Swat the Bug Alphabet Game

When I came across these cute flyswatters at the dollar store (2 for $1), I got the idea for an alphabet game.  Luckily my awesome husband was willing to design it for me on the computer.  🙂 They are really cute and work perfectly with all of our bug activities we’ve been doing for springtime.

Bug Alphabet Cards

To keep the girls from getting overwhelmed, we started by laying out just a couple letters at a time and adding to them.  Then I would call out a letter and the girls would smack it with their flyswatters.  They loved it!  Later they played all on their own, swatting circles and calling out the letters.

So far we’ve only played on the floor but you could certainly tape them to a wall.  I also thought it would be fun later on to make a physical dot-to-dot with the letters around the house, having the girls follow the alphabet around or simple words spelled out.  I thought that would be fun for older kids who know their letters better.

For smaller children who do not yet know their letters, they could practice sorting the circles by color or bug, just getting exposed to letters.

I recommend printing them out on cardstock and laminating them so that they remain sturdy.  And while we only have capital letters right now, little does Ed know that I’m hoping he will make lower-case letters soon too.  As soon as we have them I’ll post them.

Caterpillar Activities

With the arrival of our caterpillars, we of course kicked off a caterpillar theme that included art, science, letters, and numbers.  Unfortunately the girls and I all became really sick so things didn’t go quite as planned and it’s taken us a lot longer to do what I had planned but here are our caterpillar activities.  I decided to save The Very Hungry Caterpillar activities for another post.  And, in case you missed it, you can read all about our live caterpillars and some of the fun we have had with them here.

Egg carton caterpillars

I just cut up cardboard egg cartons to make the caterpillar bodies and then the girls painted them.  I recommend using darker colors since the colors all faded a lot after it dried.  For the antennas I poked holes in the head and then threaded through a shortened pipe cleaner.  Then we glued on the googly eyes (because everything is more fun with googly eyes) and the pom pom nose (which I am not a fan of but the girls really wanted to add).

Caterpillar numbers

To practice our counting I made this caterpillar leaf game.  While it could easily be mounted to a file folder, I decided to keep the leaves separate so that the girls could focus on one card at a time.  I would put down a leaf and then the girls would add the correct number of “caterpillars,” which were really fuzzy pipe cleaners cut down to about an inch in size.

If you want to make the game a little more difficult and practice some fine motor skills, kiddos can add the caterpillars to the leaf using tweezers.  We tried this a few times but then the girls’ focus definitely moved from counting to playing with tweezers.

Leafs for Caterpillar Number Game

Pom Pom Dots and the Letter C

I’ve been debating getting the dot markers since I’ve seen a lot of templates for them,  but I was reluctant to get another craft supply when we have so many.  Then I decide to make our own reusable ones using cheap cookie sheets, pom poms, and magnets.  I used magnetic adhesive dots, similar to these.  Even though they had adhesive on them, I still needed to glue the puff balls to the magnets with the low-temp glue gun otherwise they came apart while we were playing.

Then for this theme we used a letter C and caterpillar page I found from DLTK here.

The girls loved it!  I wondered if it would be worth the effort since it seems a pretty quick activity, but as soon as they filled in the sheet they wanted to take all the balls off and go again.  It is the perfect toddler activity!  They really enjoyed picking out which color to use and filling in every circle on the page.  We will definitely be doing this with other pages!

More for The Letter C

Since we were talking about caterpillars, we also focused on the letter C.  One of our activities was filling our C template.  In my Easter egg post I mentioned how we were going to fill in one for each letter.  For C we used fun foam crosses we had from Easter, but cotton balls would also work well.

Letter C template

We also did some other C pages–the girls favorite was the pasting the numbers in the shape of the C.
Letter C coloring page
Cut & Paste C caterpillar

Caterpillar Poems

We did a few poems from The Complete Book and CD set of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays, and Chants by Jackie Silberg and Pam Schiller.  The girls especially loved this one, since it was short enough for them to memorize:

Who’s that ticklin’ my back? said the wall, (crawling fingers up arm)
“Me,” said a small caterpillar, “I’m learning to crawl.”

They were so proud of themselves for learning it and repeated it on skype for the family a few times.  🙂

Caterpillar Science

Obviously just having the caterpillars and watching their transformation is a great science activity for the kids.  The girls have been fascinated with them as they have moved through the different stages.  One of the other things we did was practice being caterpillars by wiggling on the floor.  We then bundled under blankets to be in our pupa and then burst out as butterflies.  They had a blast!

We also have read a lot of caterpillar books.  I think that with little kids it can be easy to shy away from non-fiction books because you worry they won’t understand or won’t be interested, but really this is a great time to introduce to little ones how much they can learn from reading.  I just did a quick search with our library for books on caterpillars and butterflies and we found some great ones.

Live Caterpillar Fun

Last week our caterpillars arrived and the girls have loved watching them!  Our newest friends have been moving and changing so much that we check on them multiple times each day. While the girls love the caterpillars, I love how excited they are about science as they are introduced to so many new concepts, such as the life cycle, investigating, observing and recording, magnification, nutrition.  They are also learning big ideas like respect for all life and that change can be a good thing.  The idea to order caterpillars as well as many of the activities we are doing actually and scientific discussions come from the book Science is Simple.

Unlike other parts of the country that are overwhelming with caterpillars, we haven’t had such luck so I ordered ours online.  We had a very positive experience with Insect Lore who sells caterpillar/butterfly kits as well as all kinds of other fun insects. Our kit included five live caterpillars in a cup with food and air holes as well as a butterfly enclosure they will move to once in chrysalis form.  If you don’t want to go the quick and easy route, you can capture caterpillars on your own or even capture butterflies and wait for them to lay eggs.  Just be sure to provide a clean, safe enclosure with appropriate food available.

To keep track of the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly I made us a giant calendar chart.  I wanted to have the girls chart the change but knew it would be hard to make it meaningful to them.  I decided to go with a calendar format with lots of pictures so that they could visual see the progression of days and the changes with our buggie friends.  On the days we don’t take pictures we write a few notes of what we have noticed.  To make sure we had enough space, I made the calendar with five weeks on it (it takes 7-10 to make a cocoon, which they are in for 7-10 days, and then they become butterflies).  I also didn’t include the dates because I didn’t want it to become too confusing, especially with the change in months at the end.

In addition to our chart, we also have been practicing our observation skills.  We purchased magnifying glasses before the caterpillars arrived (less than a dollar at the grocery store).  The girls have used them to watch the bugs as well as investigate everything in the house.  Indeed, “investigating” has become one of our favorite pastimes! 🙂

We also took “notes” on the caterpillars.  The girls have little spiral-bound notebooks where we made notes of what we observed.  We drew a cup on the page and then Mia and Zoe drew caterpillars inside the cup like they saw them.  They also made notes (scribbles) of what they saw.  It was great for early writing and science skills.

The perfect springtime activity, our caterpillars and eventually butterflies have inspired all kinds of fun with our latest theme.  I will be posting our caterpillar activities soon!

 

 

Cardboard Airplane

With the air show at our military base this weekend, I thought I would share one of our favorite airplane crafts.  It’s pretty easy but looks cute and is sturdy enough for kiddos to play with.  We actually got this one from Miss Lilly, our super fabulous art teacher with our local parks and rec department.  I also had us make these when we hosted for our military moms playgroup.  And I included some other airplane ideas too.

Supplies: cardboard, paint, pipe cleaner, foam circles, elastic string, glue, hot glue, other decorations (sequins, jewels, stickers, etc.)

The directions really are pretty self-explanatory.  Just cut out the airplane and wings using the stencil included.  I used a piece of a cereal box to make the stencil when I had to cut out a bunch.  For the airplane, we used thick cardboard without writing on it from an old box so that it would be nice and sturdy.  I assembled the plane pieces ahead of time and the girls painted them (well, parts of them).  Then we glued some jewels on the wings.

Airplane Template

We just glued the front wheel directly to the bottom of the plane towards the front with a big glob of hot glue.  For the back wheels, we punched a hole towards the back and ran a 2″ piece of pipe cleaner through it.  Then attached the other two foam circles.

The propeller is also a pipe cleaner.  We punched another hole at the front to run a piece of pipe cleaner through that tied two other pieces together so that they could all fan out into a propeller shape.

Finally the elastic cord went through the top and allowed the girls to bounce the plane around.

Enjoy!

Looking for another cardboard airplane?  We also made this one too…  (well, by we I mean my husband).

Ed cut a cardboard box into an airplane adding wings and a propeller from other other cardboard boxes.  The girls had a blast decorating it.  When he attached it to their wagon they thought it very cool!

Although that later caused him to get this idea and now we have a rather large but super fun and awesome airplane!

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist including pictures of our airplane.  I’m so proud of my husband for making it, that I am sure it will make it’s way into other blog posts.  🙂

 

Zoo Bingo for Toddlers

We just had a fabulous day at our local zoo, Reid Park Zoo, checking out their brand new elephant exhibit, Expedition Tanzania.  For those of you who live in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit out there.  We loved seeing the baby elephants!  In honor of our visit to the zoo, I wanted to share our zoo bingo game.  It would also make a good matching game for children who aren’t ready for bingo.

I made bingo boards for us using pictures of the animals at our zoo.  While you are welcome to use our boards, I think the game is a lot more fun if you use pictures of the animals at your own zoo.  I got my picture off of our zoo’s website and their Facebook page.  But of course you could even take your own.

I made the board with only nine spaces and the girls only needing to get three in a row to “win.”  Since this was our first bingo game and they are only two I wanted to start small.  I also am starting with only nine animals so that all the animals are on every game board, just in a different position.  I didn’t think we were ready for the frustration of looking for an animal that’s not on their board.  My plan is to make more game boards as they get bigger or board with the game and add in more animals.

For our bingo markers, I just used circles I cut with my scrapbooking tools, but you could also use pennies or just squares of paper.  And I thought it would be cute to have ZOO at the top over the columns, but didn’t do that with mine because we’ve been practicing spelling our names and I knew that Mia would be very disappointed to see all the boards with basically Zoe’s name on them.  But if you don’t have a Zoe (or only have a Zoe) you could put Z-O-O over each column to make it more like Bingo.

To call out the animals, I printed an extra game board and cut out the squares.  Then we draw the animal cards out of the bag.  And of course, I laminated the call out squares and the bingo boards so they’ll last longer.  I also printed them out on cardstock to make them stronger.


So far, we’ve had a lot of fun playing the game and the girls get to practice taking turns and following the rules of the game. We also talk about the animals while we play–where they live, which is bigger, what they might eat, how the mamas take care of the babies. And I like that they can start to see the connection between the words and what they represent.

Here are our animals boards: Zoo Bingo
You can also generate bingo games here; however, for this activity I personally prefer to have real pictures of the animals as opposed to the clipart. And like I said, I like it being the animals that we actually see.

Of course I need to include some pictures from the zoo…

And here are some of our favorite books after a visit to the zoo…

%d bloggers like this: