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Run Around the Numbers

August 31, 2015

What You Need:

  • Paved outdoor area
  • Colored sidewalk chalk

What You Do:

  1. Ask the players to spread out and assign them a number to write in chalk on the pavement. Make sure they make the numbers large enough so they can be seen from a distance and far enough away from one another that they don’t collide while running to their numbers!
  2. Explain that you will shout out a number randomly. When the players hear it, they need to dash to the number and stand on top of it.
  3. Tell them to stand on that number until you call out the next number.
  4. If players get to the number first, have them cheer on their friends until they find their own numbers.
  5. After the players get comfortable with the game, switch it up a bit and have one of the kids call out the numbers. Or, trade out the numbers for colors or shapes.

Plant Your Name with Seeds

August 28, 2015

What You Need:

  • Aluminum baking or roasting tray, preferably at least 3” deep by 14” long
  • Sand (a bit from the sandbox will work just great)
  • Potting soil
  • Packet of fast-growing seeds (we prefer early red globe radishes)

What You Do:

  1. Have your young reader help you spoon about 3/4” of sand into a layer on the bottom of your aluminum baking tray. (This will be a water drainage layer).
  2. Cover the sand with an additional 2” or so of potting soil.
  3. Now have some writing fun: with a finger or a stick, have your child trace her name in large, block letters. (If she has a really long name, consider a shorter nickname, or even better, her initials!)
  4. In the “trench” made by this letter tracing, plant your radish seeds approximately 1” apart. Cover them with soil, sprinkle with water, and place in a sunny window.
  5. Keep your soil damp, and watch the soil for the next few days. Within a week, you should see baby seedlings and beautiful letters, too!

Make Giant Dice!

August 27, 2015

What You Need:

  • Clean, empty ½ gallon milk cartons
  • Hobby knife, such as an X-Acto knife
  • Tape
  • Round white stickers (available at office supply stores)
  • Black permanent marker
  • Craft glue
  • Clear contact paper
  • Construction paper

What You Do:

  1. First, use the knife to cut off the bottom of your milk carton to create a cube that is exactly as high as it is wide.
  2. Cut the slanted top off the remaining part of the milk carton, and cut a slit in one corner of the four-sided column that remains. Flatten the sides, and cut a long strip.
  3. Wrap the strip around the open top of your milk carton, and tape it securely on all exposed sides.
  4. Now measure and cut your construction paper into two strips that are three “squares” long and one square high.
  5. Glue the strips onto the cubes.
  6. Now, you have a blank die. Have your kindergartener help you write the word for each number along a corresponding side of the die, from “one” to “six.” Then have her paste on the corresponding number of stickers.
  7. Cover the whole cube with clear contact paper, and make sure you reinforce all seams. You will have an all-weather, all-fun die that you can use for all sorts of games, and all sorts of math and reading, too.

Foot Fun: A Measurement Activity

August 22, 2015

What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Household objects
  • Your family’s feet!

What You Do:

  1. Trace a copy of your child’s right foot onto construction paper. Give her a stack of the paper and ask her to trace each family member’s right foot on a separate sheet. Cut out each foot pattern and label it with the name of its owner. Examine the foot patterns and discuss similarities and differences. Who has the biggest foot? The smallest? Are any of them the same size? Ask your child to place the foot patterns in order from largest to smallest and from smallest to largest.
  2. Much of measurement is about comparing things. Challenge your child to use her foot cut-out and find something longer than, shorter than, and about the same size as her foot. Give her construction paper and markers and ask her to trace a model of these items. Recording findings is an essential organizational tool and helps your child learn how real-life mathematicians and scientists record their findings in order to discuss their work with others.
  3. Ask your child to choose another foot pattern to measure things around your home. For example, how many Dad foot lengths long is the kitchen table? How many Mom foot lengths wide is the refrigerator? Use the foot cut-outs from other family members to measure the same household objects and compare the results. Did it take more or less Mom foot lengths to measure the kitchen table?
  4. Ask your child to walk from his bedroom to the front door. How many steps does it take? Record the number on a piece of paper and then have another member of the family do the same thing. How many steps does it take them? Was it more or less than your child’s answer? Discuss why. Then graph your results. An easy way to do this is to write the names of each of the family members on the bottom of a piece of paper, going left to right. Above each name, draw the number of feet it took to reach the door. (For example, if it took 12 steps, stack 12 foot pictures on top of each other.)

Make a Magnet Map

August 21, 2015

What You Need:

  • Poster board
  • Markers and crayons
  • Ruler
  • Small family photos
  • Paper clips
  • Glue
  • Chair or stool
  • Magnet

What You Do:

  1. Have your child use the ruler to draw a map of your house as seen from above on the poster board. Help your child by walking around the house together and talking about where the rooms are located in your house, and how big each room is. Encourage her to include as many details as possible such as doors, windows, and furniture.
  2. Glue a piece of sturdy cardboard to each picture of a family member that you have. Be sure to include pets. You can also include favorite toys or stuffed animals.
  3. Cut a small piece of heavy cardboard to use as the base and tape the picture to the cardboard on both sides so that it stands up like a paper doll.
  4. Glue a paperclip on the bottom of each base.
  5. Place the map on a chair or stool so that the edges hang over the sides.
  6. Have your child put the people in rooms throughout the house.
  7. Show him how to place the magnet underneath the poster board and move the people throughout the rooms of the house. Explain that the magnet attracts the paperclip and that’s how you can move the doll by moving the magnet.
  8. Encourage your child to be creative and imaginative while playing with the dolls in the house. Be sure to save the map and dolls to bring out on another day!

Make a Science Discovery Table!

August 20, 2015

What You Need:

  • Small table or medium sized plastic box for collection
  • Items from nature (shells, pine cones, snake skins, bird’s nest, lava rocks, etc.)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Blank postcards and markers

What You Do:

  1. You can begin this project by simply going on a nature scavenger hunt with your child in your own yard or to a nearby nature park.  Collect interesting natural items that he would like to take home to study more thoroughly. Note:  Use caution when collecting items such as bird’s nests and be sure to use plastic gloves and place the nest in a plastic bag.
  2.  Another suggestion would be to write letters to family/friends that live in different areas of the country or world and ask them to send your child items found in nature that are not readily available in your area. 
  3. Allow your child to sit and study these items with the magnifying glass. 
  4. Discuss what he notices about these items.  Talk about where they were found and what they are from.  Did an animal make it?  Did it grow in nature? 
  5. If you do collect items from other areas of the country, use a map to show him where this item was found.  Discuss how that area is different from where you live.  
  6. In the designated box or table area, set up your nature table. Lay down the colored cloth and tuck the edges under. Have your child arrange his favorite items from nature artfully on the cloth, and encourage him to revisit it periodically.
  7. Keep your table up and running, with a rotating exhibition depending on the season.  Once a week or so, ask your kindergartener to sit down and draw one special item from the table on one side of a blank postcard.  On the other side, ask your child to select a relative or special friend.  Have your child write a short message about the science object , and then help your child write the address.  Stick a stamp on, and send a piece of priceless correspondence that reinforces both your child’s science and writing skills!

Make a Paper Bag Serape

August 19, 2015

What You Need:

  • Brown paper grocery bag
  • Safety scissors
  • Markers
  • Ribbon
  • Glue
  • Pictures of serapes from books or the Internet

What You Do:

  1. To begin, show your child some pictures of serapes so he can familiarize himself with the colors and patterns that are often used. 
  2. Now open a grocery bag and ask your child to cut out both side panels along the folds. This will enable your child’s arms to move freely, unencumbered by the serape.
  3. Next, turn the bag inside out so that the plain, unprinted side is showing.
  4. Close the bag so that it lays flat and cut out a large circle at the top. This will be the opening for your child’s head. Be sure not to cut too closely to the edges, so that when the bag is open and resting upon your child’s shoulders, there won’t be any risk of it tearing apart and breaking.
  5. Now for the fun part! Have your child decorate the bag, using the pictures you showed him of serapes as inspiration. It is a big project for younger kids, so you might offer to lend a helping hand with coloring. Don’t forget to color the other side, so that your child looks great coming and going!
  6. Once the bag is colored, it’s time to embellish the bottom with fringe! You can help your child cut strips of ribbon and glue them to the inside of the bag. Do both the front and back and allow the glue to dry.

Making Wind Chimes

August 18, 2015

What You Need:

  • Multi-colored beads
  • Small brass bells
  • Buttons
  • Yarn, cut into 7-9 pieces at least 6" long
  • Paper tape
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard, pre-cut into a circle
  • Hole Punch

What You Do:

  1. Help your child wrap a small piece of paper tape to one end of each piece of yarn to help make lacing easier.
  2. On the opposite end, help her tie a bead in place.
  3. Help her punch holes in the cardboard circle where the laced wind chimes will be attached. Make sure to punch one additional hole in the center.
  4. Have your child create different patterns while she threads each string. Encourage her to play with various textures by using different sizes of beads and bells.
  5. Ask her to leave at least 2" on the top of each piece of yarn bead-free.
  6. Help your child tie on and knot each of the threaded pieces of yarn to the holes in the cardboard disc. Leave the hole in the center open.
  7. After all of the strings are tied in place, thread one more piece of yarn through the center hole and knot it from below.
  8. Hang the finished wind chime up and enjoy breezy jingles!

Pizza Toss Game

August 14, 2015

What You Need:

  • Large sheet of brown tag board or cardboard (at least 2 sq. feet)
  • Yellow felt (about 2 sq. feet)
  • Brown, red, and green squares of felt (or other "topping" colors, at least 1 sq. foot each)
  • Velcro strips (can be found at a craft or fabric store)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Dry beans or rice
  • Black permanent marker

What You Do:

  1. To create the pizza target board, help your child to cut the large sheet of cardboard into a giant circle at least 20 inches in diameter. Then, cut out a circle of yellow felt with a diameter that is 2 inches less than the circle of cardboard. 
  2. Ask your child to glue the circle of felt to the center of the cardboard. The small portion of brown cardboard visible will appear as the "crust" of the pizza, with the yellow circle inside being the "cheesy" center.
  3. Invite your child to use a permanent marker to draw lines on the pizza to divide it into slices.
  4. Ask your child to decide what kind of topping the pizza will have. If the pizza has pepperoni, sausage, and peppers, help him pick out colors of felt for each topping (red, brown, and green). Cut each topping in its shape out of the felt in pairs of two; for each piece of sausage, cut out two round ovals, a front and back side.
  5. Ask your child to match each pair of two cut-out toppings and begin hot gluing them together around almost every opening, only leaving a small hole to fill each topping with beans. Ask your child to fill a small amount of beans into each felt topping (this will add weight to each topping as it is thrown). Help him glue up the hole so that each piece of felt is sealed.
  6. When each topping is finished, take the Velcro strips and assist your child in gluing strips on the outside of each topping. Put a strip of Velcro on both the front and back of each topping.
  7. When each topping is complete, hang the pizza pie up on a wall, or prop it up, and ask your child to stand a few feet away. Have him aim to toss his desired toppings onto the pizza.

Challenge your child to see if he can land a topping on each different slice, or maybe right in the center.

Make a Ladybug Storyboard!

August 13, 2015

What You Need:

  • Piece of heavy cardboard, or plywood
  • Scissors
  • Piece of flannel large enough to cover the board, and wrap around it
  • Stapler, or duct tape
  • Felt in a variety of colors

What You Do:

  1. Wrap the flannel around the plywood or cardboard. Use a stapler or duct tape to secure the flannel to the back of the board.
  2. Cut two large leaf shapes out of felt. Then cut out ten ladybugs that are small enough to fit within each leaf shape.
  3. Let your child explore and play with the cut-out shapes for a few minutes, discussing what you can do with these little critters and leaves. The way that these boards work is that felt naturally “sticks” to flannel. There’s no need to attach it with Velcro or glue.
  4. If he’d like, allow your child some time to decorate the felt pieces with fabric paint. Personalizing makes things more interesting!
  5. Ready for action? Let your child know that you’re going to tell him a story called The Hungry Ladybugs, and that while you’re telling the story, you’d like for him to act it out, using the felt pieces. You can create all sorts of stories to help kids get tactile practice with math. But here’s one to get you started: “One day, 3 very hungry ladybugs were looking for a snack. They spotted a leaf and decided that it would be a great place to get some food. Can you help the ladybugs climb onto the leaf to get a snack?”
  6. Pause while your child places 3 ladybugs on the first leaf. Then continue, “The rest of the ladybugs were not feeling hungry and wanted to take a nap, so they spotted another leaf that looked like a good resting spot."
  7. Make sure the remaining 7 get to their napping leaf and then ask your child: “How many ladybugs are hungry and napping on two leaves?” Your child should be able to count up the ladybugs and answer 10. Show him with paper and pencil the addition fact that goes with this word problem for reinforcement: 7 + 3 = 10
  8. Looking for other ideas to use with your ladybug storyboard? Here are a few more prompts for short stories that will help your child practice simple addition and subtraction:
    • If there are 5 ladybugs that are hungry and 5 more come along to eat, how many are hungry in all?
    • 6 ladybugs are having a party on a leaf and decide to invite their remaining 4 friends to join them. How many are at the party in all?
    • 10 ladybugs are having a tea party on a leaf. Unfortunately, 2 have to go home to the second leaf for dinner. How many stay at the party?
    • 9 ladybugs are sitting on a leaf planning a surprise party for 1 ladybug friend that is sitting on the second leaf. How many ladybugs are there in all once the friend arrives?
    • 10 ladybugs sit on a leaf, waiting for the school bus. All of a sudden, 1 ladybug realizes that she forgot her homework and must go home to the second leaf to pick it up. How many ladybugs are left at the leafstop?

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