Tag: toddler

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!

6 Fun Activities for Teaching Colors to Kids

6 Fun Activities for Teaching Colors to Kids

This month only, join our FREE Preschool at Home Facebook group, where we’ll have daily conversation starters, weekly Q&A sessions, and lots of free resources. Click here to join us.


When you have young children in the house, the three most important concepts to work on are letters, numbers, and teaching colors. When my own girls were preschool-age, we did everything we could to make learning colors easy for them!

If you are teaching colors to your toddler or preschooler this year, check out these fun and simple ideas!

Pictures of toys with text overlay: 6 Simple Ways to Teach Colors to Toddlers and Preschoolers

6 Activities for Teaching Colors:

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

  • “Color of the Week” Basket

When our kids were little, toy rotation worked the best for us! Every week, we included a big bowl full of toys from our weekly color: bristle blocks, large magnetic letters, musical instruments, vehicles, plastic cookie cutters, play food, Duplos, etc.

  • Songs & Sign Language

For four years of my girls’ preschool years, I taught “Mommy & Me” sign language classes in our home. We reviewed counting, ABCs, and colors each week using Rachel Coleman’s Colors of the Rainbow song and Laurie Berkner’s Balloons song. Our girls learned the signs for colors before they could say the words.

  • Lots of Props!

Along with singing songs every week, we also used scarves and balloons to practice our color words! Katie especially loved using the scarves while she read (looked at) one of her favorite books, Color Dance.

  • Color Sorting

We sorted toys by color ALL THE TIME. Our favorite tools were a large, green “chip and dip” container from Dollar Tree (with six compartments) and a muffin tin! We sorted magnetic letters, fuzzy pom poms, animal counters, and even cut straw pieces. As you can see in the image, I added labels with the color sight words to each of the compartments for a little extra literacy fun.

  • Rainbow Noodles

Back in March, I dyed a box of rigatoni noodles with food coloring to make “rainbow noodles.” These have been great for stringing, patterning, and stamping in playdough! (See the tutorial here.)

  • Color Mixing

One of the things I recommended to preschool parents all the time is to buy only a few colors of paint (red, blue, yellow, white, and black) and mix up shades every time we did an art project. We have learned how to make secondary colors (green, orange, and purple) and combination colors like brown and teal. The book Mouse Paint is a great one to read with kids if you’re looking to learn more about color mixing!


Rainbow Learning Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers

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Hopefully, these six simple activities, games, and songs make teaching colors FUN! Remember, the goal is to connect with your kids through play, so try to follow their lead and match their interests.

Which of these activities for teaching colors will you try first?

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Picture of color toys with text overlay: "6 Fun Activities for Kids who are Learning Colors"

Simple Tips to Improve Attention Spans for Kids

Simple Tips to Improve Attention Spans for Kids

Imagine this:

Your four-year-old wakes up in the morning, cheerful and ready to start the day. He eats his breakfast in a reasonable amount of time. Then he gets dressed and puts on his shoes without reminders from you! You leave the house five minutes earlier than you had planned and have time to drive-through your favorite coffee place for a little treat.

When you get home in the afternoon, he joins you at the table for a fun learning activity or craft project. He listens well, follows directions, and excitedly engages with you for 20 minutes. Once you’ve cleaned up together, he runs off to his room to play with his LEGOs for another 40 minutes while you get dinner started.

Sound impossible?

While I certainly can’t promise it’ll happen every day, I can give you some simple tips to improve attention spans at your house and make life a little more peaceful!

Image of child riding a bike with text overlay: 6 tips to improve attention spans for kids!

Improving attention spans in young children is not hard, but it does require intentional parenting choices.

  • Model it Ourselves

Let’s get real with each other. When was the last time you focused on any one thing for more than 20 minutes without your mind wandering? I’ll be honest! I am very easily distracted, especially with my phone nearby. It’s so easy to click on that new notification or scroll Instagram!

And yet, we get frustrated with our children when they bounce from activity to activity! If we’re going to help our kids improve their attention spans, we need to be more mindful of our multi-tasking when they are in the room.

Commit to one 15-minute block each hour where you put the phone down (or whatever distracts you) and do just one thing. Take a walk, read a chapter of a book, or play a game with your kids!

  • Simplify the Environment

In order to improve attention spans, we need to remove unnecessary distractions. If your child is struggling, set up a “quiet space”: maybe the kitchen table or a desk in the living room. Make sure this workstation doesn’t have extra noise, screens, or toys that might draw attention. You can add a privacy screen or noise-cancelling headphones for children who are very easily distracted.  

(Note: some children actually find it easier to pay attention with background noise, a chair that moves, or some type of fidget tool. Try different things to see what works best for your child!)

For young children, set out a blanket or sheet in the middle of the room with the one activity you want them to focus on. We used to do “tot trays” right after nap time, and our little one knew that a fun new learning activity would be waiting in the same place for her each day.


Grey banner with small blue bowl of red and blue pom poms.

Click here for simple learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers.


  • Make it Easier

When I polled our online community about this topic, the most common concern was children who couldn’t sit still for homework or meals. Too often, we put young children in adult-size chairs at home, which is neither comfortable nor age-appropriate. Consider investing in a child-size table & chair set or setting up a footrest (or empty box) for your children so their legs don’t dangle uncomfortably.

Be sure to prepare for wiggles by allowing your children to MOVE their bodies before and after sitting. Jumping jacks, dance parties, and tickle fights are all fun ways to expel some energy!  

  • Build Stamina Slowly

Keep in mind that attention spans can be strengthened with just a little bit of practice every day. Just like we don’t expect our children to hop on a two-wheeler and ride a mile without any experience, neither should we expect focus and persistence to come naturally. Start small, and watch your child soar with a little bit of hard work and positive reinforcement!

  • Set Boundaries and Routines for Screen Time

There are so many fun and educational things to see and do on the T.V., tablet, or computer! I am a big fan of screen time, but in healthy moderation. In our house, we often start our day with outside time, followed by free play and quiet time/reading. Most of our screen time happens in the late afternoon, when we all need a little break.

Set a time during the day when your kids CAN watch screens (if you allow that sort of thing), and declare the rest of the day screen-free! After a while, your kids might not even ask for screen time because they are having such a fun time doing something else.

These tips should give you lots of simple activities to improve attention spans in your family. I would love to hear (in the comments) which of these tips you’ll be trying first!


Interested in learning MORE about age-appropriate expectations for our young children? Be sure to check out our best-selling parent workshop: Age-Appropriate Learning!

Jar of markers with text overlay: Age-Appropriate Learning Parent Workshop

Back to School Tips for Parents: Attention Spans