Posted in Literacy

Morning Message: My go-to activity for an educational jumpstart to our day

Mornings start early over here. I’m up, dressed (dressed meaning pajamas or lounge clothes, hat, and farm boots) and headed outside, feed and water buckets in hand, just as the sun is coming up over the horizon. I stand in the snow, (figuratively) frozen and  wonderstruck gazing at the colors of the sunrise.


It is truly a sight to behold, but now the horse has seen me and lets out his “I’m starving, where have you been?” neigh. I stand there just a minute longer. Another neigh. I pick up the buckets and head to the barn. Thirty minutes later I walk back into the house, all barn animals feed, watered, and outside soaking up the morning sun. Now it’s time to feed the animals inside: the dog, cats, and the children. But first I pour myself a cup of coffee, savoring the first sip knowing that the next sip will be cold. I start to prepare breakfast. On the menu today is pancakes, cut up pineapple, and some bacon. While the cakes are cooking on the griddle, I add another log to woodstove, put the dishes away from the dishwasher, add more pancake batter to the griddle, pick up the 52 crayons from the kitchen table, give the old girl (our dog) her 8 pills and 4 eye drops, take all my supplements and vitamins, and add my favorite essential oils to my diffuser bracelet. It’s been about 18 minutes and I take another sip of coffee. Yep it’s cold. I pour it back into the pot to warm up.

I give the kids the five minute breakfast reminder to feed the cats. Rule around here is you don’t get food until the cats get food. We sit down for breakfast and it’s gobbled up in half the time it took to make it. The kids put their plates in the dishwasher and run off for some play time. I can finally sip some hot coffee while I figure out the school plans for the day. Note: I don’t follow a scripted curriculum. I plan out and write my own so it takes more time to plan and prep which I usually don’t get. My first question is what are we going to first? The voice in my head always answers with, “Morning message, duh?”

Educationally speaking, a morning message is a short message you write on a whiteboard or piece of chart paper. The message read is meant to be shared, shared between the teacher and the student.

The reason I love starting with a morning message is because it literally requires very little prep work (just a well thought out message). It can also naturally lends itself to differentiated and extended learning. If you have a wide range of ages, grades, or learning abilities in your classroom, then it can easily meet all their needs. You won’t have to get three different activities ready and you’ve already met one important piece of literacy.

So for example, let’s use the below message. I write mine on our whiteboard easel (unless I plan to reuse the text). It’s been snowing a lot here so that was inspiration for this message.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Snow is cold,
Snow is white.
Make a ball,
Then take a bite.

My little learners take turns coming up to the board and circle something they know or something they can identify. My 5 year old usually circles letters, numbers, the sight words she is beginning to identify, and some CVC words (c=consonant v=vowel). My 7 year old will circle his sight words and will be looking for words that he is working on such as words with short and long vowel rules. After they each have had a few turns, there are words that are left uncircled. These are the words they don’t know and need my modeled help on how to figure them out, hence shared reading. They learn by watching me talk aloud how I would figure out the words. They learn what strategies I would use when I get stuck on a word. For example, using the above message, we did not know the word snow. So now I will literally talk out loud (you can see my markings on the message in the picture below as I am saying all this) and say, ” Hmmm. I don’t know this word but I know that these two letters s and n next together say /sn/ like in the word snake.” I box it as I talk. “Ok so I know this says /sn/… maybe this word says snake but I hear the long a sound in snake and I don’t see letter a in this word. So snake doesn’t look right. Well I remember reading the farm book and there was the ow in the word cow. Maybe this word says snow (reading it so it rhymes with plow). But snow (read it again so it rhymes with plow) seems like a nonsense word. I also know that the letters o and w can make a long o sound like in bow. I can read it like snow. Yes that sounds right! Snow. Ok so now I can read the words snow is… Hmmm. Another word we don’t know. Well I know that this word is going to be a word that describes snow. I can also use the beginning sound to help me. The beginning sound is /c/. Snow is /c/…snow is cold. Let me look to see if that looks right and the sounds match. Yes they do. Ok so we have snow is cold. Snow is white. Continue in this modeled talk aloud as you show them strategies to use when the come to a word they don’t know.


Now once you all have figured out the message, reread it one or two more times (perhaps letting each child read it out loud. You can now take this message and extend the learning. Some ideas would be to think of more words that rhyme with bite and white. Make a list together, you write them down, and then your students can use this list as a copywork activity. You could think of other ways to describe snow and make a list of those. Your older children could write another poem about snow adding in some rhyming words (your younger ones can do this too but will need you to write it for them). You could focus the lesson on identifying the nouns, verbs, and adjectives. You could work with the -ake word family and think of words that would belong (cake, lake, rake, etc). I also have a collection of word cards that I’ve made so I might pull out some pictures cards and say “Find all the words that rhyme with make and take.” Sometimes the kids will naturally show you a way to extend the learning as well. Maybe they come up with their own idea so always, or usually, go with that.

These will be short activities but can really extend the learning on and make your message more meaningful and memorable. In this short amount of time, your children have practiced identifying what they know, have learned strategies on what to do when they come to a word they don’t know, and have extended onto their learning in a meaningful way. AND this literacy-rich activity doesn’t take much prep time and can educationally jump-start your day when you don’t have your lessons written in the plan book, like me most mornings.

Also if you would like another easy no-prep learning activity (if you haven’t caught on, I’m all about putting an educational spin on normal day to day activities) check out this post on how to practice an important math skill with those pancakes you’ve got cooking on the griddle.

Posted in Nature, Play Time, Uncategorized

Don’t Hibernate – A Winter Guide to Get Outside!

Winter is my favorite season, Fall being a very close second. There is something really magical and peaceful and beautiful about seeing a snow covered yard sparkling in the sun. There is something really intriguing about seeing tracks in the snow and figuring out who they came from. There is so much fun to be had outside in the snow- hiking, building a snowman or snow fort, sledding, ice skating, making art with the snow, etc.


But most people don’t think of winter as fun. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “It’s too cold? It’s too dark?” Amiright? And just for the record, these sayings mostly come from the parents, not the children. But we are passing these thoughts onto them and it greatly influences their ideas about how to or how not to enjoy the weather.  There is a saying that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” And I believe that to be true. So I’m reaching out today to help you push those thoughts aside so you can get outside. Your guide to getting outside includes tips on how to dress, what to do, and what to bring.

How To Dress:


I used to be the person that was always cold. I used to be the person that thought my warmest pair of pants to wear were my jeans. That all changed when I enrolled my children in the Worldmind Nature Immersion School. It was really important to us that our children connect with nature on a deeper level. We always had them outside since they were babies and they naturally loved being outside. We also really wanted a different approach to how our children would be educated. Nature school was the perfect fit for us. This school ran 3-hour classes, five days a week, all outside, year-round. There were no school cancellations when it snowed, and school days were only cancelled when temps were well below freezing, wind was insanely too gusty, or roads were beyond terrible. So our first day of nature school was on a warm fall day. Kids walked barefoot around a wooded area, played in their undergarments in the pond, and had the most glorious day. Not ONE complaint was heard about someone being cold. Soon fall turned to winter and the weather starting changing. One particular day, it was very wet. Wet but not cold. We made the drive to our location and we were the only ones that showed up. So it would be just us and the teacher and her son. The kids right off the bat found a large glorious puddle to jump in. I had just bought my kids boots that would surely be warm. Yeah, warm but not waterproof. My kids were soaked in the first three jumps. I definitely didn’t have the right gear. I rung out their boots, gave them a quick change of dry pants, and we hiked on down the hill. The following hours they slid down mud hills, jumped in more puddles, made mud balls, and had so much fun. Sure they were wet and dirty but the smiles on their faces showed no signs of being cold or uncomfortable. Ok, there might have been one or two times my son reminded me that his feet were soaked. We changed clothes once more and were on way home.

Many people might have said, “Nope, never are we going outside in the rain. It’s too cold, it’s too muddy, there’s too much laundry to do.” But I said, “Hmmm, what do I need to add or change about their clothing so they can stay a bit more dry?” The laundry: yeah I don’t have an answer there. It is what it is. Doing laundry is a small sacrifice to make so that your children can fully enjoy the fun outdoors.

Looking ahead, a few more rainy, wet days had passed, I was getting better at knowing what clothes would be best. I found rain pants online at REI for $13 a pair, tall rain boots from thrift stores, invested in waterproof gloves, etc. Eventually our nature school found and purchased child waders (like the ones fishermen use when they are in the river). Now these weren’t entirely cheap but considering that my children wore them almost every day, and then we would trade sizes when they were too small, the investment was well worth every dollar in the $50 that I paid for them. Yes of course sometimes water would get down the waders and after sliding on a frozen river, the gloves are bound to be wet. BUT the right clothing can provide hours and hours of joy for your children doing what they should be doing- playing outside!


So….here’s your guide on how to dress for success to enjoy all weather. It is recommended for YOU (yes don’t forget you. It’s important for you to be dressed right so you can be warm and help your child) and your child to dress in layers. This is so you can adjust the clothing for various weather changes and different activity levels.


Winter: when it’s cold (but remember we don’t say it’s cold)

  • Shirts and Pants: should consist of 3 layers for tops AND bottoms. Many forget to add an extra layer on the legs. The inner layer should be 100% polyester or natural fabrics such as wool or silk. Cotton isn’t a great choice because it doesn’t really wick moisture away from the body. Long underwear is a great choice. The second layer should be a warm fleece or wool. This should be something that will insulate the body’s warm temperature. No jeans. Jeans are excellent retainers of water and will stay wet for a long time. The third layer should be your windproof and waterproof layer. These can be pricey but are well worth the investment. To help, visit outdoor recreation stores to look for sales, find families to trade with, or shop from local thrift stores.
  • Footwear: footwear should be sturdy and waterproof. Wool socks are a must. My favorite brand of boots are Bogs or Kamik. Also make sure boots are not too small as this will cut off circulation to feet and make them colder.
  • Accessories: A warm hat or beanie is always a must (I don’t recommend ear muffs or an ear band. These don’t keep the warm on the head and don’t stay put).  I strongly recommend a warm balaclava. This will actually cover and protect more of the cheeks and nose. We also carry about 3 pairs of gloves every time we venture out for a fun of playing in the snow. Hand and foot warmers are always a great choice to bring. Extra socks! Again we carry a few pairs with us every time. These can also make good mittens if you don’t have an extra pair.
  • Many times we carry all this (yes I always feel like a pack mule) and with all the activity and exercise we do, usually the outer layer comes off because they get too warm. Which is another tip when enjoying the winter weather- stay moving!


Summer: when it’s hot:

  • Tops: here is when it’s a great idea to wear cotton. Cotton is light and can keep moisture to the body so the body can cool down. T-shirts are fine but it’s also ok to wear a light long sleeve cotton shirt.
  • Pants: again light weight but durable. Shorts are ok too. We often just wear swim suits if we are around water.
  • Footwear: optional!! yes allow them to go barefoot. If wearing shoes, closed-toe sturdy (hiking) sandals are my recommendation.
  • Accessories: I can’t say it enough please please please wear a sun hat! The hat should cover the face AND neck and bonus points for UV protection. My favorite are from Sunday Afternoons. I rarely put sunscreen on the face and neck. Sunscreen is a must though to have in the pack. Sunglasses are also really important!

All weather in between:

  • For those perfect not-too-hot, not-too-cold days, long sleeve tops and long durable pants are perfect for enjoying the outside. Bring the needed accessories and enjoy a glorious day!

What to Bring:

Whether you are enjoying the warm summer months or the cooler winter days, what you bring can sway the enjoyment of your day.

I have a little girl who wants nothing more than to be immersed in all things sensory. I bring buckets, shovels, letter molds, a thermos of water just for her to make mud (if we aren’t playing around water) and plenty of paint, pastels, brushes, scissors (to cut up leaves or flower petals that we save) paper (or she likes to find rocks and sticks to paint) or a journal. This usually keeps her busy for hours.


Don’t forget, plenty of water (can be fruit-infused as well), healthy high-protein snacks, crunchy vegetables and fruit (in the winter we like to bring dried fruit), lunch, warm tea in the winter is a must. We definitely wouldn’t last if we didn’t bring nearly the whole pantry.

For more on what to bring, check out the Packing and EDventure Backpack post here:

What to Do: Winter isn’t just snowy days. It’s full of sunny days too!

While it is a good idea to have some ideas or activities planned, pretty please make sure there is ample time for open-ended child guided play. Let them loose to do what they please as long as it is safe (but do let them take healthy risks).

There are lots and lots of books and Pinterest ideas on outdoor activities. Some activities might require lots of materials and some that require little or no materials. We are all about balance. I plan to post more specific ideas on what to do for specific weather and seasons but here is a short list of activities that require little or no materials.

  • track! This is one of our favorite things to do. We love to look for tracks (and scat)and see who has been here, what were they doing (determined by the gait pattern in their steps), and where were they going. Make sure to have a field guide to help.
  • bird watch- don’t forget to bring the journal and binoculars
  • search for and gather items for a winter nature table
  • use natural materials to build bridges, boats, houses, mandalas, whatever inspires you and your child
  • paint, draw, create art
  • make up games, play hide and seek
  • cloud watch- make up stories with the objects you see
  • READ- one of our favorite places to read is outside!
  • practice storytelling
  • have a picnic, bring a new and different food each time to try
  • make friends with a tree
  • pretend to be animals
  • make a fort or shelter if playing in a wooded area
  • explore sound- find materials and make music
  • meditate, do yoga
  • of course SAFELY play in the elements: explore the ice, streams and ponds, climb trees and rocks, play in the sand and mud, stomp in the puddles, etc.
  • take a nap- I guarantee if you’re in a quiet, secluded place your sleep will be more quality when sleeping outside. Yes even in the winter!!




Posted in Halloween, math

BOOtackular Fun Math Time Activities and FREE Printables

My kids jumped for joy when they saw me bring the big orange bin up from the storage closet. They knew what was in there. Halloween is one of their most favorite times of the year- I mean the candy, costumes, decorations, etc. But what they really love is all the activities I’ve put together over the years. The great thing about these activities too is that you might already have these items at your house or you can find them for cheap at the dollar store.

Let’s look at the fun ways to incorporate math into your Halloween playtime. These activities are probably geared toward PreK-1st but you can change up the numbers to make it more appropriate for your learner.

Ten Frame Eyeballs:

This activity is great for working on number sense up to 20, meaning your child is building fluency with numbers, what a given number set looks like, and understanding how to work with numbers.

Materials: 10-piece pumpkin tray (you can use an egg carton and cut off the last two sections), plastic eyeballs, and number cards. We’ve used this game for a few years now but I’m pretty sure I found all the materials at the dollar store and I printed the number cards.
It’s a pretty simple activity to set up and play and it’s really easy to differentiate. For preschool or kindergarten I would only work with numbers up to 10. For 1st graders I would work with numbers up to 20. Give each student their own tray, a set of eyeballs (at least 10 or 20), and a stack of number cards. The student is to flip over a card and make that amount in their tray. The reason this tray is so wonderful for number sense is that students can easily work with the number 10. It also helps with subitizing and counting on, all of which are really important concepts to master.

After the student has made their amount, they can take all the eyeballs out and start over or they can flip over a card and change their amount. For instance, if they first flipped over the number 5, and now flipped over the number the 8, they can see they need to add 3 more. Or if they flipped over the number 2, they can see they need to take away 3. So not only are they building a sense of what the number 5 looks like, but they are learning about addition and subtraction and again building fluency is working with and changing numbers. First graders will need two trays so they can work with numbers up to 20. Once your kindergartener expresses mastery in working with ten, have them work with numbers up to 20.


Halloween Candy Math

Do your kids constantly ask if they can have candy out of their Halloween bucket? Yep mine too. And my answer always is, “Sure, but math first.” Sometimes I get the eye roll but they are starting to understand my natural teacher tendencies: I can and will always make a math activity out of your snack!


All you need is small bag of candy: Skittles or M&Ms work really well. Open the bag and have your student sort by color. If you have a preschooler, this is a great activity for them. You can even have them sort them by color into graph-like columns and then let the learning begin:

  • What color do you have the most of? The least of?
  • How many do you have altogether? Have your child put them in a ten frame pattern (5 on top, 5 below and so forth) or piles of 10
  • How many altogether when you combine the (red) and (yellow)?
    • For older students, give them a word problem such as “The answer is (7) what could the problem be? Or work on arrays (multiplication) and/or division.
  • How many MORE (red) do you have than (yellow)?
  • Are there enough for each person in our family to have (2)?
  • If there are (15) candies and you eat (7) how many will be left?
  • Practice subitizing (the ability to quickly see how many without counting one to one): without your child looking (you can see in the picture below I’ve used a box that I can cover with the lid), choose a color (or some sort of small object) and put them in a dice pattern (5 for instance).  Then show your child and have them quickly (no pointing and counting with their fingers) tell you how many. Continue with one color and then move to 2 colors. Take 2 of one color and 3 of another and arrange them closely. Have your child look and tell you how many.


  • Practice making patterns (while this isn’t exploring number sense it’s still a great activity for practicing math concepts)


Guess My Jack o’ Lantern attribute game:

This is a fun game my kids really enjoy and they don’t even know that they are working on their descriptive vocabulary, exploring attributes, comparing and contrasting.

You can find this FREE game and the printables that I’ve created here

Halloween Story Problems:

Word problems are great for developing number sense, mathematical thinking and problem solving.

Remember that big orange bin? Yeah there are about 100 mini erasers in there that my kids love to play with. They come up with all sorts of ways to use them. Mathematically speaking, they are great for sorting, counting, patterning, etc.

If you’ve got some (or a hundred) laying around, grab them and print out this FREE  activity for some fun story problems that your kiddo won’t mind solving.

20181017_103933And if you have littles in the house (that won’t eat erasers), the haunted house printable works well to print out and give to your toddler while you are trying to work with your other kiddo. It will keep them busy for you.


I hope you enjoy these ideas and printables for some fun Halloween math time.


Posted in Nature, Play Time

Packing an EDventure Backpack

nature backpack

My family and I were hiking on our property the other day, and while I carry a pretty big backpack I quickly came to realize it wasn’t holding everything my little explorers needed. Now I am pretty seasoned when it comes to packing for my wild ones and I for a day outside. You see, for a few years, my kids were enrolled in a nature school program, where I was also one of the facilitators. We learned and played outside for one or two days a week, YEAR ROUND, in Colorado.

Since we now walk out the door for our short walks in the woods, we aren’t bringing all of our exploration gear. But short walks start to turn into long walks, or we see something extra special and I realize it’s important to bring our stuff every. time. Back to my pack mule days!

So I want to share my list with you of all the gear I bring along for one of our EDventures.

The Essentials:

  • a good heavy duty backpack. With lots of pockets. And water bottle holders. And carabineers. I had a normal Eddie Bauer one but quickly outgrew that and got a much larger one as a Christmas present. Mine even has a rain flap that covers my entire pack. You wouldn’t believe how many times that has saved our stuff as we’ve hiked in down-pouring rain. The blue backpack in the pic below is the one I use.


  • a small backpack for your kids. My kids enjoy bringing their own backpack and packing their own snacks and items, plus it also helps my pack load.
  • Proper seasonal clothing. I’ll post more specifics at another time but I find I always need extra socks, pants, shirts, and a zip up fleece hoodie or jacket (good for all seasons). This includes hats, sunglasses, etc.
  • a first aid kit.  What to keep in your first aid could make for it’s own post, but make sure you have the essentials (which usually come in a pre-bought kit). I also add my own items, like essential oils, colloidal silver, homemade hand sanitizer, etc.
  • Kleenex and or wipes. I also keep a moist washcloth in a plastic bag for wiping hands and in the event we come across poision ivy
  • sunscreen and bug spray
  • Water and snacks of course. We don’t get far or even home, for that matter, if we don’t have a gagillion snacks.
  • Plastic bag: for dirty or wet clothes, or trash
  • treasure box or bag: kids love to bring home all the things they find. I like the brown bags with handles. My kids like decorating these and I can clip the handles to their backpacks with a carabineer.

Exploration Accessories: These are things I like to bring but are not necessarily essential to a hiking adventure, but they do have lots of value and make for a really fun outing

  • compass
  • magnifying glass
  • binoculars
  • bug jars or holders
  • a net for catching bugs
  • bucket and shovel
  • kid play tongs or large tweezers for them to pick up stuff that shouldn’t be touched
  • rope or string
  • measuring tape (we like the flexible roll-up kind): we use this a lot for measuring tracks, but we have found that it’s good for making spider webs in the trees, a bridge for small insects to cross, etc. This is what I love about sitting back and letting kids come up with countless, imaginative ways to use something.
  • nature journal and art supplies: it wouldn’t be an adventure at all if my daughter didn’t have some sort of art media. Plus it’s really important for kids to document all that they’ve seen and discovered. We have a small pouch that we keep colored pencils, watercolors, scissors, tape, glue, etc. in.


  • sticky roll (like those to get pet hair off)- we use these primarily for tick protection
  • field guides
  • camera: When we attended nature school, we used a class polaroid camera. The kids loved it so I’m hoping to add that to our nature pack but for now we just use my phone and I let my kids take some pictures
  • small foldable blanket
  • books: no matter what you’re reading, it’s just nice to sit under a tree and read together
  • flashlight
  • whistle or walkie-talkies
  • sometimes we like bringing a hand-held recorder to record bird sounds and it helps kids get quiet for a short moment

I will also carry more items for specific projects and activities but this list is a great start of items to bring along on your next outdoor outing.


Enjoy the EDventure!


Posted in Play Time

Take a deep breath, and let your child mix the play dough colors

First of all, I want to share WHY every child should have a good stash of play dough.

1. Playing with play dough builds fine motor skills for your child. Kneading, cutting, rolling, mixing, molding, etc. builds all those small muscles in your child’s hand.

2. Need some quiet time in your house? Play dough at our house is actually a fairly quiet activity thus being a great alternative to screen time.

3. It’s creative, open-ended play! It lends itself to hours of play time! Sure it can be a mess but lay a big plastic or vinyl tablecloth on the table, give them a cookie sheet to use, and have everyone get a dust pan and sweep up the crumbs at the end. The good things kids get from playing with play dough far outweigh the mess.

So back to our topic…

If you were to look at our play dough bins, you would find lots of cute little yellow containers with all different color caps, some that are sparkly. As you went to open it, you would be disappointed to find that the color lid does not match the play dough inside. You see, I’ve got a little girl who can’t get enough of playing with this stuff. She spends hours playing and creating. She loves rolling it, cutting it out, molding it, and most of all, mixing it, the colors that is. So in the cup with the purple lid, you would most likely find a ball of purple mixed with yellow, swirled with pink, and small touches of blue in it.


There probably was a time when this would have bothered me, but I want to share a couple reasons why it should be ok. First, it takes their creativity to the next level. Some parents only let their child play with one color at a time to save the play dough from the inevitable mixing of colors. It’s kind of hard to put together a whole spread of delicious, baked play dough treats when you can only use orange. Or the dinosaur just doesn’t look the same with a green body, tail, spikes, etc. When a child can use a few colors at a time, their creation really comes to life for them.


Secondly, children can learn so much about color mixing when they are allowed to mix two or more colors. Taking a ball of blue play dough and a ball of yellow play dough and mixing the two, offers such a fun, hands-on way of learning about colors. In allowing children to mix play dough colors, questions are begging to asked and explored? What will happen if we mix the red and blue together? What about red and white? What color will we get? After mixing these, children will learn (and remember it better since this was very hands-on) that red and white make pink. But wait, more questions! Can we make a lighter shade of pink?  How would we do that? Would we add more red or more white? Not only is your child learning colors, but now they are learning about shades of color, attributes, etc.  I am a huge fan of guiding your child’s learning by asking them questions that they must explore on their own instead of telling them that red and white make pink. For children, if they can explore, it will be much more concrete and thus they will retain it better.

It’s totally mesmerizing! Go ahead, try it. I think this is why my kids get quiet and focused when playing and mixing. The swirls and twirls of the colors intertwining is truly mesmerizing.


Let it go, let it go… (as  Elsa would say). In the grand scheme of life, with all that we parents have to worry about, allowing your child to mix their play dough shouldn’t be one of them. If you find that you have a hard time allowing them to mix colors, this might be a great small act of letting small things like this go. It wasn’t long ago, that I overheard my daughter tell her grandma, “Your house is the house of yes’s.” This definitely made me think, ponder, evaluate, and be mindful of all the things I say no to, but could very easily be a YES. Maybe this could be your YES.

Here’s a way to help you be okay with this- make your own play dough! The store-bought play dough is fun but it can get expensive if you are always needing to restock, like me. I find if I make my own and let Little A have a small bit of it to mix then I always have some on hand when she wants just one color or for future mixing. Homemade play dough gives you a lot per batch and it lasts a long time. Here’s a recipe to make your own:


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Fun options to add:
    • food coloring. I like to at least do red, yellow, and blue, and then another batch without food coloring to make white
    • glitter!
    • a few drops essential oils.
      • My favorites are lavender for calming and relaxing, peppermint for focus and around Christmas time, orange for uplifting and energizing, lemon for focus and clarity, grapefruit for uplifting and relieving tension. Or I will mix a couple. The possibilities are endless.


Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small saucepan. Add the liquid ingredients. Cook on low to medium heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes the mixture will start to thicken. Keep stirring until the mixture continues to thicken and gather around your spoon. Continue cooking until the dough is no longer wet and is now a big ball of dough. Remove from pan and let cool on a plate or wax paper. If using oils, add a few drops and knead dough and play!






Posted in math

Practicing Math with Plastic Eggs: PreK-2nd Grade

A month BEFORE Easter, two days AFTER Easter, and still counting, my kids can’t stop carrying around a bazillion plastic eggs. They are everywhere! Obviously they love to hide and seek them, but they are also really fun to incorporate into learning. Today I want to share with you some fun and easy ways to add math to your day using plastic eggs and an egg carton.


To practice subitizing (the ability to “see” how many objects there are without counting) with your eggs, you will need up to 10 eggs in two or three different colors and an egg carton.  This activity is great for preK-1st grade and can be easily differentiated.


For my preschooler, I only use up to 5 eggs. It’s important that preschoolers learn number sense with a very small amount of objects to start with. Once they understand how numbers are related and connected, they can explore with bigger amounts. While Little A closes her eyes, I choose any amount, up to 5, of the SAME colored eggs. She opens her eyes and has to quickly tell me how many eggs there are. We will do this for a few rounds, changing up the amount and the placement. It’s important to change the placement of the eggs so that they can see the number 5, for instance, represented in a variety of ways.




After a few rounds of that, I will change it up. This time I will choose any amount up to 5, but I will use 2 different colors. This helps your preschooler start to see and visualize addition with very few objects. Again, have fun changing up the placement of the eggs. You can choose up to 3 different colors, but again only use 5 eggs max. For these littles, they might “see” the number three using one egg in three different colors, or use three colors but really space them apart in your egg carton, and again no more than 5.



For students in kindergarten and up, you can use practice any amount up to 10. While kindergartens and 1st graders must work with numbers above 10 and up to 100, it is important that they have solid number sense of up to 10 objects. This is will give them the foundation and understanding to see how bigger numbers are related.

Remember, the idea is to practice “seeing” how many, rather than counting or taking the time to add. Using any more than 10 objects and your kiddo will have a hard time “seeing” as there will be too many for them to bring together. Again I start with a small amount, probably 4 or 5 and change the placement. Next, I will bring in a second color and we will play for a few more rounds. Finally, once I am confident that he is getting the idea, I will introduce an amount using 3 different colors. By using three colors, you can really work on counting by 2’s. Again be careful not to get too many colors everywhere or your kiddo will start not “seeing” how many and will rely more on counting. The idea is to use color grouping and spacing to practice the important skill of subitizing.


To practice skip counting20180403_102759.jpg

While working with my other kiddo, I have Little A practice some patterning using her eggs.


Addition and Subtraction or Composing and Decomposing

Here is another fun game that you can play. You will 10 eggs in ONLY two colors, not three. Again this activity can be differentiated. When using an egg carton, it is important only to use 10 of the spaces (5 on top, and 5 right below) so that this imitates the use of a ten-frame, see below. You can either cut on the two spaces on the end or block those out.

ten frame

First, decomposing numbers means to break down numbers into their sub-parts. There are two ways to do this. First you can decompose numbers into their tens and ones if focusing on numbers 11 and up. The second is to show how any number 1 to 10 can be created using a variety of addends.

For my preschooler, I start off by saying we are going to play a game to see how many ways there are to make the number 5. You can write the number on paper, a dry erase board, or not at all if you prefer. I only use eggs, in two colors, up to 5 max. Since we are only using 5, you will only need to use the first 5 spaces on the top row of your egg carton. Don’t use the bottom row. Have your student close their eyes while you make some combination of 5. Once made, have your child open their eyes and tell you how many of each. They might say 3 and 2. You could further extend by saying, “You’re right, 3 purple and 2 pink make 5 altogether.” This will go pretty fast since they aren’t a lot of ways to make 5 but that is okay, preschoolers don’t need much time per activity.

Another game that might be a challenge for your preschooler is to put 5 eggs in carton, can use two colors but works just fine using all the same color, and say that you are going to take some out of the carton while they close their eyes. Take away any amount up to 5 out the carton and close the lid (best to have an solid lid on your egg carton so they can’t peek). Have them open their eyes and say to them, “Here are 2 eggs outside of the carton. How many eggs are inside the carton? Continue to play with any and all amounts up to 5.

For my kindergartener, I again start off by saying we are going to play a game to see how many ways there are to make 10. I have him close his eyes and I will create some combination of 10. He will open his eyes and tell me what he thinks.


To make it a paper-pencil activity, you can have your child write out the equations or fill in the blanks for a pre-written equation. You can also use a printed ten-frame template or number bond template if you would like your child to show their thinking.

number bond


20180403_100746After your child has played this game with you and is ready for independent practice, make some addition and subtraction cards on index cards. Have an addition pile that might have cards that show 5+4=___. Students are to add 5 eggs and then 4 (could be the same color or a different color). You can practice any addition problem, doesn’t necessarily have to make 10. Same with subtraction. Cards might say 10-3=___, 10-8=___.

You can also play the challenge game as mentioned above but this time using 10. Tell your student that there are 10 eggs in the carton and that you are going to take some out. Have them look to see how many you took out and decide how many are still in the carton.

We started with 10 eggs. Three eggs are outside. How many are inside?


Need even more of a challenge for your 1st or 2nd grader? Combine lots of egg cartons together. You can combine two egg cartons (don’t forget to cut off the two top and bottom spaces at the end) and work with numbers up to 20.  And I mean who doesn’t want 10 egg cartons and 100 plastic eggs laying around their house?? If this is you, thinking it will be me, ask your friends if they have leftover eggs and egg cartons, grab a nice big bin and you have the ability to make a gigantic hands-on one hundred chart. Oh the possibilities are endless.

I hope these ideas will give your child a fun way to use all those plastic eggs as well as give you some quick and easy ways to practice these important math skills.

Always an EDventure!







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Easter Egg Dyeing: Super Simple Science

Hey guys! My kids love when it’s time to pull out the plastic eggs. They hide them around the house, fill them with small toys or other loose parts, we put snacks in them for the car, etc. They also love dyeing Easter eggs and have been ready to for at least a month now. We have always done the natural dye route and this week we are making our dye. This year I decided I would pair it with a paper-pencil learning activity. I made a quick chart in their journals. Basically, 3 columns with headers: Food Used (where they can write or draw the food item that we will be using), My Color Guess (they guess what color the egg will turn when placed in the dye), and Actual Color (the actual color the egg turns after we dye them). Make however many rows for food items you will using to dye your eggs. The goal of this activity is for them to hypothesize what colors they think the dye will turn the eggs.







Naturally, my kids think blueberries will turn the eggs blue, and cranberries will turn eggs red. So we filled in our chart and will write down our actual findings after the eggs are dyed.

To make our dye we will be using cranberries, blueberries, spinach, parsley, turmeric, chili powder, red beets, red cabbage, and brewed coffee. Naturally dyeing Easter eggs is fun and a great learning activity for science and math. To incorporate math, kids need to measure out 2 cups of water and 2 cups of whatever food item we are using (when using spices we do about 3 tablespoons). They also measure out about a tablespoon of vinegar for each one. This is also a great activity for little ones to practice fine motor skills. Tearing spinach leaves and mashing blueberries and cranberries are great for using those small hand muscles.


This is what we have so far and will work on making more today. 20180327_073744

First on our list is making snow eggs and decorating with our leftover dye. Pics to come later!

What’s your EDventure this week?