Z is for Zoo Animals: Learning Activities for All Ages

My kids still sleep with a mound of stuffed animals around them. When I peek in on them before I go to bed I find they both stretched out on their backs dozing peacefully. Tucked under their arms and all around them are monkeys and giraffes and bears and bunnies with well worn ears and noses. An entire zoo right there in their bed.

Animals have been a huge part of their childhood so far. Most little kids seem fascinated by the world of animals.

We read endless imagination filled books about zoo animals and we tromp around the zoo in search of animals.

Since this is an interest that seems to follow children through childhood below are zoo animal ideas for every age baby through early elementary school.

affiliate links are included below. thank you for your support.

Zoo Animal Learning Activities by Age

Scroll down for zoo animal activities that are perfect for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school aged kids!

Zoo Animal Activities for Babies

For Babies: Zoo Animal Peekaboo

 

easy diy zoo peekaboo

How to Make a Zoo Peekaboo Game

Materials:

  • Laundry Basket / Table Top / Empty Wall
  • Animal Picture Pairs (Make your own or order these – note the ones linked are not identical to the ones I used when they were babies. I wish I had saved them but hindsight…the ones linked are instead the ones I made and have used since they were toddlers.)
  • Contact Paper
  • Tape

How to Make:

Select a surface at your child’s height to place the game. I did mine on the bottom of a flipped over laundry basket, but a short table, shelf, or low wall space would work well.

  1. Tape the full animal pictures onto the surface and cover in contact paper.
  2. Laminate the closer animal pictures.
  3. Tape one end of each closer animal picture on top of the matching pair.

That’s it! So easy, right?

Even better, this activity help develop the following skills:

  • Interesting reason to practice standing.
  • Fine motor practice as they work on lifting the flaps
  • Practice with cognitive and language skills as they recognize, name, and even make the noise of the animal they find.

Extension Ideas:

Make another version with something else that interests your child. Some ideas include;

  • Family members
  • Household items
  • Vehicles

4 More Zoo Animal Ideas for Babies

  1. Make a Song Cube like this one with Animal Pictures
  2. Read some awesome Zoo Animal Picture Books
  3. Sensory Zoo Activity: Exploring Animal Textures
  4. How to make a Sock Monkey (Craft for Mama, but what baby wouldn’t love playing with this?)

8+ Zoo Animal Activities perfect for Toddlers

For Toddlers: Zoo Animal Photo Cards

Toddler Zoo Animal Picture Cards for Matching

Toddlers are OBSESSED with learning new words. “What’s that?” or just “That?” was one of the most common phrases in our house at this age. This is the age for books of real images that they can look to and point at all day – and also for photo cards.

More ideas for matching games and other extensions are below but start with just the cards.

Materials:

How to Make:

Use contact paper to cover the photos and make them more durable with all the inevitable drooling, mouthing, bending and general love that toddlers give all things

Toddler Zoo Animal Matching Cards

THEN place these cards in a basket or on a low table for your child to discover. When they do, let them explore. If they look to you or ask what something is, use simple words to talk to them about the cards. “You are looking at a giraffe” or “What do you see?”

This activity help develop the following skills:

  • new vocabulary
  • finger isolation when they point which helps later fine motor skills
  • social skills as they engage you in talking about the pictures

Extension Ideas:

  • Tell a story using your photo cards. Put them in a pile face down and flip over one at a time. “Once upon a time there was a lion and he went for a walk and ran into…flip over another card” It doesn’t really matter what your story is about. Keep it simple and just have fun.
  • Matching game. Use the close up and far away cards to match. Make it hard and play as a memory card game.
  • Match the card to a toy version of the animals. This picture to object matching is an important pre-literacy skill
  • Make a book or photo cards of a trip you take to a farm, the store, anywhere that interests them.

8 More Zoo Animal Ideas for Toddlers

  1. Learn this Hey Elephant Song (with printable visuals)
  2. Sensory Zoo Activity: Exploring Animal Textures
  3. Read some awesome Zoo Animal Picture Books
  4. Dear Zoo Story Spoons
  5. Zoo Animals Small World Play
  6. Easy Zebra Slime
  7. Animal Charades with Printable
  8. Paper Plate Bear Craft

12+ Zoo Animal Activities for Preschoolers

For Preschoolers: Zoo Animal Tracing

Zoo Animal Cards for Tracing with Preschoolers

Drawing and tracing lines is a pre-literacy skill that works on building the fine motor skills needed to write letters and words. Bonus – kids seem to find dry erase markers fascinating and fun.

Materials:

How to Make:

Simply cover the zoo animal photos with contact paper.

Put the cards with the dry erase markers and wash cloth on a low table.

When your child is interested, invite them to use the dry erase marker to trace the animal.

Note: depending on the age of your preschooler “tracing” may look less like tracing and more like coloring on the animal. Go with it. 

Demonstrate tracing the edges of an animal of your own and then show them how to erase the marker with their wash cloth.

This activity help develop the following skills:

  • Fine Motor grip
  • Hand-eye coordination

Extension Ideas:

  • Add more details to the animal picture. Can they draw some food for the animal? What does the animal play with?
  • Play hide and seek with the animal cards. Hide the full photos around the room and give your preschoolers the zoomed in photos as clues / visual reminders of what to look for.

12 More Zoo Animal Ideas for Preschoolers

  1. Host a Safari Themed Playdate
  2. Animal Fashion Show
  3. Bears Picture Books + Big and Small Animals Sort
  4. Learn about Polar Bears with this awesome booklist
  5. Zoo Animals Theme with Sensory Play and Printables
  6. Zoo Animal Counting Mats
  7. Zoo Animal Books for Children and even more Zoo Animal Picture Books
  8. Zoo Centers and Activities
  9. Edible Zoo Animals Sensory Bin
  10. Zoo Themed Counting Clip Cards 1-10
  11. Dear Zoo Story Stones

Note: Many of the toddler and school age activities above and below may also work well for your child!

8+ Zoo Animal Learning Activities for Kindergarten and First Grade School Agers

For K & First Grade: Writing with Zoo Animal Cards

Zoo Animals Photo Cards Writing Prompt

I love finding ways to make writing more meaningful for my kids and we did this as part of their animal study.

They each had an animal that they love and wanted to learn more about. We took cameras to the Zoo. They took pictures and I took pictures of their favorite animals. We also talked about some of the things we observed their favorite animals doing.

Back at home I set this up as a writing invitation using our photo cards and also included a photo they had taken at the zoo of their favorite animal.

Materials:

  • Zoo Animal Printable Photo Cards (use your photos or get these)
  • Contact Paper
  • Paper
  • Pencils and coloring tools

How to Make:

Laminate the cards and place on the table with the other materials.

THEN after your child has had some time to look at the cards and talk about them, as them to write about one or more of the animals.

Depending on your goals this activity will vary.

Kindergarteners might just draw a picture of the animal and work on using their best handwriting to label it with the animal’s name.

For slightly older elementary schoolers: If you are working on non-fiction, have them write a fact about the animal. If you’re working on just writing, have them write a story about the animal.

For my first graders doing an animal study, I asked them to write something they had learned and a question they still had. We used this question to go forward with their study.

This activity help develop the following skills:

  • Communicating using words and pictures.
  • Understanding the difference between fiction and non-fiction.
  • Adding details, capitalization and punctuation to their writing.

Extension Ideas:

  • Work on story telling. Give each child a card – or you take half and your child takes half – and go around the circle adding to a story using your photo as a prompt.
  • Draw or build a habitat for your chosen animal. Where do they live? What do they eat? What do they need to survive?

8 More Zoo Animal Activities for School Aged Kids

  1. Join Suzi’s FREE Wild Animal Passport Club for Kids
  2. Make Chocolate Strawberry Zebras for Snack
  3. Elephant Craft with Newspaper
  4. Going to the Zoo Interactive Book for Emergent Readers
  5. Jungle Animals Playset from Toilet Paper Rolls
  6. Complete the Animals Kids Craft Activity
  7. A-Z Animal Hunt
  8. Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Note: Many of the preschool activities above may also work for your child!

Zoo Animal Printable Photo Cards

Get Zoo Animals Photo Cards

Z is for…

Looking for more ideas? Here are some more Z ideas from the A-Z Play at Home series.

31 Days of ABC 2017 | Alldonemonkey.com

We’re nearing the end of a fantastic month of alphabet fun with the 31 Days of ABC! All this month activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet have been shared.

Find more great resources in our series from past years: 31 Days of ABCs 2013, 2014, and 2016!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!

 

31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Early Literacy – Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

A – October 2

Creative World of Varya: A Is for Aromatherapy for Kids

B – October 3

Hispanic Mama: B Is For Bilingual Baby Books

C – October 4

Witty Hoots: C Is for Cool Fingerprint Castle Keyrings Tutorial

D – October 5

Teach Me Mommy: D Is for Dinosaurs DIY Sensory Bin

E – October 6

E Is for Environmental Print to Develop Literacy

F – October 7

Look! We’re Learning! F Is for Printable Farm Paper Bag Puppets

G – October 8

All Done Monkey: G Is for Go

H – October 9

All Done Monkey: H Is for Hello/Hola

I – October 10

Jeddah Mom: I Is for Ice Cream Craft and Sorting Activity

J – October 11

All Done Monkey: J is for Jirafa (Giraffe) – Spanish Coloring Page

K – October 12

Pennies of Time: K Is for Kindness

L – October 13

Schooling Active Monkeys: L Is for Lion Craft

M – October 14

Sugar, Spice & Glitter: M Is for Madeline Craft

N – October 15

All Done Monkey: N Is for Nature Crafts

O – October 16

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: O Is for Owl Bookmark Printable

P – October 17

Creative World of Varya: P Is for Phonological Awareness in Toddlers

Q – October 18

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Q Is for Quito’s Middle of the World Monument Kids Craft

R – October 19

JDaniel4’sMom: R Is for Decorating Robots in Sensory Bags

S – October 20

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: S Is for Spanish Resources for Kids

T – October 21

Sand In My Toes: T Is for DIY Truck Puzzle

U – October 22

The Educators’ Spin On it: U Is for Unicorn

V – October 23

CrArty: V Is for Van Gogh

W – October 24

My Story Time Corner: W Is for Wheels on the Bus

X – October 25

The Mommies Reviews: X

Y – October 26

Teach Me Mommy: Y Is for Yarn Letters

Z – October 27

Bambini Travel: Z Is for Zoo Animals

123’s – October 28

Creative World of Varya: Montessori Inspired Printable

Prewriting – October 29

Witty Hoots

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

Witty Hoots: Top 5 List

Printables – October 31

Royal Baloo and Logi-Bear Too

35+ Zoo Animal Unit Learning Activity Ideas for All Ages including Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers and Early Elementary School Kindergarten and First Graders

How to Go on a City Bus Field Trip

City Bus Field Trip

“Look! A Bus!” When my twins were toddlers it seemed like everywhere we went they found buses, trucks and trains to watch. These big machines are endlessly fascinating to most toddlers.

As parents and toddler teachers, we fill our play spaces with trucks and cars and encourage our toddlers to vroom them across the floor. We read great picture books, label vehicles we see, and sing “Wheels on the Bus” more times than we can count. But do these experiences teach our toddlers about these vehicles they find so fascinating?

They do, but the real deal is much more meaningful.

Going on an actual bus field trip allows them to see how massive these vehicles are up close. A field trip shows them the process of riding the bus. A field trip answers some of their questions and gives them new ones to ponder with their toy trucks back at home or school.

affiliate links may be included below.

Find Online

Friday Field Trip on a City Bus

I have done this type of field trip a couple of times. I did it will a class of 3-5 year olds in Minnesota and also twice with my own twins when they were 20 months old and again when they were 2. Below are my top tips from what I learned from these experiences, along with the many things they learned from these fun and easy busy field trips.

related curriculum or projects

*Transportation

*City or Community

Before the Field Trip

Before our field trip my toddlers were very familiar with two things;

  1. “Wheels on the Bus song” which we had sung more times than I could count.
  2. Wheels on the Bus stories. We did a whole story study inspired by their love of the song.

 

6 Tips for a successful City Bus Field trip

1. Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time

Bus schedules and maps are online – just search online for your city’s transit system.

Consider how long your child can sit when planning the length of your trip. We were on the bus for about 30m both ways.

2. Avoid Rush Hour

An over-crowded bus will distract from the adventure and potentially overwhelm your toddlers.

3. Talk about Expectations Beforehand

Talk to your toddler about expectations before you get on the bus – for example, you must sit while the bus is moving. Walk through the whole experience so they know what to expect.

4. Have Bus Fare Ready

Have your bus fare ready to go before you get on the bus. Your toddler or preschooler is probably free (another thing to double check online beforehand!) but you will need to pay the fare. Have that handy so you don’t have to dig around for it when the bus arrives and your toddler is super excited.

5. Have a Plan for Wait Times

Plan a few waiting games. We had to wait for a while to get back on the bus and this was the hardest part of our trip. We survived with singing songs and playing ISpy.

6. Dress for the Weather

If possible, plan your adventure for a day with pleasant weather. If it ends up less desirable, make sure you are dressed appropriately for waiting outside.

 

after the field trip
  • Continue reading and singing The Wheels on the Bus
  • Set up a pretend area to play bus. For older toddlers and preschoolers ask them what they would need to pretend to be on a bus. They will often have some very creative ideas. All you really need are a row of chairs and some pretend wheels. Paper plates and markers can easily be used to make as many steering wheels as you want.

How to Take a City Bus Field Trip with Toddlers

 

what do toddlers learn on a bus field trip?

Are field trips with toddlers actually meaningful? Aren’t they too young to remember anything? I get asked this all the time and I understand.

Your toddler is probably not going to remember this bus field trip when they’re 10 or 50. They will remember it next week. They might remember it 6 months from now.

The point is that it is meaningful right now.

  • It answers their questions. Even ones they can’t quite verbalize yet.
  • It deepens their understanding.
  • It gives them more things and experiences to think about and build on. It affirms that their interests are valuable.

At the end of the day the things we take for granted as common knowledge are often brand new information to young kids. Real life and hands on experiences offer a wealth of knowledge that is learned more quickly and integrated in their minds with deeper purpose than reading that same knowledge in a book or having it just explained to them.

Here’s what my toddlers learned on our Bus Field Trip Adventure:

1. That people get on and off a lot! My kids were fascinated by all the different people they saw.

2. That you have to pull the cord to tell the bus driver you want to get off. (Self Help)

3. Where your money or bus pass goes and that you have to pay money to get on a bus. (Math)

4. That buses have to stop at red lights, just like cars. (Cognitive)

5. That the bus does actually bump (like in Wheels on the Bus). (Sensory)

6. You have to look for the right bus number or letter by reading the sign at the bus stop and on the front of the bus (Literacy)

City Bus Field Trip Guide

Don’t Miss a Field Trip Idea! Subscribe Below

How to Celebrate a Yellow Themed Day with Preschoolers

The color yellow is one of the happiest – in my opinion. Is the color of light and sunshine. My kids would want me to tell you that it is also the color of bananas.

We celebrated Yellow Day with books, smoothies, and lots of yellow. Below are our books, snacks, and activities for a Preschool day full of yellow.

affiliate links are included below

Celebrate Preschool Yellow Day!

 

3 Picture Books to Read About Yellow

Yellow Ball by Molly Bang
Order Online

A little yellow ball gets left at the seashore and goes on an incredible adventure. We loved the illustrations in this one.

Yellow Square by David A. Carter
Order Online

This is an incredicble pop-up book. It is a beautiful feat of paper design that will amaze you.

The Little Yellow Chicken by Joy Cowley
Order Online

A twist on the tale of the little red hen. In this tale, the yellow chick is throwing a party but none of his friends are inclined to help.

7 Yellow Themed Activities & Snack Ideas

1. Wear Yellow

Part of the fun of a color week is finding an item of clothing or two to wear for the day. We decked out in Yellow and then snapped some selfies before we headed out for the morning. (Cognitive)

2. Lemonade Sensory Bin

Gather: A sensory bin, a towel, water, ice cubes, lemons, small bowls, wooden spoons.

Set Up: Slice the lemons into slices (not wedges) and let them float in the water.

Activity: This is a sensory bin that engages all of the senses, at least in our case. There was an abundance of ice cube and lemon eating. If you aren’t okay with this, make sure you are clear with your expectations. My preschoolers also poured and scooped, put things and out of the bowls, stirred, and generally enjoyed pretending to cook.

3. Yellow Art Invitation

Create a basket of Yellow art materials. Place this on your art table with some blank paper as an invitation to create. (Fine Motor + Creativity)

My basket included;

  • yellow markers
  • yellow colored pencils
  • yellow crayons
  • yellow stampers
  • yellow gummed art tape
  • yellow tissue paper.

4. Yellow Smoothie

Cooking with kids is a great opportunity to develop self help skills. In this case it was also a science lesson in color mixing. We discovered that orange + white = yellow. (Self Help + Fine Motor)

Ingredients:
1 Frozen Banana
1/2 Cup Frozen Mango
2 Oranges – Juiced
1 Cup Soy Milk
2 TBSP Peanut Butter

(Makes one serving)

Directions:
Put the banana, mango, orange juice, soy milk and peanut butter in the blender. Blend until creamy. We have this FANTASTIC blender that makes creating smoothies super simple. The ingredients are poured in, blended with a push of a button, and then poured in a cup. We make an assembly line of sorts and quickly create a simple breakfast. If you are using a large blender, simple add the above ingredients x the number of people. If the smoothie is too thick, simply add more orange juice and soy milk in equal parts.

5. Yellow Shake Snack 

This is another fun snack idea and super quick as well, but involves a bit more fine motor development.

Materials:

Yellow Fruits (we used pineapples and bananas, but there are a variety of options)
Mixing Bowl
Cutting Board
Sharp Knife (for adult use)
Butter Knife or Child Sized Knife (for child to use)
Mixing Spoon
Bowls or Plates to serve the snack

Set Up:
Back at home, prepare your area and wash you hands. For us this meant our kids ran to the bathroom to wash their hands, I quickly washed mine in the kitchen, and then laid out a cutting board and knives.

Activity:
After cutting a slit across the bananas near the tip, our children worked on peeling the bananas and putting the peels in the trash.

Meanwhile, I sliced the banana. At the time, I used a knife, although since then my husband got this nifty pineapple cutter at we highly recommend it.

Then they moved the pineapple from the cutting board to the bowl while I discarded the peel.

Then together we sliced the bananas. This is optional and depends on your comfort level, but with help (and close supervision), our toddlers were able to slice the bananas. Then these got added to the bowl and they took turns mixing.

Scoop the snack into bowls and go enjoy.

6. Yellow Duplo Challenge

Another activity for yellow day, and probably the favorite, was the Yellow Duplo Challenge. It sounds exciting and possibly complicated, but all I did was put our Yellow Duplos in a basket on the shelf and challenged them to see what they could build with just Yellow.

 

Color Week Projects

Rainbow Journal : Yellow Page

Continue the Rainbow journal today that you are using for the entire Preschool Color Week. You can find directions for starting one on our Red Day page. For yellow day, turn to the next blank page and have your preschooler copy the word YELLOW. Then have them use the basic of Yellow art materials to draw whatever they want on the facing page. (Literacy)

Collaborative Rainbow

This is the other project that will last you the entire Preschool Color Week. Today add to the Rainbow in the yellow space. Gummed Art Tape is hugely popular in our house right now so we added some Yellow today. (Creativity + Social Skills)

How to Celebrate Preschool Yellow Day with Book recommendations, snack ideas and activities. All yellow themed!

Want More Simple Play at Home Ideas?

Complete A-Z Ideas for Play at Home

 

 

Super Fun and Super Simple Up and Down Obstacle Course for Toddlers

Up and Down Obstacle Course for Toddlers

A rainy Tuesday afternoon can feel like an eternity with active toddlers. We had already played every game I could think of, read every book on their shelf, held a marathon painting session, and taken an extra bath to recover from the painting session.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to bedtime when one of my kids started pushing around their climbing box.  Inspiration struck and our up and down indoor obstacle course was born.

affiliate links are included below.

Up + Down Obstacle Course

This activity works on understanding the concepts of up and down, while practicing the gross motor skill of stepping up and down. It is also brilliant for surviving toddler energy.

Materials

Items for stepping up and down, such as;

Set Up

Position your boxes and stools around a room to create a course.

Activity

Tell your toddler(s) you’re going to do a fun obstacle course.

Have them line up behind you and demonstrate the course for them with energetic “up!” and “down!” as you go over the obstacles.

From there encourage them to do it again and again.

Variations

  • Try doing it backwards
  • Go the opposite way
  • Have their stuffed animals try the obstacle course
  • For older kids: Time them to see how fast they can go.

Clean Up

Put all the obstacles back in their usual places – with the help of your toddlers of course.

 

Up and Down Obstacle Course for Toddlers

A-Z Play at Home Ideas

This post is part of the A-Z Play at Home Series hosted by Teach Me Mommy. Here are more fun, easy ideas for the letter U.

Don’t Miss an Idea. Subscribe Below!

DIY Foam Trains for Easy Bathtime Fun and Learning

Foam Name Train

My twins were were obsessed with all things trains when they were toddlers. They built tracks and choo chooed the length of the house. They donned little engine hats and tooted whistles.

We also read Freight Train by Donald Crews about a million times. This classic is the perfect blend of simplicity and detail that is soaked up by the reader and it fit well with their interest in all things trains.

This inspired the foam train.

affiliate links are included.

 

How to Make DIY Foam Train

Do you know about the magic of foam is that, when wet, it will stick to your bathtub.

We have used this to our advantage in several ways, but most recently to create a tub train for counting.

Materials

*Foam

*Scissors

*Sharpie

How to Make a Counting Train

1. Draw a rough train shape onto the foam. I free handed this and honestly it does not have to be perfect. Just the general shape.

2. Cut out the train engine and train cars.

3. Write numbers and dots for counting directly onto the foam with a sharpie.

Or the Name Train Alternative

1. Cut train shapes out of your foam. I did this free hand while looking at a Thomas train for inspiration. Don’t worry about this being perfect. The general shape is great.

2. Write the letters of your child’s name on the cars. I put the first letter of each of their names on an engine and then the letters of their names on cars alternating orange and white.

TIP: If you are doing this activity with one child, considering adding a few extra letters or your name to make it a little more difficult.

Activity

Bring them out at bath time.

Put the foam train engines on the wall of your tub and the other cars in the bath water.

Encourage your preschooler count the trains or identify letters, build their names, and put them in order.

My kids took them down and practiced putting them back in order. Then they drove the trains around the tub.

Clean Up

Leave your trains on the wall of the tub or let them dry on a towel and pack them away for another day.

DIY Foam Train for Easy and Fun Bathtime learning

A-Z Play at Home Ideas

This post is part of the A-Z Play at Home series of awesome, easy play ideas hosted by Nadia on Teach Me Mommy. Here are some more ideas for the letter T.

And some holiday themed T ideas…

 

Creative Ideas for Celebrating Orange Day in Preschool

orange day

Juicy oranges. Traffic cones. Construction hats. It must be orange day!

Below are some fun ways to bring the color orange alive in your home or classroom for Orange Day!

affiliate links are included below.

Orange Day Activity Ideas

Orange Color Day

Books About the Color Orange

It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall
Order Online

This is a fabulously fun read aloud. Some ants spot an alarmingly bright orange through a hole. What could it be? Their imaginations run wild and ultimately the most wonderful surprise is revealed. 3+

Each Orange Had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti, Jr.
Order Online

Since Oranges was our snack, this was a natural choice. It also happens to be illustrated by one of our alltime favorites, Donald Crews. A fun, engaging counting book. 3+

Orange Themed Activities

Wear Orange

Part of the fun of a color week is finding an item of clothing or two to wear for the day. We decked out in Orange today, even creating Orange headbands for ourselves, and then snapped some selfies before we headed out for the morning. (Cognitive)

Orange Object Search

While we were driving around this morning we searched for the color Orange in our town. You could easily do this as part of a walk, commute, or even just a search around your house. Our Orange Hunt led to some interesting conversations about what signs said and where the line is between Orange and Yellow. (Cognitive + Language)

Orange Snack

We made Orange Juice for our snack today. This involved some great fine motor and self help skills in the kitchen as they helped me juice some oranges. (Self Help + Fine Motor)

Orange Puzzle

Make an orange puzzle one of the options for quiet time or centers today.

You could make your own using a photograph of something Orange and a scissors.

I used this gorgeous one: PANTONE: Color Puzzles. I love this whole PANTONE series. We had the small board books when my twins were infants and have enjoyed the larger color book ever since. (Cognitive)

Orange Duplo Challenge

Another invitation on the Quiet Time shelves today, and probably the favorite, was the Orange Duplo Challenge.

It sounds exciting and possibly complicated, but all I did was put our Orange Duplos in a basket on the shelf and challenged them to see what they could build with just Orange. A tower, a truck, and a fox it turns out.

Orange Art Invitation

Create a basket of Orange art materials. My basket included; orange markers, orange colored pencils, orange crayons, orange stampers, orange gummed art tape, and some orange yarn.

Place this on your art table with some blank paper as an invitation to create an Orange Collage. (Fine Motor + Creativity)

Rainbow Colors Week Ideas for Preschool

Color Week Projects

We did our orange day as part of a whole Rainbow Color Week. Here are the on-going projects we did during the week that we added to on Orange Day.

Rainbow Journal : Orange Page

Continue the Rainbow journal today that you are using for the entire Color Week. You can find directions for starting one on our Red Day page.

For orange day, turn to the next blank page and have your preschooler copy the word ORANGE. Then have them use the basic of Orange art materials to draw whatever they want on the facing page. (Literacy)

Collaborative Rainbow

This is the other project that will last you the entire Preschool Color Unit. Today add to the Rainbow in the orange space.

Gummed Art Tape is hugely popular in our house right now so we added some Orange today as well as some orange stamping and orange marker. (Creativity + Social Skills)

A-Z Play At Home Series

This post is part of the A-Z Play at Home series. Here are some more fun ideas for the letter O:

Outside Obstacle Course from Teach Me Mommy

Recipe for Homemade Orange Slime from The Gingerbread House

Subscribe Below for Weekly Play Ideas!

Mess-Free Nature Shake Paintings for Toddlers

Nature Shake Paintings with rocks

Nature Shake Paintings are perfect for a lot of kids and situations. They are perfect for…

Kids who are active.

Kids who like to collect rocks.

Times when you are outside.

Times when you are inside.

Times when you don’t have a ton of time.

Times when you don’t want to clean up a big mess.

Nature Walk

You get the idea.

This simple activity works great for different ages, inside or outside, and for active boys and girls (aka pretty much every kid under the age of 5).

This activity combines art and movement – two of our favorite things.

We did this Nature Shake Painting activity twice. Once at home with rocks we had collected on a hike and once while we were camping. Both times the procedure was similar.

How to do Nature Shake Paintings with Toddlers

Materials + Set Up:

Gather materials. You will need:

  • Box (I recommend 1 box for every 1-2 kids so there isn’t much waiting)
  • Construction Paper (cut to fit inside of the box)
  • Rocks (gather – or have your toddler help find some when everything else is ready)
  • Paint
  • Masking TapeMake sure to cut the paper down to fit into the box before hand – again to decrease waiting around (waiting is basically toddler kryptonite).Nature Shake Painting Steps

Activity

Invite your active one to join you for rock painting.

Help them fill a box with a piece of paper, a handful of rocks, and some squirts of paint.

Tape the box shut (very securely) and then hand it back to them for some vigorous shaking.

Encourage them to shake, even run or dance around with their box. When they are done, help them open the box up and discover what their painting looks like.

Easy! So easy you could do it all over again…and again…and again just like your toddlers will probably want.

Clean up:

The rocks are going to need a rinse if you are planning to keep them around. Otherwise, clean up is super simple with this activity.

Hang the paintings, everything else can be put away or tossed.

Nature Shake Paintings

More A-Z Play Ideas

This week we are sharing ideas for the Letter N.

Naming Game from Teach Me Mommy

How to Make a Potato Clock (with nails) from The Gingerbread House

Playful Preschool Math Ideas for Learning Shapes, Counting, Patterning and More

I have this vivid math memory of getting quizzed on multiplication on the playground in elementary school. In third grade I was sick a lot (well every year I was, but that’s another story) and was behind on our weekly quizzes.

We were doing our 8s. 8X1 is 8! 8X2 is 16! 8X3 is…

Everyone else was running around outside laughing and I was desperately trying to remember some memory trick about 8s that I thought I had mastered.

Sick or not, math was never my thing.

When I started homeschooling our twins I was nervous about the Math part.

I shouldn’t have been.

Learning Numbers with Loose Parts

Eventually when they get to advanced calc and I break out in cold sweats from the stressful memories, but at least for now Preschool and Early Elementary school Math is fun.

Math does NOT have to be worksheets or printables or stressful playground quizzes. Math can be fun.

Below are some of our favorite ways to learn basic math concepts in hands on, active, and fun ways.

affiliate links are included below

Easy Preschool Math Ideas for Learning Shapes, Counting and Patterning

Magnatiles for learning shapes

Learning Shapes

Build with Magnatiles

Building with blocks that are different shapes offers amazing hands on ways to practice how shapes work, fit together, are deconstructed, etc. And what better to build with than beautiful Magnatiles? Read more to find out our favorite ways to use them.
Read More

Finding Circles

This gross motor activity works on shape identification. We practiced circles, but you can quickly adapt it to work on a different shape or all the shapes.
Read More

Mouse Shapes Inspired Art

Art contains so much potential for math learning. This is just one example that focuses on learning and exploring shapes.
Read More

Counting Walk for Preschoolers

Learning to Count

Counting to 20 with Loose Parts

This is a hands on way to practice counting to 20 (or whatever number you choose).
Read More

Take a Counting Walk

This is a fun way to get some fresh air and practice counting real objects. This activity also works on recognizing numbers.
Read More

Ones and Twos Sorting Tray

This actually includes two math skills – counting and sorting. This each invitation can easily be adapted for higher numbers when your child is comfortable with this one.
Read More

Our 20 Things

Head outside (or to the playroom) and gather 20 different thing. This is a fun cooperative game to play while you practice counting. This activity also works on writing and recognizing numerals.
Read More

DIY Foam Counting Train

One of our all time favorites! Bring counting with you to the tub!
Read More

Read Picture Books about Counting

There are a ton of fun ones, but our top 10 counting children’s books are listed in this post.
Read More

How to Make a Loose Part Number Line

We used these two simple, inexpensive materials for years – and actually we’re still using them, just for additional and subtraction now.
Read More

Number Recognition with Dominoes

This activity uses two of our favorite math materials – Dominoes and Counting Rocks!
Read More

Chalk Patterns Math Outside

Learn about Patterns

5 Ways to Make Patterns Outside

Head into the backyard to try one or all of these movement and play based ideas for learning about patterns.
Read More

Press Here Game

This game is so unique and wonderful for identifying, creating, and extending patterns.
Learn More

5 Math + Movement Games to Play While You Wait

Here are some zero to low prep games you can do anywhere. They cover counting, number recognition, patterns and more.
Read More

10+ Playful Preschool Math Ideas for learning shapes counting and patterns

A-Z Play at Home

This post is part of the blog hop and series on playing and learning at home. Below are more ideas for the letter M.

Exploring Magnets with Cranes + Trains – Bambini Travel

Minion Playdough – Teach Me Mommy

Mud Kitchen Play – The Gingerbread House

Messy Minion Sensory Play – Adventures and Play

Moon Footprints Sensory Play – Line Upon Line Learning

Mud Sensory Play: The Ultimate Play Date – The Jenny Evolution

Moana Inspired Curriculum Ideas – Bambini Travel

Subscribe Below to Get Weekly Play Ideas!

Easy Light Table Ideas for Infants and Toddlers

My kids have been quietly playing for over an hour in the next room. Every now and then I peek into the room, but every time I see the same thing.

Two bodies. Carefully building. Quiet conversation.

Concentration on their faces that are being lit up by the light table.

We gave our kids a light table when they turned 2 and four years later is it one of the few things they still consistently enjoy.

My kids bicker like normal siblings, but when you click on the light table with some engaging materials it is like magic.

Below are some of our favorite ways to play with the light table. The ways I first introduced it’s possibilities to them when they were toddlers.

Hopefully you can also discover the same magic.

light table

affiliate links are included below

Why a Light Table?

We don’t buy a lot of toys.

Right now in particular we live in a 900 sq foot apartment so if it’s coming home with us then it needs to be awesome.

When we moved from our house in Mississippi we downsized A LOT but one of the things that made yet another move was our light table. Why?

There are two things I look for with toys. 

  1. Will this last?Not just will it withstand play and moving, but is it something they will play with for more than a week. I want toys that will grow with them for at least a while.A light table captures the attention and interest of babies, but it also delights my first graders. It never fails to be a hit with any age when we have kids over for a play date.
  2. Is it open ended?Does it have multiple ways we can use it? Does it encourage curiosity and problem solving?The answer to all of these for the light table is absolutely.As you’ll see below the light table, even for the under 3 crowd, can be used for art, exploration, and building.

A light table is a compelling surface that makes you look at ordinary things in a different way. It is engaging, thought provoking, and inspires creativity.

Does everyone need one? No.

Would everyone benefit? Yes.

Where do you get a Light Table?

I realize they aren’t bounding off the shelves at every toy store, so this is a fair question.

We built our own. My husband likes to build things and we have definitely reaped the benefits.

If you’re not feeling like spending hours in a tool shed is your idea of fun, then there are other options.

Amazon

There are a variety of light tables on Amazon that can appear on your doorstep in a few days. I think for home, I like this one the best.

Constructive Playthings

This is a great source for kids play furniture and materials. They also have several sizes of light table, as well as this Light Box if you’re concerned about space.

Discount School Supply

I ordered materials from DSS all the time when I worked at a child care center. It is great for bulk art materials, but they also have a huge collection of light tables and materials.

Light Table Activity Ideas for Toddlers

Our Favorite Light Table Activity Ideas

We had light tables in our infant and toddler classrooms at the centers I worked at before kids. Between those experiences and the ones with my own kids, I have tried a variety of light table activities with young kids.

These are the best.

Light Table + Sensory Bags

Sensory bags are always good squishy fun, but they are the absolute best on a light table. Read More.

Light Table + Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles can be found in pretty much every infant and toddler play space across the country, but have you ever used them on a light table?  Read more. 

Magna-tiles + Light

Two of our favorite things. They are both awesome, but together is how we love them the most. Read more. 

Coloring on Light

Nothing reinvigorates a box of crayons and piece of paper like a light table. Read more. 

Painting on Light

Mastered coloring? Ready for more? Painting on a light table is messy, but a completely different painting experience for kids. Read more. 

more a-z play at home ideas

Lego City from Teach Me Mommy

How to Set Up a Lego Ring Toss from The Gingerbread House

Little Excavator Inspired Big & Little Story Time from My Storytime Corner

Complete A-Z Series

Easy Light Table Ideas for Infants and Toddlers

 Subscribe Below for Weekly Toddler Ideas

Easy Directions for a DIY Bug Jar

DIYBugJarInstructions

The screen door slams and little feet patter into the kitchen. “Mama, look what I found?”

The screen door. The patter. The uncontrollable enthusiasm. The sweet sweaty faces. The expectation.

These are the things that scream summer to me.

affiliate links are included below

“Look!” That same sweet child thrusts a huge squirmy bug into my face. “LOOK!”

These are the moments that bug jars are made for.

You can definitely find some bug jars online or in stores. This one looks awesome and it’s only $10.

However, if your child suddenly develops an interest in your backyard bugs and you would like them at least contained before they are handed to you or shoved at your face – then this one below will do just fine.

Easy DIrections for a DIY Bug Jar Simple STEM for Toddlers

Directions for a DIY Bug Jar

Materials

  • Large Empty Jar (I believe ours was an old mixed nuts jar)
  • Screwdriver or Scissors (adult use only)

How to Make

  1. Punch a couple of holes in the top with your screwdriver or scissors. If you’re handy with tools then a drill would definitely be quicker and easier.
  2. Have your child help you find some sticks and leaves to put inside for a bug to crawl on.

Done. Easy, right?

DIY Bug Jar Instructions

How to Use

  • Together search for a bug to put in the jar. We found one crawling on a leaf and added it, leaf and all, into our jar.
  • Watch the bug together. Pull out a magnifying glass to look even closer!
  • Ask what your child sees. Listen to their observations. Write down or remember their questions.
  • Release and repeat!

Want More Simple Play at Home Ideas?

Alphabet Jenga from Teach Me Mommy

Jewelry Making from Line Upon Line Learning

Up-cycled Jigsaw Puzzles from The Gingerbread House

Complete A-Z Ideas for Play at Home