Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Croaking Frog Craft and Halloween Read & Play

This Croaking Frog Craft actually croaks!  He's perfect to make for Halloween, fall, Room on the Broom, or just for fun by himself!



The other day, the kids found a toad outside that was as big as their hands.  They loved it!  It was the perfect chance to read one of our favorite Halloween books, make a frog craft, and talk about frogs some more!

My daughter thinks the frog's croak sounds more like a "scraping sound," but that was also a great chance to talk about how different frogs make different sounds.  For example, did you know that...

* Only male frogs croak!
* Every frog species makes a different sounding croak!
* Some "croaks" sound more like a bird chirping!
* The red-legged frog only "calls" underwater!

Amazon Affiliate Link:


To make your own cute Croaking Frog (that really croaks!), you will need these

Simple Supplies:

* paper cups
* these cute frog pictures (artwork by My Cute Graphics...or you can get your own pictures)
* tape or glue
* optional: paint
* 2 paper clips
* plastic ribbon, about 8 inches long

Just follow these easy steps:

1.  Poke a *tiny* hole through the cup and thread the plastic ribbon through.

2.  Tie each end of the ribbon around a paper clip.



3.  Print the frog and tape it to your cup.

4.  To make your frog croak, pull the ribbon all the way through the hole.  Or go back and forth!

It's super easy!




This post is part of an AWESOME Halloween Read and Play Blog Hop.  Make sure to check out the other book based activities from fantastic bloggers!


Preschool Powol Packets- Room on the Broom- Croaking Frog Craft
Betsy's Photography- Popcorn- Making Popcorn Bars
Where Imagination Grows- 5 Little Ghosts- Ghost Collages
Rubberboots and Elf Shoes- Skeleton Hiccups- Paper Chain Skeleton
Little Bins For Little Hands- ABCs of Halloween- Sensory Bin
Line Upon Line Learning- The Spooky Old Tree- Prepositions Game
Wise Owl Factory- Bunnicula and others- Halloween Book Fun Learning Round Up
Planet Smarty Pants- The Picky Little Witch- Halloween Cupcakes



Don't forget to check out the Halloween Read and Play Pinterest Board which features ALL these great activities!
 








I may share at any of these parties!




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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sensory Bin Challenge: Corn!

This is a super easy, amazingly engaging, inexpensive, fall-themed sensory bin that your preschoolers will love!


If you have not taken the plunge into sensory bins, this is a fantastic place to start.  Corn is easy to get and the kids love the texture!  When I put out the bin full of corn, the first thing our preschoolers did was run their fingers through the corn...over and over!


They seriously loved the texture and the way it fell through their fingers.  Then, of course, they had to see how it fell on their arms and feet too:


Pretty soon, though, they wanted to get "tools."  Our preschoolers took to the kitchen and pulled out spoons, ladles, spatulas, and several other kitchen tools to make their sensory bin a regular kitchen work box!


Even the one-year olds pulled out little buckets to put handfuls of corn in!


I had to laugh when my daughter wanted to use a spoon to see if she could catapult the corn through the air!



Sensory bins can have a calming effect on children and can help ease difficult transitions.  Research also shows that sensory activities can actually build synapses between neurons in the brain, help kiddos develop cognitively, and strengthen problem solving skills,  I have found sensory activities particularly engaging for children with sensory processing and attention issues.  I have seen these kiddos spend more time in a sensory bin than in almost any other activity.

The monthly Sensory Bin Challenge is organized by the wonderful Little Bins for Little Hands.  It is easy to do, and has such rich rewards.  Simply set out a bucket with the monthly filler (this month is corn) and let your kiddos do the rest.  Sometimes the kids add toys, tools, or other props.  Sometimes they don't.  Either way is fine--this is their chance to explore.  


I love how you can use it as an afternoon activity, a transition, a "busy box" while you fix dinner, or anything in between!  

So what do you think?  Will you join us for the monthly sensory bin challenge?  Do you use sensory bins?  Do you have any questions about them?  

Be sure to check out these other bloggers who are sharing their experiences with the Corn Sensory Bin Challenge! 





I may share at any of these parties!



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Monday, September 29, 2014

FREE Wild West Printables!


Today we are celebrating the Wild West theme with the Poppins Book Nook!

However, we have spent the last month immersed in electronics and pumpkins...the two themes my kiddos cannot get enough of lately!  I am a huge fan of child-directed learning, and trying to pry them away from their pumpkins and circuits this week was just not happening.


So, I am sharing 7 fabulous {FREE} Wild West themed printables that are appropriate for preschoolers.  I hope you love them!!

Free Wild West Printable Pack for children 3-8 from 123 Homeschool4Me
* Free Cowboy Printable Packs for Preschool and Kindergarten from Homeschool Creations
* Free Sheriff Badge Template from She Knows
* Free Cowboy Word Search from Family Theme Days
* Free to subscribers Do You Want to be a Cowboy unit for PreK - 5th grade from In All You Do
* Free Wanted Dice Number Roll game from Melissa Freshwater



Be sure the check out these blogs for more Wild West themed learning, fun, and books:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual MayhemPreschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~My Bright Firefly ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the WoodsGolden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama


And if you have a Wild West activity on a blog, please share it on this linky!






And be sure to pop over to Enchanted Homeschooling Mom to enter the giveaway for a fabulous Wild West Learning Pack!





I may share at any of these parties!



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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Beaded Pumpkins: a fall fine motor activity!

These beaded pumpkins are so much fun to make, use real-life practical skills, strengthen fine motor skills, and let your kiddos express their own creativity in a safe, fall-themed decoration!



Last year I told you how hammering golf tees into pumpkins has been an annual tradition here for many years.  This year, I wanted to try something just a little bit different...something that would be easy for our youngest kiddos to participate in.  They always love hammering the golf tees, but this year we have more toddlers that would get frustrated with trying to balance the golf tee and the hammer at the same time.  I decided to try using real nails (because they have a small head) and putting colored pony beads on the nails.  



Everybody, regardless of their age, enjoyed choosing colors and placing the beads.  The "older" kiddos (three and up!) were beyond thrilled to hammer real nails into the pumpkin!

Simple Supplies

* pumpkin
* nails
* hammer (we used child sized hammers)
* pony beads

Easy How To

1- Arrange all materials so your children can reach it easily.  We did this outside.  After our initial "lab," I kept the pumpkin, beads, and a hammer on a low counter.  The nails were stored on a higher counter that the older kiddos could reach, but not the younger.

2- Your kids will figure out what to do!  If you really want to demonstrate, go ahead...just try to give your kiddos enough room to work!



This is a fabulous fine motor activity...kids love it, and it strengthens little muscles that they will need for cutting and writing in a few short years!




3- Ta da!!  A Beaded Pumpkin!!



This pumpkin looks significantly different on each side, and that's totally okay!  I already told you I kept him in a spot where the kids could work on him.  Over the next few days his beads were rearranged countless times, and he had quite a few more nails and beads added.  The bead bucket may have been spilled once or twice, but it's totally worth it!

Do you have any pumpkin decorating traditions?  I'd love to know!!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Electricity With Preschoolers & Squishy Circuits

My preschoolers have been asking a lot of questions about electricity, lights, and batteries lately, so I wanted to start an electronics and electricity unit with all the kiddos.  After a little research, I discovered Squishy Circuits.




The concept behind squishy circuits is brilliant: children use child-friendly components to experiment and learn about electricity.  The best part: the components are "plugged in" to play dough!  The kits are wonderfully safe!

Our first lab was building a simple circuit to "light up" an LED.  Before we started we talked about one simple rule in simple preschool-language:  do not touch any metal pieces together.  This was to prevent shorting out any components.

The kids got right to work:


I showed them how to make the simplest circuit: each end of the battery pack is plugged into a pile of conductive play dough and an LED component bridges the two piles of play dough.  The LED lights up!  The preschoolers quickly set about to build their own circuits and discovered their first electricity principle:  electricity is directional. It flows in one direction.  If the preschoolers set the LED in backwards, it would not light up.  But, if they turned it around, it lit up.  I used my finger to show them the path it took from the battery pack, down the red wire, across the LED, and back via the black wire.

They continued to experiment. Most popular second experiment:  adding more lights!


Older children might appreciate that these lights are connected in a parallel circuit and can all be as bright as just one light.  Our preschoolers tried adding every light possible!




They also started getting curious about how the circuit worked...  "What happens if I unplug the battery pack?"  Well...


...the lights went out! This was a great chance to talk about a complete "closed" circuit.  We also heard a few stories from kiddos who had the lights go out in their homes during a recent storm!

Another "broken" circuit:


(And, yes, we had some dinosaurs join in the experiments!)

When the preschoolers wanted to make some "fancy circuits," I asked them what supplies they wanted.  They told me they could get them by themselves.  Pretty soon, toothpicks, Strawberry Shortcake, the dinosaurs, and a fairy, had joined the experiment table:




When the kids realized they could add a buzzer or a motor in with their lights, they had even more fun!  (Imagine about nine 3-7 year olds bouncing up and down and clapping their hands as home-made sirens go on and off, over and over...)

You could certainly go to a store and buy these components, but it would be so much easier to let someone else assemble them for you.  Imagine a battery pack with child-safe wires, a motor, a piezoelectric buzzer, a mechanical buzzer, 25 LEDs in red, yellow, blue, green, and white, and a recipe card for conducting and insulating play dough...and you will have the Squishy Circuits Hardware Kit.  Squishy Circuits was kind enough to provide a few of these kits for review purposes and I am absolutely thrilled to tell you how much we loved them!

Amazon Affiliate Link:



For only $25, you can get the following, all packaged up in a convenient box with instructions for making your own conducting and insulating doughs:

* 25 LEDs (in red, yellow, blue, green, and white)
* 1 battery pack (you will need 4 AA's to put in the pack)
* 1 piezoelectric buzzer
* 1 mechanical buzzer
* 1 motor

If you are working with several children you may want to order extra battery packs, but our experience was that the 25 LEDs in one kit were more than enough for groups of three children to share.  

After our preschoolers were done, my 7-year old spent some more time designing more complicated circuits.  You can see specific instructions for building circuits (and fun projects like a glowing animal!) at the University of St. Thomas website.  The squishy circuits concept originally began as a research project at the University of St. Thomas, and their website has loads of great resources to use with it.  In fact, if you want to purchase your own supplies there are instructions to make the play doughs on the website too!  It provides a lot of background information so that if you are not particularly comfortable with electricity, circuits, batteries, and buzzers, you will be in no time!  My daughter's next plan is to use the same components in one of the kits to make a clothespin car that actually moves!

Our preschoolers thought that our Squishy Circuits labs have been some of the best they've ever done!  At their request, we have repeated them several times...and they learn new things every time!  

Here are a few of my tips for learning about electricity with preschoolers:

* Keep it simple!!  You don't need to front-load a ton of information.  Let them discover as they explore.

* Keep it safe.  The battery packs from Squishy Circuits will hold four AA batteries...that's a total of 6 volts.  Nobody will get hurt using that much electricity.  Do not ever let your kiddos experiment with things plugged into your wall.

* Keep it fun!  Your kids will learn so much more when they are having fun.  I love the Squishy Circuits kit because I could hand it to them and, with very little instruction, let them enjoy the learning process.

Bonus Tips if you use Squishy Circuits:

If you order a Squishy Circuit kit (and I totally recommend that you do!), here are a few notes to make your life easier!

* Order enough battery packs that each child can have one...or at the very least use one battery pack per three children.  They can definitely take turns, but it's nice to have one to yourself.

* If your children are too young to understand that the lights will only work in one direction, consider purchasing the special bipolar LEDs that work in a different color in each direction.

* When you are done, wipe all metal surfaces off with a moist towel.  Salt residue from the conducting play dough will corrode the metal.  Eventually, the pieces will need replacing, but this will make them last longer.

* Particularly aggressive preschoolers may break the "legs" off the LEDs.  We only had one LED broken, but consider your children's abilities before you expect too much from them.


I am happily recommending Squishy Circuits to everybody!  They are a new small business, and I would love to see them grow!

AND...you can help them grow without even purchasing a kit!  If you want to help a small business that is making a difference in science education for children across the world, please click here to help them apply for a Mission Main Street Grant. They need to get over 250 votes to begin the process.  I have already voted and would love to have you join me!


Have you studied electricity with your preschoolers?  Would you like to?  I'd love to hear from you!!  Definitely let me know if you have any questions!

A few more resources:




I may share at any of these parties!


Disclaimer:  Squishy Circuits provided hardware kits for review purposes.  All opinions are 100% mine.  I only share products that I expect my readers to love!



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Welcome! I'm so glad you're visiting! I am a public school teacher turned homeschooling mom who runs a small home daycare. I love to teach, create fun and exciting resources, and share the educational journey that we get to live!

This blog is full of ideas and resources for parents teaching preschoolers! One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to meet you all--be sure to say hi! You can always leave a comment or email me anytime at PreschoolPackets at gmail dot com!

Carla

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