Writing Letters in the Snow

Our first snow for the winter left several inches of snow on the ground. While the snow if fresh we bundle up and go outside to do a little math and  letter writing.  We guess how many inches of snow is on the ground. Everyone has their own opinion of the number of inches of snow. Using the rulers, we measure the snow.

IMG_3015 snow letters

In the clean and smooth snow, letters are written. First an “A” is made.

IMG_3016 snow letters


Then an “O”. Some children make their own letters and toddlers imitate the preschoolers and make their own designs.

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It’s not long before the once clear white writing pad of snow has little boot prints and letters written all over it.

What a simple activity! So, bundle up and have fun! What activities are you doing in the snow?




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Leaves on the Sidewalk

Walking in the city a few days ago, I enjoyed all the Fall leaves around me. Suddenly, I realized that all the leaves on the sidewalk were a great learning experience just waiting to happen!

IMG_4379 leaves on the sidewalk

When a child hops over a leaf or two on the sidewalk, he is demonstrating basic locomotor skills.

When we play “kick the leaf”, the child practices kicking skills.

Picking up the leaves uses small muscles in the hand.

Scooping up some leaves uses eye-hand coordination!

IMG_4380 sidewalk leaves

Taking a minute to see if all the leaves are the same or are they all different? How many different kind of leaves can be found. How many are the same? How many are different? How do you know? (numbers, counting, sorting, same, different)

Holding a leaf up and letting in float to the ground explores cause and effect.

Talking about the leaves develops language skills.

Answering and asking questions encourage vocabulary and language skills and participating in conversations. Use words like crunchy, hard, smooth, rough.

What color are the leaves? Are they all the same color? How do they feel?

IMG_4381sidewalk leaves

The time a child spends outdoors is every bit as important as the time spent indoors. Outdoors on the sidewalk looking at leaves offers many ways to enrich children’s learning while supporting their development. Whatever your environment, you have a setting where children can enjoy the outdoors and learn!

So, talk a walk out to the sidewalk and enjoy a little learning with leaves on the sidewalk!





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Paint with Combs

Preschool children learn by having a variety of tools and experiences in the art area. Painting with combs is another way to experience painting and learn from the experience. Children’s fine motor skills are developing while painting with combs.

Materials needed: combs, paper, paint, shallow container, and spoon (optional)

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Each child gets a comb and a paper. First put some paint in the shallow container or directly on the paper.  Children choose the color or colors.


IMG_4346 comb art

Now, run the comb through the paint on the paper and watch the trail of designs appear!


IMG_4347comb artSometimes a child will want help from a trusted adult/parent/caregiver. As an adult give guidance and then step back for the child to create.


IMG_4348 comb art

Every child’s comb art will be unique to them. Use this experience to talk about what is happening. Moving up and down, back and forth, noticing the lines in the paint from the teeth of the comb and discovering that a comb has “teeth”.


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Display the art on the wall at the child’s level for a feeling of self-satisfaction and the opportunity for children to say “Look what I did!”





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Simple Sensory Potato Dig

This is such an easy sensory activity and the preschoolers and the toddlers love it.

Just take a container or your water/sand table and fill with soil. Add a few potatoes and hide them in the soil. Then with a few plastic shovels or table spoons children can dig in the soil to find the potatoes! So easy.

IMG_4294 potato dig sensory

To prevent soil on the floor or carpet, just put a drop cloth or plastic table cloth on the floor under the water/sand table. Clean up becomes so much easier!

Be sure to talk about any guidelines you and the children have about digging the potatoes before the children start to dig!

Observe the child/children at play. This will give you alot of information that you can use to choose how to respond to each child. This also helps you to see what skills each child has.

For example, you could

  • ask the child if they want to wash the potatoes after digging them out of the soil
  • read a book about potatoes. The child may be interested in learning more about a potato
  • ask if they have eaten potatoes before
  • ask if they have potatoes at home or in the garden
  • provide more than one type of potato and talk about colors and names
  • ask “How many potatoes are there?”  “How do you know?”  “Can you show me with your fingers?”
  • describe what she did by saying “You put the spoon under the potato to lift it up out of the soil.”
  • ask “Would you like to get anything else to help to dig up the potatoes. Shall we go look to see what else we have that you can use?”
  • ask “What does the soil feel like?” “What does the potato feel like?” “Do they feel the same?”
  • ask “Are all the potatoes the same size?”  “How many potatoes are big?”

This simple sensory potato dig activity is sure to be relaxing and enjoyable for many children.




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Toddler Dumping Toys Equals Learning

Toddlers are small scientists. They love to push and pull, move things around, fill up and dump out.

Using a container filled with transportation vehicles,  a toddler uses his physical skills to explore. He uses his thinking skills to develop cognitive skills that are important for school success. This is an activity that for a toddler is a very real part of his school readiness.

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The first thing he does is dump the vehicles out of the container! No suprise here. He uses his strength and coordination to dump the toys and then experiment.

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As frustrating as it can be for adults come cleanup time, dumping is an important cognitive exercise. He realizes that one object, like a bucket, can hold another object. Now that he has discovered this he will want to dump the bucket often. Dumping the bucket is easier than filling it, so be patient. Celebrate that toddlers use their fine motor skills to dump and once it’s discovered he is likely to repeat it over and over again.

During the first few years, trillions of synapses are formed in response to learning experiences just like this! Celebrate and provide many more dumping out buckets experiences so more connections are made.

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Get ready ahead by setting up play areas with manageable activities. Taking objects out of a large box, pretend food out of a pan, toys out of a container, and  puzzle pieces out of a puzzle will keep a toddler developing and learning.



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Link and Learn

I love using  these 4-color links for sorting, patterning, counting, measurement, even graphing activities! These pliable links are easy for young children to connect and separate.

IMG_4302 links

After dumping the links out, the toddler started linking two links together using fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.


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With determination and persistence he was successfull in linking several together. We talked about the names of the colors of each of the links.



IMG_4308 links linked

What a great time we had counting the number of links. We measure to see how long the linked links were. This picutre shows how (with some help) a pattern was made for this length of links.

IMG_4307 links in color groups

After playing for a long time, the links were unlinked and then sorted by color. We counted together to see if each of the 4 piles of colors were the same or different.




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Sensory Play with Corn

We went to the fair! We found a wonderful sensory opportunity. This would be a wonderful experience to make quickly yourself.

IMG_4295 the corn

Use a container like a small wading pool to put in lots of corn kernels.


IMG_4290 corn sensorySensory experiences generally appeal to young children. Very little instruction is needed for a child to play with the materials. Just take off the shoes and step in!


IMG_4291 corn sensory

Children stregthen fine motor skills as they scoop the corn kernels up into the truck, push the truck, and wiggle fingers in the corn. Eye-hand coordination develops while working with the corn. Gross motor skills develop while walking through the corn and balancing.


IMG_4293corn sensory

Language develops more and vocabulary expands while they hear words like grainy, hard, pour, and push. Children ask questions and answer questions during play.

I observed children standing up for their rights during this sensory play with corn. Most of the children share the trucks and tools for scooping the corn. Good social emotional times.

Cause and effect happens as he figures out how to load the trucks, move them in the corn, and dump the corn.

The sensory experience happens through not only the fingers and hands but also the feet!

If you have not tried this yet, I think you will love it. The corn kernals are small so provide parental/adult supervision.




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A Book for a Week

The library area can be the most popular area in a classroom AND story time can be the favorite time of day. A fun way to use a favorite book is to make it a book for a week. So instead of just reading it one time and putting it on the library shelf, use that book everyday for 5 days!

IMG_4309 book for a week

Whatever book you choose, practice reading the book aloud several times before presenting it to the child(ren). One day 1, introduce the book to the children. Talk about the author who is the adult who wrote the story so we can read them, the illustrator who draws or takes the pictures and the parts of the book: the front, the back, the spine, the pages, and the words.

Plan ahead for including the book into each day’s activities and routines. A few examples:


  • children could draw a picture of the main character in the book
  • decorate a paper bag to look like a character or a part of the story
  • fingerpaint a collage using the main colors in the book
  • design a mural to retell the story on paper

Dramatic Play:

  • include props that are in the story so children can pretend with them during the day/week
  • turn the Dramatic Play area into a representation of the story
  • paper sacks, sale signs, and baskets for recreating markets, harvest, and stores in the story
  • to role play clerks, cashiers and customers have shopping bags, note pads, pens, sales flyers, cash register


  • add a steering wheel when the story has a main vehicle in it
  • bring in empty boxes so children can create buildings and cars from the story


  • real or pretend money for stories that have money exchange in them
  • real tickets or paper to create tickets to show the amount for a bus ride or purchase
  • have sets of threes or fours to match the story: number of bowls, people, colors, mats, bears
  • alphabet letters or numbers to count and sequence


  • as a group or in small groups, write a new ending to the story


  • for stories with foods have a tasting event so children can taste a coconut, etc
  • make a food in the story: fruit salad, muffins


  • for stories that have lyrics, write the words and children can follow the words as they sing
  • make up a song for the book and write the words on a paper large enough for the group to see
  • march around the room like the character in the story

Water Table:

  • provide clothes for children to wash by hand
  • apples to wash before cooking
  • find objects in kernals of corn

After a couple days of reading, invite a dad or another person to come read the story.




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Plunger Painting

For a new painting experience try “plunger painting”.

Just get a new plunger, some paint and paper. I like to pour the paint into a container that has a lip around the edge to keep the paint inside. This is a large muscle activity so it can be easier to do this painting outdoors.

IMG_4297 plunger paint


Before painting with the plunger,  introduce the plunger to children. Children can experience how a plunger works. Demonstrate how to push the plunger down and how to pick it up. Now, it is time to give the plungers a try on their own.

Each child gets to dip the plunger into the paint. Then a child sets the plunger on the paper that’s on the floor, ground, or sidewalk. The painted plunger can be set on the paper several times before more paint is needed.


IMG_4243 plunger painting


Remember the list of items to have to provide a variety of materials in the art center? Well, the plunger meets that need.

When finished, count the number of circles. How many circles are there? How can you tell? Are they all the same size, same color, or different?

It takes self-regulation to just dip the plunger one time and then set it on the paper several times before getting more paint.

The social-emotional skill of following directions is evident. Depending on the number of children, they take turns and cheer for other children enhancing that feeling of community!

Children use large muscles to do plunger painting. Back muscles, arms, shoulders and even legs get involved.

Language skills are enhances with new vocabulary words: plunger and suction.

This so simple but alot of fun!








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New Foods

Put a smile on when toddlers and preschoolers are offered healthy meals and snacks. We can’t go wrong when all the foods being offered are all healthy. But what if they won’t try it?

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Young children will often try new foods in their own time – not ours! That time of trying out foods and finally eating the new food is often longer than what we adults want. Good research has shown that children naturally are not sure about a new food placed in front of them. Research also shows that children may need to see a new food more than eight times before they venture forth to taste it.

Does the environment make a difference? Yes! A relaxed environment with support from the adults does help. Toddlers and preschoolers do NOT want to feel pressure to try new foods. Children will feel more comfortable trying a new food when they see other children and adults eating the food.

While at the table, draw attention to the new food and suggest they try it. The conversation can include what kind of food is served, what color it is, if it’s hot or cold, how the food is prepared, if the child(ren) eat the food at home or other places, and where it comes from. Keep the table conversation child-directed and focused on the children’s interests. For one listening in, they will hear children talking more than adults.

Remember! Just like adults not every child likes the same foods.







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