Handwriting Practice: Candy Cane Salt Tray

Make handwriting practice fun with an easy salt tray.  Inexpensive and fun to put together, even more fun for kids to do handwriting practice (cursive practice, too) this salt has the fragrance of peppermint and is a great sensory experience.   

writing for kids

Ways to Use the Salt Tray

  • Practice learning letters and numbers for younger children.
  • Practice sight words for kids learning to read.
  • Practice spelling words for older kids. 
  • As a sensory experience.
  • Pre-writing skills for toddlers and preschoolers: draw lines, curves, shapes, etc. 

[Read more…]

An Elephant and Piggie Inspired Christmas–and The Pigeon, too

We love Mo Willems books, especially Elephant and Piggie.  They are a super fun series for kids who are learning to read. I think I enjoy them as much as my kids do. Gerald the Elephant and his best friend, Piggie, are simply hilarious. 

Elephant and Piggy

 My daughter and I set out to make some holiday ornaments inspired by the Elephant and Piggie books, but guess who kept showing up? The Pigeon! Ideas for how the Pigeon could be a part of this project just kept popping into my daughter’s head. “How about he pops out of one of the presents?”, she giggled.  Then later, “What if we dressed him up like an angel and put him on top of a tree? Wouldn’t that be hilarious?”  Yes, just like in all the Elephant and Piggie books, the Pigeon always finds a way to be included. He’s spunky like that.  [Read more…]

Little House on the Prairie Books : My First Little House Series

I adored Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was a child and was thrilled when one of the Creekside Learning Facebook followers told me about the My First Little House series.  This series is wonderful for younger kids, who are not quite ready for the chapter books. And, Little House on the Prairie Christmas is a great theme for literature and activities in December. 

Little House on the Prairie Christmas

{This post contains affiliate links.}

The My First Little House stories are based on the original Little House on the Prairie books.  The timing is a bit different in the First series. For example, most of the books include baby Carrie, Laura’s youngest sister in all the stories. In the original books, Carrie doesn’t appear until later, being much younger than her older sisters, Mary and Laura. But an introductory books to younger kids, that will only be noticed by the adults reading to them. This series is pure joy.

Christmas is a great time to discover these books because there are several Christmas themed books in the series. One of our favorites is Christmas in the Big Woods.  The book describes the very simple way that the Ingalls family celebrated Christmas, with a few simple gifts and some special foods.  

Little House on the Prairie Christmas

Little House Pancakes

Caroline Ingalls makes pancakes shaped like little men for the children to enjoy on Christmas.  This inspired us to make lots of different shaped pancakes. 

Little House on the Prairie Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 We took metal cookie cutters and filled them with pancake batter. You’ll want to grease the cookie cutters first with a little butter or some spray oil to prevent the batter from sticking. We flipped the pancakes over to the other side to cook, still inside the cookie cutters. Once both sides were done, the cookie cutters slipped right off and we had pretty shaped pancakes. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie

 

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder 

 Little House Maple Syrup Snow Candy

In Laura’s chapter book, Little House in the Big Woods, the family helps Laura’s grandmother make Maple Sugar Snow Candy. This scene is also recreated in the book Christmas in the Big Woods in the My First Little House series.  For instructions on how to make maple syrup candy, click on the photo below.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie

This post is part of Rainy Day Mum’s Story Book Advent.   Click through to find more wonderful pairings of children’s holiday literature with go-along activities. More will be added throughout the season. 
Story Book Advent

Want more joyful learning ideas in your in-box, just twice a month? Subscribe to the Creekside Learning newsletter below.

 

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

{This post contains affiliate links}

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

{affiliate link}  Long sheet of paper from a roll of easel paper

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.

Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Hands-On Math on Pinterest.