Category: Learning At Home

10 Simple Learning Activities: Straw Pieces

10 Simple Learning Activities: Straw Pieces

Do you need fancy curriculum or complicated activities for your preschool at home? Short answer: NO! Simple learning activities can be just as effective for young children, and they can save you TIME and MONEY.

In our homeschool, we like to reuse our favorite materials for a variety of learning objectives. One bag of colorful rainbow straw pieces have lasted for more than five years, and we’re still coming up with new ways to play!


See even more activities for tactile learners — 100 ideas!


simple learning activities

If you are doing tot school or homeschool preschool, be sure to add straw pieces to your list of materials! (Safety note: make sure that the pieces are a reasonable length to prevent choking, and be sure to supervise your child’s play at all times.)

Here are 10 simple learning activities that can be done with straws:

  • Sort the straw pieces by color.

Give your child a muffin tin or ‘chip and dip’ container from the dollar store to make sorting easier. Add in tongs or chopsticks for added fine motor practice.

  • Add a funnel and jar.

Practice counting the pieces as you drop them in.

  • Order the straw pieces by size.

Use vocabulary like “tallest” and “smallest” to learn more about measurement. You can also use sequencing words like first, next, then, and last.

  • Lace the pieces onto a shoelace or piece of yarn.

Wear your necklaces proudly!

  • Reuse an old Parmesan cheese container for simple learning fun on the go.

Your child can work on hand-eye coordination while enjoying the unique sounds of their new instrument.

  • Practice patterns with the straw pieces.

Start with AB patterning, like red yellow red yellow, and then make more complex patterns as your child is able.

  • Build letters and words with the pieces.

Practice lowercase and uppercase, spell out your child’s name, or just have fun making random words!

  • Use the pieces with playdough!

Make faces with them or use your imagination to pretend the straws are birthday candles or something else.

  • Measure objects with the straws.

How many pieces equal the length of a ruler?

  • Count a certain number of pieces.

Add in a pair of dice or use UNO cards to work on number recognition while you play.


See all of these activities on our YouTube channel:

You can also see more of our Activity of the Week videos in our FREE Resource Library.


As you can see from these simple learning activities using straw pieces, it’s so easy to bring learning into everyday play!

Can you think of more hands-on learning ideas using straws?

Why Your Family NEEDS a Philosophy of Education

Why Your Family NEEDS a Philosophy of Education

One Thing Every Family Must Do Before the New School Year

True confession: I LOVE back to school season. I’m all about brand-new crayons and notebooks, clean backpacks, and a stash of unused glue sticks.

Are you getting ready for a new school year? Here’s the ONE thing you must do before the kids head back to school!

Whether your family is homeschooling full-time or “afterschooling,” we all want to empower our kids to follow their passions and use their unique gifts to make the world a better place, right? Ultimately, I want my children (and yours!) to walk into any classroom, any team, any job interview, and feel confident that they have something special to offer.

What is the school system’s role in education?

As a former classroom teacher, I know that most educators want the very best for each of their students. However, I also believe that the current school system is all about making learning as efficient as possible. It’s the reason why children are grouped into classes with their same-age peers and taught the same material all across the country.

The problem is: our children are NOT the same.

My third-grader is going to be on a different level than your third-grader. What comes easily to your child might be a struggle for mine. One of them might be advanced in math; the other might be advanced in reading.

No matter how hard the school district tries to homogenize learning, it just won’t work. 

Quote: Our kids are unique, and their education should be, too.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts and out-of-touch legislation, things are not going to change in the public school system anytime soon. It’s the reason why I work with parents instead of going back to teaching. We are the ones who get to personalize learning for our kids and prepare them for a life outside the classroom.

What is the parent’s role in education?

If you spend much time with me, you’ll probably hear me say this several times: Education is a journey,  not an assembly line.

We are all moving forward every day, but not at the same pace. Some of us will travel on the same path for awhile, while others will head directly off the path to discover something new for themselves.

Quote: “Expecting all children the same age to learn from the same materials is like expecting all children the same age to wear the same size clothing.” -Madeline Hunter

For the past seven years, I have been homeschooling my own two children. If any two students were going to be similar, you might assume it’s siblings who have been raised in the same home with the same access to education and life experiences. And yet, my children are VERY different when it comes to learning.

  • One of my children is what you could call a “traditional” learner. She is studious, meticulous, eager to please the adults in her life, and someone who enjoys working with other children. She thrives off of checklists, schedules, and predictable routines.
  • My other child is NOT a “traditional” learner. She is a deep thinker who has no desire to sit still and do book work. While she does love to read, she is also always on the move or fidgeting with something in her hands. She prefers to work alone and completes her work as quickly as possible to move onto the projects that really interest her.

My job is to help them understand HOW they learn best and teach them how to use their strengths to make the most of their years in school, all while working on developing their weaker areas. If education truly is a journey, I want to put them in the navigator’s seat with all the tools they need to make their own way.

I don’t want my children to depend on a school district, a teacher, or a curriculum for their education. I want them to fall in love with the discovery process and pursue learning for a lifetime.

Creating a family philosophy of education

My goals for my children may sound lofty, but I don’t think the process has to be complicated. In our family, we have created a philosophy of education that guides our major decisions around our children’s learning.

Simply put: we prioritize good books, learning through play, and family adventures. 

What does your family believe about education? Have you ever sat down to talk about it with each other?

Helping our children find success in school starts with identifying what makes them unique. Crafting a philosophy of education and referring back to it at the beginning of each new school year means that no matter the school, no matter the teacher, no matter the curriculum, our children take back control of their learning. 

When times get tough, when our kids run into a challenge, we can remind them of their end goals. We can help tailor their study habits to their strongest learning style and teach them to advocate for themselves with their future professors and bosses.

Quote: "Our family philosophy of education acts as a road map to remind us of our values and priorities for learning."

Create your family’s philosophy of education today with our free training!

Summer Learning for Kids {FREE Printables}

Summer Learning for Kids {FREE Printables}

Summer is here! Are you ready? These practical tips about summer learning for kids will help you set up a season full of fun, hands-on play. Whether you have toddlers, preschoolers, or school-age kids, you can make this summer the best one yet!

Name Your Why

  • Are you a work-at-home parent, looking for independent activities so you can get your to-do list done?
  • Maybe your kiddo needs a little extra support during the summer to get ready for next school year?
  • Or perhaps you just want to spend time making family memories than planning them?

If your kids are anything like mine, you might want to go into the summer with a few planned activities in your back pocket. We certainly intend to have lots of unstructured free play, outside time, and afternoons at the pool — but we also know that TOO much downtime can lead to bickering and frustration for everyone.

Our Fun Summer Learning Plans

Every summer, I like to choose a few themes to guide our family summer learning. This year, we’ll be spending a month on space exploration to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. We’ll also be doing a habitat study about deserts and jungles, learning about plants and animals, weather, and more.

Throughout the summer, we’ll be reading good books, going on fun family adventures, and experiencing hands-on sensory play and science experiments together.  And you can follow along with our summer learning on our Instagram feed!

Summer Learning Activities for Kids

Planning Your Own Summer Learning {FREE Printables!}

  • When I put together a themed learning unit, I like to start with the library. I open our library website and search for books related to the topic. We know we can count on authors like Anne Rockwell, Gail Gibbons, Leo Lionni, Eric Carle, and more. I also like to take my girls into the non-fiction section so they can experience the research process.
  • Once I have a large stack of books, I grab a sheet of paper and start jotting down activity ideas. I typically use the following categories to get started:
    • literacy
    • math
    • fine motor
    • gross motor
    • creative play
    • arts & crafts
  • Then, I open up a Pinterest and create a new board for the theme. I usually search for activities that don’t come naturally to me, like creative play and arts & crafts.
  • I make a list of any additional materials I need to pick up on my next run to the store.
  • Finally, I type up all the activities and print off a copy for the fridge.

Each weekend, I make a family schedule for the coming week. I look at the open pockets of time and choose 5-7 ideas from the activity guide as a “back-up” for the bored or bickering moments. Since my girls are old enough to have an opinion, I usually ask them which activities they would like try and make sure that we do those first. 🙂

As a working mom, I also make sure to select a variety of options — something we can do together, something my kids can do independently, a literacy-based activity, something open-ended, and something we can do outside!

I print off any handouts, gather materials, and put everything in one spot so it’s easy to grab whenever we need it. I also like to leave a stack of related books next to the couch for my kids to peruse whenever they have a free minute.

Summer Learning Printables!