Tag: invitations to play

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. ūüôā

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!

Red, White, and Blue Busy Box for Kids

Red, White, and Blue Busy Box for Kids

Are you looking for quiet activities for your toddler or preschooler this summer? Our red, white, and blue busy box might be just the thing for your family!

If you’ve been around the Rolling Prairie Readers community for any length of time, you know I’m a big fan of learning through play. I also talk a lot about creating invitations to play for our little ones.

Open-ended play is important for children because it builds independence, creativity, executive function skills, and — most importantly — attention spans. It’s easy for kids to focus on the things they want to do, and putting together a busy box gives children a buffet of options to choose from.

Red, White, and Blue Busy Box for Kids

How to make a red, white, and blue busy box:

  • First, grab a shoe box or small container.
  • Walk around the house and grab red and blue objects.
  • Set the box in a place where your kiddo is likely to find it.

Everyone’s busy box will look different, based on what toys you have available at home. Personally, I like to choose objects that mix and match nicely and build fine motor skills.


See our must-have toys for learning at home!


 

For this red, white, and blue busy box, I grabbed:

  • pom poms
  • tweezers
  • silicone cupcake liners
  • Velcro craft sticks
  • one-inch foam cubes
  • straw pieces and a Parmesan cheese container
  • dyed noodles and a shoelace
  • red and blue UNO cards (0-9 only)
  • Unifix cubes
  • linking rings

My tactile learner has been very active with this busy box already. I’ve found her stringing noodles, putting the UNO cards in numerical order, and dropping straw pieces in the cheese container. She often plays with the items during read-aloud time because having something small in her hands helps her listen better.

The red, white, and blue busy box also came with us when we traveled to visit with family a few weeks ago. I don’t typically like to bring a lot of toys with us when we stay in a hotel, but this box fit easily in our trunk and kept her occupied when we needed it.


See 100 more tactile ideas for kids.


If you try a busy box for your kids, I would love to see it! Snap a picture and send it to me on Instagram. For more summer fun, be sure to check out our list of patriotic books and learning activities.

You can also grab our Summer Survival Kit, which features more than 200 hands-on learning activities and our sensational summer schedule template!

5 Winter Learning Activities for Kids {FREE Printable}

5 Winter Learning Activities for Kids {FREE Printable}

Hooray, it’s winter!

I know it’s not common, but I LOVE winter. (I actually really love celebrating all the seasons, after living in Texas most of my life.) Winter is such a fun time to observe nature with our kids: watching squirrels and bunnies frolic in the snow, tracking footprints, and watching the days get shorter and then longer again. Whether you are doing preschool at home or just looking for awesome ideas to beat boredom with your toddlers, you’ll love these winter learning activities!

Scroll down for our freebie!

In case you missed the introduction to our invitation to¬†play series (click here), here’s how we structure these fun, simple activities at our house. ¬†

It’s the middle of the afternoon. Mom is trying to help the older child finish up her school work/homework before making dinner. Younger child is spinning around nearby¬†or doing something quietly destructive in the next room. Mom pulls out an invitation to play to keep everyone calm and connected.

An invitation to play is an easy, open-ended activity. It uses just a few materials found around the house, like measuring cups, straws, old magazines, etc. Keeping these activities set aside for special times keeps them interesting and intentionally engaging for when you need 10-15 minutes to get something else done! Best of all, these simple materials can be mixed and matched for countless other activities throughout the year.

This week, I have a freebie for you: a printable with FIVE winter-themed invitations to play!

You also get:

  • a materials list
  • winter book recommendations for snowy days
  • and a coupon code for our winter Family Activity Guides, full of hands-on learning fun for kids ages 2-6!

5 Winter Learning Activities | FREE Download

Click here for your Winter Learning Activities download.

Access this and all our other freebies immediately!

How do YOU feel about winter? Leave a comment below and let me know!