Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Fall Treat: Chocolate Caramel Turkey Legs

Here is a simple and delicious Fall treat for upcoming holidays that can easily be made by preschoolers (with your assistance) to high schoolers. Based on the recipe and instructions from Taste of Home, all you need is: 

  • 20 honey wheat braided pretzel twists
  • 3 oz melting chocolate  (we used the Bakers Dipping Chocolate because it comes in a microwavable container for easy melting and clean up)
  • 40 caramels 
  • Wax or parchment paper

Instructions: 

  1. Put the caramels in the microwave for a few seconds (10-15 secs, just until they are easy to mold). 
  2. Then wrap two softened caramels around the top of the pretzel rod shaping it to look like a turkey leg (my daughter- a caramel lover- used three caramels but when we ate the finished product, we realized the extra caramel wasn’t necessary- two definitely give you a good bit of caramel).  
  3. Next, dip the caramel wrapped pretzel rod into the melted chocolate until the caramel is coated and place it on parchment or wax paper. 
  4.  Let the chocolate on the  “turkey legs” dry (if you are in a hurry, you can throw them into the refrigerator but make sure to take them out before serving as the refrigerated caramel will be too hard to eat).

These were a huge hit in our house- they were so delicious!  I loved how easy they were to make and how easy clean-up was by using the microwavable melting chocolate.  

Grade Levels: PreK through High School

Age Levels: PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool), 5-6 yrs (kindergarten), 6-8 yrs (primary), 9-11 yrs (elementary), 11-14 yrs (middle school), 14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

Culinary, Parent-Led

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 11/15/2020 

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Be Kind Reconnect

It’s busy times for families. There are parent conferences underway at schools. It’s the hectic election time and we are bombarded with lots of negative messaging through all media channels. We are in the midst of a beautiful autumn season, but not able to fully enjoy harvest get-togethers due to social distancing guidelines. We thought now would be a good time to reconnect you to one of our activity posts called, Be Kind. This simple activity might be an enjoyable way to spend time together with your children and do something nice for a neighbor, friend, teacher, or relative. With the abundance of fresh apples on these crisp days, it’s also a great way share the harvest with those you care about. Be kind, be safe, and be healthy!

Listen to a Story – Solve a Problem

Grade Level: Pre-K to Grade 1

Description: After listening to a story about kindness, children will talk about the story and then solve a hands-on design problem related to it. Children will use simple at-home materials to create their solution to the problem.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., colorful shopping bags, cardboard, empty plastic containers, toilet paper tubes)
  • Simple office supplies (e.g., rubber bands, paper clips, stapler)
  • One piece of whole fruit (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or vegetable (i.e., tomato, cucumber, zucchini) or flower “gift” per child [see design challenge in step 3]

What should I do?

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Be Kind, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill. Children will learn how to show kindness to others by seeing the many ways that it is demonstrated in the story.
  2. Talk about the story. Share examples of how kindness can be shown in your family or community. Help the children recognize how they have shown kindness. Can they think of times when someone didn’t show kindness? How did it make them feel?
  3. Present the children with the following problem. Modify it as desired to better connect to your family, friends, or neighbors. Change the gift item to whatever you have available (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or some flowers or a vegetable from your garden. If the child is capable of making a decision, offer several options and let him/her pick. For example, “What do you think Mrs. Diaz might like better — an apple or a banana or a flower?”
Making gifts for others is a way to show kindness. I know a friend who really likes apples. She is sick. How can we hang an apple on her doorknob to let her know we care about her?
  1. Provide the children with assorted materials to design their solutions. They should creatively design a new product, not simply use an existing object as is (e.g., put the apple in a shopping bag or a flower in a vase). Encourage them to modify the materials they have to make a special gift. Having to think about how to hang it on a doorknob offers a unique engineering challenge that requires some additional problem-solving.
  2. Pose questions as the children solve the problem. Help them to think through the problem and come up with their best working solution. For example:
    • How can you attach it to the doorknob?
    • What would make the part stronger?
    • Is it the right size for the fruit, vegetable, or flower being used as a gift? Is it too big or too small? How can you fix that?
    • How will she know who put it there?

Deliver the gift to the friend when finished. Try to hang it on his/her doorknob. If it doesn’t work as intended, ask the child to modify the design or consider an alternative place to put it. Discuss how it felt to show kindness to another person.

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Falling in Love with Nature

It’s Fall, my favorite time of year- the crisp air, the changing leaves, walking through pumpkin patches… it is a great time to be outside.  Did you know that research suggests that spending time outside has significant psychological and physical health benefits?  But even more than just being outside, some studies show that spending time in nature has the greatest benefits (See Jill Suttie’s article on Why Trees Can Make you Happier). The Japanese have a term for this: “Shinrin Yoku” which means “taking in the forest” or “forest bathing”.  What’s great about this activity, is that it doesn’t require anything except for you to find a place where you can be surrounded by trees.  Nothing else. It is really that simple!  Spending time in nature and immersing your senses in the surrounding environment can lead to a decrease in stress and an increase in happiness.  It’s such a simple activity that the whole family can enjoy.  If you have active kids, you can take a walk in the woods and search for different colored Fall leaves around you.  For quieter kids (or a solo trip for you), you don’t have to move at all- you can find a quiet spot to sit and take in the beauty around you.  So get out there and reap the health benefits of hanging out with the trees.

Tags: 

Health & Wellness

Social-emotional learning

Grade Levels: Pre-K through High School

Age Levels: Choose from this list. Delete those that do NOT apply. 

  • Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)
  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 10/28/2020

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

I-Spy Game

This video provides easy instructions for engaging in a DIY I-Spy activity using materials you have around the house. You can fill the bottle with various items allowing you to tailor the activity to your child’s interests or learning goals (such as teaching colors or categories). You can make this an activity for the whole family by having older children make the game for their younger siblings.

Grade Level:  Pre-K- 4

Age Level:

  • Pre-K 3-5 years (preschool)
  • 5-6 years (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 years (primary)
  • 9-11 years (elementary)

Tags:  

  • Parent Led
  • Independent Play
  • Sensory Learning

Developer:  Karena Rush 

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 09/30/2020

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities

STEM at Home

Visit Pitsco STEM@Home to access some free hands-on STEM activities that you can do with children and adolescents at home (grades K-9). There are also links to numerous resources available on their blog to help you and your children better understand the science behind everyday things such as tortilla chips, cheese, and bicycles. If you are looking to purchase STEM-focused kits, this is a good source for that as well. 

Grade Levels: K-9

Age Levels: 

5-6 yrs (kindergarten)

6-8 yrs (primary)

9-11 yrs (elementary)

11-14 yrs (middle school)

14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

Engineering 

Mathematics

Parent-Led Activity

Problem-Solving

Science

STEM

Technology 

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Yoga with Kids

It’s hard to imagine a better way to help children cope with stress, settle their minds, and find their inner peace than to guide them through a yoga experience. Check out Adriene’s Yoga with Kids video. Younger children can engage in a few of the exercises and older children should have no problem completing the full 32-minute program. Parents will enjoy joining in to do it with their children, too. 

The nice thing about yoga is that it doesn’t require a lot of extra “stuff.” Just find a quiet space, clear your mind, and grab a towel or mat. Adriene will guide you through the rest.

Need more yoga ideas? Be sure to check out Adriene’s web site and her YouTube channel which already has more than 6 million followers. 

More Helpful Hints from Beth – A Trained Yoga Instructor: Yoga should never hurt. Although you can get a workout and you can engage in challenging poses, you should make sure that you and your child are doing yoga safely. The most important thing to remember is to breathe! Most teachers recommend that you do yoga without socks or shoes on because bare feet and hands help maintain stability. Also, remember that even a little yoga can do A LOT of good for you and your child. Don’t forget to have fun! 

Grade Level: PreK – 12

Age Level: Ages 3-18

Tags: 

Independent Activity

Parent Led Activity

Social-Emotional Learning

Health  & Wellness

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

Categories
Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Toilet Paper Roll Slides

Using toilet paper and paper towel rolls!

Description: Tape the rolls to a wall, floor, or box. You can cut them or make a maze for the balls to fall through. You can also add colors to each tube or to each ball for color matching as shown in the picture to the left.

* This activity requires close supervision. However, this activity is considered kid centered/kid led play.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Paper Towel Rolls
  • Pom Poms OR Cotton Balls, Marbles (*Please note if you use marbles they can be a choking hazard thus requiring adult supervision at all times) 
  • Masking tape, Painter’s tape, Safe tape for your walls or floor 
  • Tongs/Scoops (optional)

What should I do? 

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Oscar and the Cricket written and illustrated by Geoff Waring. Children will learn about moving and rolling .
  2. Talk about the story. What surfaces did the ball roll down the best? Which were faster? Which were slower? Why?
  3. Present the activity to your child. 
  4. Gather your materials.
  5. Set up the activity in a safe location that you can tape on.
  6. Create your tube slides or mazes.
  7. You could also work on color matching by coloring the tubes to match the color of the pompoms and instructing your child to match the colors. For example: “Can you put the blue pom poms down the blue slide? 

Thought-provoking Questions:

  1. Why did the marble move faster than the pom-pom?
  2. If you create a maze: Which slide is faster? Why?
  3. Why do you think the pom-pom got stuck?
  4. How else could you set your slides up? 

Suggested Ages: 3-5 years of age

Tags: 

Fine Motor Skills

Developer:

Lauren McNeely

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Cups & Sticks Challenge

A Structural Design Challenge

Description: With a few simple materials, children can engage in various structural design activities that will challenge their problem-solving skills, promote persistence, and foster creativity.

What tools and materials do I need?

  •  Lots of paper or plastic cups (all the same size, 3-5 oz. are best)
  •  Lots of sticks (such as craft sticks, popsicle sticks, or coffee stirrers)
  • 1 small block such as a toy block, piece of wood, Lego(R) piece, or small container/lid
  • Measurement tool (e.g., ruler or length of string or thread)
  • Small objects that could be placed in a cup to serve as weights (e.g., beads, pieces of candy, paper clips, marbles, pennies)

What should I do?

  1. Assemble the materials on a table or the floor where the child/children can easily work.
  2. Explain the initial problem.

Design & build a tall, sturdy tower. You can use only the cups and sticks provided. You cannot change the shape or size of the cups and sticks. Cups should not be nested together either. 

  1. Pose questions or make comments when the child reaches a stumbling block and cannot seem to move forward. For example:

○      Why do you suppose it keeps falling down?

○      How can you make it more stable?

○      What other stacking pattern can you try?

○      How can you make it even taller?

  1. Measure the height of the tower with a ruler if you have one. If you don’t, use a length of string or thread to assess the height. Compare various solutions and heights.
  2. If the child is still showing interest, increase the challenge.

Design & build the tallest tower you can using only the cups and sticks provided. This time, your tower needs to balance on top of the object provided (i.e., toy block, piece of wood, Lego(R) piece, or small container/lid.) Remember that you cannot change the shape or size of the cups and sticks. Cups should not be nested either.

6. See picture to the left for example. This tower is balancing on a small toy block of wood. You can use any object as a base for the tower to balance upon. 

7.     Again, use questioning to help encourage the child to be persistent in solving the problem. Point out that most new inventions have many failures before the best solution is found.

8.     Try adding weights. Ask the child to put some small objects (e.g., beads, pennies, paper clips) on top of the tower. How many can it hold before it collapses?

  1. Discuss the problem and solutions.
    • Why was it harder to build the structure when it had to balance on a small object?
    • Compare how your body feels when you balance on one leg versus two legs. What can you do to keep better balance when you are on one foot? Try applying that idea to your structure.
    • Which problem was easier to solve and why?
    • Were the sticks more helpful in one problem than the other? Why?
    • Why do people think about balance when designing structures?

Grade Level: Pre-K – 4

Age Level:

PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

5-6 yrs (kindergarten)

6-8 yrs (primary)

9-11 yrs (elementary)

Tags: 

Creative Thinking

Engineering

Independent Activity

Mathematics

Parent-Led Activity

Problem-Solving

Science

STEM

Student Success Skills

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Categories
Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Homemade Aromatherapy Playdough Recipe

Making aromatherapy playdough can be a soothing activity enjoyed by parents and children.  Using calming essential oils such as lavender paired with the stress relief that comes with squishing playdough, parents and children can enjoy a relaxing activity together. No essential oils?  No problem!  The Stay at Home Educator offers an easy recipe with materials that are likely readily available in your home (or experiment on your own with spices and other fragrant items you have in the house).

For video instructions (with a slightly different recipe) click here:  HGTV 

Grade Level: Pre-K

Tags: Art, Sensory

Developer:  Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Rainbow Walk/Scavenger Hunt

Description:  The Rainbow Walk or Scavenger Hunt allows you to get outdoors and work on color identification skills. Bring your child on a walk to search for items that represent each of the colors of the rainbow.  There are many variations of this activity and it can be altered based on your child’s age, interests, or learning objectives.  You might want to start with watching this video that describes how rainbows develop (good for Pre-K) or this video for older children (elementary age).

Below are some of the possible variations of this activity.

  1. For taking a rainbow walk, you can ask the child to identify items for each color of the rainbow.  Such as asking the child to first look for red items, then orange, etc.  Or you could develop a worksheet that has each color listed and then ask the child to place a check in the box every time they find an item for a specific color.  If the child is older, you could ask them to write the item down next to the correct color.

Materials Needed:

  • A piece of paper with the colors listed
  • A pen or pencil
  1. For items that can be brought home: 

Find one item for each color of the rainbow, bring the items home, and have the child order the items based on the colors of the rainbow.  

Materials Needed:

  • Bag to hold the collected items
  1. For items that can’t be brought home: 
    1. Have your child stop and draw a picture of each item in a notebook or on a piece of paper as they go along.

OR

  1. Have your child take a picture of various items. At home,  print the pictures out and have the child place the pictures into the shape of a rainbow.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper and something to write with (pen or pencil)
  • OR Camera (and a computer/printer if you would like to print the pictures out)
  1. Can’t go outside?  
    1. Have your child search your house or apartment for different colored objects

OR

  1. Have your child think of different colored foods and make a rainbow snack (listen to this song by the Swingset Mamas for inspiration)

Materials Needed:

  • Foods that represent different colors of the rainbow such as strawberries, apples, banana, lemons, limes, yellow squash, peppers (red, green and yellow),  celery, carrots, lettuce, blueberries, grapes (green and red), watermelon, cheese, fruit punch, jello, juices (orange, grape, tomato) 
  1. Bringing along older kids (1st grade +)?

You can have your older children do this as a science project.  Once home, they can identify the various flowers, leaves, or other items they have found in nature.

Grade Level:  Pre-K- 4

Age Level:

  • Pre-K 3-5 years (preschool)
  • 5-6 years (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 years (primary)
  • 9-11 years (elementary)

Tags:  

  • Parent Led
  • Color Identification
  • Science

Developer:  Karena Rush 

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020