Posts Tagged ‘games’

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!

 

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After planning all kinds of winter/snow activities for January for our homeschool co-op preschoolers, we ended up having weather in the 70’s each time we met for class. No worries—we just pulled out Snowmen All Year, a book that imagines what it might be like to build a snowman that could stay and have fun in every season.

Since this was one of the sequels to Snowmen at Night, and since we had just recently done a plethora of Snowmen at Night activities, I thought this book would be perfect.

But, we didn’t stop there. We also read Snow Dude, the story of a little snowman who runs away from everyone, its verse mimicking the rhythm of The Gingerbread Man.

The kids enjoyed both books, but unanimously agreed that their favorite of the day was Sneezy the Snowman, the story of a poor little snowman who just can’t get comfortable. Each time he shivers with cold, he seeks to warm himself up…either by drinking hot chocolate, sitting in a hot tub, or leaning over a campfire. Of course, each time he melts and has to be completely rebuilt.

Regardless of which winter books you read together, you and your preschooler can have a blast with the following snowman games, crafts, science experiment, and snack.

Note: Although I did the following activities with a group of 3-to-5 year olds, you could easily adapt each one to suit a single child.  And you’ll probably have less mess to clean up. 😉

Science Experiment: Melting Ice

I  brought in a container of crushed ice and let each child fill up a clear, plastic cup.

I also set out some small bowls of water and let the kids take turns adding drops of food coloring.

After mixing them up, they got busy transferring the colored water to their cups of ice. Using an eyedropper for this was challenging for some of them, and all of them got a good workout for those little hand muscles!

As they took turns squeezing the colors, we watched as the colored water began to melt the crushed ice.

I’ll be honest here: this activity lasted way longer than I’d intended, as the kiddos were all completely fascinated by the colorful, melting ice. They wanted to add more and more drops of colored water, and enjoyed watching as the original colors mixed together to form new ones. (“Look! The bottom is turning purple!”)

In the end, I let them dump out the bowls of colored water into the larger container I’d brought in.

They enjoyed this so much that even when the older kids went outside for lunch, the preschoolers wanted to keep playing with this experiment. I’d say that means the activity was a success! (I got the idea here.)

Game: Snowball, Blowball

Laugh all you want, but the preschoolers loved the title of this simple game I created. I gave each pair of children a snowball (or ping pong ball…shhhh…) and told them they had to try to blow it off the other side of the table while keeping their hands clasped behind their backs. The child on the opposite side was trying to do the same thing, of course, and let me tell you this was a HOOT to watch!

They were literally jumping up and down, screaming and squealing (much to the dismay of the class next door, I’m sure…Sorry, guys.)

I had to promise them we’d play this one again next week…even if it’s up in the 80’s then! Hint: If playing with one child, YOU can get on the other side of the table. Or, if there is an older sibling in the house, I am pretty sure he’d enjoy helping out for this one.

Craft: Balloon painting

For our first craft, I set out a plate of white paint and let each child dip a balloon in it. We then created snowmen by pressing the balloon on colored construction paper: lightly for the head, a little harder for the middle, and hardest for the lower body.

The harder you press, of course, the bigger the snowball will be. Hint: The key to making actual circles is to raise the balloon straight up after pressing the paint on the paper. I also gave them each a cotton swab to dip into the paint so they could add snowflakes all around their snowmen.

Of course we added buttons and facial features, too. I love how this little guy stood a cotton swab on end to represent the carrot nose. And doesn’t it look just like he’s juggling all those snowballs?

As always, each child’s creation was so different from the others’. (I love that!)

Hint: Remember to worry about whether your preschooler is having a great time, NOT whether her art project is turning out the way it’s “supposed to look.” (It looks right. Trust me.)

Game: Snowball Toss

Again we let our ping pong balls represent snowballs, and I set a plastic container in front of the kids for them to try to toss them into, while standing behind a line of masking tape. They took turns seeing who could land the most snowballs in the container.  Hint: If playing with one child, you could move the container farther from the tape line each time they toss the snowballs, to add an extra challenge.

Snack: Snowman Slices

By this time your little snowball thrower will have worked up an appetite, which means it’s time to pull out some bananas, raisins, and pretzel sticks for a healthy snack your child can create himself. Give your little one a rounded knife (I used the kind that’s often used for cutting into a cheese ball or other spread…Surely there’s a name for that but I have no idea what it is…) and show him how to cut the banana in slices and use them to create a snowman body—complete with pretzel arms.

Now, I’ll grant you that this isn’t the most beautiful snack to look at, but your child will LOVE the grown-up activity of using a knife and will want to slice and slice and slice. Besides that, it’s healthy and tasty, and she’ll get the snowman idea well enough.

(This snack is an adaptation of an idea I found here. )

Craft: Marshmallow Snowflakes

Here’s a simple craft idea that requires nothing but a piece of construction paper, a bottle of glue, and some mini-marshmallows. Let your child choose a color of paper and show her how to squeeze liquid glue onto it in a snowflake pattern. Doing this herself means she not only gets to create the design of her choice; it also provides another opportunity to work out those hand muscles, which is so important for little ones who are learning to write.

Once the glue is ready, give her a plate of marshmallows…

…and let her go to town sticking the marshmallows onto the glue to make a 3-D snowflake all her own.

Notice, once again, how differently they all turned out.

I got the idea here but chose to leave out the glitter…for reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain. 😉

Do not be surprised when numerous marshmallows never make it to the glue design…

(But that’s one reason you give them SOME marshmallows on a plate…not the whole bag!)

Game: Snowball Search

For our last game, I opened up a package of “snowballs” (cotton balls) and hid them all over the room for the kids to find.

Since we were playing in a group, I gave a limit to how many each child could find, and when they reached it they had to help someone else find theirs. If you are playing with one child, you can let her find them all, and even let her have a turn hiding them for you to find, afterward!

While we were cleaning up, one of the girls became very curious about whether these snowballs would melt…so I let them add some water and see what happened.

And yes, the kids convinced themselves they truly did melt, and then had fun squishing them around in their hands. Hint: Don’t feel tied to only the activities you plan for your little one. Let him take the lead occasionally in determining what you do next!

I hope you enjoy these snowman activities. If you do them with your child, I’d love to hear about it. (And if you haven’t already, why not stop by and check out the activities for Snowmen at Night, too, for more “snowy” fun?)

Enjoy learning together!

Before we jumped in on the formation process, I thought it would be a good idea to review the concept of zero. So, we played a little game of “How Many?”

How many pink dinosaurs live in our garage?

How many pianos are on your head?

How many buffalo did you eat for breakfast?

You get the point. Make your questions have an obvious “ZERO!” answer so she’ll get the fact that “zero” means “absolutely none at all.” Plus, this game is good for lots of giggles!

Then, before I taught her to form the numeral herself, I let her handle a foam zero to see how the shape felt.

I had her look at it and trace it with her fingers to cement its configuration in her mind.

Then, it was time for her to learn to form her own zero. We sang this rhyme while she traced the figure in a shallow cake pan I filled with play sand:

Round and round and round we go;

Close it up to make zero!

(Make sure your child understands the importance of beginning all numerals at the TOP.)

As you can imagine, Remi loved this. Of course, once the sand was available, she didn’t want to get her hands out of it! No big deal—I kept a bath towel under the pan the whole time, and just shook it off outside when she was done. It kept her busy and happy for quite some time, and sand play is an excellent sensory experience for young children. (Throw in some measuring cups or scoops or other pouring devices for extra fun!)

We also formed a zero from Play-Doh for another 3-D version. This was pretty easy for her to do by rolling up “a snake” and connecting the ends. She chanted our little rhyme again as she traced the dough circle.

(I found the number mats here and printed and laminated them so we can use them with Play-Doh, dry-erase markers, or whatever other media we like.)

Enjoy learning together!