Archive for the ‘Holiday Fun’ Category

Aren’t we blessed? We’ve been given so much, but sometimes we forget to acknowledge those blessings and the One who gave them. Do you want to help your child feel (and express) more gratitude?

Although I created this activity during the summer months, I thought November would be a perfect time to share with you a fun way to help your little one focus on being thankful for everything he’s been blessed with. This idea can be used anytime of year, and is a great take-along activity for when you need something to keep your child busy and quiet. I’ve also used it in my Bible class for when the children were just arriving.

Set-up is easy. Simply make a list of things your child is/should be thankful for, and search free clip-art for pictures to represent each item on the list. Put them all into a document and print them out.

gratitude game

For our game, I included a variety of material blessings, like houses, vehicles, toys, and books, as well as relational blessings like parents, grandparents, siblings, and pets. Some were very general, like sunshine and rain, while others were specific to my daughter, like her favorites foods (rice, bananas, and ice cream), her dog, and her two brothers and one sister. Some pictures represented physical blessings like a comfortable bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, and food to eat, while other icons stood for spiritual blessings like Christ, His Word (the Bible), and His church. (I used a building to represent the church, but wish I’d shown a group of people instead, for a more accurate representation.) I intentionally made the drawing of Jesus twice as big as all the others, and we talked about how none of the rest of them would mean much without HIM. His sacrifice for us is the greatest blessing we have!

Next, laminate the pages you printed and cut them out, adding a small magnet piece to the back of each.

magnetic pieces for gratitude game

Now, it’s your child’s turn! If you have a white board or some other large magnetic surface, great. But even a cookie sheet works in a pinch, and is nice for when you need this activity to be portable. Plus, it’s the perfect size for your child’s lap!

playing the gratitude game

My daughter was a young four when I made this for her, but it would work well for just about any age of young child. Simply give yours the pieces and allow him to choose which ones he’s thankful for. (Yes, eventually he’ll pick them all.) Each time he adds one to the board, have him tell you what it is and why he’s thankful for it. If you have tailored this to your child’s life, it should be very natural for him to express thanksgiving for each blessing, and it’s a great way to improve his verbal abilities while he has fun and focuses on all God’s done for him. Win, win, win!

One last note…Be sure you don’t use activities like this only at Thanksgiving time. We should be teaching our children that we are blessed all year, and we need to be grateful all year.

Enjoy learning together!

Today seems like a great day to share some of the pumpkin activities we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks. First, and most important, here’s a fun Bible lesson you can do with your children while you carve your pumpkins. As you scoop out the pumpkin “guts,” explain that those are like the sins in our lives—yucky, stinky, and disgusting!

pumpkin guts--sin in our lives

As babies, we are created pure and clean by God. But eventually, we begin to understand the difference between right and wrong. As we get older, we begin to sin, and our lives get more and more full of that yucky, STINKY sin.

stinky sin, like pumpkin guts

However, as we get to know God and His will better by reading His Word (Romans 10:17), we begin to understand how our sin hurts God, and it makes us incredibly sad. The Bible calls this being “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).

cut to the heart--pumpkin Bible lesson

Once we get to that point, we desperately want to DO something about all that rotten sin we are carrying around, but we can’t do it on our own. We need Jesus to remove all those stinky sins for us!

fgf

Sin is like those stinky pumpkin guts–and we need JESUS to remove it for us!

As you talk with your children, be sure they know HOW this happens. Here is a fantastic explanation of how to be saved—according to God’s plan, not man’s. Not only does it contain relevant Scriptures, but the analogies of the sandwich and the door are excellent, and your child will easily understand them! Once we are saved, Jesus’ light begins to shine in us. (II Corinthians 4:6)

Jesus' light shines in us!

In fact, once we become Christians, people who look at us shouldn’t see “the old us” anymore. They should see the light of Jesus shining whenever they look at us. (Matthew 5:16)

People should see the light of Jesus when they look at us

Please note that I am NOT indicating that young children are ready to be saved, or even have such a need. In every single example in the Bible, those who became Christians were older. But, now is absolutely the time to be teaching your young children about God’s plan of salvation, because 1) they’re going to need to follow this plan themselves, eventually, and 2) they’ll hear a whole lot of conflicting information from the world, and need to know what the Bible really says. If you finish your Bible lesson and haven’t completely lost your appetite from the gunk you handled, you and your child can whip up a yummy dessert: pumpkin pie minis. You can find the recipe here, and then gather up these items, plus some milk to make the pudding:

pumpkin pie minis, ingredients

Once you provide the ingredients, your little one can prepare a lot of this dessert by himself, mixing the milk and pudding mix with a whisk, and stiring spoonfuls of pudding and pumpkin filling into the mini-crusts. If you use Cool Whip instead of whipped cream, he could even add a dollop to each mini, and they’ll be ready to eat immediately!

pumpkin pie minis

My daughter was so proud to serve these to her family, and their response provided great reinforcement for her efforts. If you want something even easier, you can try something like this mix for pumpkin spice cookies:

pumpkin spice cookie mix

Yes, I realize you could start from scratch…but when I saw this mix at Aldi for less than $2.00, I knew it would be fun to let Remi have a project she could help with that would yield super-quick results.

pumpkin spice cookies--kid baked

As you may have guessed, all these cookies came from kid-rolled balls. And they were delicious! We put some cream cheese frosting on some of them, but they were eaten up before I could get a picture. (Imagine that!) Finally, here’s a fun and easy pumpkin art project your little one can do. Get out your supply of old acrylic paints…you know, the ones you collected a decade or two ago and still have sitting around, just in case? (Yeah, those.) Put down some newspaper, or go outside—or both, as we did—and grab a few of the mini pumpkins you couldn’t resist on your last grocery trip.

pumpkin painting

And now the fun begins! Simply shake up some paint, hand it over to your child, and let the squeezing begin.

easy pumpkin painting

Remi had fun choosing the colors and layering them on her little pumpkins. It was a great way to keep her happy while older siblings were actually getting to carve their bigger ones.

pumkin art

At this point, your child could add glitter, googly eyes, or whatever else her little heart desires…but we thought these were beautiful just as they were.

kid art--painted pumpkins

I’ve seen these all over Pinterest, but will give credit to Time to Play since her blog was the first place I saw them. Of course, if you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to complete your pumpkin study with a trip to your local pumpkin patch!

pumpkin patch

Be sure to check out this post for Halloween fun for your child. Enjoy learning together,

It’s Halloween, and that means lots of fun projects with our little ones! Here are a couple of children’s book-related crafts, a healthy snack, and a fun Halloween lunch idea to help you make the most of the day with your little goblin!

(Please note that this post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.)

First up, an easy snack loaded with fun AND nutrition–can’t beat that, right?

healthy Halloween snack

As you can see, it’s just a banana and a few cutie oranges, accessorized with some candy pieces to make them spooky and fun. (I used m&m’s for the eyes, and Twizzler pieces for the pumpkin stems.) I found this idea a while back in one of those random little ads on Facebook and couldn’t wait to try it out with my youngest. And it didn’t disappoint! I set it up and started calling out, “Eek! There are ghosts in the pumpkin patch!” Remi came running to see what all the commotion was about, and her face was priceless when she saw her snack. (We have talked extensively about the fact that ghosts are not real, just silliness, so she is not afraid. Use discretion and common sense, based on your child’s age and sensitivity level.)

Next, we read this fun book:

I don’t want to give away the ending, but let’s just say the little guy in Where’s My Mummy? and I definitely have something in common. After enjoying the book, we got busy on our mummy craft. We grabbed a mason jar and some white muslin cloth, which we ripped into strips to wrap around the jar. We used a paintbrush dipped in a mixture of equal parts white glue and water, which we brushed on to adhere the cloth to the jar. While it was still wet, we added a couple of huge googly eyes to our little mummy.

jar mummy

My daughter wanted to add a mouth and nose, so while I was out of the room, she had her older sister help her do so with food coloring. (The little boogers…)

Then we dropped in a candle…

candle in mason jar mummy

…and ended up with this adorable Halloween decoration.

mason jar mummy, lit

Where's My Mummy craft

I found the idea over at Time for Play. You might want to try this cute mummy craft, as well.

Then, when it’s time for lunch, why not whip up a fun and tasty jack-o-lantern pizza like this?

Jack-o-lantern pizza

It’s easy! Just add whatever toppings your little goblin loves in the shape of eyes, nose, and crooked mouth. I copied the idea from a poster in the window of Papa Murphy’s (a take-and-bake pizza chain), and we make one every year.

After lunch, it’s time for another fun book and craft. Stellaluna is the story of a baby bat who is separated from his mother and raised by birds, finally learning who he is and that we can all be friends despite our differences.

I found a cute idea for a bat craft over at Reading Confetti, but changed it up a little out of pure laziness. Rather than trace and cut out hand prints on black paper (which you could certainly do if you are less lazy), I painted Remi’s hands black and let her press them on white cardstock, adding googly eyes while we reviewed the fact that bats CAN see (despite the long-standing myth that they are blind.)

handprint bat

You might also want to give this little bat craft a whirl.

Finally, check out this post for some fun pumpkin activities, including snacks, an art project, and a very special Bible lesson.

Enjoy learning together…even on Halloween!

Today I’m bringing over a free printable from my other blog, Why Amy Smiles, to share with you. I’ve updated it from last year and think you’ll enjoy using this fun interview with your kiddo(s)! Below is the original post, with updates for 2014:

Kids grow and change so fast, and those of us who are parents or grandparents often wish we could somehow capture a slice of life from each stage to hold onto forever. So today I am offering you an opportunity to do just that!

The changing of the calendar year is a great time to reflect on the rapid changes in our kids’ likes, dislikes, and personalities. I created this interview sheet to use with my own kids, and decided to share it with you here. There’s a download link below, but first, here’s how the interview looks:

2014 New Year Interview

2014 New Year Interview

It’s two pages long, so you’ll want to print on front and back. Keep in mind that in our family, we have four kiddos ranging in age from newly five to eighteen, so I included questions to fit preschoolers through teenagers. I purposely started out with the easy questions like favorite colors and foods, then progressed to the more thought-provoking ones.

If you are using this with toddlers, you have several options for adjusting it to their level:

1. Print the first page only, and use the empty space on the back to stamp a handprint or let the child “draw” pictures. (Read: scribble)

2. Selectively answer whatever questions from both pages you feel apply to your child.

3. Make changes to the questions that don’t fit your child’s age. For example, with my youngest I’ll cross out “youth group activity” and replace it with “things to do with my friends.”

Even if your child or grandchild isn’t talking yet, you will want to fill in favorite songs, toys, foods, etc. to have a record of this stage in your baby’s life.  While your older kids are filling out their own, you can let your little ones dictate their answers to you. You might even want to fill one in for yourself while you’re at it!

Of course, you also have the option to use my idea as a starting point and create your own interview to fit your family’s needs. But for those of you who want to skip the hassle and use what I’m sharing (Did I mention it’s FREE?), here’s the link:

2014 New Year’s Interview

Won’t it be fun to look back in a few years to see how the answers have changed?

Enjoy learning together!

This week at Cheerful Learning Preschool we’ve been knee deep into learning about our great country in honor of our very special, very important Independence Day holiday. Don’t let anyone tell you that preschoolers can’t understand and remember all kinds of information about the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Liberty Bell, the White House, and many other famous landmarks and patriotic concepts.

Having said that, we never want to get so wrapped up in the facts that we forget to have some big fun doing those “just because” crafts and activities. Here are just a few of the things we did this week to celebrate and learn about the USA:

Mostly, we focused on recreating the American flag, starting with this adorable handprint version I found here.

handprint flag

We pressed her painted hand onto black construction paper (so the white would show up) and she used her finger, dipped in white paint, to create the “stars.”

handprint flag

We did some fun patterning activities for math with these fireworks pattern strips and cards. I downloaded them from here and printed on cardstock. We gave names to each type of firework so she could say the patterns out loud as she worked.

preschool patterns--fireworks

If your preschooler loves to use a paper punch as much as mine does, he’ll love making his own stars for a USA flag craft like the one below:

preschool USA flag

preschool USA flag

preschool USA flagDon’t you just love the finished product? Adorable! (This activity was very loosely based on this idea.)

We did tons of activities downloaded from this website, including shadow matching, find the difference, what comes next, matching, tracing and other pre-writing activities, and lots and lots of these fun puzzles:

USA puzzles for preschoolers

For movement, I printed off a whole set of fun little action cards like the ones below from here. (I printed several cute, patriotic songs while I was there, too,!)

4th of July action cards

In the end, though, it was right back to our Grand Old Flag. We still love do-a-dot marker activities, so had to add in this project. (I found it here.)

do-a-dot flag

do-a-dot flagWhatever you and your preschooler do to celebrate and learn about this important holiday, I hope that you….

Enjoy learning together!

While trying to come up with something quick and easy for my preschooler to try during a busy Easter weekend, I had the idea to do some “cottontail painting.” It was fun, encouraged her creativity, and strengthened her little hand muscles without her ever realizing it! Here’s all you need:

Paint, heavy paper, cotton balls, & a clothespin

Paint, heavy paper, cotton balls, & a clothes pin

Hand your little one a clothes pin and have her squeeze it open and closed to pick up a “tail.”

Then have her dip that bunny’s tail in the paint…

…and start designing her masterpiece. Remi chose to make a whole garden of spring flowers.

Just look at that concentration on her face!

I let her use a different “tail” for each color of paint…

…but also used the opportunity to teach her about color mixing. When I told her that yellow and red together make orange, she said, “Really? I am TOTALLY doing that!”

Here, the finished spring garden:

I hope you and your little one enjoy the fun (and easy set-up) of this Easter art project.

Enjoy learning together!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Cheerful Learning!

In honor of tomorrow’s holiday, why not try out some fun, heart-themed activities with your little ones?

For example, how fun are those paper plate hats? I got the idea from here, and we just happened to have some pink paper plates left over from Remi’s recent princess birthday party, so we were ready to go! (Only have white plates? No problem! Just hand your preschooler some crayons, markers, or paints, and let her go to town decorating the hat herself!)

I drew the pattern on the plate and let Remi cut it out herself. This was her first time using scissors on something other than plain paper, and it was challenging for her little hands, but she did the best she could and I took over to help out right at the end.

Anything to work those hand muscles is good preparation for all the writing she has ahead of her in future school grades. One of my favorite things to do with Remi is taking her to the bathroom mirror to look at her creations. I always enjoy the response!

We also did several fun, heart-themed math activities. (I got all the free printables from here, and you can, too!)

We started out with a Count-and-Sort activity. I gave her a box of candy conversation hearts…you know, the ones that taste like chalk? 😉 She arranged them by color on the sorting mat, then counted how many of each color she had. We talked about more, less, most, least, and fewest as she answered questions about each.

Next up was a Heart Graphing activity.

Remi looked at the color words at the bottom of the graph, and added the hearts where appropriate. Then we looked at the graph together and I had her compare the stacks. (Which has more—green, or purple? Do any of them the same amount?)

If your preschooler is like mine, she loves any activity involving do-a-dot markers, so why not try a game of Heart Bingo?

I wrote numerals on each heart and then gave her a die, and each time she rolled it she had to count the pips (dots on the die) and stamp that numeral. She did this over and over and over!

The mistake I made? There were eight hearts, so without thinking I numbered them one through eight. Well, as you know, there are only six sides of a die, and she quickly noticed that she was never going to get a seven or eight. She asked if she could go ahead and stamp them anyway, and I let her—after identifying each and counting aloud for me.

By the way, this is a great time to teach your child that two are DICE and one is a DIE.

While the die was out, we used it to play a Valentine’s Grid Game.

I gave her some red Unifix cubes and told her they were bear candy. The grid contained bears with hearts, and those bears were VERY hungry for some Valentine’s candy. But, the only was they could get some was for her to roll the die, count the pips, and give that number of bears one piece of “candy” each. She was very concerned about the poor, hungry bears, and worked quickly to make sure each one had a treat!

In the meantime, she was getting some good practice identifying those dot patterns…but don’t tell her that, OK?

The great thing about all these activities is that, once you get your preschooler started, she can work fairly independently if you need to teach older children, nurse a baby, etc. Just stay close enough to enjoy watching the fun she’s having!

We brought the conversation hearts back out for some Heart Patterning work.

The worksheets I used were from a set of eight pages (see link above) and contained AB, ABC, AABB, and AAB patterns. Unfortunately, our box of candy didn’t contain all the colors we needed, so we just did the ones we could and a few times I substituted for her by, for example, covering yellow hearts with green candy ones to change the pattern to something we could do with the hearts we had. And, finally, she got to eat some hearts as a reward for all her hard “work” (play) doing math! 🙂

Finally, we did a fun Valentine’s Maze. I explained to my daughter that this little man loved this little woman, and really wanted to give her some flowers for Valentine’s Day, but he was having a hard time finding her. Remi was all too happy to help him out!

I found the maze at this site, which also contains other preschool printables like dot-to-dots, as well as lots of fun activities for your older kids, too. I printed out several Valentine’s Day activities from there for my ten year old, including word searches, word scrambles, and crypto-families.

Make the most of this special day with your little one. By next Valentine’s Day, she’ll be so much more grown up!

From our family to yours, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy learning together!

 

Today on my personal blog, Why Amy Smiles, I share a fun interview you can do with your child to forever capture his unique preferences at this moment in time, along with ways to adapt the interview for very young children and even babies.

Follow this link to the blog post, where you can download the interview sheets for free:

http://whyamysmiles.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/free-printable-capture-your-childs-life-now-with-this-new-years-interview/

I hope you enjoy interviewing your child. Dictating his answers for you will be great language workout for your little one. More importantly, in my opinion, how fun it will be to look back later and see how very much his answers have changed!

Enjoy learning together.

(Please note that this post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.)

We are HUGE Dr. Seuss fans around here, so it’s no surprise that one of our favorite Christmas books is How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

(You can see that our family’s copy is well loved…)

Remi has asked me to read it to her over and over during the last several weeks, and lately we’ve been enjoying some fun activities to go along with the book. Here are some of the things we did, in case you want to enjoy them, too:

Art:

I found a Grinch mask at the Dr. Seuss website and let her paint it a nice, grinchy green.

We then cut it out, punched holes together, and added some green yarn to make a mask for her to wear as she ran all over the house trying to scare her siblings.

Snack:

We stirred up some Grinch Juice by adding food coloring to a glass of milk. It was a good time to review the way two colors (like blue and yellow) can mix together to make a third (like grinchy green).

Grinch Juice

Grinch Juice

I had to laugh because she was really excited about it until she tasted it…

…and then, even though she had helped mix it up and knew there was nothing in it but milk and food coloring, she declared that it tasted “disgusting.”

However, when we added it to a bowl of cereal for a grinchy snack, she loved it.

Grinch snack

Grinch snack

Just for fun:

We happen to have a stuffed version of Max, or as Remi calls him, “the Grinch’s poor, poor puppy dog” (which he turned into a phony reindeer in the book.)

We pulled him out along with our Christmas decorations and Remi has had a blast playing with him for weeks now.

Craft:

Also on the Seuss website, I found a template for some ornaments starring poor Max.

Remi colored them…all blue (?)…

…using her tongue, too, of course.

I laminated them and then Remi got some fun scissor practice cutting the shapes out.

We punched holes in the top of each picture so we could make them into ornaments. Remi LOVES using a hole punch but her little hands just aren’t strong enough to do it on her own. So, I let her put her hands on top of mine and I tell her to push really hard…and together we manage very well. 😉

I offered her a choice of red or green yarn for the hangers. She chose both. Here’s her finished product:

Silly Activity:

Remember the crazy hair the Whoville residents wore in the non-animated version of the movie?  Well, we decided to fix Remi’s hair up like little Cindy Lou Who’s was so that she could be Remi Lou Who. I loved the result!

Remi Lou Who

Remi Lou Who

This was very entertaining for Remi, too. I took her into the bathroom to let her check her new look out in the mirror, and she laughed so hard! She stayed there a long time cracking up at her reflection, then wore her hair that way the rest of the morning.

More arts & crafts:

Finally, I printed a picture of the Grinch’s face from here.

Remi painted it with red and green and added some cotton for his hat.

(Aren’t you glad you saw the “before” picture so you know what you’re looking at? My original intention was for her to color it with crayons, but hey…once the paint is out, it will always be the first pick.)

We also did a fun Grinch maze.

Of course, this book also provides a great opportunity to discuss what the Grinch learns at the end of the book: Joy isn’t found in THINGS!

I hope you enjoy reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to your little one this holiday season.

Enjoy learning together!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted: November 21, 2012 in Holiday Fun
Tags: , ,

Happy Thanksgiving from Cheerful Learning!

Enjoy your “little turkeys” and let them know you are thankful for them!

(And if you need last-minute ideas for Thanksgiving crafts, snacks, and activities, hop over to  this post.)

Thankful to be learning together,