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).


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