Wednesday, September 30, 2015

13 Most Exciting Ideas for Learning with Spiders

Spiders Crafts and Games Preschool Activities

My Firefly doesn't like spiders, but finds them fascinating and exciting. That makes a great opportunity for creative play and learning for this Halloween season. Pretend playing, creative crafts, literacy and math activities, sensory explorations - here are the 13 most exciting spider ideas we could find.

Pictured above:
Itsy Bitsy Spider Finger Puppet from Lalymom looks so fun to play with. Also, there is a couple of awesome tips for working with the craft foam in this article.

Spiders Easy Craft and Play from My Bright Firefly. Cutting circles, hand muscles at work with a hole punch, fun ideas for coloring and decorating - we loved this craft!

Chalkboard Spider Web Inspired by Charlotte's Web from Sunny Day Family. This spider web is a chalkboard for creative writing!

Halloween Sensory Play from Housing a Forest. Squishy pulp and spiders can make an awesome sensory bin. Scooping, pouring, mixing, and draining are great for hand-eye coordination and fine motor practice.

Halloween Sensory Bin from Sugar Aunts. Purple water beads are a beautiful base for a Halloween bin!

Spider Web Gross Motor Activity from No Time for Flash Cards. Kids will practice following instructions while playing this fun spooky game.

Pictured above:
Stamping Words on Spider Webs from 3 Dinosaurs. This fun literacy activity is inspired by "Charlotte's Web".

Spider Pumpkin from Here Come the Girls. This beautiful spider pumpkin can be so much fun to make!

Spooky Spiders – No Trip to the Craft Store Necessary from Creekside Learning. This egg carton spider looks great!

A Sticky Spider Web Activity from Hands On as We Grow. All you need is a doorway and some painter's tape - such a fun game!

Spider’s Web Discovery Basket from The Train Driver's Wife. The laundry basket has just turned into some fun explorations for the little ones.

Making Our Own Very Busy Spiders and Spider Webs from Teach Preschool. Wonderful activities are inspired by "The Very Busy Spider".

Hanging Spider Craft for Preschoolers from Stir the Wonder. Get creative with crafts for some fun fine motor skills practice.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Spider Craft: Charlotte's Web

Never Ending Fun with Spiders

This spider craft was not only very fun, but also great learning activities. For this craft, the hole punch was a great exercise for the hand; practicing cutting circles in this fun way was never ending; creativity at play decorating with colors and glitter was awesome; trying to bend stems for hand-eye coordination was interesting.

"Charlotte's Web" by E. B. White, a book that has many messages with deep meanings to think about, was more of an inspiration for the craft, not for reading at this time. We did discuss this:
how would it feel to have a spider as your only true friend?

A quote from the book: “Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.”  

Newbery Medal Books is the theme for September at Poppins Book Nook. You can find our previous Poppins Book Nook activities here: Egg Carton Pinocchio Marionette.


Charlotte's Web

Newbery Medal Books are chapter books with great messages in them - a great read for ages 10 and up. "Charlotte's Web", a children's book that carries deep meanings of life and death, true friendship and love, is actually deeply moving and a great read for an adult.
All we could do at this time, is to look through the messages made by Charlotte in his web. 

Spiders Easy Craft and Play

For this craft we used:
black construction paper, white and yellow tempera paint, a hole punch, scissors, white glue, colored sand with glitter, googly eyes, chenille stems, plastic cups and bottle caps for stamping circles.

We started by stamping circles on black construction paper using plastic cups - My Firefly's favorite activity at this time. You can find our previous fun with circles here: Bubbles Art Project.

She practiced cutting out circles: the bigger circle for a spider's body, the smaller circle for a head.

We had extra pages of circles left after the craft. My Firefly used them for decorating more circles, cutting and punching holes for several days after.

The actual Charlotte craft: we glued the head and the body together, punched 8 holes with the hole punch, threaded a 1/4 of a stem through each hole, bended each stem to form a leg, added eyes.

Decorating a spider: we stamped yellow and white circles using a bottle cap or an eraser end of a pencil, painted stripes/ spots on a spider using white glue and a brush, and sprinkled the glue with colored sand.

After everything was dry, I made two folds in and out perpendicular to the spider's neck.

"Newbery Medal Books" - the Theme for September at PBN

It's time for the Poppins Book Nook - a book club that goes live on the last Monday of each months.
You can find our previous Poppins Book Nook books and activities here:
 Poppins Book Nook.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Playful Words: Sight Words You, To, And, For

Sight Words Preschool Games

Sight word of the week activities work great for us! We review letters and learn new words in a fun playful way. In this article: personal pronoun "you" with water balloons, discussing kindness with the help of superheroes and the word "for", the magic pumpkin ornament using the word "to" for the pumpkin life cycle, sorting fruits "and" vegetables.

The first article from our "Sight Word of the Week" series can be found here: Playful Words: Sight Words The, See, At, My, and Me.

Superheroes: Sight Word For

We made these cards using free awesome printables found here: Upper and Lower Case Letter Match Superhero Style! from B-Inspired Mama.

Before the activity, we discussed what makes superheroes special. Do people love superheroes because they can fly? Jump high? Run fast? They are called superheroes because they help people. They are there FOR people - and that makes them real heroes.

The activity tray had 3 sets of superhero cards with the upper case letters F, O, R, and corresponding sets with superhero bursts and low case letters. Who can make more words "for"?


Fruits and Vegetables: Sight Word And

We have been working on fruits and vegetables explorations and discoveries. So here was the right time for a (not so easy!) subject: which of these are fruits? vegetables? We made a set of cards using a free printable found here: Get your veggies - Free printables from AppleGreen Cottage.

Common kitchen knowledge is used to divide these cards into 2 groups. It is not so easy-common knowledge for little kids though. Here is a funny explanation I used based on My Firefly's recent experience:

They are vegetables if we can put them in the soup. Our previous vegetables explorations can be found here:  Fun with Vegetables: Touch, Smell, Taste, Make Soup Together.

They are fruits if we can eat them fresh with whipped cream or chocolate syrup, LOL.

For the above activity, we used a tray with mixed fruit and vegetable cards and a tray with mixed letters a, n, d cards. Every time My Firefly would make a pair on the chart, we made a sentence together. Ex,:
Tomatoes and corn are vegetables. Pears and apples are fruit.

A Magic Pumpkin: Sight Word To

We made a pretty pumpkin ornament; then stamped words "TO" when using the pumpkin to go through the life cycle: Pumpkin Life Cycle Sequencing and Pumpkin Ornament Craft.

Water Balloons: Sight Word You

Letters y, o, u were written on the water balloons. Kids were to find a set of letters to make the word "you". Then they threw balloons one by one naming: "Y, O, U, you!"

I think these activity would be fun with spelling any personal pronouns: I, you, we... Because kids get "personal" when trying to throw a water balloon with a "bang!" So much fun!

Sight Words You, To, And, For were so much fun! What's your favorite sight words activity?
Sight Words The, See, At, My, and Me: Playful Words: Our Sight Word of the Week Activities for Preschoolers.

Sight Words Can, Look: Dinosaurs: Sight Words Can and Look.

Find a wonderful collection of ideas for playing with sight words here: Tons of Fun Sight Word Activities from Capri + 3.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Pumpkin Life Cycle Sequencing and Pumpkin Ornament Craft

The Magic Pumpkin Ornament Preschool Activities

It was a "magic" pumpkin life cycle discovery for My Firefly: how a seed can turn into a Jack-o-Lantern, or how a flower can turn into a vine. Is it really some Halloween magic? This activity is very easy to set up and brought us some magical experiences!

The Magic Pumpkin ornament is hanging on our mantle - easily accessible for a life cycle review for kids. The pumpkin has smiley neighbors on the mantle, Fall Cats from last fall: Paper Plate Cat. How to Be a Cat.

Pumpkin Life Cycle Sequencing

For the pumpkin ornament we used:
green and orange construction paper for tracing and cutting out circles,
school glue and a brush,
one green chenille stem,
orange tulle fabric on a 6-inch spool (optional, Amazon affiliate link: Expo Classic Tulle Spool of 25-Yard, Red ).

This free printable for the pumpkin life cycle is fun to play with and can be found here: Pumpkin Packs, Pumpkin Language Pack Part 2.

My Firefly went through pumpkin life cycle sequencing many times - without even noticing it: when coloring the fun page, when I cut out pictures for her, when sequencing the pictures on the tray, and finally, when gluing cut outs onto the ornament.

Pumpkin Ornament Craft

We traced a small bowl on the construction paper and cut out 7 circles, green and orange.
Each circle was folded in half.
My Firefly used white glue and a brush to glue all the halves together. I assisted to place the circles edge to edge to form a nice ball.
She added the stages of life cycle and stamped the word "TO" to each fold.

We threaded a green pipe cleaner through the center and formed a spiral at the top and bottom of the pumpkin. This stem can be used to hang the ornament. You can stop there or decorate your pumpkin more. We used a piece of orange tulle fabric for a festive touch: such a fun celebration of the upcoming pumpkin season!

The Magic Pumpkin Ornament

When we find a minute to play with our "magic pumpkin", we take it down and start flipping the pages starting from any stage of cycle.

While at the pumpkin life cycle, it is fun to remember that pumpkins (just like tomatoes or pea pods) are fruit. Any fleshy shape that grows out of the flower and contains seeds is considered a fruit by scientists. All the other parts of a plant are vegetables.

Well, from our "kitchen perspective", we had a fruits - vegetables sorting activity next naming tomatoes and pumpkins as vegetables.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Telling Stories through Journaling for 3 Year Olds

Journaling for 3 - 4 Year Olds: Play with Letters and Memories

I mean I tried to keep a journal myself, but always forgot to make entries and it didn't stick. What's the purpose of journal writing for preschoolers? Wouldn't they rather do something else? Inspired by the ideas found here: Journals with 3 Year Olds from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds, we decided to give it a try.

And it is getting more fun for My Firefly by every additional page! Her journal is her special book of her favorite stories and happenings with just a little playing with letters and a written language mixed in.

Barbie Bottle Journal Page

This is her first page. She had gotten a fun Barbie bottle of juice from a gas station when travelling and loved it. I thought this would be a nice entry for a start.

The letters on this page: I wrote them with her watching just to show her how letters could fit inside the lines. I did not expect her to copy them at all! She did - coping my behavior more then the letters themselves.

You never know how much kids can actually do until they try. That is - at the right moment, of course.


Telling Dinosaur Stories through Journaling

We do not have any preset time for working with her journal. Some fun memories in a playful way: an activity I offer her with each page is for about 3 minutes, which she can extend by herself if she wants to.

Here are some dinosaur pages made by My Firefly and her best friends during their Dinosaurs play date. They each got a half circle to trace for a dinosaur's body, then added other body parts and words. This was done with parents' assistance - an awesome bonding activity to do together and to tell the dinosaur stories afterwards.

Volcano Journal Page

Every time My Firefly gets her journal, she starts by looking through the pictures, reading words, and telling stories. This is some sweet time for us to talk about anything, and to absorb the meaning behind written language and illustrations.

This Volcano page was done after our volcano play found here: Letter V Is for Volcano.Rocks and Model Magic Volcano Craft.

Best Friend's Birthday Party: Cupcake Pages

First, kids were offered to find the lines for letters by drawing a pattern for a table cloth at the bottom of the page. I found this works the best for us: an activity planned for 3 minutes with a kid-lead extension and no set expectations of the outcome. Also, it is important to find the only one object to draw to keep activities simple.


My Firefly's Favorite Journal Page: Family at the Festival

Her stories about people at the carousel change from time to time, but the main idea is the same: it is so much fun to spend time with family and friends at the festival!

Journaling and telling stories based on journal pages worked wonders for us. The one challenge is to find extra 3-5 minutes to sit together, reflect and draw. The great thing is this notebook is such a wonderful conversation starter!

More Preschool Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Practical Life Skills through Play

Finding Spring: 10 Creative Sun Catcher Crafts

Q-Tip Painting for Preschoolers
(Click on the picture below to enlarge it.)

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fall Play and Art: Our 4 Favorites for September

Fall through Art and Play Preschool Activities

My Firefly enjoyed these four activities so much! She made a "Scarecrow in the Garden" paper plate decoration, painted some fun pumpkins (playful reading activity), painted fall leaves for a pretend play and a song, played with a farm puzzle while taking her first look at counting up to 32. You can also find our Fall Cats here: C is for Cats. Paper Plate Cat. Dramatic Play.


Fall Art: Our New Scarecrow in the Garden Decoration

The scarecrow is an easy handprint. Find the step-by-step tutorial here: Handprint Scarecrow Craft for Kids to Make from Crafty Morning.

Why does a farmer need to keep a scarecrow in his garden?

While the paint was drying, kids tried to answer this question. My Firefly thought the scarecrow is there to make a garden pretty, but her friend said, "I don't know... To scare the crows?" That's a wonderful answer for a 3 year old!

Kids added ovals of different colors while we were talking about the colors and shapes of vegetables in the garden that our scarecrows can protect. And of course, there is one black bird is still there.

Play with Numbers and Counting: The Fun Farm Puzzle

This puzzle is a free printable found here: Free Animal Number Puzzles for Kids from Totschooling. There are 1-16 and 1-32 versions available on the site.

My Firefly can count and recognize numbers up to 20. This puzzle was the perfect first introduction to counting beyond 20 for us.

We worked with the numbers sheet first: counted together while pointing at numbers. We counted together again while she was painting numbers using a paint brush and white glue. Finally, she took a piece at a time and placed it in its place (with my assistance as needed).

That was a very satisfying counting experience for her!

Painting Pumpkins: a Playful Reading Activity

This wonderful collection of pumpkin themed free printables can be found here: Pumpkin Pack from 3 Dinosaurs.

My Firefly really liked painting pumpkins while practicing reading the CVC words! She used Do-a-Dot markers for these activities. She has Jack-o-Lantern hanging on the refrigerator door already and is very proud of it!

Mixing Colors and Fall Leaves Art: Our Favorite Song and Pretend Play at the Moment

We observed the colors of leaves from different trees, then painted our leaves for the beautiful pretend play and the Fall Leaves song: Pretend Play with Fall Counting Songs.

Our homeschooling preschool play and hands-on activities and every day discoveries can be found here: Creative ABCs.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fun with Vegetables: Touch, Smell, Taste, Make Soup Together

Our Fall Vegetable Soup for a Picky Eater

A wonderful sensory experience with all the colors, aromas, and tastes, a review of vegetables, and a yummy soup - we loved our quality time together... and a point checked off our Fall Bucket List. Here are some of our favorite fall activities: Fall Bucket List.

First, we went "vegetable hunting" at the grocery store. My Firefly had to find:
  • something green, yellow, orange, red, brown...
  • something smaller than green beans, bigger than a squash,
  • something wet and with a strong smell,
  • something heavier than cauliflower, something lighter then a zucchini,
  • one last vegetable she wanted to put into the cart.
When back at home, we explored the textures and named all the vegetables again. Parsley and zucchini were tricky for us.

The vegetables we ended up with: potatoes, carrots, onion, corn, peas, beans, green beans, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, celery, parsley, sweet pepper, zucchini.

We also reviewed some safety rules before starting cooking: washing hands and vegetables, the rules with the knife, care with the hot items.

I made meat balls and started our bouillon. While fragrances from the simmering bouillon filled the kitchen, we began cutting our vegetables.

My Firefly worked with the butter knife. She was able to cut zucchini easily and green beans with some effort. She explored the textures and hardness of different veggies; and I pointed out the sources of the smells in the kitchen. So much fun!

My favorite is my picky eater enjoyed eating her vegetable soup. She was so proud to share her soup with all the family!

Her first experience with the knife was good. But yes, all children are different and accidents happen. As usual, please consider safety first when choosing activities for your child. I also allowed her to stir the soup a couple of times with my assistance.

Our vegetable fun was great! What is your favorite meal for cooking with kids?

You might also like:

Out Favorite Books about Food and Cooking
Food Groups Preschool Activities

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pretend Play with Fall Counting Songs

Counting Backwards through Fun Play

Kids love pretend play and they do love songs with the repetition in them. When you combine the two adding the simplest hand made props, they might just be so excited to sing and count... And count backwards without any visible effort. My Firefly loves these four songs we played with so far!

Also, visit our counting and measuring with apples here: T is for Ten on Top. Preschool Math.

Fall Leaves Counting Song and Art Activity

This free printable of the beautiful autumn leaves, finger straps, and the words can be found here: Printable Autumn Leaf Puppets and a Song from Picklebums.

We noticed the different colors of the leaves. Then I printed them out to gray scale using construction paper so that we could play with mixing colors.

The leaves are painted with tempera paint using cotton swabs. My Firefly tried different combinations: yellow with dots of green, yellow and orange with dots of green, red and orange, red and brown with dots of yellow, brown and yellow. For her, the combinations of colors came as a surprise.

The lines inside the leaves are drawn with a clean cotton swab on a layer of wet paint.

Owls Pretend Play with Finger Puppets

We made the owl puppets using store bought stickers on the fingers off the glove.

5 little owls on a moonlit night.
5 little owls are quite a sight.
5 little owls. Are you keeping score?
One flew away, and that left 4.

5 Little Paper Plate Pumpkins Fall Counting Song

Our dear friend Becca has created these props for us. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are painted paper plates with eyes and mouth cut outs. The fence is a recycled box. The song can be found here (YouTube link): 5 little pumpkins.

Kids loved playing pumpkins so much!

Frogs on a Log Pretend Play and Counting

These awesome froggies are a free printable and a song found here: Five Green Frogs – Kid’s Music Printable from Picklebums. All we had to do is print out, laminate (optional), and attach the popsicle sticks with some tape.

My Firefly loves "jumping" frogs into the "pool" and the magic of decreasing numbers on the log!

Some other pretend play, and Math and counting activities you might like:

Counting and measuring with apples: T is for Ten on Top. Preschool Math.
Counting rocks and playing with dinosaurs: Rocks on the Mirror.
Little games with colors, shapes, and tables: Make Fun Friends for Beekle Matching Colors and Shapes.
Counting and our easy introduction to bar graphs: Fun with Zoo Animals: Visual Hands-on Math and Graphs.

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