really look forward to is assembling small packages of cookies for our neighbors. Not everyone–that would be crazy–but for a handful of close neighbors, we put an arrangement of our cookie-creations together in a pretty tin or container, and we deliver our sweets one day that week.  So fun.

Do you want to give the Annual Cookie Baking Day a try at your house? Sure you do! It’s totally not too late!

You can follow the recipe below for some kid-friendly recipe reading:

 

Hershey Kiss Cookie Recipe: kid-friendly recipe from teachmama by teach mama

 

And if you like this, check out our whole Holiday Baking with Kids eBook!  15 recipes your family will love.

holiday baking with kids eBook

Or check out some other fun recipes from our friends at Target–some new twists on classic faves.

How do you handle holiday baking? I’d love to hear:

  • what are your fave holiday treats to bake?
  • do your kids help in the kitchen?
  • who do you share your sweets with?

 

fyi: This post was created as part of my collaboration with Target, the #MyKindofHoliday campaign, and Target Inner Circle. As always, the thoughts and ideas are my own.  Target sent us a Ninja Gingerbread Cookie Set among other baking, decorating, and sharing supplies because they totally, 110% support our #mykindofholiday @target traditions!