The Advantages of Puzzles

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When I hear the word ‘puzzle’ I immediately think of a picture in pieces that needs putting back together. Then I think about logic puzzles, word problems, tangrams….there are lots of different puzzle types I have used with students in the classroom and many I enjoy doing myself. According to Wikipedia, ‘A puzzle is a game, problem, or toy that tests a person’s ingenuity or knowledge.’

Traditional wooden puzzles are a common sight in most homes with small children and for good reason; they are a great toy to engage young children in play. There are many, MANY more advantages to puzzles and, many different types of puzzles that are equally as engaging as those first wooden ones. Here are a few (all listed puzzle types are clickable links):

There are many advantages to puzzles and, many different types that are as engaging as those first wooden puzzles. Here is a list of puzzle types and advantages.
Different puzzle types

To see more great examples, head over to the Flying Sprout Pinterest page.

The Advantages of Puzzles

Some puzzles are great fun, others can be immensely frustrating but they all have their benefits. Here are a few:

Satisfaction of achievement

Completing a task is satisfying and often, the more challenging the task, the greater the feeling of achievement once it is completed. This sense of satisfaction is a great way for children to build an understanding that hard work pays off and brings its own reward.

Patience and persistence

Persisting and having patience when faced with a challenge is not always easy but, as mentioned above, it brings great satisfaction when approaching tasks with a level head and having success.

There are many advantages to puzzles and, many different types that are as engaging as those first wooden puzzles. Here is a list of puzzle types and advantages.

Problem solving strategies

Different puzzles require different approaches in order to solve them. When completing maths, word and logic problems at school children are often encouraged to think carefully about the right strategy to use. These include acting out the problem, drawing a picture, writing a list, looking for a pattern, simplifying the problem, creating a table, working backwards, guess and checking, writing a number sentence or using and using objects.

Hand eye coordination and fine motor skills

Physical puzzles are a great way for children to practise their hand eye coordination and develop those all important fine motor skills.

Fun and rewarding

Puzzles can be used to reinforce learning or they can be used as a fun, rewarding activity. Great satisfaction comes from completing puzzles and this is lots of fun.

Building dept of knowledge on a subject

Whether learning new skills, practising, revising or consolidating understandings, there is a place for puzzles.

Quiet concentration

Some children are naturally quiet, while others take a little more encouragement. Puzzles give all children an opportunity to work with quiet concentration, either on their own or cooperatively with others, to complete tasks.

There are many advantages to puzzles and, many different types that are as engaging as those first wooden puzzles. Here is a list of puzzle types and advantages.

Goal setting

Setting and achieving small goals is rewarding and reinforces the idea that, with hard work and focus, you can achieve your larger goals.

Self correction

Many puzzles are, particularly physical ones, are self correcting. They are either right or they aren’t, so children can work out immediately if they have solved the puzzle.

Skill development

Many puzzles encourage the use of skills that children aren’t necessarily using everyday, skills that are very important such as critical thinking, logical thinking and spatial reasoning.

 

If you have a few spare minutes and enjoy a challenge, have a go at this collection of puzzles.

For more like this, head over to: https://www.puzzles-to-print.com/rebus-puzzles/rebus-puzzles-page-1.shtml
For more like this, head over to: http://www.free-for-kids.com/brain-teasers.shtml
For more like this, head over to: http://www.free-for-kids.com/brain-teasers.shtml
For more puzzles head on over here: http://www.mathinenglish.com/PagePL2P26to30.php
For more puzzles head on over here: http://www.mathinenglish.com/PagePL2P26to30.php

Making Bath Time Fun for Kids

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!

Having a bath is more than a necessity for most kids, its a fun time to relax and play.

When we don’t have early morning activities i’ll often let my son have a long bath and and some watery fun. There are many things we do to make bath time special, here are a list of them:

Bath crayons – I remember having special crayons when I was little and I’ve bought them for my son too. Kids can draw on the glass, the tub, tiles or on them selves and the colour washes off easily. They can draw and scribble, write letters, numbers, practise spelling words or solving sums, play Pictionary, Hangman (or the child friendly version I call ‘The Ladybird Game’), Noughts and Crosses…they can write and draw as they would on paper. The bath crayons pictured below are available here.

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!
Available at Target

Bubble bath – A bath full of bubbles is just good, clean fun! Of course it’s nice to sit in mountains of bubbles but your children (and you) can also put the bubbles on their face and head to give the appearance of facial hair, fill small plastic container with bubbles to make cappuccinos or cup cakes and play shops, hide as much of themsleves in bubbles as possible, scoop up hand fulls and blow them off or clap to make the bubbles scatter away.

Food dye – I saw a friend of mine comment on her son loving blue water in his bath and was instantly inspired to try it out. We’ve had blue water, green, purple, red (not my choice!) and everything in between. It’s great fun and all it takes is a few drops or regular food colouring. Adding the colour and watching the water swirl and dye disperse is a great experience for the little ones too.

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!
Food dye in the bath

Measuring capacity – taking a few, various sized containers into the bath and pouring water from one to another is a great way to develop an understanding of capacity. Encouraging your child to predict, order and test out theories as to which container holds the most water, how many cups it might take to fill the rectangular container etc is great fun and real-life learning.

Find and seek underwater – Taking toys into the bath is great, but losing them under the bubbles and having to find them is even better. Your child might like to search with their hand under water or they could wear goggles or even a snorkle while they go exploring for the lost ‘treasures.’

bath toys rubber ducky bath time fun

Washing toys – Whether its giving a doll a bath or scrubbing a dirty monster truck, washing toys is far more fun for the little ones than washing themselves.

Sea themed toys – Fish, animals, boats, mermaids and pirates are great toys to play with in the bath. Of course any waterproof toy would be fun but these ones are especially good because they encourage small world play. The pictured toys are available from here.

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!
Available from iHerb

Melting ice blocks -In Summer we made coloured ice cubes with a dinosaur in each. Once the ice cube was added to the water it melted fast, the colour of the water changed and the dinosaur was free. You can use ice to discuss the different states of water, different coloured ice and water to discuss primary and secondary colours or frozen creatures in big ice blocks to make bath time last a little longer.

Eating – When babies start eating solids it is a messy time in most house holds. Ours was no exception! Spaghetti was especially fun and particularly messy! I once heard of a mum (or maybe it was a dad?) who put their young one in an empty bath with a bowl full of messy food. The child could make as much mess as they wanted and cleaning up was a breeze!

Singing – I must admit, I’ve never really been much of a singer (trust me, that is a good thing!), however I do love to break in to song at bath time….’Splish splash I was taking a bath, all about a Saturday night….’ I sing, my son splashes, we act it out and have a crazy good time. If you have any great bath time songs please share them below! I’d love to add a few to my list!

As you can see, the bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. What are your child’s favourite bath time activities?

The bath can be much more than a place to wash. It can be a place to play, explore, learn and relax. Crayons, bubbles, food dye, ice, toys and treasure hunts can make the humble bath a blast!

The Benefits of Playing with Play Dough

Playing with play dough is a wonderful tactile experience that is a treasured part of childhood. Manipulating, moulding, rolling out and cutting the colourful dough is not only fun and relaxing, it is assists with building vital life skills too!

Playing with play dough is a wonderful tactile experience that is a treasured part of childhood. Manipulating, moulding, rolling out and cutting the colourful dough is not only fun and relaxing, it is assists with building vital life skills too!

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Manipulating play dough strengthens those all important fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are those that involve the use of small muscles in hands, fingers and thumbs. By strengthening these motor skills children are then more able to hold a pencil and write, cut with scissors, do up buttons, tie shoelaces and correctly use a knife and fork….all fundamental skills they’ll use throughout their lives.

 

As well as being a fabulous material for building fine motor skills, play dough play allows, even encourages, freedom of expression and imagination. Children can create anything they like when playing with the mouldable dough. There are no rules when it comes playing with play dough (except maybe keep it off the carpet!).

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Image from Freepik

Play dough is also a great activity to have on hand for times when your child might be getting tired, frustrated or just generally in need of some quiet time. It is a safe way for them to express them selves and take out frustration in a productive, harm-free way. Tactile stimulation with play dough can be calming and has great benefits for children with hyposensitivity.

 

Children are able to engage all their five senses when playing with play dough. They can see the different colours and creations, feel the play dough change shape as it is moulded, smell the unique fragrance, hear what it does when squeezed or thumped and…lets be honest, as kids most of us had a taste of that salty home made play dough when we were little! Sensory play encourages curiosity as children explore the world through their five senses. Investigating and exploring what play dough can do is, in some ways, even an early scientific investigation.

 

Having play dough available is great when it comes to building numeracy and literacy skills in a fun way. Children can represent different numbers, letters and make sums by using number stamps, forming small balls or rolling out long, thin snakes which can be twisted to form the desired shape. Play dough is also handy for alphabet and spelling activities with letter stamps.

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Play dough is also useful as a tool when learning about colours and shapes. It comes in a huge range of colours so can be helpful when your little one is learning to identify different colours. Primary colours can be mixed to create secondary colours too. Children can make shapes, either flat or 3D, easily with the use of play dough. Flying Sprout’s Tomato Busy Bag uses plasticine, rather than play dough, to build colour and shape skills.

tomato bb pic

Play dough play lets adults be kids too. Playing freely with your child is a wonderful bonding activity and play dough allows you to be working on the same level. Unlike Lego for example, there are no ‘right ways’ of connecting pieces together and any play dough creations made by you are likely to still have a child-like quality to them.

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Image from Freepik

This simple product makes a wonderful gift! Of course there is the popular brand we all know, Play Doh, but I have recently come across a glorious small business which creates beautiful smelling play dough, Happy Hands, Happy Heart. If you’re on Instagram, be sure to check out Emma from Happy Hands, Happy Hearts, she has an amazing Instagram feed featuring very clever play dough art!

 

If you’d prefer to make your own at home, here is a great play dough recipe that doesn’t require cooking!

 

As you can see, I’m a big fan of play dough and believe it definitely offers your child more than a few minutes of quiet play time!

Screen Free Activities To Keep Kids Cool On A Hot Day

I love the idea of sitting under the air conditioner all day and watching movies but that’s just not possible in my house with a toddler and well, lets be honest, it's not ideal. So….here’s a list of simple activities to keep your children entertained while keeping cool on those scorching Summer days.

Australian Summers can be HOT so keeping cool and calm is a priority, especially when the school holidays are stretching on and you’re running out of ideas for how to entertain the kids.

I love the idea of sitting under the air conditioner all day and watching movies but that’s just not possible in my house with a toddler and well, lets be honest, it’s not ideal. So….here’s a list of simple activities to keep your children entertained while keeping cool on those scorching Summer days.

 

Sensory Play

Quiet activities are a great option when the weather is really hot (or wet, or cold). Activities that allow your child to use their hands to manipulate materials are great for the development of fine motor skills, encourage imaginative play and are wonderfully calming.

*Play dough – play dough can be made at home or bought. It can be moulded with the hands, flattened, rolled, cut or stamped.

*Water beads – these tiny little balls absorb water and grow. They are soft, colourful and fantastic to play with.

*Coloured spaghetti – cook a few batches of spaghetti with a little food dye, let it cool and play away.

*Rainbow rice – rice can be dyed a rainbow of different colours with some food dye and a little vinegar.

*Bubbles – watching bubbles floating through the air is simple but always special.

play dough hot day

Bring The Outdoors In

When the outdoor environment isn’t welcoming, just bring the fun inside!

*Indoor forts – build a cubby inside using sheets draped over clothes horses, chairs or tables then make it cozy with cushions and soft toys.

*Inside picnic – pack a picnic basket full of goodies, set up a rug on the floor and have a special picnic in the living room.

*Treasure hunt – write clues and hide objects around the house for your children to find.

 

Water Play

Playing with cool water is the best way to escape the Summer heat but there are many more options than visiting a public pool.

*Paddling pools – set up a small pool, clam shell, tub or even bucket at home for your children to splash in.

*Washing dishes – washing dishes with cool water and plenty of bubbles can be fun on a hot day.

*Playing in the bath – having a long, cool bath is a great way to pass time.

*Floating/sinking – encourage your child to explore the concept of floating and sinking by making boats and testing the properties of different objects.

*Bath crayons – drawing in the bath tub or on their bodies with special bath crayons and soaps is a great way for your children to get clean and be creative.

*Paint the house/fence – give your child a bucket of water and a paintbrush, set them up in a shaded area and encourage them to ‘paint’ the fence or house.

*Wash  a car – using water from the hose and bubbles from a bucket to wash the car is cooling and helpful.

baby hot day activity water bucket

Cooking

If you cant stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Right? Or maybe not. If you choose simple foods that don’t require heat, the kitchen can be a great place to pass the time on a hot day. Think non-bake slices, icy poles, dips, smoothies or cheesecakes. Yum!

 

Out of the house

Sometimes the heat is just too much and a change of scene is needed so a trip out of the house is needed.

*Drive – if your car has air conditioner sometimes being stuck in traffic is the coolest place to be.

*Forest walk – head up into the hills and go for a walk in some well shaded forests, the temperature is sure to be much more bearable.

*Shopping centre – shopping centres are temperature controlled and will always be cool on a hot day.

*Gallery – visit a gallery and immerse your children in the arts.

*Museum – spend some time learning new and interesting facts in a lovely cool museum.

*Library – local libraries have fabulous kids sections, take some time to browse the shelves before borrowing some books to enjoy at home.

*All you can eat lunch – spend a hot afternoon in a cool restaurant grazing on the delicious foods, all you can eat style restaurants are perfect for this.

museum kids activity

More suggestions…

*Busy bags – these are a great way to learn while having fun and keeping cool.

*Stories – grab a few favourite books and enjoy reading them as a family.

*Performance – encourage your children to put on a performance; sing, dance or act out a favourite book

*Board games – pull a classic game out of the cupboard and play together.

*Card games – teach your children a new game or play an old favourite.

*Arts, craft, painting & drawing – the possibilities are endless.

*Stickers – peeling stickers off a page and sorting them or sticking them down to form an image can take a while to do and is often very satisfying.

*Lego – build a big tower, a house or other design. Lego is fantastic for imaginative play and motor skill development.

keep cool art

Dolls, cars, dress ups…..the list goes on. For more great ideas head on over to Flying Sprout’s Pinterest page and look at all the clever options to keep your little ones cool and calm on those hot Summer days.

 

Learning is Fun with M&M’s and Skittles

Skittles and M&Ms are a fantastic learning resources! Not only are they extremely motivating (who doesn’t want to eat a handful of lollies!?) they can help your child learn maths, English and science concepts.

With the end of school, parties and Christmas fast approaching, lollies will be in abundance. Before you think of stashing some away when your kids aren’t looking, consider this; Skittles and M&Ms are a fantastic learning resources! Not only are they extremely motivating (who doesn’t want to eat a handful of lollies!?) they can help your child learn maths, English and science concepts.

M&M Skittles Maths Learning FunA single mini bag of M&Ms or Skittles (the ones you buy as a multi pack) can provide loads of activity options for the little ones. You won’t need much else either, maybe just a piece of paper and some coloured pencils or textas!

Listed below is an activity to suit any of your kids aged 2-12 year olds so add a multi pack of Skittles or M&Ms to your shopping list now, then read on!

 

Predicting – Before opening the packet ask your child to predict how many lollies will be inside and what colours they will be.

You might ask: Why did you choose that amount/those colours? After opening it; were you right? Were you close? Why or why not?

toddler maths lollies

Colour Sorting – Sort the lollies according to colour.

You might ask: What colours do you have in the packet? What are some colours you don’t have? Which colour do you have the most of? Which do you have the least of?

 

Patterns – Lay out a pattern and ask your child to fill in the next few colours or fill in the missing lolly in a pattern. Alternatively, they might like to create their own pattern.

You might ask: How did you know that was the answer? Can you think of any different colours that would also be correct?

 

Counting – Ask your child to count the total number of lollies in the pack.

You might ask: If you had one more lolly, how many would you have? What if you had 2 more? 10 more? 3 less? etc

 

Graphing – Line the lollies up to create a graph. Have your child draw an outline around the lollies using the right coloured pencil/texta. Depending on your child’s skill level you might like them to rule up a proper bar graph, line graph, create a pie graph, label the graph correctly or even create a graph in Excel

You might ask: Which colour are there the most of? Which colour has the least? Which colour are there only 2 of? How many more yellow are there than green?

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Creating sums – Ask your child to create some sums (addition and subtraction is great to start with.) Depending on the number of lollies in their packet, your child may also be able to create some division or multiplication equations.

You might ask: If you added all the blue and yellow lollies together how many would there be? If you took all the green ones out of the packet, how many would be left? If you ate 3 of the red ones, how many would be left for me to eat?

 

Probability – The probability of an event occurring can be described in words (impossible, likely, certain) or with values (1/2, 20%, 3/15). Ask your child to describe the likelihood of particular colours being pulled out off the packet.

You might ask: If all the lollies were to be put back in the packet and I pulled one out randomly, what colour is it most likely to be? What is the chance of me pulling out a yellow lolly? Which colour is it impossible for me to select? Which colour has a 1 in 4 chance of being selected? There is a 20% chance orange will be selected, true or false?

 

Fractions – Calculate the fraction of each colour as part of the whole packet.

You might ask: What fraction of the packet is yellow? Can you simplify any of the fractions? What are some equivalent fractions for the red lollies?

 

Percentage – Ask your child to calculate the percentage of each colour as part of the whole packet of lollies.

You might ask: What percentage of the packet is green? If you ate all the red, green and yellow lollies what percentage of the lollies will be left?

 

Adjectives – Have your child randomly select a lolly with their eyes closed. Ask them to describe the smell, the taste and texture in as much detail as possible before guessing which colour it is. Encourage them to use all 5 senses and create a list of adjectives for each colour/flavour.

You might ask: Can you describe the lolly so that someone else would be able to picture it without seeing it? Can you explain the difference in colours without using the exact colour words?

m&m activities for kids

Tell a story – Ask your child to make up a story from a lolly’s point of view, encourage them to consider what the lolly would be experiencing.

You might ask: What is the structure of a good story (narrative)? What is the problem in your story? How will it be resolved? Who are the characters? What is the lolly thinking/feeling/seeing/hearing?

 

Experiment – Process: Place the lollies around the rim of a white bowl or plate. Slowly add water to the centre of the bowl until it reaches the lollies. Observe what happens.

Before adding water, encourage your child to make predictions about what will happen. After adding water have them look closely and make verbal observations about what they notice. For more detail on the experiment click here.

You might ask: What do you think will happen? Why? During the experiment- What can you see? Why do you think this is happening? After the experiment– Did it happen as you expected? Can you think of other situations where the same thing happens? Would you like to try the experiment with next?

 

Many of these activities can be done with any selection of coloured items such as coloured popcorn, jelly beans, gummy bears, Smarties or Fruit Loops. The items certainly don’t need to be edible for your child to work through the maths activities. Beads, sequins, pop poms or coloured craft sticks are great alternatives.

 

Learning is lots of fun when it is relaxed and especially when it is based around food! This Silly Season, consider buying some colourful lollies for your child to use as a learning tool.

Entertainment: When All You Have is a Pencil and a Serviette

Picture this for a minute. Your phone battery is dead, the kids are getting restless, you've left their toys and books at home and all you need is something, anything, to occupy your rowdy offspring. You search in your bag and find a pencil and a single serviette. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that!?” you ask yourself in despair.

Picture this for a minute. Your phone battery is dead, the kids are getting restless, you’ve left their toys and books at home and all you need is something, anything, to occupy your rowdy offspring. You search in your bag and find a pencil and a single serviette. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that!?” you ask yourself in despair.

Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are a few ideas of how those two simple objects can stop your head from exploding and the children from tearing each other apart…..

 

LITERACY

*Play Scattegories – list a variety of categories e.g. food, animal, colour, cities. After the list has been completed name as many items as possible for each of the categories OR choose a letter and think of an item for each category beginning with that letter.

*Play Ladybird (A child-friendly version of Hangman) – choose a word and draw a dash for each letter in that word. The other player/s must guess the letters of the word. Each correctly guessed letter is written in the correct position. For each wrong letter a part of the ladybug is drawn. The aim is for the word to be guessed before the ladybird is completely drawn.

*Write a story with each person contributing a sentence at a time.

*Write down the alphabet and as many items you can see that start with each letter.

*Retell/write a traditional fairy-tale or fable such as Cinderella or The 3 Little Pigs

*Play boggle – draw up a 3×3 grid and think of a 9-letter word. Place the scrambled letters of the word into the grid and challenge your children to create as many words as they can from those letters.

 

MATHS

*Choose a number (whole number, negative number, fraction or decimal) and write as many sums with that number as your answer as you can.

*Play Bingo. Tear off a piece of paper so each person has enough space to draw a 3×3 grid and place a number in each box. Call out sums for them to work out. If the answer is on their grid they can cross off the number. The winner can be the first to cross out three numbers in a row or all numbers in their grid.

*List as many different coin/note combinations you can think of to total $10.

*Place the numbers 1-9 in a 3 by 3 grid, one number per box, so that the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal sums are all the same.

*Use the numbers 123456789 in that order, add in any combination of + and – to see if you can create an equation with the answer of 100.

 

ARTS

*Fold a paper plane and have a competition to see who can throw it the farthest.

*Play Pictionary – draw something for the other players to guess

*Fold a fairy sized hat.

*Sketch a portrait of the people around you.

*Create a Snap Dragon-remember that old future predicting, origami-inspired entertainer?

 

GAMES

*Play naughts and crosses – take it in turns to draw either a circle or cross in a 3 x 3 grid. The winner is the player who has three of their symbols in a row.

*Play paddocks- section off a section of paper and fill it with a grid full of dots. Take it in turns to draw a small line from one dot to the next (either vertically or horizontally) with the aim of forming as many squares as possible. The player who completes a square (by drawing the forth line) writes their initial in the middle of that square. The winner is the player with the most completed squares one the whole grid has been completed.

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If you don’t trust that you’ll always have a pencil and piece of paper handy or you think you may not remember all these simple activities to entertain your kids, head on over to Flying Sprout’s Etsy store to purchase your own Mini Kit with a notepad, pencil and activity booklet. Next time you’re out with the kids and your phone battery dies, at least you’ll know how to pass the time.

 

Toys, Activities and Books for Travelling Toddlers

Travel is fun…but not always with a toddler, especially a bored, restless one. Keep your little one entertained and engaged with this list of tried and tested toys, activities and books for travelling toddlers.

Travel is fun…but not always with a toddler, especially a bored, restless one. Keeping your little one entertained and engaged will make travelling more relaxed for you and more fun for your child.

It is super important to keep your child amused and entertained while flying, or on long journeys by road, rail or sea, but it also pays to think about what they’ll need when you reach your destination. You might plan to be on-the-go most of the day but in those moments when you need some quiet time or your child needs to wind down before a sleep, having a quiet, independent activity on hand can be invaluable.

You want to choose a range of activities and toys that will hold your child’s interest, are age appropriate, versatile, are lightweight and also compact so they don’t take up too much room in your travel bag.

Here’s a selection of great toys, books and activities to give you inspiration when it comes to screen-free travel entertainment for your child.

 

Educational Busy Bags

Busy Bags are the perfect way to keep your child engaged and learning while travelling. These Toddler Busy Bags are colourful, compact and provide different task options in one little bag. You can select activity bags to target specific skills and concepts such as numbers 1-10, making patterns, colour awareness and threading.

Flying Sprout’s Carrot Busy Bag

Stickers

Keeping little hands and minds active is made easy with stickers. Peeling the stickers builds fine motor skills. If you choose reusable stickers with background scenes, like these offered by Tiger Tribe, they can engage your child’s imagination and be used as inspiration for story telling.

Tiger tribe sticker book My little town
Tiger Tribe Sticker Activity Set – My Little Town

Finger Puppets

Puppets are a wonderful way to encourage your child to tell (or listen to) stories. They can be used to perform puppet shows or as little companions that can easily fit in a pocket. This set of 6 finger puppets come in a handy storage bag.

Flying Sprout puppet busy bag
Puppet Busy Bag – Watermelon 2

Puzzle Books

Activity pads and colouring pages are an easy way to occupy your child’s concentration. If they have the dexterity; colouring within the lines, tracing and completing mazes are small, satisfying challenges they can work on. This activity book is made especially for younger children.

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The Usborne Little Childrens Travel Activity Book

Magnetic Drawing Pads

These are a fantastic, clean, all-in-one way of drawing. Magnetic sketching pads can be used for drawing or playing games like tic-tac-toe. Having the drawing instrument attached means there is no risk of misplacing a lid or even a whole pencil or texta, plus they won’t mark the furniture! Quack makes this compact magnetic drawing pad.

Quack Magnasketch Art Board
Quack Magnasketch Art Board

Lift-the-Flap Books

Interactive books are always popular with little ones. The joy of lifting a flap, opening a door or peeking behind a window means they are likely to want to read one book over and over again. Spot is a classic lift-the-flap series. Spot Goes on Holiday is perfect to take traveling.

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Spot Goes on Holiday Book

Quiet Books

These are not traditional books in the sense that they don’t tell a story, rather each page has a simple activity to entertain and build fine motor skills. Quiet books are fabric, often felt, and stitched to include things like buttons, laces and velcro shapes. A great deal of work goes into the creation of these books so they are not cheap but are a worthwhile purchase. This one is made in the Philippines and money raised from it’s sales helps the local women.

Quiet Book for Toddler travel
Quiet Book by Story Time

Look and Find Books

Exploring all the details in a densely illustrated book is like a visual treasure hunt. Collections like Where’s Wally and Seek and Find are full of amusing and surprising illustrations while books in the I Spy collection contain photographs of many items on each page.

i-spy
I Spy 4 Picture Riddle Book

A Favourite Story

Having a favourite book on hand can provide your child with a familiar comfort when their surroundings are not so familiar. Reading a story can have an instant calming effect and help transition your child to sleep time. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favourite of many children and parents alike.

ERIC CARLE
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Drawing

If you’re not sure about letting your toddler loose with pencils or crayons, drawing with water is a fantastic idea. Add a little magic into the mix with these mess free water pictures by Melissa & Doug.

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Melissa Doug Water Wow!

A Favourite Toy

Taking a favourite toy along while travelling can be really reassuring for your child and can providing them with entertainment as well as comfort. Just don’t lose it!

mini diggers set of 5
Mini Diggers Set of 5
Ragtales - Tilly Rag Doll
Ragtales – Tilly Rag Doll

Wearable Toys

Often when travelling there are unexpected delays or unavoidable queues. In these situations it is not always convenient to search through your bag for something to entertain your child. Here’s a great idea from @critterz_, a wearable toy! The necklaces each include a toy figure so your child can wear their entertainment.

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Critter Necklaces by @critterz_

There are many, many great toys and activities to keep toddlers entertained while travelling. When shopping for items to pack on your next adventure make sure your choices are appropriate to your child’s age, will hold their interest for more than a few minutes, are lightweight and compact and will also provide them with entertainment once you reach the destination.

Activities Using a Deck of Playing Cards

When space in your bag is at a premium but you know you’ll be needing something to keep your children entertained, make some room for a deck of playing cards.

When space in your bag is at a premium but you know you’ll be needing something to keep your children entertained, make some room for a deck of playing cards.

maths activities using a deck of cardsWhen out and about be it in a café, sitting in a waiting room or in the airport departure lounge a simple deck of cards can provide your kids (and you) with plenty of entertainment. Sometimes it can be tricky to think of what to do with all those cards so, to make life easier, I’ve compiled a list of simple activities. In addition to being nice and easy, the activities on the list are educational, enjoyable and provide some quiet time.

playing with cards kids maths

Rainbow Facts – Turn over one card at a time and ask your child to tell you the number’s partner to 10.

Addition – Flip over two cards at a time and ask your child to add the numbers together.

Subtraction – Ask your child to flip two cards at a time and subtract the smaller from the larger number.

Multiplication Facts – Flip two cards at a time and have your child multiply the numbers together. To increase the challenge, you can add a third card (or more).

Multiplication Tables – Decide on a number to multiply by (a set of times tables). Turn over one card at a time and multiply the displayed number by the selected number. Timing your child while they go through the deck of cards can make this more engaging.

Make 10 – Ask your child to choose four cards that add together to make 10 (or any other number you choose).

dice and playing cards Flying Sprout

Vertical Sums – Lay out a vertical sum using the cards and ask your child to show the answer using cards rather than writing it down. As an extra challenge, you could lay out the top line of the sum as well as the answer and ask your child to work out the missing number.

Skip Counting – Create a number pattern for your child to identify and complete. To make this more challenging, create 2 digit numbers with the cards, count backwards or start at a number other than zero. You can also ask them to make their own counting pattern.

Missing Numbers – Ask your child to put some cards in number order (they can use single digits or make the numbers more complex with multiple cards). Have them close their eyes while you remove a card. When they open their eyes ask them to identify the missing number.

Making Sums (also requires operation cards) – Lay out some cards facing up, ask your child to make some sums using the operation cards.

Greater Than/Less Than (also requires < and > cards) – Lay out two numbers, side by side. Ask your child to place the greater than (>) or less than (<) sign in the correct position to show which number is smaller/larger

Making Numbers – Ask your child to make numbers meeting specific criteria e.g. Select three cards and ask them to make the largest or smallest number possible or, ask them to make a 3 digit number that is a multiple of 5 or ask them to make a number with a 3 in the tens position

take a deck of cards with you kids maths activities

Roll and Collect (also requires a 10 sided dice) – Lay a full suit of cards face up in a row. Ask your child to roll the dice, read the number aloud and collect the correct number card,

20 Questions – Make a 2-digit number using the cards and have a partner guess your number by asking yes or no questions.

Roman Numerals (also requires matchsticks or paddle pop sticks) – Select a playing card and make the number in roman numerals using the sticks.

Snap – Divide the deck of cards equally between the people playing. Players take it in turns to turn over one card at a time, placing it face up on the centre pile. When two cards of the same number are placed on the pile one-after-the-other, the first person to yell, ‘snap!’ collects both cards. The winner is the person with most pairs when all the deck has been played.

Memory – Select two full suits of cards. Lay them facedown in rows. Players take it in turns to turn over two cards. When a player turns over two cards of the same suit, they keep the pair. Continue until all pairs have been found. The player is the one with the most pairs at the end of the game.

Traditional Card Games – Play some good old-fashioned card games such as Solitaire, Rummy, Poker, Go Fish etc. For instructions on how to play an enormous range of traditional card games click here.

Your child will have heaps of fun building a card tower.
Your child will have heaps of fun building a card tower.

Build a Tower – Make a tower, as tall as possible, using the full set of playing cards.

52 Pick Up – Drop all the cards on a surface and have your child pick them up. They could pick up the cards one suit at a time, in number order or by skip counting.

If you liked these suggestions, head on over to Flying Sprout’s Etsy Store to purchase your own Grab & Go Bag, complete with an activity idea, extension tasks and set of playing cards.

As you can see from this list, there are plenty of ways a humble deck of cards can help your child to improve their maths skills while they are keeping entertained and having fun!

Flying Sprout's Grab & Go Bags practise maths skills in a fun and engaging way.
Flying Sprout’s Grab & Go Bags practise maths skills in a fun and engaging way.

Activity Ideas for the School Holidays (or Any Weekend)

While the school holidays are now finished for most of us here in Australia, that doesn’t mean we should forget about having fun for the next ten weeks.

Here are a few more activities you might like to try on the weekends to mix things up a little.

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Fresh air, greenery and exercise do good things for your soul. Bushwalking doesn’t have to be strenuous to be rewarding. Get outside and feel the freedom and peace of a forest.

Holiday suggestion pampering

As teachers and/or parents you spend an enormous part of everyday looking after others. Now that it is holiday time, take the opportunity to do something for yourself. Treat yourself to something special that will make you feel good for more than a moment. You deserve it.

Holiday suggestion picnic

Picnics are always good fun, especially with a group of friends and a little sunshine. You can pack an elaborate basket of goodies or just pick something up on the way to your location. Maybe you could go somewhere with a view and enjoy the sights as well.

Holiday suggestion movie
Watching an old favourite movie is a little like cuddling up in an old oversized jumper; familiar and comforting. Take an few hours and treat yourself to a familiar favourite.
I’d choose Dirty Dancing. What would you watch?
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Holiday suggestion botanic gardens
There are so many wonderful gardens and green spaces we can explore. Even if the weather is cold or it is hard to get yourself out of the house, I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy the outing if you make the effort.
I was busy doing many out door activities this past week thanks to the beautiful Queensland Winter weather but also made sure to spend some quality learning time with my son at home. Here he is building on his understanding of numbers 1-5.
 —
learning to count 1-5

Activity Ideas for the School Holidays

We are now halfway through the school holidays so hopefully you’re feeling relaxed and have been totally enjoying yourself. In the previous post I listed 40 things to do in the school holidays. If you have read that list you will have come across the following suggestions and if you haven’t read the list, perhaps you might like to visit it now.

These ideas were posted on Instagram during the week. I love the background and font colours, I hope they make your eyes happy too.

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Now that most of us are on holidays, I’ll post some suggestions of how you might like to relax. Local libraries have an AMAZING collection of items you can borrow, not just books! Most libraries also have great free or low cost activities running throughout the weeks too.

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There are so many things we overlook in our own towns and cities. These holidays consider playing tourist for one day in your own city and enjoy the adventure.

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When you bake a tasty treat in your own oven, not only do you get to eat it hot and fresh, you are also treated to the lovely smells that will fill your home.

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Taking the time to write a thoughtful letter or postcard to someone you care about is time well spent. Plus it’s always lovely to receive something personal and thoughtful in the mail so you’d be giving the special recipient a lovely surprise.

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Camping is a great adventure but if you’re after something requiring a little less effort (& a hot shower) you can set up a tent in your backyard. If that’s a little chilly, then make a fort in your lounge room and camp out there. Don’t forget the marshmallows!