Tag: activities for kids

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Are you looking for a fun Valentine’s Day activity for your kids that doesn’t require glue or glitter? I learned a long time ago that I am not a crafty mom, but I am more than willing to set up open-ended play ideas for my kids! Sensory play has been a wonderful way for our girls to explore new tactile materials over the years. This simple Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin combines smooth textures and lots of opportunities for fine motor play and math discovery.

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

As I mentioned in this post about sensory bin storage, we keep a big basket down in our basement with all of our sensory bin materials: dried corn, peas, and beans, uncooked popcorn, and various shades of rice and noodles. (You can click here for instant access to our favorite tutorials about dyeing rice and noodles.) 

I’m usually not a big fan of using rice because cleanup can be a giant pain. However, the varied colors in this Valentine’s Day sensory bin make it worth it! For this sensory filler, I left 1/3 of the rice white, and split the rest into two colors: pink and red. The best part of using colored rice is adding fun accessories like funnels and jars. The sound of rice filling up a glass jar is a wonderful sensory experience for all ages!

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

You can extend the play of this Valentine’s Day sensory bin by changing out the accessories every week or so. We love using heart gems from dollar stores and ice cube trays to practice one-to-one correspondence (counting). We also have gathered these items:

  • red cups (these are our favorite)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutters (we have had these for years)
  • and a stainless steel bowl, funnel, and jar (glass or plastic, whatever your kids can handle)

You can also add magnetic letters or small heart-shaped foam stickers with letters written on them (see video below) for a literacy activity.

If you try this Valentine’s Day sensory bin, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Get four more Valentine’s Day activity ideas to help your child build attention span and independent play skills.

Just add your information below to get instant access to our FREE Valentine’s Day Invitations to Play download!

Benefits of Baby Storytime

Benefits of Baby Storytime

So, you’ve just had a baby! Congratulations to your entire family.

If you’re anything like me, you may be wondering how you can raise your child to love books and become a lifelong reader. When our oldest daughter was a newborn, I read a wonderful book from Mem Fox all about the benefits of reading aloud to her each day. With our second daughter, I realized that there even more ways to bring early literacy to young children: sign language and baby storytime.

Benefits of Baby Storytime | early literacy, child development, raising children, parenting, family activities, activities for kids, read aloud, finger plays, sign language, nursery rhymes

Our family loves attending programs at our library: LEGO time, guest lectures from local experts, and even adult coloring! Our favorite activity is storytime, and it has been since the time our girls were babies.

Here are the benefits of baby storytime:

  • Storytime is fun.

Entertaining a baby can be a tricky endeavor. Baby storytime gives you a screen-free break from being the “entertainer.”

  • You get new ideas!

Children’s librarians are experts in early literacy. They can recommend new and favorite books, introduce nursery rhymes, and share tips you can apply at home.

  • It’s a bonding experience.

Many parents have told me they would love fewer distractions during family time. Baby storytime is an opportunity for you to give your baby lots of snuggles, tickles, and eye contact.

  • You meet other parents!

Becoming a parent can be an isolating experience. Attending baby storytime at the library gives you a chance to connect with other families in your neighborhood.

  • It sets good habits for the future.

Going to the library for baby storytime teaches your little one that the library is a fun place to be! As your baby grows into an inquisitive toddler, you can introduce them to browsing for board books and taking them home.

Benefits of Baby Storytime | early literacy, child development, raising children, parenting, family activities, activities for kids, read aloud, finger plays, sign language, nursery rhymes


Resources for You

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure here.)

You might also enjoy our printable booklist for babies:

52 Best Books For Babies | FREE Printable List from Rolling Prairie Readers


What if you can’t go to baby storytime?

Maybe you live in a rural area without a library nearby, or perhaps you have a medically-fragile child and can’t go to crowded places. In that case, we would love to invite you to our free, online story time for little ones! Bring your baby or toddler for songs, stories, and a little bit of sign language. Meet other parents and enjoy our online community.

Benefits of Baby Storytime | early literacy, child development, raising children, parenting, family activities, activities for kids, read aloud, finger plays, sign language, nursery rhymes
Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway

Are you ready for the winter break? The colder temperatures have arrived in Iowa, and we are making a long list of activities that will keep us busy inside over the next few months. We have our favorite educational toys for open-ended play, winter books, and list of 30 boredom busters. We’ve even signed up for online music classes! The winter months are an excellent time to try new learning activities, like a fun unit study.

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade

Homeschool Complete reached out to us with a free downloadable unit study to try. We love spending time outside at our local nature trails, so the park unit study was a perfect choice! We have not received any additional compensation for this review, and all opinions are our own. This post may contain affiliate links to items that we love and recommend. Thank you for supporting our growing book collection.   

I downloaded and printed off the entire 46-page unit one Sunday afternoon. Each of the four lessons came with a full-color worksheet and reusable resources (BINGO board, hundreds chart, blank calendar, and more), along with a supply list and lesson plan. After looking over the week’s lessons, we made a list of books to get at the library, including one of our favorites: The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks

One of my favorite things about this unit study was how easy it was to print and go. The girls loved it, too! Each day, they asked me which fun things we’d be doing together. And even though we have a full math and grammar curriculum, both my first grader and fourth grader loved each day’s’ language and math activities. It was fun for them to do lessons together!

Each of the four days, we read a library book about one of the U.S. National Parks: Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. We had a blank map to identify where each park is located so we could talk about the weather and landmarks. We also supplemented with regional music from The Okee Dokee Brothers.

Day 1:

Our favorite activity on Monday was learning about open syllables. Even though we love our spelling curriculum, we hadn’t yet learned about this fun rule. We spent the rest of the week looking for words with open syllables.

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade

Day 2:

Our favorite activity on Tuesday was writing acrostic poems. The girls also built a fort and enjoyed “camping out” while we talked about the Grand Canyon.

Day 3:

Our favorite activity on Wednesday was definitely the geyser investigation. The girls LOVED the activity, even though it was beyond simple to set up and do! They have been talking about Old Faithful ever since.

(Honorable mention on Day 3: learning about onomatopoeia. Our library didn’t have the recommended book, so we checked out a football-themed book instead. My little Packer fans loved it!)

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade

Day 4:

Our favorite activity on Thursday was the math lesson on area. It’s actually a topic my 4th grader has been working on in her Saxon lessons, and her math-minded little sister was happy to get to measure and multiply, too. After doing the previous day’s lesson, they immediately understood why area is measured in “square” inches, and they loved getting out their rulers and racing each other to solve the problems.

Day 5+:

Even though this product is a four-day unit, we have more than enough ideas to keep the learning going throughout the rest of the month. Our girls want to check out more books about other National Parks and plan a spring break trip to go visit one.  There are additional activities we can do when spring comes around too, like leaf rubbings and kite-building!

GIVEAWAY:

We absolutely adored this unit from Homeschool Complete. My girls are already asking when we can do another one! It was easy to print and find materials, but most of all, the activities were engaging for my six-year-old AND my nine-year-old. I would encourage all of my U.S. readers, whether full-time homeschooling or not, to enter this giveaway!

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade


Homeschool Complete – Parks Unit Study Giveaway (Valued at around $57)

This giveaway includes a printed copy of the unit study (student & teacher pages) plus all the manipulatives and games included in the lessons for the Homeschool Complete “Parks” Unit Study.

• Parks Unit Study
• Sight Word Flashcards
• Sight Word Bingo Game
• Compound Word Memory
• Student Journal
• Square Tiles
• Spelling Squares
• 100 chart
• Multiplication & Division Flashcards
• Calendar

Click here to enter:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Unit Study: Homeschool Complete Review & Giveaway | homeschool ideas, homeschool curriculum, learning activities, first grade, second grade, third grade


Even if you don’t win the free unit study, you can get 20% off anything at the Homeschool Complete store through December 24th!

Use code: ROLLPR20

 

Before you go, tell me:
How would you use this unit in your family?