Continent, Country & Flag Identification

Color Coded Continents Countries and Flags Puzzle Identification - Hands on Learning - projectsinparenting.com
Since my boys were 3 years old, this US Foam Puzzle has been a favorite go-to of theirs. At 1st it was just fun for them to put together, but as they got older it became a great learning tool. They are now familiar with most US states, their shape, general location, as well as some facts we’ve learned along the way.

Jacob has been asking about the difference between city, state, country and continent lately, so I wanted to come up with a hands-on way for him to understand the bigger picture. Since they enjoyed the other foam puzzle so much, I decided to purchase this World Map Puzzle with Flags & Capitals. Understandably due to size constraints, it doesn’t include EVERY flag in the world. If it did, I think that would be too overwhelming anyway. The puzzle has a total of 65 flags (based mainly on country size) which seems to be the perfect start.

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The foam puzzle, flags and map provided are great. Unfortunately there is no ‘key’ to know where each flag goes. I was able to figure it out using the original sticker sheet, but both Jacob and Evan were at a complete loss putting the puzzle together without my help. To give them the independence of easily figuring it out on their own, I created a color-coded diagram showing all of the 65 flags and the corresponding country by continent. I also made a color-coordinating continent map for easy reference.

Click on image below for FREE Printable:

Hands-on Learning, Color Coded Continents, Countries and Flags - projectsinparenting.com
Hands-on Learning - Color Coded Continents, Countries and Flags - projectsinparenting.com

Once I gave them my diagrams (other than some adorably incorrect pronunciations) – easy peasy. Both Jacob and Evan were able to correctly identify 65 flags, place them in their corresponding country, and understand which continent they belonged to as well!

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I have no doubt this puzzle will be another one of their favorites – learning more as they grow and discovering new things each time they complete it.   🙂

Related: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book
Related: Constellation Sticker Craft

“Without geography, you are nowhere.”

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Build a Robot Papercraft Valentine

DIY Build a Robot Papercraft Valentine with Free Printable - projectsinparenting.com

Jacob has been into origamis lately, so for Valentine’s Day this year I purchased these fun Papercraft Robot Cards. The thick, plastic-like cards are pre-cut and creased, which makes them durable and easy for little hands to work with. No cutting or sticking is required – just pop-out and fold!

To go along with them, I created this simple Robot Valentine. We stuffed both of them into fun blue envelopes I had leftover from the boys’ birthday (similar ones available on Amazon), but they could easily be attached by simply using a paperclip. Now Jacob is just “a bot” ready for his Valentine’s Day party at school!

To create your own Robot Valentine, download the FREE printable here.

Build a Robot Papercraft Valentine with Free Printable - projectsinparenting.com

If you would like smaller Valentines, click here for a PDF with 4 per page.

Other favor ideas for this DIY Robot Valentine:
Make Your Own Robot Stickers
Robot Erasers
Robot Fidget Toy

Related: Mermaid Valentine Printable
Related: Unicorn Valentine Printable
Related: DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards
Related: Super Hero Valentine’s Day Cards

“Are you a robot – or do you think for yourself?”

Unicorn Valentine Printable

Unicorn Valentine Banner

Right now Avery is OBSESSED with everything unicorn. Anytime she spots something at a store with a unicorn on it, she ogles at it like it’s a lost baby kitten and is convinced it was made for her. So to no surprise, this year we decided to create Valentine’s Day cards with this mystical creature – and just the right amount of sparkle!

Since Valentines these days usually come with a fun favor attached to them, I purchased cute unicorn fans to include with Avery’s. Some other ideas if you are interested in adding a favor (which you can either tie on, attach with double sided tape, or use a fun glitter or unicorn Washi tape)…

Based on whichever size you would like, click on the above image to download and start creating your own magical Valentines!

Related: DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards

“Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”

Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page

Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page 2 - projectsinparenting.com

Celebrate all the wonderful teachers in your life during Teacher Appreciation Week! Whether it’s a school teacher, sports coach, or even a caretaker – these real life superheroes cannot be thanked enough for taking the time to help us learn and grow!

This year I created a “Thank you” coloring page that’s easy for even the littlest of ages to provide a gift to their teachers with their own personal touch.

Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page 2 Free Printable - projectsinparenting.com

Click HERE or on above image to download FREE printable.

For the boys, I included a questionnaire on the back of their coloring page.

Teacher Appreciation Coloring - Full Page Questionnaire FREE Printable - projectsinparenting.com

Click HERE or on above image to download FREE printable questionnaire.

Thank you to all the hard-working teachers!

“It takes a big heart to shape little minds”

Related: Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page with Questionnaire

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DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards

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‘Tis the season for roses, hearts, Cupid and the age old tradition of spreading love with thoughtful Valentine’s Day cards!

Avery is currently obsessed with decorating herself in adhesive bandages, like they are a fashion accessory – so I picked up some holiday themed bandages to use for her classroom Valentines (one of many amazing finds at the Target Dollar Spot!). I created and printed the below Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards and attached the bandages with double-sided tape.

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Click HERE to download free printable.

Now my adorable little heart breaker is ready for her 1st Valentine’s Day celebration at school.  🙂

Related: Mermaid Valentine Printable
Related: Unicorn Valentine Printable

Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music

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The other day, Jacob was jamming away on his toy piano singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – eyes closed, head bopping, slamming random keys on the key board…  I loved the enthusiasm and figured the boys are probably old enough to start reading beginner sheet music, so I decided to put together a few songs for them.

I am by no means a musician, but I did play piano back in the day and remembered some of the basics. I wanted to keep it simple with what I feel is a reasonable goal for toddlers and preschoolers: Find Middle C and play a simple song with one finger (not at all insisting on proper finger placement). I’m not trying to raise Mozart – I just want them to have fun and become comfortable with the basics of sheet music while doing so.

We have a Fischer-Price electronic keyboard that has color coding to the keys, so I decided to coordinate with that…. POST UPDATE: I originally cut down circle dot labels I had on-hand (as seen in my photo), but recently upgraded to these Color Coding Dot Labels, which I highly recommend. The colors coordinate exactly and they are the perfect size for full-sized piano keys / keyboards.

I then created color-coded sheet music for a couple of their favorite songs. Click on below sheet music image to download a FREE printable.

twinkle-little-star

mary-had-a-little-lamb

For more song selections, please visit my Etsy Shop.
9 song pack

As simple as that – now my boys understand the concept of reading and playing music on the piano. With or without an accurate rhythm on the keyboard, watching their faces and sense of accomplishment after completing a song is absolutely priceless!

color-coded-beginner-piano-sheet-music-projectsinparenting

Related: Star Wars The Imperial March Beginner Piano Sheet Music
Related: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book

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Stained Glass Sun Catcher Leaf Craft

stained-glass-sun-catcher-fall-leaf-craft-for-kids-projectsinparenting

A couple of years ago, we had to remove most of the trees around our property due to Ash Borer. Now we hardly have leaves in our yard during Fall. Seriously, this is the leaf “pile” the kids were playing in yesterday…

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The kids had a blast – but without a ton of leaves, it hasn’t felt much like fall (to me anyway). So I decided to create a fall-themed craft to set the mood for the autumn season. My boys loved the Stained Glass Sun Catcher Ornaments we made last winter, so I created a similar craft using a leaf shape… Super-easy, no-mess, and perfect for all ages!

To get the project ready, print any of the following leaf shapes:
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CLICK THE FOLLOWING corresponding leaf for free PDF printable:
Maple
Magnolia
Oak
Oak 2
Redbud

Cut out the CENTER of the leaf shape with an X-Acto knife or scissors.
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Prepare colored tissue paper by cutting them into squares.

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Note: I separated the tissue paper squares into coordinating cup colors for easy selection. I’m not pointing this out to show how overly organized I can be, I’m sharing this to show one of the MANY ways I’ve re-purposed the cups provided in our Easter egg dying kit – Great cups to save and reuse!

Adhere a piece of contact paper to the FRONT of your pre-cut leaf print-out, covering the entire outline. (Don’t have contact paper? Packaging tape works as a wonderful substitute!) Then lay the paper down, sticky side up.
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Now it’s time for your little artist(s) to decorate their leaf… Have them select their tissue paper pieces, and press them down onto the contact paper.
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When complete, seal the back with another piece of clear contact paper. Trim around the outside of the leaf shape with scissors and tape or hang your masterpiece in a window to enjoy the beautiful stained glass colors!
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Related: Fall Leaf Lantern

DIY Lion Guard Costumes

diy-lion-guard-costumes-projectsinparenting-com

Months ago, Jacob told me he wanted to be Kion from The Lion Guard for Halloween. To no surprise, Evan and Avery wanted to team up with him as Beshte and Ono to help defend the pride lands!

For Kion and Beshte, I used orange and grey footed pajamas from footedpajamas.com (while also scoring a 15% off coupon from Retail Me Not – deals rock!). I attached red and black craft fur that I got from Michael’s Craft store (also available online at Amazon or Walmart) for hair, and used fleece fabric to sew on ears and a tail.

For Beshte, I designed a mask and created this TEMPLATE to make it into a fabric mask using felt squares and Stitch Witchery. Seriously, this stuff is AMAZING! All you have to do is cut the Stitch Witchery to shape and iron your fabrics, bonding them together – no sewing required! (Note: I cut the eyes out after bonding all the materials together to make sure the fabric was even)

For Ono, I purchased a white leotard from Amazon and created wings and a tail, using fleece fabric (Fleece is great for this purpose since it does not fray at all). The leotard fabric and skinny arms were a bit difficult to work with, so I chose to use a combination of Velcro and sewing to attach the wings. To give the tail a more 3 dimensional look, I sewed in pipe cleaners between the two tail fabrics.

diy-ono-costume-wings-and-tailSimilar to Beshte – I designed an Ono mask for Avery and created a TEMPLATE so I could make a fabric mask, using felt squares and Stitch Witchery.

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diy-ono-costume-frontdiy-ono-costume-back

To complete their costumes, The Lion Guard needs their badge of honor – so again I used my trusty Stitch Witchery to fuse the symbol (from felt squares) to each costume’s left arm. Tip: After printing out this TEMPLATE, I cut out the shapes with an X-ACTO knife, and chalked out a mirror image as a stencil.

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Now my little protectors of the pride lands are ready to roar on Halloween!

diy-lion-guard-costumes

Related: See Paw Patrol and Ghostbusters costumes.

 

Exploring Colors for Preschoolers

exploring-colors-for-preschoolers-projectsinparenting-com

Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet has been a long-time favorite book in our house. A truly brilliant and engaging way to introduce the idea of mixing colors. One of the best parts = The kids can mix colors, over and over again, without the actual mess of paint! Another great book to compliment this read is The Wonders of the Color Wheel, by Charles Ghigna. Similar to Mix It Up!, this book explains color combinations, but also touches upon the categorization of primary and secondary colors.

While paint seems to be the most logical activity for hands-on learning of mixing colors, I’ve found that (specifically when working with toddlers) the secondary colors never come out quite right. For example, when attempting to mix the bright green of a shamrock, we end up with more of a brownish-green that looks like rotting seaweed 😦

To make things a little easier (and more accurate), I’ve come up with a few other mediums that are great for exploring colors with kids…

1. Mixing Colored Water

water-color-exploring

I filled plastic cups with water and used food coloring to dye the cups in correspondence to this Color Math Printable. The boys then poured the 1st two cups in each row (primary colors), into the last empty cup, to create the secondary colors (green, purple & orange).

2. Play-Doh Color Wheel

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Using the primary colors of Play-Doh (blue, red & yellow), the boys mashed and rolled small pieces together to create each secondary color (green, purple & orange), and place them on their Color Wheel Printable.

3. Overlaying Transparency Colors

magnatile-color-exploring

Using the primary colors of Magnatiles, the boys held the tiles up to a window, overlapping them to discover each of the secondary colors. If you don’t have Magnatiles, any form of color transparencies can work.

Thanks for visiting my blog! For more fun kids’ activities and free printables, follow me on Pinterest and Facebook.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can color the world are the ones who do”

Toddler Weekly Calendar

FREE Printable Toddler Weekly Calendar - projectsinparenting

Shortly after the boys turned 2 years old, they started finding Cory or I in the mornings and asking, “Is Dad home all day?”. If the answer was “no”, I often times had two crying kids on my hands. Understandably (in their minds), they were upset that Cory had to run off to some unknown “work” place, instead of staying home to play with them. Unfortunately for me, I had to break this news to them every Monday through Friday and they would be super angry with me – like it was MY choice which days Cory went to work.

While it was neat watching them realize the concept of days, I wanted to avoid the unnecessary tantrums and help them understand their schedules better. As a visual person myself, I decided to put together a weekly calendar *showing* them which days Dad was “home all day” (by putting a picture of Cory’s face on Saturday and Sunday). I printed out the calendar, put it in a sheet protector, and hung it on their bedroom door with a clothespin to mark the current day. Each morning, they would wake up and move the clothespin to the new day.

Both Jacob and Evan responded to the calendar extremely well, so I started adding images for almost everything – doctor’s appointments, swim class, holidays, etc. The boys quickly started understanding weekends vs. weekdays and were excited when something new would pop up on their calendar. Although our weekly events pretty much stayed the same, when I knew a holiday or special event was coming up, I would print the future week in advance and simply slide the sheet behind the current week (in the sheet protector) so that it was ready to go.

Avery is 2 years old now, and starting “toddler school” this week, so I started using the weekly calendar for her. She is loving the new responsibility of updating her marker for each day, and super excited for her 1st day of school. No more tantrums and full cooperation for the day’s activities (well, most of the time anyway). Either way, a definite WIN!

  • Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Printable.
  • Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Clipart Printable – Simply cut & paste appropriate holiday, event or activity onto your Weekly Calendar.
  • For sports classes such as swimming, gymnastics, tennis, etc., I recommend using images from Classroom Clipart (endless options and free!). This website also has perfect graphics to use for other activities (piano lessons, etc.) and additional holidays.

“December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss