Tag Archives: activities

Gryphon House’s Spring List!

27 Mar



-Spring is finally upon us! As a result, we thought we would give you a few To-Dos to make sure you’re not missing out. Take some time for yourself and your kids and go through our Spring List to make the best of the season!

-Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway this week for “Everything for Spring,” chalked full of spring activities designed by teachers for young children. You can enter here.

Finally, if you’re looking for other spring topics, you may want to check these out:

-Spring Cleaning in the Classroom

-Outdoor Learning for Dual Language Learners

-Spring Cleaning in Yourself (Building Resilience)


Playful Winter Writing Activities

3 Dec

Here at Gryphon House, we are proud to work with so many talented early education authors. This week’s book giveaway features Playful Writing by Rebecca Olien and Laura Woodside. The book includes 150 activities that explore emergent literacy. We thought it was appropriate to showcase  winter activities from our newest publication for you to share with your kiddos!GH_11504

We will be giving away 5 copies of the book this week! Read more about the book here and enter here for your chance to win a copy.

My Snowy Day

Make sparkly snow paint to use first for play and then for decorating snowy-day stories!

Play Time!

  1. Make snow paint by mixing together equal parts of white glue and shaving cream. Stir in glitter.
  2. Spread generous amounts of the sparkly snow paint onto your plastic tablecloth or place mats, and give the children time to play in the “snow.”

Write/Draw: Snowy Day Stories

  1. Early Writers–can paint a snow scene; it will dry puffy and velvety! Encourage them to write snow stories using words, drawings, and invented spelling to describe their snow scenes.
  2. Ready Writers–can create scenes and then write their snowy-day stories. They may wish to write a narrative based on a real-life experience or an imaginary snow story. Encourage them to include a beginning, middle, and end, as well as detail words. Use these questions, if needed, to help them get started:
  • Beginning: What did the snow look like? How did you get ready to go out in the snow?
  • Middle: What happened when you went out into the snow? How did it feel? Were there other people or animals in the snow with you? Was there a problem in the snow? How did you solve the problem?
  • End: How did your time in the snow end?Image

Ice-Sculpture Riddles

Use explorations in ice to inspire the children’s writing.

Play Time!

  1. Before the activity, create your own frozen ice riddle, so the children can see how the activity works.
  2. Place half-filled containers of water into a freezer, and let the water begin to freeze while the children do the Write/Draw activity.
  3. Give the children craft sticks and permanent markers, and assist them as needed to complete the Write/Draw activity and create “Who Am I?” riddle sticks.
  4. Once the water is partially frozen, insert the completed riddle sticks in the water, add a few drops of food coloring, and fill the containers the rest of the way with water. Return the containers to the freezer.
  5. When the water is completely frozen, remove the ice from the containers and bring it outside for the children to examine.
  6. Provide salt, squirt bottles, water droppers, and cups to the children. Encourage them to melt the ice to discover the riddles inside.
  7. Help them read the riddle sticks. Invited them to guess which classmate is the answer to each riddle

Write/Draw: Riddle Sticks

       1. Early Writers–can create riddle sticks from jumbo-sized craft sticks (to give them more room to write). Encourage them to write  one great clue about themselves that is only true about them. Consider giving them sentence starters, such as, 

  • I can_______.
  • I am _______.
  • I have _______.
  • My favorite _____ is _______.

2. Ready Writers–can write at least one clue on each side of their sticks. Remind them that they are trying to think of clues about themselves that are unique!


Tell us what you thought about the writing activities! And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a free coy of Playful Writing.

Silvery Star Banners!

5 Jun

Summer is full of national holidays, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Next Friday, June 14th, is the anniversary of the adoption of the United States flag–otherwise known as Flag Day! Though it is not an official federal holiday, it is widely celebrated. Here’s a fun flag-making idea for you to do with your children, at home or in the classroom, to commemorate it!

Silvery Star Banner


  • pictures of flags
  • star stickers
  • large blue paper
  • 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper
  • markers

What to Do

  1. These are great to do for Flag Day–and you can use them for other holidays, like Independence Day and Labor Day, as well!
  2. Show the children the flag; then, show them flags from other countries to compare colors and designs. Which one is their favorite? Which one is their least favorite?
  3. Provide 50 stars and a large blue rectangle. Encourage the children to arrange and count the stars. Do they understand why there are 50 stars?
  4. Invite the children to create their own flags, or a family flag.

You can encourage your children to make multiple flags–and invite them to create their own fun holiday to celebrate with their flags, as well.

This activity has been adapted from 
The GIANT Encyclopedia of Kindergarten Activities. It was submitted for publication by Susan Oldham Hill of Lakeland, FL. For more fun holiday-related activities, check out The GIANT Encyclopedia of Kindergarten Activities on our website.

Copycat Patterns

5 Apr

One of the many celebrations of April is National Math Education Month! Here’s a fun activity from Math and Science Investigations by Sally Anderson with the Vermont Center for the Book to help you celebrate.

In this activity, you and your children will create patterns with blocks and other objects. Children learn to look carefully at someone else’s pattern, as well as how to copy that pattern.


What’s Needed

  • collection of objects, such as colored blocks, linking cubes, toy trucks, buses, and wooden or plastic shapes

Things to Consider

  • Patterns are the sequenced or repeated organization of objects, sounds, or events. Use the word pattern often with children as you do this activity. When grouping children for “Copycat Patterns,” think about the children’s past experiences with pattern play.

Step By Step

  1. Engage the children in a discussion about patterns by looking for patterns on clothing, in the room, or in a book. Begin by pointing out a pattern. You might say: I see a pattern on Conner’s shirt. Red square, yellow circle, red square, yellow circle… what comes next?
  2. Place the blocks and other objects on a table. Continue your discussion of patterns by showing the children how to make a pattern by taking objects and arranging them in a sequence or a repeating way. For example: red, blue, yellow; red, blue, yellow; red…; truck, car, car; truck, car, car; truck…
  3. Challenge one child or group of children to identify patterns as you make them. Ask the children to make predictions about what shape or object will come next in a pattern.
  4. Once making patterns becomes easier, suggest playing “Copycat Patterns.” One child makes a pattern, then another copies the pattern. Be sure that everyone has many experiences making and copying patterns. Encourage the children to think of as many different patterns as possible.

Talk with Children

  • Encourage the children to talk about their patterns. Ask, “What is your sequence? How can you make a pattern different by adding more colors, shapes, textures?”
  • Encourage the children to look at and describe each other’s patterns.

Observe Children

  • Which children sort first and then make pattern rows? Do some children skip the sorting stage?
  • How do the children decide which shape comes next in their pattern? Is it by saying the pattern aloud or by looking and thinking? Do some ask you or a friend?
  • How do different children copy their partners’ patterns? Do they copy it exactly? Do they add extra shapes? Do they leave some shapes out?
  • Listen to the children as they make patterns with shapes. Are the children naming the shapes they are using for their patterns? Do some children chant their patterns (square, square, circle, square, square, circle, square, square…) as they build them?


For more ideas and activities to help children explore math and science, check out Math and Science Investigations (available in paperback format) by Sally Anderson with the Vermont Center for the Book.

Long Strides and Short Strides

21 Mar

by Joy Lubawy


Many adults these days use a pedometer to measure their goal of 10,000 steps a day, but how do we measure the length of these steps so what we have at the end is reasonably accurate?

My husband Pete and I wondered about this—and then the penny dropped. We made a lovely big puddle on the cement and walked through it, making some footprints as we went. We measured from toe-to-toe (or heel-to-heel) and took one set of measurements.  But then we wondered: if we walked across a piece of pathway and measured where we began and where we ended, counted how many steps we had taken, and divided the distance by the steps taken, could we compare that with our water-born results?

Interesting stuff! Peter asked me if the length of our legs made a difference to the length of our stride—he is much taller than I am—so we compared that as well. We are still measuring, experimenting, and adjusting the pedometer until the distance mine says I have walked and the distance his says he has walked are almost the same.

It is a work in progress. We are having a wonderful time measuring, thinking, and having fun—and getting fit at the same time! 10,000 steps a day is quite a lot!

Try doing this with your children and see the difference it makes based on their foot size and stride! It will be fun to see the variety in measurements!

You can see some other ideas about measuring footsteps in More Mudpies to Magnets  (“Forty Footprints” on page 181). This adventure was created by me when Dr. Bob Williams was visiting Wagga Wagga, Australia—where I live!


Joy Lubawy has 30 years experience in the classroom with young children and now travels Australia and New Zealand, providing professional development in the areas of curriculum, imagination, creativity, and documentation. She has several other books and two music CD’s to her credit as well. She currently is writing distance education packages for Ballarat University in Victoria.

She lives in Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia.

Presidents’ Day Play at Learning Centers!

18 Feb

The third Monday of every February is Presidents’ Day! Do this fun activity from The GIANT Encyclopedia of Learning Center Activities for Children 3 to 6 with your children to make them think about our presidents (Washington and Lincoln in particular) and what they have done for our country.

kid_painting Materials

  • Black watery paint
  • Clear contact paper
  • Crayons
  • Glue
  • Outline pictures of both presidents
  • Pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln
  • Red paint
  • Small, empty milk cartons
  • Sticks
  • Straws

 What to Do

  1. Show the children pictures of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Explain what a president does, and talk about what each of these past American presidents did.
  2. Give each child an outline (coloring-book style) of both presidents to color. Cover them with clear contact paper to make place mats.
  3. Tell the children that Lincoln grew up in a log cabin (and that this is how “Lincoln Logs” got their name!). Let the children make their own “log cabins” by gluing sticks to small, empty milk cartons.
  4. Tell the children the legend about George Washington and cherry trees. Encourage the children to make their own “cherry trees.” Provide straws and watered-down black paint. Demonstrate how to use a straw to blow a spot of black paint on white paper until it forms a tree-like shape. After they have dried, let the children use red paint to make fingerprint “cherries” on the tree.

Giant Encyclopedia of Learning Center ActivitiesThis activity was originally published in The GIANT Encyclopedia of Learning Center Activities for Children 3 to 6 from Gryphon House and was submitted by Lisa Chichester of Parkersburg, WV. To purchase your own copy of this book, visit our website.

Using Sticks to Teach Young Children Math and Science Skills

7 Feb

By Bob Williams

The inspiration for this post was my own backyard. Living on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Texas, I often find beautiful fallen branches and sticks from my pecan trees. Right now, these sticks are keeping me warm in my wood stove!

Even during the cold days of winter, there are plenty of activities for you and your children to explore outdoors. Why not have your children pick up sticks? Sticks are great tools to use when teaching counting, measuring, and sorting. They can also be used to teach children about nature. So, bundle up, head outside, and search for sticks! Before you know it, you’ll be ready for some fun, simple math and science activities!  

  1. Use sticks as counters.

    Teacher Tip: Use pruning scissors (and cut sticks about 3 cm or 1 inch long).

  2. Observing sticks.

    Ask children to observe and discuss the different characteristics of each stick or branch. Those from the same tree will be similar.

  3. Have children sort sticks into piles by their appearance.

    Light or dark? Smooth or rough? Short, medium, or long? Straight or crooked?

  4. Matching sticks.

    Use pictures to try and match each branch or stick to a tree.

  5. Use a ruler to measure sticks.

    Give children a ruler and a set of branches. Have each child guess and then measure the length of each stick.

  6. Teach about trees.

    Explain why sticks fall from trees. Discuss why this is important in the life cycle of a tree. Sticks from a tree have common characteristics.  Go to a tree and collect the sticks from that tree.  Find the name of the tree and look for a leaf.  Put those together in a bag.  Make a collection for future reference.

  7. Building with sticks.

    Use sticks to construct houses or buildings. Use clay or glue to keep the structure from falling down.

  8. Animals that eat sticks.

    Take this opportunity to talk about animals that eat trees or bark (i.e. termites, beavers, rolly polys, wood roaches).

  9. Making numbers with sticks.

    Cut sticks into different sizes and then encourage the children to create numbers using bits of sticks.

  10. Classifying leaves.

    Have children collect sticks with leaves still on them. Then try to match the leaves and branches with the tree.

  11. Living or non-living.

    Are sticks living or nonliving?  Have a discussion as you collect them.  Can the children collect a living stick?  Do that and compare the two.

For more outdoor explorations that also teach children important math and science skills, check out my book Science Adventures from Gryphon House.


This post was contributed by Dr. Robert A. Williams, also known as Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob is the lead consultant for the Building Base Line Objectives for Children’s Knowledge and Skills in Science (BLOCKS) program at the University of Texas. He has taught in elementary, high school, and junior high school in addition to being a college professor.  More books by Dr. Bob include; Mudpies to Magnets, More Mudpies to Magnets, and The Preschool Scientist, and Preschool Math.

We Can Make Art with ANYTHING!

14 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-time’s-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 12:

Art with Anything Cover

Art with Anything

Can we really make art with that? According to MaryAnn Kohl and her book Art with Anything, the answer is always “Yes!

With a year’s worth of creative art activities that combine easy-to-find household items and simple-as-can-be instructions, you and your child will have a blast as you redefine the meaning of recycling!

Have some extra cotton swabs or Q-tips® lying around?  Then you’re ready to test this theory!

Cotton Swab Snowflakes


  • Cotton swabs (Q-tips®, cotton buds), a handful per snowflake
  • Waxed paper
  • White glue in squeeze bottle
  • Glitter
  • Paper clip
  • Thread, embroidery floss, or fishing line for hanging from paper clip

What to Do:

  1. Spread a sheet of waxed paper on a flat surface. With a handful of cotton swabs (10-20 and probably many more), create a snowflake design on the waxed paper. Swabs can be used whole, bent or broken, but should always connect and touch. Real snowflakes are six-sided, but feel free to be creative with these snowflakes.
  2. When the design is ready, squeeze plenty of glue over each joint. Don’t worry if the glue blobs out or looks messy, because it will harden clear and look more crystallized that way.
    • Optional: Sprinkle glitter on the glue before it dries. Allow the snowflake to dry on the waxed paper overnight or for at least four hours.
  3. When the glue has dried completely, very slowly and carefully peel the snowflake from the waxed paper. If the snowflake breaks, put it on the wax paper again and add more glue. Dry and peel again when dry.
  4. Hang snowflakes with thread, embroidery floss, or fishing line. An unbent paper clip makes a simple hook for hanging.


For more art projects you can create using just about everything, visit the Gryphon House website to purchase your own copy of Art with Anything! Happy crafting!

Don’t forget to enter our 5 Days of Great Gryphon Giveaways on the Gryphon House Facebook fan page. Join us as we give away 5 books (as mentioned in our 12 Days of Great Gryphon Gifts for Moms and Dads blog series) to 5 lucky Facebook fans each day this week (Monday-Friday)! You still have 2 more chances to win!

Learning about “G” with Gingerbread!

13 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-time’s-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 11:

L Is for Lion

Learning the ABCs is fun and easy with Between the Lions®L Is for Lion expands on this award-winning PBS Kids® series, to help parents make learning letters fun and easy for their children.

From exploring foods that begin with each letter to learning how to shape letters with their bodies, the activities in L Is for Lion let children explore the alphabet with all five senses.

Activity for the Letter “G”:

Gingerbread Man Shapes

What You Will Need:

  • Bread
  • Cream cheese or frosting
  • Dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and/or candy
  • Gingerbread man (or woman) cookie cutter

What to Do:

  • Use the cookie cutter to cut gingerbread man shapes out of slices of bread.
  • Spread cream cheese onto the shapes and use dried fruit, sunflower seeds, or candies to decorate each gingerbread man.
  • Enjoy the yummy gingerbread man shapes.
  • As you eat the gingerbread man shapes, ask, What part of your gingerbread man do you eat first – the head, arm, or leg?

Note: Remember to wash your hands before beginning this project.

More Ideas:

  • Matching Gingerbread Children
    • Use a gingerbread boy (or girl) cookie cutter to cut out 12 identical brown paper gingerbread people. Add simple decorations to make six matching pairs. Use buttons, happy or sad faces, decorations at the wrists and ankles (zigzag lines, straight lines, or no lines) to make distinct pairs. Model how to find a matching pair and place them together. Then let your child find the matching pairs.
  • Gingerbread Children
    • Ask your child to tell a story about one of her gingerbread cookies. Ask, What is your cookie’s name? What does your cookie like to do? How is your cookie feeling?

For more fun ways to teach your child about letters, you can purchase your own copy of L Is for Lion on our website. And don’t forget to enter our 5 Days of Great Gryphon Giveaways on the Gryphon House Facebook fan page. Join us as we give away 5 books (as mentioned in our 12 Days of Great Gryphon Gifts for Moms and Dads blog series) to 5 lucky Facebook fans each day this week (Monday-Friday)! You still have 3 more chances to win!

Making “Crazy, Wacky” Art with Pebbles, Popsicles and Plungers

9 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-time’s-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 9:


101 Easy Wacky Crazy Activities for Young Children

What do plungers, popsicles and pebbles all have in common? They’re easy, crazy, wacky materials that can be used to create beautiful art! The quick and simple activity ideas (like the ones we share below) in 101 Easy, Wacky, Crazy Activities for Young Children will foster your child’s creativity and provide the perfect cure for a boring, rainy weekend afternoon!

Plungers Aren’t Just For the Potty Anymore!

Just take:

  • Plungers (new ones!)
  • Tempera paint
  • Paper

Plungers come in many sizes. Let children paint by dipping new plungers into tempera paint and stamping the shapes on paper. The more choices of paint and paper, the more individual the art will be. Plung on!

Popsicle Art

Just take:

  • Ice cube trays
  • Tempera paint
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Paper

Freeze tempera paint in ice cube trays. After 15 minutes, insert popsicle sticks. Continue to freeze until solid. Let children paint with these frozen treats. The more the popsicles melt, the more paint is applied.

(These popsicles are for art processes only. They are not currently recognized by the USDA as a significant source of nutrition. And they certainly don’t taste good, either.)

Rock ‘n’ Roll

Just take:

  • Rocks and/or pebbles
  • Shoebox with a lid
  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Rock ‘n’ roll music

Put on your walking shows and head outside to fill those pockets with rocks. Empty the rocks into a shoebox. Add a little bit of paint and a slice of paper. Place the lid on the shoebox, and turn on Chuck Berry, and rock ‘n’ roll. Children will enjoy shaking their boxes to the rhythm of the music. Take the lid off and discover what a little Rock ‘n’ Roll can do for you.


For more easy, wacky, crazy activities (like the ones in this post), visit our website to purchase your own copy of 101 Easy, Wacky, Crazy Activities for Young Children.



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