Category Archives: Fun with Toddlers series

Fun with Toddlers: Farm Theme

IMG_20140905_145903210Here’s a collection of fun farm-themed activities for toddlers and preschoolers.

Outings to Go On

Take your child to a farm park or petting zoo to see and interact with animals up close and in person. Click here for options in the Seattle/Bellevue area. In the fall, go to the fair! (state fair, county fair, etc.)

Take your child to u-pick farms. (Look here for listings of farms in the U.S., Canada, and more.) In Washington state, we pick berries June through September, apples in September and October, pumpkins in October, and more. Or join a CSA: Community Supported Agriculture farm that allows you to visit the farm.

Game to Play

Animal Sounds. Show your child pictures of animals, and teach your child animal sounds. Then ask your child “what noise does a cow make?” Praise them when they say moo. And so on. Children can often make recognizable animal sounds before they have much language, so it’s a fun way to see how much your child really understands. If you want your child to speak multiple languages, ask the question in other languages (like “Que dice la vaca?”). They will learn the answer is also moo. This helps them start making connections between meaning in the different languages.

Video of real farm animal sounds: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuiwA4Ne_pU;
Fun animal sounds song: www.youtube.com/watch?v=t99ULJjCsaM

Snack to Make

Bread. Make yeast bread (here’s a super simple sounding option) or a quick bread (banana, pumpkin, zucchini…. ) from scratch with your child helping to measure, pour and mix. (Note: cooking with kids takes a long time and makes a big mess – remember this is more about doing a fun activity with your child than about efficiently preparing food.) Or, choose the easy route and make refrigerator biscuits where all you do is pop the tube, put them on a pan and bake.

Butter. Buy whipping cream. Take a small empty glass jar (like a baby food jar or jelly jar) and lid and put it in the refrigerator till chilled. Then fill the cold jar about 1/3 of the way with cold whipping cream. Have your child shake it vigorously for about 15 minutes. (Little ones need your help to shake it enough.) When solid lumps of butter begin to form, pour off the liquid (buttermilk) and keep on shaking until it’s solid. Enjoy!  (See more details here.)

Options:

  • If you want it to turn to butter more quickly: refrigerate a glass marble along with the jar, and when you pour in the cream, add the marble. When you shake, the marble helps agitate (churn) the butter. Just don’t shake it so hard the marble breaks the jar!
  • If you like salted butter, just mix in a little salt at the end.(Or honey… or cinnamon…)
  • If you plan to keep the butter for a few days (we always eat ours right away), follow these directions and thoroughly drain and rinse the butter before refrigerating.

Songs to Sing

Old McDonald.
Video www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oYKonYBujg
Lyrics and Mp3: http://singwithourkids.com/songs/old-macdonald.htm.

Old McDonald had a farm. E I E I O
And on that farm there was a cow. E I E I O
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there.
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo.
Old McDonald had a farm. E I E I O
Repeat, replacing the animal names and sounds.

BINGO
Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mmF8zOlh_g
There was a farmer had a dog, and BINGO was its name, oh.
B – I – N – G – O, B – I – N – G – O, B – I – N – G – O,
And Bingo was its name, oh!
Repeat. On first repeat, instead of saying the B when spelling it out, clap. On the second repeat, replace B and I with claps, and so on.

Activities to Do

animal match

Match the animal. If you have small plastic animals, then find pictures of those animals (in magazines or online) and make “flash cards.” Have your child match plastic animal to its picture. Source

milking-a-cow2Egg Hunts. Hunt for eggs anytime! It’s a fun, easy learning activity.

Milk a cow. Take a latex (or non-latex) glove. Fill with water (like a water balloon) and tie it closed. Then use a pin to prick holes in the tips of the fingers. Show your child how to “milk” the water out of the “udder.” (Sources: see Pinterest)

Books to Read

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. Sweet bedtime book about a day on the farm, that winds down to bedtime. There are lots of details in the illustrations to talk about.

Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell. A story about a duck who does all the work till the animals rebel against a lazy farmer. Great rhythm. Just a fun story! (Even though my son is 25 now, if I just ask “How goes the work?” he replies “QUACK!” just like Farmer Duck says!)

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say MooAllen. Animals try out other animal’s sounds.

The Little Red HenThere are several book versions of this classic tale. Galdone‘s is nice. If you’re making bread, this is a nice tie-in to that activity.

Poke a Dot: Old MacDonald’s Farm. This is a counting book. Each page has plastic dots you can “pop”. I’m normally not a fan of “gimmicky” books, but I think this one is great for learning one-to-one correspondence, an essential math skill.

More fun on the farm ideas at: www.pinterest.com/bcparented

For my full collection of theme-based “Fun with Toddlers”, click on “Fun with Toddlers series” in the right hand side bar. Or if you would like them in printable handout form to share with students, click here.

Fun with Toddlers: Fall Theme


fall
Here are a collection of fun toddler activities, crafts, and books related to autumn.

Songs to Sing / Rhymes to Say

Apple Tree
[Miming gestures here; video here]
Way up high in the apple tree.
Two little apples smiled  at me.
I shook that tree just as hard as I could.
Down came the apples
and mmm they were good.

5 Little Pumpkins
http://wiki.kcls.org/index.php/Five_Little_Pumpkins
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one says, “Oh, my.  It’s getting late!”
The second one says, “There are witches in the air!”
The third one says, “But I don’t care.”
The fourth one says, “Let’s run & run & run.”
The fifth one says, “We’re ready for some fun!”
Ooooooooooo went the wind, and OUT went the light,
and five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin (tune of Twinkle Twinkle)
Pumpkin, Pumpkin on the ground (crouch down)
How’d you get so big and round? (stretch arms to make a circle)
Once you were a seed so small (pretend to hold a seed)
Now you are a great big ball (make a big circle with hands)

Homemade Toys to Make:

Play-dough: There are LOTS of recipes for Play-dough available online. Here’s one I like: Mix 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup salt. Heat to almost boiling. Remove from the heat and add 2 TBS. vegetable oil, 2 TBS alum*, food coloring. Cool & knead in 2 – 3 cups of flour.

* You can find alum in the spices section of the grocery store. Or you can substitute cream of tartar.

Felt Tree: Cut a tree, leaves & apples from felt. Let your child stick them to a felt board.

Activities / Games to Play:

Sticky spider web. Use painter’s tape / masking tape to make a spider’s web across the doorway. Your child can throw things at the tape and see if they stick. Try cotton balls or wadded up newspaper or whatever small lightweight things you have handy. Source

Leaf Hunt. Go for a walk and collect fall leaves. Talk about the different colors and the different shapes, count how many points they have, compare small to large, and notice smooth edges versus serrated edges. Point out which tree each leaf fell from.

Pumpkins and golf tees: Get a pumpkin, golf tees, and a toy hammer. Kids ages 3 and up can hammer the tees into the pumpkin. For toddlers, you can hammer several golf tees in – they can take the tees out and put them back in – great small motor practice!

Crafts to Do:

Leaf Suncatchers. (See photo at top of page.) Take the prettiest leaves from your leaf hunt and sandwich them between two layers of clear Con-Tact paper. Frame (if desired) with a paper plate rim or construction paper, and hang in the window. Source

Sticky Apple Tree. Cut out a tree shape from brown contact paper for the trunk. Cut green paper leaves and red paper apples (or use green and red pompoms). Hang the contact paper on the wall, with the sticky side facing out.  Let your child stick “leaves” and “apples” to the tree, take them off the tree, and stick on again. Inspiration

Apple prints. Put some paint on a tray. Cut an apple in half. Show your child how to make prints by dipping the apple in the paint, then pressing it on to a paper. Source

Pumpkin finger puppets. Make finger puppets to go with the five little pumpkins rhyme. You could make them with playdough or felt or mini post-it-notes stuck to your fingers.

Books to Read:

  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. One of our favorites!! A sweet story about three baby owls who worry when mama goes hunting. But of course mama comes back!
  • Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino. An illustrated edition of the finger rhyme above.
  • Apples and Pumpkinsby Anne Rockwell. Simple book that features fall themes like apple picking, jack-o-lantern carving, and trick or treat.
  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington. For kids 4 and up. Talks about apple picking, counting, sorting, baking, and selling at a farmer’s market.
  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. Lots of farm animal noises & repetitive lines for kids to join in on.
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani. Builds on the classic and familiar song as the spider goes on further adventures around a house

Printable handout of these fall activities here.

More ideas (and source citations) for this topic at: http://www.pinterest.com/bcparented

For my full collection of theme-based “Fun with Toddlers”, click on “Fun with Toddlers series” in the right hand side bar. Or if you would like them in printable handout form to share with students, click here.

photo at top of page from: http://artfulparent.com/2011/09/fall-nature-suncatchers.html

Fun with Toddlers: Babies & Families Theme

learning-about-emotions-diy-toyAt my toddler classes, we organize the kids’ activities and room decor around a series of themes. Each theme runs for 3 – 5 weeks. This year, I will be writing a series call “Fun with Toddlers” with ideas for activities parents can do at home: songs, games, crafts, and books. Our first theme of the year is Families and Babies, and lots of my activity ideas tie into learning about the parts of the body.

Songs to Sing

One Two (I have two eyes, so do you…)
Find lyrics, sheet music and an mp3 at: http://nancymusic.com/SOM/2008/one-two.htm

Two Little Eyes (tune: Twinkle Twinkle)

Two Little Eyes to Look Around
Two Little Ears to Hear Each Sound
One Little Nose to Smell What’s Sweet
One Little Mouth that Likes to Eat
Eyes and Ears and Nose and Mouth
Eyes and Ears and Nose and Mouth

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Homemade Toys to Make:

Happy/Sad Face: Use cardboard and paper fasteners to make the face shown in the picture at the top of this post. Spin the features to make happy faces, sad faces, and more. Directions at www.mrprintables.com/learning-about-emotions.html

Family Magnets. Take photos of family members. Glue onto magnets. Let your child play with them on the fridge. You could draw a family tree with pictures on it and have your child match magnets up to names and photos on the tree.

Sensory Activities to Do:

Baby Doll Bath Time. Put a doll and washcloth in a sink full of soapy water. As your child bathes the doll, name each body part.

Games to Play:

Body Part Flash Cards. Find photos of eyes, hands, and so on. Glue to index cards, and write labels. Your child could explore these on their own. Or you can call out a body part and ask your child to find the matching card. Or you can put tape on the back of each one and have your child label your body – sticking each card to the right part of you.

Put Your Finger On… Ask your child to “Put your finger on your nose. Put your finger on your toes” and so on.

Books to Read:

Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?(or others by Karen Katz)

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toesby Mem Fox

I Can (or other books by Helen Oxenbury)

[This section contains Amazon Associate links.]

More ideas (and source citations):

www.pinterest.com/bcparented/family-and-babies-theme/