Fun Summer MATH Activities for First, Second, and Third Grade.

How We Practice Math Fluency | Grades K-3

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Math practice may seem redundant but it’s necessary to build and maintain fluency. To minimize “summer brain drain,” I wanted to introduce my kindergartner and second-grader to a new way of practicing math facts. Typically, I require them to complete one small worksheet a day during the summer months to keep their brains sharp. This year, however, I’ll be shaking things up a little bit.

Math Practice Activity Binder

Allow me to introduce my latest product at Nike Anderson’s Classroom, “My Math Practice Activity Binder!” This binder is a comprehensive bundle of activities that help facilitate math fluency for first, second, and third graders, depending on mastery level.

This resource includes 43 hands-on activities. Activities include addition, subtraction, regrouping, Arabic and Roman numerals, time, temperature, money, fractions, conversions, rounding numbers, multiplication, and division. Read the details below.

Nike Anderson shares Interactive Math Activities for First, Second, Third Grade.

Math Practice Activity Binder for First, Second, and Third GradeBUY NOW!

What inspired me to create this resource? I purchased a similar binder for my kindergartner with the intention of using it for summer practice and my second-grader griped about wanting one also. I couldn’t find a similar product that included all the key math concepts he learned this year, so I decided to create one for his grade level.

While I chose to use Velcro fasteners for repeated use, dry-erase markers may also be used to complete laminated activities for those of you who’d rather forgo the cutting. My boys absolutely love the Velcro fasteners, though, which are used to attach the answers to each math problem.

As a simple storage solution, I placed all the answer tabs into an envelope and used Velcro fasteners on the flap of each envelope. This ensures secure storage and the ability to reopen the envelope when needed. I also two-hole punched the envelopes so that I could store them in the binder next to their corresponding activity. See below for details!

Interactive Math Activities for First, Second, and Third GradeUse RepeadedlyEasy Storage SolutionBUY NOW!

What skills does this activity binder help students develop and strengthen? Fluency in addition, subtraction, regrouping, Arabic and Roman numerals, time, temperature, money, fractions, conversions, rounding numbers, multiplication, and division, as well as the following:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Logic
  • Problem-solving
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Independence

Other uses for this resource include cut and paste, file folder games, math center activities, dry-erase workbook, interactive notebook, and more! You do not have to use this resource solely as an activity binder. Read below for details.

Activity BinderBUY NOW!


Nike Anderson's Classroom

Buy today and receive a 20% off discount on this resource! Missed the sale? Follow my shop to be the first to know when this item goes on sale again.

I want to thank all of you for supporting Nike Anderson’s Classroom. I truly appreciate everyone who has used my product in their classroom.

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing | Pre-Reading Skills

Last year, my then three-year-old decided he wanted to start his reading journey. I admit I was a bit hesitant considering all the research I’ve read making a compelling case against early reading. In fact, I’ve had success waiting until my oldest son was six-years-old before starting formal reading lessons. Although some of his peers learned to read as early as three-years-old, my oldest son went from being an emergent reader to reading chapter books in a matter of a few short months. That alone was enough to sell me on waiting with my youngest son.

But things didn’t quite work like that. One day my little Jam was watching a phonics video on YouTube (Hooked on Phonics to be exact) and he said “I want to do that. I want to read.” I wasn’t surprised as he’d frequently asked me how to pronounce words in books and how to spell certain words. He was ready, for sure. So, I bought the Hooked on Phonics curriculum and things went so well for us. Following Jam’s pace, we moved through the preschool curriculum rather quickly and started the kindergarten curriculum a few weeks later. Jam read his first primer book and appeared to have mastered sounding out words.

And then it happened. Regression.

Suddenly, Jam became sloppy at pronouncing sounds. Words he once knew without a second thought, he seemed to struggle with. It made me question whether our reading curriculum had a strong enough base for teaching pre-reading skills.

Has this ever happened to you?

One day, while researching ways to help my preschooler read more fluently, I stumbled across a website shared by my local homeschool group. While reading through the wealth of free information shared, I discovered it may be a good idea to go back to square one. You see, our reading curriculum begins with phonics, but there’s a prereading skill all children should master before moving on to phonics. That skill is called phonological awareness.

What is phonological awareness and how is it different from phonics? Phonological awareness is the sounds in language that help children distinguish sounds in words. This is different from phonics, which involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols. Unlike phonics, phonological awareness refers to sounds only and most tasks require a student to rely solely on listening.

Phonological awareness is the building block for phonics because it helps children identify the sound components of spoken words, making it easier to master the alphabetic code. Children with high phonological awareness can identify oral rhymes, clap out syllables in a word, and identify words with the same beginning sounds. Research shows that without this foundation, learning to read and spell can prove difficult for children.

When we teach phonological awareness, we’re simply helping a child train their ear to distinguish sounds, particularly in words. I can’t talk about phonological awareness without mentioning it’s subset, phonemic awareness, because people often confuse the two. Phonemic awareness is the ability to distinguish individual sounds in spoken words. It is the next phase, after phonological awareness, to mastering pre-reading skills. The difference? Phonological awareness focuses on spoken language as a whole, whereas phonemic awareness focuses on spoken words.

Helping a child heighten their phonological awareness can be done in just a few simple exercises. According to educational professionals, teaching a child to pay close attention to familiar environmental sounds is a great introduction to phonological awareness for preschool and kindergarten. A child will then learn to master dividing sentences, whole words, and syllables before phonemic awareness training.

Here’s how it’s done! Below, I included our three favorite exercises for increasing phonological awareness (and following instructions!). These exercises can be modified to challenge your little learners. For the complete curriculum, click here.


Introduction to Phonological Awareness

Strengthen Those Listening Skills for Pre-Reading


 

1. Name that sound.

My preschooler loved this exercise. All we did was play this YouTube video to see if he could identify each sound. I asked him to keep his eyes closed and focus on his listening skills. If he recognized the sound, I asked him to tell me its name. If your child has already learned phonics, like mine, this is also a great activity for identifying letter sounds and phonemes to further strengthen their phonological skills. Remember, these are oral activities and they are using their ears only. No flashcards or written symbols are needed for these exercises.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Name That Sound | Big Brother Joined in for Moral Support

2. First Sound, Last Sound.

This exercise helps children develop memory and attention as they recall two sounds and their order.  We used these sounds to complete this exercise. Before beginning the exercise, I chose two sounds to play aloud and made sure my little one understood the name of each sound. I then played each sound one at a time. After playing both sounds, I asked Jam to tell me the name of the first sound and the name of the last sound. Again, this activity can be amended for children who already started learning phonics. Just use letter sounds and blends instead. Like I’ve said, we are sort of backtracking to get more phonological awareness training.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Use Your Listening Skills to Name the First and Last Sound

 

3. Start and Stop.

This is a simple exercise that helps children practice following directions and strengthen their listening skills. I made a sound by snapping my fingers and told my preschooler the name of the sound. I then asked him to raise his right hand when he heard the sound, and to place his hand at his side when the sound stops. This is one of the first exercises we started doing and by the second day, my preschooler raised and lowered his hand with great accuracy.

Phonological Awareness Game
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Start and Stop | Raise Your Hand When The Sound Starts
What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise| Start and Stop | Lower Your Hands When The Sound Stops

 

It’s important to note that high phonological awareness is not necessarily correlated with high intelligence. A child may struggle with phonological awareness but excel in many other areas. Remember, there are many types of intelligence. Linguistic intelligence is just one of many.

Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained

5 Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained During Winter Break

Winter break is here and with it enters the dreadful question, “How on earth am I going to keep my children entertained?” Trust me, as a momma to two young boys, I know this dilemma all too well. But before you allow the television to takeover this winter break, I want to share some alternative ideas to help balance out the inevitable screen-time while helping to keep those little minds sharp.  These methods work so well for our household. Even better? They are realistic and require very little effort on your part. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

5 Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained During Winter Break

 

  1. Read, Read, and Read Some More! For leisure, that is! We all know that reading is fundamental, but why? For starters, reading improves cognitive development in children—that is, your child’s ability to process and recall information, solve problems, and make decisions. It’s easy to see that reading is a great exercise for the brain, but did you also know reading can reduce your child’s stress levels and improve their vocabulary and concentration? More reasons to visit your local library this winter break and let ‘em loose! Books we love? Basically, anything Pete the Cat, Frog and Toad, and Mo Willems related. Don’t have readers or book lovers? Try audiobooks!

 

  1. Break Out the Paint Supplies. If you’ve never heard about the benefits of painting, allow me to inform you. Obviously, painting encompasses a multitude of creative benefits, but it can also provide therapeutic benefits for children and provide them a platform to better communicate their emotions. Even more? Painting helps children develop decision-making skills and it increases the mobility skills necessary for mental and physical development. My boys have been loving their paint therapy sessions! I can’t believe how long this activity actually keeps them quiet.

 

  1. Control Screen-Time. Let’s not act like screen-time isn’t going to happen for most of us. But you don’t have to feel entirely guilty about giving your child a tablet and sending them to their room. Instead of letting them spend hours watching YouTube videos of other kids playing with toys (Please tell me my kids aren’t the only weirdos that do this, haha), make your children a playlist of educational YouTube channels that are parent-approved. Here are some YouTube videos we love! Additionally, Schoolhouse Rock videos have become a favorite around here.

 

  1. Give Brainteasers a Try. Puzzles, mazes, and riddles are fun ways for children to challenge their cognitive thought processes. In short, these games can help reduce boredom and improve concentration, memory, and brain strength. Education.com is a great resource for all things games, mazes, and puzzles for all ages. I’ve talked about how helpful Education.com has been to our homeschool in the past (Read about it here), so it’s a pleasure to feature this resource in today’s post. Since my boys love brainteasers, we’re excited to download additional resources at Education.com to help combat winter break boredom. Check out their sample activity below and get in on the fun! Although this is a partnership, all opinions are my own. 

Education.com Maze
Splash around and help our little sea friends find their way home! Check out additional games and resources at Education.com! FREE Download! Get the answer key.

5. Learn a new skill. Whether it’s baking, origami, playing an instrument, or exploring a new sport, every child has an interest they don’t mind spending hours mastering. School breaks are the perfect time to challenge your child to learn something new. The key is to set realistic goals. A checklist of goodies to bake, perhaps, or learn how to play a song on the keyboard. My second-grader has taken it upon himself to learn about computer programing, so he checked out some books from the library and started taking virtual courses with Khan Academy to learn the basics. Whatever they choose, it should be totally up to them—and fun!


 

I hope everyone enjoys their winter break! I want to end by saying that learning should not only be fun but a way of life that inspires children beyond the classroom. At least that’s how we see it!  And now it’s your turn: What are your winter break tips? Let us know in the comments. And, P.S. it’s okay to say your winter break tip is to simply survive, haha. We get you!

Youtube channels that made my child smarter

Toddler Genius | YouTube Channels That Made My Toddler Smarter

 

My toddler stood behind the black strip of tape and covered his left eye as the pediatrician directed.

“What do you see?” She asked.

“A pentagon!” He shouted.

The pediatrician chuckled with amusement. “Well, yea, I guess it IS a pentagon after all,” she said of the house pictured on the eye chart. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that. What a smart boy! Whatever you guys are doing with him, keep going!”

So, what did we do? Our approach to early learning was not that extensive. We relied on educational videos, one-on-one learning, and open-ended play to create a sturdy foundation for cognitive development. Today, I will talk about the role visual-learning played in the early education of my then toddler boys, who are now ages four and seven. Videos from awesome YouTube channels that helped my boys to recognize advanced shapes, numbers, phonics, and so much more. I like to think of these videos as “digital flashcards.” I originally wanted to list seven channels (I like that number!), but in reality, there were only six channels that made a difference in my children’s early learning.

I realize talking about toddlers and screen time is major taboo. There are strong arguments against image-focused learning. But the truth is educational videos can enhance cognitive development when consumed in moderation. I can’t deny that educational videos helped my boys to build vocabulary and recognize signs and symbols in everyday life, among other things. I mean, come on! My youngest son knew what a dodecahedron was at age two! And my first-born son would always point and shout the names of all the vegetables in the produce section of the grocery store. By age three, both of my boys were well versed in phonics, which made learning to read much easier for them. I don’t mean to boast. I just want to point out that image-focused learning can be helpful for some children, so long as you ensure that it’s balanced with language learning (language learning requires the brain to work much harder) and hands-on learning.

So, what are some of the educational videos I allowed my boys to watch during early toddlerhood? Before I tell you, I must mention a few things. First, pediatricians strongly discourage screen time before age two. Second, once your child starts screen time, I recommend ONLY allowing them to watch educational videos. You don’t want these videos competing with Bubble Guppies and other cartoons. Trust me! My husband and I didn’t have a television in our home until our eldest son was five-years-old. However, at age two, we started playing educational videos for him on our laptops. Our youngest son wasn’t as fortunate. He’s been exposed to the screen since he was one-year-old and he did have a period where all he wanted to do was watch Bubble Guppies. Hey, we’re not perfect people, here.

Lastly, I strongly recommend supplementing these videos with one-on-one lessons with your child. This is where quality time comes into play. You can get super creative or simply have a conversation with your child about what they are learning. Our favorite conversations are during car rides. My kids like to shout out the shapes, colors, words, and types of vehicles they see, among other things. I give them random pop quizzes on phonics (for my four-year-old), spelling (for my first-grader), mathematics, and fun facts we’ve learned. The pop quiz is like a game to them!

So, without further ado, here are my top picks for educational channels on YouTube for early learning. I’ve also included helpful books you can check out at the end of this post!


YouTube Channels That Made my Toddler Smarter

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  1. KidsTV123

It’s easy to see why this YouTube channel has earned over two million subscribers. KidsTV123 was the very first channel I found when looking for educational videos for my eldest child to watch. As a toddler, his favorite videos were the Phonics Song, the Number Song, the Shapes Song, the Colors Song, the Solar System Song, and the Reading Machine. That was nearly six years ago and now all these songs are among the channel’s most popular videos.

 

When my son was two-and-a-half, he pointed to all the letters on the chart in his bedroom and told me their phonemes without any prompting from me. He also knew planets, numbers, and shapes (including some advanced ones) fluently, primarily from watching these videos. I admit I was not in the “teaching mindset” during this time. I had no plans to homeschool and I just assumed my toddler would learn this stuff in preschool. However, when I realized all the knowledge and concepts my son retained at such an early age, I knew then that he was ready for formal learning. I began teaching my eldest son one-on-one, incorporating language and hands-on learning. My youngest son, however, had the pleasure of this one-on-one teaching much earlier.

 

  1. The Kids’ Picture Show

Okay, this channel is quite advanced. Not only does The Kids’ Picture Show teach advanced shapes, but also advanced colors, sorting, animal names, street signs, addition, science and nature, sight words, life instructions, and so much more! It’s no exaggeration when I say that my boys know advanced shapes and colors that I don’t even know! I found myself having to watch the videos with them the moment I recognized they were getting smarter than me (hehe)!

 

What I love the most about this channel is that it literally is like digital flashcards. I never expected my boys to like this approach, but they actually started begging me to play these videos for them—every day!  I think what they love the most is that they can identify these items and concepts in their everyday life. My children get so excited when they encounter a familiar street sign, vehicle, or advanced shape while we’re out and about—things they may not normally recognize had they not learned about it from these videos.  Not to mention, they’ve gotten very specific with their colors. No! It’s not just green. It’s emerald!

 

  1. National Geographic Kids

If you have animal lovers, or kids that have a bunch of “why” questions, this is the channel for you! National Geographic Kids is full of awesome videos of gorgeous animals as well as fun facts that young kids can digest and understand. I found these videos to be a perfect supplement when teaching my boys about animal classification. And that’s not all, this channel also comprises videos on weather, archeology, states, and how to make familiar everyday items. You’ll be surprised by the information your toddler digests. When my youngest son was two, he loved watching the Making Stuff videos with his older brother. They would watch how to make some of their favorite foods, musical instruments, and toys. Now, at age four, my son remembers how to prepare the pizza dough when making pizza from scratch—one of our favorite foods to make!

 

What’s essential to note is from preschool up until fourth grade is what is known as the “parrot years.” According to authors of The Well-Trained Mind, any information your child absorbs during the early years is stored for future use—even if they can’t yet understand it. Therefore, having a toddler watch channels such as National Geographic Kids will make learning about animals and other topics in the later years that much more meaningful to them because they have already stored information in their brains.

 

  1. Hooked on Phonics

While KidsTV123 was responsible for introducing my eldest son to phonemic awareness during toddlerhood, Hooked on Phonics was the resource responsible for introducing my youngest son to phonics. My youngest son loved watching videos on this channel so much that I decided to purchase the curriculum to begin formal learning with him. If you’re not familiar with Hooked on Phonics, it’s a 25-year-old, award-winning “Learn to Read” program. Their YouTube channel includes story-time, printing lessons, sample lessons, and catchy singalong songs (my son’s favorite!). It’s not an extensive channel, but you can find more Hooked on Phonics videos listed on other channels with a simple YouTube search.

 

I must say, my youngest son caught on to phonics rather quickly using the Hooked on Phonics program. I’m talking just two weeks. At age three, he read his first primer book from the Kindergarten level. I do want to mention that this was not primarily from watching the videos, I did work one-on-one with him often during this time using the lesson plans.  When I tell you that my son actually asks me if he can “do phonics today” it’s not an exaggeration. This program works so well with his personality and learning style. I’m so glad we found it!

 

  1. Mouk in English

Mouk is an educational preschool show about a bear who travels the world on his bike. I happen to have two boys who absolutely love geography. This show was perfect for introducing and reinforcing different continents and countries of the world, as well as their popular monuments. It supplemented our geography curriculum so well. And while I never expected my toddler to learn geography to the extent that his big brother was learning it, some of the information he retained was from watching this show.

 

The Mouk in English channel boasts of teaching toddlers to respect diversity and cultures. The characters explore countries on the continents of Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, and the Oceana. Examples of some countries they visit are Senegal, Spain, Canada, Madagascar, Tokyo, Greece, the Himalayas, and much more! Because I’m half-Nigerian, and have friends from different parts of the world, culture is one of the topics we highlight in our homeschool. It’s never too early to teach your kids that diversity is cool!

 

  1. Kids Learning Tube

Let me just say that this channel is my least favorite because of the creepy graphics. However, my youngest son loved watching this channel as a toddler—and still does now that he’s four. The Kids Learning Tube channel comprises videos on basic learning songs for preschoolers, geography, the solar system, the human body, the periodic table, animals, and more. I don’t know what it is about this channel, but both my boys are quite fascinated by it. They are even watching it right now as I edit this post!

 

My boys favorite videos to watch on this channel are the ones about the solar system, the 50 U.S. states, and the countries of the world. These have also been my youngest son’s favorite videos since toddlerhood. The videos include catchy tunes and awesome fun facts. My toddler gained concepts like which planets are big, which ones are small, and which ones are closest to the sun. He could also name most planets, and even some countries and states at just two years old.


 

Curriculum Suggestions:

If image-learning isn’t your thing, I totally get you! I can’t emphasize enough that the YouTube channels I mentioned should be supplements only. One-on-one interaction and unstructured play is the best way for your child to learn during early toddlerhood. Other effective resources you can try out for your toddler are Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander, What Your Preschooler Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch Jr., The Instant Curriculum by Pam Schiller and Joan Rossano, and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, and Jessie Wise.

 

These books include great information and instructions on how to engage your toddler’s motor skills, imagination, self-expression, critical thinking skills, math skills, language arts skills, and much more. I found most of these resources at my local library! Stay tuned for an in-depth look into these resources in a later post.

 

Feel free to check out my Instagram where I share more fun activities and resources we’re using for our homeschool. I also dabble in Instastories, where you can peek into our lessons and life as a homeschool family.


Let us know in the comments:  What are your favorite educational channels on YouTube?

 

 

Toddlers and Toys

Toddler Boredom | 10 Ways to Resurrect Old Toys

 

Okay, so let me get this out of the way. The average attention span for a toddler is only 3-5 minutes. By age five, this span increases to a whopping 10-15 minutes. Not very long, huh? I know! It’s no wonder kids seem to run out of things to do so quickly. Nevertheless, I incorporated the following methods to maximize the attention span of my dear children. My boys are now ages 4 and 7, but these straightforward tips have worked for me since their toddlerhood. This week for Toddler Talk Tuesday, I will share simple things you can do to help curb toddler boredom. I hope you find these tips helpful. Enjoy!


 

Toddler Boredom | 10 Ways to Resurrect Old Toys

 

1. Don’t hold onto them. 

Those toys that your children have outgrown or don’t care for? Donate them! Sometimes when the toybox or playroom is overflowing with toys it can be overwhelming for kids, especially the younger ones. Purging toys not only lessens the load and makes playtime more attractive, but helps your children discover those long-lost items they’ve forgotten how much they love. Be sure to involve your little ones in the donation process. Let them know they are making room for new toys in the future. And don’t forget to let your toddler choose a brand-new toy to purchase and include in your donation!

 

2. Keep them in rotation. 

Limiting your child’s toy options may help hold their attention for longer periods—especially when those options are in rotation. Leave your child 1-2 toys to play with and put the rest away for a while. You may find that your child can play for longer periods with just one or two toys. This is because there aren’t a dozen other toys competing for their attention, so your child isn’t rushing to move on to the next best thing. Decide how long you want your rotation to last (every week? every month?) and reintroduce your child to some of the toys you’ve been hiding away. Be sure to keep the cycle going. 

 

3. Organize them. 

Yes! Keep the blocks with the blocks, the dolls with the dolls, the play kitchenware with the play kitchenware—you get the point! Avoid dumping all your children’s toys into one giant toy bin. Instead, get some inexpensive bins (the Dollar Tree is a good place to start) and teach your children how to keep their toys organized and accessible. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this can make during playtime. I recall several meltdowns because certain parts of a playset had gotten lost in the crowded toybox. Organizing toys keeps all those “parts” together, which limits frustration and tantrums. 

 

4. Play with them. 

Sometimes you just have to get on the floor and play with your kids. Doing so is not only great for bonding and building self-esteem, but also gives your child new ideas about how to play with their toys. Show them how to build an amazing tower with their Lego set, how to create an awesome storyline for their toy soldiers or dolls, or how to play a new tune with their pretend (or real) instruments. You may find that your child takes ideas and builds upon them, sparking a new excitement for their toys. 

 

5. Change surroundings. 

Take that play kitchen or workbench station out of the playroom and put it into the family room for a few days. On a sunny day, take a large blanket and place it in the backyard with a few of your child’s beloved toys for a fun toy picnic. During the winter, bring your child’s water table into the kitchen or garage and let them enjoy playing with a “summer toy” during a different season. Sometimes, a different setting can make old toys just as exciting as brand new ones.

 

6. Wrap them!

Yes, you heard it right. Get some fun wrapping paper and wrap some of your child’s toys. Toddlers won’t care that the toy isn’t new. They just love the idea of unwrapping a present! Even better? Give them some extra wrapping paper to wrap the toys themselves. My boys loved wrapping their toys and giving them to me as “gifts.”

 

7. Become a “toy fairy.”

I still love doing this! When my oldest was a toddler, I would sneak into his bedroom while he was asleep and set up his toys in an elaborate display. Trust me, this will buy you some time in the morning! Or even post-naptime! My son would wake up and be so excited to play. These days, since I have my children’s toys on rotation, I simply switch out their toys in the middle of the night for other toys they haven’t played with in a while. It’s like Christmas morning! They never know what toys they’ll wake up to.

 

8. Wash them.

Get a large container, fill it with water and bath bubbles, give your child a toddler-friendly scrubber, and let them “wash” their toys. Make sure the toys are not plush, battery operated, or electronic. They can wash their toys while sitting on the kitchen floor as you cook dinner (place a towel underneath them). Or, like my boys do, they can wash their toys outside in the backyard while you sit on the porch with your favorite book scrolling through Instagram.

 

9. Make them educational.

Place alphabet letters or numbers onto blocks, Legos, mini figures, or dolls and have your toddler arrange them in order. You can simply print out a number or alphabet template, cut them into squares, and tape them onto the toys. If you don’t mind things being permanent, you can even write on blocks and Legos with a permanent marker. You can also have your child group the toys by color; for example, place the red blocks with other toys that are red. Or, try arranging the toys by size. There are so many possibilities and your toddler will love having a little task to do!

 

10. Take them apart.

This is a recent tip I read about in one of my Facebook STEM groups. Whether you have a curious child or a future engineer, old toys that can’t be donated can be safely taken apart for further exploring. Let your child explore what’s inside a stuffed animal, a remote-control car, or that musical toy that plays the same annoying songs over and over. I do not recommend this tip for younger toddlers who still put things in their mouths, as there may be small parts involved. Always remember to provide close supervision.


 

As a disclaimer, I am not an expert. These are just tips that have worked for me and my family. I hope you found at least one of these tips useful. Join me next week for my final post on the Toddler Talk Tuesday series!

Let us know in the comments what you do to help curb toddler boredom!

 

 

Preschool Math Facts

Tot-School Tuesdays | Preschool Addition Facts

Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “Number Matching” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Preschool Math Facts” busy box.

 

What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.

 Preschool Math

Last week, I shared that these boxes full of goodies make my preschooler feel like he’s receiving a gift each morning. And he is! The gift of learning, that is (*wink). However, another pro to these boxes is that they don’t have to be used for formal learning, per se. You can store them with loads of fun and interesting objects that encourage creative learning.

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So, what’s on the agenda for this week? Adding! We’ve reviewed counting, number recognition and matching, sequencing, and now it’s time to dabble with a little addition. We’ve reviewed addition many times before, but of course with young children, repetition is key to mastery.

 

This week’s busy box includes a Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, pony beads, fuzzy sticks, popsicle sticks, drawing paper, and three markers. All items can be purchased at Walmart or Dollar Tree. If you’re wondering why I only offer three markers at a time, it’s because my three-year-old is learning to place the caps back onto them. We’ve had one too many dried-out markers!

   Preschool Addition Facts

As always, we like to complete our worksheet first. I include worksheets in these boxes because I can save and keep records of them to track my three-year-old’s progress. This week, I’m offering these simple, yet fun, Preschool Addition Facts worksheets for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Head on over to take advantage!

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Next, we have a little “adding” fun with our pony beads and fuzzy sticks. Using the worksheet as my guide, I prepared seven fuzzy sticks by adding the exact number of beads to match the number of crayons on the left side of the worksheet. My preschooler then adds more beads to the fuzzy sticks, matching the number of crayons on the right side of the worksheet. This illustration ensures he internalizes the concept that adding two numbers together means the total sum is “more.”

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We take the same concept of our pony beads illustration and apply it to the popsicle sticks. Using different manipulatives helps a child internalize that the sum of one set of numbers will be the same regardless of the objects used. Therefore, 3 popsicle sticks plus 2 popsicle sticks will equal 5 popsicle sticks, just as 3 beads plus 2 beads will equal 5 beads.

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Lastly, I must include markers and drawing paper for some freestyling fun. To make the most of this busy box, your preschooler can try categorizing the pony beads by color, count how many beads each color group has, and then determine which group has the greatest and least number of beads. Or, he can make a popsicle stick masterpiece (if you include Elmer’s glue in the box), make their own bracelets with the pony beads and fuzzy sticks, or simply decorate the popsicle sticks using markers. 

 Preschool Math Facts

Download your FREE Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, here!

 Preschool Math

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I Can Count!

Number Matching and Sequencing

 

See you next week!

Preschool Number Matching

Tot-School Tuesdays | Number Matching & Sequencing

Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “I Can Count” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Number Matching and Sequencing” busy box.

 

What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.

 

My reasoning for using boxes is simple: 1) I found them in the back of my closet, forgotten and unused. 2) My three-year-old thinks he’s receiving a “gift” every morning—which gets him super excited about learning. So there ya go! Feel free to use Ziplock bags, storage containers, or anything you’d like.

Preschool busy box for counting

Our “Number Matching and Sequencing” box includes a cut and paste worksheet, a glue stick, safety scissors, number flashcards, 10 fuzzy sticks, 165 pony beads (lots of counting involved!), twenty magnetic sticks, twenty magnetic balls, empty containers, extra paper, and three markers.

This box is designed to practice fluency in counting numbers 11-20. Here’s how we used the items listed above. Feel free to adjust the activities to suit the numbers your child/student is currently working with.

 

First, my preschooler-to-be works on his cut and paste worksheet. Cut and paste is one of his favorite activities. Cut and paste is also a great way for tots to develop and strengthen fine motor skills and bilateral coordination—that is, the act of using both sides of the body at the same time while each hand performs a different task. You can find this cut and paste worksheet available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. This worksheet helps students visualize the correlation between a number and its quantity.

Preschool busy box for counting

Next, we have a little flashcard fun by matching the numbers on the flashcards to the number of beads on each fuzzy stick. There are ten fuzzy sticks. Each fuzzy stick comprises a quantity of numbers 11 thru 20, since those are the numbers we are working with this month. My three-year-old counts the beads on each stick and places the correct flashcard next to the fuzzy stick. Easy peasy!

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For more counting fun, I included some magnetic sticks and balls. I included an empty container that my tot can place the balls into as he counts, so that they don’t roll off the table. Afterwards, he can have a little magnetic fun with these items! For some reason, kids love putting things into empty containers and then taking them out again… (*shrugs).

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The very last thing I included was a blank sheet of paper and some markers for drawing. This is a “busy box” after all, and I wanted to make sure that if my three-year-old finished all the tasks quickly, he had something else to occupy him and engage his imagination. Although I work with him on the first portion of the busy box to make sure he’s understanding and progressing, my three-year-old typically completes the other tasks independently—allowing me a free moment to work with my first grader. To gain a few more moments, I always include extra paper and markers. It extends my three-year-old’s “busyness” an extra ten to fifteen minutes.

Preschool busy box for counting

I want to end this post by saying, please use discretion. Obviously small magnetic balls are not suitable for any child under the age of three. You can supplement with big wooden magnets or other items suitable for counting. Lastly, while these boxes are designed to teach they should also be fun! If your child/student is new to the concept of busy boxes/bags, allow them a time or two to play with the items before you introduce how the items can be used for learning. This will reduce any pressure they may feel and make them more willing to learn something new.

 

Don’t forget to download your FREE cut and paste worksheets at Nike Anderson’s Classroom! If you haven’t already, grab last week’s “I Can Count” freebies, here!

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Until next time, friend!