Guessing Games Superior Math Skills

February 01, 2011

 My daughterMy MyMy jh uMyMyMy daughter seriously asked me to guess the name she had given her stuffed dog.  I tried with a few names and then gave up.  She insisted I keep trying until I guessed it.  So I decided to play along because I thought to myself if we were going to play a guessing game, I wanted to make it a constructive experience that would actually benefit her cognitively.  It was this experience which motivated me to come up with more useful guessing games that were as fun as they were educational.

If your child has mastered straightforward counting, then guessing games will enrich their minds.

Here are some examples.  Give your child a scoop of peas and have them guess how many are there in the scoop. After guessing, count and compare the guess with the actual number. The end result is a child with a better sense for numbers who in turn excels in math later in life.

There are countless ways to make up guessing games. You can show a picture of multiple items in it. Let the child look at it for several seconds. Cover the picture and have them guess the number of items previously shown.

Another one I like to use in our house is when I fill a jar with several items and have children guess how many items  are in the jar. I repeat with different sized items and have them guess again.  In this exercise I demonstrate the concept that larger items take up more space.  It didn't take long for my kids to grasp the ideas of size and space and how fewer large items may take up the same space as several small items. Understanding this concept will serve kids well as their mental development grows..

Comments: 3

Fun with Rhyming Words

February 03, 2011

Rat a Tat Tat... The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat. The rhyming in the book The Fat Cat Sat on The Mat is pleasing to the ear and acts as a great tool for teaching children the fun skill of rhyming. 

Initially children learn how to recognize beginning letter sounds.  From here you can start emphasizing the letters at the end of words to teach ending sounds like bat, suit, boat, rat, eat...and so on. Once these tow concepts are understood, your child is ready to grasp rhyming. After reading the book The Fat Cat Sat On The Mat, discuss how rat, cat, mat, hat, bat, tat, fat, pat, and sat all rhyme. It may be helpful to write all words out and put the beginning letter in a different color to show that the first letter changes but the end of the word stays the same: Rat, Cat, Mat, Hat, Bat, Tat, Fat, Pat, and Sat.

Later you can extend this activity to playing car games. Wisely use the never-ending time you spend in the car driving your kids all over town to come-up with rhyme words.  You say a word and your children must come up with a word that rhymes. This simple exercise is not only educational for your children, but it helps keep you calm while sitting in rush hour traffic. helhhhe h     he hel h hThisTh 


Comments: 2

Alphabet Letter Recognition

February 17, 2011


We all sing the alphabet song with our children.  This song is a great tool for helping children speak letters of the alphabet.  Unless your children have the same problem as mine and thought "L-M-N-O-P" was it's own letter:) 

Once children can recite the letters of the alphabet, our next step it to teach them visual letter recognition. Have the letters printed out on a piece of paper.  A way to teach this symbolism is to point to the letter as it comes up in song.  This combines both auditory and visual senses.  To deepen understanding, help children construct their own letters with sticks, string, play doh, or even with food.  After children are done constructing a letter, repeat the letter name. 

Attached is an informal mommy lesson plan for teaching alphabet letter recognition.      

Comments: 6

Children Learning Letter Sounds

February 24, 2011

I teach letter sounds by emphasizing the beginning sound of words. If you are teaching the T sound for truck, table, trip, tie....emphasize Tttttruck, Ttttable, Tttttrip, and so forth. You could even have a letter a day theme. Have a picnic with items that begin with T. 


Food and drink- ice Tea, Tomatoes, Tortillas,and Turkey  

Toys- Trucks, Tiles, and Trampoline.



Language Tip of The Week

I teach letter sounds by emphasizing the beginning sound of words. If you are teaching the T sound for truck, table, trip, and tie.... emphasize Tttttruck, Ttttable, Tttttrip, and so forth. You could even have a letter a day theme. Have a picnic with items that begin with T.

Supplies as listed below.

Food and drink: Ice Tea, Tomatoes, Tortillas, and Turkey

Toys; Trucks, Tiles, Trampoline, Tape, and Tracing for play.

Comments: 1

Children with a Better Vocabulary

March 03, 2011

My kids loved to be chased. Besides being fun and it was a great way to get a little exercise (for me and them).  We just didn't simply run around though, I used the time as a way to help develop their language skills.

To help my children expand their vocabularies I would say the same thing using many different words-using similes. For example, as I was chasing my kids, I say to them “you are going so fast, you are quick, speedy, rapid, and swift.

Don't misunderstand me.  There are times when you should just play for the sake of playing, but why not try to sneak in occasional learning sessons with your kids when they least expect it smile



Comments: 4

Counting For Excellence in Math

March 08, 2011

Counting is how children learn to measure the quantity of items. The simple activity of counting can help kids excel in math. Have your children count peas at the dinner table, count how many people are in the family, or count the number of toy cars on the floor. Once they have mastered the process of counting, add lessons on numerical symbolism. Write the numbers 1 – 10 on a piece of paper. Grab several items to count. Count one thing and show the symbol 1 for one. Count two things and show the symbol 2 for two and so forth. While there are many exceptional puzzles and learning games you can buy from Lakeshore and  Melissa & Doug, it is just as easy (and cheaper) to tap into your inner artist and make your own at home with index cards and colored markers. ..

Comments: 4

Five Ways to Play with Your Children When You are Too Busy to Play

March 31, 2011

Play House: Say you are playing house, be the dad and say you have to go to work.  I run into the kitchen and cook dinner. You can periodically pretend to call home to stay in touch with children in their play mode.

Scavenger Hunt:  For younger kids, draw pictures of different items they are to find.  For example, draw a green leaf or a square or anything the color red.  You can pick items found indoors or outdoors.  For older kids, you can write the items to be found. 

Verbal Communication: Sing, talk or tell a made-up story while you are doing your work.

Workout:  You can work out, holding baby or toddler for a tougher workout.  You can also invite your child to work out with you. 

Contest: Give each child a bag and see who can pick up the most toys.  Winner gets a prize!

Comments: 5

Games, Games and More Games

April 18, 2011

My kids, husband and I love playing family games: Pictionary, Monopoly, concentration and Yatzee to name a few.  Over the years I have come to realize that playing games teaches children many useful skills. 

I remember when I was teaching pre-algebra and a number of my students had a difficult time adding numbers on a number line.  When adding up to a given number students would count the number of spots on the number line instead of the jumps between numbers.  So for instance when given 2 + 5, they would start at the number 2 and then they would count five spots on the number line--2, 3, 4, 5, 6.  Their conclusion was that 2 + 5 = 6.  What they couldn’t grasp was that they didn’t need to start counting by including position 2.  I remember thinking to myself haven’t these kids ever played Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly or just about any other board game out there.  This skill was so basic and yet many students could not perform it. 

Here is my simple solution—and it fits right in with what I have been preaching since I started this site—play more board games with your kids.  Learning is fun.  Play games that teach kids to move items on a board, count money or tally points at the end of the game.  You’ll be surprised what other important skills they develop.  It’s a great way to get the whole family around the kitchen table too.     

Comments: 2

Cooking with Children – Some recipes to try!

May 02, 2011

Spend quality time with your children: cooking and baking with them as they practice reading directions, measuring out ingredients, and recognizing units of measurement.

Southern Barbeque  

Spray crock-pot with canola oil.

Put 3 lbs beef loin (or pork loin if you prefer) in a crock pot

In a mixing bowl add the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup of your favorite barbeque sauce
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 - 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Pour the mixture over the meat in the crock pot. 

Cook on low for 7 - 9 hours or on high for 3 - 4 hours.  If meat is tough then it needs to cook longer.  Meat should break apart easily with a fork.

Serve barbeque on a fresh roll and top with  cole slaw.

Cole slaw   

  • Shredded cabbage
  • ½ cup Duke mayonaisse 
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 Tbs red wine vinegar 


Double Chocolate Cookies

Makes 9 dozen

  • 1 ¼ cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 in apart onto greased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 8 - 10 minutes. Let cool.

Taken from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars, Jan 18 2010


Delectable Chicken Enchiladas

Best to use Neumann’s Pineapple Salsa, Cracker Barrel Cheese and FRESH cilantro.   

  • 1 lb cooked boneless chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 small onion (I puree it so my children don’t know it’s in there)
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • I cup of Newman’s pineapple salsa
  • 6 oz of Philadelphia Cream Cheese cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (sometimes I add more )
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup shredded Cracker Barrel Jack Cheese
  • Flour tortillas

Spray the bottom of a large skillet with cooking spray or add one Tbsp canola oil.  Sauté onions for 2 minutes then add garlic and sauté for another 1 -2 minutes.  Add cooked chicken, ½ cup salsa (save remaining ½ cup for the top), cream cheese, cilantro, and ¼ cup cheese (save remaining ½ cup for the top) Mix while on low heat for 1 - 2 minutes. 

Spray the bottom of a 9 by 13 glass casserole dish with cooking spray.  Have children spoon the mixture onto soft flour tortillas (whole wheat for a healthier version) and roll into enchiladas. Top with remaining cheese and salsa.

Bake at 350 for 10 - 20 minutes until warm.

Comments: 2

Kids Involved in Technological Inquiry…Starting at age 2!  Tips for ALL AGE Group

May 08, 2011

Kids Using Technology – Starting at Age 2!

My daughter asks me, “Mom, who is the best rock group in history?”  I tell her I think the Beatles but it is really a matter of opinion.  My daughter insists that  Big Time Rush is better than the Beatles.   I explain to her that a group is rated based on record sales.  Then it hits me that I should show my daughter how to do a quick search on the Internet.  She is seven and should be able to search topics online.  I taught her how to use a mouse when she was two and soon after that she was playing educational games on the computer.  Why have my technology lessons stopped?   I just finished a class on integrating technology with math and science.  Here are some tips for getting kids started on technology.   I have a chart for each age group so scroll down if you have an older child.

Friendly Reminder:  Technology is not limited to using tools such as a calculator and the computer.  Technology is also the application of knowledge to practical ends such as creating a useful tool, thinking games, or simply finding a better way to do something. 

My goals are to help you empower your child to use technological inquiry to: Play, Invent, Research, Communicate with others locally and globally.

AGE    2 – 5     (Pre-Kindergarten)



  • Encourage child to invent something useful with parent's help. Create a useful device like a container for temporary inspection of bugs. Ask child:  Does the container need to be closed?  Does it need holes? Why? Etc"


  • Allow child to watch an adult do a search on the computer. The adult should research a topic of interest to the child: animals, bugs, super heroes…etc.  Model the act of seeking information and learning about different things.


  • Adult can ask child thought-provoking questions such as, "What fills up a balloon? How can you make bubbles in water? Etc.


  • First help child learn to use a mouse.  Then allow him to play educational games on the computer.


  • Use Skype to communicate with distant relatives or a pen pal from another country.
  • Facilitate problem solving: encourage child to find a better way to do something.  Encourage critical thinking.


AGE   5 – 8  (Grades K – 2)



  • Use a digital camera to take pictures for the purpose to writing a story.  Print pictures for child. Let child put them in sequential order and write a story about each picture on its own page.
  •  Help child learn vocabulary associated with using a computer: keys, keyboard, monitor, Internet,…etc.


  • Allow child to play educational games on the computer.


  • Use Skype to communicate with distant relatives or a pen pal from another country. 
  • Teach child to perform a basic search on the computer.   I define a basic search as a search performed from a reselected site for children. 


  • Guide child on using a calculator to check answers to mental and paper/pencil math operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division


  • Encourage child to invent something useful.  My daughter invented an ice cream cone holder.  I asked her, "how can we make it better so the ice cream doesn't drip on your hands?"  She came up with the idea to add a rim to catch the dripping ice cream. Even though this is something we can buy in the store, inventing it gave her the opportunity to use her critical thinking skills.


  • Train child to solve a problem by finding a better way to do something.


  • Investigate ways for child can perform simple science experiments.


  • Play “thinking games” .  These are great games to play while driving in the car, waiting at the doctor's office, or during any other boring situation.

1.       Analogies: A brush is to hair as a toothbrush is to ________ (teeth)

2.       What is the category name for:  spider, ant, fly, and grasshopper?  (bugs)

3.       Look on the internet for Silly Nillies.  Kids love them.


  • Use a recording device to record child telling a story.  Then play the recording and have child turn his words into writing.  It's a great way to transition from speaking to writing.

Age 8 – 11 (Grades 3 – 5)



  • Allow child to play educational games on the computer

  • Teach child to perform an advanced search on the computer.   An advanced search is not from a reselected site for children.  Try Google, Yahoo!,  Research topics should be of interest to the child.


  • Use Skype to communicate with distant relatives or a pen pal from another country. 
  • Train child to use a graphing calculator to perform basic functions in mathematics. 


  • Encourage child to invent something useful.


  • Train child to solve a problem by finding a better way to do something.


  • Facilitate instruction so child can perform simple science experiments at home.


  • Use a digital camera to take pictures for the purpose to writing a story.  Print pictures for child. Let child put them in sequential order and write a story about each picture on its own page. 
  • Adult can ask child thought provoking questions such as "Why does the water level rise when ice is added to a glass of water?"  You can brush up on the topic of volume. 


  • Use a recording device to record child telling a story.  Then play the recording and have child turn his words into writing.  It's a great way to transition from speaking to writing. 
  • Play thinking games These are great games to play while driving in the car, waiting at the doctor's office, or during any other boring situation.

1.       Analogies: A brush is to hair as a toothbrush is to ________ (teeth)

2.       What is the category name for:  spider, ant, fly, and grasshopper?  (bugs)

3.        Look on the internet for Silly Nillies.  Kids love them.


Age 11 -1 4   (Middle School years)



  • Train child to perform an advanced search on the computer.   An advanced search is not from a reselected site for children.  Try Google, Yahoo!, Excite, Alta Vista, Dogpile


  • Allow child to use email to communicate with others.  May be safer to have parental monitoring of emails.


  • Use Skype to communicate with distant relatives or a pen pal from another country. 
  • Provide the resources for child to use programs online to perform mathematical functions.


  • Faciliate an environement that allows child to perform simple science experiments at home.


  • Train child to solve a problem by finding a better way to do something.


  • Encourage child to invent something useful.


Age 14 – 18   (High School years )



  • Child should continue to perform an advanced search on the computer.   An advanced search is not from a reselected site for children.  Try Google, Yahoo!, Excite, Alta Vista, Dogpil


  • Oversee child as he uses a blog to discuss educational topics with students on the internet. 


  • Encourage child to go to any news source and keep up with current events.


  • Use Skype to communicate with distant relatives or a pen pal from another country. 
  • Help child use power point to create a presentation for a topic of interest.
  • Train child to invent something useful.


  • Teach child to solve a problem by finding a better way to do something.



Comments: 2

Great Educational Websites-Children Age 2-18

May 12, 2011






Age Group



Games, puzzles, animated stories



Age 2 – 8



Broad range of topics



All ages



Games and math



All ages



Math and Language



All ages



Homework Help, Tips, and Resources for Parents, Teachers, and Children



Age 9 – 18



Crafts with educational themes



Age 2 – 12



Environmental Education: Games, free downloads, printable activities



Age 5 – 9



Math and literature



Age 4 – 14



Arts and crafts, research topics, and educational printables



All ages



Games and all subject material



Age 5 – 14



Magic Tricks & Science: interesting facts, puzzles, and experiments



Age 3 – 18



Games, crafts, and word play



Age 3 – 12



Resources for gifted and special needs children



All ages






Age 3 – 12



Challenging math activities



Age 3 – 14





Painting and puzzles



 Age 11 - 15



Activities, games and puzzles



Age 2 - 13



Free educational music, movies, and video podcasts



All ages



Games, videos, photos, news, crafts, recipes and science experiments.



Age 2 – 11



Math games



Age 11 – 18






Age 6 – 12



Recommendations for academic improvement in phonics and reading



Age 5 & up



Free printables






Interactive stories, puzzles and coloring pages.



Age 2 - 8






Age 2 – 10



Make puzzles



Age 5 – 11



Teaching children to read



Age 4 – 6



Games, literature, printable activities, and character guides



Birth - Age 9






Pre-K to Age 12



Vocabulary, spelling and handwriting worksheets



Age 6 & up






Age 4 – 8



Free printables for brainteasers, math, reading, writing, grammar, social studies, and other subjects



Age 5 – 13






All ages



Basic Search Engines for Children

Advanced Search Engines for Children 


Some information was taken from A Teacher's Guide to Using Technology in the Classroom: Second Edition

by Karen S. Ivers.


Comments: 2

Top Ten Things to Teach/Occupy Your Children When You Grocery Shop

May 16, 2011


  1. Pick out fruits that are red, green...etc.  You can also have children tell you which items are fruits and which are vegetables.  Teaches classification skills - math and language
  2. Children can weigh fruits and vegetables and guess how much the bunch will cost based on the weight and unit cost.  Teaches math
  3. Have children find the items you are looking for as you turn down a given isle. If you are shopping for a recipe, have children find the needed items on the list.  Teaches observation skills and following directions 
  4. Give children a shopping list and have them categorize items.  By grouping similar items, shopping will be quicker.  Teaches time-management and classification skills
  5. Have children pick the cheapest product by looking at the unit price.  They will learn to compare decimals and understand the concept of greater than or less than.  Teaches math
  6. Add the estimated cost of each item purchased and ask your child to estimate the total cost of the groceries.  Teaches math
  7. Have children read labels on products.  Looking at the first five items, discuss what makes certain items healthy or not.  Teaches reading and health
  8. Have children read your shopping list as you find the items.Practice reading
  9. Ask children to find the isle that contains a specific item.  For example, ask your child to read the isle sign to find the one that contains pasta…etc. Practice reading - language and categorization
  10. I let my children assist me at check out and then we look over the receipt for accuracy.  Children learn fine motor skills, following directions, reading money and independence


Comments: 1

Play for Reality - 10 Suggestions to Motivate Your Children to Action

May 19, 2011


Here are some fun ways to motivate your children to do what you want them to do. 


What you want your children to do

Play that encourages it.

Be quiet

My father-in-law started this game with the girls called "zip it". Everyone zips their lips and has a contest to see who can be quiet for the longest.

Pick up

Have contests: Can you beat the timer? Who can pick up the most toys? Have a scavenger hunt for who can find the most things around the house to pick up?

Resolve conflict

Have your children trade places with each other or you can even trade places with your child and see how they would resolve the problem if they were in other’s shoes.


Chase children around the house or out in the yard, create an obstacle course for them, do an exercise video together or do yoga animal stances.

Do homework

Play school. Make it fun with healthy snacks, fun colored pencils and role-playing.


Play house and when you are cleaning your house in play you are also cleaning your house for real.


Pretend the bed is a magic carpet. Play a little and then it’s bedtime. Time to sleep on the magic carpet. Another option is to put a cover on the bed and create a camp. Pretend you are camping--kids love to sleep in forts or tents.

Try a new food

Pretend you are in a new country. Make–up characters and even create pretend countries if necessary. Kids will get caught up in the story and eat…sometimes.


Time your child for a given activity. Record the time. Next time have your child try to beat their own recorded time for accomplishing the task. The nice thing about this technique is your child is competing against their own times and not against their siblings or other children.

Set the table and help with dinner

This is an easy one…play restaurant. We all know how to do that.



Comments: 1

Promote Math and Science Intelligence by Enhancing Spatial Thinking: Pre-K - Grade 8

June 06, 2011

Spatial thinking is taught indirectly as other math and science content is discussed in schools and textbooks.  Children are given minimal opportunities to apply spatial thinking thus making it even more important for parents to make a concerted effort to teach our children to participate in fun activities that enhance their spatial reasoning. 

Spatial thinking is the ability to perceive the location of things, their shapes, their relation to each other, and the paths they take as they move.  Some very practical ways we think spatially in our everyday lives are: following directions to assemble something, imagining where a new piece of furniture would fit in our home, or using a map to find our way.   

Here are some ways to help your children increase their math performance through activities that develop spatial awareness.

Level One 

  1. Teach geometric shapes using some strange-looking as well as the standard shapes for triangles, circles, and rectangles.
  2. Teach spatial words such as middle, between, in, out, inside, outside, front, back, side, top, bottom, around, over…etc.
  3. Have children tell you where items will go in an experiment.  Let us say you plan to drop a bouncy ball.  Before dropping the ball, ask child to imagine where the ball will land.  

Level  Two

  1. Have children do jigsaw puzzles.  If you go to my technology tag and scroll down, you will find a list of websites for children. Several of them have jigsaw puzzles children can practice online.  Use spatial language as you help your children master puzzles.  Have children separate the straight edges from the others.
  2. Use simple maps with your children or create your own.  My daughters and I used to play treasure hunt.  We would take turns hiding an object (the treasure) and then draw a map so the other player(s) could locate the treasure.
  3. Read the book Zoom with your children.  Helping children deal with the intangible and detailed challenges in the book will increase childrens' scores on spatial tests.
  4. Encourage young children to gesture when imagining movement of objects.

Level Three

  1. Have older children practice using a real map. 
  2. Highlight the element that is used to measure space.  Let us look at an example where children use number lines in math.  To measure the number of units from 2 to 5, it is the space between the numbers that is being measured.  Highlight this space so children measure the change from 2 to 5, instead of the digits from 2 to 5.  The difference(space) from 2 to 5 is three units whereas there are four digits from 2 to 5.  Students often make a mistake and come up with an answer that is one too many.
  3. Encourage children to engage in recreation that enhances the use of spatial thinking such as:  
  • Photography (scale changes from real life unit to the unit of the picture),
  • Paper folding (turning a 2-dimensional object into a 3-dimensional one,
  • Origami (combining shapes),
  • Assembling something, building,
  • Rearranging the furniture in a room, 
  • Playing the game Tetris (rotates shapes to fit them together)
  • Playing with any software for creating three dimensional objects 


Some information from this blog post was taken from American Educator, a Quarterly Journal of Educational Research and Ideas, Vol, 34, No. 2\ Summer 2010  in an article titled: Picture This on pg 29

Comments: 1

Silly Nillies

June 09, 2011

Here is an activity from Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner.   My kids love them!  Answers will be posted on Sunday.

Directions: Make up two-word definitions for these phrases. The words must rhyme and have the same number of syllables. Examples: An escaped gander is a loose goose. Chocolate bars with nuts and caramel are dandy candy.

1. An improved wool pullover is a_________________________________________________

2. An undisciplined youngster is a _________________________________________________

3. An out-of-tune chorus sings a __________________________________________________

4. A minuscule tool for unlocking things is a_________________________________________

5. An overweight feline is a ______________________________________________________

6. A girl who talks back to her parents is a __________________________________________

7. Pizza served on an airplane is___________________________________________________

8. A cart to carry a fire-breathing monster is a________________________________________

9. A meal for someone who is on a serious diet is_____________________________________

10. Coinage used to purchase items that can’t be bought with regular currency is _____________

11. A tall, strong rose on a very thick stem has ________________________________________

12. A citizen who thinks very clearly on politics is a ___________________________________

13. A worker who finishes walls speedily uses ________________________________________

14. An instrument that is used only for one specialized task is a___________________________

15. Someone who’s determined to build an atomic device is on a _________________________

16. Two very ugly monsters make a_________________________________________________

17. A brave soldier on a white horse who saves a town from a dragon is a __________________

18. A jar lid that comes off with very little effort is a ___________________________________

19. A display of people’s handiwork in the registration area of a hotel is a __________________

20. An opera contains a series of ___________________________________________________


From Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner, copyright © 2001. Free Spirit Publishing Inc.,

Minneapolis, MN: 800/735-7323; This page may be photocopied for individual or classroom work only. Since Free Spirit

Publishing allows educators to adapt this form to their needs, it may have been modified from its original format and content. 

From Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner, copyright © 2001. Free Spirit Publishing Inc.,

Minneapolis, MN: 800/735-7323; This page may be photocopied for individual or classroom work only. Since Free

Publishing allows educators to adapt this form to their needs, it may have been modified from its original format and conte

Comments: 6

Summer Fun - Top 5 Activities

June 23, 2011

Top Five Summer Activities (taken from Family Fun Top Twenty list - March issue)


First, divide players into two teams and have the members of each team lie down side-by-side. Place a bucket of water near the head of each line. Have the first player on each team hold a large, soaked sponge with her feet. At "Go," the teams use their feet to pass their sponge down the line and back. If a player drops the sponge, he may sit up to recover it but can use only his feet to get it back into the game. The first team to get their sponge into the bucket wins.

Physical Fitness: Fine Motor Skills


Chocolate Pudding Pops

Use a whisk to blend together 1 package of instant chocolate pudding, 2 cups milk, ½ cup cream, and ½ cup sugar. Pour the mixture into Popsicle molds. You can also pour into small plastic cups, cover each with aluminum foil, and insert a craft stick through the foil. Freeze and eat.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Combine 2 tbsp sugar, 1 cup half and half, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a pint size Ziploc bag and seal it tightly. Place 1/2 cup coarse salt in a gallon-size bag. Most grocery stores sell Morton Ice Cream Salt. Then fill the gallon-size bag halfway with ice cubes. Place the sealed pint size bag into the gallon size bag as well and seal the larger bag. Shake the bags until the ice cream mixture hardens, about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Math: measuring


On a sweltering summer day, few kids can resist running through the spray of a lawn sprinkler. The Deluxe Kid Wash continues that time-honored tradition-but with a creative new twist. It’s crafted almost entirely from PVC pipe, a material we love not just for its low cost and durability, but also for its ease of use (with all those interconnecting pieces, it’s like Tinker toys for grown-ups) For a complete set of instructions, click on "free printable" at

If everyone opts to stay dry, then make a play canopy. Be creative and use various household items to construct one.

Science & Creativity: constructing


Fill a medium plastic trash bag with one to two gallons of water and knot the top. Tie a rope tightly beneath the knot. Toss the free end of the rope over a tree branch and either tie it securely of have an adult stand by to raise and lower the pinaqua. After being blindfolded and spun around three times, each player takes three whacks at he pinaqua with a broom. The winner is the one who manages to break the bag and unleash the wave.

Physical Activity: swinging a bat


Blow up balloons and draw on shark faces with permanent markers. Fill a kiddie pool with water, add the balloons, and have children try to sit on the balloons and pop them - no standing allowed. The player who squashes the most sharks wins. Note: collect and discard the pieces promptly since pooped balloons can be a choking hazard.

Creativity: imagination 



Comments: 1

Activity for Children-Break for Parents

June 27, 2011

I’m sure some of you can relate to having children who want pizza for every meal.  My kids love homemade pizza.  Today, I just felt too lazy to take out the flour and make a pizza crust.  My seven-year old insisted she would make a pizza by herself.  I’m thinking, all right I’ll let you try.  I give Reese the ingredients for a 30-Minute Pizza recipe, a bowl, mixing spoon, and rolling pin.  She made the entire pizza by herself!

There was a mess which Reese cleaned up!

My kids always love the food they make.

What is your favorite activity for promoting independence in children?  Leave a comment and share your ideas.

The recipe for the crust is taken from the back of  Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast.

30-Minute Pizza-Makes 1 regular 12-inch crust or 2 thin crusts


1-3/4 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 envelope Fleischmann’s Pizza Yeast

1-1/2 tsp sugar

¾ tsp salt

2/3 cup very warm tap water (120 to 130 degrees F)

3 Tbsp oil

Pizza sauce, toppings and cheese


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F


Combine 1-cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add water and oil. Mix together until well blended; about 1 minute.


Add gradually, ½ cup flour until soft dough ball is formed; will be slightly stick.  Add additional flour if needed to form dough ball.


Knead on a floured surface adding additional flour if needed, until smooth and elastic; about 4 minutes.  With floured hands, press dough out to fill greased pizza pan, or roll dough to a 12-inch circle and transfer to greased pizza pan.


Top as desired with pizza sauce, topping and cheese.


Bake on bottom oven rack for 12 – 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is brown.

Comments: 4

Exceptional Play for Education and Fun

June 30, 2011

We have invested in numerous Lego sets, Lincoln Logs, City Blocks, and other building block sets. Aside from building the specific structures planned by the Lego kits, our favorite event in to see how tall we can build.

Skills enhanced by building with blocks:

  • Imagination
  • Inventiveness
  • Attention
  • Planning
  • Application
  • Organization
  • Independence
  • Fine motor skills
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Problem Solving

Different kinds of blocks: Lego, Kaplan or City Blocks, Lincoln Logs, Link N-Learn links, sensory snap beads, linky triangles, pyramid master builder blocks, textured building block set, Mega magnets construction set, Fiddlestix rods, Connector set, Geometric shape building blocks, Large hard plastic lego blocks (age1 -3), Master building system - Japanese system, Build a Link Clip Shapes, Criss cross shapes, Dacta Lego Set III, Star links…etc. Feel free to add to this list.


Share your favorite building experience.

Surprising, Quick and Easy Science Trick

July 07, 2011

I was always one of those teachers who hated to see my students act bored. My goal was  to have many quick lessons with tons of transitions from one activity to another. On this one particular day, my students looked rather lethargic sitting in their seats. As an effort to intrigue them, I recalled a quick and interesting science fact that could be turned into a mini activity.


One person is holding a dollar bill (or any amount) with two fingers upright in the air. Smooth the bill so there are no wrinkles.

The goal is for the other person to catch the dollar bill between two fingers before the bill falls past. The person to catch the bill must have two fingers open and ready to pinch the bill.  They should be positioned in the middle of the bill on George Washington's face. If the fingers are positioned lower, then it changes the outcome. A crinkled bill will also change the outcome.

Back in 1997 was my first year teaching. I was so confident that nobody would catch the bill that I offered a $20 reward. Most of my students attempted it many times but to no avail. If the catcher honestly reacts to the person letting go of the bill, it is impossible to catch. You see, the human reaction time is slower than the rate it takes the bill to fall through the air. In my 15 years working with students, I’ve only had two students catch the bill. Unfortunately, one of those times was the time I offered a $20 reward. Don’t remember my student’s name but I know he was a basketball player. He reacted before I let go of the bill and nonetheless was able to catch it. I’ve learned my lesson and now only offer a $1 reward.

My daughters got a kick out of trying this.  We discussed the meaning of human reaction time and the factors that affect the speed at which things travel in air. Our conversation went off on a tangent to paper airplanes. We discussed how the long skinny paper airplanes will travel faster than the short fat ones and the reason for the differences. Since we were discussing a topic that was important to them (paper airplanes) they didn’t mind all the science talk.


Top Ten Rainy Day Play: Fun for All Age Groups

July 11, 2011



Additional Resources


Cards: Bullshit (we call it “I doubt it” in front of our kids) and other card games or dice games

Math and Problem Solving

Drawing games or paper and pencil fun: Draw a picture and see if your kids can guess what it is and then switch roles, Hangman, and others games

Math, Language, and Problem Solving

Cook, bake and have a theme for dinner that night: Italian, Mexican,…etc


Math, Language, and Cultural Awareness

Origami with paper or food, or

Spatial Reasoning

Indoor bowling. golf or bean bag toss


Fine Motor

Build a fort, tell ghost stories, watch a movie and eat popcorn (for children age 1 – 8)


Imagination and Creativity

Physical Fun: Hula Hoop, Cartwheels and do them simultaneously with multiple people (I know this is mostly a girl thing)


Balance and Coordination

Play Board Games

Math, Language, and Problem Solving

Magic Tricks: use a kit or look up some online

Spatial Reasoning, Math

Play with paper airplanes

design ideas at games ideas at

Spatial Reasoning, Math, and Science




Comments: 1

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