Preschool Halloween Party on a Budget

In August of this year, I attended a blogging workshop.  While there, I met a fellow mommy blogger named Kyla (she blogs over at Ford-ology) who lives about 15 minutes away from me and has two kids the same ages as mine but opposite genders.  It was like a match made in heaven!  That night, she and I got to talking and decided that we definitely needed to collaborate on a post in the near future.

One day Kyla and I ran into each other at Hobby Lobby with our kids, who immediately started talking and playing with each other like they were already friends.  As Kyla and I were talking about activities our kids could do together for a playdate, it slowly evolved into a preschool/toddler Halloween party on a budget.  (Funny how things work huh?)  The more she and I talked, the more it all came together.  So today we are each sharing how you can host a fun, simple and entertaining Halloween party for your kids and their friends without breaking the bank.

We blocked out a two hour period of time to do everything which included prep time for each activity.  You could easily choose any one of these activities and do them with your child(ren) or for a playdate.  There is enough here that if you decided not to do an actual Halloween party, you could have some type of Halloween activity for almost every day of the week!  Some take a little more prep time, while others are fairly simple.  But the main thing is that all of them are budget friendly.

To start out with, we had the kids dress up because what’s a Halloween party without costumes?  We just used some dress ups we had at home rather than their real Halloween costumes.  When we got to Kyla’s house, we found that our girls had both chosen to dress as Sleeping Beauty/Aurora and our boys were both dressed as superheros: Spiderman and Superman!  So if our kids look like they are dressed the same, they pretty much are, but it was totally a coincidence.  (A very cute coincidence.)

While the kids played together, Kyla and I finished some of the prep work.  She already had a cute little table all decked out in Halloween decor with a tablecloth, fake spiderwebs and spiders (total cost: $4).  Each place was set with a cute paper pumpkin with each child’s name on it, a pumpkin and the paper goods we were going to use for lunch time.

Photobooth
Our first activity was a photobooth.  Kyla had found some cute monster props for the kids to use for $3 from Target and the Happy Halloween banner for $1 (also from Target).

We also used some darling little tissue paper tassels from my friends Etsy shop, Eve’s Party Market, to add a little extra Halloween fun. 

The kids thought using the props was hilarious and Kyla and I even got in on the fun, using our kids as stand-in photographers. *wink* (The tassels were kindly provided at no cost by Creative Juice Cafe.  The retail price is $4 for a pack of 5 tassels.)

Decorating Pumpkins
The next activity was decorating pumpkins.  We gave the kids some stickers, pompoms, googly eyes and paint and let them go to town.  (I already had the pompoms, paint and glue and Kyla spent $2 on stickers and $4 for the four pumpkins.)

It was so fun to watch them each create their own little masterpiece!  When the pumpkins didn’t have anywhere left to decorate, we set them aside to dry.

Pumpkin Toss
While the kids took a little break to get out some energy, we set up the next activity which we called the Pumpkin Toss.  I bought 3 buckets from the Dollar Tree for $3 and I made six beanbags using some leftover material and plastic pellets (purchased from Hobby Lobby for $3).

Since the kids are all fairly little, we just told them the rules were to try and get one beanbag in each bucket.  My daughter and her son (both 4 years old) accomplished this pretty easily, while the 2 year olds weren’t quite coordinated enough to aim accurately.  But they all had fun and wanted to try multiple times.  (I’m thinking this will be a fun game for my kids during the cold winter months when we’re stuck inside.)  If you have older kids, you could label each bucket with a point value and then tally up points for prizes.

Lunch
Putting together the kids’ lunch was so fun!

We made PB and J sandwiches and then cut them out into ghosts and pumpkins using cookie cutters.

The mummy juice boxes were made by ripping up white fabric I had in my scrap pile and wrapping it around the boxes and gluing some googly eyes on.

The string cheese ghosts and mandarin orange fruit cup pumpkins were made using a sharpie to draw the faces on.

Lastly, we gave the kids some yummy Jell-O popcorn in individual popcorn buckets, also from Eve’s Party Market.  They were the perfect size to portion out the popcorn.  (The popcorn buckets were kindly provided at no cost by Eve’s Party Market.  The retail price starts at $1 for 1 with bulk discounts available.)

Treasure Hunt/Goody Bags
The last activity was a treasure hunt that led the kids to some goody bags.  Because the clues were hidden around Kyla’s house, her kids led the way to most of the clues but all the kids had fun running from room to room to find the next clue.

When the kids found their bags, they immediately sat down to find out what was inside: pumpkin bubble necklaces, spider rings, vampire teeth, pencils, small notebooks, coloring pages and a little bag of candy corn.

All of the items for the goody bags were found at Target in the dollar section and cost $6 to fill 4 bags.

I found the treasure hunt printout on Imagination Soup and just printed it off at home.  The coloring sheets are from Honey & Lime.  Kyla put two on each page and then cut them down and stapled the corner to make a little coloring book.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, our whole goal with this party was to make it budget friendly and have activities that anyone can put together.  Even if you don’t consider yourself crafty, you can take any one of these activities and tailor it to your kids.  Kids aren’t going to care if everything is fancy or picture perfect.  All they want is to enjoy the activities and spend some time with you and their friends.

Total cost out of pocket: $29

Honestly, I had so much fun putting this whole little party together for the kids!  Each activity kept their attention for just long enough to complete it and they were able to get their excess energy out while Kyla and I set up the next activity.  As Kyla’s son said at the end, “It was the best morning ever!”  I think we can definitely count that as a success!

If you’d like to read Kyla’s post about the party, click HERE.

What are you favorite Halloween-themed activities to do with your kids?

3 Fun Ways to Paint with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

As a stay-at-home mom, I’m always trying to come up with fun activities for my kids to do beyond coloring and Play-Doh.  Not that there’s anything wrong with these things, but my kids get bored of them pretty quickly.  And when they get bored, what do they do?  Bug each other.  Which in turn bugs me.  So it makes everyone a lot happier if I have a few new activities to offer, especially during the winter when it’s cold and we’re stuck inside and even when it’s summer and it’s hot outside. *wink*

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

The ideas I’m sharing today all use the same basic medium: paint.  I bought a set with 6 different colors from Walmart for about $6.  The paint is nice and bright and easy to clean up with soap and water.  I also opted for tempera paint which is more opaque.  You could easily use acrylic paints for any of these projects as well.

No Mess Finger Painting

This is a great project for young children.  They can’t make a mess because the finger paint is inside a bag, but they still get the sensory experience from moving the paint around with their fingers and seeing the bright colors.  We did this activity with my son (21 months), my nephew (2.5 years) and my daughter (4 years). (At the time of the original post.)

For this activity, you’ll need:

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!
  • A resealable bag, such as a Ziploc, in a quart size
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Paint
  • Masking tape (optional)

Step 1:  Cut your paper down to size so that it fits in the bag when sealed.
Step 2:  Shake your paint well and then squirt different colors on top of the paper in various spots (the paper should be inside the bag.)

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Step 3: Seal the bag.
Step 4: Tape the bag to the table on at least 2 sides to prevent it from moving around.  (We decided not to do this and it still worked fine.)
Step 5:  Let your child “finger paint” on top of the bag.  They can feel the paint under their fingers as they move it around, but it won’t make a mess since it’s in the bag!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Marble Painting

I remember doing this activity as a young child in preschool and loving it!  My kids liked watching the marbles roll around the bin and all over the paper.  I bought the bin and marbles at the dollar store (just two of the awesome craft supplies you can buy at the dollar store) which I can easily reuse the next time we do this activity.  I had to help my son move the marbles around, but my daughter had no problems doing it herself.

For this activity, you’ll need:

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!
  • A medium plastic bin with sides at least 3 inches high
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Paint
  • Marbles 

Step 1: Cut your paper down if needed to fit inside your bin.  Mine had rounded corners to I just used a roll of masking tape to round out the corners of the paper.

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Step 2: Put the paper in the bottom of the bin and squirt different colors all over the paper.

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Step 3: Drop 3-4 marbles in the bin and start shaking the bin around to get the marbles rolling through the paint.
Step 4: Remove the paper to dry and start all over!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Cookie Cutter Painting

This activity is more geared towards preschoolers since it’s not as contained and more likely to make a mess.  Also, the bottom of a cookie cutter can be a little sharp which might be a hazard for smaller children without close supervision.  My daughter did great and just got a little paint on her fingers as she dipped the cookie cutter in the paint.  This is also a great activity to do for holidays (heart for Valentine’s Day, clover for St. Patrick’s Day, etc) or preschool (letters, number, animals, etc).

For this activity, you’ll need:

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Paint
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • A shallow container to put the paint in, such as a pie tin or paper plate
  • Tape (optional)

Step 1: Squirt some paint onto your paper plate.  I tried to squirt mine in the basic shape of the cookie cutter I was using (ie. train=oval, heart/star=circle) to make it easier to get the paint on the cookie cutter.
Step 2: Tape your paper to the table to prevent it from moving around.
Step 3: Dip the cookie cutters into the paint and press it onto the paper in different places.
Step 4:  Let dry.

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

Painting with your little kids doesn't have to be messy and can be a lot of fun!

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it gave you some fun ideas for activities to do with your kids!

What are your favorite indoor activities to keep your kids busy?

Bubble Snake

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

The weather here in Utah has been pretty crazy lately.  It will be sunny and 80 degrees one day and the next will be rainy and 60 degrees.  My poor kids ask me every morning if it’s going to be a warm day outside so they can play in the yard.  Thankfully, today the answer was yes and they were outside as much as they could be playing on the swing set, jumping on the trampoline or splashing in the water.

One of their favorite things to do outside is blow bubbles.  We go through more bubbles than almost anything else they play with.  (This could also be due to the fact that they tend to spill the bubbles…)  While my son was napping, my daughter and I made a little contraption that when you blow into it, a stream of bubbles comes out the other end.  We call it a ‘bubble snake’.  It’s really simple and costs practically nothing to make.

What you’ll need:

  • sock
  • empty waterbottle
  • scissors
  • duct tape

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

First, cut of the bottom inch of the water bottle.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Then cut the sock below the heel.  You may need to cut a little more off depending on the size of the sock and the size of your waterbottle.  Just keep trimming until it’s about an inch or so below where the bottle starts to taper towards the top.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Use some duct tape to secure it to the bottle.  Make sure you pull the sock tight so that it’s not baggy at the bottom.  This will create a better bubble snake.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Mix up some ‘bubble juice’, as my kids like to call it, by putting some water and liquid dish soap in a shallow bowl or container.  You can also use the pre-made stuff from the store, but I think the homemade kind works better for this activity.

Put the bottom of the sock in the soapy water and then blow through the top.  Don’t suck back in otherwise you’ll get a mouthful of bubbles (not that I know this from experience or anything…).

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

My kids love this activity.  They will take turns making bubble snakes while the other one will try to pop them.  Super fun.  Super cheap.  Super easy.  Definitely my kind of kids activity.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

I hope you have fun!

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

A few weeks ago, I thought it would be a good idea to get some starts going for our garden.  I bought some soil and those little biodegradable pots and used some seeds I already had and then planted two of each kind.  I made sure they were watered, got plenty of sunshine during the day and brought them in at night because it was still pretty cold.  This lasted about three days.  One afternoon, we had a crazy windstorm and guess what got left outside.  My little plants.  My daughter discovered them and came running inside with tears streaming down her face: “Mom!  The seeds!  They blew over!”  She was really sad about it.  Sure enough, there was dirt all over the patio and no seeds to be seen.

Since then we’ve had some snow and rain and sunny days and I haven’t attempted to start any more plants, not sure if it was really springtime yet.  One day, I remembered a time in first grade starting seeds in a plastic bag using a wet paper towel to keep the seeds moist, then sticking it in the sun and watching the seeds sprout.  Duh.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  (Answer: Probably because even though I’ve had a garden for the last few years, I’m still an amateur gardener.)  Turns out this is actually a viable way to start seeds for your garden and not just an elementary school experiment.

I decided to turn it into a little activity for my kids so they could see how plants grow.  I gathered the supplies: seeds, zip-top bags and paper towels.  (I’ve also read you can use coffee filters instead of paper towels.)

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

This was a super easy project to have the kids help out with.  I simply chose three different kinds of seeds out of my stash (which I keep in the freezer).   Then I got a paper towel and folded it down to size so it would fit inside the bag.  Using a spray bottle, I got the paper towels wet but not soaking, then placed them inside each bag.  My kids loved squirting the water out of the bottle and had lots of fun with this step.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

I poured a few seeds into their hand which they put inside the bag on top of the damp towel.  I helped space them out, then pressed out most of the air because I wanted to tape the bags to a window and didn’t want the seeds shifting.  Another site I looked at showed them actually blowing air into the bags and then sealing them before setting them in a warm spot.  Either way you do it, the bag acts as a mini greenhouse and you shouldn’t have to open it to add any water during the germination process.  I labeled each bag with the type of seed and then taped the bags to my kitchen window.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

And let’s be honest: this was just as much an experiment for me as it was for my kids.  They wanted to see things grow.  I was curious to see which seeds would sprout (if at all), which would sprout soonest, etc.  It took me back to my little first grade self, learning about how seeds grow and the excitement of watching my own seed sprout.

I took pictures on day 1, 3, 5, and 7 and you can see in the pictures how much, or how little, they grew in a week’s time.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

I didn’t do anything scientific with my kids in terms of measuring the size or drawing a picture of the seed, but I might do this activity/experiment next year when they are a little older and my daughter will be five.  You could easily adapt this activity depending on age group.  I found a website that had a lesson plan about growing seeds in a bag and a worksheet included.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to try and plant these seeds in my garden but I think I’ve still got a little time to leave them in the bag before they start to go bad.  (Garden Betty’s website gave a lot of great information on how to do this.  Check out her post for more information.)

Do you have a favorite method for starting your seeds in the spring?

60+ St. Patrick’s Day Activities and Coloring Pages

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.

I think St. Patrick’s Day is such a fun holiday!  There are so many activities that make it enjoyable, especially for kids.  My daughter hasn’t quite decided if she likes leprechauns or not though… Oh well!  I hope you enjoy this fun round up I’ve got for you today.  There are activities and coloring pages galore.  So take a peek and see what you like!  (Click on the link below the picture to be taken to the page.)

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
 St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt  |  Tauni Everett

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Magic Leprechaun Rocks  |  Gift of Curiosity

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt  |  The Dating Divas

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Rainbow Binoculars  |  Crafty Morning

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
3-D Over the Rainbow Craft  |  Crafty Morning

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Green Kool-Aid Playdough  |  Rockabye Butterfly

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Rainbow Pots  |  Make

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Four Leaf Clover Handprint Art  |  In Lieu of Preschool

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Shamrock Coloring Page  |  Honest to Nod

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Luck Coloring Page  |  Coloring Pages Bliss

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
10 St. Patrick’s Day Coloring Pages  |  Celebration Doodles

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Irish Blessing Coloring Page  |  Skip to my Lou

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
Leprechaun Color-by-Letter Page  |  Reading with Kids

60+ St. Patrick's Day Activities and Coloring Pages--lots of kid crafts and coloring pages to keep little hands happy.
May the luck ‘o the Irish be with ya! 😉

Teaching Your Preschooler Time

Kadie: “Mom, what’s for lunch?”
Me: “It’s not lunch time, it’s breakfast.”

Kadie: “Mom, last year I went to Aunt Dani’s house.”
Me: “Sweetheart, we were there yesterday.”
Kadie: “Mom, what’s today?”
Me: “It’s (insert day of the week).”
Kadie: “Does that mean it’s splash pad day?”
If you’ve ever tried to help a young child understand how many days it is until a certain event or activity, you’ve probably been met with confusion and frustration that it’s not happening right now.  This is because small children live in the present and they have a hard time thinking abstractly.   Time is a very abstract and intangible concept, which is why it is difficult to grasp until they get closer to age 6 or 7 and their brain starts to develop in a way that they are able to begin to understand things such as time.
My daughter, like many children her age, ask a lot of questions.  Some are pretty easy to answer–“Can I have a cookie?” and others…not so much–“Where do babies come from?”  While these seemingly non-stop questions can be frustrating, especially when the same one has been asked 10 times in the last half hour, it’s helpful to realize that they are asking because they are trying to understand their world better.  As parents, it’s our job to help them.  But how can we help them understand something they can’t see?
As my daughter has gotten older, she asks questions about time without really understanding time itself.  She knows that things happen in a certain order, but doesn’t have the cognitive development to fully grasp how it all works together.  In my desire to help her understand her world better, I’ve tried a few techniques that have been helpful:

Teaching Your Preschooler Time--tips on how to help your child learn the concept of time

 Make a countdown chain  This last fall, my daughter started preschool (aaahh!).  She was really excited about it and asked me regularly if today is “preschool day”.  Finally, I decided to help her make a “Countdown to Preschool” chain so she could have a visual representation of the amount of time, or days, left until she starts.  I let her choose the colors for the chain, cut out and decorate the top of the chain, and then she helped me tape it together.  We put it up on the wall in the kitchen where she can see it every day.  I explained to her that each day she could tear off one of the chains and when she tore off the last one, it would be the first day of preschool.  We also included other activities that are happening between now and preschool so that she has other events to look forward to along the way. 

Teach them a song  When my daughter was really little, we watched a lot of Sesame Street.  Some of the first words she learned beyond “mama” and “dada” were from the songs we watched and listened to.  In addition to watching the videos, we sang during diaper changes, in the car, during baths, etc.  So when she got a little older, around 2.5, we taught her a little song for the days of the week.  It’s nothing special, but after singing it over and over with her, she knows the song without help.  While she doesn’t fully understand what the days of the week are, she understands enough to recognize that each day has a name and goes in order.
Use a calendar  We have a calendar up in our kitchen that helps me with my meal planning.  Just like any calendar, it has the days of the week at the top.  It’s been helpful at times to take the calendar down and show her what the current day is and what day a certain event is happening.  For example, we went camping a few weeks ago.  She kept asking if today was camping day.  We got the calendar down and showed her that, no, today is Wednesday and we’re camping on Friday.  And then we’d count how many days until camping.  We repeated this the next day, and the next, until it was the day we were going camping.  She didn’t ask as often when we were going because she would look at the calendar and remember what we had talked about.  I could also remind her of our earlier conversation so she could think back and answer her own question.

*Another method we could have used was to cross each day off as it happened, which is a variation on the countdown chain.

Teaching Your Preschooler Time--tips on how to help your child learn the concept of time

Help them learn their numbers  We’ve been working with our daughter on numbers for the last year or so.  She is at the point where she can count up to 20 easily.  She also recognizes numbers if she sees them written down or on a clock.  She used to ask me all the time, “Mom, can I have a snack?”  Rather than keep telling her that it wasn’t time for a snack–an answer she doesn’t understand–I showed her the clock and said, “When the short arm reaches the 10, then you know it’s snack time.”  The next time she asked, I pointed at the clock and asked her if the short arm was at 10.  If it was, then she knew it was snack time.  We’ve done the same thing with lunch time.  This has helped her learn that time moves forward and that certain things happen at certain times.  Having a clock to look at makes it more tangible. 

Have a routine/schedule  One of the very best things you can do for your child is to have a regular, predictable routine or schedule.  This applies to many areas, including teaching your children about time.  While this doesn’t deal directly with numbers or calendars, it does help them know what to expect.  A child that can count on something happening is going to transition easier, better and faster than a child that doesn’t know what to expect each day.  For my daughter, it is helpful if I give a basic outline of what is happening that day.  (I usually break it down into morning, afternoon and evening.)  If she knows we are going to the grocery store after breakfast, then it’s not surprising to her when I tell her she needs to get her shoes on so we can go.  If she knows we are going to the park when she wakes up from her nap, she is more likely to go to sleep so that it comes faster.  Schedules and routines work wonders with kids and their ability to adjust more quickly and easily.
*If you don’t have a regular schedule in place for your kids, try doing it a little at a time by implementing a morning or bedtime routine.  It may take a little time, but probably less than you expect if you stick with it.
I hope that some of these suggestions have been helpful.  Every kid is different and so some of these may work better than others depending on your child’s age and how they process information.  

Is there something that you do that helps your preschooler understand time?  I’d love to hear it!

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!
This post originally appeared on Muddy Little Toes where I was previously a co-contributor.

One of the first songs I remember singing to my daughter was the alphabet song.  I’d sing it while changing diapers, in the car, during bath time, waiting for dinner…pretty much all the time.  When she was about 20 months, she started singing the song on her own with a little help here and there.  By the time she turned 2 years old, she knew the song and could recognize some letters (mostly the ones in her name).  Currently, she is 3 (turning 4 in January) and she knows all the letters by sight, can write about half of them, and knows 3/4 of them by sound.  I’m not telling you this to toot my horn or say that I’m a great teacher when it comes to letters.  But there are some tools I’ve used that have proven to be successful for my daughter, and my son is starting to catch on as well (he is 18 months).  Check out the list below and see if anything catches your eye!

Sing the ABCsI mentioned this one already, but I wanted to include it as part of the list.  This is the simplest way to expose your kids to the alphabet.  Most babies and young children like songs and music and catch on quickly.  Even if you only sing the ABCs anytime you change their diaper and they’ll hear it at least 5 times a day.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Watch Sesame Street alphabet videos
Say what you will about letting small children watch tv, but it was something that I allowed my daughter to watch for maybe 10-15 minutes a day when I needed to distract her while I got dinner ready or used the bathroom or straightened up the house.  I wanted to make sure that any exposure she had was educational, so I simply subscribed to the Sesame Street channel on YouTube and let her watch alphabet videos and other songs.  Before long, she’d ask for the “elemeno” song and would try to sing along.

Sidewalk Chalk (3 variations)

  1. In Order: Write the alphabet out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  I got into a habit of doing this almost every time we went into our backyard in the summer (starting when my daughter was about 18 months).  She didn’t pick up on a lot at the beginning but just seeing the letters consistently helped her recognize them more easily as she got older. 
  2. Mixed Up: Write all the letters of the alphabet on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  Then quiz your child on where any given letter is.  This is an activity to be used once your child is older, probably 3+.  It stimulates them mentally and physically since they are walking/running to each letter. 
  3. Trace Letters: Write all the letters out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  Give your child some chalk and help them trace the letters as you tell them what the letter is.  Not only does this expose them to the letters, but it also helps strengthen their fine motor skills which are important for activities like writing.
12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Bath Crayons
This is really just another way to help introduce letters to your child.  It is fun for them because the get to color in the bathtub, but it’s also an opportunity to teach them where they (generally) won’t run away from you.  You could do all of the same activities as you would with bath crayons as you do with the sidewalk chalk.

Foam Bath Letters
Foam bath letters are similar to bath crayons but nice because the are reusable and cheaper than bath crayons.  The same activities used with chalk and crayons can be used with these as well.

Refrigerator Magnets
I bought some inexpensive letter magnets from the dollar store and wrote out the alphabet on a piece of construction paper and stuck it to the fridge.  Then I gave my daughter the letter magnets and told her to find the letter that matched the one I had written and place it on top.  She loved this activity and has asked me to do it multiple times.

Alphabet Books
This is kind of a no-brainer, but alphabet books are awesome tools to help your child learn their letters.  My kids love the ones that have the letter and objects that start with that letter surrounding it.  I think it’s a good way to help them make an early connection between letters and reading and the objects around us.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

White Board
When you feel comfortable letting your child use markers, a white board is a good indoor activity to use to help your child practice recognizing, tracing and writing letters.  (We’ve also used our white board for shapes and numbers.)

Letters of Their Name
The first letters my daughter became familiar with were the letters in her name.  I would write her name over and over and we’d practice saying each letter.  She got to the point where she could recognize those letters in books, on signs, cereal boxes, etc.

Pencil/Pen and Paper
Recently, my daughter has been asking for pen/pencil and paper to practice her letters.  Sometimes we’ll write the alphabet and other times we’ll write words or names.  We started with her name and we’ve expanded to writing my son’s name, “mom” and “dad”.  This is another activity that helps strengthen their fine motor skills.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Leap Frog
Once your child hits about age 3-4, letting them watch the videos put out by Leap Frog may be something you want to look into.  They cover everything from letters to numbers to reading.  I really like them because they are simple, straightforward and they use music to supplement the learning, which kids love.  My two favorites are Letter Factory and The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park.
 

Bananagrams
Another activity we’ve been doing recently with my daughter is using the game Bananagrams to quiz her on letters.  We also spell words with the letters or ask her to spell some of the words she knows. It’s just another activity to help with letter recognition.

I hope you found something that you think will help your child learn their alphabet!  Keep in mind that all kids learn at different rates and what works for my kids might not work for yours.  But I think the key is consistency.  If you are working with your child on a fairly regular basis, they will catch on eventually and at their own pace.

What have you done with your kids to help them learn their alphabet letter and sounds?  I’d love to hear your ideas!