Sunday, December 28, 2008


A little Christmas gift to myself is no post this week.

Check in next week and hope you have wonderful holiday memories!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


This is hands down the best gingerbread recipe for making a Gingerbread House.

SMMART SCIENCE: Talk about the different forms that a solid can take when you observe the dough form of a solid and the baked cookie solid form. Also, take notice that a solid can be a powder when you observe the spices. You can talk about how many ingredients come together to form a mixture and make something new.

SMMART MATH: You can count the number of candies that it takes to cover the roof, make a path, or circle the doorway. Create shapes with candy to form the windows, doors and designs.

SMMART MUSIC: Turn on some holly-jolly music to enjoy while you enjoy time together.

SMMART ART: You are creating a gingerbread masterpiece...colors, shapes, patterns.

SMMART READING: Use any left over icing to pipe out your child's name in cursive. Pipe the name out on wax paper and let it sit until its hard. Then peel off the wax paper and your child can eat his name.

Gingerbread House Dough (courtesy of my friend Kindy)

6 and 3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 c light or dark corn syrup
1 and 1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 c margarine or butter
1 Tb cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tsp ginger

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients and spices together in a mixing bowl.
-Combine sugar, corn syrup and butter in a pot and heat until melted while stirring continually.
-Pour heated mixture into dry mixture and combine well.
-Cool the dough so you can handle.
-Pour dough out onto floured counter so dough doesn't stick. Kneed dough until workable and ready to roll out.
-Roll dough out into 1/8 to 1/4" thick. Cut dough into pattern. You can search for a pattern of your choice online. (You may also wish to cut out shapes of snowmen and Christmas trees to adorn your Gingerbread House yard.
-Bake 8-10 minutes on Parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

(If you wish to use the scraps, bunch them together in a ball and microwave for a few seconds until the stiff dough becomes pliable again)

Makes 4 to 5 homes the size in my picture or many little houses.

Royal Icing

3 level Tb meringue powder
4 c powdered sugar
5-6 Tb water
(*optional: 1 Tb corn syrup for shine)

Beat on low 7-10 minutes till forms peaks

Makes 3 cups

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here is the link to the video for the SMMART ART: Teaching Your Child Great Art segment. It won't stay up long, so take a look:
Thanks for watching and tune in for
SMMART READING on January 14, 2009!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Works every time...

What kiddo can resist dipping their finger into straight sugar for an instant reward after they correctly draw a letter (or word).

You may wish to reserve this activity as a postlude to a healthy meal.

Pour out just enough sugar to cover the bottom of a cake pan, or a cookie sheet. If you have a beginning letter writer, the cake pan is sufficient. If you wish to work on spelling words, then you need the room that a cookie sheet provides.
You can guide your child's finger in the correct letter formation first and then let him try it on his own.
After a while, the sugar gets a little sticky. We also use rice for this activity as a good substitute. (You can try flour, oats, split peas, lentils...) It also makes times that we use sugar a little more special.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Be sure to tune into "Good Things Utah" abc4 on Monday, Dec.15 at 10 am
for some SMMART ART ideas!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


This activity requires a little more preparation than most of the SMMART activities, but the payoff is well worth the effort. You are introducing your child to great pieces of art and their masters. Select a variety of works from different genres for this game.

Search the internet, magazines, or thrift store books for pictures of great masterworks. The internet is a flexible resource so you can shrink pictures and paste onto a document, ready to print.

This is one website that I find useful: (Olga's Gallery)

Find pictures of great art masterpieces. Shrink the pieces to smaller than 3X5 and print them in duplicate. Cut out each picture and paste each picture onto the back of a plain 3X5 notecard. Be sure to label the picture with the name of the artwork and artist. You may laminate these or use contact paper to aid in longevity of this card game.

Now you have duplicate pictures for a "Masterworks Matching" game. As you turn over each picture or make a match, be sure to verbalize the name of the artwork and each artist.

It won't be long before your child is naming them before you!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Shadow- 2. The rough image cast by an object blocking rays of illumination.

Moving all around to create shadows promotes body awareness and comfort.

Inside the house, you can set up a lamp or flashlight to shine at a wall.
Turn on some fun music to move with.
Stand in front of the light with your child and move to the music as you watch your shadows.

Go outside when the sun is up and sing a fun song to your child as he dances a shadow upon the ground. Help him find the different parts of his shadow. As he dances to your songs, encourage him to observe how his shadow moves. Call out different ways to move: like a rabbit, like the rain, like the wind...

Help him to try new movements that he’ll enjoy seeing his shadow doing.

Chase your child's shadow with your arms outstretched so your shadow looks like it's chasing your child's. Encourage your child to chase your shadow and catch it. Suggest that your child step on your shadow's hair, hands, elbows and other body parts.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

This activity encourages counting and coordination.
Show your child how to tap a balloon so that it stays in the air. As you tap the balloon each time, count out loud. Let your child try to tap the balloon. Take turns tapping the balloon as you count out loud the number of times you can tap it before it falls to the ground.
Change it up by tapping the balloon with your head, elbows, knees and feet.
A few ideas for older children:
-Count together the number of taps you can keep the balloon up in the air. When it falls to the ground, let your child write the number you achieved onto the balloon with a permanent marker. Then continue to tap. After you have a few numbers, let your child add the numbers on the balloon and write the answer on the balloon.
-You can practice tapping the balloon in “twos”, “threes”, or “fives”. The first person takes a turn tapping the balloon in the air three times, then the next person must step in to tap the balloon three times...continue tapping and counting. Count in “threes”, emphasizing every third number: "one, two, THREE, four, five, SIX, seven, eight, NINE!"
--Take turns tapping the balloon with your child to keep it in the air. Each person keeps track of the number of times they tapped the balloon. Write down how many taps you had and how many taps your child had. Now let your child add (subtract, multiply, divide) the two numbers together.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

This activity demonstrates a chemical change. It is also a great activity to demonstrate how milk curdles.

You will need to:

· Add 4 tsp. of white vinegar to 1 ½ cups of skim milk.

· Microwave the mixture for about a minute.

· After a minute, the milk and vinegar will be separated into two parts, a liquid and a solid. The vinegar created a chemical reaction by separating the milk proteins into two parts, a solid (curds) and a liquid (whey).

· When you stir the milk, the curds become a blob.

When the liquid is drained off, you can combine the blob into one big lump and let it cool. Then the protein curd is malleable and you can squish and play with it. If you leave it out, it will harden.

Recite “Little Miss Muffet” with your child. Give your child some cottage cheese to eat and discuss how “curds and whey” are made. Your child may enjoy acting out the nursery rhyme, quietly enjoying her cottage cheese until the spider (you) jumps beside her and your “Miss Muffet” runs away into another room.

So, sit on your tuffet and commence creating some curds and whey!
You can find this and other activities at:

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Little minds are so capable! They can correctly name every dinosaur they see, match the princesses with their princes, and quote lines from their favorite movies.

...And...they can absolutely recognize famous artworks and their artists!

These are some great series and books I've come across to introduce my children to art masterworks.

"The Mini-Masters Series", by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, tells a rhyming story on its hard pages as each book highlights individual artists like Gaugin, Monet, Degas, Seurat...

Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo's "Touch The Art Series" engages your child's interest with interaction on every hard page. Tug on braids or feel a fuzzy peach. Each book showcases several artists from different genres.

I also like to cut out masterworks I find in magazines or the newspaper, laminate the picture with contact paper and keep them in a pocket near the other artbooks.

Two other books on our shelf:

I Spy: An Alphabet in Art, Lucy Micklethwait (Series includes Shapes, Colors, Animals, Numbers in Art...and some others)

Usborne The Children's Book of Art (Internet Linked), Rosie Dickins, Carrie Armstrong, and Uwe Mayer (Showcases many well-known artists and their lives, many different styles, glossary, some nudity-Michelangelo,Botticelli...)

Two other books on my wish list:

Discovering Great Artists: Hands-on Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters, MaryAnn F. Kohl

Usborne Art Treasury, Rosie Dickins and Nicola Butler

Besides reading these books to your child, keep these resources in easy reach for your child to look at whenever it strikes her fancy. Lay a book on your child's bed or desk to encourage little eyes and hands to peruse.

Not only will your child come to appreciate different genre and learn the names of the works and will enjoy heightening your own art awareness!

What are your SMMART ideas for introducing your child to the art masters?


Sunday, November 2, 2008


This activity provides an opportunity for your child to practice writing her letters with glue, and explore her olfactory creativity. It also introduces your child to other ways to enhance food's flavor without using salt.

You will need:
Piece of Cardstock, Cardboard, or Construction Paper
Craft Glue
Cotton Swab
Spices (Rosemary, Crushed Basil, Mustard Seeds, Cinnamon, Pepper-a grinder makes it more fun…)
Colored Gelatin in a shaker

Use a sturdy piece of paper, such as cardstock or even cardboard, for this activity.

Let your child use the glue to create lines, shapes and letters on the paper. If the glue is too hard to squeeze, then let them dip a cotton swab into a blob of glue that you squeeze onto a separate piece of paper.

Children who are just learning to write their letters may practice by copying lines. You can make straight, curvy and zig-zag glue lines on the paper for your child to trace with a glue cotton swab. Older children can draw letters with glue…and may enjoy writing their names.

Now, provide a variety of items for your child to shake onto the paper. If the item has a scent, let your child smell it as you talk about its name and what it smells like. Discuss which types of food you could enhance with each spice.

Your child may enjoy sniffing the letters of her name when she finishes this activity.
Allow your child to shake in some of these spices when you are cooking dinner together.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


The art of role-play proves to be a fun activity for all ages and comes in handy as a resource when helping a child adjust to a new situation. Any type of role-play engages your child, but this activity highlights a dentist and doctor visit that may be scary for your child. Acting out the situation prepares your child for when the visit arrives.

Material suggestions:

Tongue depressor or spoon
Make-believe stethoscope, like a jump rope or funnel

Thermometer (you could use anything small and straight like a pen cap or kazoo)

Have your child sit up on the couch or on her bed. Act out what a doctor or dentist might do at the upcoming visit. Some ideas are:

· Help your child pronounce the doctor’s name and become familiar hearing it.
· You may use a spoon to tap on your child’s knee.
· Take your child’s temperature.
· Have your child stick her tongue out and look in her throat with a flashlight.
· Use a jump rope stethoscope to listen to your child’s heartbeat on her chest and back while she takes deep breaths.
· You may wish to pretend to give your child a shot with a crayon. Then place a bandage on the spot.
· You can have your child lie back and open her mouth while you inspect her teeth. You can count her teeth with a toothpick or toothbrush. Give your child a pair of sunglasses to wear to protect her eyes from the dentist light, if that is the norm at your dentist’s office.
· Brush your child’s teeth or allow her to do so in the mirror.

Praise your child for performing these tasks so well and for obediently listening.
Now help your child to perform these activities with you acting as the patient. This will help your child feel a sense of control and solidify the activities that are performed in a doctor's office.

All of these activities are fun to perform together and will help prepare your child for the unknown. Role-play together will help your child to feel more comfortable at the doctor when she is asked to perform these patient tasks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Tape a piece of crepe paper, a tissue, scarf, or a ribbon to the end of a stick, or toy that is shaped like a wand. You may also use a bamboo skewer as the handle if you cut off the sharp end and tape the entire skewer in masking, duct or painters tape to protect little hands.

Turn on some music and let your child wave the streamer to the beat of the music. Help your child shake the stick back and forth quickly when the music is fast, and wave the streamer softly when the music is slow.

Teach your child to lead music. Find simple leading patterns online with a 2/2 or ¾ time signature. Write out the shapes with arrows for your child to follow and post on wall. Stand in front of child and demo or behind your child to guide his arm at first. Explain that you are keeping the beat of the music as you follow the leading pattern. Sing a song to your child as you both beat the leading pattern together. When your child is comfortable leading with one hand, he may wish to try both hands together. The left hand will lead opposite the right in the leading pattern.

Just let your child feel the rhythm and soul of a song and move around the room to the music with his streamer.


Friday, October 17, 2008

THANKS FOR WATCHING SMMART ideas on "Good Things Utah"!

Thank you for watching SMMART MUSIC ideas today. Little Halee assisted in a darling demonstration of the "Rhythm Streamers"(up for the next post, Oct. 19) and "Beastly Bowling" (SMMART Music: Bowling Sounds, Sept.7) activities.

You can check out today's activity procedures on the "Good Things Utah" site:

Check out the video from today's segment:

The co-hosts expressed that a lot of you have written e-mails or phoned in your support of SMMART ideas...and so for that, I thank you!

I will be presenting SMMART ART ideas on Monday, December 15, abc4 at 10:00am!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


“Bigger (Greater) Than”/ “Less Than” are the vocabulary words to introduce to your child through these sorting activities. Be sure to use a mid-size object in these activities as a reference to decipher between objects that are “bigger than” or “less than” the reference object.

-Lay out a few toys of different sizes in front of your child. Use a medium size toy as reference or you can even use the palm of your child’s hand as a size reference. Help your child sort them into two piles. As you sort a pile of large objects, state that: “This object is bigger than your hand, so it will go into the big pile” or “This object is smaller than your hand, so it will go into the small pile”.

-You can sort flashcards. Sort the numbers that are greater than your child’s age and less than his age.

-You can sort buttons by size. Use one mid-size button as a standard to sort “bigger than” and “smaller than” buttons.

-Sort snacks. Give your child a variety of snacks (toasted oat cereal pieces, crackers, raisins). Let your child sort the bigger snacks from the smaller snacks. You can use a mid-size snack as the standard. Anything “bigger than” the midsize snack goes in one pile and any snack “smaller than” goes into another pile.

-Encourage your child to sort your family’s socks as you do the laundry together. Sort the big socks from the small socks. Help your child to articulate who has bigger socks. “Your socks are smaller than my socks!”…and… “My socks are bigger than your socks!”

-Sort your family’s shoes. Place several pairs of shoes into a large pile and sort the shoes by size. You can use your child’s foot as a size reference.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


This activity will help your child develop her sense of experimentation. Magnets are made of iron ore and have a magnetic field around them. Whenever an object enters that field, it pulls on the object if it is made of iron, steel, nickel or cobalt.

-Find a magnet that is pretty strong. Lay out several small items onto the table. Be sure to include metal items such as paperclips, nails, and twist ties. Have your child experiment by holding the magnet over objects to see if they’ll be attracted to the magnet.

-Draw a line down a piece of paper. Place items that stick to the magnet on one side of the paper and the other side houses items that do not respond to the magnet.

-Place an item that is attracted to the magnet on top of a piece of cardstock. Move the magnet beneath the cardstock and watch the object move around as you move the magnet. Try moving the magnet under a piece of cardboard with the attracted object on top. Is the cardboard too thick or does the magnet still work? What else can you use to separate the object and the magnet? (Plastic, glass or ceramic plate, your child’s hand, an old CD…)

-Do magnets work under water? Fill a large bowl with water and place several magnetic and non-magnetic items in the bottom of the bowl. Let your child explore the power of magnets under water.

-Talk about the kinds of objects that are attracted to magnets and what objects are not.

(Check out this and other ideas:,,sklbldr_d67w-5,00.html)


Thursday, October 2, 2008


Watch "GOOD THINGS UTAH" on October 17, 2008 on abc4 at 10:00am for my segment on SMMART MUSIC!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I recently attended a seminar where Becky, a registered dietician, spoke to an audience of women about preparing healthy meals for the family. She also discussed the value of helping your family appreciate the importance of eating dinner together as a family. She had a few suggestions to help make dinner a special event:

-Let your child choose from a variety of fun tablecloths to set the table

-Use fun, colorful placemats- personalized to each person in the family

-Try using “school lunch” trays to serve dinner

-Set the table with different styles of plates, or a “your special” decorated plate, or special birthday plate

-Take turns pulling conversation starters from a “Conversation Pail” (“What do you like about school?” “If you could change places with your sibling for a day, what would you like best?” “What was the best and worst part of your day today?”)

-Read excerpts from books such as: 365 Manner Every Kid Should Know, Sheryl Eberly or 10 Minute Life Lessons for Kids, Jamie C. Miller or 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families, David Niven

Here are some other ideas (more can be found on the “Studio 5” website at:

-Place big utensils on the table (ladle, noodle spoon, tongs, spatula) instead of silverware

-Use chopsticks instead of silverware

-Feed the person on the left his dinner from your plate

-Food color in certain foods (red mashed potatoes for Valentine’s Day, green scrambled eggs for St. Patricks)


Sunday, September 21, 2008


Fill a zipper plastic bag with a little squirt of shaving cream (not too much). You can also use tempura paint, pudding or yogurt to use in the plastic bag. Seal the zipper bag and let out all of the excess air.
Lay the bag flat on a table and spread out the shaving cream inside so it fills into the corners of the bag. Tape the top (seal part) and bottom of the bag to a hard surface, such as a table top or even onto a glass door or window.

Now your child can practice writing letters with her finger or with a round end implement (like a rounded pencil eraser, capped pen top, even a crayon or capped marker with a round top).

-For little ones just learning to master their hand coordination, you can draw a straight line on the bag. Let your little one try to trace the line with her finger. Now try a curvy or zig-zag line.

-Your child may be just learning the letter sounds to start words. Ask your child to write the first letter of a word. “Write the letter that ‘ball’ starts with.”

-Your child can practice spelling words. Dictate a word from your child’s spelling list and she can spell the word letter by letter.

Squishy Spelling = Squishy Fun!

Monday, September 15, 2008


I am enjoying a creative blog called:
"Amy" shares fun ideas on many different topics.

This activity on reminded me of an art project I once did in elementary school, so we gave it a go.

My 3 year old was a little perplexed as she drew with a white crayon on white paper and nothing showed up...but the payoff came when she began to watercolor her "relief" masterpiece.

It is wonderful to expose your child to many different artistic techniques and mediums. This activity provides an opportunity to explore the "crayon-relief" or "crayon-resist" technique:

*You'll need paper, a white crayon (you can use other colors too), watercolor set with a brush and water. (You can also used watered down tempura paint.)

Have your child draw a picture with the white crayon on white paper. Be sure to press down hard so the "relief/resist" effect will work.

Now when your child watercolors on the paper, the white crayon will resist the water color and stay white wherever it is on the paper.

Your child can watercolor a wash of colors over the whole piece of paper, or like my three-year old, just watercolor where she wants and the crayon relief will expose itself in random places.


Sunday, September 7, 2008


Empty and dry four tall plastic water or soda bottles. Pour a little bit of rice in one, water into another, and dried cereal into another. Leave one bottle empty.
Set the bottles up and give your child a ball as she stands a little ways from the bowling bottles. Encourage your child to throw the ball at the bottles to knock them down.
Ask your child to describe the different sounds in the bottles as they fall. Let your child shake the bottles to explore the sounds that each bottle makes.
Older children may enjoy:
-Have your child try to just hit one bottle. Can he name what is inside the bottle when it falls down, just by hearing it shake around?
-Fill empty yogurt cups or containers that have lids with different substances. Let your child build a pyramid to knock down. Listen to the loud crash.
-Play a game of bowling and keep score to see who can knock down the most pins after 5 turns.
-Toss the bottles back and forth. As you catch a bottle, name what is inside just by hearing the sound. Have your child toss the bottle back to you to check if he’s correct.
-Blindfold your child as you shake a bottle. Ask your child if it’s easier to recognize what is inside the bottle if he can see the bottle or not.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Here is a link to the SMMART MATH video on the abc 4 "Good Things Utah" website:
Be sure to try this activity out with your children. It's a lot of fun!
Thanks for watching and stay posted for the date when I'll present SMMART MUSIC!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


This activity may challenge your child’s math skills, and his vertigo.

You will need an office swivel chair and number flashcards. You can easily create your own number flashcards by writing the numbers 1 through 10 on separate note cards. You may also wish to have a notebook and pencil for your child to hold.

Place a swivel office chair in an area where there’s room to move around. Place the number flashcards in a circle around the chair. Make sure the number flashcards are facing inward, so your child can read the numbers when he is sitting in the chair.

Have your child sit in the chair and give him a firm spin. If you do not have a swivel chair, then instruct your child to close his eyes and put his arm straight out, while you spin him around as he stands in the middle of the flashcard circle. You can also use an empty water bottle to spin in the middle of the flashcards as a version of “spin the bottle”.

For young counters:

-When the chair stops, have your child tell you the number where his feet are pointing.

-Additionally, you can ask your child: “What number comes before this number?” or “What number comes after this number?”

-You can count with your child from zero up to the number where his feet are pointing.

For more advanced mathematicians:

-Your child can write down the number where his feet are pointing. Spin your child again and have your child write down this second number.

-Your child can add, subtract, multiply or divide these two numbers.

-You can have your child write the two numbers side by side as you discuss which number is in the “ones” and “tens” spaces. Spin your child again to choose another number and you can work on numbers in the “hundreds” position.

-You can write down two numbers that your child’s feet point to and have him write down the numbers side by side. Spin twice again and have your child write those two numbers side by side. Now your child can add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers with two digits.
You get the idea…there are a lot of ways to twirl and teach!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Cut open a few fruits and vegetables to show your child what each plant’s seeds look like. You can find and compare the seeds of many different fruits. Here are a few suggestions to get started:

-Cut open a tomato and a cucumber and let your child touch the slimy seeds. Ask your child how the seeds from a tomato are different from cucumber seeds. Let your child taste the different seeds and feel them on her tongue.

-Cut open an apple sideways to display a seed star pattern and let your child hold an apple seed. Observe the apple seed’s texture compared to the tomato and cucumber seeds. Observe the rigid holes that the apple seed came from and count the number of star points. Help your child brush on some tempura or finger paint onto the apple star pattern and let her stamp the apple star onto a clean sheet of paper.

-Cut open a mango and show your child how large a mango seed is. Clean the seed and let your child hold the seed to feel its texture and weight.

-Observe the ridges and pointy end of a peach pit. Plant the peach pit in a yogurt container filled with soil. Let your child water the seed and observe growth.

-Show your child a fruit and ask her what she thinks this next seed might look like.

*REMEMBER TO WATCH "GOOD THINGS UTAH" on August 29th, 10:00am on abc4*

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I thought I'd tip you onto a product that we are enjoying. "Elmer's Squeeze n' Brush Paints" are great for the novice painter and great for making posters too. They're quick and easy and contain messes to a minimum.

Set up an easel for your little Picasso. You can create your own easel. Use a large piece of cardboard or purchase a foam board and prop it up against a chair. Place an old sheet under the board. You can use hair claws, those black paperclip clamps, or twist two small tufts of the sheet and wrap them with masking tape to create a support at the base of your foam board so it doesn't fall.

Tape individual pieces of paper onto the sturdy foam board.

Put an old, long T-shirt on your child. Pull loose hair back and let your child paint whatever she imagines.

Now, that's a cute little Picasso!


Sunday, August 10, 2008


Lead your child on a letter hunt. Write several of the same letter on a piece of paper and cut them out. Lay the letters down in a trail that leads to an object that starts with that letter. For example, you would lay a trail of “B”s down the hallway and into your child’s bedroom that ended at a stuffed bunny.
-If your child can read, then write down the whole word and cut out the letters. You can make a trail with the letters (in the correct order of the word) that eventually leads to the object that the word spells.
-Write down a whole word and cut out the letters. Hide the letters and let your child find them. Then help your child unscramble the letters and ask your child to find an object that the word spells. This can be a race between you and your child or between siblings. See who can unscramble the word and bring an object to you first.
-This activity would be great practice for spelling words! Hide the letters of a spelling word. Let your child find the letters and unscramble the word. You can make two sets of letters to race against your child in completing the words first.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Collect two of each kind of paint swatch at a hardware store. If they come in a brochure, then cut each color swatch out individually from two brochures. Another option besides paint swatches is to cut out two squares from many different colors of cardstock.

For beginning color learners: Lay the colors on the floor and help your child match up the corresponding colors. This activity increases with difficulty as you match different shades of the same color.
i Be sure to ask your child what colors she sees.

More advanced: Make a memory game from the color swatches. Lay two of each color face down on the floor. Take turns with your child as you turn two swatches over and try to find a match.

Talk about the difference between light colors and their dark counterparts. Ask your child to put all of the “light” colors and “dark” colors in separate groups.

Explain that to get a lighter color, you would add white. To achieve a darker color, you would add black. If you have tempura or finger paints, you can demonstrate creating light and dark hues of the same color. You could demonstrate with watercolors by adding water to create a lighter hue and black to create a darker hue. Encourage your child to watercolor a painting with dark and light colors.

i Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, On Becoming Preschool Wise (South Carolina: Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc, 2004) 121-132.


THANK YOU for watching SMMART Ideas: Science for Kids this week on "Good Things Utah"! You can check out the activity procedures on the GTU website:
THANK YOU to all of you who let abc4 "Good Things Utah" producers know that you would like to see more SMMART Ideas on the show. I really appreciate your support!
THANK YOU to all of you who have linked the SMMART Ideas site from your blogs, who have passed the SMMART Ideas site on to your friends...
and a HUGE THANKS...
To all of you who comment on this site. I appreciate the feedback. I really think it's great when I see comments about new ideas for Science, Math, Music, Art and Reading activities so everyone can benefit from the idea sharing.
WATCH SMMART Ideas: MATH FOR KIDS activities on August 29 on abc4 "Good Things Utah" at 10:00 am (Friday).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Turn on some fun dancing music and let out the "LIMBO!" cry!

Rest a broom handle or other stick horizontally. You can also just hold the broom handle horizontally if you can’t find anywhere to rest it. Another idea is to tape a ribbon across a doorway and lower it as the game progresses.

Explain to your child that they should try to go under the stick without touching it. Lower the stick each time your child attempts to limbo. Observe the interesting ways she may attempt to go under the stick as it gets lower and lower.

There are other ways to adapt this musical game:

  • You can play animal limbo, where everyone has to move and make sounds like different animals- no repeats.
  • You can specify how to go under the stick: “Everyone has to crab walk limbo!” “Now, we’ll roll limbo.” “Time to somersault limbo!” “Try the snake slither limbo.” You can go first to show your child the movements.
  • Follow the leader. Your child can go under the stick first in a silly fashion and then you have to follow.

However you play Limbo, you’ll enjoy movement and music together!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Here’s a little exercise while we apply math principles!

Counting steps- you can do this activity anywhere and apply it in a number of ways.

In its simplest form, help your child count the number of steps it takes to go from one place to another. As you walk down the isle of a store ask your child how many steps it takes to go from one end of the isle to the other end. Count your steps from the top of the driveway to the bottom. Count together, the number of steps it takes to walk from the front door to the mailbox.

Now for a couple of more advanced approaches:

-Let your child count the number of steps it takes from one spot to another, while placing one foot RIGHT in front of the other (toe to heel to toe). Let her write that number down. Now have her walk that same distance taking GIGANTIC steps. Write that number down. Have your child subtract the two numbers to see how much more efficient it is to take bigger steps.

-Use a stopwatch to time your child as they take steps from one spot to another. Try walking with baby steps, huge steps, jumping with two feet, and walking backwards. (They can time themselves and subtract the two times to see which style of walking is faster).

-Compare your steps to your child’s as you walk side by side. Talk about why you may reach a destination first. You can race each other taking baby steps, walking backwards and jumping with both feet.

Okay, now, Step to it!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


It’s summer in Utah, so let’s take advantage of the good weather and make some bubbles outside. These bubbles are explosive so watch out!

Using baking soda and vinegar, you can pop a plastic bag with the power of fizz.

You will need:
¼ cup warm water
Measuring cups
Sealable plastic bags (make sure there are no holes in the bag)
Paper towels
1 ½ Tb baking soda
½ cup vinegar

· Cut a paper towel into a 5X5 inch square.

· Place 1 ½ Tb of baking soda into the center of the square and fold the paper towel into a “time-release” packet around the baking soda. With the baking soda in the center of the square, fold opposite sides of the paper towel over the baking soda to form a rectangle. Then fold the short sides down and over the center to form a square packet.

· Pour ½ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of warm water into the plastic bag.

· Quickly drop the baking soda packet into the plastic bag and seal the bag before too much fizzing occurs. (Another method could be to seal the bag half way and then drop in the packet and close the seal. You could also put the packet into the bag, but pinch it through the sides of the bag so it doesn’t touch the vinegar and water until you seal the bag and then drop in the packet.)

· Shake the bag a little. Put it on the ground, in the sink or in the bathtub and watch as the bag puffs up and POPS!

Vinegar and baking soda react to form carbon dioxide gas. This is how quick bread or cake that use these ingredients can rise. The carbon dioxide bubbles in the batter are the result of a chemical reaction that combines the (acidic) vinegar and (basic) baking soda. Sometimes the recipe may call for another acidic ingredient, like buttermilk, sour milk or orange juice.Some quick bread recipes also use baking powder instead of or along with baking soda.

Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and an acidic catalyst like tartaric acid or calcium acid phosphate. Adding water starts the fizzing reaction going.

It might be fun to bake some quick breads together with your child. Observe the batter before it bakes and observe the air pockets in the bread after it is baked. Ask your child if he knows what may have caused the air pockets to be in the bread. Talk about how bread rises.You may want to change some (independent) variables to see what happens:

· What happens if you change the type of paper in which you wrap the baking soda?

· What happens if you use cold water or no water at all?

· What would happen if you use a bigger plastic bag, but the same amount of ingredients?

You can find this and other fun activities at:


Sunday, July 6, 2008


Your child is growing and reaching new milestones. Practice new skills with your child that she should be learning to accomplish.

Study a list of skills that your child should be able to perform at her age. There are many skills lists to be found on the internet with a simple search. Here are a couple of websites that provide important milestones for your child:
ParentCenter website (copyright of BabyCenter)
*You can click gray timeline (across top of page) to find what milestones your child may be reaching at her age. The timeline goes from “pregnancy” to “9 years”.
CDC Website
*(from Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to age 5 by Steven Shelov and Robert Hannermann by the American Academy of Pediatrics)


Sunday, June 29, 2008


As your child plays in the bathtub, spread some shaving cream up on the bathtub wall. Use your finger to spell words and ask your child to read the words to you. If the word is too difficult, have your child sound out the word or tell you the letters that make up the word.

Your child can practice letter shapes by writing letters and words into the shaving cream. This would be a fun activity to practice spelling words. You can ask your child to spell “S-A-T” as you write the letters on the bathroom wall. Your child can even practice cursive lettering in the shaving cream.

You can also use the shaving cream can and spray the letters directly onto the bathroom wall. When your child has read the word, then your child can smear the shaving cream around to erase the word and make shaving cream artwork on the wall. This is a fun way to retain interest when your child is just beginning to read.

Another reading idea is to write two letters of a three-letter word on the wall with the shaving cream. Write the third letter on the wall. When your child has read that word successfully, smear off the third letter and replace it with another letter to form a new word. For example, fist you write “_AT” and fill in the blank with “S” to form “SAT”. Then smear off the “S” when your child has successfully read the word. Now write in “H” instead of “S” to form “HAT”. Your child will practice reading words with the same sounds.

The shaving cream rinses off easily into the bath water with a handheld shower head or a few cupfuls of water. (Take notice to make sure that the shaving cream doesn’t irritate your child’s skin.)


Thursday, June 26, 2008

You may have seen me on "Good Things Utah" when I was able to co-host for the day. It was sooo much fun. I demonstrated a simple science project and introduced this blog to GTU viewers.
WELL... The senior producer thought that SMMART ideas was a great idea and has asked me to do a science segment on JULY 29!!!! So, mark your calendars and watch the SMMART ideas segment!
The producers asked me to do the science segment as a trial to see if they'd like to have me back again. So, if you would like to see fun, educational, SMMART learning activities as a regular segment on "Good Things Utah", PLEASE LET THE TV STATION KNOW OF YOUR SUPPORT!!!!!! I sure would appreciate your support!
Give abc4 a call AFTER you watch the SMMART ideas segment on JULY 29!
Thanks so much!
The abc4 TV station phone number is: (801) 975-4444
The "Good Things Utah" e-mail is:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Help your child collect small waterproof items of interest around the house and outside.
Some things that will work well are glitter, small toys, colored yarn, twigs, leaves and small pebbles. Your child can help you cut up the string or ribbon into small pieces. Help your child fill up a bundt cake pan, plastic bowl, ice cube tray, or any other type of mold with water.
Let your child stir up the treasures in the water.
Sprinkle the waterproof trinkets all over the water. Many items will sink to the bottom, but when the mold freezes, those items will show nicely on top of the ice. Place the water molds and trinkets in the freezer until completely firm.
Unmold the ice and place on a plate or outside on the sidewalk. Enjoy the beautiful ice art that you have created. You may wish to time how long it takes for your ice art to melt.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Hold one end of a jump rope and let your child hold the other end. Turn the jump rope together or shake the rope back and forth. You can also let your child hold both ends of the jump rope and try to jump over the rope as you help him. As you play with the jump rope, sing a simple song or chant to keep the beat of the moving jump rope. You could also count to 10 to the beat of the jump rope.

Reciting poems or counting, and singing songs to the jump rope beat helps build rhythm skills.

Memorize a song, nursery rhyme or poem to the beat of the jump rope. First, you will recite the poem to the beat of the jump rope. You may wish to recite it a few times. Now recite the poem and leave out a word for your child to fill in (probably slower than the beat). Pick the beat back up as you continue with the poem and drop out another word. After reciting the poem together a few times, you may be surprised to realize how much your child remembers.


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