Mud + Mess + Math = Educational Fun!

Young children seem naturally attracted to activities that end up messy. Sometimes, though, creating the messy fun with them can be educational, especially if you think of ways to control the mess. Select an outside area that can easily be hosed down, put on old clothes, and you are ready to create your own Messy Mud Pie Café!

 

Select an outside area that can easily be hosed down, put on old clothes, and you are ready to create your own Messy Mud Pie Café!

Materials

  • dirt
  • large basin of water
  • measuring tools – teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring cups, liquid measures, kitchen scale, bathroom scale
  • old pie pans, muffin tins, or small flat containers
  • rolling pin (optional)
  • natural “decorations”, such as flowers or twigs (optional)

 

To create your mud pies, combine approximately 75% mud and 25% sand in a large container. Slowly add the water until it is moist and moldable. Use the rolling pin or just your hands to roll out the mud into pies. Form the “pies” in a muffin tin, old pie pans, or small flat containers. Decorate them with items from your backyard such as flowers, twigs, pine cones, or stones. Put them in the sun to “bake.”

 

Talk about the time it will take for the mud pie to “bake”  (or dry out). (Parents, you might consider creating your own mud pie ahead time and letting it dry to show an example of a baked pie.) Record the guesses. Then check back in at regular intervals, such as 30 minutes, 1 hour, and half a day. Take a picture at different intervals to record how the mud pies are baking.

 

While the pies are “baking”, consider the following activities:

 

  1. Measuring mud. Use the remaining mud to explore different weights and measures. Have your child measure specific amounts of mud. For example, ask your child to measure 1/4 cup of mud and place it in a container. Help your child fully fill the measuring cup and level it to obtain the exact measurement. Then ask your child, “Can you measure ¾ cup of mud?” Place the two containers next to each other and compare the amounts of mud. Which container of mud is more? Which is less?
  2. Weighing mud. Next, try weighing some mud. First have your child estimate the weight of a particular amount of mud. Then use a scale to weigh the mud. Was your child correct? Next select two different amounts of mud and estimate their weight based on your first measurement; then find the actual weights. Was your estimate more or less than the actual amount?
  3. Measuring water. Use the remaining water to find volume with different-sized containers. Pour the water into the containers and estimate which container holds more water. Next pour each container into the liquid measure. Was your estimate correct?

 

Be sure to allow lots of time for free play in addition to your education time with your child. Enjoy the messy fun together!

 

Related Blog Post:
10 Items from the Dollar Store for the Sandbox

 

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Quality Educational Apps with a Nature Theme

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy nature. Enjoy these Nature Themed Apps.

 

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy nature. Enjoy these Nature Themed Apps.

Educational Apps with a Nature Theme

Domi Domi Nature Shapes (iOS, Google Play)

domi domi

Domi Domi Nature Shapes – Matching and Sorting for Toddlers works to develop early childhood skills in a calming nature environment. Children must match the outlines of the creatures to the fully colored animals including crabs, owls, sea turtles, and sea horses. As your child progresses throughout the five different areas, the difficulty level increases from marching shapes to sorting the objects by color, type, and size. Sorting objects is a key skill for early childhood development. The app only has five games areas, and children may progress through them quickly. Many children would enjoy repeating the games again and again. The app has wonderful graphics and a soothing quality to the music and nature scenes. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 2-4.

 

Grandma Loves Bugs (iOS only)

Grandma Loves Bugs

Grandma Loves Bugs is an app that practices different types of skills that are appropriate for children ages 3-5. The app includes 10 mini-games and 8 educational videos for children to enjoy. The app works on skills such as matching letters, memory skills, identifying groups, and looking for differences. Grandma is charming as always and needs help finding the bugs in her hair. This app offers great basic skills practice for the summer. Children can also catch fireflies, draw a spider web, and eat caterpillar leaves with Grandma. The app costs $1.99.

 

WWF Together (iOS only)

wwf

WWF Together is beautifully created with stunning pictures of endangered animals. It would be valuable to sit with your child and discuss “endangered species” while looking at the pictures on the app. Each endangered animal is displayed through origami and includes information on creating your own origami creatures. You can even pose with the origami creature for a unique selfie!  The app also provides a few interactive activities that coordinate with some of the animals featured in the app, including racing a jaguar and outjumping a snow leopard. The app includes facts about the animals, but these are not read aloud. There is a 3-D interactive globe which pinpoints exactly where endangered species exist, and children can calculate their distance from the species. Our child testers loved discovering the videos embedded within the app of endangered animals. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-8 and is a wonderful learning experience for the whole family.

 

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Summer-Themed Apps

Anticipating summer? Get in the mood with these summer-themed apps.

 

Anticipating summer? Get in the mood with these summer-themed apps.

 

Summer-Themed Apps

Camping with Grandpa iOS only

Camping with Grandpa app review.

This app features a theme of camping and has nature and adventure lovers in mind. KinderTown loves the Grandma and Grandpa characters created by Fairlady media; this app focuses particularly on lovable Grandpa. Grandpa invites your children on a hike through the woods where they choose a trail and identify plant and tree species with his help. In the app, children have to drag forest animals to the food they eat and identify coordinating shapes of common tools used when camping, such a pocket knife or hatchet. Another feature of the app is a word find, which may be more challenging for beginning readers interested in the app and who may need the assistance of a parent. Kids love going on a hike with Grandpa, picking special stuffed animals to sleep with, and roasting marshmallows and hot dogs over the virtual campfire. As with other Grandpa apps, when children get the answers correct, Grandpa offers a high five that children get to slap (gently). Camping with Grandpa is a great way to get in the mood for summer camping. Camping with Grandpa costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

Related Blog Post:
Top 4 Childhood Adventure Apps

 

Bug Art iOS only

Bug Art app review.

Bug Art provides an informal environment for children to learn and play with bugs. The free paint area allows children to paint and use stickers to depict a bug scene. The bug designer area allows children to choose a basic stencil and then design a unique bug around the stencil. Pictures can be saved in the app and shared with friends. The app also has free play areas where children can race bugs or use the iPad to make them fly through pathways. This app is a fun creative experience with bugs. Bug Art costs $2.49 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

Related Blog Post:
Creepy Crawly Apps

 

Park Math HD iOS only

Park Math HD app review.

Park Math HD by Duck Duck Moose works on a variety of math concepts. Park Math HD is a thoughtful app that moves users seamlessly through counting, addition, subtraction, sequencing, patterning, and comparing while being developmentally appropriate for early learners. Unlike many of the math apps in the app store, Park Math HD does not simply have children answering questions or tapping on objects; Park Math HD integrates three levels of learning into a park concept to practice and investigate math concepts in a meaningful way. Addition and subtraction are practiced in a story problem format. Park Math HD costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-6.

 

Related Blog Post:
Spring Math Activities & Apps (Demme Learning)

 

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10 Items from the Dollar Store for the Sandbox

The weather has gotten warmer, so it’s time to get into the sandbox.

 

The weather has gotten warmer, so it’s time to get into the sandbox. Read this post for fun ideas of what to include.

 

For this post, I’ve used a container instead of a traditional, full-sized sandbox, which lengthens the season during which the sandbox can be used. In addition, you can use it in different locations. Carry the container to a covered porch or garage on a rainy day or use it inside when the weather is cold. I also chose colored sand for our makeshift sandbox; it’s available at big box stores and LOVED by kids. These smaller sandboxes are also great for smaller houses or apartments that might not have room for a traditional sandbox.

 

Sandbox Items Found at the Dollar Store

 

Here are 10 items we found at the dollar store to use in the sandbox:

 

  1. Paintbrush – My son likes smoothing out the sand with the paintbrush, as well as making roads for the cars and trucks. Also, it’s a nice tool to practice writing letters and numbers in the sand.
  2. Measuring cups – My daughter likes to fill these up and dump them out over and over, and I like using the real measurements with her. (For example, if we call  them the 1/2 cup, ¼, etc., I feel she is gaining an understanding of what these actual measurements look and feel like and hope she will be able to transfer that knowledge to other areas later.)
  3. Imitation gems – The dollar store generally has lots of different colors, shapes, and sizes. My kids enjoyed “hiding” them from their sibling and then having them find them later.
  4. Mini dustpan and brush – Brushing sand into the dustpan is great practice for developing motor skills, but it’s also handy for cleaning up sand that ends up outside the “box.”
  5. Kitchen strainer or serving spoon – This can be used as a sifter in the sandbox and as a tool to find the gems. They are also great for moving sand or just watching the sand fall through the holes.
  6. Mini watering can – The sand will fall out of the can as it is poured, but it is also great if you choose to add a little water to your sandbox.
  7. Pie pans – My children used these to make pretend blueberry pies, mud pies, etc.
  8. Kitchen spatulas – These are fun for stirring the sand around and around.
  9. Paint holder – These worked nicely for moving large amounts of sand because of the nice handle. (You can see a red one pictured in the photo at the top of this post.)
  10. Cars, trucks, tanks – The dollar store is a great place to get toy vehicles for the sandbox. Ours stay in the sandbox for use only in this location. This makes them novel when the sandbox is out and keeps the sand from being relocated to the house.Sandbox play is great fun in the summer. Learn about some items you can pick up at the Dollar Store to stock it.

 

Now, while your kids are playing, be sure to join them. Here are 3 questions you can ask your child as they play:

 

  1. What are you making?
  2. Where did you come up with that great idea?
  3. How can we play together?

 

There are also lots of free things around your house that work well in the sand, too. Any container recently recycled after being cleaned out, paper towel rolls, plastic silverware, plastic cups, or old plastic containers without lids all can be used for sand play. You can easily and inexpensively round up an afternoon of fun in the sandbox.

 

Related Blog Post:
Just Plain Fun! Educational Apps for the Summer

 

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Apps for Spring

Talk about what is happening outside this spring and then follow up your conversations with these apps.

Spring is a time for children to head back outside and re-investigate the world around them. Talk about what is happening outside and then follow up your conversations with these apps.

 

Plants by Tinybop

Plants

Plants by Tinybop is a fabulous app to explore, play, and learn about plants this spring. The app is based on three biomes: the grasslands, tundra, and desert. Once inside the deciduous forest, the seasons change, the weather changes, and children can interact with the plants and animals. The app allows for multiple logins, so children can explore at their own pace. The learning within the app is based on what your child explores within the biomes. While the app does provide labels in the various biomes for plants and animals, it does not provide facts about each one within the app. Also, the app does not include narration, so be sure to talk to your children while they are using the app. Be sure to explore their wonderfully created handbook about plants for parents on their website. It provides a purposeful way to explore the app and facts about the different biomes as well as further websites to explore. Plants by Tinybop is a truly unique educational app for children ages 4-8. Plants costs $2.99.

 

Related Blog Post:
The Great Outdoors: App Connections

 

GazziliScience

GazziliScience

GazziliScience introduces young kids to science topics in engaging and kid-friendly play. In the app, kids progress through 6 science learning areas that teach through discovery and narration. Explore sections such as “Plants,” “Water Cycle”, and “Seasons” this spring. After completing each area, go to the Gazzili fun page, where you use prizes earned in the game to build a unique contraption. GazziliScience costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.

 

Related Blog Post:
4 Superb Science Apps for Kids

 

Dr. Panda Veggie Garden

Dr. Panda's Veggie Garden

Dr. Panda Veggie Garden playfully gives kids the tools to be gardeners. There are 12 fruits and vegetables to grow. Over 30 activities, such as plowing, digging, picking off insects, and planting seeds, are sequenced appropriately for growing each type of produce. The app is more geared towards amusement and working through 1- and 2-step tasks than learning the sequence of growing fruits and vegetables. Each task is fun and easy for kids to work through, but there is not much free play in the games. In addition, there is not any language provided for your child. Be sure to supply rich vocabulary and questions while interacting with this app for your child to gain the most out of the experience. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.

 

Related Blog Post:
Gardening: Indoors With Apps

 

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The Great Outdoors: Closing Campfire

Thank you for participating in The Great Outdoors! Download your certificate and post your accomplishments to social media with the hashtag #KToutside

Summer Camp is for parents and kids to work together, exploring the world around you with activities that will take you outside, inside, and as far as your imagination will go! Learn more by reading the Welcome to KinderTown Summer Camp! blog post.

 

Thank you for participating in KinderTown Summer Camp!

 

We hope you found the week a valuable learning experience for your family. Please post your accomplishments on social media using the hashtag #KToutside.

 

Here is a printable certificate that you can share with your kids!

 

Here is a printable certificate that you can share with your kids!

 

Please join us next week for How Creative!

 

Download the most popular guide to finding and using educational apps for kids!

Related Blog Posts

The Great Outdoors: Opening Ceremony
The Great Outdoors: App Connections
The Great Outdoors: Grab Bag
The Great Outdoors: Demme Learning Day

 

Next series: How Creative!


 

 


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The Great Outdoors: Demme Learning Day

Summer Camp is for parents and kids to work together, exploring the world around you with activities.

Summer Camp is for parents and kids to work together, exploring the world around you with activities that will take you outside, inside, and as far as your imagination will go! Learn more by reading the Welcome to KinderTown Summer Camp! blog post.

 

Nature Scavenger Hunt

 

Math-U-See® is a complete K-12 math curriculum produced by Demme Learning. This unique program develops by level, rather than by grade, presenting mathematical concepts incrementally. Students use manipulatives at most levels to establish an understanding of the concepts and then move on to solving problems until they have demonstrated mastery.

 

Geometrical shapes aren’t just manufactured: they’re everywhere! In the lower levels of Math-U-See, students learn to identify basic shapes; later, they explore the characteristics of shapes, such as symmetry, and learn how to draw lines and shapes on a coordinate grid. This nature scavenger hunt provides a fun way to apply these mathematical skills.

 

Download this PDF file to follow along with the activities.

 

Download the printable for The Great Outdoors.

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

 

  • Preschool-Early Elementary: Have your child collect at least 5 different objects from nature that have different shapes. Ask: which objects have shapes that are close to circles? Which are close to squares? Rectangles? Triangles? Ovals? Hearts?
  • Elementary: Have your child collect at least 5 different objects from nature that show symmetry around a line. (Fig. 2) Ask: where you can draw a line to divide the object into two mirror images? Can you do this in more than one way?
  • Upper Elementary: Have your student collect 5 interesting objects from nature. He should choose one to place on the coordinate grid (Fig. 1). Draw a dot wherever the edge of the object meets an intersection on the grid. Have your student label each dot with an ordered pair.

 

EXAMPLE:

 

Download the printable for The Great Outdoors.

 

Now remove the object from the grid. Show your grid and objects to another member of your family. Can that person guess which object fits inside the dots?

 

Related Blog Posts

The Great Outdoors: Opening Ceremony
The Great Outdoors: App Connections
The Great Outdoors: Grab Bag
The Great Outdoors: Closing Campfire

 

Next series: How Creative!

 

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The Great Outdoors: Grab Bag

At KinderTown, one of the ways we enjoy the great outdoors is by sitting quietly in it, and enjoying being a human, nice and still.

Summer Camp is for parents and kids to work together, exploring the world around you with activities that will take you outside, inside, and as far as your imagination will go! Learn more by reading the Welcome to KinderTown Summer Camp! blog post.

 

At KinderTown, one of the ways we enjoy the great outdoors is by sitting quietly in it, and enjoying being a human, nice and still.

 

As a parent of young children, you might be in a stage of life where quiet and still only happen around 11pm, when kids have run out of excuses to get out of bed, and have finally given in to weighty eyelids. We’d like to optimistically suggest you seek out quiet time together this week.

 

Maybe you have rockers on the front porch, or just a front stoop. Find a bit of horizon, even if you have to travel somewhere to get it, and know that it’s okay to be quiet together. Don’t bring an agenda of things to talk about; keep your eyes on the sunset when you’re tempted to fill the silence with chatter.

 

In July in Pennsylvania, the sun sets before 9pm. On a clear evening, it sets so slowly, you might not even notice how the last light of the sky passes to the fireflies, then the moon; the branches are filled with the hum of cicadas, and you realize it’s been dark for a half an hour.

 

Given the right conditions, the quiet and beauty of the outdoors can steal over a group of people, and you could find you’ve spent whole minutes together in a silence more profound than any conversation or learning activity.

 

Related Blog Posts

The Great Outdoors: Opening Ceremony
The Great Outdoors: App Connections
The Great Outdoors: Demme Learning Day
The Great Outdoors: Closing Campfire

 

Next series: How Creative!.

 

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The Great Outdoors: App Connections

There is no substitute for enjoying the outdoors with your children, but if your child wants to learn more about nature, these apps make great connections to what you’ve experienced outside.

Summer Camp is for parents and kids to work together, exploring the world around you with activities that will take you outside, inside, and as far as your imagination will go! Learn more by reading the Welcome to KinderTown Summer Camp! blog post.

 

There is no substitute for enjoying the outdoors with your children, but if your child wants to learn more about nature, these apps make great connections to what you’ve experienced outside.

 

Toca Nature

 

Read KinderTown's review of Toca Nature

In this nature-based app, you can dig big holes to create a water hole, use an ax to cut down a tree, or take a closer look at the natural world with a magnifying glass. The creator behind Toca Nature loved to explore the woods in a special clearing, and this is the basis for the exploration in Toca Nature. Toca Nature presents a world for your child to play in and discover connections between plants and animals. Inside the world you create, you decide how many trees to plant, which animals exist and when to add more plants. After planting different varieties of plants, harvest the food to feed to the animals. Which animals like which plants? It’s all inside Toca Nature for your child to discover. Toca Nature is $2.99 and available for iPhone and iPad. Parents, you’ll love the pleasing soothing music that accompanies the app.

 

The Lorax

 

Read KinderTown's review of The Lorax

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a classical story about what happens to nature and our world when those who live in it do not take care of it. It’s told in a creative way that kids enjoy. The character, the Lorax, speaks for nature when others do not think of the effects of their actions. As a family, have an older child read the story aloud and record the narration for younger children to enjoy later. The book is colorful and includes the option to have the story read aloud, or to read it yourself. An important book to enjoy again and again. The Lorax is $3.99 and appropriate for children 4-8.

 

Peterson Backyard Birds

 

Read KinderTown's review of Peterson Backyard Birds

Help your children identify the birds around your house with this app guide. Children often ask a lot of questions that you may not know the answer to, but use their questions as a guide to find useful books and apps about the topics they are interested in. This app would serve as a great guide on your iPhone as you take a nature walk together; be sure to bring binoculars! This version is free and includes 160 of the most common birds. From the home area, tap on a variety of birds based on the information you are looking for. Then narrow the choices down to match what you have seen outside or would like to learn about based on the features of the bird. Peterson offers additional apps with more types of birds if this app does not provide enough information.

 

Related Blog Posts

The Great Outdoors: Opening Ceremony
The Great Outdoors: Grab Bag
The Great Outdoors: Demme Learning Day
The Great Outdoors: Closing Campfire

 

Next series: How Creative!

 

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The Great Outdoors: Opening Ceremony

This week’s theme is The Great Outdoors. Watch the introductory video and download the weekly planner.

Summer Camp is for parents and kids to work together, exploring the world around you with activities that will take you outside, inside, and as far as your imagination will go! Learn more by reading the Welcome to KinderTown Summer Camp! blog post.

 

This week’s theme is The Great Outdoors. Watch the introductory video below, and download the weekly planner.

 

Download the weekly planner for The Great Outdoors.

 

 

Remember there is not one right way to conduct camp. Complete as much or as little as you can. We hope your family engages in many of the learning experiences we have laid out for the week, but the key is to do things together!

 

Be sure to post your accomplishments online by using the hashtag #KToutside. We’d love to know what you are up to! Check back on the blog each weekday to see what others have done, app connections, and additional activities.

 

Thanks for participating in KinderTown Summer Camp!

 

Related Blog Posts

The Great Outdoors: App Connections
The Great Outdoors: Grab Bag
The Great Outdoors: Demme Learning Day
The Great Outdoors: Closing Campfire

 

Next series: How Creative!

 

Download the most popular guide to finding and using educational apps for kids!


 

 


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