Friday, November 30, 2012

Catapult History Fun

This is a fun activity to do when learning about a time period in history when they used catapults when fighting. We did this when learning about Alexander the Great. Our resource book was the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. 
Here is what we did.
On regular paper, I typed up questions that I wanted my girls to find the answers to as they read in the book. Then I cut the questions apart and crumpled them up to be little wads of paper and put those in a cup.  Those would represent the rocks that Alexander the Great used in his catapults. Then I made a simple target for the wall. The plastic spoon became the catapult, although it would be fun to also make a real catapult with craft sticks.
 The girls took turns picking a paper wad an catapulting it toward the target. After a few tries they opened the paper wad and read the question. Then they had to read the information in the book to find the answer.
After they answered all the questions they played a fun online game about Alexander the Great. The link for the game is below:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Archery History Fun


This is a fun activity that can be done with any history lesson that relates to archery. Tape questions onto your arrows, shoot them off with your bow, and then retrieve them and find the answers to the questions. We used archery when learning about the Scythians in Ancient World History (700-100 BC) because they practiced archery. I chose six questions from pages 162-163 of the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. I printed those questions and taped them onto "arrows" made of the cardboard hanger tubes (just cut the hanger wire and pull the tube off). Then the girls each took turns shooting one of the arrows with a PVC tube bow. Then they had to retrieve the arrow and read the question. Then they had to find the answer as they read through the pages of the book.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hoop Multiplication Review

This is a fun way to review and brush up on the times tables. Here's what we did. First I gave each of the girls a stack of 12 cards and had them pick one of the multiplication families that they felt they could use some review on. Then they each wrote one of the multiples of that number on each card. Then we picked one of the sets of cards to use with our activity.
Set up and review
We used hoops but you could do it with just the cards if you don't have hoops. Start by scattering the hoops around the room and randomly placing the cards inside the hoops. First we sang the multiplication song for the number chosen, and the girls had to step in the correct hoop as we did the skip counting in the song. After that, I drilled them on 4 of the factors at a time -- selecting the ones they needed most help on, until they showed they had mastered those facts. Then we did four more and so on until we got all twelve facts. After that we were ready to add the action with the hoop review game.
Hoop Review Game
Shake a 12-sided dice and call out that number times the number you chose for that multiplication family. Then the students race to the hoop with the correct product. Continue shaking the dice to get new products until you feel the students have mastered that number. Rules: No grabbing, pushing, tripping, or holding the other person.Once they have mastered that number family trade the cards for another number family and do the same activities. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fun and Action in a Jar!

Here is a fun way to add a little action and diversion into your school day.

Just print off and color a label and tape it onto a can or jar.

Write a quick fun and active thing to do on slips of paper and fold them up and place them in the jar. Then as a child completes a problem or task, he or she picks a card and does what it says.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fun With the Circulatory System

Here is a fun activity and song you can use in learning about the circulatory system. This is an activity where you create a circulatory system in a room and the child travels along its path delivering oxygen and nutrients before it goes back to the heart. The song is sung to the familiar melody of "The Wheels on the Bus." The detailed description of the activity is below.

The Heart Pumps the Blood
Sung to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus"
The heart pumps the blood around and round, (alternate words: The heart circulates the blood around)
round and round, round and round
The heart pumps the blood around and round,
All through the body.

The blood takes the oxygen round and round
round and round, round and round
The blood takes the oxygen round and round
To the brain (touch head)
To the fingers (wiggle or open and close fingers)
And toes (touch toes)

The blood takes the nutrients round and round
round and round, round and round,
The blood takes the nutrients round and round
So the body is healthy and strong (show muscles in arms)

The blood in the body goes back to the heart,
back to the heart, back to the heart,
The blood in the body goes back to the heart,
Then starts all over again.

Circulatory System  Activity

Choose an area with space for this activity -- like a family room.

The first thing to do is to create the circulatory system as described below.

 1. First, create a "heart" tent or tunnel by draping a sheet between two chairs or over a card table. Red sheets or fabric would make it even more fun. Then label it with a big cut out heart (red paper) with the word "heart" on it.

2. Next, use yarn to create a long path that the blood will take from the heart tent or tunnel, around the body (or room), and back to the heart tent or tunnel. Try to use lots of space in the room. The path can go behind a couch or recliner or however you want it to go. If possible, use yarn to create the two sides of the path so it looks like a path rather than just a line of yarn.

3. Create Oxygen Circles. Cut out some circles and write the letter "O" on them. They will represent the Oxygen. Next, choose something to represent the lungs. This could be a picture of the lungs or a couple of pillows or cushions, or even a balloon or beach ball (since they have to be filled with air). Place the "lungs" close to the path a little way from the heart tent. Place the oxygen circles on or close to the lungs.

4. Create Happy nutrients. Cut out colored circles and draw smiley faces on them. These will be the happy nutrients. Next, put some real or play foods in a basket or bowl and place it a few steps beyond the lungs but close to the path. Put the smiley faces (happy nutrients) with the food . You can have a picture of the stomach by the food if you want.

Now for the Fun!
Once the circulatory system is made, then the fun can begin. The child gets to take a journey through the heart and along the path through the circulatory system. Have them start at the heart. They can go into the tunnel or tent. Then sing the first verse of the song. As you sing it, they child travels along the path and comes back to the heart.

Then have them do it again, but sing the second verse and have them stop at the lungs and pick up oxygen circles. Then as you sing and they travel on the path, they toss their oxygen circles away like they are giving oxygen to a part of the body. If all of their oxygen circles are gone by the last phrase of the song, then they can touch their head, wiggle their fingers and touch their toes as they sing that part of the song. Then they go back to the heart.

For the third verse, do it similarly to the 2nd verse, but this time they pick up the happy nutrient smiley cards and toss those around as they travel on the path.

For the last verse, you could have them start at the heart, then race to follow the path and get back to the heart before the verse ends. If you sing it faster and faster, they might enjoy the challenge of trying to beat the song.

Variety of actions

You could have them try different ways of traveling along the path like hopping, crawling, dancing, tip-toeing, etc. Have fun.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Multiplication Dice Race

This is a fun way to review basic multiplication facts. We used a 12-sided number dice (1-12) as one factor and two regular dice added together as another factor. We could have used two 12-sided dice. Then we shook the three dice and multiplied the factors together. Here's what we did to make it fun. We set a timer for one minute, and each girl took a turn shaking the dice, multiplying the factors, and calling out the product. The object was to see how many they could get in one minute. 
Shake the dice, and everyone multiplies the products at the same time. The first one to call out the correct product wins.

Grab The Product!

This is a fun way to review multiplication facts. We wrote a variety of multiplication products on small dessert paper plates. The two factors for each product were written on a separate sheet of paper. You could also write them on slips of paper. Then we placed them face up in the middle of the floor, and the girls sat on each side. Then I called out two factors and they had to race to be the first one to grab the plate with the correct product. Each time they were the first one to grab the product they got a point.

A more active variation would be to scatter the plates face-up around the floor, and then have them race to the plate and grab it before the other one does. This version is lots of fun, but can get a little wild if they try to tackle each other in the process. Setting guidelines ahead of time for no pushing, tackling, grabbing each other, etc. is a good idea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fun Way To Memorize The Counties of Utah

We had fun memorizing the 29 Counties of Utah by learning this song with actions. It was fun to see how fast we could do it. You may use this song for your own personal use, but the song is copyrighted so please do not make copies.

Repeated actions through song:
(start actions on "Elder" --one action per beat)
Both hands slap knees (Elder)
Cross  hands and slap knees again (Beaver)
Both hands slap knees (Cache)
Thumb point over shoulder (Carbon)
Right hand touches left shoulder and stays there (Dagget)
Left hand touches right shoulder so both arms are crossed (Davis)
Make fists and bring both elbows downward in front of body with fists upward (and)
Both fisted arms reach straight up (Duschene)
Continue repeating actions

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Seven Continents Toss and Floor Map

We had so much fun learning about the continents and oceans with two activities. The first was a large vinyl world map that the girls could stand on. The second was tossing an inflatable globe around.

Seven Continents Toss
We tossed the inflatable globe ball back and forth as we sang the "Seven Continents Song." We took turns singing the names of the continents as we passed the ball along. Click on the link to listen to the song.

Seven Continents (The first part is to the tune of Father Abraham)
by Sherri Boekweg

Seven Continents upon the earth.
On the earth are seven continents.
They have lots of land and I know I can
Name the seven continents. They are:

Europe, Asia,
Africa, Australia,
North America
South America
And don't forget Antarctica.

Another fun way to learn the continents was with a big vinyl floor world map. You could possibly make your own, or purchase one that is already available. The one in this picture was the Map Tangle game. Played a little like Twister, you pick two location cards, and then place a foot on each one. It is lots of fun when each place is on opposite ends of the map. Unfortunately, it has been recalled, so it is no longer available.

However, there is another similar product that is available. It is called the World Treasure Hunt Map, and it is a large vinyl map available from the Learning Resources company.
Here is the picture from their website.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Months of the Year

When learning the order of the months of the year, I had a card for each month, and I spread out cards across the room, and as we sang a song to learn the months, the girls would hop to the next month.

Then I mixed up the cards and let them try to put them in order. It took a few tries before they could get them all in order.

Human Clocks

 This activity was definitely a hit when my girls were learning to tell time. We used different colors of construction paper to make 12 large cards numbered 1 through 12. Then the girls helped to lay them out in a circle the way they would appear on a clock, with the 12 at the top and the 6 at the bottom. We also wrote the multiples of 5 on small dessert paper plates, and put those next to each number in order, beginning with the "five" next to the number "1" card of the clock. Then I had the girls each lie down so their feet were at the 6 and their head was at the 12. Then I gave them a time, and they moved their arms into the position the hands on the clock would be. 
Song Recommendations
"The Minute Hand on the Clock" by Sherri Boekweg

The Minute Hand on the Clock

"Jolly Clock" by Hap Palmer 
(found on his CD "Can Cockatoos Count By Twos?") This CD is available at To see the lyrics and activity ideas for this song, click on "lyrics and activities" and select this CD. Then click on this song, #5 and #13.

Scramble! Sight Words and more

This activity is a fun way to practice sight words and other skills. We printed the sight words on lots of colored cards (circular) and scattered them around the room. Then I would call out a sight word and they would race to that word. 

You can do this with vocabulary, rhyming words, homonyms, synonyms & antonyms, math, States and Capitals, and so much more. 

Older children love it as much as younger ones do, but it gets a little more intense, and they have to be a little more careful or you may have some serious wipe outs as they race to be the first one to the card.

Skip Counting Through Hoops

This is a fun way to practice skip counting in Multiplication. We bought 12 hula hoops from a dollar store. Then we would arrange them on the floor so there was space between them and the child could jump from one to the next all the way to the end. Then we made cards with the multiples of the number we were learning that day and placed the card in order, inside each hoop. Then as we would count by that number, the child would jump to each hoop as we named the number in that hoop. We sang skip counting songs to help learn them.

When I first introduced skip counting by fives, I made a strip with the four numbers in between the hoops so they could see how we skipped over those to get to the numbers in the hoops. 

Then, as they got familiar with the skip counting, I would have them turn around, and I would remove two of the number cards. Then we would skip count with the song again, but when they got to the missing numbers, they had to fill in the correct number. We continued removing cards until they could hop through all the the hoops skip counting all the numbers.

Skip Counting Songs by Sherri Boekweg

Counting Through the Twos
Count By Threes
Counting By Fours
Five Jive
Counting By Sixes
Counting Fun Begins With Seven
Eight Is Great!
Boogie to the Nines
Counting Through the Tens

Skip-Counting Songs with Familiar Melodies
Click on the link below to view the song lyrics on this blog. 

Skip Counting through Sevens, Nines, and Twelves (lyrics only)

Sevens (Tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb")
Nines (Tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star")
Twelves (Tune of "O Christmas Tree")

Coordinate Fun on a Floor Graph

This was a fun way to introduce coordinates on a graph. First, we created a graph on the floor with yarn and numbers. Then we did some fun activities with the graph. 

To Make the Floor Graph
You will need 14 pieces of yarn cut in 60-inch lengths. Then lay them out as shown in the picture so seven pieces are horizontal and seven are vertical, creating a graph. Next, you will need cards numbered as follows: one card is zero "0", then you will need two of each of the numbers 1-6. Then lay out the cards as shown in the picture, so the zero card is at the lower left corner of the graph, and the number 1-6 cards are at each line of yarn horizontally and vertically. 

How to Teach It
First make sure they understand the terms horizontal and vertical. You can also refer to them as over and up. They must understand that to find a point on the graph you first go over and then up. So when they see the two numbers in the ordered pair, they know they must go over for the first number and up for the second number.


Dice coordinates
Shake two dice to get two numbers that become the ordered pair. Then use those numbers with any of the following activities.

Human Coordinates
The child becomes the point on the graph and jumps to the correct spot to show the ordered pair.

Candy Toss
Toss a piece of candy onto the graph, and then name the coordinates closest to where the piece of candy landed. Or, give the coordinates ahead of time, and see who can toss the candy closest to the correct place on the graph.

You can also make a large graph outside by using sidewalk chalk on the driveway. Simply draw your graph and write the numbers along the sides and bottom instead of using yarn and cards. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sight Word Twister

Although we used this game for sight words, it could be adapted to any subject and any grade level. You could use this activity for vocabulary words, parts of speech, math, States and Capitals, and the list goes on.

How to make the Twister mat
Buy a large piece of heavy vinyl (at least 4x5 feet -- the larger the better). Then print out large cards (we used circles) with the sight words or other words for the subject you want to review. Place them under the vinyl so they are apart from each other in a regular pattern as shown in the picture. 

How to Play
Call out one of the words under the mat. Then the child has to place a hand or a foot on the correct word. As shown in the picture above, we printed each word twice, so more than one child could play at a time. You could use a twister spinner so you can tell them to use their right or left hand and foot. 

This was a favorite game to play and made reading sight words lots of fun.

Feather Writing

Here is a great way to practice writing or to learn about the art of writing as they did in the days of the feather pen. You need long feathers that can be purchased at a craft store, or found on the ground where large birds like turkeys are. 

You also need to cut the end of the feather at a slant, and make sure the end is hollow so it will hold the ink when you dip it. 

This was a pre-writing activity I did with my girls in their Kindergarten year. We used beet juice from a can of beets. It's been a long time since we did this activity, so I don't remember if we added anything to the beet juice. I've heard that adding a little vinegar helps the color to be brighter.It would probably be good to protect the table and clothes.  So, next time you want to do some writing, don't grab a pencil, grab a feather and some simple ink -- it's a fun way to write.

Number Line Jumping

 This is a fun way to add and subtract simple numbers on a number line. This idea originated from the activity that goes with Hap Palmer's "Jumping to Add and Subtract" song (see below). Create a number line on the floor by writing the numbers 0 through 9 on cards or dessert-size paper plates. Use yarn or electric tape to create the number line, and place the number cards or plates about 18 to 24 inches apart on the number line. 

To add, have the child stand on the number 2 or 3. Then add a number like 5, and have them jump or step 5 numbers ahead on the number line. 

To subtract, have them start on a higher number and jump or step backwards the number you are subtracting. 

This can also be an introduction to skip counting by twos. Have them jump to the numbers, skipping one in between.

Song Recommendation
"Jumping to Add and Subtract" 
by Hap Palmer (found on his CD "Can Cockatoos Count By Twos?") This CD is available at To see the lyrics and activity ideas for this song, click on "lyrics and activities" and select this CD. Then click on this song, #11.

Body Boggle Spelling

This is such a fun way to practice spelling. We used a Body Boggle game mat, which has all of the letters of the alphabet. For 4 and 5 letter words, the child would place hands and feet, and even a head on the correct letters in order, to spell the word. An alternative way to play or for longer words, have them jump from one letter to the next as they spell the word.

This game is available on eBay, or you could make your own with a shower curtain liner or large piece of vinyl.

Get Outside

 Get outside and let your children enjoy nature while they do their schoolwork. It's amazing what you can do when you're outside. Need to practice handwriting? Grab a stick and practice your letters in the sand or dirt. In the mood for art? Grab a paper and pencil, find a comfortable place to sit and draw what you see around you. Time to write? Nature is the perfect setting for getting those thoughts down on paper or describing the things you see or hear around you. 

 The artist at work.
 The writer in her realm.

These first three pictures show our older daughters when they were younger. The next pictures were taken of our younger daughters more recently.

Who says the you can only do your work on the computer at home? Take it outside and enjoy a change of scenery.
 Ever tried doing math on a swing? It's great fun.

 A picnic table or a camp chair provide 
interesting places to do schoolwork. 
So get outside and enjoy learning in the fresh air.

Painted Fraction Cookies

This is a fun way activity to do when learning about fractions. 

You will need:

  • Sugar cookie dough that can be rolled into shapes. 
  • Several colors of cookie paint (see recipe below) 
  • Clean paint brushes to dip in the cookie paint (one brush for each color)

What you do:

  1. Roll out the cookie dough into simple shapes like circles, hearts, and rectangles (some long and some short).
  2. Before baking, use a pizza cutter or knife to press lines on the top of the unbaked cookie to divide it into sections to represent fractions (halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, and sixths). Then let the children paint the sections of the cookies to represent fractions. For example, if the fraction they are painting is 2/3, then two of the thirds of that cookie should be painted the same color.
  3. If desired, sprinkle a little sugar (or add a little sugar to the paint first)
Cookie Paint Recipes
Egg-Yolk Paint
 • 1 egg yolk
 • 1/4 tsp water
 • food coloring
 • a little sugar, if desired

Egg-white Paint
Separate an egg and add lots of food coloring to egg white and stir with a fork until all the color is mixed in. Add a little sugar, if desired. This will be a more transparent paint than the egg yolk paint. 

Recommended song: 
I'm Just a Fraction by Sherri Boekweg

I'm Just a Fraction

Jello Geography

 This is a very fun and tasty way to learn geography. This is what we did. First we made some blue Jello and let it set in a clear glass 9x13 baking dish. Then we printed off an outline map of the United States. When the Jello was set, we taped the map face up onto the bottom of the dish so we could see it through the Jello. Then we used that as a guide to draw the outline of the map on the Jello with a cake decorating writing gel in a tube. Then we carefully filled in the outline with vanilla pudding. Then we used blue decorating gel to draw the major rivers and another color to label the oceans. We used something like brown sprinkles  for the mountains.
The finished product. 
Do you recognize the landforms?

Finger Writing Fun

One of the funnest ways we have practiced writing the letters is using fingers in flour, cornstarch, or pudding. All you need is a plate, cookie sheet or tray. Then add a little flour or cornstarch and let the fingers do the writing. The letters showed up really well when we used a colored plate. 

This is a fun activity for beginning writers, but it is also a fun way to practice cursive as they get a little older. It will be so much fun they will probably want to make other designs as well. 
Can you find the cursive letter Z
and the name "Lisa?"

We used pudding in this picture, and one daughter practiced cursive letters while the other practiced printed letters and even wrote her name. Anticipate a little mess as well as tasting if you use pudding. 

As you can see this is definitely a "hands-on" or "hands-in" activity.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chocolate Chip Decimal Multiplication

This is a fun and edible way to practice multiplying decimals. I made a packet for each child containing chocolate chips, multiplication cards, and a pencil. You also need five or six 0-9 dice. I printed out the instructions so it could be a learning station.

Take 3 chocolate chips to use for decimals. Shake the dice and fill in the squares in the top two lines. Place a chocolate chip as a decimal point in each number. The chocolate chips do not need to be lined up. Multiply the numbers and write the answer at the bottom. Count up the total number of digits after each chocolate chip and add them together. Then write that number at the top. Then use that number to determine where to place a chocolate chip in the answer. It should be the same as the number you wrote at the top. If the answer is correct, you may eat the chocolate chip.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Geography Race -- State Abbreviations and Capitals

This is a very active way to learn and review state abbreviations and capitals. First I printed up cards with the state capital on one side and the 2-letter abbreviation on the other side. Then we scattered the cards around the frontroom floor so the abbreviations were facing up. Then the girls would stand by the door, listen for the name of the state, then race to find the card. They had a blast, and it was a lot more fun than simply filling out a worksheet.


To practice the capitals, we did the same thing, but turned the cards over so the name of the capital was face up. Then we played the game the same way racing for the capitals.

Floor Geometry -- Yarn shapes, Length, Width and Side

This activity was an introduction to finding the area of rectangles, triangles, and squares. First, we had fun creating large shapes with yarn on the floor. Then we labeled the sides, width, and length of each shape. The label cards were colored differently. For example, the length cards were orange, the width cards were blue, and the side cards were red, for the square, and yellow, for the triangle. Then we traded the word cards for cards with the beginning letter of the word so the girls would get familiar with the letters used in the formulas for finding the area.