Things that Go: Books and Activities for Kids

Lately, my little guy has developed quite the personality. He is expressive and happy and obsessed with all things that go (especially trucks). Some highlights from his usual week include watching the garbage truck go down our street, seeing semi trucks from his car seat, and watching the construction workers at the new apartment complex near our house.

 

He is also finally to the point where he will listen to me read longer books. This is excellent news because I think I have read Moo Baa La La La at least 1,235 times (it is a fun book but anything can get old). So, with our new found book freedom we are exploring the world of things that go. Trucks. Bulldozers. Trains. Etc.

In addition to longer books, it is nice that I can tell that he has a definite interest. This has given me a reason to find all kinds of truck/car/bulldozer activities to keep him busy and we want to share them with you!

Things That Go Books

Things that go is pretty broad for a book list. My kid hasn’t really honed in on a favorite thing that goes yet, he seems to love them all. However, these are some of the books that we read all of the time!

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

This book features a little blue truck as well as a dump truck. It also includes farm animals and a good moral about friendship.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

This book teaches both colors and the names of the different cars on a freight train. As a side note, there is a pull apart book called Inside Feight Train by the same author.

Dump Trucks on the Move by Judith Jango-Cohen

This is an informational book we found at the library and have since had to check out 4 times. It has minimal words and basic information about dump trucks, front end loaders, and excavators. My son just grunts in happiness at every dump truck shown.

A New Toy Truck: Touch and Feel Board Book by Rufus Downey and Amy Cartwright

This is a book pre-made with STEAM activities on each page. It’s about a little dog who builds a toy truck for his brother.

Tractor Mac: Friends on the Farm by Billy Steers

This is a lift the flap book and just one of many Tractor Mac books. In this adventure, Tractor Mac helps Carla the Chicken find her ten chicks all over the farm and under the flaps. It includes a train, firetruck, plow, airplane, and more.

What Can A Crane Pick Up? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

This story is a comprised of a whole bunch of silly rhymes that detail exactly what a crane can pick up. Turns out, a crane can pick up not only another crane but men in business suits, boxes of underwear, and even you. My son thinks this one is hilarious.

Toot! by Kristen Hall

This story is about a little train who saves the day despite being picked on and coming up against obstacles. I like it because it teaches something. My son likes it because there are three trains and a crane.

I Stink by Kate McMullen

This book is told poetically (more rap than Shakespear) from the point of a garbage truck. It’s full of trash examples and includes an alphabet. (This is not my favorite book but my son loves it.)

More Things That Go Books

This is such a small sample of books for such a broad topic. One day I hope to break this down into more specific groups of books and activities but for now, here some links to other blogs that have reviewed many of these books (and some).

Things that Go Activities

Language

  • As you read the various books, take the time to say the correct names for the different types of trucks, cars, and other construction equipment. Learn the terms for the parts of the trucks as well (piston, cover, load etc..) It may not interest you to know the difference between a front end loader and excavator but if you have a truck loving kid they will remember the names and be better for it.
  • Help your child find the same item in multiple books. For example, give them the term dump truck and point out the dump trucks in several books.
  • Create a Name Train as seen on Tippy Toe Crafts.

Field Trips

  • Visit a construction site (from a safe distance). Identify the equipment present. See this reference sheet.
  • Ride on a train or in a taxi. Identify other vehicles that you see on the way to your destination or at your destination.
  • Visit a farm and identify the farming equipment.
  • Point out trucks, construction equipment, airplanes, and trains during your normal daily activities. Things that go are absolutely everywhere.

Math

  • Look for things to count in the books. In Freight Train we count the train cars, in Tractor Mac we count the lost chickies, in What can a crane pick up we count the objects on each page (pairs of underwear, men in business suits, etc.)
  • Count things in real life (at home or on a field trip). Three trucks. Four cars. Three cranes.
  • Add things in real life or on field trips. How many machines are at the construction site altogether? If Mommy can see five cars and Daddy can see three cars how many cars can they see in total? These kinds of questions are precursors to story problems and using the vocabulary early will help them in math later on.
  • Count how long a specific machine takes to do something. How many seconds does it take for the train to get to the next stop? How many times does the excavator move the dirt?
  • Build trucks made of basic shapes. See the tutorial on Little Family Fun.
  • Monster truck race math game as seen on Stir the Wonder.

 

Science

Art

Dance/Drama/Games

Social Skills

  • Teach your child to look left, right, then left again before crossing the street. Ask them why it is important to do that each time.
  • Ride a train and talk about train etiquette. Look at the signs on the train and discuss what they mean. Ask your child why they think the rules are what they are and how rules keep us safe.
  • Visit a construction site (stay behind the fence) and talk about why the fence is there.

Whew, that is a lot of information. Does your child have a favorite “thing that goes” and a book that goes with it?

The Build Box: Fostering Engineering Skills in Kids

Promoting engineering skills and thought processes in little people is not as complicated as the word engineering might lead you to believe. Before I had my son I worked as a science camp teacher for several years. Many of my classes were full of preschoolers and they had some of the best ideas I have seen.  

Then, as an elementary teacher, I  taught various after school classes that had to do with various aspects of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) including a MESA class for girls, Tech 101, Beginner Art, Beginner STEM, Science Time, etc. These were some of my favorite after school classes because I loved seeing what the kids were capable of engineering.

One teaching tool for engineering that I found worked particularly well for four-year-olds all the way up to 14-year-olds was a Build Box.

What is a Build Box

A Build Box is a box full of engineering supplies that kids are free to use as they need. The box is accompanied by an objective and some requirements to help kids get going. As I used build boxes in my jobs, I found that many kids were inspired by the stuff in the boxes as well as the idea that they could take and use what they needed.

Creating a Build Box will require some up front spending but you can make a fairly decent one for under twenty dollars if you visit the dollar store and save your recyclables.

What is in a Build Box?

Build boxes are full of lots of good stuff. Below I have a list of the items I used to use. However, what you can put in them varies greatly. The amount and types of items you will need depend on the ages of the kids you are making it for as well as the size of the group.

*Supplies for older kids

Get a Box (I recommend getting a large plastic one with a lid so it is easy to store when not in use).

  • Tape (this one is super important especially if your kids are little)
    • *Duct tape
    • Scotch tape
    • Masking tape
  • Glue
    • Glue sticks
    • White glue
    • *Glue gun
  • *Stapler
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • String, thread, yarn, fishing line, etc.
  • *Toothpicks
  • Popsicle¬†sticks/Tongue depressors
  • Bobby Pins
  • Rubber bands
  • *Safety Pins
  • Paper Clips
  • Brads
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Buttons
  • Clothespins
  • Straws
  • Clay
  • Dowels
  • Foam
  • Paper plates
  • Paper cups (several sizes)
  • Paper Bowls
  • Printer Paper
  • Newspaper
  • Cardstock
  • Construction Paper
  • Cardboard¬†
    • I saved empty food boxes (cereal, crackers, macoroni, etc.) The thinner the cardboard is, the easier it is for kids to cut it.
  • Containers
    • Egg cartons
    • Cylindrical¬†containers (I wash out cottage cheese, sour cream, peanut butter, and yogurt containers instead of recycling them)
    • Rinsed out milk Jugs
    • Other interestingly shaped containers you might otherwise recycle
  • Colored markers
  • *Permanent markers
  • Pencils
  • Graph Paper

Rules for a Build Box

I used these rules whether I gave everyone an objective or not. Often they created their own objectives but I did ask them to have an idea of what they were doing before they started. Looking over the materials available and doing some hard core thinking can go a long way.

  • Preschoolers¬†– Third Grade
    1. Know what your objective is.
      • What are you going to make?
      • What will it do?
    2. Make a plan
      • Draw your ideas on a piece of paper.
    3. Decide what you think you will need.
      • Write down, draw a picture of, or tell an adult what you are making and what you will need.
    4. Start engineering (building)
  • Fourth Grade – Seventh Grade
    1. Know your objective and rules.
      • What are you going to make?
      • What is its purpose?
      • What requirements must it meet?
    2. Make a plan (pencils and graph paper)
      • Draw your ideas.
      • Don’t be afraid to write how it will work and what you need to do.
    3. Make a supply list.
      • Write down a list of the supplies that you think you will need.
    4. Engineer it.
      • Troubleshoot and adjust your plan as needed.
      • Take notes.

Build Box Objective Ideas

Ideas and objectives for build boxes are endless. Here are a few examples to get you started. They are easy to modify and come up with based on age and personal interest.

  1. Objective: Engineer a bridge between two chairs.
    • Requirements:
      • The bridge must be at least 12 inches long.
      • The bridge must be able to support at least two paper back books (or one pound, or a certain toy, etc.)
  2. Objective: Engineer a model building that can be placed on a chair or table.
    • Requirements:
      • The building can only be made of four materials.
      • The building must be at least 12 inches tall.
      • The building must be able to remain in place even if someone shakes the table.
  3. Objective: Engineer a toy.
    • Requirements:
      • The toy must have a purpose.
      • The toy must withstand being dropped from 4 feet.
      • The toy must have a name.

For worksheets to help you with this process and more objective ideas, subscribe to Mommy Practice and gain access to my library of learning supplies.

Subscribe To Mommy Practice And Get Access To My Free Library of Learning Supplies

What are you and your kids going to engineer with your build box?

You Might Enjoy:

Color Books and Activities for Kids (Toddler and Up)

Colors books and activities are everywhere for kids. As my¬†little guy has been getting better at comprehension and speech, I have realized that adjectives are tricky. I didn’t notice this often as a fifth-grade teacher. ¬†Excepting language barriers, most of the kids could use adjectives to describe nouns without thinking about it.

 

I was reading a new color book with my son yesterday when it hit me that colors are tough. On the page we were looking at, there was a big red heart labeled red. How was he supposed to know that the word red described the object? Deep stuff for a one-year-old.

Now, all my years as a human have led me to believe that colors aren’t forever a mystery. In fact, they seem to be one of the easier subjects to grasp. When I took Spanish in high school, I think we learned colors within the first week. Must have been my teacher’s way of telling us to calm down. “Don’t worry kids I will teach you green and all will be well.”

So, despite the fact that kids will probably learn colors eventually, whether or not they are explicitly taught about them, I have tried to compile some worthwhile color activities for the small dudes.

Color Books

If you are short on color book ideas, there are already many posts dedicated to their compilation. Check out these lists at The Reading Mama,  3 Dinosaurs, and My Bored Toddler for some descriptions. Some of the books repeat but there are a whole lot to choose from.

The favorites at our house are:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

As you read this book you visit a handful a different brightly colored animals who tell the reader which new animal they can see.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

This book teaches both colors and the names of the different cars on a freight train. As a sidenote, there is a pull apart book called Inside Feight Train by the same author. It is not focused on colors but my son loves it.

Alphaprints: Colors by Rodger Priddy

This book has a textured page dedicated to each of the seven colors. It is a collage style book that features real objects and drawn objects as well as full sentences.

Others Include (in case you didn’t check out the other posts):

Color Activities

Language

  • Use color words consciously outside of books. Tell your kids the colors of new things and things they see every day. Green shirt. Blue wall. Purple flower. Green bike.
  • Give your child color options. For example, ask your child if they want a green cup or a red cup.
  • As you read the books identify the colors of everything. There might be something blue on the red page. Acknowledge that.
  • Have your child identify the colors of various objects (if he/she can speak). If they are comprehending but not speaking, give them a color to find. For example, can you find something orange in the room?
  • Clap out syllables for color words:¬†pur¬†“clap”¬†ple
  • If your child is advanced help them learn less frequently used color words (maroon, chartreuse, burgundy, scarlet. aquamarine, cerulean, coral etc.)

Field Trips

  • You could go anywhere!
  • Go to a store and describe, find, or have your children describe and/or find different colored objects.
  • Take a nature walk and look for various colors outside.
  • Visit a park and find colors on and off of the playground. Does the green slide look the same as the green grass?
  • You could have a field trip in your own house and do the same kind of thing if you wanted to.

Math

  • Look for things to count in the books. In Brown Bear, you could count the total animals, or the people on the last few pages, or the number of colors on each page. Freight Train allows opportunities to count train cars, buildings, or wheels. In Colors, we always count the ants. Pay attention to the pages, there will be something you can count.
  • Count things in real life (at home or on a field trip). Three purple flowers. Four white socks. Three blue balls.
  • Add things in real life or on field trips. How many purple flowers and yellow flowers are there altogether? If Mommy has two blue buttons and you have three green buttons, how many buttons do we have total? These kinds of questions are precursors to story problems and using the vocabulary early will help them in math later on.
  • Look for and identify various colored shapes in real life and in literature.

Science

  • Mix various colors of food coloring together and see if you can make new colors. Mix It Up, is a good book to accompany this activity.
  • Make colors disappear! See easy instructions on Mess For Less.
  • Find the different colors in a rainbow. I would use the method on The Pinterested Parent and have a good discussion on rainbows. This could also be done as art.
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Art found on Eating Richly. (Also art.)

Art

  • Color. Use various mediums (crayons, markers, chalk, etc.) and work surfaces (paper, cardstock, the sidewalk, etc.) Talk about the colors and ideas that are being put down.
  • Find the different colors in a rainbow and color them. Tutorial on¬†The Pinterested Parent. This could also be done as science.
  • Color mixing on coffee filters from The Kitchen Table Classroom.¬†She even suggests a book!
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Art found on Eating Richly. ¬†(Also science.)
  • Realistically just about any art project you do is going to have something to do with color or the lack thereof so be creative. If you want more ideas just Pinterest the keyword rainbows.

Music

  • I Can Sing A Rainbow¬†(You can sing it faster and more happily than the guy in this video. . . )
  • Here is a whole list of preschool color songs from Teaching Mama
  • This Color Song would be fun in a classroom setting not so much with a single child.

Dance/Drama/Games

  • Have your kids¬†make up a dance for each color. If they (or you) are struggling with those instructions then come up with a list of things that are a specific color and decide how those objects might “act” if they could. For example, some blue things are the ocean and the sky. So, maybe the dance could be a little bit like your child’s perception of the ocean and a little bit like his/her perception of the sky.
  • Come up with a play about colors. In my experience kids are creative. Provide some props and let them have at it. Props could include brightly colored clothing, blankets, dishes, utensils, toys, etc. If you are doing this at home, your kids will be able to find other props/costumes that they may need.
  • Here is a color skit that was done by Studio C that you could show your kids for laughs or inspiration if you think it is appropriate.
  • Perform one of the color songs with your own made up actions.
  • Have a contest at one of the field trip locations to see who can find the most objects of a certain color. This can be done silently or out loud depending on age and ability.
  • Play “I Spy with My Little Eye” and have all of the clues have to do with colors. For example, ¬†I spy something green. Guess. It is next to something red. Guess. It has yellow stripes. Etc.

Social Skills

  • Have a discussion about how people are all different colors. They have different skin colors, and eye colors, and hair colors. That is what makes us all so special, we are all different and that is a great thing!

Technology

Whew, that is a lot of information. What did I miss? Do you have books or activities that should be added to this post?

Farm Animal Books and Activities for Kids

 

It is no secret to any parent or teacher that animal books for children are far from difficult to find. When I was looking through the board books we own. The ones that I have read to L hundreds of times. I realized that over half of them were about animals to some degree. However, I think there is a good reason for this.

At 14 months, L can say about 7 words clearly. Mom, Dad, duck, bird, dog, truck, and car. This means that more than 33 percent of his vocabulary is consumed with animal names. I myself am not a baby or even a baby expert but it seems like learning words is exhausting and it would make sense to focus your energy on things you need or things you love. L does not need a duck, bird, or dog so I can only assume that they bring him joy. Using this reasoning, the plethora of animal books on the market makes sense due to the innate love that so many kids have for animals.

The Books

Like I just said, there are hundreds of animal books to choose from. I am just picking a few that L and I love that have a focus on farm animals.

Hello Chick by Paragon Books

This book takes the reader on a brief visit to all of the baby animals on the farm. It also has peek-a-boo holes in each page that make reading more interactive.

Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton

This is a silly book of animal sounds and singing. Though not strictly a farm book, the animals on the pages can all be found on a farm (except the rhinoceros).

First 100 Animals by Roger Priddy

This book is a great reference book (for kids). It has close to a hundred different animals in it but it has one page that is exclusively focused on farm animals. We use it to find the animals that are in the other books.

Some other farm books include:

The Activities

 Do the ones that your own child is capable of.

Language

  • Practice pointing to the different animals and saying their names (help your child do the pointing).
  • Say the names of the different animals and ask your child to find them on the page.
  • Say the name of an animal then come up with real or silly words that rhyme with it. For example dog, frog, mog, etc. (When I taught fifth grade I still had students who did not understand how to rhyme words.)
  • Clap out syllables for the animal¬†names: rooster, roo “clap” ster.

Field Trips

  • Visit a Farm (Salt Lake Area Specific Options)
  • If You Don’t Live Near a Farm try a:
    • Petting Zoo
    • Fair
    • Dog Park
    • Pet Store
    • Bird Park
    • Zoo

Math

  • Count the animals on each page.
  • Count the animals in the whole book.
  • Count the types of animals on each page.
  • Count the animals in real life (on your field trip).
  • Add (how many chickens and pigs are there?)
  • Look for and identify shapes in the book.

Science

  • While on your field trip find out what the animals eat.
    • Questions to ask your kids:
      • Do they eat what you eat?
      • Where do you think this animal would be happy living?

Art

Music

Dance/Drama/Games

  • Make up a dance for one of the songs
  • Make up actions for one of the songs
  • Play animal charades (sounds allowed)
  • Make up your own animal song
  • Have your child show you how an animal would move
  • If you have a group play “Duck Duck Goose” (instructions)
  • Print up a game from

Social Skills

  • Have a conversation about other people’s animals.
    • Should you feed an animal that isn’t yours? Why?
    • Should you touch an animal that isn’t yours? Why?
    • If you see an animal that you want to feed or touch what should you do?

Use the book you are already reading to integrate some other subjects!

What are your favorite farm books and activities?

 

 

Literacy and Math DIY Rock Games

 

Introducing developmentally appropriate things is sometimes tricky (especially with kid number one), I admit that I have jumped the gun on many things including both letters and games. I have been trying to teach L his letters for most of his very short life. When he was just days old I would read to him and wonder if he would ever actually look at the book. I am happy to report that he now loves books and will bring them to me to read all day. We usually sit down on the floor wherever he finds me and read the book because I am so happy that he loves them.

Anyway, back when he had just learned to crawl, I would take him to my parent’s house and he would immediately be drawn to the pile of rocks. One of my mother‚Äôs hobbies is rock painting and she always has several completed mandala type stones on the bottom shelf of her basement bookcase. Perfect eye level for a crawling baby.

 

L loved these rocks (more than he loved books at the time) so I decided to make him a set of similar looking rocks with a lowercase alphabet on them. Then, I went a little bit further and put pictures on each rock to go along with the letters. I, personally, like to paint and found the whole process very therapeutic (kind of like those adult coloring books). So, I made him a second set of alphabet rocks only this time they were capital letters.

During the last month, L has started recognizing objects and letters and being able to point to specific things when we ask him where they are. So, we can finally use the rocks for something other than colorful carpet decorations. Don’t get me wrong he has loved them the whole time but now we can play games with them. 

Game 1:

Match the correct lowercase letter to the correct capital letter. 

Game 2:

Match the correct capital letter to the picture that it goes with.

Game 3:

Modified memory game. Flip the capital letters over so you are just looking at rocks then flip them over to the letter side in alphabetical order. Find A first, followed by B, etc.

Game 4:

Read an alphabet or number book and find the matching rocks as you go through the book.

Alphabet Books:

Dr. Suess’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book

The Construction Alphabet Book

Alphabet (My one-year-old’s personal favorite)

Number Books:

My Very First Book of Numbers

Alphaprints: 123 (Another Favorite)

Tabbed Board Books: My First Numbers: Let’s Get Counting!

 

Game 5:

Use the number rocks to count real objects. For example, grab the 4 and have your child count out four alphabet rocks.

These games can easily be expanded upon or modified depending on the age of the child you are playing with. Furthermore, they could easily be made by an older child.

Give them a try and let me know in the comments what uses you come up with for your letter/number rocks.

Materials:

  • 26-52 Rocks (I bought a whole bucket of small smooth rocks at a rock landscaping company for about $2.25)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush
  • Sponge brush
  • Something to make dots with (back of a paint brush, dowel, pin head, I use a set of these)
  • Something to put the paint on
  • Water

Step 1:

Wash the rocks and lay them out to dry. (This is my set of number rocks, that is why there are only ten)

Step 2:

Use the sponge brush to paint the front of all of them black and let them dry.

Step 3:

Use your paintbrush and some white paint to create block letters on each rock and let them dry. (Yeah I know they are numbers)

Step 4:

Use your stylus (or other dot making object) to create designs around each letter (or number) and let them dry.

If you choose to do something on the back of the rocks repeat the process.

Step 5:

Play your game or decorate your carpet.

Caution:

If your child is little like mine was when I made these, make sure that the rocks that you use won’t be a choking hazard. I had to hide about 13 of my lowercase letters until recently because L thought that they might be a snack.