Teaching Mama is a education blog, dedicated to sharing hands-on learning activities for children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers. Angela shares sensory play ideas, ways to keep toddlers busy, preschool learning activities, printables, and thoughts on motherhood.
Our last day of school is today! Woohoo! We are so excited for our summer schedule, but I also know that means a big switch in our normal routine. Just like many kids, we thrive on routines. I find it to be important for us to create a good routine to follow in the summer to help our days flow well. Yes, we have a lot more free time, but I still like to have a plan for the day. When you’ve got all the kids home for the summer and it’s so hot out, it’s so temping to resort to more screen time.
But having some type of plan about how to do screen time and setting up a routine is KEY. And starting at the beginning of the summer is very helpful.
If you’re looking for a way to do this, then I’ve got a great free resource for you. I’ve created summer schedule cards that you can use to show what your day will be like. I have a similar visual schedule printable, but this one adds in summer activities.
I believe summer should be FUN and full of adventures and memories. It’s truly my favorite time of the year, so I want to make my kids’ summers memorable. In this printable, I created cards for activities kids love to do during the summer. I’ve also included blank cards for you to write or draw more activities on.
You don’t need to do these type of activities every day, but it may be fun to throw in a few fun ones here and there. Your kids will love it!
Something else I added were chore cards. If I’m being honest, I have to confess that my kids don’t do a lot of chores…yet! They clean their rooms and bathroom, but this summer we’re adding more chores since they are fully capable of doing them.
Here’s how I displayed them in our kitchen. I just taped them to the side of our fridge for each child.
We have this larger schedule displayed in this apple pocket chart and I’ll make changes to it as needed. But for the most part, this is what it will be.
The last day of school is upon us and we can’t WAIT for summer! On the last day of school, I always take a picture of my kids. They may not love it, but I treasure these photos! It’s so fun to compare to their first day of school picture. They always change so much! It’s crazy!
Today I’m sharing my free last day of school signs with you. There are 5 different colors and they go from preschool up through 5th grade. I also have first day of school signs, which you can download right here.
Here is a side-by-side of my oldest (Troy) when he started preschool and now the end of 3rd grade! How did 6 years fly by so quickly?!
In this set, I have signs that are red, yellow, green, blue and purple. I’ve made signs for the following grades:
My boys have been loving these picture puzzles I made for them using Duplo LEGO blocks. They are SO easy to make! I came up with this activity for an All About Me theme and it was a huge hit. It took me about 5 minute to make, but they’ve been played with so much that it was worth it!
How to Make the Picture Puzzles:
Print a picture of the child. Make sure the size is not too large and it will fit the amount of Duplo blocks you have. We made our puzzles 8 blocks high.
Lay the picture on top of the blocks. Cut the picture into strips. I set the picture on top, made a snip mark, then took the picture off and cut the line all the way across.
Continue making strips until the whole picture is cut up.
Glue the strips (using a glue stick) onto the blocks.
Allow time for it to dry, then invite your child to take apart the puzzle and put it back together.
I love this activity because it’s FUN and also wonderful for fine motor skills. Puzzle are awesome for problem solving, too.
My boys loved racing each other with how fast they could put together their puzzles. They also were silly and arranged them out of order just for giggles.
I hope you’ll try this out…it really is a fun and easy activity!
Sight words are important to practice, but finding the time to create activities to practice them isn’t always easy. I want to make this easy for you, which is why I’ve created sight word practice cards. These cards are a way for a child to practice reading, writing, and reading the word in a sentence. A few weeks ago, I created a set that had the pre-primer and primer words from the Dolch sight word list. Today, I’m sharing the set that contains words from the first grade set.
Sight words are simply words that can’t always be sounded out and are frequently seen in text. Practicing these words will help kids with fluency and give them more confidence in their reading.
On the cards, there are three steps:
Read the word
Write the word
Read the word in a sentence
There is a picture on each card, which may give some clues to the child to help them read the sentence.
I recommend laminating the cards and using a dry erase marker so you can reuse the cards in the future. If your child has trouble reading the word, that’s ok! With time, practice, and repetition, they will start to read the words. Reading sight words is just one component of learning to read. It also takes practice with phonics, phonemic awareness, comprehension, vocabulary, and print awareness.
If you’d like to download this free printable, just click the button below!
A few weeks ago, I returned from a life changing trip to the Dominican Republic. I went with an organization called One Child Matters and had the opportunity to see firsthand the work this amazing organization does on a daily basis.
My eyes were open to the extreme poverty, social injustice, human trafficking, and so much more. I’ve been on trips around the world and have witnessed extreme poverty before, but this trip just broke my heart. Seeing these sweet kids and loving on them for a short time left lasting imprints on my heart. I will never forget this trip.
This trip was comprised of bloggers and photographers. We had the opportunity to visit some of the Hope Centers in the Dominican Republic. A Hope Center is a a place where children go to receive education, nutritious food, medical needs, a loving community, and hear about the love of Jesus.
I had the wonderful chance to teach and work with children in the centers. We read them stories in Spanish (which wasn’t easy for me!), did sensory play with water beads and play dough, did some simple crafts and songs, and just played with the children.
This time with the children gave me so much love for them, but also broke my heart. Their conditions for school and living are less than ideal. In one village, many of the kids have to cross this river just to get to the Hope Center.
The adults that run the Hope Centers (called child champions) are from the community and have been loving on their communities for years. More than a third of this country lives on less than a few dollars a day. Some families living in severe poverty can’t send their child to school and they begin working at a young age.
This organization is called One Child Matters and now I understand it’s meaning. There is so much power in one. One person. Just one person is what it takes to start changing the world. If one person decides to sponsor a child for a small amount of money per month, it will provide for their needs and change a child’s life.
In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more about One Child Matters. My heart was just bursting to tell you now, which is why I wrote this blog post.
There are over a thousand kids waiting to be sponsored in Central America. It is $39/month and this gift will forever change a child. Please don’t skip past this. If you are able to, please consider sponsoring a child. We can’t just stand by and watch when we have the opportunity to help.
You can find a child to sponsor by visiting this site.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.
Last week, I had the opportunity to help hundreds of kids make slime! It was awesome and I loved teaching them the simple steps to make slime. Making slime with a lot of children is not always easy, so today I want to share my tips and tricks for doing this with a large group and using slime stations to minimize the chaos.
Our school plans a STEAM night every year. We invite numerous clubs and organizations that are related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Math to come and set up a station for kids to learn from. This year, I was invited to help kids make slime. I wanted everything to run smoothly, because I am Type A and I knew that I wouldn’t have a lot of extra help! It took some planning, but I did figure it out and I’m excited to share my tips with you!
I first had to decide on a slime recipe. I wanted to use this slime recipe, but I decided against it because it can turn out very slimy/slippery (until you knead or play with it for a bit) and I didn’t want to create a giant mess. After making about 20 batches of slime, I ended up with this easy slime recipe.
Easy Slime Recipe
1/4 cup Elmer’s glue (clear or white)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water
glitter or food coloring
2 tablespoons saline solution (ingredients must include boric acid)
Begin by mixing the glue with the baking soda. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of water. Mix in some glitter and/or food coloring. Then slowly pour in 2 tablespoons of saline solution, while stirring. Place the slime on a mat and knead it with your hands. If it feels too sticky, add a little bit more of saline solution. You don’t want to add too much, or it will make the slime break apart easily. I always squirt a little on my hands before touching the slime.
I set up 5 slime stations, using 5 tables in this classroom.
When the students arrived to the classroom, the first table they came to had plastic cups, glue, measuring cups and directions. I printed out direction cards for each person to take, but I also placed signs on the table. (The printable for this will be at the bottom of this post.)
They poured 1/4 cup of glue into their cup. I hate to use plastic cups, but since I couldn’t take the time to wash a bunch of bowls, I decided to use them. At the end, they threw their cups away, so it did make clean up easy.
I bought gallon-sized glue bottles, since that’s the cheapest way to buy glue. Each jug makes about 32 batches of slime. One thing I would recommend is to put down a tablecloth underneath the glue. This table got sticky, but it was able to be cleaned easily.
Baking Soda Station
Next, the students went to a table with baking soda. They only needed to stir in a 1/2 teaspoon. Instead of using plastic spoons, I gave them a wide craft stick for stirring.
For the water station, I just had a jug of water and tablespoons. Pretty easy!
The messiest station was the decoration station! Big surprise, huh?! I had a variety of glitter and food coloring bottles for them to choose from. One thing I would recommend is to make sure children don’t put too much food coloring or glitter in their slime. I found that the slimes that didn’t turn out as well were ones with too much color or chunky glitter.
Saline Solution Station
The last station is what makes it turn into a slime! I bought a TON of saline solution bottles and we just used about 2 tablespoons for each person. You add one tablespoon at a time to the cup, while stirring. Then set it on a tray or plate and play with it until it isn’t sticky.
This was the station I was for most of the night. By the end of the night, my hands were pretty stained! Do you know the trick to getting food coloring off your hands? Spread toothpaste on them, let it sit for a minute, then wash it off!
After their slime was made, we put them in Ziploc baggies and threw away the plastic cups and wooden craft stick. All in all, it was super successful night and the kids had a lot of fun!
If you’d like to download the slime posters I made for our stations, just click here –> Slime Station Posters
Last Tips for Slime Stations
make sure to bring wipes, for tables and hands
bring a lot of measuring cups
try to have a sink nearby
don’t use gel food coloring – it makes hands stain very easily
have more supplies than you think you need – it’s never fun to run out of supplies!
Have you done slime stations? I’d love to hear if you have any other tips!
One thing I always try to incorporate in my lesson plans is children’s books. Books are so powerful and are very useful with connecting with children. I’ve found that using books for teaching the alphabet is so helpful for little ones. There are so many great books out there, but today I want to share the best alphabet books for preschoolers.
I believe that children don’t need to practice memorizing the alphabet letters and that a “Letter of the Week” program isn’t very effective. The alphabet is comprised of 40 different shapes, so it may take longer for some kids to start recognizing letters. I believe the best way to teach the alphabet is to weave in hands-on learning activities along with reading quality books. I’m writing a new preschool curriculum right now that focuses on learning the alphabet this way. I can’t wait to share it with you! (It will be out this summer!!)
In the meantime, today I’m sharing my absolute favorite children’s books for teaching the alphabet. Here they are!
Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray. This is an adorable story about a mischievous dog who just had to get a taste of the apple pie. Your little one will love to see how this story turns out!
The Three Bears ABC by Grace Maccarone is a sweet story about the classic fairy tale of the 3 little bears. Each alphabet letter has a purpose in this story.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. This is a classic story kids just love. It’s about all the alphabet letters going up a coconut tree. But then something happens to the letters! This book has a sing-song rhythm that kids catch on to easily!
Big Dog, Little Dog by P.D. Eastman is a great book to talk about opposites. It’s about two dogs, who are friends, but are completely different. It shows how even though you can be different from someone, you can be close friends. This book doesn’t go through alphabet letters, but it’s a great one for talking about letter D.
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert has beautiful photos and is a great book for talking about different types of fruits and vegetables.
Farm Alphabet Book by Jane Miller has life-like pictures and shows the alphabet all around a farm.
G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco tells a fun story all about goats. I love the pictures in this book!
Harold’s ABC by Crockett Johnson is a spin off the classic story about a little boy and his adventures with his purple crayon.
I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullan is such a cute story! (My boys especially loved this story!) It’s about a garbage truck that picks up different stinky items that are all letters from the alphabet.
Jump! by Scott M. Fischer is a story about a frog. I love using this book for getting the wiggles out and working on gross motor skills! This book doesn’t go through alphabet letters, but it’s a great one for talking about letter J.
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel is one of our favorite stories to read! It’s about a kitty who wants to eat, but all there is is “bad” food. You’ll have to read this story to see how the kitty reacts! It’s also a great book for talking about good vs. bad behavior.
The Letters are Lost by Lisa Campbell Ernst is a book all about finding the lost alphabet letters. I love how this clever story and your little one will have fun looking for letters.
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham is a hilarious story! I know the title doesn’t make much sense, but once you read it, you’ll find out why Moose is for letter Z! If your kids like funny stories, this is the book for them!
The Nose Book by Al Perkins is a fun one! It’s also a great way to learn about different type of noses! This book doesn’t go through alphabet letters, but it’s a great one for talking about letter N.
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is an interactive story, meaning kids get to do activities on each of the pages, such as open flaps. It also is a meaningful story that will remind your little one it’s ok to make mistakes!
Press Here by Hervé Tullet is a great book for learning about colors! It’s also an interactive book, so kids will be doing actions on each page.
Q is for Duck by Mary Elting and Michael Folsom is such a clever book! It will have you guessing what each alphabet letter means!
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins is a cute book about a fox trying to get Rosie. I love this book for working on story sequencing and predicting. Although this book doesn’t go through the whole alphabet, it’s a good one for letter R.
You are (Not) Small by Anna Kang is a sweet story about two creatures who can’t decide who is small and who is big. I love this book for talking about sizes and comparing.
ABC T-Rex by Bernard Most is about a T-rex who likes to eat the alphabet. He nibbles on things that begin with each alphabet letter.
Underground by Denise Fleming introduces little ones to creatures that live under the ground. This book is great for science, too!
My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook is not only a cute story, but great for teaching life skills! It’s not always easy holding in thoughts or feelings, but this book teaches a trick with waiting for the right time to speak.
Mix it Up by Hervé Tullet is another great book for teaching colors and what happens when two colors are mixed together. Letter X books is not always easy to find, but you can focus on “mix” and hearing that x sound.
Y is for Yak by Laura Purdic Salas is all about zoo animals. You’ll learn some cool facts about animals from this book, plus there are awesome photos!
Alpha Oops – The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis is about letter Z wanting to be first in the alphabet. After attempting this, everything gets all mixed up! The pictures are colorful and fun and it’s a great story for little ones.
Do you have any favorite alphabet books? I’d love to hear your favorites in the comments!
Spring is here and we’re so happy about this! We’re just starting to notice signs of spring popping up…the grass is getting greener, the buds are forming on trees, and plants starting to pop up. Last fall and winter, I created nature scavenger hunts for kids and I’ve had requests to create one for spring! So today I’m sharing the free printable for a spring scavenger hunt.
This activity is quite simple, but let me break it down for you…
Just print out the printable, add it to a clipboard, and use a pencil to mark off the items you see, hear, feel, or smell. We went on a walk and bike ride for our scavenger hunt.
The first page is all about items you would see in nature. Try to find them all, but it’s totally ok if you can’t find everything! I tried to add things that are commonly found during spring, but I know it’s not always easy to spot a caterpillar or a mushroom. We were thrilled to spot two bird nests on our walk!
The second page is all about your experience in nature. There are 4 things to smell, 2 things to feel, and 4 things to hear.
We had the best time with this hunt. My 4.5 year old absolutely loved this!
We love scavenger hunts and I hope you will get out in nature and try this out!