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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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Geology Lessons & Preschool Activities with Rock On! Game!

What would you do if your son asked you to host a geology-themed party for his birthday?  Melissa Weisner jumped at the opportunity, and created a fantastic geology game, Rock On!, that our kiddos have fallen in love with!

Melissa, a mom in Colorado, hosted that geology-birthday party her son asked for!  Everyone had such a fantastic time that she worked with preschool and elementary teachers to focus the learning activities around an Earth Science curriculum.  Now, Rock On! is Amazon's #1 geology game!

And it's easy to see why!  The game itself comes with five built-in "levels" to accomodate skills from early preschool up through elementary school.

The preschool level is very similar to BINGO.  Call cards have pictures of 15 different rocks, each with additional information in a question and answer format.  Each rock is represented with a large (1"-2") speciman and several smaller polished pieces.  Players take turns choosing a call card, placing the corresponding large rock speciman on the "Master Rock Guide," and marking their own cards with the polished marker rocks.

ALL of my kids, and their neighbor friends, have loved playing this version.  The older children don't even mind that it is simple enough for preschoolers to play too!  I randomly find groups of them playing it with each other.  This little group, led by my 8-year old, played with each other four times one afternoon:

Sometimes, though, when my oldest gets a "special activity" with mom or dad, she has a TON of fun playing the "advanced" versions.  These are similar to the preschool version, but they include chances for bonus markers based on the questions on the cards.  SUPER fun!

And Rock On! is so much more than just a geology game (though,by itself, that is extremely cool)!  It is a chance for children to explore, handle, examine, and learn about their world by using really neat rocks!

MORE Preschool Activities With Rock On!:

1. Identifying Rocks:  The first thing we had to do when we opened the box was let everyone touch all of the big rock specimen.  Then, of course, they wanted to name them all!  Naming them used matching, reasoning, analysis, and process of elimination skills.  These are important early math and science skills that they will build on for years!

The best part is that even after they identified them once, they use the same skills to re-identify them every time they play, until they've memorized them.

They also love finding rocks outside that match the rocks in the game!

2.  Sorting Rocks:  There are more than 50 beautifully polished marker stones that all our kiddos LOVE.  The first time we opened the box, they carefully combed through each rock, studied them closely, and sorted them into their favorite piles.

Now when they take them out, they sort out their favorites (which often change) and try to name as many as they can.

Sorting is also an early math and science skill!

3.  Colors and Counting:  This is my younger preschoolers' favorite!  They like to choose a color, pull out all of the rocks that are that color, and then count them.

4.  Matching:  Match the polished rocks to the larger, "raw" rocks, or at least as many as you can!  This is incredibly fun and takes a lot of reasoning and analysis.  It is also a wonderful opportunity to talk about weathering and polishing.

5.  Trivia!  Older kids who can read may enjoy this more, but once my younger kids learn a new fact, they love to tell adults also.  "Mommy, did you know..." and "Mom, what do you think...."  Kids love challenging adults with trivia!  And it is easy to tuck the cards, with their questions and answers, into the carrying case and take it in the car.  As they quiz you, your kiddos will learn tons about rocks, minerals, the rock cycle, and so much more!

6.  Hands-on Learning: There are samples of all three types of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary), several minerals, and several crystals.  You can pull these out to illustrate different parts of the rock cycle, weathering, erosion, and more!

7.  Math Manipulatives:  You can also pull out the rocks, and use their names, any time you need math manipulatives.  They work great for activities like the Hidden Numbers Blanket Game, or any time you need something small to count or demonstrate with! 

I've tried a few different set-ups with this game, and found them all very successful:

* My kiddos love having it at a center table where they can get it and play with it anytime they like.  The rules are straight-forward, and the preschool-level can be completed in about ten minutes.  This provides a really healthy child-led group activity!

* We've used it as a quiet time activity when some of the younger children are sleeping.  This is super popular because the older kids feel like they actually get to play during quiet time!

* Finally, we've pulled it out for a group activity.  Sometimes (especially lately, as I am homeschooling through the end of a pregnancy), I find myself just wanting something that takes no planning, is tons of fun, involves everybody, and is still educational.  With all the early math, science, and geology skills that are involved in actually playing Rock On!, I feel like my kiddos are playing to learn.  And, best of all, it encourages a love of learning.  And that, (developing a love of learning) is one of my ultimate educational goals for our young children.  The more they enjoy the learning process, they more they continue to learn.

I am just thrilled that Melissa, the creator of Rock On!, has taken the initiative and challenge of creating a game that has so much appeal to children and incorporates so much learning as they play!  I am happy to recommend it to everyone!  It is currently available on Amazon (affiliate link below).

Amazon Affiliate Link:

This blog contains affiliate links and ads.


Disclosure: I was provided with a complementary product to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine!  I only recommend products that I expect my readers to love!

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Monday, October 5, 2015

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Ancient Egyptian Pyramids Craft

How do you build your own ancient Egyptian pyramid?  With cardboard and sugar cubes!

One of the moms in our homeschool co-op brought this activity to our Ancient Egyptian day.  They kids loved it!  And it was perfect for all of our kids, from 5-9 years old!

AND, this is a great way to incorporate math into an art/craft activity!  Younger children can help count out sugar cubes and older children can count by 5's, 4's, 3', or 2's to create the squares of sugar cubes.

Each pyramid takes 54 sugar cubes (55 if you want one on the very top).  The first layer has 25 cubes (5 rows of 5), the second layer has 16 cubes (4 rows of 4), the third layer has 9 cubes (3 rows of 3), and the top/fourth layer has 4 cubes (2 rows of 2).  Each sugar cube layer is built on a piece of cardboard that is glued to the previous sugar cube layer.

The real life biggest pyramids had more than two million blocks build hundreds of feet high!

Our kids were very pleased with their own pyramids, and kept them on display for some time at home!

These pyramids go great with our Mummy Craft!

Who loves ancient Egypt?!!  We do!!

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

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Halloween Science: Screaming Ghost Balloons

We could have made Screaming Balloon Monsters or Screaming Pumpkin Balloons, but a Ghost Balloon seemed like the fastest, easiest way to build this fun science activity.  Actually, we originally did this last year, and we were on a bit of a ghost roll with ghost balloon and Halloween science experiments!

If you're not really into ghosts, you can skip the Halloween tie in, and just make screaming balloons...or grab an orange balloon and make it a pumpkin!

Simple Supplies:

* White balloon...unless your ghost is a different color!  We clearly had some multi-colored ghosts!

* hex nut

* black permanent marker or paper "eyes"

Easy How To:

1.  Wiggle your nut through the opening of the balloon so it is loose inside the balloon.  We noticed that the smaller nuts made a higher pitch sound.

2.  Blow the balloon up to about 6-8 inches.  We've used both 7" and 12" balloons.

3.  Draw or attach your spooky (or friendly!) ghost face on the balloon!

4.  Swirl the hex nut inside the balloon to make it scream!  This may take a few tries, but once your kids get it, they will love it.  Make sure you are holding the top of the balloon and swirling gently.

Click here to watch a short (20 second!) video of our ghost balloon "screaming!"

And be sure to check out these other ghost-y experiments and activities:  Ghost Balloon Experiment, Giant Spooky Ghost, Ghost Pancakes, and {FREE} Ghost Grid Game!

What's Going On?

The screams are made from the sides of the hex nut hitting and vibrating against the inside lining of the balloon.  This Halloween Science: Screaming Ghost Balloons was adapted from Steve Spangler's page about screaming balloons.  Pop on over for even more details of the science behind his Halloween science project!

Amazon Affiliate Links:


We are joining in this week with the Saturday STEM crew!!  Be sure to check out these other STEM activities:

STEM Saturday.jpg

Glow in the Dark Lava Lamp from The Science Kiddo
Simple Toddler Science | Fizzing Pumpkin Patch from Lemon Lime Adventures
Ghostly Structures from Little Bins for Little Hands
Screaming Ghost Balloons from Preschool Powol Packets

I may share at any of these parties!

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

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Llama Llama Red Pajama Hidden Numbers Blanket Game

Counting games are a wonderful way to teach number order, counting, one-to-one correspondence, and more!  AND...this counting game ties in perfectly with Llama Llama Red Pajama, this month's Virtual Book Club book!

The llama in Llama Llama Red Pajama  has some amazing facial expressions as he worries about what his mom could still be doing.  Through it all, he has a blanket that moves around him and his room as he makes lots of "llama drama!"

This counting game plays off of the idea of a blanket, which preschoolers and toddlers love...even without the book!

In addition to counting, this game also requires your kiddos to keep track of things they've seen and counted and reinforces the concept of items existing when you can't see them.  It also brings in the fun of games like hide-n-seek and hidden treasures!

To play, you will need to gather these

Simple Supplies:

* 4-10 blankets: I simply cut a piece of cloth into "blankets" that were about 4" x 6."  Using fabric provides a fun texture, but if you don't have any you can use paper.

* 10-50 small objects: We used pennies because our kids love touching money!  You can use any small math manipulative or toy to count.

Easy How To:

1- Set up your game by placing varying amounts of pennies under each blanket.  For our youngest preschoolers, I put five pennies under one blanket, four under another, three under another, and 1 under the last.  Four our 5-year olds, I would use six blankets and put about twice as many pennies under each one.

2- Introduce the game to your kiddos by telling them that there are hidden numbers of pennies under the blankets, and they need to find the pile of four pennies (or any other pile of your choice)!  Let them lift up the blanket of their choice, and help them count if necessary:

3- Let them figure out which blanket is hiding the right number of pennies!

4- If they still have the attention for the game, repeat it!  Or let your child set it up for you or other children!  When they're done counting, let them play with the manipulatives and the blankets!

This month's Virtual Book Club's book is Llama Llama Red Pajama!

Amazon Affiliate Link:

We love the Virtual Book Club!!

Visit the Virtual Book Club's Facebook page here and click here to learn more about the book club and its schedule!  AND, be sure to stop by these other blogs for more fantastic Llama Llama Red Pajama ideas, activities, crafts, and more:

Llama Llama Red Pajama Movement Game from Still Playing School

Red Pajama Lacing Activity from 3 Dinosaurs

Llama Llama Red Pajama Quilt Color Matching from I Can Teach My Child!

Patterns and Symmetry from Mama Miss

I may share at any of these parties!

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Shapes on Pumpkins!

What could possibly be more fun than shapes?  Shapes and pumpkins, of course!

Every fall, one of our kids' favorite activities is hammering golf tees into pumpkins!  It's a tradition we've been enjoying for at least five years!  This year, we added some elastics to make shapes on the pumpkins!  First we hammered in the golf tees:

We might have had small, kid-sized hammers, but they do love using the big "grown-up" hammers too!

We might have had a pumpkin face created too!

After you're done hammering, bring out the elastics!

My youngest preschooler's favorite shape lately is a triangle, and she put it on immediately:

Second graders could be challenged to make a shape with 4, 5, or 6 angles, and practice naming them as they make them.  Second graders should be able to identify triangles, circles, quadrilaterals, trapezoids, hexagons, and octogons.

I'm sharing this as part of the 2nd Grade Blogging Team.  Today we're talking about pumpkin-themed activities!  Be sure to check out these other pumpkin ideas:

(I will add the links tomorrow--check back soon!)

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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5 Literacy Games for the Car AND LeapFrog's Word Whammer!

How much time do you spend in the car with your children every week?  Do you capitalize on that time so it is fun and educational?  Today I'm sharing six ways to use that time to strengthen early reading and literacy skills!  You can also play these games when you're waiting in line at grocery stores, outside the bathroom, or even just for fun outside!

#1: Keep the Story Going!  Each person takes turns telling 1-3 sentences in a story.  See how crazy your story can be!

#2:  Name "Poems!"  Choose one person's name, for example, Sarah.  Take turns thinking of a word that starts with each letter in her name.  For example, the first person says a word that starts with "S" and the next person says a word that starts with "A."  Continue until everyone has had a turn with their name.

#3:  Does That Rhyme?  Each person takes turns telling two words to the group and asking, "Does that rhyme?"  The words can be real or made up!  For example, I could say, "Elephant and Belephant!  Does that rhyme?"  After everyone agrees, someone else gets a turn.

#4:  First Letter Words!  Everyone takes turns choosing a "First Letter."  For example, the first person may choose the letter "L."  For the next minute, everyone has to name as many words as they can think of that start with an "L."  Then, the next person chooses the "First Letter."  Older children may enjoy choosing a "Last Letter" where you all name words that end with the same letter, but that's definitely more challenging!

#5: Alphabet Story!  Each person takes turns telling one sentence in a story where the first word of the sentence must start with the next letter in the alphabet.  For example, the first person could say, "A tiger jumped in a lake."  The next person could say, "But the lake had another tiger in it!" The next person could say, "'Can I play,' the tiger asked?" And so on.  Younger children may need coaching, but we've had a lot of fun with this game with children as young as four.

#6: LeapFrog's Word Whammer!  Sometimes you need a break from the constant engaging-of-children that comes with having young kiddos, and that is the perfect time to let your kids play with LeapFrog's Word Whammer!  It helps build those same early reading skills, but is so intuitive that my kids picked it up and started to play it without any instructions at all!

They love it so much that I have to time them so they can take turns!

There are three fun games on the Word Whammer that teach and review letter recognition (upper case and lower case), the sounds letters make, building words, and more!  My kids are enjoying it so much that they don't even think they're learning, but it is exactly what my 5-year old needs as he starts to focus more on letters and sounds.  AND, even more cool...the games have 5 levels that Word Whammer automatically moves through as it detects your child's skill level!

It's relatively small and light-weight, easy to transport, and easy to use.  It is recommended for kiddos 4-6 years old, and my 5-year old and 2-year old (who believes she's five!) think it is one of the coolest toys ever!

Amazon Affiliate Link:

What is your favorite thing to do in the car or when you have "down time" between activities?  I'd love to hear!  Feel free to send me a note or stop by our Facebook page!

Disclosure:  As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador, I receive products, promotional items and educational material to use and share as I see fit.  However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC guidelines.

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