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!

quick and easy halloween ghost cookies

sweet spooky chocolate cookie ghosts

sweet spooky chocolate cookie ghosts

October has been an incredibly busy month for us, with me finishing up two classes on top of all of my other normal work.

However, our crazy schedule isn’t stopping us from having a whole lot of Halloween fun over here.

Our Halloween Banana Ghosts were a big hit way back when, so rather than stay healthy, I thought I’d mix it up a bit and really ‘up’ our sweet and fat intake and make Sweet, Spooky Halloween Cookie Ghosts.

White chocolate. Nutter Butters. Chocolate chips. Bam.

Actually, in all honesty, I wanted a quick and easy seasonal treat and I was craving Nutter Butters.  So that’s why we made them.

And because these cookies only need a handful of ingredients, there really is no recipe reading involved. But there’s a lot of basic sequencing with the repeated steps, so that is what I emphasized.

Cora was my helper, and by the time we were finished, yes we were covered in white chocolate, but we also had a full tray of fun ‘homemade’ cookies to share for Grandma’s birthday dinner that night.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Sweet, Spooky Halloween Cookie Ghosts:

Little hands are big helpers with these chocolatey treats, so be sure to gather your small helpers.

halloween cookie ghosts

You will need:

  • White chocolate chips
  • Mini milk chocolate chips
  • Regular sized milk chocolate chips
  • Nutter Butter cookies (or Vienna Fingers—any long oval cookie will work)
  • Cookie sheets lined with wax paper

spooky halloween cookies collage

1.  Prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with the wax paper.

Explain to your helper that you will need a spot to drop these sweet and spooky ghosts after they’re dipped, so you are thinking a head and preparing a spot for them.   The worst thing would be to have a drippy cookie with no place to put him to cool.

 

 spooky halloween cookies collage

2.  Melt the white chocolate chips.

I explained to Cora that when melting chocolate, it is really important to do it slowly and carefully. We didn’t want to place them in the microwave on high for five minutes or the chocolate would burn and get crusty.

spooky halloween cookies collage

Rather, we put the bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds, took it out and mixed it.

We put it in the microwave again for 45 seconds, mixed and repeated until the chocolate was totally smooth and melted.

 

She loved mixing the chocolate with the spatula and watching it become more and more smooth.

spooky halloween cookies collage

3.  Dip a cookie in the chocolate.

Easy as that.  Dip, twist to make sure it’s covered on the front and back, and place on the wax paper.

 

spooky halloween cookies collage

 

spooky halloween cookies collage

4.  Place the chocolate chip eyes and mouth onto the ghost.

We used mini chips for the eyes and regular-sized ones for the ‘BOO!’ mouth.

Cora did this job almost entirely by herself because her tiny fingers were better for the job. And of course I let her know that.

spooky halloween cookies collage

spooky halloween cookies collage

As we built our ghost cookies, I was careful to use sequential words like first, second, third, next, after, and last.

I tried to use words like before and after, left and right, top and bottom. Easy words I know she knows and covered in pre-k and Kindergarten but that I want her to use and remember.

halloween cookie ghosts

 

halloween cookie ghosts

 

I wanted to squeeze in as much meaningful everyday math vocabulary as I could, not only because it’s important for Cora to learn, but also because it’s great for her to use these words ‘in action’.  And really? It’s great for kids to have as much at-home practice of their at-school learning as possible.

For our family, some of the most fun and memorable learning has been done in our kitchen–over sweets.

Anyway, perfect no matter how much time you have to prep, these Sweet, Spooky Halloween Cookie Ghosts will sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.

 

Want a few more fall-inspired learning ideas?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

Or check out these popular Halloween posts:

paper plate puzzles: fun number learning for kids

paper plate math puzzles

paper plate puzzles: fun number learning for kids

The following guest post is written by mom of five, Annette of Tips From a Typical Mom.   Annette covers everything under the sun on her blog, and it’s all done well.  Check it out.

——————————

Hi Everyone!  I’m so excited to be doing a guest post for Teach Mama.

I am a preschool teacher, and one of the hardest things for me to find are manipulatives that have to do with learning numbers.  So I decided I’d make my own.

  • Paper Plate Puzzles–Fun Number Learning for Kids:

These cute paper plate puzzles are so inexpensive and easy to make, and your kids will love to play with them.  I have made them in black and white, so you can either leave them that way or color them.

You can print them with a colored background for easier matching.

My 2 1/2 year old son is just learning his numbers, so I colored around the outside of the printable so he could match the pieces easier.  He knows all the yellows go together!

Then I count the dots, tally marks and pictures with him and help him trace the number with his finger.

These are so easy to make!

All you need are:

  • the cheap flimsy paper plates,
  • glue,
  • scissors and
  • the printables.

Just print, glue, and cut.  You’re done!

 

 


Do you want to make Paper Plate Puzzles for your little ones?

 

Annette is a blogging mother of 5 over at Tips From a Typical Mom.

She is also a preschool teacher, photographer, soccer mom and loves her Paragliding Hubby!  She loves to share freebies, recipes, parenting tips, and household tips on her blog.

You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Annette  for sharing this cute and clever activity!

Looking for more activities that make math hands-on, fun, and engaging for your little ones?

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

Or check out the following math-happy posts:

What’s your favorite, hands-on way of helping kiddos learn numbers? Please share!

lily pad number game: get kids up, moving, and counting!

lily pad number game | get kids up, moving, and counting!

lily pad number gameThe following guest post is written by Emma Craig. Emma writes P is for Preschooler blog which is totally worth checking out if you have a little one at home!

———————————

It recently came to my attention recently that Kay does not know what numbers mean. Sure, she can count, but she doesn’t get that “8” means eight things. I believe the fancy name is 1:1 correspondence. Whatever the case, it’s something we need to work on.
So when I saw this Lily Pad Hop from Toddler Approved, I wanted to give it a try.

  • Lily Pad Number Game:

Kay isn’t usually one to just sit and work on numbers or letters – in fact, if it has the slightest whiff of being educational, she tunes out.

But this involved jumping! I cut out some rudimentary lily pads from heavy paper, numbered them 1-9 and bought new stickers for the occasion.

At first she started putting one sticker on each lily pad, but then I reminded her that “This lily pad needs 5 stickers. Can we do it?” Of course! She carefully counted and recounted until all the stickers were on.
Now, the fun part.

lily pad number game | get kids up, moving, and counting!

 

We placed them on the floor in the sun room. I’d ask her, “Can you get me the 6 and 7?” and she’d run to the table to bring them to me.

I heard her counting the stickers when she didn’t know what the number was, and I had to smile.

 

lily pad number game | get kids up, moving, and counting!

 

Finally they were all set out and – hopping time!

lily pad number game | get kids up, moving, and counting!

 

This was undoubtedly her favorite part, and I joined in too.

I do wonder what people walking by our house at the time thought when they kept hearing, “Ribbit, ribbit!” over and over again!

I think our neighbors are starting to expect strange things from us anyway!How do you and your children play with numbers?

****Looking for more super-fun, sneaky math activities?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards, filled with indoor fun ideas:

Or check out the following math-happy posts:

 

p is for preschool Emma Craig is a stay-at-home mom to 4-year-old Kay. They keep busy through the day, all while sneaking in a little learning along the way. You can read more at: http://pisforpreschooler.weebly.com/p-is-for-preschooler-blog.html

lego baseball: creative math game for kids, by kids

lego baseball | sneaky, creative math fun

post contains affiliate links

 

lego baseball | super sneaky totally creative math fun

 

The following guest post is written by Heather Kauffman. Heather is a teacher and mom of three boys, a longtime we teach member, one of my dearest, closest pals.

———————————

I am the mother of three super-duper boys.  Boys who like to wrestle, play with light sabers, and generally participate in any activity that involves yelling and sweat.  My kids work up a sweat playing the Wii in the basement.

They get hot and sweaty playing the LEGO Baseball game they invented because they jump around and get excited when their “player” gets a home run or makes a diving catch.

What’s that, you say?  LEGO Baseball?  I am quite proud of my creative kids who invented a game using their baseball cards, a pair of dice, and their imagination.  The game can also be played with LEGO minifigures (or guys, as we call them) instead of baseball cards.

I will explain the basic rules for the game with baseball cards and how to also play the game with LEGOS.

My kids have their baseball cards organized in these simple notebooks.

I got the card protectors from Amazon.com and the notebooks from our dusty closet.  Once they have their cards sorted (mine sort by team) they go through and pick out the players they want for their game.

lego baseball | sneaky math funPlayers can be from any team but usually only one per position. Here are the nine positions you need for baseball:  catcher, pitcher, 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, short stop, right field, center field, left field.  Sometimes the boys will pick out an extra pitcher as a “reliever” or an extra batter for a Designated Hitter.  That’s optional.

Once each kid has their nine players, they prep for the game.  Flip a coin to see who is the home team.  The home team will pitch first.  They have created paper bases and a paper pitching mound.  The cards for the home team are placed on the field in the spots they are filling.  For example, put the first baseman’s card next to first base.

The away team makes their batting lineup.

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

Once the defensive players have been placed in the correct spots and the batters are ready, it’s time to start the game.  Grab the two dice and the sheet that shows the plays you can roll.

Roll the dice and add them together.  In this example, a 4 was rolled.  That means the batter gets a single.  Use the dice as the ball and the batter “hits” the dice and heads to first base.

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

Play until one team gets 3 outs.  Then switch.

It’s amazing how many times the boys have adjusted which play is assigned to each sum of the dice.  They quickly discovered that the rare plays in baseball, like a triple, should have a sum that doesn’t show up that often.

More common plays, like a single or an out, correlate to a sum that will appear more often.  Sounds like a lesson in probability, right?  I am pretty sure they didn’t think they were doing math problems and playing baseball at the same time, but they were!

My kids are baseball players.  When they play this game, they REALLY act it out. In fact, when the youngest (who is 5) wanted to play the older two instructed him he had to act it out really well to be able to play.  If your player makes a diving catch, you pick up that card and make it look real!  Not only do they line up their batters in a strategic order, theyalso have an on-deck circle.

To play with LEGOS, the rules are the same.  Pick out nine of your favorite LEGO dudes along with various weapons that can be used as bats (light sabers, axes, swords).

 

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

Set out LEGO bases and a pitching mound.

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

My kids have also created “fans” who are watching the game.

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

Check out the pitcher. . . lego baseball | sneaky math fun

 

. . . and the batter getting ready to use his light saber!

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

They use the scoreboard from their box of Baseball Guys.

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

And don’t forget the cameraman!

lego baseball | sneaky math fun

 

These are just two ways to play the game.  Your kids might want to adjust the value of the dice after they play a few times.

No matter how you play, LEGOS + Baseball=fun!

Want a printable version of rules and score sheet?

Lego Baseball Rules | sneaky, creative math fun by teach mama

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Heather and Seth and Matthew for sharing!

Heather Kauffman is the mother of three boys and is a former elementary & Gifted/ Talented teacher. She’s active in her kids’ school, teaches Sunday School, loves reading, and she basically chases her three Wii-loving, Star Wars and Lego-playing, baseball and basketball-playing, pool-crazed boys around all year long.

****

Looking for more super-fun, sneaky math activities?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

Or check out the following math-happy posts:

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

math and writing: ten apples up on top

ten apples up on top

post contains affiliate links

 

ten apples up on top

 

The following guest post is written by Jackie Higgins, of Ready-Set-Read. Jackie is a great friend and longtime we teach member, now a member of the we teach advisory board.

———————————-

I’m Jackie, an early literacy blogger, reading specialist, and mom of preschoolers. I’m also a book-a-holic. According to my husband, I have too many children’s books. Is there such a thing?

In our house, I use books to teach basic preschool concepts as well as connect to our experiences. This fall my boys have experienced visiting an apple orchard. We’ve read books about apples and done much of our learning at home based on apples. I prepared for our thematic unit by finding many wonderful picture books about apples at my local library.

You can view my complete list of apple books in my apple unit.

After I found the books my boys loved, I created activities using math, science, and language objectives. As Amy would say it was a great way to “sneak” learning into our day.

Plus, research shows that using thematic units helps kids to connect to what they are learning in a meaningful way.  I’m so thrilled to be here today on Teach Mama to share one of our faves from our apple unit, Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss.

Ten Apples up on Top Book Review

Ten Apples up on Top by Dr. Seuss is a rhyming counting book. In the story, a lion, a dog, and a bear compete to see who can balance the most apples on top of their heads. Most kids think this story is so funny. It has a loud, crazy ending. Your kids will join right in with the “kaboom!”

This is a great book for helping kids learn to count objects to 10.  The rhyming text and use of high frequency words makes it a great choice for beginning readers as well.

 

Book Activity for Ten Apples up on Top

apple unit math activity

 

After reading the book, Ten Apples up on Top, we decided to challenge ourselves to see how many apples we could stack on top of our heads. I created apple bean bags for this activity. I cut red felt in circles, stuffed it with beans, and sewed around the circle. The beanbags were pretty easy to make with basic sewing skills. With a little imagination, any size or color of bean bag can be an “apple” up on top, though.  There’s no need to create apple bean bags unless you really want to.

We even created a few “challenges” similar to the book. We tried balancing our apples while hopping, while walking, and while dancing.

After a few tries, the boys recorded the number of apples they were able to balance. We used those in our counting and writing activity.

 

Math and Writing with Ten Apples up on Top

 

apple unit math activity

After our balancing apples challenge, we created a math craft. The boys glued apple clip art on top of a boy face. They carefully counted out the apples to match their score from the game above. Then, they practiced writing numbers.

They are preschool and kindergarten aged so I provided a print out of the sentence. “______ had ___ apples up on top.”  I helped my youngest fill in the blanks with his name and number, but my kindergartener was able to practice writing his name and practice number formation.  My preschooler really wants a beard, so he added that as well! More advanced children could practice writing a complete math sentence to describe their pictures.

I provided my kids with faces to color for their project, but many kids would be able to draw themselves with apples up on top. If you are interested, all of the clip art is included in my apple unit.

 

Extending the activity

The week after we completed this project at home, my son’s kindergarten class read Ten apples up on Top and did a similar activity.  His class was learning to compare numbers. They chose how many apples to put up on top. Then they compared that with a partner. This would be a fun way to introduce math terms such as greater than, less than, equal/same.

Fall is a great time to explore apple themed books and activities. Books can simply be enjoyed together or parents and teachers can work in learning activities to extend the learning. We loved learning about apples and learning basic concepts through our apple unit. Next month we are off to the pumpkin patch, so I guess I better head back to the library. After all, you can never have too many great children’s books!

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Looking for more book activities?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

 

ready set read buttonCome visit with Jackie at Ready-Set-Read for more ways to engage your children with books. You can also find Jackie busily pinning on Pinterest, tweeting on twitter, and chatting about the best Children’s literature on facebook and Google+.

 

Huge and happy thanks to the amazing Jackie Higgins for sharing her expertise with us! Please check out her blog, follow her, friend her, and favorite her–you’ll be glad you did!

 

 

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street signs for early literacy and math skill building

signs for early literacy learning

signs for early literacy learning

I’ve shared time and again the importance of using what is around you–environmental print–for early literacy and math skill-building.

Signs are everywhere, and they’re free.

And they can really help our little ones to become excited about reading.

Don’t believe me?

Try it.

I’m over at Scholastic Raise a Reader chatting about some ways you can use signs for your own little ones’ early literacy learning.  Check it out: Signs–Easiest Reading Your Kids Should Ever Do.

Want a little more?

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Street Signs For Early Literacy and Math Skill Building:

Check out these few posts about the same subject.

 

alphabet and reading on the roadAlphabet & Reading on the Road

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street signs for learningSigns, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

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street sign mathStreet Sign Math

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Happy street sign reading!!

math, writing, STEM apps for kids: tabletop surprises

tabletop surprises week seven

post contains affiliate links

 

 

We’re close to the finish line here, and my heart is heavy.tabletop surprises week six c

Though my own work is piling up by the second, the fun I’ve had with the kids this summer makes it well worth drowning in my ole inbox, missing a boatload of deadlines, and feeling like I am going to collapse by 7pm each night. 

We’re on week six of our tabletop surprises, our simple ways of setting Maddy, Owen, and Cora up for fun on their own time–and really I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well most of it has worked. And how not well some of it has worked.

Really.

This week, we rocked it out with some serious math and writing fun and a few new-for-us STEM apps for kids. It was a good mix of techy and non-techy, creative and critical thinking, new and old.

Personally, this was my favorite week, but two total days were pretty much bombs for the kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Math, Writing, & STEM Apps for Kids– Tabletop Surprises:

math, writing, STEM apps for kids: tabletop surprises

  • Create and Play Freely with Craft Sticks: Really. So free-bird and open, the sky was the limit here.

I dumped out large colored craft sticks, regular-sized craft sticks, and grooved craft sticks on the table, and that was it.

popsicle spopsicle sticks tabletop surprises - 2ticks tabletop surprises - 2

Sometimes someone would walk by the table and make a tower with the grooved craft sticks with a roof out of the other ones, and sometimes they’d use the craft sticks as poker for the dirt and grass out front.

Free and fun. That’s all we were shooting for.

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tabletop surprises day math games

  • Make Your Own Math Games: This was based on a real oldie but goodie.

When the kids were tiny, we made a handful of personalized board games for them: Cora’s Color Game, Owen’s Beginning Sound Game, Cora’s Fancy Game, and more.

They always felt extra-special when I created a game just for them–and they’d never in a million years know how easy it was for me.

 

make your own math game tabletop surprises - 4

make your own math game tabletop surprises - 4

 

Depending on what they needed some support with (articulation, phonemic awareness, reading, basics, you name it) along with what they were interested in (Cars, princesses, jewels, etc.), you can create a game for nearly every person in the universe.

My little forumla:

blank board + a current challenge + a favorite bling or embellishment + cool die or spinner + fun pawns = BIG WIN for kids

I love the size of the blank boards you can pick up at Johnnie’s Math Page (for free!) or you can grab Cora’s blank heart board if you’d like (also for free!).

How do you play these simple games?

  1. Roll the die (I wrote 1, 2, and 3 on the back of a foam cube and called it a day).  I wanted the kids to roll low numbers so they’d have to do more problems vs roll high and have to do only one or two).
  2. Move your pawn that many spaces.
  3. Do the math problem in your head. If you get it correct, you move forward; if you don’t, you stay put until your next turn.

Easy and fun. Keep it light–and give kids all the time they need for do-overs!

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tabletop surprises day fun with foamies cover

  • Fun With Foamies: Much like I’ve done with other art projects, I simply laid out blank paper and several containers of Foamie stickers.

That’s it.

I put out colored construction paper, markers, and Foamies of every shape and size that I could find: sports foamies, flowers and hearts, holiday foamies, Noah’s Ark foamies, the list goes on.

fun with foamies

 

Cora got right to work on a card for her Grandma and Grandpa, and Maddy just kind of shimmied on by.

This activity did not go over well with Owen or Maddy; however, Cora loved, loved, loved it. And I’m not sure why but I do know that everyone has different tastebuds so we live and learn. And that’s the beauty of tabletop surprises! Tomorrow’s a new day.

 

fun with foamies

fun with foamies

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tabletop surprises day stem celebration cover

  • New-for-Us STEM iPad Apps: Loved this one, and so did the kids.

I stumbled across a rockstar pin from my friends at Cool Mom TechThe best FREE Educational Apps for Kids–the Back to School Tech Guide 2013 which inspired this activity: Apps. New ones. Bam.

I decided to create a folder on our iPads just for today’s Tabletop Surprise Apps and I labeled it as such. That way, I could tell them that they were free to use any of the new apps in the Tabletop Surprise Folder, and they’d know exactly what I was talking about.

 

new ipad apps tabletop surprise

 

new ipad apps tabletop surprise

 

new ipad apps tabletop surprise

 

Sticking with STEM apps (science, technology, engineering, and math), I chose BrainPOP Featured Movie and BrainPop Jr Movie of the Week (from Cool Mom Tech’s recommendations). I also added the Disney Planes Adventure Album, tangram, ArithFit, and Wings: motion math.

We’re still trying them out, but at this point, they seem to be a hit with Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

 

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tabletop surprises day baby photos

  • Writing About Baby Photos: This was a throwback from last summer’s Everyday Journal.

Choose a picture from one of your baby albums. Describe you in the photo. What are you wearing? What expression is on your face? What are you doing?

Not a whole lot of analyzing or creative thinking but more of a descriptive piece. And because we had been looking at baby albums last week and they loved it, I thought for sure they’d love it this week.

But they didn’t. Not a huge hit AT. ALL.

I poked and prodded, but no bites. Okay, so we move on.

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The last week of our tabletop surprises will be Kid Planned.  Woot.

So the last week is upon us, and what I decided to do is give Maddy, Owen, and Cora the reins. So I created this quick and easy planning sheet, and I handed it over to the kids.

Tabletop Surprises Planning Sheet by teach mama

 

I said, Okay, you guys definitely loved some of our Tabletop Surprises, and others, well. . . they were not a big hit. I could never tell which you’d love and which you wouldn’t so this last week? YOU get to plan. You, together, plan and organize the week’s worth of Tabletop Suprises, and lucky you, you’ll be able to do pretty much whatever you think will work best, within reason of course.

So they got to work.

And I’ll get up early, just like I always do, and I will follow their plan. And I bet I’ll know who will learn the most this week. . .

And that’s it. Simple, fun. Independent learning all the way.

 

Stay on top of the Tabletop Surprises by checking out the past few weeks if you’ve missed them:

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

independent learning, poetry and play: tabletop surprises

tabletop surprises week 5

post contains affiliate links

 

 

learn and play independently tabletop surprises
The greatest thing about tabletop surprises is that they afford my kids the opportunity for some seriously fun independent learning in cool and creative ways.

Because learning–especially in the summer–should be fun, right?

Right.

This week, we traveled a bit to hang with our familia in the Keystone State, so we only rocked our tabletop surprises four days this week.  And Friday? Our boy celebrated his big numero ocho cumpleanos. So we made our tabletop surprise especially for Owen.

We added a little bit of math, a little bit of reading, a little bit of critical thinking, and a whole lot of on-their-own-time kinda fun.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Independent Learning, Poetry, and Play– Tabletop Surprises:

tabletop surprises mealtime math madness

  • Mealtime Math Madness with Melissa & Doug Math Fact Placemats: This tabletop surprise moved from the work room table to our kitchen table–and it stayed there pretty much all week long.

I’ve always been a fan of mealtime learning, placemat parties, and using the many hours spent at the breakfast table for newspaper reading, sneaky learning, personal discovery, and more.

learning fun placemats tabletop surprise

learning fun placemats tabletop surprise

So when I found this sweet line of fun, wipe-off placemats from Melissa & Doug, I wanted to dance.   Really. Like running man al kinda dance.

We have tried the Alphabet & Numbers set, the Advanced Skills set, the Basic Skills set, and the Math Skills set. We haven’t tried the Fun Skills set (my poor, poor kids).

What I love about these sets is that though the problems are not mixed randomly, my hope is that kids will see patterns in the answers that will help them down the road. I don’t know. I can hope though.

learning fun placemats tabletop surprise

Love the wipe off crayons that are super easy to write with and bright enough to see. Love that there’s one mat each for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and the answers are on the back of each. So if the kids aren’t up for writing, then at least they can eat and stare at the answers. Maybe the answers will sear into their brains if they look at them long enough. . .

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tabletop surprises day poems

  • Poems–Memorizing & Reciting:  I love poems for so many reasons, but for kids, poems can be a super way of working on reading skills.

Check out how we rocked some serious poetry this week: Reading, Reciting, and Memorizing Poems

Fluency, memorization, and recitation are three big open doors when it comes to poetry, not to mention the creativity, writing skills, language play, critical thinking, and comprehension strategies you can practice.

 

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tabletop surprises day shopping

  • Back-t0-School Shopping & Lists: Our family totally digs Back-to-School shopping, and it’s a tradition to kinda ‘do it up’ every year.

We’ve had the kids use their own school supply shopping lists from day one, and each year I do a little something to support Maddy, Owen, and Cora in their reading and management of their personal lists.

This year, I put them to work even before we arrived at the store.

back to school price shopping tabletop surprise

back to school price shopping tabletop surprise

 

I printed out supply lists from the school website, and I let them go.

Owen in particular had a great time trying to figure out the best places to buy Skylanders most inexpensively, and once he figured that out, he spent a few minutes plowing through his list.

The challenge was having them incorporate the coupons I had on the table–that involved some serious math practice.

Though this tabletop surprise required more support than I had anticipated, it was worth it. Now we have our back-to-school shopping plan outline for the weekend.

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tabletop surprises day free electronics

  • Free Electronics:  Really, for Owen’s birthday, all he wanted was a free day for electronics.

So that’s what we gave him.

Free reign of the Wii, the Nintendo DS, the LeapFrog LeapPad, the LeapFrog GS, the iPad, and the iPad mini, and my boy was in hog heaven. The best gift I could have given him, he said.

No Game Time Tickets. No timers. Nothin’.

I had to do a lot of deep breathing to ease my anxiety over my kids’ brain cells being zapped by the second, but surprisingly, they didn’t spend all day on electronics. tabletop surprises buttonJust a whole lot of it.   Gulp.

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Stay on top of the Tabletop Surprises by checking out the past few weeks if you’ve missed them:

Or check out some fun ideas from a our Smart Summer Challenge a few summers back.

 

fyi: affiliate links included in this post