Friday, January 15, 2016


The holidays were a busy time, as always, but we're back for the new year and excited to continue our themes! First up, to celebrate the winter, we learned about hibernation through a variety of fun activities!


Many of the books about hibernation are pretty advanced for kids or sound like a textbook, but we did find a few fun stories that suited them. Over and Under the Snow was one of our favorites, as well as the adorable Time to Sleep, in which we cross the path of not only a bear, but a handful of other animals who sleep through some or most of the winter as well. Bear Snores On is from our own collection, and has been a favorite for many years.

Roll and Cover - Math Game

I created this roll and cover game in Photoshop Elements for the kids to practice their counting and number recognition. I had intended for the kids to use our snowflake confetti, but somehow it was put away with the Christmas decorations and I can't find it. Cotton-balls work nicely though!

And here's one for you:

Playdoh - Fine Motor and Pretend Play

We whipped up a new batch of homemade playdoh this week. We chose brown to use primarily for building caves and other dwellings, as well as making bear cutouts. I have no process pictures, but the kids enjoyed a good deal of imaginative play with their creations!

Line Tracing

I created this worksheet in Photoshop Elements as well, and slipped it into a plastic sheet so the kids could use dry erase markers to trace them. We talked about some of the different kinds of homes where animals sleep during the winter, as they lead each creature to it.

Want one of these too? Here it is with no lines, so you can customize it to your child's abilities:

Feed the Bear - Literacy Game

I found this fun idea from Mom Inspired Life. We adapted it to our hibernation theme by talking about how animals must eat a lot in preparation for the winter. For Honey Pot, I wrote the sight words she has learned so far in Kindergarten onto her fish.

And for Little M&M's fish, I wrote down the letters of the alphabet that he has learned so far in preschool. The idea was to search the "pond" of gems for fish to feed to the bear.

And the bear likes to know what he's eating, so they had to say which word or letter fish he was about to eat. They both really enjoyed this game, but were in agreement that my bear looked more like a rabbit. Lol. Ah well.

Little M&M returned to this activity a few times throughout the week. And for any letter that he had trouble recognizing, he'd use his alphabet puzzle and sing the alphabet to figure it out! Love his problem-solving skills!

Light Box - Tracing Activity

I wanted to include a light box activity this week, and decided to let the kids try their hands at tracing animal shapes. I created this collage of animals who hibernate using coloring pages from the Internet, and printed it onto vellum paper so that the light could shine through completely. Then I provided the kids with blank paper and assorted markers.

Here is Little M&M tracing a ladybug:

Honey Pot decided to trace the bat. Notice she created a winter scene with falling snow, and even a dying flower! I was really surprised at that detail!

Choose an Animal - Little M&M's Craft

This week I let each child choose which hibernating animal they wanted to do for a final craft or activity. Little M&M picked a brown bear, so I found this printable grizzly bear from Learn Create Love. I provided him with brown and white paint and two different kinds of brushes from which to choose.

And of course for his background paper he picked his favorite color, red. Super cute!

Choose an Animal - Honey Pot's Activity

Honey Pot picked a bat for her final activity. Recently I stumbled across the Art for Kids Hub, where there are several drawing tutorials and videos for kids. Honey Pot loves to draw, so I proposed the idea to her, and she loved it. We found two different versions of a bat on the website, sat side-by-side and followed the instructions together. They were so simple to follow, and we were able to pause if we needed more time. We enjoyed doing this and can't wait to try more. Honey Pot's are the two on the right. I think she did a fantastic job!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas + Quiet Bins


Here are the books we borrowed from the library for a couple of weeks. We read them all many, many times but the kids' favorites here were Mooseltoe and A Pussycat's Christmas. The latter was a favorite last year too, so I was happy to be able to find it for them again. 

Quiet Bins

For holidays I like to keep both bins in theme. And, since it's a busy time of year, we kept these activities in here for a total of two weeks instead of one. Keep scrolling to see what was inside.

We have had so much success in the past with Dollar Tree foam and assorted loose parts. Remember the robots and pumpkins? So when I saw this game from Fun-A-Day I knew we had to have our own variation with the foam "trees" too! I included colored toothpicks, beads and jingle bells. I loved how they played with these. They were totally filled up! And one night Little M&M even filled his with toothpicks, then placed matching beads on each!

I included these tracing pages in plastic sheets with a dry erase marker.

This fun ornament file folder game, for pattern matching.

Blank paper, a Christmas stencil and coloring pencils.

A Christmas-colored pom pom transfer activity.

Assorted red and green paper strips and ribbons for cutting practice.

An uppercase/lowercase file folder game

A new batch of homemade playdough, scented with peppermint, with our tools and Christmas cookie cutters.

Tree Craft

One morning while Honey Pot was at school, I set up this paper strip tree craft for Little M&M. First he glued the green strips down in order from longest to shortest. When it was all finished, he used glue dots to adhere sequin "ornaments."

It came out super cute!

Christmas Slime

Every year at Christmastime we like to make up a batch of slime! It started two years ago during our Grinch theme, at which time we used green glitter glue. Then last year we made a peppermint-scented batch with red glitter glue. Unfortunately I couldn't find green or red this year, so the kids made purple slime instead. No matter! It's still fun and screams of Christmastime to us! First the kids helped empty out the glue bottles.

Then Honey Pot stirred it up with 1 1/2 cups of warm water.

In a separate bowl, Little M&M stirred 3/4 teaspoons of Borax with 1 1/3 cups of warm water.

Then we mixed the contents of both bowls together and dumped out the excess water to create our wonderful Christmas slime! It was stretchy...


And so much fun! The kids love hiding googly eyes inside and then looking for them again.

And making handprints.

Stretching it and pulling it... 

They love the challenge of forming bubbles inside it too so they could pop them! After a while, they asked if they could bring over some characters. I approved of some pups and the play went on like this for a long time!

Later as I was helping Little M&M in the next room, I came back to see Honey Pot had written me a message. How sweet is she!

Shower Painting

Another fun activity we did during these two weeks is shower painting! I had a ton of Dollar Tree shaving cream hanging around with my craft supplies. So I filled three cups and tinted two of them with red and green. Then I provided the kids with the cups and two paintbrushes in the shower. It's really so simple; I wasn't sure what to expect.

But they had so. much. fun!

Here is Honey Pot through the glass...

And a glimpse of Little M&M, who chose to use a paintbrush in one hand, while finger-painting with the other...

The laughter during this activity was tremendous. And ongoing. It was seriously the longest shower ever. I will definitely be offering this activity again, between themes. They had such a great time!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving + Quiet Bins


The top row contains the books from our home collection and the bottom row is, sadly, the best I could find at the library two weeks before Thanksgiving! I was pleasantly surprised with them though. Our favorite was The Little Engine That Could Saves the Thanksgiving Day Parade, since the original story is one of our favorites!

Quiet Bins

Both bins were themed this time, which I like to do for holidays. And we kept these filled for two weeks. The holidays are a pretty busy time, so we didn't sit down for quiet bins each night. But when we did, the kids really enjoyed them.

Here are their contents:

A Thanksgiving I-Spy in a page protector. The free printable came from Life Over C's. I must say Little M&M chose this as his first activity every time. He loved this one!

A pattern block turkey. Free printable from here!

A feather and a turkey baster. The object of this game is to blow the feather from one side of the room to the other, using just the baster. It was a real hit with both kids, and provided quite a challenge!

Thanksgiving coloring pages and crayons.

Cranberry transfer using tongs. Underneath each cup is a number, and that is how many cranberries they needed to place in each.

Turkey Feather Math. This was a free printable too! Obviously this was placed in the bins for Honey Pot, and she really loved this activity! But Little M&M was happy to give it a try too, and is learning how to count on his fingers.

Coloring pencils with Thanksgiving drawing prompts from CreKid, where I've been finding so many wonderful prompts!

Pumpkin pie scented playdough, dough tools and accessories. I also provided them with one of our laminated playdough mats. On one side it says "Put some Thanksgiving food onto your plate!"

On the other side of the mat it says "Give the turkey some feathers."

Beans Sensory Bin + Literacy Review. This was the absolute favorite activity for both kids! I bought three types of beans from the Dollar Tree, and mixed them together in what might be my favorite sensory bin yet. What fun it was to sift through this! For Honey Pot, I hid letters (from a board game called Upwords) inside that would spell out her sight words from Kindergarten. 

For Little M&M, I hid letters inside that he has learned so far in preschool. They did this activity again and again, sometimes for the entire half hour allotted for quiet bins!

On Thanksgiving day, I brought out the I-Spy game for my kids and other young members of the family that came to join us. In addition, I provided this turkey maze and a dry erase marker. It was a huge hit for all ages!

We also completed our annual Thankful tree, but I forgot to photograph it!

If you want to look back at our previous Thanksgiving themes, click on the links below!

Thanksgiving 2012
Thanksgiving 2013
Thanksgiving 2014