Easy Puzzles for Kids

Easy Puzzles for Kids

Puzzles are lots of fun, but they can be a tricky toy to master. This activity is a great introduction for kids who aren’t quite ready for the real puzzles yet. You’ll make your own puzzles out of sponges, and then you’ll make outlines for each puzzle you create. Your child will be able to start off using the outline to put the puzzles together, and after she gets the hang of it, she’ll be able to do them all on her own!

What You Need:

  • Sponges
  • Card stock
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Marker

What You Do:

  1. Outline shapes on the sponges. Be sure to create a variety of basic shapes. Squares, triangles, and rectangles all work well.
  2. Carefully cut out the shapes.
  3. Arrange the shapes so that they create a design or picture or some sort.
  4. Transfer the arrangement to the piece of card stock. Then, use a pencil to lightly outline the shapes on the card stock. The card stock is the puzzle base and will serve as a reference for your child.
  5. Retrace the pencil marks with a thick black marker, using a ruler where needed.
  6. Give your child the sponge puzzles and the guides, and encourage her to fit the shapes together to complete her puzzle.

Once she’s gotten the hang of it, challenge her to put the puzzles together without the guides. This is her first step towards doing real puzzles on her own!

 

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Create Your Own Lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

Create Your Own Lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

Rewriting this classic Christmas carol will spark your child’s creativity while strengthening his familiarity with grammar and style elements including alliteration, parts of speech, syllables, and poetic rhythm. He can make it as poetic or zany as he likes. To emphasize the theme, try to think of words that pertain to Christmas or to winter in general.

What You Need:

  • Copy of the original “Twelve Days of Christmas” song
    • Paper and pencil
    • A quiet room so that your child can focus and let his imagination run wild

    What You Do:

    1. If you have access to it, play the original song in its entirety so that your child is reminded of the lyrics and melody.
    2. This is a collaborative project since you will probably want to replay the song or sing it aloud so that your child can be sure to emulate the rhythm and alliteration as in the original version.
    3. If your junior lyricist gets stuck along the way, suggest that she refer to other Christmas stories in her home library for imagery and motifs that may provide inspiration. Once she has rewritten the words to all 12 days, ask her to make copies of the song and pass them out to every family member.
    4. If she likes, have her create illustrations to accompany the newfangled song.
    5. Give the newly written version a whirl together!

    “The 12 Days of Christmas” has been re-worded in many whimsical ways. Here are a few kids books that offer entertaining versions:

    • If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond – contains sheet music for Christmas carols including a mouse-ified version of The 12 Days of Christmas
    • Barney’s 12 Days of Christmas, by Guy Davis, illustrated by Mark S. Bernthal
    • The Twelve Days of Christmas, State By State series, various authors

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Wheels on the Bus Collage

Wheels on the Bus Collage

This is what we will do sometime this week, or maybe today if they get up early enough from nap time.

 

School will be starting soon. That means teachers, books, and a first ride on a school bus. Get back into school this year by taking an imaginary ride on…the art school bus! Use paper and paste to create a colorful collage of shapes in the form of a friendly school bus.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick or white glue
  • Markers or crayons (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Show your child a picture of a school bus (either from a photo or an illustration in a book). Ask her to find different shapes in the bus. For example, the bus may look like a rectangle and the wheels like circles.
  2. Help your child to cut out paper shapes with the scissors. This should be fairly large in size and correspond to the shape of a school bus. Talk about all of the parts to a school bus including wheels and windows. If your child is having difficult cutting out the shapes herself, you may cut some for her. Have her watch you, and then mimic what you are doing with her own paper and scissors.
  3. Have your child arrange the shapes on another piece of construction paper to look like a school bus.
  4. Glue the shapes to the paper.
  5. Optional: Have your child add details to her school bus with markers or crayons.

Extend this activity by turning this project into a photo collage. Choose small photos of your child, her friends, and the family. Cut out the people in the photos and place them in the windows of the school bus or outside of the bus waving in.

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4th of July Bingo

4th of July Bingo

Who says summer break can’t be educational? Pump up the learning level of your child’s 4th of July with this game of patriotic bingo! Before the fun begins, he’ll have a chance to exercise his fine motor skills with a round of cutting and gluing. Use the enclosed template to help your preschooler construct his own game. As a bonus, game play will boost his ability to follow directions and strategize!

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Bowl
  • Pennies for markers

What You Do:

  1. Print out one copy of the enclosed template. Have your child cut along the lines and put the pieces in a bowl so that you can use them to call the game.
  2. Now print out three more copies of the template. Again, have him cut out the pieces along the lines. These are the pieces that you will glue onto the bingo cards. Once they are cut out, mix them up really well! The goal is for each card you make to be different.
  3. Lay out four blank sheets of paper for your bingo cards. On each card, lay out four rows of four cut-outs each. This will give you a bingo card of four images by four images, or 16 in all.
  4. Make sure that you don’t have duplicate images, such as two red stars, on one card. There will be images left over. As you work, discuss the 4th of July with your child. What are these images? Why are they a part of the holiday?
  5. Once the four cards are laid out, help him glue everything down. Set them out to dry.
  6. Once the glue has dried, get the family together and let the 4th of July fun begin! The winner is the first player to get four in a row or column.

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Paper Plate Ring Toss

Paper Plate Ring Toss

Remember playing ring toss at the county fair? Bring that fun home with this homemade version of your carnival favorite. Cut out the centers of paper plates, paint them, and you’ve got rings ready to be tossed! This game is a fun way to teach young kids about direction and number values, or teach older kids about addition! It’s a great creative project to do any day you’re yearning for the fair, and it stops boredom in its tracks!

What You Need:

  • Paper plates (4-8)
  • Black marker
  • Scissors
  • 3 bottles (glass or plastic)
  • Sand, or water
  • Tempera paint
  • Paintbrushes

What You Do:

  1. Cover the surface of your workspace with newspaper to protect your furniture from paint.
  2. Have your child cut out the center of each paper plate. The border that remains will be the paper rings.
  3. Using the tempera paint, have him paint each ring a different color. Encourage him to paint different designs and patterns on each ring. Allow the paint to dry completely.
  4. Help him to fill the bottles with water or sand to help weigh them down so they don’t tip during the game.
  5. Have him use the black marker to write ascending numbers on each plate to create a point system, such as: 1,2,3 or 10, 50, 100.
  6. Place the bottles on the floor, allowing enough room between each bottle which will allow the rings to land over the bottle without interference.
  7. Give each of the players the same number of paper rings.
  8. Have the players stand a few feet away from the bottles and toss the rings.
  9. Add up the number of points for each ring that is successfully tossed over the bottle. Whoever ends up with the most points after all the rings are tossed is the winner!

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Toilet Paper Roll Maracas

Toilet Paper Roll Maracas

Music instruments can be expensive. Sidestep steep prices with this art project that uses recycled materials to create a melodious music maker! Quick, simple, and mess-free, toilet paper roll maracas are the perfect activity for lazy afternoons and slumber parties.

What You Need:

  • Cardboard toilet paper roll
  • Colored paper
  • Glue stick
  • Pencil
  • Dry pasta, beans or rice

What You Do:

  1. Set the toilet paper roll on the colored paper.
  2. Carefully use a pencil to draw the dimensions of the roll on paper. It’s okay if the paper is longer than the roll—you’ll just glue over it.
  3. Let your child cut out the colored paper along your penciled lines.
  4. Glue the colored paper on the toilet paper roll.
  5. Encourage your child to draw and cut out fun shapes, designs, and fringes from other sheets of colored paper.
  6. Have her glue her decorative pieces on the roll.
  7. Help your child make “caps” for her homemade maraca out of the colored paper. The caps should be slightly larger than the paper roll openings.
  8. Put a small amount of glue around one end of the paper roll.
  9. Place one cap gently over the glued end.
  10. Let your child add beans, pasta or rice into the paper roll.
  11. Glue the cap on the other end. Wait for your maraca to dry.
  12. Give your maraca shake! How does it sound?

What’s more fun than one maraca? Two maracas! Three maracas! Help your child make a maraca collection or create toilet paper roll maracas for each member of the family. Who knows? Maybe she can start her own band!

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How to Make Maracas

How to Make Maracas

Cinco de Mayo celebrates an important battle in Mexican history. Although the battle took place across the border, the holiday is widely celebrated in America by people of Mexican heritage. Why not take part in the festivities? These maracas make a racket, and they couldn’t be easier to make…

What You Need:

  • 2 plastic drink bottles
  • Rocks
  • Dried uncooked pasta
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Masking tape
  • Markers

What You Do:

  1. Rinse out the plastic bottles. Talk to your child about the fact that each of the materials on the table (rocks, pasta, beans, and rice) can be used to fill the maracas. Discuss the qualities of each of the filler materials and ask her to make some predictions about what each material would sound like and what it would do if it filled a bottle (for example, “The rocks are big, so they’d be hard to shake” or “The rice is light so the bottle wouldn’t feel very heavy”).
  2. Allow your child to fill the plastic bottle with the fill material of her choice. Close the bottle, let her shake it, and tell her she can exchange it for something else if she’d like. This is a great time to allow your child to experiment with different fill materials. How is the sound made by rocks in the bottle different than the sound made by rice?
  3. Once your child has settled on the perfect fill materials, place a lid on each bottle and secure with masking tape. Cover the entire bottle with layers of masking tape and give your child the markers so she can decorate them. Strike up the music and shake!
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Mexican Noise Maker

Mexican Noise Maker

Music is an important aspect of Mexican culture. Your child can make his very own percussion instrument using simple materials such as paper plates, construction paper and tissue paper. Here’s how:

What You Need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • Yellow acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • 2 sheets of yellow construction paper
  • Safety scissors
  • Green, white and red tissue paper
  • Markers and/or glitter glue
  • Glue
  • Dried beans or rice

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to apply a coat of yellow paint to the bottom sides of each paper plate.
  2. While the paint dries, help your child measure and cut the sheets of yellow construction paper so that they are square and the same width as the plates.
  3. Overlap one piece of construction paper over the other, creating an 8-point star. Help your child glue them together.
  4. Help your child cut the tissue paper into strips, about one inch wide and four inches long.
  5. Ask your child to glue the strips of tissue paper around the edges of the 8-point star, alternating green, white and red strips in a clockwise direction until the entire star is trimmed.
  6. When you sandwich them between the paper plates, triangular corners of the paper should protrude beyond the plates. These will be the rays of the sun.
  7. When the plates are dry, encourage your child to decorate them with cheery pictures.
  8. Apply glue to the inner rim of one paper plate and attach one side of the star to it.
  9. Fill the second paper plate with a handful of dried beans or rice.
  10. Apply glue around the inner rim of the second paper plate and stick the unattached side of star to it.
  11. Allow the noisemaker to dry completely before your child plays with it.

For a little extra pizzazz, tie string to several jingle bells and glue or staple them around the rim of the noisemaker. If the plate is a little too large for your younger child to grasp, then try folding the plates in half and stapling them together so that you have a half-moon shape.

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Mexican Hat Dance

Mexican Hat Dance

If you’re throwing a party this Cinco de Mayo, be sure to include the Mexican Hat Dance! This popular folk dance was originally performed during a celebration commemorating the end of the Mexican Revolution. It has now become a symbol of national pride among Mexican people. Kids will squeal with delight as they work on their coordination, reflexes, and balance while they dance to “Jarabe Tapatio,” otherwise known as the Mexican Hat Dance Song.

What You Need:

  • Sombrero or other large brimmed hat decorated to look like a sombrero
  • A recording of the “Mexican Hat Dance” song
  • Players
  • Someone to play the music

What You Do:

  1. Place a sombrero in the middle of a spacious room where kids can dance.
  2. While the music plays, players dance around the sombrero in a circle, playfully stepping on the brim from time to time and clapping to the beat of the music.
  3. Every time the music stops, players must freeze. If a player is caught moving or with a foot on the sombrero, that person is eliminated.
  4. The object of the game is to be the last one dancing.
  5. The person who wins takes a turn playing the music.

“Jarabe Tapatio” was composed by a Mexican music professor in the 19th century and tells the story of love and courtship. The traditional Mexican Hat Dance can be performed by a couple or a group of couples, with the female, “la china,” wearing a China Poblana dress, and the male, “charro,” clad in a three-piece suit with pants that have silver buttons down the seam.

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Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

Add some excitement to Easter day with a brand new version of the classic egg hunt. Instead of simply playing hide and seek with the eggs, try a guided family scavenger hunt. It will give your child a chance to practice following directions (every parent’s dream!), problem solve, and build critical thinking skills. Design the scavenger hunt as a family, or ask older siblings to prepare one for their younger brothers and sisters.

This hunt employs words, drawings, photographs, and more to create clues that will take your child around the house or outside into the family yard. Make a map that lists the steps to finding each egg, and then help your little one to search for her Easter prizes!

What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • Pictures or photographs
  • Easter eggs (plastic or real eggs of your choosing)
  • Easter basket

What You Do:

  1. Prepare for the Easter egg scavenger hunt by coming up with sneaky hiding spots. The hunt may occur inside or out, depending on the weather. You will need to decide on the setting first, in order to create the clues. If you are using plastic eggs you may hide them beforehand. For real (hard-boiled) Easter eggs, wait until just before the hunt is to begin.
  2. Create a simple map of the scavenger hunt area. Encourage your child to help with the map (without knowing the exact hiding places). Use a large sheet of construction paper and markers to draw specific landmarks such as a swing set, tree, or furniture.
  3. After your child has drawn the map of your house or yard, draw arrows for directions to follow and number the hiding areas. For example, if the first egg is hidden behind the shed, write a “1” there. Next, place an arrow in the direction that she should travel in order to find the next prize.
  4. Create clues. Draw pictures of various household landmarks or take photographs of the hiding places. Number these in order on the back. If you have several children, make a whole bunch of different clues.
  5. Let the scavenger hunt begin! Give her the map and show her the first clue. She should take her Easter basket to the starting point and begin the hunt. She will go from clue to clue, collecting eggs at each hiding place.
  6. End the hunt with a fun surprise, such as a chocolate egg or special toy prize.

Add an Easter day twist by asking your child to create an egg scavenger hunt just for you! After she has finished her own hunt, have her set up a new one that you can try. Encourage her to draw another map and create new clues.

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