EI’s DIY Summer Camp: Book It On Over!

DIY Storybook Camp

Let’s Tell a Story!

Welcome to week one of EI’s DIY Storybook Summer Camp! This week’s fun-filled, at-home activities utilize beloved stories to sneak in some summertime learning. After all, from snuggling close at bedtime to huddling around a campfire, children love to listen to a well-told tale! Storybook Camp is a great way to engage kids in activities that foster imagination and creativity while developing important skills including confidence, listening skills, vocabulary, early math, science, and more.

Monday

We’re kicking off camp with Three Little Pigs!  Download the story and then…

Activity One: Blow Painting!Read the story aloud! Be sure to utilize some of the 7 storytelling tips at the end of this blog.

Activity Two: All Kinds of Houses! Download our template to make your own adorable Three Little Pigs puppets and props, including the pigs, their homes, the Big Bad Wolf, and more! Simply follow the directions on the templates and have your little artist color to create stick or finger puppets. You’re now ready to use your props to reenact the story! Encourage your child to take the lead in the retelling while the two of you follow along with your puppets.

Tuesday

Today, we’ll dig more deeply into the story of the Three Little Pigs through fun activities that cover math, language arts, AND science! Start by downloading our activity sheet, which includes:

Activity One: Three’s the Charm! Focus on the number 3—consider starting with familiar friends like the three little pigs, the three billy goats gruff, or Goldilocks and the three bears. Draw pictures of three of the same thing. Look for the number and objects in groups of three at home and outdoors.

Activity Two: Huff, puff, and blow your own painting! Follow our instructions for a Three Little Pigs-style blow-painting party!

Activity Three: Could you build a house with bricks? How about peanut butter? Encourage language arts skills by brainstorming and discussing different types of potential construction materials—from serious to silly.

Not ready to call it a day?  Even more fun ideas await on our Three Little Pigs Activity Sheet.

Wednesday

20150617_ColorableMasks-blog

Time for a new tale! Download Goldilocks and the Three Bears and then…

Activity One: Read the story aloud.  Want to be a superstar storyteller?  Look for tips at the end of this blog post!

Activity Two:  Get ready to put on a show! Download our template for fun, printable masks featuring Goldilocks and each of the three bears. Have your little one color and decorate the masks to represent each character’s personality (and your child’s own sense of style). Then, put on the masks and act out the story together!

 

Thursday

Who’s ready for more learning fun that is “just right”?  Download our Goldilocks activity sheet to begin!

Activity One: A Question of Character or manners? Using Goldilocks’ behavior in the story as a discussion sparker, ask your child the character-based questions outlined in the activity sheet, and then discuss. Then, have your child pretend to write a letter to the Three Bears from Goldilocks explaining her behavior—what would she say?

Activity Two: Is your child Size Wise? Using the activity in the download as a starting point, have your little one sort, compare, and contrast differently sized objects that you collect around the house.

Activity Three: Bear Necessities! Read a simple non-fiction book about bears. Have your child compare and contrast real bears with the bears in the Goldilocks story.

Activity Four: Texture time! Too soft?Too hard? Have your little one explore the textures around your house, looking for things that are soft, hard, rough, smooth, etc.

Activity Five: Keep it sweet. Follow our recipe to make your own delicious Bear Claw Treats—perfect to enjoy after a fun-filled day of activities!

Friday

Bridges, and trolls, and goats…oh my! Our last tale for this week is the Three Billy Goats GruffAnd yes, we have even MORE story-based learning activities for you and your little one to enjoy.

Activity One: Read the story aloud.

Activity Two: Rearrange the story and tell your own version using our adorable downloadable and colorable story stick template!

Activity Three: Use math vocabulary and science skills to build your own bridges, just like the one in the story, in our Building Bridges activity! Download the activity sheet here.

Activity Four: Yearning for some sweet green grass of your own?  Help your little one learn about plant growth by growing grass from seed, following the instructions in our Growing Grass activity!

Activity Five:  Fact or fiction time! Do some online research or hit the library for some factual information about goats in our Getting to Know Goats activity.

Activity Six: “G” is for goat…and “great.” Encourage your child to draw pictures of things that begin with the letter “g.”

And yes, there’s more!  Check out our activity sheet for even more fun to take you into the weekend.

PLUS, don’t forget to join us for week two of our DIY Summer Camp, beginning June 22nd!  For part two of our Storybook Camp series, your little ones will start putting their OWN storytelling hats on!

We’ll leave you with our sevensage storytelling tips:

  1. Keep the age and experience of your audience in mind, choosing a story with appropriate length and complexity. Little ones will appreciate the three s’s: simple, short, and straightforward.

  2. Keep the age and experience of your audience in mind, choosing a story with appropriate length and complexity. Little ones will appreciate the three s’s: simple, short, and straightforward.

  3. Determine your setting.

  4. Provide a short introduction to the story before you begin.

  5. Use gestures, facial expressions, and sound effects.

  6. Speak loudly and clearly, and don’t rush.

  7. Vary your voice, tone, and pitch. Pause for effect.

  8. Involve your listeners. Have them chime in on story elements like repetitive phrases, or rhyme completion, or sound effects. And of course, have fun!

My Story
Marcia Gresko leads the Product Development team at Educational Insights. Before joining EI more than 17 years ago, she was a teacher for 15 years. While Marcia is new to the blogosphere, she is the author of more than 20 children’s books on a variety of non-fiction topics, from castles to Komodo dragons.

This Summer, Play Your Way to School Readiness! Simple Tips to Get Kids Ready for Kindergarten

Free Worksheets for summer learning

Woo hoo! It’s summer! Time for fun in the sun, trips to the zoo, and family vacations. But boy, can time fly, and September will be here before you know it. Below are some simple—and fun—things you can do over the summer to help prepare your child for Kindergarten.

Work It Out

Download our FREE summer math and ‘getting ready to read’ packets, which offer perfect practice for preschoolers preparing to enter Kindergarten. With 24 pages of fun readiness activities, there’s plenty of learning to last all summer long. And if your kids love learning with these pages, be sure to check out our selection of interactive Hot Dots® Jr. storybooks and card sets to take learning fun to the next level!

M0838 Math Worksheets_Page_01 M0838 Math Worksheets_Page_02
Click HERE to download our FREE Summer math packet

Reading Worksheet Page 1 Reading Worksheet Page 2
Click HERE to download our FREE Summer ‘getting ready to read’ packet.

Play It Out

Play, Play, Play! Set up playdates with kids your child’s age and trade off locations. This will not only help your child learn to interact with others, but also get him comfortable with being away from you. Story time at the library and music and movement classes at the park are also great ways to get your child used to being in a group setting. Be sure to provide plenty of toys and activities to keep little ones engaged—Magic Moves® Jammin’ Gym is a great way for kids to play together and release some energy, too!

Take Turns! Eager to never hear the words “I saw it first!” or “It’s mine!” ever again?  Help your child learn how to share and socialize by teaching them by example.  Play a board game like Kitten Caboodle, emphasizing “my turn” vs “your turn”, or trade off on the swings to practice taking turns and sharing.

Follow Instructions! Give your child a simple instruction and make sure she follows through. Then try two- or three-part instructions like “Please take your shoes to your room, put your socks in the laundry basket, and pick out a book you’d like to read.”

Act It Out! Slip some “first day” practice into playtime by acting out your child’s first day of school. Use stuffed animals or puppets like Puppet-on-a-Stick™ to represent the teacher and the students, and show your child what to expect.

Learn, Learn, Learn!

Learn Those Letters! Sing the alphabet song and look at letters on paper. Your child’s name is a great place to start but there are letters everywhere! Point them out in storybooks, road signs, and at the grocery store. Talk about the sounds each letter makes. “S, ssss…., S is for Star!”

Count It Out! Help your child learn to count to 20. You can count the Cheerios in his snack, the stairs up to the library, or the action figures in his toy chest. Then show him the numbers 1-10 and help him learn to identify each one and match it to the correct quantity.

Shape Up! Help your child identify basic shapes like circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles. Search the house for items of each shape, identify them, and try drawing them. Take a walk around your neighborhood and point out shapes you see – rectangular doors, square car windows, circular wheels. Games like Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco are also a great way to practice matching geometric shapes to real-world shapes.

Read, Read, Read! Listening to a story hones concentration and focus skills as well as increasing vocabulary. Read together for just 15-20 minutes a day – then be sure to ask your child about the story they just heard. What was it about? What happened at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end? Our Hot Dots Jr. Interactive Storybook Sets are a wonderful way to get kids excited about reading and practice key Kindergarten concepts. There are also some wonderful books all about the first day of Kindergarten that can help ease your child’s fears and illustrate what she can expect. We especially love First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.

Hot Dots® Jr. Princess Fairytales Interactive Storybook Set

Move That Body!

Gross Motor Skills! Make sure your child gets plenty of outdoor play time. Practice bouncing, throwing, catching, and kicking a ball. Run races. Hop, skip, and jump.

Fine Motor Skills! Afternoon quiet time is a great time to practice fine motor skills. Squishing, squashing, squeezing, and shaping molding substances like Playfoam®, stringing beads, and putting puzzles together are all great ways to develop fine motor skills.

Playfoam

Block Play! The benefits of blocks are nearly endless. In addition to developing motor skills, they also introduce important early math, science, and engineering concepts and encourage creativity and imagination.

Incorporating these simple, but crucial, activities into your summer days will go a long way toward preparing your preschooler for Kindergarten!

CHANGE IT UP! H.E.A.R.T.S.

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way!

Change it up - H.E.A.R.T.S.

May was EI’s Office Manager Maria’s month to choose the Change It Up charity for which our companywill raise funds, and she chose a group that’s close to her heart. In fact, the group is called HEARTS – Helping Elementary Achievers Reach the Stars!

Offered at 20 different schools in the Riverside, CA School District, HEARTS is an after-school program that provides FREE supervised care from the end of each school day until 6:00 PM. In addition to supplying a nutritious snack for all participants, the program also includes an academic hour and enrichment activities. Fun for the kids, HEARTSalso gives working parents the peace of mind that their children are being well cared-for during after-school hours.

Maria’s oldest son has happily participated in the HEARTS program for the last three years. He loves being able to spend time with his friends outside of the classroom and especially enjoys the enrichment classes HEARTS offers, like science and cooking (they recently made delicious and healthy fruit smoothies!).

HEARTS enrollment is limited, depending on the funding each school receives, and EI is proud to match the team’s contribution in hopes that even more students will be able to participate in the program.

Creepy, Crawly, and Oh-So Cool! Backyard Bugs That Will Boggle Your Brain!

Mind-blowing bugs!

For every person on the Earth, there are 1.5 billion bugs. Seriously! And some of them are pretty spectacular. We’ve rounded up a few of the wildest ones for you here, along with some fun facts about each of these crazy creatures. If your kids love bugs as much as we do, check out our GeoSafari® Jr Bugnoculars, the perfect way to safely contain and examine backyard bug finds, featuring a built-in 3x magnifier, snap-lock lid with air holes, and water-tight bottom.

The Japanese Giant Hornet

Japanese Giant Hornet

Habitat – Japan, of course.

Height – This bonkers bumble bee is actually about 3 inches long – that’s bigger than your thumb!

Fun Fact – When threatened, the hornet shoots poison – in your eye! And if that wasn’t bad enough, the poison doubles as a rally cry, calling more hornets to help!

 

The Puss Moth Caterpillar

The Puss Moth Caterpillar

Habitat – Europe, Asia, and North Africa

Height – The caterpillars can be 3 inches or longer; the wingspan of the moth is about 1.5 inches.

Fun Fact – The “face” of this creepy caterpillar is actually a form of mimicry intended to scare off predators. The black eye spots and giant mouth are just a ruse to hide the caterpillar’s real head, which rests inside. Oh, and the horns on its back can spray acid!

 

The Spiny Flower Mantis

The Spiny Flower Mantis

Habitat – Africa

Height – This itty bitty beauty stands about 1.5 inches tall.

Fun Fact – They may look as sweet as flowers, but the Spiny Flower Mantis is actuallya cannibal – theyeat their own kind, which makes mating particularly difficult!

 

The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Habitat – North America

Height – These wanna-be hummingbirds have a wingspan of roughly 2 inches.

Fun Fact – This giant moth feeds through its proboscis, which looks a lot like a hummingbird’s beak.

 

The Planthopper Nymph

The Planthopper Nymph

Habitat – These babies really get around, making their homes all over the globe, including north of the Arctic Circle!

Height – See the swirly wrinkles on your fingertips? Planthopper Nymphs are about the size of the center swirl.

Fun Fact – These baby Planthoppers have a system of gears in their legs that help synchronize all of their legs when jumping! Oh, and that sparkly stuff on their backsides? It’s made of waterproof wax that slows their descent when falling and also scares away predators.