Posts Tagged ‘reading with preschoolers’

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted what we’ve been doing around here, and if you’re curios about why, you can check out this post. If you just want to jump into a fun, book-related activity, you are in the right place!

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

A while back Remi and I enjoyed a silly, hands-on unit centered around another of Dr. Seuss’ genius works, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Here’s what we did, and how you can do it all, too:

Of course, the first thing we did was read the book together.

And though we’ve read this one a thousand times before, Remi never seems to grow tired of hearing it…or any other Seuss books, for that matter.

Then we got started on our projects.

First up was some math fun. We did some Goldfish Graphing using a free printable from here and some colored Goldfish crackers.

Remi had fun lining up the fish, and then counting to see how many there were of each color.

We also used our Goldfish crackers to do some number matching. She had to look at the number on each fishbowl and figure out how many fish to place inside the bowl.

Each time she found a broken one, she pointed out that she really couldn’t count with it, and asked if she should eat it instead.

You can get the free printable below right here.

For our first snack, we made some blue Jell-O to represent the water, and when it started to gel we added some Swedish Fish candy. I found the idea here, and trust me when I say it was a BIG hit.

Then, after looking through the book at all the zany creatures Dr. Seuss came up with, I asked Remi to create some crazy creatures of her own. I gave her some different colors of Play-Doh, a container of plastic beads, and a big bag of colored feathers, and let her go to town doing whatever she wanted with them. (You could use any craft materials you like for this activity.)

These are the creatures Remi came up with: (Hey, she was only three…)

I got the idea for making the creatures from this post, and there is a lot you can do with this activity. Just shaping the Play-Doh and pushing in the 3-D elements is a great fine-motor activity, plus you can add in some language enrichment by having her tell you about each creature. What is the creature’s name? What does it do? What does it eat? 

Before our next snack, we looked back at the pages that talk about the Yink who likes to wink and drink pink ink. I put some pink ink in a little glass for Remi…well, OK, it was really just strawberry milk, but hey—we’re using our imaginations here! I got the pink ink idea here and then I added a straw and pompom to make it extra fun.

Of course, as she was drinking her pink ink, Remi practiced winking, too.

We did these activities months ago, but she still asks me if we can drink pink ink again…and that, to me, is the measure of success! Such simple things can make big impressions on preschoolers, so use your imagination and try some silly things that they’ll remember forever! (And don’t forget to take some pictures to jog those memories, for both of you.)

For our final project, we made a handprint craft to represent the book’s title. I painted Remi’s hands—one red, one blue, of course. This was just as much fun as the craft itself!

Then I had her stamp them on a piece of sturdy white paper and I labeled them for her. (I got the handprint idea from here.)

I cut the paper into the shape of a fishbowl and Remi used a black marker to add faces to the fish once the paint was dry. Then, I poured some light corn syrup into a small container for her and let her squeeze in a few drops of blue food coloring. We mixed it up and she used a paintbrush to spread it all over the fishbowl to make it look like it was full of water. (No worries if your child licks this “paint” off her fingers, either!)

The end result not only looked great; it felt great, too! It wasn’t sticky, exactly, but nice and squishy when pressed on with my…um, I mean, her…fingers (after we let it dry overnight, of course).

I hope you enjoy these One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish activities with your preschooler. I’d love your feedback.

Enjoy learning together!

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

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!

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

Snowmen at Night is one of THOSE books…you know, the ones that combine fun, colorful illustrations and a lyrical text to make any preschooler want to read it again and again and again. (And since it is highly unlikely we’ll see any actual snow all winter here in South Texas, we have to rely on books like this to enjoy the concept!)

In addition to the joy the book itself is sure to provide, here are ten fun activities inspired by Snowmen at Night. So grab your favorite preschooler and get ready to have some snowy fun, wherever you may live!

Note: I did these with the preschool group in our homeschool co-op, but each activity is easily adaptable and can be done with just you and your preschooler.

Snack: Snowman Buttons

OK, I’ll be honest here. This wasn’t really a planned thing. But the minute we got into the classroom, everyone was already “just starving”…and I certainly didn’t want any starving kids on my conscience…so I quickly poured out a pile of “snowman buttons” for them to snack on while we set up our other activities. (Hey, it worked…)

Snowman Buttons

Snowman Buttons

We read the book, Snowmen at Night, in which a little boy notices how different his snowman looks the morning after he builds him, and wonders what in the world snowmen do at night to end up with such a disheveled appearance. The older kids in the group understood that his snowman was really just starting to melt, but thoroughly enjoyed going along with the boy’s suppositions of what goes on when the sun goes down: sledding, ice skating, snowball fights, games and races, and drinks of ice cold cocoa provided by their snowmoms. (You really need to read this one to your kids!)

Imagination and dramatization: Sneaky Snowmen

Once we’d read the book, I pulled out our family’s big tub of winter gear (which we almost never need but have anyway for some reason.)

Each child picked out the hat, scarf, and mittens that would transform her into a snowman…

…and then I “built” each one by positioning them just so.

Next I said good-night to my little snowmen and pretended to go to sleep, telling them to do “whatever snowmen do at night.” While I snoozed and snored, they danced and jumped around. When I woke up, they froze, and I marveled at the changes that had taken place while I was sleeping. They LOVED this and asked to do it again and again and again.

Movement: Sledding

Like the snowmen in the book, we decided we would enjoy going sledding. Obviously, if you live where it snows, this will be done a little differently. Here, where we only read about snow in books, our sled of choice was a big laundry basket with a rope attached, and our snowy slope was a grassy area outside the building. Each snowman got a turn, and the others pretended to be sled dogs pulling their snowman down a snowy hill. All the riding snowman had to do was say “please,” then hang on and enjoy the ride.

Get ready...Get set...

Get ready…Get set…

Go!

Go!

Sledding wasn’t the only way the snowmen in the book had fun at night. They also engaged in snowman games and races…so we did, too! We started with a big bowl of “snowballs” (or, in our case, ping pong balls)…

…and I came up with a couple of fun, easy games to keep the kids moving on this beautiful, 70-something-degree January day. (You could, of course, do these indoors if you experience real winter where you live.)

Game/Movement: Spoons and Snowballs

First up was a game where each child had to carry a snowball in a spoon and dump it in a big bowl several feet away, then run back and give the spoon to their teammate to take over.  This was trickier than it sounds! Each time they dropped a snowball, they had to stop, pick it up, put it back in their spoon, and then keep running. We continued taking turns, but if you are playing this game with just one child, you could time him (using the stopwatch on your cell phone) to see how many he can get in a specified time, or to see how long it takes to get a certain number to the bowl. Let your child try to beat his own time each round.

Game/Movement: Scooping Snowballs

Next up I gave each child a measuring cup and had them scoop up as many snowballs as they could from the basket and run with them to their team’s bowl.

Although there was only one bowl per team, everyone was scooping and running (and squealing) at the same time. If you are doing this with one child, you might want to adapt the game as mentioned above, or have your own bowl and race against your child.

Once all the snowballs had been transferred, we counted the contents of each bowl to see which team had scooped the most. Sometimes the snowballs made it into the right bowl…

…and sometimes, not so much. But, just look at their faces!

(And yes, one of those is a Halloween-themed bowl…but it was big, and they didn’t seem to mind, or even notice!)

Snack: Snowman Donuts

All that running around will make your preschooler hungry, so you’re going to want to create a fun snack together to take the edge off that hungry tummy. Why not make this easy, adorable snowman donut?

All you need is one powdered donut and one candy corn piece per child, as well as a tube of black decorator frosting. I got the idea for this snack from this picture, but replaced the food clay he used for the eyes and mouth with other ingredients. This way the kids could do the whole project themselves—which they loved—and squeezing the tube and inserting the nose provided some fine motor practice as well.

Of course, they wanted more candy corn afterward, and they giggled each time they asked if they could please eat another nose.

Craft: Silly Snowman Collage

I purchased a package of small, white doilies and gave three of these “snowballs” to each child to glue onto colored construction paper. I then presented them with a tray full of bits and pieces that each child could use to create her individual snowman’s features.

Although I had specific snowman parts in mind when I chose items to fill the tray, I intentionally did not give the children any specific instructions other than to design their own snowmen. I love how differently they all turned out! The oldest kids’ creations looked somewhat like you might expect…

…while the younger ones’ concoctions definitely had their own unique styles!

(I adapted the above idea from here.)

Next I gave them some “snowflakes” (a.k.a. Honeycomb cereal pieces) to add to their pictures…

…but I think only one child ended up actually gluing them on her picture. (Can you guess where all the rest went?)

Science Experiment: Floating Snowball

Next I brought out a hair dryer and let each child predict what might happen to our snowball (ping pong ball) if we held it above the running hair dryer. Each child’s answer was different, and they were anxious to see what would happen.

Seeing the “floating snowball” brought some great facial expressions!  I had seen the idea here and here, but since I was working with three-to-five year olds I didn’t go into any explanation about air currents or air pressure. I simply let them experience the wonder, and enjoyed watching their reactions. Each one wanted a turn to hold the hairdryer and make the snowball float.

Please note that when you do this experiment you will need to have the heat setting on your hair dryer turned completely off. The cool air works just fine and will be safe for little hands.

Craft: Splendid Snowflakes

Here’s another idea I found here: I started with a package of incredibly gaudy doilies I found at the dollar store. (Well, I say they were gaudy…but, if you asked the kids, they were “beautiful golden snowflakes.”)

We laid them down on paper plates and used a sponge brush to cover them (and the plates) with blue paint.

The idea was to remove the doily when we were finished to find that the negative space left behind would resemble a gorgeous snowflake…which it did…

…but the kids were all just as excited about the “blue snowflakes” they had made, and refused to throw their painted doilies away. I have to agree, they looked very pretty!

If you are doing this with just one child, you could let her lay several doilies on plates and paint each one a different color, then hang them from your tree or ceiling for a falling-snow effect.

Just for fun: Snow Play

We couldn’t conclude our Snowmen at Night fun without getting our hands on some “snow,” so I brought out a can of shaving cream and squirted it onto the table in front of each child. They had a great time squishing it…

…and smooshing it.

Then they decided they wanted to turn themselves into snowmen, so they smeared it all over themselves. Good thing shaving cream cleans up easily. (And they all smelled so good afterward!)

No matter the climate where you live, there is plenty of wintery fun to be had while reading Snowmen at Night.

Update: If you enjoyed these activities, you may want to check out Sneezy the Snowman, too!

Enjoy learning together!

I’ll admit it.

When I see a book I loved as a child, you can bet I’ll be snapping it up for my own kiddos. So when my firstborn was little and I found a new copy of The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook, I grabbed it and ran for the check-out counter. I’ve now enjoyed this cute counting book with all four of my children, and each time it has brought back fond memories of being read to by my own mom when I was a little girl. (Isn’t that a memory we all hope for with our kids?)

Cover art by Michael Frith

Honestly, I don’t even know if this exact book is still available, but there are plenty of Sesame Street books out there. And if you read any of them with YOUR little one, why not follow up with a special, healthy snack-time activity by making this edible Bert and Ernie pair from fruit?

I got the idea from here and adapted it by using a cherry tomato instead of candy. My little one, who has never actually seen an episode of Sesame Street, loved counting along with this book. She and I had so much fun putting this treat together, and she proudly showed off the finished product all over the house, delighted that her older siblings recognized the duo immediately. What better motivation could you provide to eat something so healthy?

Fun, fun.

Enjoy learning together!