Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Beaver Earth Day Craft for Kids

Beaver Lacing Craft for Earth Day

We talked about rivers and lakes, learned about beavers, and had fun lacing with yarn while counting up 1 to 25 and down 25 to 1. These activities were inspired by the book "Beaver Is Lost" by Elisha Cooper. Dot-to-dot lacing is fun!

Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers is the theme for February at Poppins Book Nook. You can find our previous Poppins Book Nook activities here: A Trip to Paris, France with Diva and Flea. French Dog Outfit Pattern.

Beaver Is Lost

"Beaver Is Lost" by Elisha Cooper is our book of the month. This wordless book with beautiful watercolor and pencil illustrations has won New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book award. The scary adventures of the lost beaver motivate to retell his story for the Earth Day!

Amazon affiliate link: Beaver Is Lost

Beaver Earth Day Craft

We used 2 copies of the beaver Earth Day coloring page printed on brown construction paper, found here: Earth Day Coloring Pages from Pastiche Family Portal. Pictured above, beaver's head and body is cut out from the first page; beaver's paws with additional inch are cut out from the second page. The tail is drawn free hand.

For this craft we used:
  • a hole punch,
  • a black marker for the numbers, a red marker to circle the holes for attaching paws and a tail,
  • oil pastels for coloring,
  • brown yarn, the tip is wrapped in tape for the ease of lacing.

To make the holes on paws and a tail, place these parts under the body and mark the spots.

The order of lacing was market with numbers 1 to 25:
numbers 1-8 are around the head for lacing making loops around the edge,
numbers 9-11 are placed on both sides of the body for lacing dot-to-dot across the body,
numbers 12-14 are on the left leg for lacing making loops around the edge,
numbers 15-22 are placed on both sides of the body for lacing dot-to-dot across the body,
numbers 23-25 are on the right leg for lacing making loops around the edge,
numbers 9, 11, 15, 22, 16, 20 are circled in red to mark the holes for attaching paws and a tail.

Our beaver can stand on its own and say "Hello" (the upper paws are movable). We laced him counting from 1 to 25, then went the opposite direction - counting down from 25 to 1, finished by lacing making loops around the edge around his body.

Some interesting facts about beavers:

  1. New words: dam, canal, lodge.
  2. Beavers are the second larges rodents in the world: adult capybara can weigh up to 200 lb, adult beaver up to 60 lb.
  3. Beavers cut trees with their front teeth for food and for building. The broad scaly tail makes a beaver a great swimmer and can make loud slapping sounds to scare away the predators and warn beaver's family of a danger.
  4. Beavers are herbivores, nocturnal, and don't hibernate.
  5. Beavers' dams change and create ecosystems in many ways.


Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers Is the Theme for January at Poppins Book Nook

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:

Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers book fun below!

Nature Walk along the River from Growing in God's Grace. "Water Dance" by Thomas Locker.

Frog, Turtle, and Fish Units from Chestnut Grove Academy. Favorite picture books about ponds.

Roll a Pond Math Games from 3 Dinosaurs. "Jump, Frog, Jump!" by Robert Kalan.

Nature Walk to the Pond. Birds. from SAHM I Am. "One Duck Stuck: A Mucky Counting Book" by  Phyllis Root.

Swimming Turtles Discovery Bottle from Sunny Day Family. "Turtle Splash: Countdown at the Pond" by Cathryn Falwell.

More Ideas from My Bright Firefly

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Peacock Paper Plate Lacing Card Craft for Kids

Fine Motor Skills Fun Peacock

The beautiful diversity of birds can be confusing for the little ones. Are chicken, penguin, and peacock all birds? We practiced our fine motor skills while making a colorful peacock using beads on the paper plate lacing card and a hole punch. I love the hands-on Math practice we had while at this colorful craft.

Kids will love making peacock sounds with this bird!


Peacock Paper Plate Craft and Learning about Birds

We watched a short YouTube video about peacocks first: The Most Magnificent Peacock Dance Display Ever. This video lasts for a couple of minutes which is great because we had to watch it several times: gorgeous colors!

Some facts about peacocks were discussed:

  • The beautiful peacock's tail is made of feathers - it's a bird.
  • This bird sounds funny!
  • This beautiful bird is a male bird. There are peahens and peachicks.
  • The beautiful fluorescent colors are made by the light reflection from the tiny crystals in feathers.
  • Unlike turkeys, these large birds can fly.
  • Peacocks eat plants, flower petals, seeds, insects. They are omnivorous.

For this activity we used:
  • a paper plate
  • a hole punch
  • yarn and a chenille stem for the DIY needle
  • pony beads
  • tempera paint

Paper Plate Peacock from Easy Peasy and Fun has great instructions for this craft. Please, visit them to see how to make an easy template and a beautiful way of decorating the bird with a cupcake liner.

First, we painted our peacock blue, both sides. For a quicker craft, crayons can be used for coloring.

My Firefly loves working with the hole punch! It is a wonderful tool for strengthening muscles in a fun way. She made holes around the peacock's tail. I made a bigger hole in the center.

Fun Math Activities with the Peacock Craft

Counting and equal quantities: For each feather, 6 beads were counted to make them equal. Some feathers were made longer by adding one bigger bead to 6 pony beads.

Patterns: My Firefly wanted to make patterns on a couple of feathers.

Lacing pattern. She had no problem following three easy steps:
  1. Thread yarn through the center hole from the back to the front.
  2. Count and thread beads.
  3. Thread yarn through the hole at the edge.

Multi-colored yarn can be used for the lacing activity without beads. Happy Lacing!

More Pretend Play Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Lion Mask

Frog on a Lily Pad

Cereal Box No Glue Kangaroo

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Doc McStuffins Doctor's Play Kit Easter Basket Stuffers

Doc McStuffins Easter Basket Ideas

My Firefly loves pretend play doctors. All things play medical tools and supplies are never enough. We found some new things at the dollar store and online to make a little Doc McStuffins surprise kit for her. Some fun ideas for Easter basket stuffers and our favorite doctor's play supplies are also featured in this post.

Doctor's Play Kit Easter Basket Ideas

Pictured below (click on the picture to enlarge), our fun finds from the dollar store:
  • Doc McStuffins jumbo playing cards
  • Colored bandages
  • Fun pet animals erasers
  • Dollies hearts
  • Pocket size tissue paper
  • Dry erase markers with wipes and magnets
  • Travel bottles
  • Multi purpose clips

Some fun supplies were printed out and laminated. We used colorful clips to clip them together. The materials pictured below are free printables found here:

Pet Vet Check Up Checklist from Disney Junior

X is for X-Ray from Stella 123

Eye Chart from Vision Source

also, Doc McStuffins Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1

The check up checklist works nicely when laminated with dry erase markers. It is not only great for some fun playing, but also introduces first simple tables and teaches kindness and basic care for the pets.

Pictured below: a little container with heart shaped candies and a laminated cuddles card; a free printable found here: Cuddle Me Lambie from Disney Junior.

The Doc McStuffins doctor's kit pictured below was a surprise kit decorated using dry erase markers on the bag.

Amazon affiliate links:

More Pretend Play Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Flower Girl Pretend Play

Space Pretend Play

A Trip to Paris Pretend Play

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Finding Spring ABC Letters Games. Pley.

Spring Flowers Letters Matching Games for Kids

We tried to catch the sun and enjoy the pop of colors on the window while playing and reviewing our ABCs with spring flowers. Our snowman is standing strong outside bathed in sunshine. We are so ready for the spring to come.

At this time of year, bright colors and sunshine are a joy to play with! Last February, we made this sun catcher to greet the upcoming spring: Sunshine Mobile to Brighten Your Day. This year, lovely spring flowers on a window sill are lots of fun to have.

Finding Spring Letters Games

This invitation to create an ABC spring flower garden looked so beautiful! Supplies for these activities are dollar store finds.

For these activities we used:
  • an Easter basket
  • flowers from a dollar store (each stick had 6 flowers; so four of those are bought and cut apart: $4 total)
  • bath and shower travel bottles
  • stickers and a black Sharpie

There are many ways to play these Spring Flowers ABCs.

Invitation to build the alphabet
My Firefly started by arranging the ABC bottles. This game took her a long time because she declined any assistance and sang the ABC song for every bottle. The bottles feature smiley frogs, turtles, butterflies, and flowers: they look very cheerful in the sun!

Uppercase and low case letter match
Uppercase letters are on the bottles, and the flowers have tags with low case letters. My Firefly noticed this level of difficulty while arranging her spring flowers, but was motivated to continue.

Spell your name with spring bottles
I picked the bottles with the letters of her name. She arrange the bottles to make the name. Additionally, she practiced spelling when arranging the flowers.

Spell the word "SUN"
Only three bottles and three flowers are needed for this activity.

Flower Girl Pretend Play
That basket of spring flowers is beautiful and an inspiration for many pretend play ideas. The best is to share flowers with friends, and smile!

Measuring Water in the Bottles
We measured 1-10 tablespoons of water for each bottle, compared the levels of water in the bottles and the sun light reflections.


Learning ABCs through Play. Pley Online Toy Renting Service.

There are ABC video games. I personally do not like those. We try to limit screen time, but allow some computer and video games experience needed for school. Instead of practicing ABCs, kids can enjoy some wonderful educational video games for little ones. Our favorite is Doc McStuffins game. Players have to use different tools to assess a patient, make a diagnosis, and help them: great for beginning critical thinking!

There are letters and numbers toys. We loved these:

Lettersaurus, AlphaPet Explorer, Count and Learn Cookie Jar, Duplo Number Train, Count and Compose Music, Scribble and Write.

You'd say these toys can get expensive, and kids might find them boring in a few weeks. So here is an exciting solution: Pley Online Toy Renting Service.

Pley has recently added one more fee option to their line-up. For the low price of $9.99 children can receive one toy per month. This option is just right for the letters and numbers preschool toys!

Sponsored Pley blog campaign: all views and opinions with regard to Pley or the products they feature are my own and were not reviewed by the company prior to publishing. You can find our full disclosure here: Disclosure and Privacy Policy.

I'd like to invite you to visit Pley at This service works in three easy steps:
  1. Choose your favorite toys,
  2. Free Delivery to your door,
  3. Play, Return, Repeat.
▪ Pley offers access to a large selection of educative toys, including 400+ LEGO sets and popular robotics toys. New toy options have just launched!
▪ Pley is always on the hunt for the best toys, so their assortment reflects the latest and greatest toys.
▪ Besides having access to a variety of toys, kids learn the concepts of sharing and reducing waste for the environment.
▪ It's really convenient and helps reduce clutter: Pley packages get delivered to your door and when the kids are done playing, they can return them for a new toy. No more toys sitting unused on shelves!

Pley clean and sanitize each toy after every use using eco-friendly and kid-friendly solutions. If your kid is interested in keeping a particular set, they offer the option to buy it in one click from your account page.

What are your favorite tips on learning letters for preschoolers?

Amazon affiliate links:

More Beginning Reading Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Creative ABCs

Bunny Books and Sight Word Games

Parts of a Book with Lulu the Bookmark

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Spring Fun! *affiliate link*
Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Telling Time Game: How Long Will You Love Me?

Math and Art Preschool Game: Time!

"How long will you love me for?" asked Caroline. After reading this wonderful book, we combined Math and Art to play with time. This exciting and effective time telling game gave us  a feeling of what 1, 3, 5, 10, and 15 minutes are.

How Long?

"How Long?" by Elizabeth Dale is our inspiration for this activity. Little Caroline is trying to understand the concept of time through her favorite activities. She could paint a long line in a minute, line up all her trucks in ten minutes, dig a tunnel in the sand in 15, and make a pretty daisy chain in 20. Beautiful water color illustrations are funny and engaging.

The questions Caroline asks are very catchy: "How long until you can play with me?", "How long will you love me for?" My Firefly loved her time telling activity and picked up on using the questions and understanding the answers better.

Telling Time Game

My Firefly used chalk markers on the board to draw pictures of her liking for a set amount of time. Pictured above, "How long is one minute?"

The rules of this Telling Time game are simple:

  • Think of what you want to draw.
  • Ask a question: "How long is one minute?"
  • Draw for one minute.
  • Stop and look. Evaluate how much can be done in one minute.

These simple rules made drawing so exciting! We repeated the same for 3, 5, 10, and 15 minutes.


Chalk Markers: Here is (finally!) a fine solution to save on paper!

Pictured above, "How long is three minutes?"

For this activity, we used ChalkOla chalk markers.

Product review: ChalkOla Premium Wet Wipe Markers. This product was sent to us for free.  All views and opinions with regard to ChalkOla are my own and were not reviewed by the company prior to publishing.

These markers are easy and soft in use, have 5.5 mm bullet tips, are NOT messy like the regular chalk, and (finally!) are a fine solution to save on paper. My Firefly loves her new markers!

Chalk markers can be used on all hard non porous surfaces: chalkboard, whiteboard, glass, mirror, or plastic (yes, on paper too).

After filling up our chalkboard, we were able to wipe it clean easily with the wet paper towel. My Firefly continued drawing on the board - her chalk markings came off with the single wipe of a wet towel as easily the next day.

For more fun ideas on using Chalkola markers and a fun video, visit their website:

There is so much creativity with virtually no mess and the brightest colors on the chalkboard! Pictured above, "How long is five minutes?"
Pictured below, "How long is ten minutes?"

We stopped our playing with time at "How long is 15 minutes?" That was long enough to fill in the board with all kinds of things.

I didn't know she could draw that many things!

More Playful Learning Ideas for Preschoolers from My Bright Firefly

Colors, Counting, and More Play with Math

Pattern Blocks Math

Introduction to Graphing for Preschoolers

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Geography and World Cultures for Early Explorers

World Geography Preschool Activities. Little Passports.

Opening little windows into the big world for the early explorers is so sweet and exciting!

Some of the wonderful benefits for the early explorers can be:
  1. Kindergarten readiness: gaining new vocabulary is very important for future success in reading!
  2. First introduction to different cultures and ways of life makes for the great lessons on empathy and kindness.
  3. Spark the curiosity: kids love exploring the wonders of the world!
  4. World geography and cultures explorations create wonderful opportunities for creative and playful discoveries.

Where We Started Our Journey through the World

Invitation to Explore Land, Air, and Water from My Bright Firefly. She created the layers of rocks, sand and clay, and soil in a tube; tried to find air in an empty tube; compared and learned to describe rocks; played with water.

G is for Globe from My Bright Firefly. Land, Water, and Air sensory table, the first introduction to globe.

I'd also like to introduce Little Passports Early Explorers, a monthly subscription service - a global adventure for kids ages 3-5, delivered right to your door.

Geography and World Cultures for Early Explorers

Pictured above:

Explore Egypt through Art from B-Inspired Mama. This fun and glitter-y art project is inspired by the book and a wonderful exploration of the ancient culture.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa from A Mom with the Lesson Plan is a creative engineering project using old boxes, tape, and paint.

The Taj Mahal Coloring Page Free Printable from Shirleys Preschool Activities was used for this activity.

My Firefly wanted to color with glitter pens. She added the giant blue sun and dancing ballerinas to her picture. Will I explain to her that ballerinas have never performed there? Maybe later. For now, she is exploring and admiring the beauty of the world in her own way, using her power of imagination. She was interested to find out that it is called Taj Mahal and it's in India.

A Panda Bear Made of Hearts from Crafty Morning. That is such a sweet panda bear craft!

A "cupcake castle" play dough mat: Saint Basil's Cathedral.

Pictured above:

Engineering with mega blocks and boards: The Brandenburg Gate.

Eight Fun Ways to Explore Geography and Cultures Around the World from Planet Smarty Pants.

Building Eiffel Tower from 3 Dinosaurs. Wonderful books recommendation and a collaborative building project: there are some wonderful creative family fun ideas in this article!

Sydney Harbor Bridge Craft from Danya Banya. You might have all the supplies needed for this easy building a bridge project.

Little Passports Early Explorers

Little Passports Early Explorers is a monthly subscription service - a global adventure for kids ages 3-5, delivered right to your door.

I love how thoughtful, caring, and detail oriented Little Passports are in planning activities for this age group! The first monthly package is a "traveler kit". The cute orange suitcase is a fun prop for pretend play with all the sweet details (yellow, green and blue letters, a passport, stickers, pictures). The kit includes a helpful wall-sized map which is color coded for the ease of use by little explorers (the colors used are different than colors on a Montessori map).

Each month, there are fun activities and supplies for a theme of the months. The first theme is "Landmarks". The World Landmarks kit includes mini landmarks kids would love along with fun activities.

Some of the themes are: world animals, music, art, oceans, habitats, transportation.

Little Passports Early Explorers affiliate link:


More Playful Learning Ideas for Preschoolers from My Bright Firefly

Practical Life Skills through Play

How to Reset a Bad Day

10 Fun Ways to Say "I Love You, Daddy!"

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Winter Cupcakes: Polar Regions and Physics Explorations with Marshmallow Fondant

Marshmallow Play Dough to Explore Polar Regions Habitats and Changes of Physical Properties of the Mixture

How very sweet! We practiced mixing and measuring, and explored the physical properties of the mixture and the effects of heating solids. The three batches of fondant (plain, blue, and chocolate) were just what kids needed to create endless Polar Regions Small Worlds. These cupcakes were decorated by two playful teenagers and one puzzled toddler.

Polar Regions Habitats Cupcakes

For this activity we needed:
  • cupcakes
  • homemade marshmallow fondant (plain, chocolate, and blue)
  • white and blue icing
  • candies of choice for adding small details
  • play dough tools
  • goldfish crackers

Kids started by rolling snowballs and learning how to make an easy penguin. We have an easy play dough penguin tutorial here: Easy Dancing Penguin.

They reviewed their knowledge of polar regions habitats and got fun creating playful scenes. Fun and safety are all that is needed for a successful project with kids in the kitchen!

Physics Explorations and Practicing Math with Marshmallow Fondant

Marshmallow play dough can be used right after it is done, or stored in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic. For our polar regions habitats cupcakes we made three batches of play dough: play, colored blue, and chocolate.

We only needed small quantities for our play. These took little time and mixing by hand - easy!

To make marshmallow fondant, we used:
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • blue food coloring
  • chocolate chips

Jungle Crew Lab set is our new favorite for the activities like this! For our Math practice today, we had to measure 1 cup of marshmallows, 2 tbs. of water, and 2 cups of sugar.


  • We put marshmallows into the bow, added water.
  • To melt marshmallows, microwave for 1-2 min, stop every 30 sec to mix.
  • Add confectioners sugar into the melted goo - a little at a time - and mix.
  • Place the dough on the greased working surface to continue needing by hand adding sugar as needed to the nice play dough consistency.
  • If too little sugar: the dough will be sticky, if too much sugar: the dough will be too hard to work with. We didn't use the full 2 cups of sugar for each batch.
  • To make blue dough, add several drops of blue gel food coloring to the melted marshmallows before adding sugar.
  • To make chocolate dough, add chocolate chips to marshmallows before putting into the microwave.

This marshmallow dough is ready for use immediately. Or seal it tightly in plastic and leave in the refrigerator for later. Heat it in the microwave for 10 sec. You might find it better to work with the next day.

Kids added some fun details to their creatures using pieces of candy at hand. These cupcakes are long gone, but the pictures make me smile and bring back memories :)

Happy cooking with your kids! Which projects have you done recently?

More Problem Solving and Building Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Coral Reef Cupcakes

Love Cookies

Have a Happy Marmalade Day!

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