Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 12 of 2012: Followers' Favorites

These 12 activities are the followers' favorites from the year - those activities that have had the most number of page views. Click on the blog titles to read more, nab a free printable or two, or get instructions. Enjoy!

No. 8    Let's Play Library [an Alphabetizing & Sequencing Game]

No. 9    DIY Palm Pipes

No. 11    Homophones Memory Game

Friday, December 28, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Language Arts Activities of 2012

This mama is a word nerd ... and proud of it. These activities were created to help develop my son's reading and writing skills. Who knew language arts could be so fun?!?

No.1    Proofreading Police
Your child joins the proofreading police squad and examines evidence of grammar crimes. This activity has four great downloads and a must-read book recommendation. Find it all here.

No.2    Homophones Memory Game
Words that sound the same but mean very different things can certainly trip kids up. A fun game of memory makes matching homophones a blast. Two of the best children's fiction to pair with this activity are also recommended. Free printable game cards here.

No. 3    Compound Word Card Game
Compound words are especially fun when you learn them while playing a card game! Free printable game cards and instructions here.

No.4    Race Around the Nouns, Verbs, & Adjectives Game
Toss out the worksheets! Kids can test their understanding of nouns, verbs, and adjectives by playing a fun board game. Directions and downloads here.

No. 5    Word Dominoes
Children LOVE dominoes! Why not make some to have them practice matching words with their respective parts of speech: nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and nouns? Free download, DIY instructions, and game directions here.

No. 6    Word-Eating Whale
Turn an empty milk jug into a whale that's hungry for nouns, verbs, or other parts of speech. Kids will love scooping up bottle-cap words with their whale! Directions here.

No. 7     Pronoun Practice to the Moon and Back
Capitalize on kids' love of space, by challenging them to replace nouns with the correct pronoun in a race to the moon. The more right answers, the closer your child gets to the moon. Keep going and the rocket on his/her scorecard will come all the way back to earth! Everything you need - plus a great book recommendation - is here.

No. 8    Adjective Detective
Time for some super sleuthing with two amazing adjective detective activities: a treasure hunt and an adjective search-and-solve code story. Instructions, a printable, and cool adjective detective spy "glass" download are here.

No. 9    DIY Newspaper
EXTRA! EXTRA! Kids put on their reporter hats and record all the big stories in their lives with this fill-in newspaper template. Free printable here.

No. 10    Alphabetical Adjectives
Put the adjectives in alphabetical order by connecting the dots! Head here for a great book recommendation and free printable.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Spelling Activities of 2012

My oldest son's natural ability to remember things means spelling comes easy to him. As a result, each week, the teacher gives him (and some other students) "the challenge list." The words are just as the title implies - challenging. I've done my best to devise fun ways for him to study.

No. 1    Spelling Race
When the spelling words were extra hard, this activity was my go-to. My son had a blast racing his spelling words across the finish line to figure out how each placed in the race. The repetition is especially helpful with memorization. Free printable and directions here.

No. 2    Spelling Battleship
This favorite board game is a wonderful  and fun way to practice spelling words. Download a PDF of the game board, print two, and your child will play their way to 100% on the next spelling test. Click here.

No. 3    Spelling with LEGO Minifigures
Turn one of your child's favorite toys into a spelling practice incentive. Spell the word right and he/she will have all the pieces to make a LEGO minifigure character! Instructions here.

No. 4    Spelling with Mr. Potato Head
Spell it right and Mr. Potato Head keeps his ears. Every error means a body part is removed! Directions here.

No. 5    Magnetic Snowman Hangman
Hangman is a great way to practice spelling. Instead of drawing a man with each mistake, why not build a snowman? Download, print on sticker paper, attach to a thin magnetic sheet. You're ready to play! Printable here.

No. 6    Spelling Practice Balloon Pop
This may well be the noisiest spelling practice activity ever. Toss the paper and pencil aside. Kids write their spelling words on balloons, pop them, and read the slip of paper inside to see if they spelled correctly. Instructions here.

No. 7    Secret Message Spelling
Craft a secret message, which is revealed as the child spells a short list of words correctly. Directions here.

No. 8    Spelling Practice with Nautical Flags
Code-lovin' kids will love spelling with nautical flags. Either use the printables provided or print several pages of the key, cut out, and make your own codes out of your children's spelling words. Downloads here.

No. 9    Paper Word Chains
Strips of paper with all the letters in your child's spelling words can turn spelling practice into an exercise in paper-chain making. Crafty kids will love this! Check it out here.

No. 10    Fortune Teller Spelling
When kids have practiced their spelling lists but need some review, fortune teller spelling is just the thing to do. Fortune tellers (aka cootie catchers) are a children's favorite. Just write in the words, fold, and play! Free printable template here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Math Activities of 2012

My son loves math ... almost as much as chicken nuggets. Here's a recap of some of our favorite math activities from this past year.

No.1    Fridge Football
My son and I have played this so much, he has all the answers to the subtraction problems memorized! This simple game is a great drill for subtraction problems and counting by twos! Instructions and a free printable game board and playing cards are here.

No. 2    Math Post-It Note Scavenger Hunt
Practicing math facts has never been so fun. Send kids around the house (or school) answering one math problem at a time. Solve the problems right and a prize is yours! Cheap, easy, and gets their brains and bodies moving! Instructions here.
No. 3    Driveway Dice Roll Game
Turn your driveway into a giant board game where the kids are the game pieces. With a tissue box cube turned die, kids will roll, add, and subtract their way to the finish. Instructions here.

No. 4    Geometry Jump
Print geometric shaped game pieces out on colored cardstock. Get kids "swimming," dancing, and hopping from one shape to a parallelogram, trapezoid, even number, or the answer to 12 plus 13 (for example). This game is perfect for kinesthetic learners and practices a ton of different math skills in one game. Free printables and instructions here.

No. 5    Miniature Multiplication Ring Toss
What can you do with a small square of styrofoam, some popsicle sticks and a few plastic drink rings? Practice multiplication, of course! This fun ring toss turns learning multiplication facts into a game! Instructions and a free multiplication table printable here.

No. 6    Post-It Page Marker Math
Match the math problems to the answer and add hair to child's head, fur to a lion's mane, and quills to a hedgehog using Post-It page markers! Free printables here

No. 7    DIY Balancing Scale
Kids can learn about measuring, weight, and balance with a hanger, some yarn, and a few plastic cups. Don't underestimate the enjoyment that can come from such a simple activity! Instructions here.

No. 8    Fraction Match Card Game
This simple game is a modified version of "Go Fish." Kids will have a blast matching up colored shapes, pies, and numeral representations of fractions to see who can match up all their cards first! Free printable game, instructions, and book recommendation here.

No. 9    Round Around (Rounding Single Digits Board Game)
Round up or round down, move forward and back around the game board until the first player to the finish wins. Don't be overly confident! Players close to the finish are often sent backwards by rounding down. That's what makes this game great for adults to play with kids; you never know who'll win! Get this great printable and instructions here.

No. 10    Scrambled Schedule
Uh oh! A schedule of the day's activities is a scrambled mess! Kids put it in order, acting out each of the activities before finding the next one. This active time-telling game will get kids doing somersaults, jumping jacks, and dancing. Free printable and directions here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making a Snowman that Doesn't Melt

This activity was heavy on fun and light on education. It's simple, easy, quick, inexpensive, and a wonderful childhood keepsake. How's that for a crazy long list of adjectives?! Summary: This is a must-make craft!

Styrofoam ball
Black sequins
Sewing pins with black ends
Orange felt or foam
Big pom poms (2)
Pipe cleaner
Felt (optional)
Low-temp glue gun and glue sticks

Before we got started, we read Snowie Rolie. This clever piece of children's fiction sets the story of a beloved snowman made by children on a unusually cold day. When the weather starts to warm, they are frantic to find a way to keep their new friend from melting.

When we finished the story, I grabbed our supplies and my two boys made snowmen (well, their heads anyway). It's simple. Clip three to four inches from the end of a pipecleaner. Place a bend 1/4-inch from each of the ends. Poke it into the styrofoam on opposite sides of the ball. (NOTE: To use these as an ornament, leave some clearance between the top of the styrofoam ball and the pipecleaner.)

When both ends have been inserted in opposite sides of the ball, dab low-temp glue where you've inserted the ends and cover the glue with a big pom-pom. This is your snowman's ear muffs.

Now thread two black sequins onto black-headed sewing pins and insert each into the styrofoam ball for the snowman's eyes. (This is great fine-motor practice.) Cut a small skinny triangle for the snowman's nose; glue on. Lastly, add more sequins to the snowman in a crescent shape. This is your snowman's grin. :)

If you want to embellish more, add a scarf cut from felt around the base of the head.

Smile! You just made a new friend who will never melt ... except he (or she) may just melt your heart!