Bug counting – with free printable counting mats

It took me more than a month to prepare this activity. In a normal case it would have been 2 days. However, since Baby Sis was born there hasn’t been such a thing as “normal case” in our house any more. But now it’s finished.

You need bottle tops, minimum 11, for dots from 0 to 10. I made 2 sets as it is more comfortable to make additions later on. (The caps are from Nestea and Cappy bottles)

The truth is I had a little helper who picked and tested all the bottle tops. This is optional, of course.

I used a black permanent marker to make the body of the bugs plus the dots. On the black tops I used white paint to make the dots visible. If you don’t use black bottle tops you can skip this step.
To make them more bug-like and more fun-looking I glued googly eyes on them:

The first time I presented it to E. she wasn’t very interested. She opened the envelope quite reluctantly. (This should have been the time to put it away and come back to it at another time. But we gave it a try.)

She was looking at the bugs and started to put them in order but when she reached the six-dotted bug she began to imitate a fight with the bugs.

Then she knuckled them from the table claiming the ladybirds wanted to fly away. I asked her if she wanted to have a look at the mats. She didn’t so I packed a month of work away and tried to swallow my frustration.

Then we gave it another try. I didn’t even mention ordering the bugs, I rather showed her the mats. She showed more interest than before. As she is perfectly familiar with the numbers, counting the dots made her uneasy a little bit.

But we managed to do 4 of the mats, …

 

 

…then she made a task for me:

The second addition was really tricky as we don’t have a bug with 14 don’t on them. I asked E. what we should do. And she helped me out in a really smart way:

 

I thought this activity would be much more fun, and E. would be fascinated by the bugs and counting… well… I was a little wrong. Nevertheless, we did have some fun and I’m sure someone might enjoy it even more than we did.

Download your FREE counting mats from here:

If you try it with your children let me know how it went.

 

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Advent Calendar Activities Day 21-24

I know it’s February, but only by now have I managed to finish the last post about our advent activities of 2015. It’s hard to find time to work on the blog next to two kids.

So here comes some Christmassy and snowy projects:

  1. Count snowflakes

    I found this easy snowflake counting activity on a website I’ve been returning to a lot lately: Playdough to Plato

    I printed and laminated the snow scene cards. I gave E. a lot of snowflakes (I had different kinds at home, like felt, Styrofoam or shiny plastic)

    I thought putting the right number of snowflakes on the mat as it is shown would be way too easy for E. so I sneaked in some skip counting in the activity. I gave her the card with only the even numbers on – one at a time (2, 4, 6, 8, 10)

    At the beginning she didn’t understand why, but after having finished with card 6 she asked for card 8. So I knew immediately she understood what we were doing.

    After the activity she played a little more with the snowflakes. She grouped them according to their sizes, then made some patterns with the help of them.

  2.  Body swap

    I prepared this activity last year but she didn’t enjoy it so much. This year it wasn’t a hit either.

    I took the idea from itsybitsyfun.com. If you click on the link you’ll find the printable for free. You just need to print and cut out the body parts and give them to your child to make the snowman, the elf, the reindeer, and Santa. If your child enjoys this kind of activity (mine does not) you can build funny bodies, like one with a Santa head but a reindeer body and elf legs.

  3. Make a nativity scene

    When E. was 1,5 years old I made an advent calendar for her in which she found little farm animals every day and, as we were getting closer to the 24th, also some angels and the Holy Family. On the 24th we made the whole scene.

    November 2013 

    The base I made out of a chocolate box. I glued a brown sheet of felt on it added some shiny felt stars. This is what we called the stable and this is where we placed all the animals one by one every day.

    This year she got all the animals and angels, a Christmas tree too (not so authentic, eh?) to make the scene herself. (Although it was Christmas time, she  insisted on wearing her Halloween Jack-o-lantern costume)

  4. Christmas workout

    As I knew the 24th would be very busy time for us, parents, I prepared something dynamic for E. to run around and drain her Christmas excitement with one of her grandmas.

    I printed the Christmas workout cards and the fun could began. I couldn’t take photos as I was busy with the food and decoration for the evening. But as I heard it E. had a good time.

    http://www.toddlerapproved.com

    Join us next year too. I’m sure there will be some repetition of these activities but I’ll find out some new ones too.

    Have a look at the other advent activities:

    Advent Calendar Activities Day 1-6

    Advent Calendar Activities Day 7-13

    Advent Calendar Activities Day 14-20

Thanksgiving with turkeys

At this time of the year we have real difficulties preparing for all the festivals and celebrations we have:

  • Thanksgiving (26th Nov)
  • Daddy’s birthday (28th Nov)
  • the beginning of Advent (29th Nov)
  • St. Nicolas Day (or Santa Day – 5th Dec)
Not to mention that illnesses were on and off all month, three in a row. There haven’t been 3 consecutive days when everybody in the family was perfectly healthy.
Still, we managed to do a little bit of fun for Thanksgiving.
Of course, it was mainly about turkeys 🙂
I made this home-made salt dough: 
1 cup salt
1 cup hot water
2 cups flour
1 or 2 tbs cocoa powder (to make it brown)
Mix them all. I kneaded the dough with my hand but you can use a mixer. If you choose to knead it wait a little until the hot water cools down. Then I put it in a plastic container and next to the fridge for a short while (1-2 hours)
When ready, I prepared this for E.:

On the tray I prepared coloured feathers, orange foam triangles for the beak, googly eyes, red (water drop shaped) foam for the wattle (the red skin hanging down from the beak of the turkey along its neck – “bőrlebernyeg” in Hungarian). In the middle there was the brown salt dough.

We made balls out of the dough to make the body and the head. First, we kneaded the dough and then with rolling movement we formed them into balls. These movements are really useful to strengthen the muscles in a child’s hand.

Googly eyes: a girl and a boy
Placing the wattle

Then E. made two turkeys and me too. We fixed the beak and eyes as well as the wattle, after all this she stuck the tail feathers in.

We practised saying the colours, the different parts of the turkey, like feather, beak, head and body or this new word (even for me): wattle. We used expressions like roll the dough, knead the dough, stick it in etc. We also talked a little bit about why we celebrate Thanksgiving, why we have a feast at this time of the year.

I found another great turkey activity online. Turkey feather counting mats. You can use these either as play dough mats (so you can use coloured play dough to make the feathers) or with real feathers. E. was so into these colourful feathers we used them again. 

Finally, we had a Thanksgiving feast (quite a moderate one). My Mum stayed for dinner too (also help with preparing some turkey breast roast and pumpkins) and we all said what we are thankful for in our lives.

And what is E. thankful for?

– I’m thankful for my parents, my Godparents and my toys and others… the good meats and my friends in the nursery.


I’m thankful for my wonderful daughter and my family.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

If you wish to listen to some Thanksgiving videos on youtube, or prepare a tree of gratitude, just click on the pic below:
If you haven’t had enough of thanksgiving, here are some more crafts:

Conker games

Whenever we go somewhere we MUST collect something. My pockets are full of stones, acorns, berries and conkers, just to mention a few. One day we visited Margaret-island (a small island on the River Danube, Budapest) and managed to collect tons of different fruit of various trees and bushes.

Rose hips, conkers, sycamore “rotors”, pine cones, acorns, London plane seed balls, wild pear, seed pods of China tree

 

So during E.’s nap time I put together this tray of all kinds of fruits and a magnifying glass. As soon as she discovered the tray she eagerly examined their texture, the surface and the inside of the fruit.

We collected a full bag of conkers and pine cones, half of which we took to E.’s kindergarten. The other half of cones we’ll use for decoration and Christmas ornaments (see a later post) and the conkers we’ve used to play games with.

Counting conkers
 
 

I put the conkers in a woven basket and placed the number cards on the table. E. needed to put the right number of conkers below the cards.

When we played this game we’d just returned home from the nursery and changed languages. You can hear in this video how she is mixing English and Hungarian, and also, me asking back “Sorry?” all the time in a silly way 😉

I’ve found a super-cute squirrel grid game on prekinders.com and although we didn’t have enough acorns or walnuts that squirrels love eating, we used our conkers as manipulatives for this game.

How does the game go?

E., Daddy and myself played so I printed 3 copies of the squirrel grid (of 20 squirrel) and put LOADS of conkers in a bowl. You’ll need a game die. Of course, the youngest starts the game, throws the game die and identifies the number on it. The player then needs to place the same number of conkers on the grid. We take turns and the winner is who finishes the grid first. (You can play it as an addition game with 2 dice if your child is older. If he/she is younger, you can use a special die with only 1-2-3 on it)

I’ll be the winner, not you Daddy.
Mind you! Conkers are slightly toxic, so it’s better to know that just a very few animals can eat it (like deer), but people and squirrels never.

 Name written in conkers

I prepared my daughter’s name, each letter on a different piece of paper. First, she put the letters in the right order, then following the lines of the letters, she placed the conkers along the lines.

 Krokotak conker mushrooms

What you need:

  • conkers
  • acorns
  • play dough

Not as good-looking as the original idea, but they represent our family: E. mushroom, Daddy mushroom and Mommy mushroom. (from right to left)

Last year we did some conker threading after making a whole on the conkers with the help of a screwdriver. If you haven’t had enough of conkers, check it out.

What do you play with at autumn time? Share with me in the comments.

Painting leaves – four autumn activities with leaves

 

As autumn has arrived we started to collect leaves every time we went somewhere. We were talking about the gorgeous colours of autumn leaves like orange, yellow, brown or red. We also observe the different shapes like circular, heart-shaped, hand-shaped as well as their edges (smooth, wavy, toothed).

I checked this image from the net to make sure I do not say anything silly.

Leaf rubbing gave us the chance to have a look at the veins:

 

 

Leaf prints

Then we had painting fun. E. chose the colours (I tried to direct her to the autumn colours with little success) and we painted the backside of the leaves and made prints. At first, we used too much paint, but then we could observe the beautiful prints the veins and the edges gave out.

First try

 

Second try with less paint

Another painting activity: outline of leaves:

I pressed some leaves and stuck them on a white sheet of paper with the help of small pieces of Cello-tape. Then we painted the leaves over creating an outline. This was a hit with E.

 

And finally a counting game with leaves:

I drew these bare trees for E. It can serve as a simple counting activity. Your child needs to stick as many leaves on the tree as the number shows.

I’ve prepared printable trees you can download at the end of this post.

As simple counting is not a challenge for E. any more I thought skip counting would raise her interest much more. And I was right.

 

Although it was a little too long an activity, she managed to finish it after my encouragement and help with the gluing.

Gluing

 

Adding the leaves

 

creating a leaf face with the glue

 

Mommy, this leaf is ill

 

There are not enough branches for 8 leaves, Mommy

 

Placing the magnetic numbers – finished!

First, I pressed all the leaves. It’s easier to work with them. Then I presented, showed and explained what to do with instructions like these:

  • Hold your paper down with one hand and rub with the other hand.
  • Let’s mix 2 colours.
  • Paint the backside of the leaf, like this.
  • You can add more glue this time because this leaf is big.

 

Finally, we displayed everything on our living room doors. E. shows her pieces of artwork to whoever comes to us.

 

And here on this link you can download the bare trees with numbers: