Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween & Blogging Frequency

Happy Halloween from Sorting Sprinkles!

Adrian and Zahavah picking pumpkins at Jerry's Pumpkin Patch in Litzlohe, Germany

Yes, we made it to a pumpkin patch! The kids loved picking their own pumpkins and it was a terrific field trip for Adrian who learned all about the pumpkin's life cycle this week. Imagine his surprise when he saw the pumpkins still attached to their vine and some "immature" green ones! 

I will be posting later this week the activities Z and Z have been doing in preparation for Halloween. I wish I could post more often but I don't for several reasons. Maybe today is a good time to discuss it...I personally subscribe to a few blogs and quickly discovered what I liked about my subscriptions and what I didn't. For example, I do not like getting a new e-mail from each blog everyday. That's too many e-mails in my already overflowing mailbox. I do not really like "short" posts either. One short post/day is not attractive to me. I prefer the bi-weekly type of e-mail informing me that several activities have been posted. It makes it worth my while visiting the blog. Also, blogging is time consumming. I love sharing my ideas and it's also a good way for me to keep track of what we did, liked, and such but I cannot afford to post daily. I also have to plan the classes and yes...clean the house, cook, do the laundry, etc. All in all, if you subscribe to my blog, you will not be receiving an e-mail everyday. When you do receive an e-mail, you can expect (95% of the time), that it will point you to a post containing about 5 activities on one theme...

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall for Preschoolers - Part 2

Playing in the leaves is fun. I think most of us have done it at some point in our lives. Kids are especially fascinated by the leaves crunching under their feet and so I decided to take Adrian and Zahavah out for some playtime in the leaves. Needless to say, it was a BIG hit and it was repeated most everyday. Before heading out, I had made a list of things to do for Adrian. 

Outdoor Play with Leaves

Action List for fun in the Leaves

1.  Rake the leaves into a pile
2. Jump into the pile of leaves
3. Throw some of the leaves in the air
4. Shuffle the leaves with your feet to make a path
5. Bury yourself in the leaves
6. Catch a falling leaf
7. Dump leaves onto a friend (with permission)
8. Smell the leaves
9. Hear the leaves crunching under your feet
10. Roll in the leaves

Success. Adrian did it all and particularly loved numbers 2,3,6 and 7.

Fine Motor - Toothpick Punching a Leaf

First time we ever did any toothpick punching and it was a blast. I took a small piece of styrofoam, printed a small leaf, stabilized it on the styrofoam and showed Adrian how to punch through it. He did well and was patient in punching all over the leaf margin and veins.

Fine Motor - "Dot to Dot" onto Styrofoam

To show Adrian his good punching skills, we removed the leaf once he was finished and I asked him to traced all over the small holes in the styrofoam. He was so impressed to see a leaf appear! Drawing on styrofoam is more difficult than on regular paper of course so it required extra dexterity. If you want to use the same leaf, check out Big Activities.

How Many Leaves?

To play how many leaves left on the tree, we used dice and leaves stickers. Adrian loves stickers and peeling them off the "clear" sheets is quite a fine motor activity sometimes. To accomplish this activity, roll one die per tree and stick the numbers of leaves your die indicates. I printed the tree sheet using Wallstory-murals' graphic.

Fall Leaves Scavenger Hunt

I prepared this little hunting game one night. I'm always looking for ideas of activities to do outside while the weather still holds. Adrian loves "hunts" so I thought he'd like it and he sure did. We were able to find all these in our yard (not necessarily the same variety but the colors...)
To print your own copy of this hunt, contact me and I'll e-mail you one. 

Leaf graphing

So we collected some leaves thanks to our leaf scavenger hunt and I added a few to the bag so we could make this nice graph. I asked Adrian to count the leaves of each color and to fill in the squares as needed using the markers. The grid was printed from E Is For Explore.

Leaves printing

Once our graph was completed, we used the leaves for a printmaking exercise. Adrian painted one side of the leaf with fall colored paint, turned them over and then pressed them on the paper. I provided only yellow, red and green paint. Adrian made him own orange and we then proceeded to mix the red, yellow and green together. To Adrian's delight, brown was created. Just THE perfect color for fall leaves. Please keep in mind that the best prints are made using a minimum of paint and by painting the veinous side of the leaf (aka the back/uncolored side).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall for Preschoolers

Fall has officially arrived a while ago out here in Germany, but this week was peak for foliage. It is looking good outside and we transported all the beauty inside with fall activities for preschooler Adrian. You will not find as many activities as you usually do though because we were away in the Alps for a a few days enjoying the colors of the season.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; our fall retreat

Making leaves out of fall colored playdough

Kids love play doh but my son usually ends up losing interest because he is not too sure what to do with it. This week, I brought out fall colored play doh and fall cookie cutters (Target, dollar bins). I modeled how to flatten the dough and showed him what happens if I pressed lightly and heavily on the cutters. He preferred the latter and loved taking away the un-needed doh to have beautiful leaves stand on their own.

Making a leaves puzzle out of play doh

Another activity done with the same items was this simple fall leaf puzzle made of play doh. I asked Adrian to cut some leaves out of play doh and to keep the leftovers. I then showed him how to put the leaf inserts back into their "mold". It was a big hit. We did it with different leaves but also made "color puzzle" as seen above.

Leaves rubbing with fall colored crayon stubs

I was aiming at doing this activity with real leaves but remembered I had the stencils (Oriental TRading Co) so I decided to use the stencils as we hadn't gathered any leaves yet. The result was beautiful and Adrian liked it.

Watercolor Q-Tip leaves in fall colors

This was Adrian's first attempt at watercolors. We used Crayola's washable watercolors for this and it went very well. To show Adrian how to make the watercolors ready to paint, I drew the trunk and branches of the tree. He did the rest, including the falling leaves and the ones on the ground. I found this cute idea on La Classe della Maestra Valentina. She has such beautiful projects on her blog. Can't wait until my kids grown up just so they can try her projects! :)

Leaf Puzzle - Anatomy of a leaf

I believe this leaf anatomy puzzle was purchased from Montessori Outlet. It wasn't all that difficult for Adrian but I like to use the puzzle instead of making "Parts of a Leaf" booklet. I told Adrian the parts as he put them in the tray and asked him to point to the ones I called later. I would have liked for the puzzle to be labeled but oh well.

Making a leaf garland

This activity idea came from My Montessori Journey. It's basically a leaf garland, made with a fall ribbon and some silk fall leaves (found mine at a dollar store). I made a small incision in each leaf so they could be threaded on the ribbon. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Trains Week for Preschoolers - Part 3

Preparing activities for trains week came very easily to me. So many things to do with such a wide topic. Here is thus the last post on the matter...

Steamies versus Diesels Sorting

By far the easiest activity for my son who seems to know quite a lot about trains...

Living versus non-living

Enough said... :)

Train building

This activity was a tough one for both *gulp* me and Adrian. He had to move the pieces around quite a bit before it looked right. I printed the "master" from and then traced it on construction paper, cut it up and tried to do it myself. It took me a few tries and it took as many times for Adrian.

Decorating a tunnel

Simple art project to do with a box covered in white paper. I actually intended on having him use several mediums but he only wanted to use the Thomas & Friends stamps. I had also put out markers, crayons and fingerpaint though. Stickers would have worked well too but we were all out of Thomas and Friends stickers. (Wonder who used them all?) :) A tip...Get a sturdy and thick box. Adrian was getting a bit agitated sometimes because the stamps wouldn't "work right". When boxes are too supple, it doesn't print well. My bad!

How many puffs of smoke?

A lovely activity that was well enjoyed. I put out a bowl of  cotton balls and a few engines. I also provided enough die for each engine. Adrian would then roll a die, put it under the engine and put the right amount of smoke puffs above the train. How cute is that?

"Coal" Transfer

For our steamies, coal is needed. As such, it was Adrian's job to put the "coal" (black/grey beads) in the "boiler" (small bowl) with some tongs (because well, coal is hot!). He did well despite the fact that the beads were slightly slippery and the "boiler" quite small. 

Melissa & Doug Alphabet Floor Puzzle in the form of a train

How many wheels

Harold and Captain (part of the Thomas & Friends collection), need wheels I told my son. He then rolled the die and determined how many pasta wheels to give each vehicle.

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Today, I'm happily linking up to

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shapes Week for Toddlers - Part 3

I apologize in advance if some of the pictures do not look too good today. My hubby had to borrow the camera I normally use and as such, I had to use my iPad during some of our activities! 

Sorting shaped buttons

Purchased these colorful shaped buttons at Jo Ann's. There were several shapes in the bag but I stuck to squares and triangles only for this sorting activities. With all the colors involved, I figured it was confusing enough.

"Mystery bag" Textured squares

Hidden in this homemade silk bag were several squares made of different materials. I did not let her look at anything. She just put her hand in the bag and picked one and explored it. When she'd pull one out, I'd tell her it was a square and eventually, she'd say it herself. This bag contained the following squares: wood, plastic, foil, felt, foam, "sponge" and sticky double sided-tape. It really seem to sink in the square shape to have touched all these.

Outdoors sorting of shapes

Z loves being outside and I am making the most of it as the nice weather slowly draws to an end. For this activity, I drew shapes on the pavement using some chalk and then gave Z a bag containing foam shapes (purchased at Target in the dollar bins last year). I modeled how to sort. I took a shape, said its name and put it in the appropriate bigger shape on the ground. She was very successful and loved it. 

Activity extension also liked by Zahavah: giving commands with the giant shapes on the ground. For example; jump on the circle, sit in the heart, touch the star, run to the square and meow, etc. It got her moving and so excited.

Stelline (aka pasta stars) collage

If you can find this small star shaped pasta (Stelline), your kids will not only love eating it, but also craft with it. Z was so happy to see these. They are truly tiny so be sure to supervise. I took out a piece of black construction paper and traced a star made of liquid glue on the paper. Then Z would grab some dried pasta with her hands from a small bowl and sprinkle it into the glue. Don't worry about your child putting too much. Once dried, the extra will fall off. We can't see it much (bad ipad!) but there is also a hint of glitter on each star which she also sprinkled after there was enough pasta. This original was first seen on Family Education.

Shape sorter by Fisher-Price

Mystery bag "Matching textured circles"

Similar to the activity listed above but this time, I provided two textures of each. Z tried to make a match getting them out of the bag. That was difficult the first time as she preferred to just discover the textures. :) Anyhow, I used: 2 wooden circles, two pompoms, two cottonballs, two felt cookies, two plastic balls, two glitter pompoms and two pistachios (careful allergic little ones).

Sponge shaped printing

After cutting some sponges into shapes, I gave them to Z. We did one shape&color at a time. At this age, too many colors/shapes can be overwhelming.  At first, Zahavah stamped the shapes onto the paper and soon discovered that the sponges could also be dragged to paint. As an adult, you may feel like your child is not doing the activity "right" but the process of discovering art is much more important than doing it "right. Z had fun, learned along and that is all that mattered.

Shape hunting in the yard

Cut from foam sheets in different sizes and colors. I spread them around our yard and asked Z to bring me a circle, then a square and so on until all shapes were picked up. We repeated a few times. If your child is older, asking him/her to bring you 2 triangles or the the biggest star is something that could extend the activity.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Trains Week for Preschoolers - Part 2

Trains! More trains! Here's a few more activities we did during Trains Week in Preschool.

Fine Motor - Making a train track

Hammering nails is something pretty much everybody will have to do at some point so this is a mix of fine motor and practical life exercise I guess. I thought using an egg carton would be a bit more exciting than styrofoam, which, I usually use for hammering activities. I pre-cut 6 black strips of construction paper and provided 6 golf tees and a wood hammer from a pounding toy we have. Adrian then had to hammer down "new tracks" for his trains. It was a bit difficult at first. It seems like he was afraid he wouldn't be able to go through the carton but once he mastered the required amount of strength, it was easy and fun to him.

Adrian working on nailing down the planks for the track

Parts of a train

We've been doing "Parts of something" almost every week since the beginning of the new school year. Of  course, trains being such an important part of Adrian's life, he already knew quite a couple of parts but this worksheet made him learn a few more. I had him color the part as he found it from the "color legend" I made on the right. Worksheet is from Fisher-Price.

Thomas & Friends puzzle

We have a lot of puzzles here and jigsaw puzzles are a lot more challenging than peg puzzle of course. This one wasn't so bad though. Adrian didn't need help in completing it and loved that it came in a tin box.

Sorting & Counting tracks

Yes, something very obvious but fun for a counting lover. I put some tracks in a basket and asked Adrian to sort by different criteria. For example, we sorted by straight versus curved track. We then sorted by lengths for both the straight and curved tracks. We also counted them as we went. 

Sandpaper letters and trains

Adrian learned all his letters by the time he was 18 months old BUT, I taught him the sounds only last year. He still remembers them and so I will be working on literacy a bit more from now on. For this activity, I brought out A-M and a few trains whose name began with a letter in between A and M. He then had to figure out which was the first letter of each train's name and match it to its sandpaper letter. The next day, I did the same with letters N-Z and finally on the third day, I brought out all the letters and different engines. 

Patterning with Thomas & Friends stamps

I purchased these stampers on Ebay last year. They were part of Adrian's birhday favors. They were a big hit and still are. I started 3 sequences of patterns on a sheet and stopped midway on the sheet. Adrian then had to complete each sequence with the right stamps. He did wonderful and loved stamping.

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Today, I'm happily linking up to:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Trains Week for Preschoolers

Nothing will ever be more exciting than a Thomas & Friends/Trains week for Adrian. We did it last year and I repeated this year and it was a HUGE hit again. I should be posting 3 different times on this subject as we had plenty to keep us busy this last week.

Air, Water, or Land?

Using some of his Thomas & Friends vehicles, Adrian had to sort whether the vehicle was to be seen on road/tracks, in the water or in the sky. Needless to say, it was a quick and easy activity for Adrian.

Matching & Memory Game

A nice little game of matching Thomas & Friends cards and then a memory game followed. There are lots of cards so I let him do the memory game by color to make it a tad easier. We did all the orange cards together, then the blue ones and finally the green ones but when it came to matching, all the cards were on the table. He loves this game and I'm thinking of putting the cards in my purse for when we travel.


I like this worksheet. Unlike most dot-to-dots, this one has two parts. The train has alphabet letters to join together and then the number dot-to-dot next to it. On top of it, the latter really has to be done well in order to discover what it is and yet, it is easy enough. Adrian worked really hard trying it go through each dot. I had to call the letters and numbers out otherwise he goes straight through and doesn't hit the dots. This printout was found on ThomasTheTankEngineFriends.

Sorting by Color...and more

I brought a small basket of trains to sort by color for Adrian. It's very basic (here it's only blue and green colors) but then I dug deeper into the sorting activity and it also became a counting activity. A loves to count so it was very pleasant for him. We sorted by quantity of wheels, by color, by steamies versus diesels, by tendered engine versus tank engine, etc. Then we had to count the wheels to sort the 4 wheels from the 6 from the 8 and we also counted funnels, whistles, tenders. We extended further by counting the number of trains with glasses, with red stripes and so on. It went on and on. Try it with your kids. The possibilities are endless.

Sorting by Wheel Quantity

Color by Number

If your kid is fond of Thomas & Friends, he probably knows about Patchwork Hiro. Hiro used to be very colorful train before being re-built and re-painted. I found a coloring sheet (ThomasTheTrain) and used it to make a color-by-number activity. Adrian loved it. I wish there wasn't so many lines so there would be less confusion when it came to what is inclusive and exclusive of an area to be colored but oh well. It was lots of fun.

Not pictured but also a big hit was the game of Green Light/Red Light. We pretended to be a train waiting at signals. I showed either a green or red piece of construction paper to let him know whether he could proceed or not. 

More on Train Week later. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Shapes Week for Toddlers - Part 2

Before coming up with the theme of "shapes" for Zahavah, I questioned myself whether or not, this was actually teachable. After all, her brother learned the names of the shapes just by living life fully, playing with shape puzzles and reading some books that had shapes in them.  Then again, Adrian is an intellectual little guy who had no siblings. Toys and books were his life. Z, on the other hand, has a playmate and so she is more entertained but the live toy that is her brother than actual toys so I decided to incorporate the "Shapes" theme into her school year. Here is a sample of some things we did this week.

Cheerios Book

Ah...this book is fun and loved by all I know. It is called "The Cheerios Play Book" (by Lee Wade) and kids must add Cheerios to fill in the indents on the pages. We used the "circles" (Fruity Cheerios) to fill the holes. Regular Cheerios may be less sticky to manipulate though. 

Printing circles with a cork

Zahavah's favorite activity that day. She loves painting and art in general. I squeezed a small amount of blue paint in the dish, put a cork in it, showed her how to get paint on it and how to stamp it onto the paper and then let her experiment with it. I changed the paint color for blue and finally, for yellow later on. She had a blast. 

Turned the circles into balloons with a black pen

Textured shape cards

We've had these cards for a while (made by DK) and both my kids like them. I presented the shape cards to Z and emphasized the shape names while we went through them.

Melissa & Doug's Jumbo Peg Puzzle

Rather easy for Z right now but still nice and simple way to present shapes to a toddler.
I then presented her a more challenging shapes puzzle, also made by Melissa & Doug and to my surprise, she did very well and proceeded to do it over and over again.

Melissa & Doug Peg Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorter & Stacker

Well, there is a lot going on with that toy for a toddler but it's a great toy. First, shapes must be sorted, then,  they must be color matched and finally stacked! I made sure I emphasized the shapes but was glad to introduce colors as well as this theme is coming up. Z enjoys this toy and after showing her how to sort and stack, she did it all by herself perfectly twice.

A last post on Shapes for Toddlers is to be expected as we finish up our Shapes work this week.