Indoor Winter Activities: Sand Play

There are so many ways to play and learn with sand when you bring it indoors. Contrary to angry people on Pinterest, when sand gets out of the indoor sand box, you can vacuum it up and it does not ruin carpet. An indoor sand table or box is one of our favorite indoor winter activities. 

winter activities for kids

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I’ve had this sand play area set up in  our water table  for quite some time now, simply because the kids play with it almost every day. In addition to free play, we incorporate it into our learning. While I read to them about ancient Egypt, they played with the  Ancient Egypt TOOB figures in the sand table.

Next to the table filled with sand, we keep lots of fun things:  A container of plants (from the dollar store) and a container of animals and people.

indoor activities for kids in winter We also have gems, crystals, hearts (all from the dollar store), shells we’ve collected at the beach and a box of  fine motor tools.

Winter Indoor Activities for KidsWe leave the table out in our sunroom, ready for play at any time. My kids are 8 and nearly 6 so the issue of throwing sand has long been resolved. Occasionally, if we have friends over with a toddler, we have the option of covering the table up. We also do not have cats, so that is a plus. People often feel the need to remind me that open sand containers indoors are not a good idea if you have cats. I get it. Cats and sand are a no no. Ditto babies and toddlers. 

Indoor activities for kids in winter More ways to use a sand/water table indoors:

LEGO Math Games: The Number Line Game

Step out of the workbook pages and into LEGO math games. If your child is learning to count, learning to add or subtract, working on negative and positive numbers, why not make it a game?   The LEGO Number Line Game uses what you already have to make math fun. 

LEGO Math Activities for Kids

Supplies

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Assorted LEGOs and a LEGO figure

LEGO games for kids 

This game can be played at any math level.  We’ve used it in several ways.

  1. Learning to count from 1-10, 1-30, 1-50, 1-100.  
  2. Adding and Subtracting. Call out equations to your child (or to the LEGO mini-figure) and have them move the LEGO figure along the number line. (“What’s 3+4, LEGO Man?”)
  3. Working with Fact Families.  “How many ways can LEGO Man get 10?” (5+5, 6+4, 8+2 and so on).
  4. Working with negative numbers. Draw your number line to include negative and positive numbers. Give your child numbers to add and subtract that moves them along both the negative and positive parts of the number line. 

LEGO hands-on math activities for kids 

What other ways could you use the LEGO Number Line? I’d love to hear your ideas. Post them in the comments below.

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Handwriting Activities for Kids Who Hate Handwriting : 35 Ideas

Do you have a child who loves handwriting? That’s wonderful!  I have three who aren’t so crazy about it so I spend a lot of time thinking about new handwriting activities for kids who hate handwriting. We rarely use worksheets, mainly because my kids react to them as if they are covered in germs. 

Last week, a friend asked for “practical, real world applications”–not worksheets– for her 7-year-old daughter “who hates handwriting practice (but needs it).”  She posted her query on the Creekside Learning Facebook page and she got some really awesome responses.  Here they are, along with more things I’ve done with my own children, and links from some awesome bloggers who have also written about the topic. 

35 non-worksheet ideas for kids who hate handwriting

Here’s the Facebook thread  where some of these awesome ideas came from. Thank you to those who responded with great suggestions! You all are part of a great community that helps each other and it makes me smile. 

Handwriting Activities for Kids Who Hate Handwriting

      1. Find a pen pal. (Great place to find your child a pen pal:  your Facebook friends list!)
      2. Make lists: grocery lists, lists of favorite t.v. shows, favorite types of dogs, whatever is of most interest.
      3. Write with fingers on a cookie sheet of shaving cream, flour, rice, or salt.
      4. Write on a dry erase board or a chalkboard.
      5. Write in the air with fingers.
      6. Rainbow writing:  write a word and then trace it with different colors.
      7. Keep a book journal. Write a sentence or two of their choice from a book they choose and draw a picture to go with it.  (from Rebecca at The Golden Gleam)
      8. Write letters to grandparents, family or friends far away.
      9. Mad Libs!
      10. Q-Tips, chalk and water writing.
      11. Use window markers or dry-erase markers on windows or mirrors. 
      12. Bath crayons in the tub.
      13. Write with glue.
      14. Use disappearing ink or invisible ink to write secret messages.
      15. Sidewalk chalk on the driveway.
      16. Window tracing.
      17. Set up a writing center. 
      18. Use a paintbrush and water on a chalkboard or outside in the driveway (and more ideas).
      19. Use your finger to write in the carpet (and 11 more ideas).
      20. Write with spaghetti. 
      21. Have an older child teach a younger child how to write something specific.
      22. Keep a conversation journal: Parent and child write back and forth to each other.
      23. Make gift tags to practice writing names and Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc.
      24. Make a fancy feather pen like Fancy Nancy.
      25. Write with a stick in the dirt or in sand at the beach.
      26. Create a mini joke book.
      27. Sensory salt tray with ginger and cinnamon.
      28. Start Nature Journaling.
      29. Use a drawing app on a tablet and write words with your finger or a stylus.
      30. Fill a ziplock bag with paint or hair gel and write with your finger.
      31. Draw a map of your house, neighborhood, or town and label places on the map.
      32. Make birthday cards or holiday cards.
      33. Play pretend restaurant and make a menu (plus 6 more great ideas). 
      34. Write on a AquaDoodle or MagnaDoodle.
      35. Use a Family Mailbox to write letters to each other.

Handwriting activities for kids who hate handwriting

My 5-year-old practicing handwriting in a tray of sand.

Handwriting practice for kids who hate handwriting

This was a hard photo to capture, but I am outside writing letters on the glass door and my 5-year-old is inside tracing them. We’re using dry-erase markers.

 Do you have a learning question to ask our community? Hop over to our Facebook Page and post it.

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Essential Science Equipment: Digital Microscope

Without a doubt, one of the best pieces of equipment we’ve purchased for our homeschool has been our digital microscope. It has been a very good investment and we use it frequently. We love hands-on science and the microscope fits right in.

How to choose a microscope for home use.

Here’s what we love about our home microscope:

–It has a screen, which is so much easier that looking through the little scope/lens, especially for younger kids.

–It is a serious microscope! This will take us through our entire homeschooling journey, beyond high school even.

–You can easily hook it up to a t.v. screen for even better viewing.

–It has a digital camera! You can use the touchscreen with built-in stylus to take a photo of what you’re viewing. It saves to the included memory card and can easily be transferred to your computer. 

–It’s sturdy.

 

how to choose a homeschool microscope

–It has a hard-shell carrying case with super duper padding inside to protect it during transport. We’ve taken it onsite to a pond study and I was confident that transporting it would not result in breakage.

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This is the Celestron LCD Digital Microscope.

I also recommend getting a box of blank microscope slides and square glass covers. The covers prevent small objects from sliding off or lighter objects from being blown away while moving the slides to the microscope. 

The depression slides are great for liquids. They have a slight indentation in the center of each slide to nicely hold a few drops of liquid. We’ve used this for looking at pond water, as well as blood (you know you have a true homeschool friend when she offers to check her blood sugar levels to manage her diabetes, conveniently during science time).

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Free scientific method printables.

 

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Seven Continents for Kids: Activities for Learning

Some great geography learning goals for young children include, at the top of the list, a good grasp of the continents. Here’s a fun and easy way to learn about the seven continents for kids. It includes map work, book resources and a fun project. 

Learning about the seven continents for kids. Books, projects and map resources for hands-on learning.

Make a Continent Puzzle

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Take an existing wall map (laminated is best) and trace each continent. Then cut out each piece. If you have a laminator, laminate them.  Place one or two velcro dots  on the back of each piece and corresponding dots onto the wall map.

continent activities for kids: make a continent map puzzle

Kids activities for each continent:

  1. Kids match the continent piece to the wall map and stick it onto the velcro dots.
  2. Look at the continent in the Children’s Picture Atlas. We love this atlas because it does a great job illustrating all the animals that live on each continent. We then used our collection of plastic toy animals and tried to match up as many as we could for each continent.  
  3. Read the Children Just Like Me book.  This book is a bit dated, you can really see it in the 1990’s clothes, but my kids loved learning about what children do in each part of the world. There are photographs of each child’s house, family, friends, toys, favorite foods, school, and more. 

books for learning about the continents

You could do one continent per day or two or three per week, whatever fits into your routine. It took us about two weeks to get through all the continents and then we celebrated with a special project…

How to make Continent Cookies:  Hands-on geography

How to Make Continent Cookies

  1. Take the map pieces from the wall map project above. Give them a good wipe down, as these will serve as your cookie “cutters”.  If you weren’t able to laminate the pieces, but your map is already laminated, you can use that, like we did in our Australia learning unit.
  2. Mix up a basic sugar cookie recipe and give each child a ball of dough to work with, a floured surface, a rolling pin and a dull knife.
  3. Have them roll out the dough and trace around the shape of the continent with the knife.
  4. Transfer to baking tray and bake. You can ice and decorate them, too, when they come out of the oven.

Learning activities for the seven continents: Trace continents in dough and bake continent cookies

We enjoyed some of our cookies along with some tea while we read more library books about some of the kids favorite continents.  

Here’s a great little song to help kids remember the names of the continents.