Tag Archives: Fun on a Dime

Rainbow Mosaic Craft

scrap paper rainbow craft

You might remember my previous post Let them cut paper! Now that you have been letting them use scissors you should have lots of little pieces of paper floating around your house. I kept mine in baggies by color so they were all ready for our final color activity. You can’t have a color unit without ending with the rainbow!! Here is a fun and fabulous activity kids of all ages will love!!!

 

Supplies needed:

  • Colored scraps of paper in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple
  • White glue
  • Light blue construction paper
  • Sharpie
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cotton balls
  • Plastic lids or paper plates

DIRECTIONS:

I put the paper in Ikea bowls that come in rainbow colors so they are perfect for holding the paper in the right color order. They are great for color sorting activities too!

scrap paper rainbow

For this activity with my little ones I drew a cloud and lines for the rainbow to help them have a guide. Then they glued away and had a great time.

creative paper craft for kids

For the cloud they spread apart cotton balls and glued them down for a fluffy three dimensional look.

cutting with scissors craft for kids

This was a hit with all my kids! My oldest daughter decided it looked like fun and wanted to make her own mosaic picture with the rainbow colors.

scrap paper craft

It is great for all of them to have fun doing an activity at their own levels!!

 

Tip: 

White glue can be hard for little fingers to get out of the bottle. They either use half a bottle in a matter of minutes or they squeeze and squeeze and nothing comes out. Years ago I started saving my plastic lids from sour cream containers and other plastic lids to use for art. They are the perfect surface to put glue and paint on. It washes right off when you are done and you can reuse them over and over! Put a blob of glue in the middle of the lid and little ones can use cotton swabs to get the glue where they need it. Way less mess and way less wasting of glue!!!

scrap paper rainbow craft for kids

What activities do you do that incorporate a large age group of children?

I would love for you to share!

Summer Fun Learning Games For The Pool

funonadime.net pool fun games

When summer arrives in Arizona, “Pool Time” is a must to cool off. And of course, my kiddos love any excuse to play a game and even more so when they are in the pool. We discovered that with a stack of foam letters and numbers, there are a lot of fun games to play and as a bonus, it was easy to give them an educational twist without them even knowing it!

What You Need:

  • Foam letters (any size)
  • Foam numbers
  • Frisbee, kick board or something to hold foam pieces on (optional)

Game Ideas:

The kiddos figured out that using something like a frisbee was an easy way to gather the foam letters and organize them while playing the games.

 

Preschool Age Games (and older)

Alphabetic and Numerical Order: Have your child find each letter or number in order. We found this easiest for our preschooler by keeping the letters in a smaller area.

pool games for kids

Letter Sound Shout Out: Call out a letter sound and have your child find it

Sort by Color: Practice colors by shouting out certain colors and having your child bring the color to you or sort on their frisbee.

funonadime.net preschool learning

Counting: This does not necessarily need foam numbers. If you have them, sort numbers in order. If you do not have foam numbers, constantly count when you are about to do something. My 18 month old is learning how to count to 10 simply because we use it when she jumps into the pool and she will count with us.

Variations for Older Children (Kindergarten+)

Letter Recognition: Scatter the letters and tell your child to find certain letters.

funonadime.net pool fun games

Listen Carefully: “When I call out the letter H jump in the pool.” My kiddos always love a challenge. You can also treat this like Shark and Minnos but with letters and numbers

Practice spelling and sounding out words: We had many variations of this game and they loved them all. “Find the letters for the word CAT. Now replace the C with a B. What does that spell?” For older children you can have them find their own words and sound them out.

Advanced Letter and Number Scatter: This can be fun with one child or multiple children. Scatter the foam letters/numbers all over the pool.  Call out a letter/number or multiple numbers and see who can get it first.

I am a firm believer that just because it’s summer time, it does not mean the learning has to stop. These little games are easy to play and adjust to each child’s abilities AND the kiddos have so much fun getting cooled off, too!

 

Eating Our Way Through The Alphabet

photo 5

I have been trying to get the kiddos a little more involved in selecting the food we eat for our meals and eventually assisting in preparing the meals. This activity ended up being a perfect way to get them excited about what they are eating and helping out.

How To Start

Step 1: Have your child write each letter of the alphabet down the side of a sheet of paper. ~ We were only able to get halfway through the alphabet with my kindergartner.

Step 2: Then have your child write down a food for every letter on the paper ~ It was fun to have both kids creating their alphabet lists at the same time because they were able to brainstorm together. They took many trips to the pantry to get inspiration when they got stuck on a letter, which I thought was a great idea!

Step 3: Once you have your list, try to have them come up with meals that will allow everyone to eat the alphabet as much as possible. We used a cookbook that had great pictures to help inspire some meal ideas from the kiddos.

Step 4: Shop for your food and enjoy everything you made from the alphabet!

Meal Ideas

Here are some meal ideas we came up with:

Crockpot Fake Cheese Pizza – Ingredients: Cheese, Tomato sauce, Noodles, Hamburger, Seasoning

Tacos- Ingredients: Bell peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Avocado, Lettuce, Chicken, Onions

Fish & Potato Wedges – Ingredients: Fish and Potatoes

German Pancakes with Grapes – Ingredients: Eggs, Milk, Flour, Butter, Grapes

Originally, my thought was to have them make a list of the alphabet on the wall and after each meal they could cross off the starting letter of the foods we just ate, but the kiddos wanted to do full meals. This turned out to be a lot more fun for us and it helped get the kids energized about what we will be putting on their plate over the next week.

Easter Egg Fun

I am a mom of 6 (soon to be 7) and I realized the other day I was a much more fun mom to my preschoolers and toddlers for my first three kids.  My first three girls are each 18 months apart so they kind of did everything together. I did lots of fun learning activities and crafts with them because they could all do it.  Now that my kids range in age from 11 to 1 my toddler and preschooler miss out on all those fun activities.  Life gets busy homeschooling all the big kids! Well, I have decided no more! I am going to do a fun book activity with my toddler and preschooler each week.  The funny thing is the big kids are super excited about it and totally do the activities right alongside the little ones!

My first activity is a painted Easter egg. We began by reading a book of course! All fun activities have to start with a book.We read two books Here Comes Peter Cottontail by: Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins (warning: this one sings and will get stuck in your head for forever) and The Happy Easter Book by: Josie Jones. Any Easter book would work.

 

Then we painted Easter eggs.

 

The supplies we used are:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Painters tape
  • Scissors

 

Directions:

Start by cutting out an egg shape out of paper. Then using the painters tape make designs on the egg.  The big kids got really detailed, while my three year old was not as detailed.

 

Next, paint away!

 

When they are all dry, remove the tape.

 

Enjoy your creations.

 

My kids had a blast with this and it has really reinforced how kids of all ages love a good picture book and a fun craft activity. I can’t wait to do more and share all the fun!

What are your favorite Easter Crafts?

 

Teach the Joy of Giving Year Round

Every now and then we have the ME, ME, ME Monster creep into our house. This can happen any time of the year, but it seems more common around a big holiday. When this happens, I love to turn to a book for help.

We recently used the book, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, to help remind everyone that when we give and share with others we can all be happy. You can, of course, twist this around to adapt for any upcoming holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc. The more we talked about it, the more I realized how important it was for us to remember and practice these principles year round. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.

How Can You Teach Love and Giving In Your Home?

Here are some of the ideas my children came up with after our discussion of the “Giving Tree”. Another benefit is that many of these ideas allow them to practice their reading and math skills without it being “work”!

 

Write a Special Note

A little note has a lot of power and can go a long way! Encourage your children to write positive notes to friends and family. It will not only make everyone feel good, but it is a great way to practice their writing skills.  I know I have a box of notes that I kept from over the years from loved ones and it has become very special to me. As I go through my kiddos drawers,  I have discovered they keep their notes, too!

 

Bake Treats Often to Share With Others

Who does not feel all warm and fuzzy getting a treat from a neighbor?  And I think that feeling is equally shared with the giver. Teach this love of giving to your children.

My children love to help me bake and they really enjoy delivering them to neighbors. It is a great way to practice math and reading skills, too. Who says you giving and loving can’t be educational?!?!

 

Take Opportunities To Provide Acts of Service

Providing acts of service is another way to grow and share your love. We have been practicing sharing our “Love Bug” (kind of like a Service Bug) in our house and you can always tell which child has just passed on the Love Bug. They are beaming and giddy. I love it!

Alphabet Nature Walk

How to find letters in Nature Activity

We have all taken alphabet nature walks with our kids looking for things that begin with the letter A (apple tree), B (bird), C (cactus), D (dandelion) etc.  We did a little twist on this the last time we went on a walk and we went looking for letters. We didn’t look at signs or license plates but looked at architecture and nature to find things that looked like letters.

This was a little hard at first because you have to think out of the box a little bit but once they got the hang of it, it was super fun.  I let each of the kids take pictures of the letters they found.

They love using my good camera so I think this was their favorite part. We had a little lesson on how to take good photos before we started.  We practiced centering the letter in the picture and zooming.  This activity kept all of my kids ages 10 and under busy for quite awhile.  My three year old even loved it. She found a lot of the letter “O”. It was fun doing an activity that they all got into.

Here are some of our favorite letters….

 

 

My girls have decided that they want to make an alphabet book with all the letters we have found.  We are planning a trip to a historic park soon to see if we can finish our alphabet.

You can also put them together to spell words for signs. If you get the whole alphabet, you can practice writing spelling words and simple sentences. The possibilities are endless!!!

I would love to hear your ideas on what you do with your nature alphabet!!

Story Time

2013-12-03 08.10.59

Family story time is one of the most important times of the day, but as my children get older it gets a little more difficult. I have 6 kids that range in age from 1-10 with three readers, one almost reader and two little ones.  The big kids like to read their own books at night and with the baby sometimes it is just easier to skip reading together.  In order to help keep me accountable and get the all the kids excited about reading together I have come up with a great plan!!

I pick one book for every day of the month and then wrap them up!! Sometimes we do a theme such as the holiday of the month, an author study or just fun random books.  The kids take turns each night opening the books and they are always excited to see what we are reading.

The themes I am using this year are:

  • January- Winter books (favorite winter author Jan Brett)
  • February- Valentines books
  • March- Spring and Easter
  • April- Author study Robert Munsch.  We love all of his books!!
  • May-Clifford and Curious George Books
  • June- Summer books
  • July- Patriotic and American history books
  • August- Back to School Books
  • September- Family favorite books (Seven Silly Eaters by: Mary Ann Hoberman is our all time favorite book)
  • October- Halloween books
  • November- Thanksgiving books
  • December- Christmas books

Tips and tricks

If I do not have enough books that fit my theme, I just throw in a random book that we love. With five girls we read a lot of Fancy Nancy! Wrapping paper can be kind of pricey so newspaper, comics and butcher paper work fabulous! The kids help wrap the books, too, which makes it an easy activity to pull off.

Give it a try, I am sure you will not be disappointed!

Popcorn Art – Springtime Celebration

Popcorn Art - Celebrate Spring with Some Art

I cannot think of springtime without thinking of all the trees that look like they have popcorn on them as they bloom. Now that spring has officially come, I thought it would be fun to do a fun craft with popcorn. Add some fun spring themed songs and poems and we created an easy project to put together that the kiddos loved. With friends over, we had ages ranging from 3 all the way to 8 and they all were able to enjoy it together.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper in a variety of colors
  • Card stock or other stiff paper for the back
  • Glue
  • Popcorn – plain and already popped
  • Fun spring themed songs and poems

Directions:

Step 1: Have a quick discussion about springtime and the construction of a tree (trunk, limbs, etc.). My kiddos weren’t quite sure what we were doing and this helped them get some direction.

Step 2: Create ripped art trees using construction paper. Basically, create a tree by tearing strips of colored paper. We unfortunately did not have brown so the kiddos got creative with their color choices. We ended up only needing about 1/3 a sheet for a basic tree.

Step 3: Glue the strips of paper to the card stock.

Step 4: For sanity’s sake, we prepped our trees with dots of glue of where they wanted to blossoms (aka popcorn) to go and quickly moved to step 5 before our glue dried.

 

Step 5: Now it is time for the fun! It’s time to sing or recite our poems! Pick a few springtime words for the kiddos to listen for and when they hear them, they add a piece of popcorn to a dot of glue on their tree. You can see in the pic below that they are singing along, too!

For example, our first song we did was “Popcorn Popping” and we picked the word “pop” and “spring” to add the popcorn to the tree. You can make it as hard or as easy as you want. But since we were singing it, two words were perfect!

Here are the lyrics I found in a children’s song book (they will play it for you on the right sidebar if you need it) and if you look up the title on youtube, you can find plenty of videos, too:

POPCORN POPPING

I looked out the window, and what did I see?

Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!

Spring had brought me such a nice surprise,
Blossoms popping right before my eyes.
I could take an armful and make a treat,
A popcorn ball that would smell so sweet.
It wasn’t really so, but it seemed to be
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.

 

Step 6: Enjoy your Spring trees! They were all pretty excited about their trees even though we did not fill them up all the way.

Skills practiced during this activity:

  • ripping skills
  • listening (for the key words)
  • practice fine motor gluing/attaching the popcorn
  • practice control and pressure when using the glue
  • recognizing different textures -between the rough/bumpy feel of popcorn and smooth texture of the paper

 

What is your favorite Springtime song or poem?

Handmade Alphabet Letters

Alphabet Letters

As you know, handmade gifts are the best but educational handmade gifts are the cherry on the top! My 5th daughter is about to turn 3 and I made her these fabulous fabric alphabet letters. They are really easy to make and are sure to be well loved.

How To Make

I saw a picture on good ole Pinterest that did not go anywhere and thought, “I can make those!”

Supplies needed:

  • Letter stencil (print out letters on card stock and cut them out to create a homemade paper stencil)
  • Flanel – scrap fabric is the best!
  • Scissors
  • Fusible fleece (optional)
  • Pen
  • Sewing machine

Directions:

I have a bubble set of letter stencils that I used, but you could use any font. I wanted them thick and soft, so I put fusible fleece inside and used flannel scraps for the outside.

You can learn from my mistakes and do not trace around your stencils with pen. Oops!

Once they are traced, put the fabric together and sew both sides together. Then I cut them out with pinking shears. I will admit cutting them out with the pinking shears was a little challenging because I used so much fusible fleece. I used had two layers of fusible fleece inside.  I think next time I will only use one layer to save my poor hand the pain!

5 Fun Letter Activities

Once you have them all finished, there are a million things you can do with them! But for now, here are my favorite 5 things:

1. Lay them out and call out a color, sound or letter and have your children race to see who can find it first. This works with one or more than one child.

2. Put them all in a bag and have a child reach in and pull one out. When they pull one out have them name the letter or sound.

3. Have your child put them in alphabetical order.

4. You can use them to spell simple words.

5. They are just fun to play with and chew on if you are 1! I guess I should make him some boy ones.

Math at Bedtime Calms the Brain

Calm the Brain with Bedtime Math

A few years ago I remember hearing about a father who did math problems before his kiddos went to bed instead of story time. My oldest was in kindergarten at the time and so I decided to give it a try a few nights a week. We started out with a couple minutes of basic counting of toes and addition problems and it has moved on to word problems and math games. Amazingly, I find my children calm down just as easy or maybe even better than with just a story as they answer my “math challenges”. Most of the time they are half a sleep after a few minutes! I have really enjoyed it and I am pretty sure my children do, too. They BEG for their turn, so I take that as a good sign!

Here are a few different ways we have incorporated math into our bedtime routine:

Counting

Great for any level and can be adapted as needed for each child. I think it is easier if they can count something and fingers and toes are always available. Start at their level and remember to challenge them a little each time and to try and end on a “happy and successful moment”. If they can only count to 5, continue on to 10. Or if they have counting down, count by twos, fives, tens, odds, evens…you get the picture

Addition and Subtraction

You can not go wrong with practicing a few addition and/or subtraction problems before bed. Again, start where they are and give them a challenge for the last couple. If you have math flash cards, they are always fun to use to switch things up.

We did additions of 1 for quite awhile when my daughter was barely 4. She learned from her brother and loved the success even though it seemed pretty easy. At 6, she really loves math and picks it up quickly, which I like to blame on our math games. ;-)

Word Problems

Again, start where they are with a little bit of a challenge. With my son we started out towards the end of Kindergarten with something similar to this:

“Johnny has 5 apples. Sally gave him 2 apples and ate 3. How many are left?”

I remember giving my son what I thought was a difficult math problem, similar to the one above, when we first started doing math at bedtime and he easily answered it with out a groan or a fight.

Math Games

My kiddos live for fun, so we have learned to incorporate math into their favorite games like, Go Fish. It always makes bedtime a happy moment when we end with a quick round. With this version instead of asking the other player for your particular number you want, ask, “Do you have a 3+1?” or “Do you have a 10-7?”, etc. So far, we stick to all addition at first and then switch to subtraction for the last half.