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.
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:
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!
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.”
We recently invested in a full-size digital piano and expanded our song list from my original post: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Sheets. I also switched the orientation of the pages (from horizontal to vertical). Doing so allowed me to create a beginner piano music book that sits nicely in the sheet stand. All I had to do was print them out, slide them into page protectors and insert the sheets into a 3-ring binder. To label our keys, we used these Color Coding Dot Labels. The colors coordinate exactly and they are the perfect size for full-sized piano keys / keyboards.
Simple enough for my 4 year old to catch on quickly – this color coded piano music book has been such a confidence booster in my children’s ability to start reading sheet music. Watching their faces and sense of accomplishment after completing a song is absolutely priceless. The best part – they are having so much fun learning! 🙂
To create your own Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book, including ALL NINE SONGS, click here.
If you are simply looking to add to your collection from my previous post – below are the new songs…
Row Row Row Your Boat – FREE Download:
You Are My Sunshine and Baa Baa Black Sheep
Are You Sleeping? (Frère Jacques)
And just in time for the holidays, we added Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
Hope you enjoy these music sheets as much as we have!
“Music is what feelings sound like.”
Related: The Imperial March Beginner Piano Sheet Music
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
All things outer space has been a huge interest of the boys lately. They enjoy star gazing, identifying planets in the sky, and were thrilled to see the Super Blood Moon this past summer.
Although it would be amazing if the moon were really that huge, it’s enlarged for effect 🙂
Jacob’s favorite thing to wear are his constellation pajama pants (as seen above) and he’s always asking us to point out the Big Dipper, especially after reading Touch the Brightest Star – one of his favorite interactive books, where you trace the Big and Little Dipper with your finger as part of the story. (Great book for any toddler’s bed time collection!)
I wanted a fun way to teach them the basic constellations, and ones that are easy to spot in the sky, so I came up with the following craft worksheets…
Click on individual worksheet above for FREE printable, or HERE for pdf with ALL Worksheets.
First I had the boys place star stickers on the grey dots, then using the picture as reference, draw lines to create each constellation.
After learning the constellations, the boys got creative with their worksheets – connecting the dots without stickers, outlining the constellation in all star stickers, putting other stars in the sky, tracing the letters to spell the constellations, etc. I enjoy watching them explore whatever materials I give them. It’s fun when they think outside the box and come up with new ways to do things… A great hands-on way to learn while using imagination and creativity!
“Don’t wait for the stars to align. Reach up, rearrange them the way you want them to be. Create your own constellation.” – Pharrell Williams