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We are excitedly preparing for Christmas in our home, and part of that is doing tons of Christmas themed activities. As was the case last year, I put together a busy book and other printables for my little one to use, and he is thoroughly enjoying them.
The latest 27 page release is available only for newsletter subscribers, and currently uploaded to the resource library. You can subscribe here.
What is available in this release? Alphabet and writing activities, craft templates, fine motor/cutting practice, puzzles, color awareness activity, and more! Plus, last year's number and matching activities are also still available for download on the resource library.
This educational busy book has great options for toddlers and preschoolers, and is FREE!
Tips for Creating Your Winter Busy Book
Gather your supplies:
Create your book:
Find more great Christmas activities and content!
Grab a Letter to Santa template (available for free and as an instant download), get ideas for winter and Christmas sensory activities and crafts, and more. Find that all in my Christmas Guide!
Share the love!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Commissions earned support my small business, and my participation in this program comes at no added cost to you. Learn more here.
Keep your family busy this holiday season with fun and easy crafts and activities.
Most of these are geared towards younger children (up to age 8), given I am a parent to one and my teaching background is as a preschool and Grades 1-2 educator, but the Farmhouse Style Decorations are great for teenagers.
Shaving Cream Santa
This sensory activity is super simple to put together and, more importantly, fun! You just need shaving cream and a laminated Santa (you can get your instant download here). Add plastic cutlery, cookie cutters, and more to make things even more fun. You can also practice sensory vocabulary during the activity to make things more educational.
Paper plate and Cotton Ball Santa
This is another simple and fun activity for little ones, and you likely already have everything you need at your house: paper plates, glue, cotton balls, markers, and construction paper (though you could also use colored markers instead). Check out the entire activity here.
Homemade salt dough ornaments are a great holiday gift, as well as a fun sensory and craft activity. You can find my salt dough recipe and tips for creating ornaments and other keepsakes here.
Gingerbread houses and baking cookies are two great activities to do with kids that are tasty as well! Want more ideas? Try marshmallow snowmen (simply use pretzel sticks and frosting to connect them, then decorate with candy and/or cookies! You can also try making winter versions of my sand cups (do snow cups instead; use whipped cream and/or white frosting instead of blue frosting, and find fun Christmas candy as toppings)
Paper Plate Christmas Trees
I'll be sharing an entire blog post on this one, but here are the basics to get you started:
1. Color paper plates using crayons, markers, or colored pencils
2. Fold in quarters. Cut out 1 quarter of the plate.
3. Roll plate into a cone and glue 2 of the 3 quarters together (one on top of the other)
4. Glue pompoms, ribbon, sequences, or other decorations on.
Christmas and Winter Busy Book
Looking for ways to keep your toddler or preschooler occupied, having fun, and learning? Be sure to check out my busy book pages, worksheets, and more!
Great Santa Traditions and Activities
Make this Christmas extra magical with my tips, tricks, and recommendations for making Santa even more special. Find everything from activities, to ideas for the little details, and new traditions to try. You can find the entire post here.
Pretend snow is a great sensory activity for young kids, and easy to make with baking soda and hair conditioner. There are tons of ways to dress the activity up to be more educational, too. Get the recipes and tips for how to use the snow to promote learning here.
Target Chanukah Banner Hack/Create Holiday Banners
Not every activity has to be put together from scratch. Store bought activity kits are great options, and there are tons of ways to hack them to make them even better. One example is this hack we did with a Chanukah banner kit purchased at Target. You can view all the details via my Pinterest Idea Pin here.
For the Adults: Winter Farmhouse Style Decorations
Create beautiful farmhouse style decor for your home with these easy tips. These projects are great for teenagers and adults, and look great year after year. Read the entire post here.
Even More Great Crafts and Activities Coming Soon!!!
In the meantime, be sure to check out my Pinterest for even more great ideas from around the web!
Ghost Themed Activities, Free Printables, Crafts, and More!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in the program supports my small business, and comes at no added cost to you. You can learn more here.
We have a new addition to our season library: Ten Timid Ghosts, by Jennifer O'Connell. This book tells the story of 10 ghosts in their haunted house, and an unwelcome visitor. It is perfect for teaching little ones counting skills, and unlike many number books, counts backwards.
We have enjoyed reading it again and again. To keep the fun going, here are some great activities to pair with the book! Whether your are looking for a homeschool learning unit, a preschool class theme, or just a way to keep your child occupied and learning during days at home, this list has something for everyone!
Tissue Paper Ghosts (On Paper)
This activity is simple, easy, and perfect for little hands (though big hands can help make it even flashier of a project). Using construction paper, glue, and white tissue paper, have your child form "ghosts" and glue them to the background. You can also use child friendly paint and more construction paper to put together a background scene!
3D Ghosts (Coming Soon!)
Using a plastic bottle or milk jug, tissue paper, a hot glue gun, and black paint, you can easily create a spooky ghost! Or, use a milk jug and a permanent marker. You can add battery operated lights to either, making them fun evening decorations for Halloween!
Stay tuned for the entire craft, with detailed instructions!
Ghost Sensory Activities
Shaving Cream Ghosts
Print the free instant download (below), laminate it, and grab your shaving cream.... it is the easiest sensory activity you can find!
Ghost Sensory Bin (Coming Soon!)
Use dried black beans, some small toy pumpkins (easy to find at the Dollar Store or online), and add large, stretched cotton balls for your "ghosts" (you can also create more elaborate ghosts by gluing a few together and adding googley eyes). Throw in some cups, tongs, and serving spoons, and you have a great sensory activity)
Play Dough Ghosts (Coming Soon!)
Use white and black play dough to create adorable ghosts. Add googley eyes when dry (using a hot glue gun) for even more fun!
Free with Subscription for a Limited Time!
Grab your free 10 Timid Ghosts PDF today, before this offer disappears!
This activity book has 16 pages of fun and learning for your preschooler! Coloring pages, puzzles, counting activities, same/different activities, vocabulary tracing, and more! But don't wait to subscribe! This activity book is being added to my upcoming storefront soon, and will be removed from the free library.
Available for Instant Download
Use this free printable as a coloring page, laminate for use as a sensory mat, or laminate and use to practice tracing and coloring again and again!
More Great Book Recommendations!
If you love 10 Timid Ghosts, check out my list offavorite seasonal books for preschoolers!
More Seasonal Content
Also be sure to check out these great seasonal activities this fall!
SAVE OR SHARE!
Grab my little one's recommendations for awesome fall books for preschoolers (and toddlers/early elementary students), plus corresponding activities,. here!
Grab your free fall color awareness and counting printables on my exclusive parenting group!
What will you find in this latest release?
How can you download these free fall printables?
Simply join The Mindfully Scientific Caregivers Group on Facebook! The group is 100% free, and a great place to connect with other mindful and evidence based parents. Plus, I regularly release new printables there, and it is a great place to stay updated on what is happening on the blog without having to check your emails!
What age are these activities for?
These free fall activities are great for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners, though older children may also enjoy the iSpy activities.
Free Instant Download!
Not interested in joining? Check out this mini activity book; 5 pages of free printables for instant download. Your preschooler or kindergartener will love coloring, practicing their writing, or learning to count with these worksheets. They can be used digitally, or printed.
Disclaimer: By downloading the following workbook, you agree to no reproduce without explicit written permission from The Mindfully Scientific Mama.
Find even more fun and educational activities for your toddler, preschooler, or elementary age child!
Check out these great seasonal educational activities, crafts, and printables... all 100% free!
The books discussed in this post were gifted to me by Jolie Canoli for the purpose of review. All opinions are entirely my own!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. Commissions earned help support my small business, and my participation in the program comes at no added cost to you. You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
The school year is dragging on, and yet, it is almost over for many students. Virtual learning is just not quite as effective as in person learning, is it? Even if your child is going to school in person, they may be missing quite a few days due to the current circumstances. Especially for very young children, reinforcing the basic foundational skills they learn at school has become all the more essential.
Enter Jolie Canoli Phonics!
If you are looking for a supplement to school based reading instruction for your preschooler, kindergartener, or even early elementary student, these books are an amazing resource. They are also great for families looking to give their children a head start on the foundations of fluent English reading. As I’ve previously shared, literacy science indicates five critical areas of reading instruction, and phonemic awareness and phonics (together making up the larger category of phonological awareness) are two key areas to focus attention on early during reading development (National Reading Panel, 2000). I’ve also noted that many kids’ books and programs do not adequately promote development of critical phonological awareness strategies. Given this fact, I am happy to add Jolie Canoli texts to the list of books that I can enthusiastically endorse as using effective letter sound mapping strategies. Plus, these books have the added benefit of promoting decoding/carry over of skills.
Each text starts with an introduction for parents and caregivers. Essentially serving as a crash course in the basics of how to use the text and concepts of reading and reading instruction, these brief instructions are in simple language that even those without a degree in education can easily retain. But they don’t just focus on speech sounds. Both books in the phonics series offer prompts for how to write each letter. This is the only widely available phonics/alphabet book series I’ve found with that feature, setting them apart from competitors.
About the Alphabet Book
In the alphabet book, the text is presented in rhyming form, and ties the grapheme characters into the story seamlessly. Onomatopoeia is used as a device to help children further understand the sounds that letters make. Phonemes are repeated multiple times in different words, as well as different places within the words. The author also provides fun rules for letters that have multiple phonemes to help children understand where a letter might make one sound or another (my noting this inherently means she also spends time focusing on the fact that different letters can make many different sounds in the first place; one example is the hard and soft G that many books neglect to explicitly address).
Periodic check ins provide an opportunity for children to practice blending/decording using the phonemes and graphemes they have just reviewed. As I’ve previously noted, decoding/word segmentation is a critical skill associated with later reading fluency (eg. Muter, 1998; Hjetland, et al., 2017). While it is not the primary focus of the text, the introduction to blending/decoding practice is a fantastic addition that many children’s alphabet books neglect.
About the Vowels Book
The vowels book pairs with a song by the author, available for download on her webpage. Like the alphabet book, the vowels text reviews the multitude of sounds each letter can make, in a variety of places within the words, and introduces phonics rules in rhyming form. The characters each letter becomes also helps indicate to readers what sound each respective letter makes (e.g. up vs. unicorn for the letter u). Like the alphabet book, the pages are colorful, fun, and interactive.
While there are no major drawbacks within these texts, there were two areas where I could see some minor room for improvement. Both were in the alphabet book, and the first can easily be addressed by using the vowels text in addition to the alphabet book. This was that the letter A was not addressed using one of the most common sounds it makes; a as in apple. Instead the author uses the word ant for the short a sound, and a in acorn for the long a sound. As a former educator training in the Wilson school of phonics instruction (a methodology supported by extensive research), I would much prefer the boring a for apple over a for ant. [Note: I am not in any way sponsored or affiliated with Wilson; I am simply a major proponent of their method). That said, this is not something I see as a major problem with the alphabet book given the audience is parents and their children rather than teachers involved in early reading instruction, and the vowels text does address the matter further. The second critique I had of the alphabet book was that one of the blending practice words used a double e (which makes a long e sound), despite not explicitly covering this concept. However, this is a children’s book we are discussing here, not a curriculum package (reference my audience comment prior). I am not horribly concerned as a result!
These books get a definite recommendation from me! I am pleased to add them to my child’s library, and would certainly encourage other parents to do the same! They are fun, engaging, and importantly, have content presented in a way I believe would aid in the development of early reading skills*.
Where can you find the books?
Other books by the author
*I say believe because, as a scientist reviewing a program not supported by science, I am incapable of drawing causal claims. That said, these are children’s books, not a curriculum program, and as such, there is no necessity to support the books with scientific studies.
Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, check out these great books and activities! They are perfect for both homeschooling families, and those just looking for themed activities.
Classic Handprint Turkey
If you grew up in the United States, you almost certainly have memories of doing handprint turkeys around Thanksgiving. The concept is simple; trace your hand, then add a beak and some legs. Voila! You have a turkey!
As a mommy blogger, of course I have to give my own take on the project!
The core concept remains the same, but I've added a few flairs of my own. Here is my take on the classic handprint turkey craft!
What you will need:
How to make your turkeys:
And that's it! Want to elaborate on this activity, or dress it up some? Try these great modifications:
No subscription needed for these great coloring pages!
Create a family gratitude list or journal! You can do this in several ways. One is to use a nice journal or notebook, and add entries each day with what each family member is grateful for. Younger children can add drawings to the book. Another option is to create a scrapbook of collages with what each family member is grateful for. An alternate form of this activity is to have your child create a gratitude collage by printing pictures of things that symbolize what they are grateful for, and gluing them on paper. Older children can also add captions or printed words to their collages. Finally, you can also use my gratitude journal printables and put them in a binder using page protectors or just a 3 hole punch.
If you are a newsletter subscriber, be sure to check out the Thanksgiving folder for some great new printables! Included are some velcro activities (I used them to make a Thanksgiving binder book game; you can get instructions on how to make one here), a counting worksheet, and gratitude journaling pages for the entire family!
Great Read: I am Thankful
I am Thankful is a new seasonal favorite in our home this year (both me and my child love it!). Featuring a diverse cast of characters, this relatable story discusses the many things children may experience as Thanksgiving traditions, and the many things (and people) they may be grateful for. The book also contains a variety of activities you can do.
Other Highly Rated Thanksgiving Books Your Child Might Like!
Create Your Own Parade Floats
Using materials of your choice (boxes, plastic bottles, paper, pom poms, sequins, toys, balloons, etc.), create parade floats and put on your own Thanksgiving Parade around the house!
Baking is one of my favorite activities to do as a family, and Thanksgiving baking is no different. Check out some of my favorite recipes, or use your own!
I'll be sharing even more soon!
Even More Ideas!
I love this turkey building activity from Beary Sweet Home. There are also tons of recommendations for other activities, books, and printables!
I also love this turkey weaving activity from The Growing Creatives (you can also find it pinned on my Pinterest).
You can also find a bunch of great activities on Amazon. Here are a few highly rated options your kids may love!
Want even more ideas? Be sure to check out my Pinterest account! I have tons of Thanksgiving and autumn ideas from other bloggers across a number of different boards. And stay tuned to my blog; I will be adding more activities soon!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can learn more about my participation in this program here.
For our homeschooling letter W theme, I picked the seasonally appropriate word 'witch'. And what better book to celebrate Halloween and discuss the concept of witches than 'Room on the Broom'. This adorable picture book discusses the themes of kindness and friendship, as a witch is helped by a series of new pals, who she (in return) allows to join her and her cat on their adventures. But that is just the start of how these new friends help one another on a particularly stormy autumn evening! I'll not give spoiler, but I will provide you access to some of the awesome activities I developed (or in some cases, collected) just for this book!
Room on the Broom Velcro Activity
As you read the book, you can use this velcro activity to help children track what is happening in the story. Have your child pick out the appropriate pieces, removing them or adding them to the velcro board. The activity is a great, hands on, visual aid for comprehension.
You can find this activity in my free subscriber's resource library.
Room on the Broom Videos
My little one has been enjoying watching this cute Room on the Broom cartoon on YouTube. It pairs imagery with the classic book text, read out loud. (Please note, the following video became unavailable. I am searching for a new version, and will add that when I find one!)
VIDEO UNAVAILABLE TEMPORARILY
A second fun version reads the book outloud as a song, with video graphics!
Witch Themed Coloring Pages; Letter W Coloring Page
I'm making a few of these pages available for immediate download. The rest are available in my subscriber's only resource library.
For immediate download:
And for those who have subscribed to the library, check out the newest addition to coloring pages! The letter W page is already uploaded there.
Witch Matching Velcro Activity
Another subscriber's resource library exclusive, I added this activity to my busy book for independent play and learning. Simple laminate two copies, cut out the shapes from one copy, and add velcro to make your own. You can also have your child color the pages prior to laminating (for extra fun).
Witch's Hat Craft
What you'll need:
This activity is super simple! Just cut out a witch's had shape (use the stencil below)- use one plate/piece of paper for the triangle shape, and one to make a flattened oval. Glue them into the shape of a hat, and then decorate!
If you want to make a band, simple place the hat on your child's forehead, use the paper or twine and measure the circumference, and then tie or glue to the hat! Make sure to leave room for your child to pull the hat on and off, though.
Magical Mud Sensory Play
Making magical mud is easy. It is just ooblek! If you've not made it before, the recipe is easy, and uses ingredients you probably already have in house:
That's it! You'll need a 2:1 ratio, so 1 cup of cornstarch for 1/2 cup of water (or whatever sized batch you'd like)
Want to make it extra 'muddy'? Just add food dye; you'll want to add all the colors to make a nice, gunky, brown color.
Then, let your kids play! If you'd like, you can let them cover animals in the ooblek, too (just like the animals cover themselves in mud in the book).
The great thing about ooblek is it really does seem magical. Defying the boundary between solids and liquids, this amazing activity is bound to get your kids thinking.
Witch's Brew Sensory Play
This one isn't my activity, but head over to Tot School Resources for their Spooky Witch's Brew Science Experiment. It is a perfect complement to my Room on the Broom activities!
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Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. You can learn more here.
Pumpkins might be one of my favorite parts of fall. So I've had a lot of fun designing pumpkin activities for my little one!
Since I've been doing an alphabet themed month this September, I fit the pumpkin activities shared here in with the letters C (counting), F (fall), J (jack o lantern), P (pumpkin), O (orange), S (shapes) and T (teal.... we are a food allergy family, after all!).
10 Little Pumpkins
Counting/One to One Correspondence Activity
For our 10 Little Pumpkins activity we read 10 Little Pumpkins, and each time a new pumpkin was discussed in the story, added a pumpkin to our velcro board. At the end, when the "10 little pumpkins [roll] out of sight" we removed them all. You can find the printable for the velcro activity in the Resource Library, and the book (plus supplies to make the velcro activity) using the links below.
Older children can also use the velcro activity for counting; just ask them to place a specific number of pumpkins on the velcro board.
Jack O Lantern Faces
Shape Activity and Craft
What you need:
Before doing this activity, we watched a great musical video from Sesame Street about all the shapes you can use to make a jack o lantern face. You can find that here.
Start the craft by painting the paper plate orange. Once dry, your child can glue shapes of their choice onto their 'pumpkin'. To make this a shape recognition activity, you can do the following:
Letter P for Pumpkin
Letter Recognition Activity and Coloring Pages
You can find these activities in the Resource Library! To create the velcro activities seen above, be sure to check out the supplies recommended for the 10 Little Pumpkins activity above.
Teal Pumpkin Paper Plate Project
What you need:
Cut out a stem from one paper plate. Paint brown. Paint the remaining two plates teal. Allow all pieces to dry. Then staple or glue two paper plates together, and then add the stem to the top.
Add a Teal Pumpkin Project message if desired (you can even have your children write why the Teal Pumpkin Project matters to them and glue it to the center).
Baking Pumpkin Muffins
What toddler doesn't love helping with baking! To celebrate the first day of fall, we baked pumpkin muffins using one of my favorite recipes (you can find that here). Baking helps children develop motor skills (pouring, mixing), teach about measuring and following directions, and helps teach cause and effect.
We also used it as a sensory activity by taste testing some of the ingredients (specifically the pumpkin puree, a tiny bit of sugar, and the orange juice, since my child doesn't drink juice yet).
Pumpkin Activities We Have Planned For Later This Fall:
Pumpkin season has just barely begun! We have tons more pumpkin activities planned for this fall. Here are a few:
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And be sure to check out other great activities here!
What you will need:
Pour water into ice cube trays. Add food dye of your choice and mix. Freeze until solid. Remove the colors you want from the trays, place on paper or other painting surface, and let the fun begin!
Looking to make the activity educational, too?
Have your child use the color mixing log and/or guide (see resource library) to predict what colors mixing will result in, add up how many drops of each color it takes to make a new color (and how many drops each cube has total), and ask them to label (and, if capable, write) the color words they are discussing. You can also have your child describe (verbally or in writing) the sensory experience of painting with the ice cubes.
Want access to the color mixing guide and log? Be sure to subscribe to my free resource library to get this, and many other great printables for you and your children.
May 2020 (Prior to 5/31)
Find more recipes, product recommendations, activities, and more!
View my author page for Westchester County Mom here.
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