Learn Here, Learn There, Learn Everywhere! Slip Some Learning Into Your Everyday – and Night – Outings

20150706_DayNightLearning-650

There’s so much to learn, even over the summer! Indoors and out, day and night, the world is filled with things to see, touch, smell, and discuss. Take the tips below to heart—we’re sure they’ll inspire some great ideas for sneaking in fun learning opportunities everywhere you go this summer.

Learn All Day!

  • Leave It! Check out the leaves and flowers around your home. Look at their veins and discuss how they’re used to distribute water and nutrients (just like ours!). Take them home and press them between two sheets of wax paper inside a heavy book to get a better look. Older kids might enjoy our Nancy B’s Science Club™ Nature Keeper and Tree Diary!

Nancy B's Science Club Nature Keeper & Tree Diary

  • That’s the Rub! Collect different natural materials – leaves, bark, grass, flowers – and try a crayon rubbing! Just place a piece of paper over the object, peel a crayon, and rub the long, flat side of the crayon on the top.

Rub Leaf Activity

  • Shell It Out! Collect shells at the shore. Compare and contrast their sizes. Sort them by color. Explore their different textures using descriptive vocabulary.

shell-learning

  • Get Your Head IN the Clouds! Find fun objects in the clouds or take it a step further and learn some basic cloud facts – clouds are groups of teeny tiny water drops and ice crystals that are so light they can float. (STOCK PHOTO OF CLOUD)

Clouds Learning

  • Find It! Wherever you are, be on the lookout for shapes, colors, letters, and numbers. Point them out and identify them for your child. See if your little one can find another square, the letter “A”, or the number “3”.

learning outside

 

Learn All Night!

  • Shine It! Take a flashlight—our GeoSafari® Night Explorer Flashlight is a great choice—out back and see what you can see. Are the flowers open or closed at night? Can you find any birds? Bugs? Which animals are out at night? Where do the others go? Introduce the concepts of nocturnal and diurnal.
  • In the Dark! Nighttime is a great time to introduce the basic science of the Earth’s rotation. Choose an object (chair, rock, table) to represent the sun and place a flashlight or lantern on it. Have your child stand in front of the object and spin around once, slowly. When the Earth (your child) is facing the sun (your chosen object), then it’s day time. When it’s facing away from the sun, it’s night time!
  • Moon Shine! Share some fun facts about the Moon! Did you know that the Moon is actually made of pieces of Earth? A large object hit our planet four and a half billion years ago, blasting large rocks out of the Earth and into space. These rocks eventually came together to form the Moon. There is no air, water, or life on the Moon, but astronauts can go exploring there with the right equipment. Looking for more fun facts? Check out the GeoSafari® Talking Telescope.
  • Man or Mouse..err…Bunny? Does your child see the man in the Moon or the bunny? Ask for a story about whichever she chooses. How did it get there? What is it doing? Can it see us? Will it ever come down? Is it all alone?

rabbit-or-man-on-moon

CHANGE IT UP! THE SOPHIA WAY WOMAN’S SHELTER

Sofia's Way

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way Toward Ending Homelessness

In June, EI’s team fundraising efforts were contributed to The Sophia Way Women’s Shelter in the Seattle/Bellevue area of Washington state. Selected to be the recipient of our company-wide monthly fundraiser by Christine Johnson, EI’s National Sales Manager, the shelter aims to end homelessness for single, adult women in the area.

Christine, who lives in Seattle herself, has spent time with several of the women who live at Sophia Way and appreciates that the organization not only shelters them, but also provides the support and tools they need to find permanent housing and become independent.

Providing shelter, life skills training, social services and supportive, permanent housing, The Sophia Way shelter indeed offers a path from homelessness to a home of one’s own. The shelter’s Day Center provides prepared meals, laundry facilities, computer and phone access, and other services to 480 women each month, while the overnight shelter houses 21 homeless women each night. Additionally, the shelter operates a winter facility, housing up to 40 women and children each night throughout the colder months of the year. For more information, please visit www.sophiaway.org.

Expressing Emotions in Three Simple Steps – Easy Activities to Help Children Put Their Emotions Into Words

Kids Emotions

Easy Activities to Help Children Put Their Emotions Into Words

Happy or sad, learning to identify and verbalize emotions is a critical step in a preschooler’s development. Left unexpressed, both positive and negative emotions can manifest in less than pleasant ways for parents, including hitting, kicking, biting, or crying. Helping children identify their emotions and teaching kids to put emotions into words not only provides an appropriate outlet for the frustration, anger, joy, sadness, or excitement your child is feeling, but also puts kids one step closer to Kindergarten readiness! Read on for three simple steps to help your child express her feelings in a positive way.

Name That Feeling!

Help your child learn the words for different feelings with statements like “Daddy is away at work and you are sad because you miss him.” or “This drawing you made for me makes me feel so happy!”

When you’re out and about, play the Guessing Game – check out the people around you and ask your child how he thinks they’re feeling. Drawing a few faces with varying emotions and asking your child how he thinks each of them feels is also a great way to introduce the words for different feelings.

Use Your Words!

When you see your child getting frustrated or bouncing off the walls with excitement, ask her how she’s feeling and encourage her to use the words she’s learned. You may have to help by providing a few options – throwing in a few outlandish choices can lighten the moment, for example “Wow! I can see that you’re feeling some pretty strong emotions! Are you super-duper-uper happy? Wild-like-a-crocodile excited (with big, snapping arms)?”

Act It Out!

Play time is a great way to model different feelings and appropriate ways to express them. Choose a time when your child is feeling calm and happy and use stuffed animals, action figures, or puppets like Puppet-on-a-Stick™ to act out various emotions.

Dino Puppet-on-a-Stick

Give these tips a try the next time your child is expressing a strong emotion. You’ll be surprised how quickly kids can learn to identify their feelings—the first step in controlling them!

 

 

 

 

 

A Roaring Good Time – DIY Dino Crafts

Summer Dino Crafts

Craft ideas are the perfect activities for prehistoric playtime with your preschooler or your next party or playdate. Check them out – then do it up, dino style. Can you dig it?

 Make Your Own Dino Fossils!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Batch of salt dough (our favorite recipe is below – you can prepare it ahead of time, but your kids might like to help you mix and knead!)
  • Small plastic dinosaurs
  • Baking pan
  • Oven

What To Do:

  1. Divide your pre-made salt dough into 2-3” balls
  2. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until oval-ish
  3. Press a dinosaur into each flat oval firmly, to make a clear impression, then carefully remove the dinosaur
  4. Bake at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours

And Then…

  • Bury the dough in the backyard or sandbox and go on your own archaeological expedition and use kid-safe tools to dig the dough dinos up and use paintbrushes to dust them clean
  • Paint them and keep them as treasures
  • Research the name and some fun dino facts about each one

*Older kids will love excavating and assembling a complete dino skeleton with our GeoSafari Dino Digs kits!

GeoSafari Dino Digs

Salt Dough Recipe

  1. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of salt with 1 cup of flour
  2. Press a hole in the mixture and pour in ½ cup of water
  3. Knead until smooth and shape into a ball (add more water if needed)
  • Store in a baggie or air-tight container

 

Design Your Own Dino-Mite Mask!

What You’ll Need:

Dino-Mask-Template

What To Do:

  1. Color the mask template to reflect your own personal Dino-style!
  2. Cut out the mask, including cutting out the eyeballs and string holes
  3. Cut a piece of elastic string that fits around your head and string it through the side holes, securing with a knot

And Then…

  • Put on a dino show
  • Surprise your sister, brother, and friends

 

DIY Branchiosaurus!

What You’ll Need

What To Do:

  1. Cut your toilet paper tube in half and cut a 1” slit at both sides of the top of both pieces of your tube—these are your Branchiosaurus’ legs.
  2. Show your child the image below; print this Brachiosaurus outline or have him draw the same outline on a horizontal sheet of white construction paper; and help him cut it out.
  3. Paint or color your Branchiosaurus however you’d like! Cut circles or stripes from your construction paper and glue them on. Don’t forget the eyes, smile, and toenails!
  4. When dry, slip the body into the slits on the TP tube legs and… voila!

And then…

  • Make more TP dinos! Try a T. rex or a Stegosaurus with cut-out construction paper spikes.
  • Put on a dino play!

DIY Branchiosaurus

Crown Yourself King of the Dinos!

What You’ll Need:

Dino-Crown-Template

What To Do:

  1. Color the mask template to reflect your own personal Dino-style!
  2. Carefully cut out both pieces of the mask
  3. Glue or tape one side of the band to the front piece and wrap around your head. Glue or tape the other side at the appropriate spot and cut off any remainder.

And Then…

  • Crown yourself king or queen of the Dinos
  • Put on a dino show
  • Surprise your sister, brother, and friends

 

Dino Diorama!

What You’ll Need:

What To Do:

Take a walk around the block or hit the park to collect the natural materials above

  1. Cut off the front, wide panel and top flaps of your box
  2. Use your paints to decorate the inside walls of your box to look like a dinosaur scene. Consider including trees, skies, and sunsets.
  3. Use your natural “props” to design a dino environment. Place your dirt/sand first, then add your rocks and leaf “trees”.Use your Playfoam to make mountains, streams, or lakes.
  4. Set up the plastic dinos and Dino Construction Vehicles and PLAY!

dinodiorama

 

 

 

DIY Storybook Summer Camp Week 2: Becoming the Storyteller

DIY Storyteller Camp

In the second part of our Storybook camp series, your little ones will start putting on their OWN storytelling hats! This week, we’ll help your child hone new skills and leverage fun tactics to tell their own original stories. We’ll teach you how to use story cubes, story stones, sticker stories, and more!

Set the scene

Every story follows a recipe and pattern, which include characters, a setting, and problem, followed by a solution. Discussing the elements of a story with your child is a wonderful way to strengthen reading comprehension and develop ideas of their own. Let’s get those creative ideas brewing with these activities that promote story elements!

Monday: Story cubes

Every storyteller should start with choices. This allows children to play around with endless creative possibilities and story scenarios. Use our Story Cube download to introduce possible characters, settings, and problems that can be paired up together. The solution is up to your child’s imagination! Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  1. Once you’ve downloaded and printed your Story Cubes, have your little one color them.
  2. Then, follow the guides to cut, fold, and glue your cubes.
  3. Have your child roll each cube to determine the elements of a new story.storycube
  4. Now—the REALLY fun part. It’s time to fill in the story details using the character, setting, and problem that were rolled. Here are some story starters to get those little minds working:
    – Once there was a ___
    – In a land, far, far away______
    – It was a sunny day when_____

Tuesday: Story stones

Now that you’ve gathered fresh ideas from your story cubes, you can paint your characters, settings, and other scenes on these super story stones!  It’s art meets language arts with these wonderful sensory tools. Your child can easily manipulate the order of storyelements, and can add more components if needed. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Smooth, flat stones
  2. Paint brushes
  3. Variety of acrylic paints
  4. Varnish or acrylic sealer

What to do:

  1. Gather smooth, flat stones that have enough space to paint on them. Local craft stores also sell decorative stones that are perfect for this project!

storystones1

  1. Clean your stones with a slightly damp washcloth.
  2. Brainstorm different story elements that are special to your child, and have your child lightly sketch pictures on each stone.
  3. To make your pictures more vivid, we recommend painting with white acrylic paint first.

storystones2

  1. Allow white paint to dry, and then apply COLOR!
  2. Once your story stones are beautifully painted, put them to use by rearranging them in a different order each time to tell a whole new story!

storystones3storystones4

Get off that block!

Children often have a hard time generating and developing ideas, and find themselves in a “Writer’s Block.” These activities will help ignite your child’s imagination.

Wednesday: Sticker story bag

Stickers come in all shapes and sizes and are super easy to use. They are a great way to spark new ideas while having fun with the structure of a story. Sticker stories allow your little storyteller to fill in some juicy details to the beginning, middle, and end. Here’s how:

  1. Place a bunch of stickers in a bag. Stickers must include a mix of people, places, and things. Have your storyteller pick several stickers out of the bag, and then choose the order in which each sticker will be introduced.
  2. Place stickers on a white piece of paper. Your child may dictate their story to you as you record, or they may illustrate the details around the stickers.
    stickerstory1stickerstory2
    stickerstory3stickerstory4
  3. Use your child’s sticker story as a way to reinforce left-to-right tracking and how a story flows.

 

Thursday: Mix up fiction with non-fiction!

Children can gather inspiration for stories by reliving special moments in their life! Tell a tale that has magical elements mixed in with your child’s real memories. Here’s how:

  • On a piece of paper, have your child make a list or draw pictures of the special people, places, or things in their life.
  • Brainstorm together some special moments shared with those people, places, and things.
  • Discuss the magical elements that are often added to fairy tales. Revisit some of the tales that you read in week 1 of our Story Book Camp
  • Now, let’s mash up some of these real elements and magical ingredients!Choose one real memory to retell, and then insert a magical or fanciful moment into that retelling. What what would happen if a magical fairy or fiery dragon appeared in your story?

Time to publish!

The best way to celebrate a young author’s story is to publish their piece of work! Here area few unique ways to treasure each fantastic story:

Friday: Comic strips and story magnets!

Comic strips add excitement and allow children to add action and basic dialogue to each scene. Each box provides storytellers with space to bring their stories to life with illustrations.  Download our comic strip template here!

comicstrip

Once you create your comic strips, you have to show them off!  Your little storyteller can cut out scenes from each of the comic strips and turn them into magnets. For added creativity, post these story magnets on your refrigerator so your child can easily rearrange the story over and over again!

What you’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • Clear contact paper or clear packing tape
  • Adhesive magnet strips

 

 step1 Step 1: Gather your materials and clippings of your child’s story
 step2 Step 2: Cover the front and back with clear packing tape as a laminate and trim the edges.
 step3 Step 3: Cut 2 strips of adhesive magnet and stick to the back.
 step4 Step 4: Display story magnets for more storytelling fun!

 

My story:

Janene Russell is a Product Development Associate at Educational Insights. As a former 3rd grade teacher, Janene’s classroom was often filled with tall tales, mystical far-off lands, and flying creatures. These imaginative stories inspired her to dream big and to create “out of this world” products.