Space Monster Math and Playdough

Aug 31, 2012

What a delight it is to introduce you to a favourite person and blog of mine, Andie from Crayon Freckles. Today Andie is sharing a special super fun, monsterific post just for the Learn with Play at home readers. Be sure to pop on over to Andie's blog if you haven't already and check out her other fun activities and interesting parenting articles. Enjoy! Debs :)

During a recent unit on space, my son, Bear, (3.5 yrs) expressed an interest in space monsters.  I try to follow his interests when I plan activities.  So we did a few activities based on these fun little creatures.

The first was a math activity to practice one-to-one correspondence, or assigning one number per object.  We had some flashcards with little furry monsters on them that we used.  Using clothespins, Bear "smushed" the space monsters as he counted them. 

once they were all covered, he practiced writing the number.

After that, we moved onto a fun sensory activity...making playdoh space monsters.  We got out the playdoh and some random craft items like: googly eyes, pipe cleaners, milk caps, pony beads, etc. 

These two activities gave us over an hour of fun that was out of this world (sorry, I had to do it!). 


Andie Jaye is a former preschool teacher turned SAHM of two kiddos. Her blog, Crayon Freckles, is an eclectic mix of play, art, and learning activities. Mingled in are her perspectives on being a crunchy momma, having a long-haired hippy boy and using follow-your-gut parenting. See more of Andie on Crayon Freckles' Facebook page or at Pinterest.
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Crayon and Water Colour Resist Painting

Aug 30, 2012

Today on the blog, I'd like to introduce you to the fabulous Tricia, from Two Big Two Little. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you must go and have a look. Here she is generously sharing with us a fun and magical Crayon & Water Colour Resist Painting activity.  

I'll turn it over to her now... Enjoy! Debs :) 

Hi! I'm Tricia from Two Big Two Little, where I share crafts and activities, with the occasional DIY project, that I do with my children. 

My kids range in age from 1 to 15, so we usually have a variety of end results to everything :) Usually just the girls, one big and one little, do the crafts and activities although every once in a while the big and little boys join in on the fun :)  I'm very excited to be guest posting here at Learn with Play at home today :)

painting, crayons, water colours, colouring, pictures

The girls were bored the other day and looking for something to do. I remembered doing this type of painting when I was little, so I thought we would give it a try. 

 To do a crayon and water colour resist painting, you colour a picture with crayons. 
Then paint over the crayon drawing with water colours. 

We used diluted liquid water colours, but I'm pretty sure you could use the dried water colour pucks. The paper that we used was water colour paper. Any thick type of paper would work. These look really neat if you use white crayon on white paper, as the drawings only show up after being painted. :) White crayon was a little tricky to use, as it was hard to tell what you had drawn or whether you have coloured something completely or not. Sammie's picture and my picture. Mine doesn't look like it haa much on it, but once it was painted, you could see what I had drawn :)
Sammie decided that she didn't want to paint over top of her picture. I'm not sure if she was worried that the painting would ruin it or if she just wasn't in the mood for painting that day. Maddie picked purple paint for her picture. She's almost finished with the painting part :)

Mine and Maddie's finished paintings :)

Maddie decided to make some more of these paintings. She made these ones on paper plates :) I think they turned out great :)
If you like this post, please join Two Big Two Little at our Facebook page for more fun ideas. If you have completed one of our crafts or activities, we would love for you to share a photo on the Facebook page :) You can also follow us on Pinterest :)  Thanks, Tricia.

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Mystery Bag! Exploring Rough and Smooth

Aug 29, 2012

Today we have the delightful Marnie, from Carrots are Orange, sharing with us a gorgeous, Montessori inspired Mystery Bag. Enjoy this post and be sure to go and visit Carrots are Orange for tons more fabulous Montessori inspired ideas & activities. Debs :)

Mystery bags are a key lesson within Montessori's sensorial curriculum. More specifically it is part of stereognostic sense, or the sense that allows us to understand an object or form through a sense of touch (tactile sense). Not only are Mystery Bags fundamental to Montessori curriculum, they are easy, inexpensive and versatile.

  • A drawstring bag
  • Smooth and Rough rocks or other objects
  • Two bowls or basket (you can make two piles or lines for pairs too

  • Invite your child over to you by saying: 'Would you like to work with the Mystery Bag today?
  • Have your child sit to your left (if you're right handed)
  • Point to the bag and say, 'This is a mystery bag. Today we're going to explore with our hands.'
  • Open the bag and looking away slowly place your hand in the bag and pull out an object. Together explore each object that you pull out of the bag (I'd have no more than 8 objects to begin this exercise, even less for younger children). Then place the objects back into the bag.
  • Say, 'Now I'm going to use my hands to find a rough rock.' Place your hand in the bag and feel for a rough rock, pull it out, say, 'Rough.' Invite your child to feel the rock. Place the rock in the left bowl or basket.
  • Say, 'Now I'm going to use my hands to find a smooth rock. I think this one is smooth.' Pull it out: 'Yes, it is smooth'' Same procedure as with the rough rock. Place the rock in the right bowl or basket.
  • Repeat until the bag is empty then invite your child to have a turn

  • Small and Big
  • Soft and Hard
  • Grading rough objects
  • Pairing same objects
  • Using two bags to pair objects

Please comment, we love to hear from you!

Thank you for choosing to read this post today!

Marnie writes Carrots Are Orange, a blog she started in 2010 after the birth of her first son. She hails from Maine, a wonderfully down to earth place to grow up. Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999, currently living in Seattle with her husband and two young boys. She is pursuing Montessori certification. Marnie can be found on Facebook, Twitter @orangercarrots, Pinterest and Google +.
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Pegs & Paint. 3 Easy and Fun ideas!

Aug 28, 2012

Today's Guest post comes from the effervescent, Jode, from  Mummy Musings and Mayhem Jode has a background in early childhood education and development and shares the engaging, fun and often messy play activities that she does with her twin girls. I hope you enjoy the fun activities shared here by Jode and be sure to pop by her blog to check out her other great ideas. Debs :)

What a joy it is to be guest posting on Learn with Play at Home! I always love to visit this space and be inspired by Deb and her huge variety of fun, child focused activities that anyone can try at home, so I am very excited to be able to share a post here with you!

I'm Jode from Mummy Musings and Mayhem and I am currently stay at home Mum to my twin 2 yr old toddlers and a teenager...we are indeed busy around here but I enjoy delving back into the creativity of my childcare teacher days and preparing fun yet easy toddler activities for my 'toddler twosome'.

Blogging about our family adventures (and yes sometimes stresses!) as well as the fun activities we do has become my favourite hobby and a way of holding onto those cherished early years of childhood! We are on a tight budget with me not working at the moment so i really enjoy trying to find ways of presenting creative fun using simple items from around the home or $2 shop! Fun doesn't need to be's often messy at our place though!

One of my favourite painting and creative 'tools' to use with my toddler twosome is the humble peg. It makes a fantastic little handle for those chubby , still a little uncoordinated toddler hands and grips.

 Wondering what i mean?

Here are 3 of my favourite ways to use pegs with paint.....

Peg String Painting

As easy as it sounds (I love easy with younger toddlers!)....just tie a short length of string onto will find it an easier activity for little hands if you use fairly coarse string or twine.

Fill some paint pots with your favourite water colours ( i like to use water and edicol dye for my water paints as they wash out so easily and i don't need to stress about cleaning clothes or other surfaces!) and then show the children how to dip the string into the paint using the pegs as little handles.... 

Remember to tie securely or you will have some tears when they don't come back out of the paint!

The toddler twosome loved wiping the string back and forth but older children who have more fine motor control will also enjoy making more intricate patterns .

This is a fantastic activity  for practising the pincer grip and fine motor control. It also helps to develop eye hand co-ordination as the children dip the string into the pots and then bring it to the paper! More paint results in thincker strokes...less paint thinner strokes...

Depending on what colours you use you can also talk about the colours running together and forming new ones as well as making lines or dots on the paper.

I like to tape down the paper to a table for younger toddlers as it stops the frustration of it sliding around and lets them concentrate on making their artworks instead! 

Don't you just love the concentration and experimenting here?

Tara actually figured out that the string made interesting and different patterns on the vinyl tablecloth so she went back and forth between the two .....

You could also do this activity with acrylic paint but you may want to thin it  a little with some water first. For older children you could try placing the paint in shallow containers to allow for a little more exploration and dexterity. 

Another activity we do regularly at our house with pegs is.......

Peg Painting with Sponges

So very easy! Just cut a few household sponges into thick strips, fold in half and peg!

I used a little of our homemade Cornflour Paint mixed with edicol dye the focus is on having fun with the activity rather than worrying about the mess. Cornflour paint washes out so easily and yet it is so easy and inexpensive to make! With 2 yr old toddlers who love to paint and be messy we use it a lot!

Having the handle to use gives toddlers a little more fine motor muscle control and this helps with confidence and the willingness to try new you can see we used a few different sized and shaped sponges as well as our trusty paint tray to keep it all contained! Wrapping recycled fruit netting bags around a bath sponge also makes great prints on paper!

Peg sponges are also handy as a blusher...although i don't recommend blue! 

They make fun patterns on the paper as well as being easy to clean up and reuse again for another day!

The last activity to share with you today is the easiest of all and good for a rainy day when you are lacking inspiration (and patience!)

Make-Up Sponge Peg Painting

Exactly as the name suggests! I brought a large pack of latex make up sponges at our local $2 shop...soaked them in a little water for 10 minutes and then pegged them!

Add some water paint, paper towelling and recycled meat trays and you have another toddler friendly activity for little cost! You can of course just use paper but we had trays to use and i liked the patterns the texture of the sponges made on the waxy surface of the trays.

Whenever i use water paint inside i always like to lay down a little paper towel as it soaks up the paint nicely and at the same time makes some great patterns!

Again a good activity for practising that pincer grip and fine motor control. During this activity we also talked about the colours and different textures the girls were experiencing. The paint looked different on the trays compared to the towel...why?

Tara had great fun matching the peg sponge to the right colour paint and got very upset when Ruby didn't do the same! I just love the differences between my twins...makes activities all the more interesting i think as they always approach creativity in very different ways and often i am the one to learn something new!

Ruby loves to try and figure out how to get the sponges off of the pegs....fantastic for her critical thinking and problem solving skills as well as practising her eye hand coordination!Of course then Mummy has to put them all back on or there are tears but a small price to pay for some easy fun on a budget and busy little bodies!

I hope i have inspired you to use those pegs for something other than hanging out the washing....they really are great little tools for fun and learning!

If you have enjoyed reading about the fun we had with these activities you might also find some inspiration in these posts...

Fun Ideas with Muffin Tins

Easy Ideas for Toddler Messy Play

Easy Fine Motor Fun for Younger Toddlers

We'd love to have you drop by for a visit! Thanks again to Deb for having us stop by and share some of our messy fun with you today!

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Popcorn Fun! Activities, ideas and more.

Aug 27, 2012

Today, I am super excited to introduce you to Steph from Boy Mama Teacher Mama.  She writes a fabulous blog choc-a-block full of great activities that promote learning and enjoyment. If you're yet to discover her blog, then you must go over and take a look. I shall leave you in her capable hands. Debs :)

I am so happy to be guest posting on Learn with Play at home!  My name is Stephanie and I am the creator of Boy Mama Teacher Mama. I am also a former primary school teacher and a mom to two amazing boys ages 3 and 5. I am also a mom to two adorable Pugs who were my children before my boys were born.  I was born and raised in the US (Chicago area then onto the Seattle area), and am currently living in Sydney, Australia.  
Here I share with you some fantastic fun that you can have with a simple material... corn!
"Mom, do you think popcorn and corn are the same thing?"
This is what my five year old asked me today on the walk to the grocery store. Man, the things we take for granted that we think they know, but they don't! So, it was time to institute, "Popcorn School" in our household. What fun!
But, before we start, head over to itunes and search for the song, "Popcorn!" by the Barenaked Ladies and play it!  It is a fun song that will get your child "popping" around the room and ready to think about popcorn!
Popcorn Basics
• Popcorn comes from corn (no assumptions right?)
• There are six different kinds of corn, but, “zea mays everta” aka popcorn is the only one that pops.
• In the United States, over 17.3 billion quarts of popcorn is consumed each year!
• Corn is grown in 6 different states in the US. This area is known as the "cornbelt."

Why Popcorn Pops
Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard surface.  As the kernel heats up, the water begins to expand and eventually turns into steam. This steam changes the soft starch to an extremely hot gelatinous goop. As the kernel continues to heat up, the pressure inside grows and grows until it finally bursts open. So, what you are seeing in a piece of popcorn is actually the inside of the kernel on the outside! 

Be a Kernel and POP!: Have your child get down on the floor and pretend that she is an un-popped kernel of popcorn. Then walk her through the stages of becoming a piece of popcorn.  Begin with something like-- “You are one tiny kernel in the pan along with hundreds of other kernels. You are closed up tight. Slowly the pan gets hotter and hotter…”

Check out this video of popcorn popping in slow motion: Popcorn in Slow Motion 

Did You Know?
• The un-popped popcorn at the bottom of the bowl are called, “old maids?”
   Native Americans used to believe that a little demon lived inside each kernel. The demon would get so angry when his house heated up that he exploded and that is why popcorn pops.

Popcorn Activities

Cook up a batch of popcorn for the following activities. Be sure to set aside some un-popped kernels as well. Don’t forget to make a little extra to munch on…

Popcorn Addition: Using 3 cups or plates and a die, you can practice addition.  Roll the die once and put that many piece of popcorn on the first plate, roll again and put that many on the second plate. Then pour the contents of the first two plates onto the third and count how many pieces you have all together. Want to take it a step further? Use a pencil and paper to show the addition problem or try subtraction instead.

Popcorn Popcorn Patterns:  Use popcorn and kernels to make patterns. 

Popcorn Art: Use popcorn and kernels to make a picture or design

Popcorn Bags: Using a plain paper bag (lunch bag), create your own popcorn bag like you might see at the circus, the fair or the movies.

Math Bags: Want to add some math to your newly created Popcorn Bag? Throw a few number cards inside the bag and have your child draw two cards then add, subtract or multiply the two numbers. Or remove 3 or more cards and practice adding number strings.

Popcorn Taste Test: Prepare popcorn in a few different ways (see recipes below), gather up the family and have a taste test. Create a popcorn graph to show the results.

Song, Story or Rhyme: Write a song, story or rhyme about popcorn.  Here is a simple one we made up:

Popcorn popping,
Pop! Pop! Pop!
Popcorn popping,
When will it stop?
Popcorn popping,
Ready to munch.
Popcorn stopping,
Ready to crunch!

Popcorn Tic-Tac-Toe: Instead of x and o use kernels and popped popcorn.

Popcorn Stand: Have a popcorn stand instead of a lemonade stand (or both!).

Sprout a Kernel: Put some soil in a container, add a few kernels of popcorn and water. Place the cup in a sunny spot and watch your kernel grow. Kernel should sprout in about a week or so.

Have an Older Child? 
Try this two step activity:

How Much Room?  Fill a very small container with popcorn kernels and fill the same size container with popped popcorn and set both aside (out of view).  Now, with your child, count out 2 kernels and show him what that looks like. Then show him what 5 kernels look like. And then 10.  Repeat these same steps with popped corn.  Ask some of the following questions:  Which kind of corn (popped or un-popped) takes up more space?  If you had to fill a big container with either popped or un-popped popcorn, which would make sense to use? What about a smaller container? Which makes more sense?

Kernel Estimation: Now that your child has an understanding of how much space popped and un-popped popcorn takes up, take out the two small containers you filled up. Place them in front of your child.  As these question: Which container is holding more items?  How do you know? How many kernels do you think is in this container? How many pieces of popcorn are in this container?  Show your child again what 10 kernels looks like and what 10 pieces of popcorn look like. Using this visual information, together try to estimate how many kernels are in the container and how many pieces of popcorn there are.  Then count and see if you are right!

Note: Estimation is not an easy concept.  Often we expect young children to just instinctually know what it means and how it works. This is not true! Guiding your child as described above, helps your child to begin to understand estimation.

Popcorn Recipes
   Party Popcorn from She Wears Many Hats
   Easy Caramel Corn 
   Seasoned Popcorn:  Simply add any of your favorite ingredients to the melted butter and enjoy! Try cinnamon sugar or parmesan cheese.

Popcorn Books
   Popcorn! (Elaine Landau )Popcorn! is a picture book for older children complete with historical facts, legends, trivia and recipes all featuring popcorn.  
   The Popcorn Book (Tomie DePaola) Friends get together to make some popcorn and have an adventure that is sure to please young readers. 
   Corn  (Gail Gibbons) A non-fiction book about all things corn. 
   Popcorn (Frank Asch) Bear is left home on Halloween and decides to invite his friends over for a party.  Each friend decides to bring some popcorn to the party. Bear and his friends decide to pop all the corn and soon the house is filled with popcorn….
More great information about popcorn can be found at
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