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.