Category Archives: Letter Of The Week

Button Free Play

What is in the workbox and on the shelves today?  A whole lot of buttons.

I set out various objects on the table and called the children over to see what was there.  I gave the TOTS (my three year old and two year old) some buttons, bobbins, a thimble, and different sized spools and I waited to see what they did with them.  We will be doing more with buttons as part of our Letter Of The Week B theme.

The three year old began sorting her buttons. I watched to try to understand by what category she was sorting.  She was singling out the prettiest and smallest buttons first.

Right away the two year old lined up the spools from biggest to smallest in a straight line and sang “Happy Birthday”. 

He also put a button in each hole of the muffin tin.

The three year old did a wonderful job of sorting the objects into different areas of her divided box.  She put bobbins in one spot.  Pretty colored buttons in one spot.  Darker buttons in another spot.  And she sorted out two buttons that had a different back on them, they were not flat, but instead had a knob at the back.  This was really great for her first time ever playing with little buttons.

Next, she began picking up the smallest buttons and putting them into a thimble turned upside down like a cup. 

She was proud of her accomplishment.  She continued to try to stack more on top, but they kept falling off once the thimble was full.

The two year old decided to put all of his objects into the muffin tin.  He counted the bigger spindle and told me it was a big one.

Sister had left the room for a minute to go potty, and brother confiscated her objects to add to his creation.  I could hardly keep from laughing in front of him, because he knew he did a no, no, but he liked the way it looked.

Once sister came back and we divided up the loot again, she came up with a new game. 

She decided to see what buttons could hold the bobbins.  “Look Mom!  See what I did?”

A little while latter, I came into the room to find them lining up their objects. 

The two year old was very serious about making sure everything was in a straight line.  If one of sister’s objects wasn’t exact, he fixed it.  He is a very particular line maker!

And again a few more renditions of his favorite song  “Happy Birthday”.

It must be somebody’s birthday somewhere.  So whoever you are, hope it’s a great one!

Today was totally free play with their objects.  Since buttons and these other objects were new to them, this kept them busy for almost an hour.   Usually after they become familiar with objects I set out, they may keep their interest for 15 minutes to half an hour.

Next time, I will use some guided activities along with the buttons and objects to help them practice following directions, counting, sorting, reasoning, begining reading letter “B“, and problem solving skills.  I will also plan an art activity using buttons as our medium to explore, perhaps we will make a letter “B”  or a butterfly collage with buttons, I am not sure yet.  Stay tuned to see how it turns out!

Plan to link this post up at:

We Play
Play Academy
ABC and 123
No Time For Flash Cards
Preschool Corner
Tot Tuesdays

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Valentine Discovery Bin

Call them whatever you like, we love discovery, activity, and sensory bins!!!

We are making a discovery bin each month based on a theme.  So of course, February’s bin is all about Valentines activities.


I found all the items for our bin from items around the house, a few items at Target, and at the Dollar store.

These five pink items came in one package for $1  These are great for taking lids on and off, and open and close.  Filling containers.  Squishing the body scrubber.  Tossing the body scrubber into a bucket. 

We filled the tall containers with pony beads, and the small round containers with pink and blue heart beads for threading onto string and counting activities.

Here my daughter is adding pony beads to the tall containers.

Pink and blue heart beads for threading.  Good for fine motor skills, grasping, eye hand coordination, making patterns, sizing, counting, identifying colors and shapes, and more.  These kits came with the thread and a variety of six beads per packet including a heart shape.  These are available at the dollar store.

These are wonderful little kaleidoscopes.  They are so fun to see through.  The images you see through them become multiples and if you turn them, you see the images change.  We discussed how these were similar to looking through some insect eyes such as flies. 

Here is a really fun optical sensory experience.  Look at hearts, and other objects with the kaleidoscope.  Place several objects in a pattern to view them, etc.  They can also be stacked or lined up in patterns, and counted.  The pack came with eight kaleidoscopes in two different colors for $1.  This item is available at the dollar store.

Erasers are great to use as math manipulatives.  Great for counting, matching, stacking, using as markers or game pieces, patterns, and more.  These valentine erasers also have the words “kiss” and ‘I love you” on two pairs, so they can be great to use in learning words too.  The package contains 6 matching pairs, or twelve erasers for $1 at the dollar store.

Foam hearts to use as manipulatives for counting, matching, making patterns, sizing, decorating, and more.

Heart boxes for various activities, open and close, matching, counting, patterns, hiding objects, transferring objects from one box to the other, games, colors red-light pink-hot pink, and again these have words and are great for teaching language in a hands on way.  These come in a pack of 10 for $1.

Silver heart boxes.  Come in a pack of 3 for $1.

White heart boxes.  These have a really neat texture of ridges and ruffles and are different than all the other hearts.  These also are a double heart, a fun twist.   These come in a pack of four for $1.

This is a recycled spice bottle I saved and my 8 year old son covered in red and pink construction paper.  The holes in the top are great for poking things into, and also holding pipe cleaners while little hands thread on beads.  The other side of the lid has a larger hole and is great for dropping beads into the jar.  We love to shake different objects inside and hear what sounds they make too.

I pulled out some of the larger things from the bin for you to see.  I included a small dust pan and broom for sweeping up small beads, pom poms, and pokadots.  There are pink pipe cleaners for lacing beads, making patterns, and twisting into fun shapes.  Pink embroidry string for measuring, wrapping, and lacing.  Fluffy pink body scrubbers for feeling textures and tossing.  A bright white bow for visual stimulation and feeling texture differences.  This is also good for role play as they pretend to give valentines gifts.  Pink cubex cubes for counting and stacking.  A pink bean bag for tossing in our game of tic tac toe.  Foam cupcake puzzle pieces to assemble.  Foam hearts in different sizes to match up smallest to largest and count to three.  Pretty pink and purple ribbon for measuring and lacing.  There was also two sets of tongs for grasping items that are not pictured. 

Glass gems for sorting and counting.

Fun emery board with glass pokadot beads on one side and a sandpaper texture on the other.   

A real finger massage, and very neat to run your fingers across for a fun sensory experience.  My daughter plays with this a lot.   

My daughter (age 3) is examining her glass “gems” with her pink magnifying glass.   My son (age 2) is shaking pony beads he placed inside a heart container.  He is also dancing and thrilled to hear the sounds the beads make.

Erasers to sort, count, stack, and make patterns.

Sorting pony beads into the matching colored heart container. 

They sorted pink, red, and white pony beads.

Threading pony beads onto pink pipe cleaners.  This activity requires the children to slow down and concentrate to get their bead to line up with the pipe cleaner.  I loved watching them concentrate on this.

We had five different heart containers in the discovery bin.  Here you see four different heart containers.  In this activity, my son age 2, is learning to match lids to the correct heart container.  This was very good practice for him and reinforced a lot of different skills.

The bin was used through out the month of February for free play.  Usually for one hour in the morning and sometimes another hour in the afternoon, the bin was on the table and lots of free time fun was had. 

Some of these items were also used in guided activities such as those on the red and pokadotted trays you see in the pictures above, and you can read more about other guided activities we did with items in the discovery bin here .

What was in your February Discovery Bin?  Please leave a comment and let us know about it.  Thank you.

Also don’t forget to link up to our Valentines Day Link Up.  Share your activities, crafts, recipes, ideas, play time, and more.

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Pasta Science With Kids In The Kitchen

Whats In The Workbox today? 

A fun and tasty science project for all ages.

Into the science workbox put a box of pasta, a piece of paper, a pencil, and a small pretend cooking pot.  Ask the children to share ideas of how to use these items together.  Ask the children the questions from the key concepts listed below.  This helps build their interest in the project.  Then explain that we are going to do an experiment. 

This project can be done by kids of all ages with adult assistance to monitor for safety and assist as needed.  Our younger three kids were learning about the letter “P” and this experiment tied in nicely.  However, they did not participate in the heating steps of this experiment, rather observed their older siblings doing those steps based on their skill levels.

Key concepts
What is pasta?
What is dehydrated?
What is rehydrated?
What happens to dry pasta when it is heated for 10 minutes in boiling water?

Senses involved:

Skills involved:
following directions
reason and deduction
cooking-life skills
scientific method

The Simple Pasta Experiment

We used two packages of pasta from a macaroni and cheese mix.  Place the pasta into measuring containers.  We used matching cereal bowls that were identical.  Have additional matching containers on hand for latter in the experiment. 

Two quarts of water.

For this to be a correct scientific method, you need have the same amount of dry pasta and jars of water set aside as your control.  These would not be used during the heating process.  Simply left alone and then used for comparison.

Have the children write out the experiment on paper. 

This can be as simple as a few pictures, written words, or more it can be more sophisticated.  Its up to you.  I allowed each child, based on their skill level the freedom to write out the experiment with pictures and words. 

Have the children feel the dry pasta.   Have them shake the pasta and hear what sound it makes.   Ask them to look at it and describe it to you.  Then ask them “what do you hypothesize will happen when the water is heated to a boil and the pasta is cooked in the hot water for 10 minutes?”  From experience of eating macaroni and cheese, the children will likely say the pasta will get cooked, or soft.  The older children will understand in advance that the pasta will increase in size as it absorbs water.

Pour the water into a pan.

With the supervision of an adult, heat the pan of water to boiling.  Add pasta.  Stir.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Have the adult strain the pasta reserving the liquid.  Place pasta back into containers or heat proof bowls that held the dry pasta at the start of the experiment.

Let the children assist with the experiment according to their skill level and safety awareness.  Always use caution when working around a hot stove and boiling liquids.   For example, my two and three year olds were able to assist with putting the dry pasta into the bowls.  The six and eight year olds assisted with setting out the equipment needed and filled the quart jars with cold water.   My 10 year old was able to assist with putting the water on the stove to boil.  Mom strained the cooked pasta as children are not yet aware of how to do this safely and avoid getting a steam burn.  Even mom still gets these from time to time.  Later all the children assisted with different tasks with clean up and when we made a meal from our project.

Observe the changes in the pasta and liquid.  


Several things we observed:
The pasta expanded and now filled three identical bowls instead of two. 
Pasta changed from hard and dry to soft , flexible, and wet. 
The pasta no longer made sounds when you shake it.
The pasta looks similar to before in shape, but now it is bigger and lighter in color.

When cool enough, transfer the liquid back into the quart measuring equipment you started with.  We used a mason jar.  Compare how much liquid is left after straining out the cooked pasta.  Has it changed?  Compare the results to the start of the experiment.  Discuss where the liquid “disappeared to” and how it was absorbed by the pasta as it cooked.

Have the children write down the changes they have observed.  Be sure to discuss the key concepts you set out to learn, such as what is dehydration and rehydration?

When your are done with your experiment, why not eat your pasta?

Be sure to toss your pasta with something delicious and reinforce more of the children’s learning experience.   How about chicken and white sauce, or mix it with some milk, butter and cheese, or the cheese packet from the box, or mix up some pasta sauce.   We reheated ours with milk, cheese packet, and butter for approximately five minutes on low heat to medium heat, and had a tasty meal to enjoy.

The kids really had fun makin
g a science project out of their food today.

These young scientists gobbled down every last bite!

What a great way to reinforce a science concept .  They were able to use all their senses in learning today.  This will go a long way in helping them retain what they learned, because they “lived it” along the way.

Now if we could only eat our grammar lesson.

Expansion Ideas
Measure and record the size of a piece of pasta before and after it is cooked.
Weigh the bowls of pasta before and after they are cooked.
Soak pasta in cold water for ten minutes and compare with pasta cooked in boiling water for ten minutes.
Have the children make pasta from scratch and work through the drying process of pasta to learn more about dehydration. 
Grind your own flour from grain for making the pasta.
Read a book about pasta.
Do a lapbook about pasta.
Research different kinds of pasta shapes and made from different kinds of grains.
Repeat the experiment again using different kinds of pasta and compare what happens.
Research where various pasta come from around the world.
Learn about grains and proteins, nutrition, allergies, milling of flour, and more about what causes pasta to hold its shape, what causes it to loose its shape, and why is heat needed for it to keep its shape while softening verses the idea of why it does not dissolve back into flour and water paste.
Look under a microscope at grains, flour, wet pasta, dry pasta, fresh water, and leftover pasta cooking water.
Research what happens to pasta after you eat it, such as what happens to it in your stomach, in your intestines, and the end results when it leaves the body.

Pasta is so much fun!

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Pink Activities

What’s In The Box? and What’s On The Shelf?

A lot of “P” activities and especially “PINK”.  

All week long we are learning with:
the letter “P”,
the shape of a heart,
and counting to three.

Here I prepared an activity tray with several “P” activities to go along with our Letter Of The Week.

This is a fun activity.  This is a little wooden box with a window.  Inside are balls and you watch through the window and try to get a ball into a hole by moving or tilting the box in different directions until the little ball rolls into a hole and stays there. 

This activity was a huge challenge for my three year old.  For quite awhile she was frustrated that she wasn’t getting the ball in. 

We talked about making little movements instead of big changes when tipping the game.  We also talked about using the table to help hold it still.  She finally mastered it.  She learned to make smaller movements and use the table to help her.  Not only did she get the ball in a hole, she got it in a PINK hole!  She was so proud of herself.

Then we played and practiced with three sizes of foam hearts.  They were also slightly different shades of pink.  We talked about how colors can be lighter or darker or brighter shades of the same color.  She lined up the hearts from biggest to smallest.

Then she stacked them from biggest on the bottom to the smallest on the top to make a pretty layered heart.  Then she pretended to give her heart valentine to a friend.

Next she practiced counting to three by placing clothes pins around a pink bucket.

Practiced counting both forward and backward. 

She also counted three pennies and placed them in the pink bucket, and three pink cubes and placed them in the pink bucket.  It was good practice to use different “P” items for counting to the number three to reinforce this learning step.

Here she is looking through a pink magnifying glass at pink butterflies and also pink hearts.  These cards were from a domino set we printed off and laminated.   You can read about where to get them and how we used them here.

Its fun to be silly.  She is looking at me taking her “P” picture.

She completed a Dora activity page about the color pink.  She loves Dora related activities. 

Then we read the story Pinkalicious Pink Around The Rink.  I love these early readers, and can’t wait to pick up some more in this series. I will write a review of this book for you later and post a link.

Coloring pink.

Sorting pink letters and numbers and cubes from other colors.

She had a lot of fun with practicing her “Pink” and “P” activities. 

We did lots more related to this, so stay tuned, there are more stories to come!

This article will be linked up with

ABC and 123

Tot Tuesdays

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