Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Placemats Preschool Craft

These placemats are a fantastic way for your preschooler to contribute to Thanksgiving and other fall festivities next week!

Making them is also intense fine motor exercise and a bit of an art project!  Fortunately, they are super simple to set up -- your kiddos can even make a whole batch while you do some baking!

Simple Supplies:

* construction paper
* scissors
* optional: laminator

Easy How-to:

1- Prepare your supplies by cutting strips of colored construction paper about 1 inch wide and then cutting strips in your "base" construction paper (we used brown) about 1 inch apart.

2- Show your kiddos how to weave the papers through the strips, alternating over/under/over in each row.

3- When you're done, throw a party!  

Optionally, you can laminate your kiddos' homemade placemats and use them for Thanksgiving and other special meals too!

Have you made woven placemats before?  I'd love to see them!!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hurricane Model Science Experiment

Hurricane season is almost over, but it is still a fun topic for kids of all ages...and we always love a good science experiment!

We actually created this model after discussing how hurricanes form.  My oldest daughter wanted to do an experiment to see if she could make her own hurricane.  Her brother was ready to add to it, and I love how many actual analogies they were able to make!  They loved it so much that they repeated it almost every day for a week!

I'm sharing the entire experiment (set-up and everything!) in this short video...I hope you enjoy it!  And -- just in case you are reading during nap time and have the volume muted -- I added captions too!  Let me know what you think!

If you have trouble viewing it, you can click here and watch it on YouTube.

Like all models, this science experiment has its inherent strengths and weaknesses.  Older children may enjoy discussing the limitations of models in science while they work on ways to overcome those weaknesses!  What would your preschoolers add to the science experiment?

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Monday, November 17, 2014

$10 at Educents FOR EVERYONE!!

Educents is a fantastic website FULL of amazing deals on printable packets, educational toys, programs, and more!  They can negotiate STEEP discounts on daily products because they have the combined buying power of many parents and teachers!  The best part is that they are offering our readers $10 just for registering!  And registering IS FREE!!  It's like a ten dollar bill in your inbox!!

You can use your $10 credit on any of the current deals!  Today's goodies include a bilingual number puzzle, counting blocks, a 300+ page farm-themed center printable packet, wall decals, Chuggington books, printable play dough mats, and much more!  And if you aren't interested in the current deals, hold on to won't expire for six months!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.

Just click here to sign up and grab your ten Educents bucks!

Have you used Educents before?  You can always click here to see what the current deals are!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Dinosaur Land Play Mat & 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids

I love an activity or toy that encourages children to use their imaginations and problem-solving skills as part of the creative fun.  This easy no-sew Dinosaur Land Play Mat and every other activity in 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids fits that bill perfectly!

I am always looking for fun ways to exercise more cognitive skills during our play and school time, so when Asia from Fun at Home With Kids contacted me about her new book, I was super excited to take a look!  Her publisher sent us a free copy for review purposes.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Click here for my policies page!

When 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids arrived, my kids immediately began looking through it and categorizing the activities...most were either "Things To Do Immediately" or "Things To Do Really Soon!"  They finally settled on an absolute first project: the no-sew Dinosaur Land Play Mat!

The Dinosaur Land Play Mat is brilliant!  It's a huge playscape for dinosaurs!  The book includes fantastic details on making the volcano, beach, trees, grass, and more.  We made a few adjustments and used materials we already had at home.  My kids were totally engrossed in the building process for two hours, and then they continued to be engaged with their new dinosaur land as they introduced the dinos to their new home.

Our Dinosaur Land has a pretty big population, and all the dinos wanted in on the fun!

But that wasn't all.  When our kids' neighborhood friends came over that afternoon, the fun began all over again.  I have watched kids from one to seven years old play with this dinosaur land for hours!  Literally!  And we've only had it for a couple days!

When we're done, the whole thing rolls up nicely and tucks on a shelf.  Seriously, did I mention that this is brilliant?!!

The Dinosaur Land Play Mat is only one activity!  The entire book is filled with with fun ideas that are equally engaging!  The activities are divided into six categories: slimes, doughs, paints, small worlds, simple sensory activities, and DIY toys.  Each section is filled with brilliant ideas, tested recipes, and amazing pictures.  In fact, every. single. project. comes with gorgeous pictures--you know exactly what you're getting into before you try mixing up a batch of slime or taste-safe play dough!  And speaking of play you have a toddler who still tastes everything?  We do!  (Have you noticed how many recipes I've shared recently from our own taste-testing play room?!!)  Asia totally has our back here...more than two dozen of the recipes and activities are "taste-safe!"  I cannot even tell you how excited I am to start using her recipes!    

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids is the ultimate parent and teacher resource book!  I am recommending it for anybody who works with young children!  The experience-based, open-ended nature of the activities will build meaningful memories and strengthen cognitive skills while you relax and play with your kiddos!  This book would also make a fantastic could even wrap it with a few of the common "ingredients," and it would make a phenomenal play kit!

Wouldn't you love to receive that kit?!!

I know we have absolutely loved our Dinosaur Land Play Mat and expect to get loads more play out of it!

Would your kids go crazy over a play mat like that?  You can enter to win one at the bottom of this review!  (I hope you win!!)  But, if you don't, you can always make one with your kids!

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids is full of incredible ideas like this one!  You can take a peek inside at Amazon by clicking the picture below or any of the affiliate links above!

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

10 Best Brain Building Toys

Here it list of 10 Best Brain Building Toys!

When I was in college I worked for a company that focused on brain-based education, or teaching children in a way that their brains are designed to learn.  As a parent and teacher, I still get a secret thrill when I watch my kids play with a toy that I know strengthens their cognitive and reasoning skills.  Kids learn so easily when they are having fun!  Every toy on this list focuses and exercises critical cognitive skills like attention, logic, memory, and processing speed while fine-tuning auditory, kinesthetic, and visual sensory processing skills!  When you strengthen their cognitive skills, you are strengthening the same skills they will need to remember new information, analyze data, and learn new skills!

Each picture below is an Amazon Affiliate Link--you can click on the picture to learn more about it and see other parents' experiences on Amazon! Click here if you're interested in my policies page!

#1.  Magformers Cruisers Extreme:

These magnetic blocks combine in hundreds of possibilities for creations that can tower, roll, and morph away!

#2.  Gears! Gears! Gears!

Build an animal that crawls, a macine that moves, or anything else you can think of!  The best part?  Your creations can move!

#3.  Spot It! Jr. Animals

Perfect for family game night, this card game is ideal for children and adults!

#4.  Bop It!

Bop it! Pull it! Pass it!  Play by yourself or in a group!

#5.  Marble Run

Basic physics takes on new meaning when you do it with marbles and ramps!

#6. Mini Morphs Snap & Build Dinos

What would a T. Rex look like with a Triceratops arm?  Go ahead and find out! (Note: Each dino comes with its own snapping'll need to get more than one dinosaur if you plan on mixing different dino pieces.)

#7.  Mancala

Math, science, reasoning, and cute jungle-shaped critter pieces!  Perfect for the growing game-loving kiddo!

#8.  Fat Brain Toy Co Dado Squares

Build a box, a tower, or a space ship.  Watch 2-dimensional squares become 3-dimensional sculptures as your mind and hands build a masterpiece!

#9.  Jumbo Dinosaur Set

A set of dinosaurs lets yyour children (and you!) engage in hours of open-ended creative play!  Visit a volcano, hunt food, build a spaceship...your dinos can do anything!  Obviously, if your kiddos are not into dinosaurs, this is not the right toy, but look for something they enjoy that can create open-ended free conversation.

#10.  Jenga!

 Physics + Family Game = Win!  Kids can easily play by themselves, and when the game is over the pieces often morph into building blocks!  Super fun!!

Bonus (because, really, I could go on much longer!)

If your kids are old enough for LEGO sets, then get some!!  :)  They're great for building, math, physics, spacial reasoning, and so much more!

Do you have a favorite brain-building toy?  I'd love to know!!

I hope you've been inspired by this collection of brain-building toys!  This year I'm teaming up with the 2014 KBN gift giving guide for kids to bring you over 75 gift guides with all sorts of ideas for all sorts of kiddos!

You can also find loads of gift-giving ideas on our collaborative KBN gift-giving Pinterest board!

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Welcome! I'm so glad you're visiting! I am a public school teacher turned homeschooling mom who runs a small home daycare. I love to teach, create fun and exciting resources, and share the educational journey that we get to live!

This blog is full of ideas and resources for parents teaching preschoolers! One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to meet you all--be sure to say hi! You can always leave a comment or email me anytime at PreschoolPackets at gmail dot com!



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