Multiplication and Times Tables

Tips, tricks and strategies to make recall of multiplication number facts faster and more accurate.

Learning times tables or multiplication facts can be a challenge. It is often a struggle for children to recall them and they can be very boring and tedious to learn. So I thought I’d put together a collection of tips, tricks and strategies to make recall of multiplication number facts faster and more accurate.

Usually schools start by teaching the 2,5 and 10 times tables, followed by the 3,4 then the 6,7,8,9s. I don’t believe the 11s and 12s are taught anymore.

My approach is more 2,5,10 (which most children learn early on), followed by 11,9. Then 4,3. After that they will be able to fill in most gaps when it comes to 6,7,8s. I find this easier because the 11s and 9s have some tricks that make them easier to learn and therefore boost the confidence of the student learning them.

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Here are a few confidence boosting tips/tricks to help your child learn their multiplication facts:

Tips, tricks and strategies to make recall of multiplication number facts faster and more accurate.
The original image can be found here: http://www.theowlteacher.com/teaching-multiplication-shortcuts/

2x Doubles

4x Double 2s

5x Half 10 times tables

9x Using the finger trick (see trick below)

10x Write a zero on the end

11x Write the same number twice

The original image can be found here: https://reliefteachingideas.com/2014/02/18/number-sense-craftivity/
The original image can be found here: https://reliefteachingideas.com/2014/02/18/number-sense-craftivity/

8×8=64 – I ate (8) and (x) ate (8) until I was sick (6) on the floor (4).

56=7×8 – Consecutive numbers, 5,6,7,8.

6s are easy enough if you think about it being one set more than the 5s.

The original image can be found here: http://laughterandconsistency.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/freebie-five-for-friday.html
The original image can be found here: http://laughterandconsistency.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/freebie-five-for-friday.html

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It is important to be able to instantly recall the multiplication tables and that is only made possible by practising them a lot. Here are a few ways of doing that:

Times Tables raps or songs – TV or radio adverts with jingles are effective because they stick in our head. Times tables raps are much the same. You can find songs on CD, i-tunes, YouTube or with a simple google search.

Rote learning – Though it is boring, it can be very helpful to write and re-write a set of multiplication tables until they are retained and can be instantly recalled.

Posters – You can purchase large posters of the multiplication tables to display in your child’s room but you can also have your child create their own set to display in a location that is regularly visited, such as the toilet.

Games – Online and off line games are a great way to make learning these important number facts fun. You can practise with flash cards, dice or simple playing cards. Hit the Button is a favourite online game of mine but there are many others that can be found with a quick search.

Real life practise – Asking your child to solve multiplication equations in real life settings helps them to understand the importance of learning their times tables. Whether you are preparing dinner, hanging washing or organising a birthday party, there are plenty of opportunities to multiply.

Modelling using various materials – Creating arrays and grouping everyday items is a great way to make the times tables come to life. Using play dough, peas, beads or toys to show the various sums might help to make the multiplication tables easier to remember because they can be linked to a visual memory.

Teaching others – Encouraging older students to teach their younger siblings or school mates a set of multiplication tables is a great way to cement the number facts in the older child’s mind while also helping the younger child.

You can find the original image here: http://missgiraffesclass.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/how-to-teach-arrays.html
You can find the original image here: http://missgiraffesclass.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/how-to-teach-arrays.html

You can find more tips and fun ways to practise multiplication facts by heading over to Flying Sprout’s Times Tables Pinterest board.

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!

Tips for Solo Travel with a Toddler

Don’t let the thought of travelling alone with your little one put you off. With a few tweaks to your ideal itinerary and some extra time planning, travel with a toddler can be an amazingly rewarding experience.Travel is a wonderful thing. Whether you’re exploring the world or a local town, travel can open your eyes to new ways of thinking, amazing experiences and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Travelling with young children can make small trips seem like big adventures (or big adventures seem like mammoth expeditions!) but the advantages of taking those trips far outweighs the negatives.

I never thought I’d be road tripping through Europe with a toddler, let alone on my own with him. From that experience I learnt never to pass up an opportunity to travel with my child.

travel europe with a toddler

Don’t let the thought of travelling alone with your little one put you off. With a few tweaks to your ideal itinerary and some extra time planning, travel with a toddler can be an amazingly rewarding experience.

When my son was 18months old we headed over to Europe for a fantastic 6-week holiday. We travelled as a family of three for most of the trip but for a week it was just my little boy and me. I knew in advance this would be the case so spent plenty of time before the trip researching locations, accommodation choices, tips and travel tricks.

I thoroughly enjoyed that week. On the one hand, it was like I was travelling solo in that I had complete control of where I went and had to rely on my own capabilities. On the other hand, I never got lonely. My little person was always with me (often strapped to my body), he was great as a conversation starter and he helped me find joy in the most simple of things.

 

When it comes to travelling with a toddler (solo or otherwise), I have a few tips to make the adventure memorable for all the right reasons:

  • Don’t worry too much before hand
  • Choose child-friendly locations and accommodation
  • Slow down and allow for rest times
  • Research and prepare thoroughly
  • Avoid queues where ever possible
  • Make it obvious you have a toddler at airports
  • Don’t forget to pack toys
  • Baby wearing is awesome
  • Pack light

travel solo with toddler

  • Worry is a misuse of you imagination

While I spent a lot of time researching and preparing for our holiday, I also spent a fair amount of time worrying about what could go wrong. And you know what?… Nothing did! Don’t let fear, doubt, anxiety or worry stop you from travelling alone with your child. (You can read more about my pre-travel anxiety here)

 

  • Choose child-friendly options

I’m not a thrill seeker so was happy to have a relaxed time while it was just the two of us. I did my research and stayed at places where children were welcome and provided for. I deliberately booked self contained, modest units with kitchenettes so we had space to play and spend time indoors without the fear of breaking something or falling off a balcony. We also stayed a few nights at a bed and breakfast on a working farm, that was a great experience for a child.

 

  • Slow down and soak things in a little more

If we were all together as a family we would probably have gone for long day trips, booked restaurants at particular times…we would have been on the go. Instead, when travelling solo with my toddler, I spent afternoons walking through the forest, milking cows or splashing in the lake. I also allowed for plenty of chances to have a rest or nap. Making the effort to slow down and look at the world in wonder, through the eyes of a child made the quiet activities even more special.

slow down solo travel with kids

  • Preparation is key

That old saying if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail repeated in my mind while planning the holiday and I’m so glad it did. I wrote lists, pinned articles, read reviews and packed all the right things. I felt prepared and I was! I had all the ‘things’ organised and it served us well because we didn’t need to worry about where to find something, what number to call, what to wear etc. It was all taken care of in advance meaning fewer things could go wrong.

 

  • Skip the crowds

I’m not a fan of crowds (my son likes them even less), so my advice would be to avoid them if at all possible. Booking tickets ahead of time and visiting tourist destinations early in the morning or late in the afternoon might be a better bet than lining up and risking being stuck in a queue with a cranky toddler.

 

  • Airport Queue Jumping

In every airport we visited in Europe we were invited to cut to the front of the queue. For a family not used to VIP treatment this was quite a thrill! At one stage we were at the back of a long line and our little one started to squirm, we knew it would be a very uncomfortable wait for everyone around us, so I sat him on my shoulders and in less than a minute there was an airport employee ushering us to the front of the line. This privilege is reserved for parents with young children.

 

  • Pack some favourite toys and new activities

It’s super important to keep your child amused on flights and long drives, but it also pays to think about what they’ll need when you reach your destination. I spent plenty of time pre-holiday researching appropriate toys to take with us. I wanted to make sure everything I chose would hold my child’s interest, were age appropriate, versatile, lightweight and compact so they don’t take up too much room in our travel bag. If you’re stuck for ideas on which toys to take, I have a few suggestions here.

Flying Sprout puppet busy bag

  • Baby wearing is a life saver

Little legs can’t be relied on to do much walking and pushing a pram around all day is hard work. Having a baby carrier meant I could have my hands free, my toddler could nap whenever he liked and we both felt safe and secure. (Read more about the advantages of baby wearing here)

Baby wearing travelling solo

  • Don’t pack more than you need (besides nappies. Always pack extra nappies!)

Think long and hard before leaving home about what is absolutely necessary while travelling. Especially if you’re travelling solo, remember that you’ll be responsible lugging it all around while also looking after you child (see previous point about baby wearing 😉 )

 

Travelling with a toddler was easier and more fun than I expected. While I prefer travelling as a whole family, I’ll never again shy away from travelling alone with a little one, and hope you wont either.

 

If you have any great family travel experiences or tips I’d love you to share them below!

 

What You Can Do at Home to Help Your Child Learn at School

There are many things, besides structured homework, you can do with your child to help their academic development that are incidental, don’t feel like ‘work’ and are fun for both of you.

In addition to making awesome Busy Bags 😉 I am primary school teacher with 8 years experience and currently work as a tutor so I know a thing or two about helping students learn outside the classroom.

Now that the school year is underway your child has probably come home with some kind of homework that they’re expected to complete. While I don’t love the idea of homework as a whole, the importance of reinforcing skills, particularly reading, cannot be underestimated.

You might find it hard to make time to do anything other than read with your child each night and the burden of homework might rest heavily on your shoulders. What ever you do though, please don’t ignore it completely. Provide your child with a quiet space for them to complete their reading and homework. If spending an hour a week sitting down with your child to work through their homework sounds too challenging, consider blocking out smaller amounts of time. Four 15 minute sessions is much easier to manage than one whole hour of uninterrupted learning.

Mother and daughter helping daughter with her homework

If you and/or your child are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of homework, please talk to their teacher, they may be able to work out some alternative arrangements.

There are many things, besides structured homework, you can do with your child to help their academic development that are incidental, don’t feel like ‘work’ and are fun for both of you.

Many of the recommendations below are suggestions I wrote in reports for my Year 1 students. They are simple activities that can be done in a stress-free way and may be of great help to your child.

 

Reading

  • Reading skills should be supported through nightly reading of the take home book. When reading with your child, encourage them to use different strategies. Help them to read for meaning by asking questions about the text. If a word does not make sense, suggest they re-read the whole sentence/passage to try and understand what the word might mean.
  • Borrow a variety of books from the library. You can check out levelled texts to correspond with the books they are bringing home from school but be sure to also borrow books that are of interest to them. Developing a love of reading opens up a world of possibilities.
  • Read a variety of texts together and at every opportunity. Read newspapers, brochures, menus, shopping lists, catalogues, information on TV adverts, cereal boxes etc. The more your child is exposed to different text types in real life environments, the more value they’ll see in learning to read.

Child holding a open book on white background

Writing

  • Provide your child with fun and entertaining opportunities to trace, colour and write. These activities should help to develop their fine motor skills, in turn leading to better letter formation and neater writing.
  • Practise letter names and sounds with your child by making play dough letters, writing with crayons in the bath or cutting out letter shaped cookies.
  • Help your child practise pronouncing, sounding out and spelling words they regularly use as well as new words they come across.
  • Place word lists in a position at home where they will be seen regularly. Practice reading and spelling from word lists, play games and identify sounds.
  • Encouraging them to write cards and journal entries gives a meaningful way to practise writing well punctuated sentences.
  • Encourage your child to practise writing detailed and interesting letters or postcards to friends and family. You might also consider giving them a scrapbook in which they could write, record thoughts and collect memories.
  • Use Flash cards of letters or common words to build familiarity and help your child to learn sight words.
  • Consider using magnetic letters on the fridge to form words and sentences.

 

Maths

  • Practice basic number facts through quizzes, flash cards and questioning when there are a few spare minutes, such as while preparing meals or during car journeys.
  • When opportunities arise, ask your child to assist you to work out real life problems modelling the solutions e.g. “If I we have 25 grapes to share between the 5 of us, how many will we each get?”
  • Support your child’s numeracy development and number fact recall by encouraging them to play board games like snakes and ladders and work through online math activities such as Mathletics*
  • Practise counting and mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) using counters, paddle pop sticks or beads. I have a large collection of Busy Bags targeting specific mathematical skills. You can find them here.
  • Find mathematical opportunities everywhere; add the digits on number plates, measure ingredients when cooking, read the time on analogue clocks, count down to events on the calendar, look for shapes and numbers to read in every day locations.
  • If your child is finding a concept challenging, borrow some books on that particular theme e.g numbers, colours, time.

School supplies with calculator

Mathletics and Reading Eggs

Most kids love having access to an iPad or computer and there are many great apps or programs that are both fun and educational. Reading Eggs and Mathletics/Mathseeds are paid programs but are definitely worth the investment. Your child can work through short, engaging lessons at their level and develop base level literacy and numeracy skills before building upon them. You might find your child already has access to these programs through their school. I highly recommend signing up for a free trial to see if you and your child likes the program. (After your free trial you will be offered a discounted rate to subscribe, though maybe not immediately so hold out a little while if you’d like to save a few dollars.)

 

It doesn’t need to be stressful or overwhelming when it comes time to help your child with academic learning outside of school. Hopefully you can see from the suggestions above that there are are plenty of opportunities to extend everyday activities to make them richer learning opportunities.

If you’re after more ideas and pre-prepared activities to help your child with their learning, head on over to Flying Sprout’s online store to browse the full range of fun and educational activities.

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.

 

50+ Activities to Make Spelling Fun

Make learning fun with this huge collection of spelling activities. Your child can clap, whisper, bake, sing and stomp their way to spelling success. Learning to spell and practising spelling words has not traditionally been a fun task. It’s time that changed!

Make learning fun with this huge collection of spelling activities. Your child can clap, whisper, bake, sing and stomp their way to spelling success. Learning to spell and practising spelling words has not traditionally been a fun task. It’s time that changed! Let’s move away from rote learning, chanting and testing and learn to spell by using Morse code, creating word searches and writing in shaving foam!

Help your child choose activities to suit their personality; do they like using the computer, singing or food? With more than 50 suggestions of fun ways to practise spelling words, there is sure to be an activity to suit them!

letters on a line

Active

  • Bouncing ball – Spell out the words while bouncing a ball.
  • Clapping – Spell out the words while clapping your hands.
  • Hop – Spell out the words while hopping.
  • Stand and sit – Spell out the words, standing up when a consonant appears and sitting down for each vowel.
  • Stomp – Say each word while stomping your feet.
  • Shake it – Spell your list, shaking your head when a consonant appears and clapping for each vowel.
  • Air writing – Use your fingers to write each word in the air as you spell it out.
  • Sign your words – Use sign language to sign your words!
  • Finger tracing – Use your finger to spell out each of your words one letter at a time on your Mom or Dad’s back. Swap over so you get to feel the words spelt on your back.
  • Other handed – If you are right-handed, write with your left, or vice versa.
  • Body letters – Spell your words by forming each letter with your whole body.
Yoga body letters
Image courtesy of Freepik

Computer

  • Type your words – Type all of your spelling words on the computer or on a typewriter.
  • Spread sheet – Use Excel to type your words into separate cells. Then make each cell a different font, colour, and size. Finally, let the computer sort them into alphabetical order!
  • Type your words in Word Art – Type your words into the computer using your favourite colours and fonts.
  • Online games – Visit Spelling City, type in your list of words and play games using your words.
  • Building words – Use buildings, shaped like letters, from around the world to type your words.
  • Word search – Create an online word search with all of your words, print it out then find them all!

Creative

  • Paint – Paint your words on a big piece of paper then hang them on an easel or wall.
  • Etch-A-Word – Use an Etch-A-Sketch to write your words.
  • Picture words – Draw a picture and write your words in the picture.

alphabet-1223623_1920

Tactile

  • Delicious words – Write your words in whipped cream, icing or anything else you can eat!
  • Clean words -Write your words in shaving cream on a counter or other surface that can be cleaned easily.
  • Dirty words – Write your words in mud or sand.
  • Moulded words – Use clay, plasticine or play dough to spell your words.
  • Pasta words – Write your words by arranging alphabet pasta.
  • Bake – Make, bake and eat your words using cookie cutters to shape the letters.
  • Chalk – Write your words on a concrete surface using chalk.
  • Pipe cleaners – Use pipe cleaners to create each letter of your spelling words.
  • Lego – Build Lego letters to spell the words from your list.

lego letter

Mathematical

  • Telephone Words – Translate your words into numbers from a telephone keypad.
  • Morse Code – Convert your words to Morse code.

Searching

  • Favourite books – Search for the words in your favourite books.
  • Scrabble – Use Scrabble tiles or magnetic letters to spell your words.
  • Ransom words – Write your words by cutting out letters in a newspaper or magazine and glue them on a paper.
  • Magazine words – Use an old magazine or newspaper to find each of your spelling words. Cut them out and glue them on a piece of paper.
  • Define – Use a dictionary to find the definition of your spelling words.

Writing

  • Trace around – Neatly write out one of spelling words. Take a coloured pen and draw an outline around the word, closely following the shapes of the letters.
  • ABC Order – Write your words in alphabetical order. Then write them in reverse alphabetical order.
  • Story writing – Write a story using ALL of your spelling words.
  • Single sentences – Write a sentence for each spelling word.
  • Black/White boards – Use chalkboards or write and wipe boards to write your words on.
  • Colourful words – Use two different colour pencils to write your spelling words. Use one colour to write the consonants and the other for the vowels.
  • Backwards words – Write your words normally, then backwards.
chalk spelling
Image courtesy of Freepik

Breaking Down Words

  • Vowels – How many vowels in each word?
  • Syllables – How many syllables in each word?
  • Phonemes – How many phonemes in each word?
  • Consonants – How many consonants in each word?
  • Swat words – Write out your spelling words in big letters on a big sheet of paper. Give your parents clues “The first letter is _ and the last letter is _.” See if they can “swat it” with a fly swatter!
  • Words without vowels – Write your words replacing all vowels with a line.
  • Words without consonants – Write your words replacing all consonants with a line.
  • Pyramid words – Write your words adding or subtracting one letter at a time. The result will be a pyramid shape of words.
  • Words-in-words – Write one spelling word at a time then write as many words as you can using the letters of your original word.
A letter matching activity from Flying Sprout's Grape Busy Bag.
A letter matching activity from Flying Sprout’s Grape Busy Bag.

Musical/verbal

  • Sing – Sing your spelling words to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • Whisper – Spell the word aloud, whispering each vowel.
  • Sing Them Loud, Sing Them Soft – Have your Mom or Dad sing the letters of a spelling word to you in a loud voice. You echo the spelling and then sing it again softly. Then both of you sing the word in the voice you choose!
  • Song writing – Make up a fun song to teach the spelling of a word.
  • Cheer your words – Pretend you are a cheerleader and call out your words.
  • Sound Words – Use a recording device to record your words and their spelling. Play back your recording, checking to see that you spelled all the words correctly.
Photo courtesy of Freepik
Photo courtesy of Freepik

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.

mini-activity-kit-pencil-and-paper

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.

 

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.
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learning to count 1-5