Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Language - Tuesday

I LOVE the fun language-boosting activities we have planned for today. Likely because I love nursery rhymes and recognize their importance in helping language development. Consider this advice from ParentsConnect.com:
Recite nursery rhymes to your kid regularly. Nursery rhymes aren't just silly little ditties; they actually help your Little Miss Muffet learn to talk (and eventually read) by acquainting her with the rhythm and flow of language. Research shows they also sharpen spatial reasoning skills, which lay the groundwork for success in math and science later on.
Today's language play centers around nursery rhymes, with lots of chance for artistic expression as well. 

All the activities come from this amazing site: Preschool Plan It

A huge hats tipped to them, and if you aren't feeling the example of nursery rhyme activities I've copied and pasted below, visit their site to peruse a few more.  

Language Acquisition

PBS Skill Targeted: From 24 to 36 months, pronunciation improves considerably, although certain sounds in certain positions in words are still hard for many children. Parents and caregivers may need to "translate" for others. Children at this age often enjoy chanting, repeating syllables over and over in a sing-song way to explore language sounds.

Ba, Ba, Ba Black Sheep & Hey Diddle Diddle

Recite the rhymes several times and choose one or some of the supporting activities below:

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full;
One for my master
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

Materials Needed: black paint, white contruction paper, cotton balls, pincher clothes pins, googly eyes, glue
The children use the clothes pins to hold the cotton balls. Dip the cotton in the paint to use on the white paper. Add googly eyes with glue.
You can, if you like, precut the paper into sheep shapes! I have the children use scissors to cut the paper into their best oval shape (possibly predrawn on the paper with a white crayon) for the children to practice their cutting skills. They then use the scraps to cut out four legs and glue them onto their sheep shape.
EXTENSION: Glue a large craft stick on the back and use them while reciting Baa Baa Black sheep! *** Miss I LOVES to do this extension activity. It provides a great way to show off her craftin' skills and also let's us keep her creations for later play use (puppet shows, story times, etc)

Add cotton balls and straws to your block area. The children can build a farm for their sheep or sheep pens with blocks and then use the straws to blow their cotton ball sheep around their farm!

What songs do we know about sheep? Sing Baa Baa Black Sheep, Mary Had a Little Lamb and any others you may know!

Add sheep costumes (or white shirts and sheep masks) and farmer costumes.

Add cotton balls, colored pompoms, cotton batting, spoons and cups for the children to try and scoop up! Different weights will eventually sink...add some science questions! Why did some of the cotton sink but not the pompoms?!

Sheep Shapes: Add sheep shape paper to your writing table. Encourage the children to write notes or draw pictures for one another about their sheep!

Hey Diddle Diddle Nursery Rhyme Activities
Hey Diddle Diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
To see such a sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Materials needed: Paper plates, paint, googly eyes
The children paint their plate and plastic spoon how they want. Add googly eyes to each. When dry, glue them together.
Have eyes, ears and paws precut along with brown or white lunch bags; markers; glue
Encourage the children to make a puppet from the nursery rhyme such as a cow, cat, dog

Add cows, cats and dogs to your block area today.

Provide different colors of paper plates, plastic spoons and plastic forks. Encourage the children to think of ways they could be sorted (by color, by type, one of each for a group).
Set up a few patterns for them to copy. For instance, have 3 place settings: a plate, spoon and 2 forks; a plate a spoon and a fork; a plate and 2 spoons--have them copy what they see.

Add small plastic bowls and spoons to the water table. How many spoons of water does it take to fill the bowl?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Creative Arts - Monday

We have the best readers. Know why? Because they are constantly feeding me cool stuff to add to this site. I love getting emails from other proud mamas (and daddys!) who have discovered wonderful play sites chuck full of great activities. Also very cool is when another mom who happens to also know me in real life drops by a stack of amazing books full of learning games for toddlers! A HUGE thanks and hats tipped to J.M.

I have been devouring these books ever since they came into my possession, and I hope everyone is feeling like a little music today, because that is where this creative arts Monday takes us! Love the ideas that come from The Toddler's Busy Book series? If you don't have a fabulous friend in your life to gift you the books (seriously, how lucky am I?) they are completely worth picking up via Amazon.

Today we are MAKING instruments and then, of course, making a lot of noise with them. 


PBS SKill Targeted:
  • Can compare and contrast sounds made by different instruments (e.g., says, "The triangle makes a tingly sound when you hit it.").
  •  Plays with a variety of musical instruments, often in a unique way (e.g., may shake an instrument that is typically pounded).
Button Tap


*If your laundry room looks like mine & has a bin with assorted lost buttons, single socks and single knit gloves leftover from winter this activity is also an excellent recycled junk buster! 

Thread & Needle OR Hot Glue

Take a knit glove and sew buttons onto the bottom of the finger tips. ***Or if you are totally lazy (see ME) you can hot glue them! then turn a few pots upside down and show your child how to drum out different rhythms on them using their fingers. ***This also boosts dexterity and coordination for little hands


PBS SKill Targeted:
  • Can compare and contrast sounds made by different instruments (e.g., says, "The triangle makes a tingly sound when you hit it.").
  •  Plays with a variety of musical instruments, often in a unique way (e.g., may shake an instrument that is typically pounded).
Simple Shaker

Tupperware, small bottles or jars, empty film canisters, spice jars etc.
dried beans, popcorn kernels, small rocks, dried noodles, marbles, paper clips, pennies (anything you have in your cupboards that will rattle)

Fill up your container with your desired shaking material (beans etc.) Seal the lid tight and then get to shaking. Point out the ways that different shakers might sound, and get some extra movement out of this activity by shaking your instruments creatively (shake' em high, shake 'em low, shake 'em behind your back, shake 'em with your eyes closed). You can also explore different rhythms.


PBS Skill Targeted:
  • Can compare and contrast sounds made by different instruments (e.g., says, "The triangle makes a tingly sound when you hit it.").
  •  Plays with a variety of musical instruments, often in a unique way (e.g., may shake an instrument that is typically pounded).

Tiny Tambourine

2 small aluminium tart or pie pans
dried beans, pennies, corn, etc.

 Fill one pie pan with your shaking materials, inert the other pie pan and place on top. Tape the pie pans together so they stay sealed, you now have a homemade tambourine. Cha, Cha, Cha!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

Sometimes in researching ideas for activities I come across websites that are simply AWESOME! Other times I have readers email me cool sites with incredible ideas. I love this and hope that if you see something you think any of us MillionWays Mamas would appreciate send it to us. It can be something that inspires us, concerns us or even makes us laugh so hard we pee out pants. Heaven knows that as mothers we need all of these kinds of moments!

I came across this list today and thought it was a keeper. Especially useful for moms of tots who are headed to kindergarten very soon.

Preparing Your Child For Kindergarten

Many of the skills on this list are similar to those that we focus on via the PBS development tracker, but this format is a little more succinct and manageable. Print one off and keep it on your fridge, or somewhere that it can visually register on your radar.


Science - Thursday

We visited the Nature Park 'round our parts yesterday and we saw some of these!

Little I was VERY interested in them, and so today's science activity was born.

Life Sciences

PBS Skill Targeted: May know that pets need food or plants need water because he or she helps with these tasks. Begins to understand some personal needs (e.g., food for hunger, clothing or blankets for warmth).

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

  • Heavy duty string or yarn
  • Pine cone
  • Peanut butter
  • Small plastic knife
  • Birdseed
  • Small paper bowl or plate
  1. Tie the string around the top of the shoelace and knot it, leaving enough string to hang it up from a tree branch.
  2. Give your child the plastic knife and have her spread peanut butter over the pine cone, until it’s completely covered.
  3. Pour the bird seed into the disposable plate or bowl, then let your child roll the pine cone in it.

Hang your new creation on a tree branch near a window, and wait for some birds! As you observe your visitors, talk to your child about what’s the same about each of them, and what’s different. You may just seed yourself a birdwatcher for life!

Mathematics - Wednesday

This week's math activity is all about shapes! It is a simple activity, but you can really step it up for those with bigger kids.


PBS Skill Targeted: Throughout this year, some two-year-olds will be able to match shapes, first with same size and orientation, then with different sizes and orientation (e.g., matches simple shapes in form boards and puzzles, sorts simple shapes in a sorter box, etc.).

Matching Halves - Hats Tipped To Education.Com - this activity comes word for word from them!

If your child is just learning about shapes, this matching activity is a great way to introduce her to the concept of puzzles. Each craft stick will have only half a shape. She'll have to find the stick with the missing half and place the sticks side by side to complete each one.

Craft sticks ( 16)  * MillionWays Note - I didn't have craft sticks on hand, so I used index cards!)


  1. Take one pair of sticks and line them up vertically side by side. Draw a large shape on the top half of the stick, so that one half is on each stick. Then, draw a smaller version of the shape on the bottom of each stick, half on each one. Some different shapes you can use include circles, squares, hearts, diamonds, ovals, etc.
  2. Repeat with each pair so that you have 8 pairs that match up to make a full shape.
  3. Mix up the sticks and give them to your child. Challenge her to pair up the sticks to make shapes.
  4. While she's working, start a discussion with her about shapes. Help her name the shapes she sees, and talk about the differences between each one.
When she's all done, suggest a game of "Find the Shape." How many different circles can she find in your house? What about squares? As she plays games like this, it will become easier and easier for her to recognize different shapes and their special characteristics.

***MillionWaysMama Note: You can let older kids get in on this activity while upping their mathematics skills as well! Have them create the shape cars/sticks for younger sibs using a ruler or a compass to make the shapes. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Language - Tuesday

Tuesday Textures

I was stumped last night trying to think of a language activity for today (yet another reason I need some volunteer guest bloggers ASAP). We sat down to dinner and I was excited to have Miss I try the Jell-O beans we'd made yesterday during one of our creative arts moments (I didn't post hat activity on the blog because it requires these rad, vintage jell-o trays, but if you can find some they are a party to make jell-o with). I thought she'd be ecstatic to try our jell-o creations.

That's what I get for thinking a toddler is predictable.

She picked up one Jell-O bean, dropped it. Informed me she HATED it and whimpered if anymore even got near her plate. When I asked her why she didn't want to try the Jell-o she responded with "I'm full." This is my toddler's code for: "There is no way in heck I'm gonna eat that." Pressing her a little more she finally started saying "yucky." Which, of course, I told her was ridiculous since she hadn't even tried to taste it yet.

Then it dawned on me - the texture of the jell-o was yucky to her. She defaulted to the word "yucky" because she didn't yet have the vocabulary for "slimy."

Thus, today's texture-vocabulary building activities were inspired. And our Hats Tipped to PreSchool Express.Com for their amazing assortment of texture activity ideas. Check out their page for lots more texture activities.

Receptive Vocabulary

PBS Skill Targeted:
 The average child has the capacity to acquire one or two words per day, given access to new words in his or her daily experiences.

***Multiple activities are listed to support this skill. Do one or two that suit your day and play or try them all! 

Texture Match Up
Cut 3” x 3” squares of fabric.
Cut out three different colors of corduroy; velveteen, fake fur, wool, leather, etc.
Mix up the squares.
Have your children take turns sorting the fabrics by texture.

Texture Hunt

This is a good game with one or two children.
Go on a walk around your house or classroom and have your children touch various objects.
Ask each child to describe the texture.
Can they find two objects that feel the same.
How many different kinds of textures can they find?

 Guess the Object

This is also a good game with one or two children.
Have a child close her eyes and try to tell what an object is by touching it to her arm.
Take turns using different objects, such as; feathers, cotton balls, pencil, spoon, crayon, etc.   

Simple Texture Sorts

Example of a texture sort bowl - sea shells = bumpy, marbles=smooth, Noodle=hard, Cotton balls = soft Paperclips = sharp etc.
  Let your children take turns playing this game.
Place 5 objects in a basket that have a rough finish.
Place 5 objects in the basket that have a smooth finish.
Set the basket on a table.
Mix up the objects and have the child make two piles of objects on the table, one rough and one smooth.
Variation: You can also play this game using soft and hard      

Monday, June 18, 2012

Creative Arts - Monday

Nothing like starting off the week with a little art!

My only problem with art projects becomes displaying all the creations Little Miss I makes. I need help from all of you readers. Outside of the classic place of pride  the refrigerator, where do you let your little ones show off their mad artistic skills?  Leave me a comment with ideas for display!

Now, on to today's craft!


PBS Skill Targeted:

  • Uses art media to manage feelings (e.g., enjoys making holes in clay when frustrated, scribbles on paper and part of the table top when excited).
  • Uses a variety of art tools to draw, paint, sculpt and make collages, concentrating on the process rather than the product (e.g., scribble paints on butcher paper).

  • Activity:
    Cardboard Tube People

    Hats Tipped To:
    Fun Family Crafts

    We've been saving old toilet paper and paper towel tube around here for awhile for some great project, so I was delighted to find this awesome - and kid-fun-friendly- activity. PLUS - using materials that would normally just end up in the garbage can sends great messages to our kids about rediscovery and recycling!

    You can find the original tutorial here:

    Anything and everything! Gather up the odds and ends you have lying around, some googley eyes, craft foam, paper products, and scraps of material are a good place to start.

    Using your bar toilet paper tube positioned upright, you will create the body for your cardboard tube people. You can paint the tubes to emulate skin color first if you like, or draw your faces right on the cardboard itself.Wrap the tube in foam, paper or material to create clothing. Create hats and hair from yarn, cotton balls, tape  or leave your tube bald as can be.

    The pictures below give you an idea of the possibilities!


    PBS Skill Targeted: Enjoys singing aloud (e.g., hums simple tunes, initiates singing with an adult).

    Old McDonald Had A Farm

    Does your kiddo have a MILLION stuffed animals? Mine does.

    Round up some of the stuffed animals today to use as props when singing Old McDonald.

    These are some of Miss I's animals that we plan to use today.

    Sing Old McDonald, but instead of saying the name of the animal in each verse, hold up a stuffed animal and let your child identify it.

    Mamma: "Old McDonald had a farm, E I E I O. And on that farm he had a ___( hold up as snake)____
    Kiddo: "Snake!"
    Mamma: "E I E I O With a sssssss here and a sssssss there..."

    You get the idea, while making the animal sound you can tickle your singing partners with the animal, or pass the stuffed animal back and forth.


    PBS Skill Targeted:  Responds with body movements to changes in music's tempo, loudness, and style (e.g., starts flapping arms and stomping feet as music increases in loudness and pace).

    See Me Run

    This activity suggestion is also a bit o a product plug. We love music in this house and own lots of toddle friendly CD's, but the See Me Sing collection by Brite is my hand-down-favorite. Trouble is that it is a bugger to find!

    The collection has lots of great songs that promote learning and movement.  Our favorite is Watch Me Sing Volume 1

    Miss I's favorite right now is See Me Run -really, we do this multiple times a day. I love it because she loves it (k, so I also love it because it really wears her out and promises an awesome afternoon nap)

    Check out this YouTube video posted by another mom whose kiddos love this collection.

      You can also preview the other songs on the collection visiting this site. If you like what you hear and think it might resonate with your child and get them moving and dancing, you can purchase the MP3 download of the collection for approximately 10 dollars. In my opinion? Completely worth it.