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4 Free Activities for Learning Shapes

It's so fun to watch children build confidence when they are learning their shapes. Everywhere that they go, they notice shapes. Rectangles on the bricks of houses, squares on the sidewalk, triangles on the pizza...

Talking about it can be a real time-filler! Great for passing the time on car rides or waiting in a doctor's office.

My three older girls are pretty skilled when it comes to shapes, but I wanted to have some activities on hand for when Shiloh is ready to start learning about them.

Plus, I wanted something that could give Jaida confidence in reading and learning.

Jaida is a perfectionist to the core. So it is very beneficial to use things that she has mastered when helping her to learn something new.

So in a couple of these activities I combined what she knows, basic shapes, with things that she needs practice with, reading sight words.

Because she feels the need to be 'perfect' before she attempts something, she has approached reading very slowly. And sight words even more slowly. (This can look like laziness, but once you get to the root of it, you can see that she is actually absorbing the material to put the details together at a later point.)

One of the activities that I made for her was a flip book.

Did you ever have one of those monster books as a child? The ones with the three sections and you could mix-n-match the different body parts to create something totally crazy?

This flip book is sort of similar.

I purposefully did not match up the shapes and their 'real-life' counterpart, so that Jaida would need to find the correct pictures giving a chance for higher thinking while still feeling like she had the skill mastered.

After she matched up the sentences correctly, we took the flip book into the living room and used our magnetic white board to create some sentences with the word cards that I created. 

I printed out the cards, laminated them and then use a strip of magnet tape to add magnets to the backs of the cards. You could also use the laminated cards on a sticky wall, table, or in a pocket chart. 

I placed the cards onto the magnet board and then we worked together to create some sentences. 

I chose the traditional shape and she chose the matching "real-life" shapes. Then she read the sentences out loud.

You may notice that I have the word 'blue' on the board. I realized that I was missing 'an' as we were using the activity, so I removed the word 'blue' and replaced it with 'an'. 

We didn't stop there though, we continued our learning with a little bit of fun using a Spin & Cover game for shapes. 

I love to laminate, so I laminated the board. However, it would work just as well without laminating. It would just not be as durable. 

For the spinner you can hold a pencil in the center with a paper clip around the tip or you can create a more permanent spinner with a brad and a paper clip. 

There are several ways that you can use the game. 

#1) You can use it as an individual activity. The student would spin and then cover up the shapes as they are spun. 

#2) You can use it as a partner activity. The partners would take turns spinning and covering the shapes. The student with the most shapes covered wins. 

#3) You can use it as a Bump! game. With two players, the concept is similar to a partner Spin & Cover, only you can bump! your partner's markers off the game board if you spin the same shape. When a player spins a shape, they cover it with their piece. As play continues, if they spin the same shape again they can put a second marker on the same shape and freeze the spot. (Sort of like 'kinging' in checkers). However, if the other player spins the same shape while there is only one marker on the shape, he can bump the other player off and take his place. Play ends when all the shapes have been frozen. The winner is the one with the most frozen spots. 

We just happened to have some shape buttons, so we used those for our markers. Unfortunately, our buttons did not have a rhombus shape, so we substituted flowers and hearts instead. 

We didn't get around to playing the last game today, but that's okay because it is really geared towards preschoolers and toddlers. 

A small memory game  is included for practice with basic shapes and their names. These cards are purposefully oversized, so that they are easy for small children to manipulate and identify the shapes. 

I printed them on the white side of scrapbook paper, so that they are not see-through. Card stock would also work. Regular colored printer paper would not work as you can see the print through the backs very easily once they have been laminated. 

I hope that you and your students will enjoy this fun set of activities for learning shapes. 

You can download your free copy of the shape activities' pack here. 

Be sure to check out the other learning activities I have!

Free Jungle Scene Printable

Yesterday, I shared with you how I re-dyed our sensory rice, so that we could create a brand new sensory experience. I left you hanging a little bit by only showing you the rice. Today, I have a free jungle scene printable (requested by none other than my lovely 1st grader1) for you that we used in our newly dyed rice.

This free jungle printable is sure to make your children's imaginations run wild!

Apparently, Shiloh thought that the rice was so beautiful that she decided to play in it before I got out of bed this morning. My husband and I trade early morning duty with her because, despite her love for mornings, the two of us night owls do not share her love. This morning was his morning.

She thought that the blue and brown rice looked lovely together and while I wasn't thrilled that she got the rice before I put it in the sensory bin, I have to agree with her. It was a beautiful combination.

I was able to salvage the other stunning colors to create a color theme perfect for jungle play.

I added in some new white rice to fill in for the blue and brown. I also thought that it gave a great contrast to the deep colors. The black and white together immediately made me think of zebras.

Then we added in the jungle pieces. Of course, you can use whatever jungle figurines you have. Quality figurines aren't available here in the Republic of Georgia, but when we head back to the U.S. in a couple weeks, I'll be checking out the toy aisle for sure!

Instead of figurines, we used this fun printable jungle scene.

This free jungle printable is sure to make your children's imaginations run wild!

Emma, my oldest daughter, loved the stripes in the rice. It was quite obvious when Rissa took a look at the rice and said "Hey Emma, do you remember how beautiful the oatmeal was when we mixed it together? Let's do that!"

"NO!!!" was Emma's prompt reply.

I kindly suggested to Rissa that they take a little bit of time playing with the solid colors before they mixed it all together!

Shiloh had a chance for some independent play after the big girls were finished. She loves moving the animals around trying to copy what the other girls do.

This free jungle printable is sure to make your children's imaginations run wild!

Isn't the contrast of the colors simply wonderful!?!?!

This free jungle printable is sure to make your children's imaginations run wild!

You can download a free copy of the jungle scene printable here:

Be sure to check out some of the other great sensory play activities we have done!


Re-dyeing Rice for Sensory Play

Have you ever wondered what do with rice that was used in sensory play once your carefully constructed rainbow of colors has all been mixed together? As we were discussing it yesterday on the Life Over C's Facebook page, I decided to find out how well re-dyeing rice for sensory play would work.

Check out the results!

The pastel rainbow rice was leftover from an after Easter eggs dyeing session (which I may have forgotten to blog about *cough* *cough*). Anyway, the gist of it was that we used the left over egg dyeing water, to create some beautiful pastel rainbow rice.

After the kids played with it, the rice became a beautiful mix of pastels. Which they played with several times.

However, there comes a point when they get bored with playing with the same old rice and it's time to bring in a new sensory experience.

So tonight, I took the mixed up rainbow rice and created this:

I haven't put it into a sensory bin yet, so you are seeing it freshly made.

To re-dye the rice, I simply repeated the normal method for dyeing rice, but chose some darker colors.

I actually chose some very dark colors, but I think that anything a shade or two darker than the original would work just fine.

Here's what I used for each color:
10 pumps of Purell hand sanitizer
1 small scoop of gel food dye
Gallon-size zip top bag
2 cups of rice

Throw it all in a bag, zip the top and mix until all the rice is coated with the dye.

Then set it on a tray to dry. Ours took about 15 minutes to dry.

It's ready for use in whatever sensory activity you dream up! This is a great way to save money on materials for sensory activities. While rice is relatively inexpensive, I love to get the most out of everything that we use.

Check back tomorrow to see what we do with ours!

FREE Color Recognition Activity Pack

Today, Shiloh and I pulled out a color recognition activity that I made a couple months ago for her older sister. She's not ready to use it the same way, but she had fun anyway and that's the most important part for her.

We used this color recognition pack to talk about different colors, read a story and practice some new words. I tried to build on the color sorting activity that we did a couple weeks ago by talking about the colors with her, but she was much more interested in the actual objects.

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

She was able to use the double-sided flash cards to show me a dog, a pig and an apple. She wasn't quite sure what an umbrella was.

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

I love these cards because they work for so many things.

Like with Shiloh, they can be used to talk about the actual picture. Honestly, every activity that I do with her is focused on talking.

The only way she's going to do it is if we give her lots of opportunities to try!

They can also be used to name the colors. Or read the color words and check the answer by looking at the picture on the other side.

Here's a picture to show how to put them together. There are three cards on each page. Cut in between the different colors on the dark lines. Then fold in half back-to-back. You can either glue them or laminate them at this point.

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

Because of my love for laminating, that's what I opted to do.

The pack also has a memory game. This requires the child to match the color word to the correct picture.

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

That's quite a bit above Shiloh's skill level right now, so we just talked about the cards some more.

Jaida really liked playing memory when she used the pack and eventually when Shiloh is ready we'll give it a try.

There is also an emergent reader included in both color and black & white.

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

At the kindergarten level the book is excellent for giving practice with sight words and color words due to the repetition.

For Shiloh, it was good for her to hear the repetition of the words.

And the fourth activity in the pack is color matching wheels.

This is a picture back from when Jaida used the pack, I punched holes all around the circle and she used color-coordinated pipe cleaners to indicate the matching colors.

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

A great activity for building fine motor skills and color recognition. 

You can download your copy of the FREE Color Recognition Activity Pack here. (You will be asked for your e-mail, but I do not use, sell, or otherwise use those e-mails. It is simply used to send you a link for the file.)

We have had so much fun talking about colors using these 4 free printable color recognition activities!

You Can Travel the World with Kids (and Enjoy It!)

You know when I boarded the plane with my 4 month old daughter 11 years ago, I never dreamed that we would truly travel the world with our family.

11 years later, we have been, as a family, to 44 states, 3 Canadian Provinces, and 6 Countries (if you count airports...)

And there was that one trip to Armenia where we got stamped in at the border and turned around and walked right back to the Georgian border. (That was a day!)

My youngest daughter was born here in the Republic of Georgia and has actually only been in America 4 weeks of her life. This is home to her.

In a couple months we will be starting our stateside travel to raise funds for our missions work and by the time we are done my children will have been to all 48 contiguous states, plus 3 more Canadian provinces (west coast this time!)

I say all of that to say this...

You can travel with kids (and enjoy it!)

I do have a lot of travel tips and tricks up my sleeves, but I think this is the biggest one that I can give you:

Be yourself!

If you are not super-organized-mama now don't try to be while traveling. It's okay to 'just wing it' when it comes to certain details of your trip. Where to stop for supper, making it to the hotel at just the right time, making a fun stop when you see a fun attraction on the side of the road.

If you are not spontaneous-mama now, don't try to be while traveling. It'll just stress you out. Get the details, find out ahead of time what sights will be along your travel path, plan an extra hour for the ridiculous amount of potty breaks that little kids need. (In fact, bring along the potty chair!)

Same goes for your husband and kids! Let them be themselves. Don't expect them to change just because the location is changing.

If you have hyper kids, plan for that. If you have quiet kids, plan for that.

My point is that if you stay in the comfort zone of your personality and abilities, your children will feel more comfortable and the entire family will feel less stress.

They love you the way that you are, so don't try to be someone else just because you're hitting the road (or soaring through the skies.)

Funny story to exemplify this:

Last month we had a trip planned to go to Riga, Latvia. Tickets purchased well in advance.

I'll be completely honest and say that we got some devastating news about my youngest daughter about 5 days before the trip. We didn't know all the details yet, but our doctor was recommending she undergo a huge series of tests for what appears to be a brain injury from birth.

I was completely knocked off my game.

Somehow I managed to go through our pre-trip routine.

Before ANY trip, we clean our house from top to bottom. Wash all the clothes & put them all away. Dishes done. Fridge cleaned out. The whole works.

This is what allows me to accomplish the actual packing of a week's worth of clothes for all six of us in less than 30 minutes and fit it all in two suitcases.

Still knocked off my game though.

No problems getting to the airport. Flight goes fine. We arrive in the customs line and suddenly it hits me.


I had absolutely no idea what the visa laws were. And I hadn't printed out any of the hotel information.

Totally scary thought for an international traveler. (Side note: Do as I say, not as I do....make sure you check visa information before traveling!)

We got to the customs agent, she looks at all of our kids. And asks for our travel details. Yikes!

After some searching on his iPad, my husband is finally able to find the name of the hotel we're staying at.

All is well and we're stamped though, no visa required.


Now, that could have meant total devastation for our trip. We could have totally freaked out about it. But because we remained our usual calm selves, we figured out how to make it work. We laughed about it and it was actually a great stress reliever for us.

Trust me when I say that if we had been traveling someplace I thought was more strict on visas, I would have looked up the information before buying the tickets.

(I'm making a mental note to check the visa requirements for our trip to Spain next month...)

We plan for travel just like we would plan for any other day of the week. To us being together is what creates 'home', not our physical location.

Because of this our kids don't get stressed out about travel. Even our special needs daughter can be okay if we show her that we are okay. She takes longer to adjust than the rest of us, but if we're not stressed, we can attend to her better which makes her less stressed.

And we can all enjoy the trip!

What about you? How do you 'be yourself' while traveling? Are you a super-planner or a take-it-as-it-comes traveler?

Free Rhyming Activities for Goodnight Moon

Do your children have a favorite bedtime story? I can think of a few that are up there on the list.

But at the very top, high above everything else, the undisputed favorite bedtime story in our home is 'Goodnight Moon' by Margaret Wise Brown.

All four of my daughters have fallen in love this book and requested to have it read over and over and over.

Somehow it is the only book that after 11 years of reading it to her sisters, I still pull from the shelf and read to my littlest one.

If you are anything like me, you are quoting it to yourself while you read this....

"In the great green room..."

As many of you know, my three year old has some significant language and speech problems. One of the ways that we work on words with her is to repeat stories over and over.

We point to the pictures.

We randomly flip through the pages and 'spy' things.

So with a little bit of little Shiloh on my mind and a little bit of my six year old on my mind, I created this pack of activities designed to be used alongside "Goodnight Moon."

There are three activities in the pack.

The first is a set of twelve cards that can be printed on card stock or scrapbook paper, so that they are not see-though. Then they can be used to play memory with rhyming words or just simply to match the cards.

Or if you want, you can print two copies of the cards and play memory by matching the pictures.

The second activity is an I Spy page. I included pictures of a lot of the popular words in the story. You and your child can use the page to find the different elements as you read through the story.

You can also use it as a scavenger hunt throughout the house

The third activity is a mini-book for rhyming words. This emergent reader is designed to use repetitive words to build confidence in young readers. They can also color the pages and practice their handwriting skills. It's finished off with a rhyming pictures match-up.

This was Shiloh's book. She begged to color one while Jaida was working on her own.

I hope that you and your little one enjoy this pack the next time that you read "Goodnight Moon."

You can download the free Goodnight Book rhyming activity pack here.

Free Lemonade Stand Printable for Play Dough

Did you ever have a lemonade stand as a child? I was not among the privileged few who did. :) The concept was so simple.

Whip together some lemonade (in my mind I'm sure it was Kool-Aid at the time!), set up a table and wait for the thirsty customers to flock to you.

Well, I lived on an almost country road, so customers were not something I was going to find.

My kids have similar issues since we live in the middle of a concrete jungle on the 10th floor of an apartment building. No thirsty customers to flock to them either.

But that doesn't stop them from wanting to pretend to have a lemonade stand.


As soon as this lemonade stand printable came out of the laminator, they were begging to help me cut it out so that they could play with it faster.

By the time I had the lemonade stand cut out and taped together, they had everything else ready.

To assemble the lemonade stand, use an exact-o knife to cut out the yellow rectangles in the center of the two lemonade stand pages.

The yellow rectangles are the sides of the lemonade stand. tape the sides to the front and back. I recommend taping both the inside and outside of the corners.

Then, use a small popsicle stick or skewer and tape it to the backs of the 'poles' of the canopy to give it support.

Add some play dough (ours was lemongrass scented!) and some fun play dough toys and let their imaginations run wild.

There is 'money' included so you can work with your kids on counting coins, making change and other purchase related math concepts.

"How much money does the girl need to purchase 2 lemonades?"

"How much change will she get if she pays with $1.00?"

"What combination of coins does she need?"

Lots of learning opportunities without even pausing playtime.

You can download your copy of the lemonade stand here in my shop. (You will be asked for your e-mail, but I do not use, sell, or otherwise use those e-mails. It is simply used to send you a link for the file.)