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Monday, January 8, 2018

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Preschool Bear Theme Playdough Templates

Today I'm sharing free Preschool Bear Theme Playdough Mats!

Playdough is wonderful for developing fine motor skills and engaging creative play, and these playdough mats create a fun background to use your playdough with a bear theme!

These playdough mats are fun for imagining stories, sparking play time, and just engaging your kiddos for a few minutes! In fact, my toddler loved them as much as my preschooler!

While you're playing you can talk about how many black and brown bears hibernate (like in the story Bear Snores On), but some bears (like polar bears) do not sleep through the winter! In fact, these tie in wonderfully to bear themes, winter themes, and spring themes! You can also talk about bear diets (fruit, berries, fish, and small mammals), and how most bears give birth inside "birthing dens" while they hibernate! The babies are born tiny with little hair and closed eyes. The babies eat for 2-3 months inside the cave, but the mama bears do not! There is also one counting mat with number cards that you can use to count berries, snowballs, or whatever else you want! Here are a couple pictures "in action:"

Preschool Bear Theme Playdough Mats

There is a set of black and white mats too, in case you're short on color ink!

Note: These mats are copyrighted. Please share them by linking to this blog post and not the actual file. The bear image is created and copyrighted by Prince Padania Clipart.

Are you working on a preschool bear theme? Or are you learning about it with older kids? Then you will love the activities in our Bear Theme here! Hop on over to find free science, art, literacy, math, and more activities!

I am sharing playdough activities today as part of the Virtual Book Club for Kids Bear Theme this week!  We are featuring the book Bear Snores On (image below is an Amazon affiliate link):

Join in all the fun live in the Virtual Book Club for Kids Facebook Group here, and then check out all the co-host bear activities below!

Bear Cave Alphabet Game - Inspiration Laboratories
Teddy Bear Ordering and Sorting - Rainy Day Mum
Printable Bear Counting Activity - The Educators' Spin On It (small cost)
Bear Snores On Snack Time - My Storytime Corner
Bear Dreamed About Colors Printable Book to Color- JDaniel4's Mom
FREE Bear Themed Play Dough Mats - Preschool Powol Packets (You are here!) 
Hibernating Bear Craft - Still Playing School

Happy Educating,

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Monday, January 1, 2018

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{FREE} Arctic Animals Like Cold Preschool Easy Reader

Today I have a fun easy reader all about arctic animals for kids!

It's been a cold week for Houston! We have had high's in the 40's and 50's for days, and our kiddos keep telling me things like "It's freezing!" I like to use these bursts of cold air to talk about places that are even colder...like the arctic! (Check out our collection of free arctic and antarctic printables here!)

My 4-year old loves putting these little books together and reading them to everyone! While we worked on this one we talked about arctic animals, what it would feel like to live somewhere colder than our freezer, and special adaptations the arctic animals have to live in the climate they do. All the animals in this little book live in the arctic and some, like the walrus, even live farther south than just the arctic!

When we finished making our little books, we polled everyone here (and even made a few phone calls!) to find out who likes cold. We made a little graph as we talked to everyone and learned that most of the people we know do actually like cold!

Arctic Animals for Kids

We would love to share our little arctic animals for kids book with you! I am including both a color version and a black and white version in case your kiddos like to color. If you want to share it with others (and I love when you do!), please link to this blog post (and not the actual file). Thank you!!

And be sure to hop over here to see the rest of our arctic and antarctic printable activities for kids!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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{FREE} Antarctic Animals BINGO

Learn about what animals live in Antarctica with this {FREE} Antarctic Animals BINGO game!

Play with your family during winter break or your students as part of a winter theme, polar animals theme, or Antarctica theme!

What lives in Antarctica?

What lives in Antarctica? Actually, a lot! As you play you will meet a lot of birds--everything from penguins to a wandering albatross (who has an 8+ foot wingspan)! You will also see whales, seals, and even invertebrates!

As we play, I love to point out geography on a map or globe and common misconceptions. For example, Antarctica has a climate very similar to the Arctic, but there are no penguins in the arctic and no polar bears in the antarctic!

In addition to BINGO-style games, you can cut up the cards and make a set of memory cards or play Old-Maid-style games too! These are fun to use to learn about what lives in Antarctica, and how that is different than the animals that live in most places we normally visit!

To play like BINGO, decide if your kiddos have attention spans for the 9- or 16-square cards, and give one to each child. There are four different 9-square cards and 6 different 16-square cards -- if you have more players, print a "blank" board for each child also, and let your children cut up the pictures and paste them onto the blank board to make their own unique playing cards.

All the animals in the game live in Antarctica or the waters around Antarctica. Some live in additional places too. For example, you can find elephant seals in Antarctica and along the coast of California, though they do have some differences. Macaroni penguins live on the tip of Antarctica, in the waters around the continent, and on the tip of South America.

So...let's get to the game!

Antarctic Animals BINGO:

First, an important copyright note:

I LOVE when you share educational files; however, I REALLY appreciate when you share them correctly. PLEASE LINK, SHARE, AND PIN THIS POST, and not the actual file when you share. It is illegal to host this file on another server, website, or group. Instead, just link to this site and let others download their own copy. THANK YOU!!!

I always love to hear from you...feel free to send me an email, leave a comment, or connect on Facebook!

If you're looking for more polar regions activities, check out these posts:


As always, 

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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Thursday, November 30, 2017


Christmas STEAM: Kid-Made Ornaments & Book

I am delighted to join the Kid-Made Christmas today with a Christmas STEAM activity and book for you!

One of our favorite Christmas books is the Polar Express, and we always make at least one bell-themed ornament each year to go with it. (Image below is an Amazon affiliate link):

This year, we have some very young preschoolers/toddlers and I wanted a project that they could make that the older kiddos would still enjoy and appreciate. That's the beauty of STEM and STEAM activities--they meet kids right at their level, and they work for even very young children! They also give the kids lots of room to experiment, try new ideas, and create whatever they like. And a bonus for moms and teachers: they require very little instructions or oversight!

Here are the simple supplies for these ornaments:

* clear ornament balls
* jingle bells that fit into the ornament balls
* fuzzy sticks/pipecleaners
* any tools the kids want: we used scissors and pencils

Easy How To:

1- Read the book. Seriously, I love this book! It's magical. If you're not a fan, though, you can skip this step. :)

2- Lay out the supplies and tell the kids they can make their own goals for these ornaments. Here are a few ideas:

* Make an ornament that jingles beautifully, loudly, or softly.
* Make a colorful ornament.
* Make an ornament that's all one color.
* Make an ornament that includes all the colors available.

3- Let the kids get to work! Be available if they need any help!

They were super creative with the fuzzy sticks! Some twisted them together, some cut them up, and some bent them into little shapes!

We learned a lot about what fits in a container! My toddler was determined to get more bells in her ornament, but eventually she just had to declare it done and make a new one! These kinds of size relationships are an early math skill!

This was also awesome fine motor exercise!

I did not anticipate any decorations on top of the balls, but several of the kids were very fancy with their ornament tops!

In the end, we had loads of amazing ringing ornaments! The kids hung them up...and took them down, shook them, and hung them back over and over! We even made a set to give away to some of the kids "adopted" grandparents!

Do you love making ornaments with your kiddos? Would you like to try some more? If so, please join us in the Kid-Made Ornaments fun this year!! There are DOZENS of ideas all gathering at the Mama Miss blog--just click here! This year there's even a new cateogry of kid-made gifts too!

Today, ornaments are going live at these blogs:

Preschool Powol Packets (right here!!)

Feel free to stop by them and see what awesome ornaments + books they've been working on!

As always,

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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ABC's of LeapFrog Academy

As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador I get to try new LeapFrog products and share my opinions about them with you. Today I am truly delighted to introduce you to LeapFrog Academy!

LeapFrog Academy is a new 3-D learning world that actually covers a well-rounded curriculum in a fun and exciting online platform. Since ABC's and young children are practically synonymous I decided to introduce you to LeapFrog Academy and share my review with my own set of ABC's...and I'll admit my kids totally helped me come up with these!

ABC's of LeapFrog Academy:

A is for Avatar...and Accessories! My 4-year old daughter's favorite thing to do is dress up her avatar and change her "accessories." Not even joking! Your avatar travels through the LeapFrog world as you click or touch (on a touch-screen) the path you want to travel.

B is for Balloons! The LeapFrog world happens to be a series of really cool islands floating in the air, and you enter the world holding a bouquet of balloons! You also transition between certain islands with the same flying balloons.

C is for Collections! As you complete levels and collect rewards you have options to choose collections (like castles, dinosaurs, robots, and more!) to build. Each collection is made up of building blocks, and you earn the placement of those building blocks as you "play" the learning games. My daughter already completed a castle (which you can visit and learn cool facts about castles) and is about to start a rocket in the picture below.

D is for Device Compatability! This is truly an amazing feature. You can access the web-based LeapFrog Academy from two of LeapFrog's tablets (the Epic or the LeapFrog Academy Epic) OR from your own phone (iPhone or Android) OR from an iPAD OR an Android tablet OR any Windows or Apple computer with a Wi-Fi connection!! As far as I can tell, the only common device that does not support the Academy are Amazon tablets.  AND, if you are using a tablet with a Wi-Fi connection, your kiddo can save up to 24 activities to the device to use when they are "offline" by marking them as "favorites."

E is for Emotions and Feelings! Feelings are part of the curriculum included--they are addressed in games and stories.

F is for Frog! Frog characters lead many of the lessons where they explain concepts like rhyming, math, and more to each other. Of course, your child watches the "conversation" and learns the lesson too!

G is for Great for Families! Seriously!! I love this about LeapFrog Academy--it's perfect for homeschooling families or families who just want educational activities on their tablets when the kids want screen time. Each monthly subscription includes FIVE ACCOUNTS!! And it is EASY to switch between accounts and monitor what your kiddos are doing on them!

H is for Home Extension Learning Ideas! As you check on your children's progress in the Parent Dashboard (see T - tracking - for more details) it includes suggestions that you can do with your kiddos to "extend" the learning concepts with hands-on activities with your kiddo.

I is for Intestines! Intestines, ribs, hearth, and the lungs are just part of the Human Body lessons--some of my favorite science concepts!

J is for Just Read to Me! Okay, this might be a little bit of a stretch, but I love that LeapFrog Academy has a huge library of ebooks, and you can either read them yourself, have LeapFrog read them to you, or read along with with LeapFrog. Reading is such an important aspect of childhood, and I love the confidence that the LeapFrog library gives kiddos as they can "read" without an adult helping them!

K is for Kindergarten, PreK, and 1st Grade! LeapFrog Academy is designed for children ages 3-6 in PreK, K, and 1st grade levels. Here are some peeks at some of the skills included:

The "Intro to Preschool" level includes the following:

Exploring Numbers and Letters
Letters, Sounds, and Rhymes
Shapes, Numbers, and Letters
Critical Thinking Skills
Colors, Music, and Letters
Math and Science
and more!

The "Intro to Kindergarten" level includes the following:

Letters, Numbers, and Words
Numbers and Shapes
Letters and Letter Sounds
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Rhymes and Blending Sounds
Art and Music
Early Science Concepts
Phonics and Spelling
Coding and STEM 
and more!

L is for Learning Adventure! When your kiddos log into LeapFrog Academy, they can choose between "My Learning Adventure" and "My World."  My Learning Adventure has 32 learning paths called Learning Adventures. Each Learning Adventure has 3-8 lessons (with 6 activities per lesson) that you progress through as you move along a path on the floating islands. If you complete them all in order, you will have moved successfully through the LeapFrog Academy curriculum. If, on the other hand, your kiddos would prefer to explore and choose their own adventures, the "My World" option has learning activities organized by types throughout floating islands that you can explore at your own pleasure. My kids have done a combination of both, and they love having the choice!

M is for Math! Each level covers a huge variety of math skills! I've seen everything from patterns to mathematical thinking and coding!

N is for Numbers! This might seem a little redundant, but kids learn how to identify numbers, manipulate them, and predict them!

O is for Over 1,000 Learning Activities!! AND....LeapFrog intends to keep adding to this massive collection!

P is for Puzzles! When your kiddo logs into LeapFrog Academy, below the options for My Learning Adventure and My World are small icons so you can jump to the following choices: Books, Games, Puzzles, Videos, Music, Art, and Favorites. There are over 120 puzzles in so many subjects--math, science, and more!

Q is for Quality! I have tested A LOT of online learning programs, and this is hands-down my favorite! Everything in LeapFrog Academy, from the graphics to the curriculum to the design of the world, is engaging, exciting, and educational. My preschoolers are constantly engaged when they log on.

R is for Rewards! My kids love collecting the marbles as they complete learning activities...and finding the "hidden" marbles as they travel the learning paths! When the marbles "fill up" the flower gauge on the screen, they get to exchange them for prizes, like new clothes or accessories for their avatar! (See A...my 4-year old LOVES this!!)

S is for Science! Science is one of the subjects that both has its own lessons and is integrated into lots of other lessons. Remember how I'm in love with the Human Body activities?! There are also activities for Space, Dinosaurs, Geology, Food, Engineering, and more!

T is for Tracking! Tracking your students progress is SO EASY! I have been frustrated with the parent portals of other online learning websites, but I truly find the Parent Dashboard a pleasure to use. It is fun to see what your child has done, the progress they make, and even get to choose what they will work on next! You can adjust levels or even add specific activities to My Learning Lab. Each child's work shows up in a screen where you simply scroll from one child to the next. I have used a PC every time I log into the Parent Dashboard, so I'm not sure how it would look on a tablet, but it is extremely user-friendly on a computer.

U is for Unicorn! Yep, there are unicorns in LeapFrog Academy. Short story: I was watching my daughter "play" recently, when she came to a letter-learning station. The letter popped up on the screen, and she exclaimed, "Oh, yes! I love these!!" The screen showed the proper way to write the letter, and gave her a chance to trace it in sequence. As she traced it correctly, it filled with clouds. When she finished tracing it, an airplane flew along the path. Other times the letters filled with different things...cheese that was traced by a mouse, rocks traced by a bulldozer, roads traced by cars, and more...even a rainbow traced by a unicorn!  In fact, after using LeapFrog Academy for a couple weeks, my 4-year old started writing letters spontaneously on her paper drawings too!

V is for Videos! Last time I counted there were over 60 educational videos on the system...covering topics as wide and varied as letters, engineering, and music! And they keep adding more videos!

W is for Writing and Words!  I already mentioned how my daughter is now writing letters, but let me tell you a little about my son. Even though is a few months older than the intended age range, I made him an account to let him practice the phonics included in the system. The 1st grade curriculum includes things like reading, sight word identification, vowel and consonant blends, digraphs, and lots of other reading and writing skills. It has been perfect for him as he's still working on a lot of these skills, and I have loved watching his reading confidence grow during the last couple months!

X is for X-tremely Fun Games! I know "extremely" actually starts with an "e," but I needed to emphasize how fun these activities are! Seriously, sometimes my 10-year old will ask for a turn to play!!

Y is for Yellow! Not only are colors covered in the PreK level, but my kids love the Banzai Beans games. They include skills in patterns, math, literacy, and more...and they include *yellow* lanterns in the game! My kids especially like the bonus levels where you design catapults to launch bean characters around!

Z is for Zoo! Lots of popular zoo animals are included in different games and activities, like monkeys in the Stretchy Monkey game, where kiddos practice matching uppercase and lowercase letters!

So now that I've introduced you to LeapFrog Academy, I'm going to finish this review up by letting you know that both I and my kiddos absolutely love it! LeapFrog Academy is one of the few "screen" activities that I am perfectly happy, without reservation, to let my kids use. It is engaging, educational, and safe--everything I want in an electronic activity!

And to make it even more accessible, LeapFrog offers a month-long free trial. You can try it out and see how you like it!

Have you seen LeapFrog Academy? Do you have any questions? I would love to answer them! Feel free to send me an email or leave a comment!

Disclosure: We were given a subscription to LeapFrog Academy to facilitate this review. All opinions are mine and I only recommend products I love!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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Ocean Theme Experiment: See Sound Waves!

Sea animals, beaches, and hydrothermal vents are popular topics around here, so we end up doing an Ocean Theme a couple times each year. Today, I'm sharing an awesome way for your kids (and you) to actually see sound waves!

Fun Fact: Whales don't see color!

Sonar is using sound waves to "see" objects under water. It is like echolocation, except that echolocation is in the atmosphere (so bats and some birds use it), and sonar is under water (so whales and dolphins and submarines use it)!

Whales have huge eyes, but they often use sonar to find food, especially when they travel deeper in the Twilight Zone where light is scarce.

Understanding that sound waves bounce off objects and can be used to figure out where those objects are can be a tricky concept for kids, especially because we don't usually see sound waves. BUT, there are ways you can see right where those sound waves hit and how hard they are vibrating! Today I'm sharing a set of experiments you can do to see just that!

Simple Supplies:

* plastic container (I used a coconut flour bucket...you can use anything that a balloon will fit around, but I always have trouble getting balloons to stay put around oatmeal containers...they bend a lot! Plastic containers are often a little stronger.)
* paper towel tube (or PVC pipe...I really wanted to use PVC pipe because it will absorb less sound than cardboard, but I happened to be all out and I didn't want to go to the hardware store for this...and paper towel tubes work great!)
* 12" balloon
* rubberband
* strong scissors
* salt

Easy How To:

1- Check out this picture:

2- To make this device, trim the balloon and stretch it over the rim of your plastic container. Add a rubberband for extra strength. Cut a hole in the side of the container just a little bit smaller than your cardboard tube. Squish the cardboard tube into the hole so it fills all the space. This is a crude tonoscope, or a device that lets you see images created by sound waves.

3- Try these experiments:

A: Sprinkle salt on the top of the balloon and shout "Boo!" through the cardboard tube! 
B: Try a variety of noises and see how the salt behaves differently...hums, singing, talking, and sound effects are fun!
C: Try a variety of pitches...does the salt move more with high or low pitch?  (Hint: high pitch sounds have higher frequency wavelengths, meaning that the waves are closer together so the salt is getting hit by more sound waves every second than low pitch sounds!)
D: Try a variety of volumes...does the salt change with loud or soft sounds?  (Hint: louder sounds have a higher amplitude, or a "bigger" sound wave. Very loud sounds hit your eardrums {similar to the balloon} so hard they can damage it!)

One of my favorite parts of these experiments is that it includes so many senses: sight, hearing, touch (touch the container!), and even your vestibular system!

How else can you experiment? 

I'll be honest: my young kids were so caught up in the experiments they came up with that it was impossible to get them to hold still long enough to take a picture! I had my oldest pose for a couple so you could get an idea of how everything works!

The tonoscope doubles as a pretty awesome drum:

We also discovered you could point the cardboard tube directly at the salt and see it move when the sound waves hit it:

We were motivated to look into sound waves by our book for the LET’S-READ-AND-FIND-OUT SCIENCE® BLOG SERIES!  During this series, bloggers are featuring a science book from the LET’S-READ-AND-FIND-OUT SCIENCE® books and an activity that goes with it! This series is fantastic--you could even use it as a science curriculum! You can find the collection of all the blogger's activity ideas at My Joy Filled Life--just click here!

Our featured book is How Deep is the Ocean? (Image below is an Amazon affiliate link:)

One of the pages points out that sperm whales use sonar to find prey deep under the ocean. We wanted to learn more about that, so we spent the morning experimenting with sound waves!

The book is full of cool facts and surprising information...it even has some fun experiment suggestions for learning more about pressure and measuring the ocean depths!

And if you want more background information about how whale's see, this is a fantastic article!

AND, if you're looking for more ocean themed fun, check out our Ocean Theme Collection, How Sharks Float, and Penguin Experiments!


As always,

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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