Practicing Our Numbers and Letters – Name & Number Recognition + Tracing (Part 2)

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It’s been so difficult lately with the kids not sleeping as well at night. It might be something to do with the warmer nights. Whatever it is, it’s taking it’s toll on me! EXHAUSTION! Even after a quick shut-eye during their naps aren’t cutting it. Migraines!! Ahhhhh…..hence the lack of blogging lately.

However, I’ve been dying to share more of our letters and numbers activities!!

Writing in Shaving Cream with Scent Reinforcements 

Back when I was studying for the SATs (gosh that was centuries ago), I remember reading about how citrus scents can improve cognitive function like visual-motor responses, provide alertness, and assist in memory recall! I have to admit, if I smell a certain brand of perfume, it’d remind me of my days at the university because it was the brand my professor wore. Similarly, when I was living in Australia, if I smelled pine, I’d get homesick as it reminded me of the pine trees in America. How about a special dish that only your mom used to make? Anton Ego from Ratatouille anyone?

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Today, I cut up some ripe oranges and fresh lemons for the kids to smell, touch, and taste while we did our name recognition activity.

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I had them smell and taste some slices.

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Then placed sheets of foil in front of them to write their names on shaving cream. I’ve also presented their names with wooden letters so they can see how it should be spelled.

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Josh loves the letter “O” 🙂

To help him remember “J,” I told him to remember that it’s the letter that looks like a hook. For “H,” I told him it looks like a little bridge. Seems to work!

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So messy 😀

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Numbers Recognition and Counting – using foam numbers, index cards, cocktail sticks, and bottle caps

Here’s an easy activity you can do with your toddler. Although, it was not easy for big brother J to concentrate while little sister N was eagerly helping 😉

Here are my materials:

  • Homemade number flash cards with numbers written along with number of dots associated with that number
  • Cocktail stirrers
  • Bottle caps
  • $1-3 foam numbers from Target

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First, I laid out the cards from 1 – 10 and asked J to match the foam numbers to the cards. We read each number out loud.

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Then we sorted the bottle caps by color and counted how many there were. We found the matching index card and foam numbers. If J got stuck, I’d remind him to count the number of dots on the index card and match the bottle caps to the way the dots are drawn on the cards.

We used the stir sticks the same way and we used the sticks to trace the numbers like an ink-less pencil.

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We even sneaked in a little bit of simple maths (addition). Uh oh Tiger Mom alert! Poor kids.

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Wipe Off Activity Books

We’ve bought these activity books before but after our recent influx of tracing letters and numbers, J and N have refreshed their interests in these. J has been addicted! I couldn’t believe how his tracing improved so much in just a week. It was like he went to bed and woke up a year older!

We bought our wipe off books from Target for $4.99. They are by TRENDenterprises.com . They are full of fun activities, aligns with learning standards, and have bright, colorful pictures kids love…

I also found some good ones on Amazon by Roger Priddy.

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Love it when you can see good results from all the hard work for both parent and child! Happy learning everyone!

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Practicing Our Letters and Numbers – Name Recognition + Tracing (Part 1)

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I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front but it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy! Aside from Easter celebrations and activities, we did heaps of learning activities to help the kids learn to recognize their names, spell their names, and write their names. On top of that, we are also practicing our numbers and counting!

Here are some fun AND easy activities to do with toddlers to help them recognize, spell, and write their names and numbers!

Dot Tracing – Numbers, Names, and Pictures

Josh LOVES rockets. He also loves drawing. However, he hesitates sometimes because he recognizes the fact that his drawings are not yet recognizable. Although, having said that, they ARE becoming more and more recognizable.  He’s been asking us to draw rockets and dinosaurs for him a lot. In order to encourage him to draw his beloved subjects, I thought I’d try drawing them in dots. They’re close together, making it easier for him to recognize the picture and to trace.

They were really excited to see this activity waiting for them!

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With Josh’s numbers, I drew groups of dots for him to match the written number to.

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With N, I knew with her age, she doesn’t have the fine motor skill to do most of the tracing and match the dots to the written numbers. So instead, I drew the number of dots correlated to the written number. The idea is that the more she sees her name and the numbers, the easier it will be for her later on to recognize them.IMG_1988

Using Play Dough (or Cloud Dough in our case) to Spell and Write!

Back in February, I made some cloud dough out of apple conditioner and corn starch (flour). After each use, I’ve been storing them in glad wrap and zip locks. It’s been a while since we’ve last used it, so not surprisingly, they were a bit crumbly and dry. I added about a tsp of the same conditioner to each clump and mixed them in their glad wrap. That kept my hands clean and you don’t lose any of the dough because they can stick onto your hands.

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It helps to fold the conditioner in

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I also drew some simple templates of bugs for them to use to mold their dough onto.

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I lost my girl at butterfly. After that she wanted all her dough to fly 🙂

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Using Stickers to Practice Name and Number Recognition

I had TONS of stickers leftover from St Patrick’s Day and Easter. So instead of keeping them in my art supply box for another year, I thought I’d let the kids use them up for this activity. They do love stickers!

Again, I drew their names and age in bubble font and let them go nuts with the stickers. Ok, N needed a bit of assistance 😉

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They turned out so pretty! I wish I could laminate these.

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When I have more free time, I’ll post Part 2 of 2. We did so many fun activities to help them learn their names, alphabet, and numbers. More to come!

Easter Activities for Toddlers

Easter is just around the corner and we’ve been busy doing lots of Easter activities and artwork! Here are a few things we did the last couple of weeks.

1. Egg Rolling and Animal Figurine Tracks

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I got this idea from  marble painting. With marble painting, you take marbles, dip them in paint, drop them in a paper-lined tray and move the tray around to paint your picture! So instead of marbles, we used boiled eggs! You can probably use craft eggs as well.

Our kids shared a single tray so this was a collaborative art project. Instead of moving the tray around, we used little cocktail stirrers to move the eggs around.

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For the stamping activity, we thought it’d be a lot of fun to use our animal and dinosaur figurines to stamp eggs on paper!

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Our kids love getting paint all over their hands and paint with their fingers/hands. So I usually let them go crazy with less structure at the end of our project. It allows them to practice following instructions and also let their creative juices go wild.

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2. Bobbing for Easter Eggs

It’s only the start of Spring here in California and it’s been warm!! So I thought it’d be a great day to let the kids with with water! Let go bobbing for eggs!

Instead of using your mouth with apples, I handed the kids some spoons. Great way to practice their fine motor skills!

Again, we used craft eggs. These were purchased from Michaels and they are kind of like ping pong balls. Very light and hallow. They float, making them perfect for this activity.

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I also colored the water with some food coloring to make it more festive haha

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It wasn’t long before they got in!!! Surprised?

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3. Easter Stamp Art – using toilet paper rolls and cotton balls

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Erupting Salt Art – Name Recognition and Learning Numbers

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I saw a post from one of my frequently visited sites Learn Play Imagine where they made Erupting Watercolor Art. I loved the idea and really wanted to try it with our little gnomes. As mentioned by LPI, it is a fun activity that also helps develop fine motor skills. Tots are strengthening the muscles in their pencil-holding hands, practicing concentration skills by controlling the flow of the liquid through the eye droppers.

Meanwhile, as if that’s not a sensory overload as is…I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice name recognition and numbers. I remember reading that designs with lines work better with this so I thought letters and numbers would be perfect!

Materials:

  • Salt – I used 1/4 cup of salt
  • Baking Soda (bicarb) – 1/4 cup
  • Pipettes or eye droppers
  • Containers – to hold your colors
  • Food coloring
  • Vinegar – 1 tbsp per color
  • White glue – Elmer’s
  • Paper – thick watercolor paper preferred

Quick note: I didn’t end up using all of my salt+bicarb mix so you can definitely use less. Just use 1:1 ratio. It just depends how much you plan on using.

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I wrote out their names with the glue and also drew some simple pictures. You can have your child do this part too if you’d like.

Then I had them sprinkle my salt+baking soda mix (premixed in a small bowl) onto the glue. I helped them make sure it’s completely covered.

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Watch out! It does get a bit messy 🙂

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Then I helped them shake off the excess back into the bowl. Once that’s done, I had them start piping colors onto the glue. I taught them by demonstrating it’s better to drop a little bit of liquid at a time. You can see the colors being absorbed into the lines of glue. However, kids will be kids and they are still practicing their fine motor skills. They will end up squeezing all the colors out at one point! With my 23mo, I just put less liquid colors in her dropper. 🙂

It helps to keep paper towels handy to help absorb the excess liquid.

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Here are the numbers! So pretty!!

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As mentioned earlier, have paper towels nearby to blot the excess water. Place them somewhere safe to dry. I hung ours up on a string to dry outside 🙂 If it’s still dripping, make sure you have something below to catch the drips! Food coloring can still stain!

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Easter Egg – Eggshell Mosaic

1. Easter Eggs – eggshell Mosaic 

I really want the kids to try egg decorating this year but I’m not quite sure if they have the patience or dexterity to do it just yet. I still might try!!

Meanwhile, I’ve been breaking a lot of eggs lately (for breakfast). On top of that, the kids saw an episode of Mister Maker where he made a pretty mosaic out of dyed eggshells. The only thing I noticed is that he didn’t use vinegar! Vinegar helps the color stick to the shells more permanently (and vibrantly as I had noticed). Also he used brown eggshells where I used white. I just figured it’d look more vibrant with my pastel food color gels.

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Here are my CLEANED eggshells. Try and get rid of all the papery membrane inside the shells.

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I crushed the shells (by hand or with a metal spoon) and added them to separate bowls of food coloring + water + vinegar. I eyeballed it but you can probably do about 3 drops of gel with 1/4 cup of water and 1 tbsp of vinegar. I put in more drops of the pink one to achieve the color I wanted so it’s adjustable! I soaked them overnight to get a deep pastel color. It’s up to you what color you want to achieve!

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After I was happy with the coloring, I drained the liquid out and dried the shells in trays lined with paper towels. I sat mine at a sunny windowsill. Make sure you don’t forget them and they might fade a bit under the sun! Check on the regularly and make sure they are dried completely.

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After they are dried, I broke the pieces up some more so it’s like confetti. It’s easier for toddlers to sprinkle than to glue the shells piece by piece. It’s totally up to you! The benefit of smaller pieces is that there are less gaps. Older kids would be better at gluing larger mosaic shell tiles and filling the gaps.

I helped my kids to paint the glue onto the egg I drew for them (with a very easy pattern or design). J wanted to paint himself so I let him but it was going everywhere so I ended up wiping the bits that went outside the lines and finished painting it for him.

I said “paint” the glue because I colored the glue with a little bit of tempera paint. Just to add a bit of coloring to the background 🙂 You don’t have to of course. Your glue will just dry clear which will still look great!

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After your child is done with one section / color, pick up the artwork and give it a little shake to rid of any loose shells. You or your child can patch up the gaps. Then start with another color / section.

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Even mummy got into it!

I used a decorative egg I had bought from the shops and did the same thing.

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Mine had a bit of gap in it since I used bigger shell tiles. I thought it looked pretty neat that way. I might try one with smaller pieces later on.

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Alphabet Activities and Games + Name and Word Recognition Games

1. Reading Game – I Spy the color/letter….

I’ve learned that kids love interactive shows like Dora, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates….the list goes on! They also LOVE a good game of “I Spy.” Why not incorporate that into reading?

Tools:

  • Book
  • Colorful Alphabet letters (We use Melissa and Doug‘s See and Spell letters)
  • Colorful plastic shot glasses (For more color recognition and a bit of extra fun!)
  • Magnifying glass (We bought these from ToysRUs but you can find these at Amazon as well)

We didn’t have a purple shot glass to match J’s purple letter “o” so we used this opportunity to learn a bit of basic color theory.

Red + Blue = PURPLE!

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Here J is matching the colorful glasses with each of the colored letters.

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What’s this? We’ve already spotted a letter from our name! “S”!

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J having a closer look at the text to spot any other letters from his name.

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Here he is matching the blue sky in the illustrations with his blue “j” and blue plastic glass.

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear was the perfect book to do this activity!

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2. Alphabet Rock SMASH

This is revisiting an old post. These are easy and fun for the kids to make and it’s even more fun when they smash them! WARNING: This is a messy activity!!

Here is the link to the post.

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Josh wanted to spell “rocket”

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3. I Spy

I walk the kids to our local shops every week to get some miscellaneous grocery items. Sometimes it can become a bit of a struggle as they tend to get restless and don’t want to sit quietly in their prams as I get our shopping done. So I thought I’d give them a little (educational) task!

I wrote two letters down in upper and lower cases and asked the kids to spot anything that would start with “A” and “B”. Yes, they’re too young to know, but I’d point them out to them and reinforce their letter recognition and word association by showing them the letter and the item we spot.

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Let me just say there are A LOT more “Bs” in this world than “As”! No pun intended!

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4. I Spy – Part II (Name Recognition)

Again, I used index cards and spelled out the kids’ names. Initially, I had the idea of them tallying the letters as we go. Every time we see something that starts with the letter “J” we’d make a tally with the crayon. Then I thought maybe using stickers may be more age appropriate and more fun for my kids. Plus, I had heaps of St Patrick’s Day stickers leftover!

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Josh is doing well spotting the letter “J” in “juice”!

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5. Name Recognition – Homemade Sand Excavation

I got my pre-made homemade sand (see previous post via link for recipe) out and split it into two trays. I hid two sets of the kids’ names (Melissa and Doug wooden letters) and kept one set out so they can visually spell out their names and to match the letters they find.

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Some sifting tools for their excavation!

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Warning! Sand flying! Be prepared for some mess especially with littlies! And don’t worry. Just sweep or vacuum later! You can always top up your sand later with more materials.

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Found our last letter!

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Cardboard Dinosaur Cave

More Dinosaur FUN! We have had a few deliveries from online vitamin shops and Amazon lately which usually come with a good size box and tons of brown construction paper. I knew it’d be a waste to just recycle them and/or use the box as my recycling bin…. Light bulb moment: A dinosaur cave for the kids to pretend play with! So after looking on Pinterest a bit and using whatever creative juices I had left with this mummy brain of mine….I came up with this!

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My biggest challenge was finding the time to do this fun project. I had so many ideas but I lacked the patience and wanted to get this done. I figure I can always add to it later on or just build another one and call this the ‘test pilot’. I’ve had this material for two weeks already and I just want to get this to a playable state!

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What I used:

  • A good sized box – spacious enough for your dinosaurs to play in
  • Brown butcher paper or construction paper – you get a lot of these from deliveries or buy them at Lowes, Home Depot, Bunnnings, or any art supply stores
  • Tape
  • Stapler – up to you. You might worry about little fingers getting pricked by a loose staple
  • Hot glue gun & glue stick
  • Egg carton – brown preferred but you can paint them
  • Rocks, leaves, bones (homemade), dinosaurs, etc

I would have loved getting craft felt to line the floor of the cave. You can even use some craft moss or fake grass depending on budget. I was thinking of gluing dried used coffee grinds as an idea. But if you read my Homemade Sand blog entry, you’d know I have trouble accumulating enough coffee grinds in a reasonable amount of time!

I’d love to make a little plateau or hill with the egg carton lid as well. Cover it with mache to blend into the backdrop. Another idea was to create an anchialine pool (aka cave pond).

Later on, I’d like to make an erupting volcano to accompany this cave on a dinosaur playing sort of day!

I didn’t have a chance to document this project with too many photos.

I simply crumpled the construction paper up to a shape I liked and started adhering it to the box to make it look like a cave. My little man helped supervise telling if it looked good or not haha. I used stapler, tape and glue gun to complete the project. I would have loved to make use of paper mache to harden the lining and the cover of the box but I lacked time and patience 😉

In this photo, I’m making stalactites out of the pointy bit inside an egg carton. Use hot glue so it sticks more easily.

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I left the remainder of an egg carton inside the cave for the kids to play with. N was pretending her little dinosaur was eating one of the egg cups 🙂

J said they were dino eggs!

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Then I put my premade dinosaur bones inside the cave along with the more lively dinosaurs.

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The kids loved it!

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I’ve been wanting to do a Dinosaur themed day for the kids and I will definitely incorporate this awesome cave into it. Hopefully I’ll find some time to incorporate some of those upgrades I had mentioned!!