Category Archives: Preschool at Home

DIY Memory Game

 

My 3 year old son loves to play memory. I love it too so this Christmas I decided to make him his own set using pictures of our family.

I printed out doubles of all our family members, pulling from whatever photos I had of grandparents, cousins, and of course our own immediate family. I even threw in a few friends or special activities he loves to make a set of 25 cards.

It ended up being more expensive than I thought since I was paying for two of each so if I did it again I’d wait for one of those “50 free prints” deals thru Snapfish or Shutterfly. That’s my first tip, there are more to come.

I cut the photos into 3 inch squares, centering the picture around the person I wanted to highlight. To make this faster I used a 3 in square cardboard template.

Then I cut out a 3.25 inch square background from card stock. The backs of the cards is the tricky part. They have to look exactly the same or you will be able to “cheat” when playing. I used a plain card stock with no pattern for this reason even though I was tempted by all the pretty prints at A.C. Moore.

I used mod podge to attach the photos and to create a clear protective coating. However,ย I wouldn’t do that again. More on that below.

To keep things from being super messy I had saran wrap all over our preschool room so I could let the cards dry and not have them stick together.Now here comes a little dose of honesty. IT WAS SO MUCH WORK! Ack! I had my moments of doubt. In the end I decided to make a set for the cousins on both sides of our family so I made 150 cards in all. Yikes!

But my son’s face when he realized the cards were all people he knew…totally worth it. And the cousins loved their sets too. The best part was watching my son play the game for the first time, each card was such a surprise!


Even though it was totally worth the time it took I do have several suggestions for how you could do things differently. I realized all of thisย after I had made 3 sets of the game. So I wanted to pass it along to all of you so someone can benefit from the lessons I learned.

First, the mod podge didn’t do a good job of attaching the photos to the card stock. It did do a great job of creating a clear coating but qhat I didn’t take into account is how heavily used the memory cards will be. All that flipping and bending (because these are three year olds playing with it after all) made some of the photos detach and peel off. I was able to fix it with some tape, but it is a design flaw. I should have chose a more heavy duty option to attach the photos.

If I were to do it again I’d use one of these much simpler options:

  1. A Laminator. I decided against this originally because a laminator melts the photos. However, if you print them on paper or card stock you can avoid this problem. And then you’d have a really sturdy set of cards that would last for a very long time.
  2. Packing Tape and disposable coasters. After I had bought the card stock (which was more expensive than I thought it’d be) I discovered these disposable coasters:

Image result for set of 50 plain coasters

You can buy them on Amazon or at Walmart for cheaper than the cost of the card stock. And then you can use clear packing tape to attach the photos. It wouldn’t be as pretty and that kind of bothers me. But at the same time it makes the game super durable and that is probably more important so your child can actually PLAY with it.

OK, that wraps this up. Let me know if you try this out or comment below if you have questions.

 

Take a MONTH off (ok, maybe a week)

This December I did something I’ve never done before. I took A MONTH off of work. I had a big deadline on December 31st and I decided to move it up to November 30th. It made October and November quiteย intense (never thought I could actually get tired of Starbucks). But when December 1st hit I was done! Hooray! The crunch time was so worth the complete break that followed.

I can’t believe what a difference the break is making. I’ve spent so much time one-on-one with my preschooler. I didn’t know it was possible to make so many Christmas crafts (or cookies…perhaps too many cookies). My one year old spent more time in my lap with board books and evenings as a family are so relaxing.

I liked it so much that I think I might adopt this idea of taking such a long break off as a lifestyle. Sprint to the finish, get the job done, and then relax. Opposed to my typical pattern of postponement, procrastination, and endless guilt.

This past week I whipped out my mom’s planner. Sometimes it is very convenient to have a mom who is a published author ๐Ÿ™‚

She has these great pages in the front where you plan for the year. It is supposed to be September-August, but I flipped it to start in January. I wrote out all our known commitments in 2018 and looked for busy spots (like June! A family wedding, a beach vacation, and the CHAP convention…woohoo!)

As I’m laying out my tasks for the years and planning my work hours I’m looking to block some serious time for rest. And while a MONTH was great, I think it is just going to be a week in the spring and another in the fall. Because the paradox that I discovered this December is that the rest actually makes me more productive.

Preschool Math: Dry Erase Dice Game

Recently I found this gem at the Dollar Store.

You write the numbers on this die with a dry erase marker. This is gold because it means you can change the numbers at any time. In elementary you could add the number zero or teen numbers. My little preschooler is focusing on the numbers one to five so I changed the six to a smiley face.

Now I just needed a game to play ๐Ÿ™‚ Joseph loves games! At first I thought it was because he really liked winning (like his mom). But soon I saw he didn’t mind losing either. What he loves is the undivided attention. He is often careful to point out that his one year old sister “cannot play because she’s too little.”

In math we are working on learning the numbers one to five. But we are not focusing on counting. Instead, we are spending our time on the more important skill of understanding the amount each number represents. So far he can correctly show me groups of one, two, or three objects when asked. That is more important to me than if he can count to twenty. We’re going to keep practicing until he has a solid grasp of four and five too. This game was a great way to make that practice fun.

So without further ado…the amazing dry erase dice game!

You will need:

  • 1 die
  • A dry erase marker
  • 2 plates or bowls
  • 20 beads, beans, or other type of counter
  1. Mark the die with the numbers 1 to 5. Practice saying the names of the numbers. Instead of a 6 put a smiley face. When a player rolls a smiley face they have to do something similar (we jumped up and stuck out our tongues).
  2. Each player starts with 10 beads on their plate.
  3. When a player rolls the die they take that many beads from the other player. They should carefully count them in the center before putting them on their plate. That way if they made a mistake you can catch it.
  4. Play continues for 10 turn or until one player wins all the beads. Whatever you have the patience for ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s it! Super simple but we spent so much time practice our numbers this morning because he was engaged in the game. The beads worked really well for us because he liked trying to steal certain colors from me.

Preschool Math: Turkey Counting Craft

It’s November and little man and I are working on counting to 5. We had just bought a bunch feathers at the Dollar Store so I thought up this simple craft.

The trickiest part was getting some featherless turkeys. I made a printable so that it will be easier for you ๐Ÿ™‚

Start by coloring in all the turkeys. It is easier if you do this before cutting them out.

Cut them out and select the right number of feathers for each turkey. Use some tape to attach the feathers to the back.

The real proof of excellence in our preschool is if it gets hung up. These turkeys made it up on the window.

 

Get the turkey printable here:ย Turkey Counting Craft

Preschool Math: A Beginning

This week I did my first ever math lesson with my son Joseph (age 3). We’ve been focusing on our Before Five in A Row curriculum and doing lots or art and science. But he’s been expressing interest in numbers so I pulled together a few simple activities.

I picked this game up in the Target bins at the beginning of the school year for $1. My main focus with him is not to teach him to count, but to help him understand what each number means. So I love how the pieces connect the numeral with the correct amount.

One critique is that all of the pieces are congruent, so you can fit 4 together with the 6 lady bug pieces. I realized this when I checked on my son after his nap. He had pieced all 20 numerals together! I thought I had raised a math genius. And then I looked more closely…they weren’t matched correctly.

There are lots of games out there like this. Many of them are themes with TV characters etc. They’re pretty cheap and worth picking up for some easy practice.

Joseph is convinced that math means M&M’s, so I also whipped up this little exercise so we could practice the numbers 1 to 5.

First I numbered some mini-cups. I threw zero in there too because I was excited ๐Ÿ™‚

He put the correct number of M&M’s in each cup and we practiced putting them in order.


Later I would take one number and hide it and he had to figure out which one was missing. That was a bit too tough for him this time through, but we’ll try again in the future.

That’s our preschool math for now. We will just keep working on 1 to 5 until he feels comfortable with it. I’m also getting some cool math books out of the library. I’ll post on those soon ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Air Dry Clay Recipe

This morning I was getting ready to go to Target to get some air dry clay for a math activity. I jumped on Google to make sure I had the right name for the stuff (it is in fact just called “air dry clay”). But then I noticed that you can make it at home. Score! Because air dry clay is expensive…and it only gets used once.

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup corn starch

4 oz. white glue (one regular sized bottle)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons oil (I used vegetable oil)

Here’s the process…

A few weeks ago I bought this gigantic container of glue. It has been great because there are so many different things you can use it for. A full post on that later. For this recipe I measured out 4 ounces.

Mix it together until it is the texture of thick frosting. This is also when you want to add food coloring. We did one batch that was white so we could paint it later and one batch that was green (because my 3 year old begged me).

Add the lemon juice and oil. The texture will start to change.

Microwave it for 30 seconds, take it out and stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds.

Now it is time to “knead” it. We tried this the old fashioned way and it was SUPER messy.

He thought it was fun and my one year old loved it.

I, on the other hand, just about lost it. Corn starch was everywhere! And the “clay” continued to have the consistency of floury glue. It was so sticky and so messy. Iย almost threw the whole thing out. In a last ditch effort we actually tossed the whole gluey mixture into our KitchenAid (I know! I’m crazy) and put it on the “knead” setting. As I gradually added the corn starch I started hearing a strange squeaky noise. Suddenly the consistency had changed. I pulled it out and had a perfect clay mixture. Hooray!

Here’s the little guy showcasing the clay (and his musical skills…that was unscripted).

 

 

 

 

Nature Scavenger Hunt

This was definitely a success for our homeschool preschool. My 3 year old was very excited when I told him we were doing a nature scavenger hunt at the park. He even asked if he could bring his binoculars (a gift from his grandmother).


There are dozens of these on Pinterest. We used this one. I liked that it had big pictures and that the objects weren’t too obscure. If we do it again though I’ll add a paper bag for them to keep their finds in.

This is definitely an activity we will do again. I actually think he will get even more out of it the second time. I’d also like to try to do something each season and observe how nature changes. Right now I actually have the clipboard in my car so we can be finding things as we travel around to different places.

 

Cloud in a Jar

Our main focus in science so far has been the weather. I picked up these in the Target bins.

We do today and tomorrow’s weather each morning (he looks at the weather on my phone and then picks the correct insert). I was surprised by how much he loves this and he is starting to make connections between the predicted weather and what actually happens the next day. Although he also keeps asking me when it is going to snow! I think he just wants to use that insert ๐Ÿ™‚

I saw posts about “cloud in a jar” all over Pinterest and kept wondering if it would really work. Our first stab at it using hairspray was a bust. Basically we were just trapping your usual amount of steam. But then we switched to using a match.

First, fill a jar with very hot water.
Light a match and hold it inside of the jar. The smoke creates particles that the water vapor can latch onto. You can drop the match inside or discard it.

Cover the jar with the lid. Put the lid on upside down so you can fill it with ice cubes.

Watch the cloud form. We put dark colored construction paper behind the jar so he could see the cloud better.
The most dramatic part is when you open the jar and all the vapor rushes out ๐Ÿ™‚

Best part is nothing really gets “consumed” in this experiment. So you can do it again if you want. We did it four times!

 

Kool-Aid Playdough

I saw this recipe on Pinterest but I wondered what all the fuss was about. Basically it just looked like they were using Kool-Aid instead of food coloring. But then I tried it with my 3 year old…it is amazing. The color is really cool and you can buy lots of Kool-Aid mixes for cheap and make a whole rainbow. Also, it smells delicious.

Here’s the recipe taken from the Kraft foods webpage.

  • My son is in charge of dumping in all the ingredients and mixing.

 

A magical moment was when we added the water. All of a sudden the color really pops. Even I went “oh wow!”

It’ll be soupy and you’ll be wondering if you did something wrong.

Heat it on the stove until it bubbles and you can feel it thickening.

Turn off the heat and go read a book.

Return to find your wonderful playdough!

Let it cool and start creating. We used it to make some minion hair. It isn’t a full day of preschool if we haven’t incorporated minions.