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love playing with playdough and there are so many learning
activities that can be done using it. One of the things
playdough can be used for is teaching basic math skills.
You can do sorting activities ... counting activities
.... size discrimination activities ... addition and subtraction
activities etc. These can be teacher led or child led
activities. We use cookie sheets that were purchased from
a dollar store so each child has his/her own work space.
File Folder Games
can make fun and inexpensive visual discrimination games
by using stickers. I usually get my stickers at Wal-Mart
or our local teacher supply store. You need to make sure
you have two matching sets of stickers ... one for inside
the file folder and one for the loose matching game pieces.
Here is a sticker
template that you can use to put the stickers
inside. The ones that you glue inside the file folder
can be printed on regular paper. The ones for the loose
matching pieces you can use cardstock paper. The loose
pieces should be laminated.
and Number Finger Painting
painting is a lot of fun for children ... but it also
can be a great learning tool. One of the things we do
is give everyone a sheet of fingerpaint paper and a paper
plate with finger paint on it. I then call out a letter
or number and the children paint what ever letter or number
I called out. This activity is great for developing fine
motor skills as well.
charts are an essential item in any early childhood environment.
There are so many thing you can do with them. One of our
favorite activities is Pocket Chart Matching. You will
need a pocket chart which you can get from any educational
supply store or even Ebay. I make up all different kinds
of cards that will fit in the pocket chart such as letters
... colors ... shapes ... numbers ... sight words etc.
You will need to make two sets of the cards you are going
to use and make sure they are laminated. For younger children
I place the first set of cards in the pocket chart and
then the children match the second set to the first set
by placing the individual cards directly in front of the
card it matches in the pocket chart. Older children can
place the first set of cards in the pocket chart by themselves
and then match the second set to the first set in the
pocket chart. The
flower alphabet cards (contains both upper and lowercase
letters) pictured here can be found on my free
and Numbers Feely Bag
is a really fun activity for the children. You will need
something to use as a "feely" bag (it should
be something the children can not see through) and magnetic
letters and numbers. For our feely bag we used the bag
that was used to hold the letter tiles from our scrabble
game. You can do this game with either letters or numbers
but do not put both in the bag. The teacher pours some
letters or numbers in the feely bag and
the first child comes and puts his/her hand in the bag
and picks a letter and holds it in his/her hand inside
the feel bag. The child feels the letter with his/her
fingers and tries to guess what letter it is. If he/she
is right the letter is then removed from the bag and it
is the next child's turn. If the child guesses the letter
incorrectly the letter stays in the bag and it is the
next child's turn. Continue play until each child has
had a few turns. For larger groups of student it is better
to divide them in to smaller groups so there is not a
long wait between turns.
These are really
easy and inexpensive to make and look really cute when
they are finshed. We use them for pointing to pocket charts
... words on the word wall ... at circle time .... as
a "magic wand" during transitions ... the possibilities
To make them
you will need ... foam alphabet letters (we use the kind
children use in the bath tub) ... wood dowels ... a hot
glue gun and glue sticks ... paint and paint brushes ...
The first thing
you need to do is paint the wood dowels and let them dry.
Next glue on the alphabet letters using a hot glue gun
and let set. They look great just like this but I glued
sequins on my "teacher set" that I use. I would
not recommend gluing anything on the alphabet letters
if they are going to be used by small children. Another
thing I did with the alphabet letters is attach a magnet
on the back of them and use them on my filing cabinet.
purchased the foam letters from Wal-Mart for under 4.00
for a set of 26 letters and the wood dowels I got at a
craft store for 1.86 for a set of six.
Top Pocket Chart
found these table top pocket charts at Wal-Mart in the
back to shool section. They were 6.98 each and they had
one for the alphabet and one for numbers. Both sets came
with cards that can be used in the pocket charts and of
course my printables would work well in them too. There
is a storage pocket in the back of the pocket chart to
hold the cards and they fold up for easy storage.
Discovery Sand Bottle
is a really great individual or partner activity and is
easy to adapt for younger and older children. There is
a wonderful woman by the name of Sally Gilbert who sells
packet of items that can be put in the discovery bottles.
In each packet there is one item for each letter of the
alphabet and a list of what items she has given you. You
take an empty one liter bottle and add the alphabet items.
You then add enough sand to fill the bottle about half
way. For younger children you can tell them the items
you want them to find ... for example "flowers"
... they then slowly roll or turn the discovery bottle
until they find the flowers. The next level would be to
give the children a list with the items on it and they
can cross the items out as they find them. For older children
you can give them a sheet with just the alphabet letter
on and then ask them to find the items that start with
each letter. If you are interested in ordering the items
that go inside the abc discovery sand bottles please contact
. The cost is 5.00 per set plus shipping.
Chicka Boom Boom Shakers
is another Sally Gilbert creation. The Chicka Chicka Boom
Boom Shakers come fully assembled and are bright and colorful.
The children shake the shakers after each page in the
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book. The alphabet letters are
made out of foam so when the children shake the shakers
they are not too loud. The shakers are a great way to
get the children involved in story. If you are interested
in ordering the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom shakers please
Gilbert . The cost is 1.00 per shaker plus shipping.
Cans With Magnetic Letters and Numbers
are simple to set up yet lots of fun for the kids. I purchased
empty paint cans (new and unused) from the paint supply
section at Menards (Home Depot and Lowes should have them
too). The cans were around 2.50 each. I then put magnet
letters in some cans and magnetic numbers in others. The
cans come with a lid which is nice for labeling and storing
each can. The children can take the cans out and just
free-play with the letter and numbers by putting them
on the cans in any order they wish. I like to sit with
each child and go through the letters and numbers that
they have placed on the cans and have them identify as
many as they can. Children can find the letters to their
names and and put their names on the can. I also have
cans that have word cards placed inside them that the
children can take out along with the letters and then
make the words on the can that match the ones on the cards.
I have cans that have cards on it with different numbers
of objects and the children need to count the objects
on the card and place the correct number magnet on the
can. There are many acitivities you can do with paint
cans and magnetic letters and numbers ... use your imagination
and have fun!!
is a great activity for children develop fine motor skills
and practice drawing or writing in paint without the mess.
You will need sandwhich size zip lock bags (the kind that
you snap together ... not the zipper kind) and finger
paint. Open zip lock bags and put between 1/2 to 1/3 cup
of finger paint in each bag. Lay bag flat and smooth finger
paint flat in bag (this pushes the air out).... making
sure not to get too close to the opening of the bag. Close
zip lock bag making sure that it is close all the way
across the top. Children use their finger to draw and
write on the top of the bag. They can erase what they
made by smoothing out the fingerpaint in the bag. Be sure
to tell the children that the bags are not to be opened
otherwise the finger paint will come out of the bag.
activity is a little messy but clean up is really easy.
For this activity I purchased cookie sheets and shaving
cream from our local dollar store. Everyone had their
own cookie sheet. I put a mound of shaving cream on each
tray and let the children smooth the shaving cream all
over the cookie sheet. They love the feeling of the shaving
cream (be sure to tell the children not to touch their
face or put mouth with their hands once they have shaving
cream on them) and I let them free play with it for a
while. Later the children each took turns calling out
a letter ... number ... shape .... word ... that they
wanted everyone to write in the shaving cream.
Tin Sorting Trays
tins make great sorting trays. You can buy them in either
six or twelve muffin cups per tray. For this activity
I purchased foam sheets that came in a package of forty
sheets with thirteen different colors. I found them in
the craft section at Wal-Mart and the brand is Creative
Hands. I purchased the foam sheets package for less than
five dollars. I cut out a circle that was large enough
to fill the bottom of each tray (a different color for
each muffin space). I then cut twent-five small squares
of each color that was in the tray. The colored squares
were mixed up and the children put the squares into the
tin with the same matching color. After we were done the
foam pieces were put into a zip lock bag. Other variations
on the sorting tray include writing a number on the circle
that goes into each muffin space and then the children
would put the correct number of foam squares in each space.
You could also write numbers on the foam squares and put
them in the space with the same number on the circle.
This could be done with letters and sight words as well.
I found these
mini water bottles at my local grocery store.
be made into any kind of discovery bottles.
Confetti Discovery Bottle
bottles are perfect for science centers ... free play
... and quite times. They are very easy to make and provide
hands-on learning opportunities. I use the mini bottles
because they are smaller and the children seem to handle
them better than the larger ones.
make the magnetic bottle I put magentic counters in the
bottle (you can use any magnetic item that will fit into
the bottle). The children use a magnetic wand around to
move the magnetic pieces around inside the bottle.
make the ocean bottle I filled the bottle with half water
and half baby oil. I then added 5 drops of blue food coloring.
The water and oil stay separate in the bottle giving the
liquid an ocean wave effect when the bottle is tipped
sided to side.
make the slow motion confetti bottle I filled the one
fourth of the bottle with confetti and filled the rest
of the bottle with clear corn syrup. The confetti pieces
move very slowly through the bottle.
what items you put in your discovery bottles you will
need to seal the bottle caps so that children can
not open them. I recommend using a hot glue (low setting).
and Number Lacing Tags
is a great activity that is easy and inexpensive to make.
These lacing tags are perfect for developing fine motor
skills as well and letter and number identifcation and
sequencing skilsl. You will need colored cardstock paper
(any craft store sells the paper as well as Wal-Mart).
You will also need letter and number stickers or paper
shapes (these can be found in the scrapbooking section
of any craft store ... they are letters and numbers that
are already cut out that you will need to apply glue stick
make the tags you will need to cut the colored cardstock
paper in to small squares or rectangles big enough for
the letter or number stickers or cut outs to fit on. Put
on one letter or number per card stock piece and laminate.
Make sure you leave about 1/2 inch free above each tag
when laminating... you will use this space to punch the
holes in. Cut out tags leaving enough room (about 1/2
inch of clear lamination) ... punch two holes above each
tag (see picture above).
can lace the cards in any order they wish or they can
lace them in alphabetical and numerical order.
is an important part of any early childhood program. Making
your own musical instruments can be fun and inexpensive.
We made tambourines .... rain shakers ... and rhythm sticks
to be used during certain music and movement activities
as well as free play.
Sticks: I purchased wood dowels from Wal-Mart for
94 cents each (you can get them in craft stores as well).
The dowels are three feet in length and come in various
circumferences .... I recommend the 1/2 inch size. I cut
the dowels to 13 inches in length and sanded the ends
so that they were smooth and then painted the dowels with
various colors of acrylic paint.
I purchased Hefty Serve 'n' Store Interlocking Large Plates
(they are not paper but rather a plastic type material).
A package of 16 plates cost around 2.36 at Wal-Mart. You
will also need jingle bells (found in the craft section).
I put six jingle bells in one of the plates and then put
glue around the edge of the plate. I took another plate
and turned it upside down and pressed it onto the other
plate. The plates themselves fit together really nice.
I let the glue dry and then carefully punched wholes around
the edge of the plate and tied ribbons on to the plate.
I also painted the plate top and bottom with acrylic paint.
Shakers: You will need empty pringles cans that have
been wiped out with paper towels. You will also need rice
and dried beans (I used a 12 bean soup mix bag that has
different sizes of beans in it). I poured a little of
the bean mix in the pringles can and then added a little
rice. I replaced the cover of the can and held on to both
ends while turning the can up an down and added more rice
until the can made the sound that I wanted. I then cut
a piece of tin foil a little bit larger than the opening
of the can and glued it over the can opening and then
glued the can cover over the tin foil. I covered the can
in construction paper and decorated it.
of our favorite things to do with these instruments is
to have the children choose which instrument they want
to used and then sit down in a circle. I choose my instrument
and bang or shake a certain number of times and have the
children repeat what I just did. We do this as a group
as well as with the children having individual turns in
the circle. The children also like to create their own
band and march around the room playing their instruments.
Jars are a great way to build math skills. These again
are very easy and inexpensive to make. You will need empty
clean baby food jars (I used the Gerber jars with the
toddler hot dogs with them because they had less of a
design on them.)
can fill the jars with any interesting objects for the
children to count. Some of the things we use are colored
paper clips .... candy .... marbles ... foam squares ...
beads ... buttons ... cereal ... dried beans ... marbles
etc. Using different colors of the same object also helps
children distinguish between the different number of objects
in the jar.
can have the jars sitting on an interest table for children
to explore independently or you can work with them on
counting the objects. You can create graphs for the jars
... you can have the children write the correct number
of objects in each jar ... you can have the children arrange
the jars from the least amount of objects to the most
amount of objects etc. There are many things that counting
jars can be used for. Use your imagination and have fun!!
Dough Alphabet Cards
play dough alphabet cards are great for building letter
recognition and fine motor skills development. We put
the alphabet cards on a cookie sheet and let the children
fill the letters in with play dough any way they wish.
Most of the children make balls or "snakes"
out of the play dough to put inside the letters. Click
here to download the play dough alphabet cards.
Dough Counting Cards
play dough counting cards are great for building math
skills and developing fine motor skills. We put the counting
cards on a cookie sheet and the children make small play
dough balls to put on the counting cards. Click
here to download the black and white version and
to download the colored version.
love looking at photgraphs of themselves and using photos
in the early childhood environment can help build self-esteem
and a sense of community. Three of our most popular photograph
activities include self-image dolls ... stick puppets
... and matching games.
Dolls: These are a lot of fun for the children to make.
You will need cardstock paper, a photo of each child's
face, fabric, yarn, glue and scissors. I took a sheet
of cardstock and cut out a basic body shape for each child.
The children then decorate the body by cutting fabric
out and gluing it on the body for clothes. Children also
glue their face on the head and add yarn for hair. We
have hung these up around the room and on the bulletin
board. These are also great for the front of the classroom
Puppets: You will need a photo of each child, craft sticks,
glue and scissors. Cut out photos of children and glue
on craft sticks. We use these for puppet shows, attendance,
and center markers.
Games: This is a very popular activity. You will need
two copies of each photo. We glue one set of photos on
a file folder or mat. Children match the photos.