Roll -a- Santa Game

The basic idea of this game is to be the first one to put a “WHOLE” santa together.

I decided to make this game strictly for “number recognition” so I cut name badges into squares and wrote numbers instead of using the dots.

If you want to use this for a counting game, use one or two dice depending on the ability of the child. If he/she can count to six (use one die) and if they are ready for counting/adding up to twelve use two. I use over sized dice because the kids generally love them, but you can use any kind. If you do not have a dice, cover a square shaped kleenex box with solid wrapping paper and write numbers or draw dots onto the paper.

Here is my die:

Now for Santa:

These instructions are for number recognition game….

Each child receives an oval shape for santa’s face and will work to add six parts to create a “WHOLE” Santa. I found my santa on Mailbox Magazine, but here is a link to one you could use to create this game.

Each part of santa will be labeled with a number….

Here are the individual pieces:

Directions for 2-4 players:

Each player takes a turn rolling the die and adding the corresponding santa part to his face. If the player already has the piece, then the next person takes his/her turn until the someone receives all six parts and announces HO, HO, HO.


Path Games

Create “Path Games” from file folders and stickers to teach the alphabet.

Get creative and make up your own rules to make it fun! If your child already recognizes their capital letters, then add lower case to the board.  Once they have mastered letter recognition,  encourage them make the sound.

Some Rule Examples:

If they land on the letter and can “name” it or say the sound, they can advance one space.

If they land on a letter and can recognize it or say the sound, they get an extra turn.

You can also use this same concept and draw shapes on the stickers.

Duplo A,B,C’s

Got an extra set of the large Duplo Blocks? Turn them into an educational tool your preschooler will LOVE to play with……

Write or place alphabet stickers (both upper and lower case) and help them to match them up correctly!

“Twist” on Twister

Got an old Twister game laying around that your little ones just don’t seem to play with anymore? All you need is a permanent marker and a few bean bags and you have an educational game to recognize letters right at your finger tips.

First, write “part” of the alphabet on the spinner using your permanent marker. (there is enough room for 16 letters)

Then, lay the mat on the floor and write corresponding letters on it (there will be duplicates because there are more circles on the mat than there are on the spinner).

Directions for FOUR players:

Each player will need one or two bean bags each before starting the game. Everyone will take turns spinning the spinner and trying to throw their bean bag on the corresponding letter. This game helps with alphabet recognition as well as hand-eye coordination.

Have FUN!

Rainbow Rice

I can’t take credit for this…..but, I loved the idea so much I wanted to share…..

This link was sent to me by a friend…………..

To dye your rice, pour about two cups of rice into a bowl; add about 20-25 drops of food coloring and stir it until it is coated. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and stir again. Repeat, with various colors; pour onto newspaper until it dries and then dump all of it into a container to create a rainbow rice bin. You can use this bin for games or simply for fun play using funnels, cars, cups, large spoons, etc.

Get Creative…

  • Magnetic alphabet letters can be hidden in the rice and can be matched to corresponding letters on a cookie sheet.

  • Paint rocks or shells that can be matched to corresponding colors painted in the bottom of an egg shell carton.

  • Hide coins and sort into matching piles, talk about values.

Sorting out the Differences

Gather 70-80 small items (ten each), examples are pom-poms, paper clips, small rocks, beads, etc. and place them into a large gallon-sized baggie. Create a grid with at least 8 sections (that will fit inside the baggie). Allow your child to sort the items by shape, color, type, size onto the grid and/or provide 7-8 small plastic cups to be used for sorting.

This game is designed for children 3 and older and should always be supervised by an adult.

Color Matching Game

Understanding color and shape is a tool for learning many skills in all curriculum areas, from math and science to language and reading. For example, when your child learns to discern the similarities and differences between colors and shapes, she is using the same skills she needs to recognize the differences between letters and numerals.

I have put together a “simple” game to play with your child that will help them strengthen their visual discrimination skills.

Visit your local hardware store or any department store that sells paint and simply pick out the basic color cards.

Provide your child with a bowl of assorted pom-poms that match the color cards and allow them to sort them onto the cards.  In addition to the pom-poms, wooden clothes pins or plastic tweezers may be used to move the pom-poms to the cards. By using clothes pins or tweezers, your child is strengthening the hand muscles used for cutting and also fine-tuning their hand-eye coordination skills.

Helpful Tips:


It may be helpful to start with just a few cards and add more as your child masters the game. After he/she is able to sort all pom-poms by themselves, you can start asking them to place each individual color. As an example, when all the cards are placed on floor/table and the bowl of pom poms is available, simply ask your child to start with red to see if he/she can distinguish the color.


To reinforce color recognition, make your trip to the grocery store a learning experience…..

Simply have your child point out anything in the store that is red, i.e. apples, soup cans, tomatoes, various packages, clothing, etc.

Each time you visit your local store, choose a new color!

Learning to Count

Two to Three Years Old

  • Children begin to use numbers as they hear other people using them.

Three to Four Years Old

  • Recognize and express quantities using words like some, more, a lot and another

  • Rote count to five or ten

  • Use words to describe quantities and sizes like short, long, tall, a lot, a little and big.

Four to Five Years Old

  • Start playing number games with understanding

  • Count objects from 1-10 or 1-20

  • Identify the larger of two numbers

  • Understand one-to-one correspondence up to 10

  • May start combining whole numbers up to 10

Five to Six Years Old

  • Understands concepts represented in symbolic form

  • Begin to add small numbers in their heads

  • Rote count to 100 with little confusion

  • Count objects to 20 and higher

  • Understand that numbers are the symbols for the totals of concrete things

  • Count by fives and 10’s to 100

  • Count backwards from 10

  • Decide which number comes before and after an object number


  • Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra

  • One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elenor J. Pinczes

  • Counting by Henry Arthur Pluckrose

  • Counting Antoine Poitier

  • Five Little Ducks by Pamela Paparone

  • Just Enough Carrots Stuart J Murphy

  • 1 Hunter by Pat Hutchins

  • 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc FromenthalAnno’s

  • Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno

  • The Coin Counting Book byRozanne Lanczak Williams

  • Cookie Count by Robert Sabuda

  • Duckie’s Ducklings by Frances Barry

  • The Father Who Had 10 Children by Benedicte Guettier

  • Just a Minute! by Yuyi Morales

  • M&M Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath

  • Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate



Skills Learned: One to One Correspondence, Matching Equal Numbers of Objects to Written Numbers,  Counting from 1-10


Open a file folder and draw a game board like the shown below:

Place “pom poms” in a small container next to the game board and have child place the matching number of pom poms to the correct numbered section. You can also draw dots to represent the numbers in each section. It is a lot of fun to use a clothes pin to pick up the pom poms and it also helps with hand eye coordination.



Write numbers 1-10 on brown lunch bags and on the back of each bag, draw the same number of of dots.  For example: two dots on the bag marked 2 and seven dots on the bag marked 7. Challenge your child to collect small items such as cotton balls, pom poms, buttons, paper clips, etc. and put the correct number of objects in each bag. You may start with bags 1-5 and work up to 6-10.



Write the numbers 1-10 on 5-7oz. clear plastic cups. Place 55 pom poms in a bowl and challenge your child to place the corresponding number of poms poms inside each cup. You can add some hand eye coordination practice by using a clothes pin to pick up the pom poms.


Slice Counting

Use a round piece of cardboard, construction paper or even a paper plate and draw equal lines to make it look like a sliced pizza or pie. Add varying numbers of stickers in each section such as two round stickers in one slice, four kitten stickers in the other and then write corresponding written numerals on wooden clothes pins. Have your child hook the clothes pin to the correct sticker section.


Bubble Gum Math

Fill a small plastic container with pom poms and create money cards by taping pennies to index cards or cardboard pieces (you can use empty cereal boxes). I created the cards on my computer, but you can simply tape or glue pennies, nickels, etc. to heavy cards. Turn cards upside down and each player takes a turn drawing from the pile. If the child draws a card with five pennies, they can collect five pom poms (or pieces of bubble gum) to put in their own container. (You can use small paper plates, plastic bowls, etc. for collection. To take it up a notch, you can put one dime, one nickel (15 cents) one dime, two pennies (12 cents), etc. on each card when the child is ready to be challenged. This is another game that is fun to use clothes pins to pick up the gumballs.


Math Muffin Tins

Materials: Cupcake paper liners, felt tip marker, poker chips or anything they can count and sort (pom poms are good for this one also).

Description: Write numerals 1-10 on the muffin liners and then have your child count and sort that many items into each liner.


Caps and Cans

The children will move in locomotor and non locomotor ways, use counting skills, and eye hand coordination during this preschool and kindergarten activity by Mae-Lena H.

Materials: Bottle caps, large coffee cans and a permanent marker.

Description:  With a marker,  you can number cans with dots (1-6 is a good starting point). Let children count the number of dots on each can. Then let children try to toss that many caps (bottle caps, poker chips, etc. ) into the can. Children will find this fun game among friends, seeing who can get more caps into the cans.

Environmental Print

Reading print from the world around us is one of the beginning stages of literacy development.  The letters, numbers, shapes, and colors found in logos for products and stores such as McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Coke, and Campbell’s soup all provide opportunities for emerging readers to interact with print and the written word in their own environment.  We see Environmental Print everywhere, we see logos and signs in our daily lives but as adults we don’t consider it real “reading”.

Environmental print is usually the first print that children recognize. It helps children make the connection in their brains that letters and symbols mean something.

The value of using environmental print activities is that it:

  • Helps children grasp that letters and symbols mean something. This can encourage children to want to discover that meaning.

  • Encourages children to “pretend read”, which is a component of emergent literacy. This helps develop an understanding of word meaning and context.

  • Helps children view themselves as capable readers. This happens because you demonstrate to the children that there are already words they can recognize! In turn, this stimulates young children to want to read more. They feel successful, and that is encouraging to them.


  • I Read Symbols by Tana Hoban

  • Signs for Sale by Michele Benoit Slawson

  • Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen

  • Road Signs by Margery Cuyler

  • I Read Signs by Tana Hoban

  • Signs and Symbols by Nigel Nelso


  • Show child EXIT signs at local library, store or restaurant.  Discuss why the signs are there. Ask your child to look for EXIT signs when they go places like the grocery store, movie theatre or restaurants.

  • Involve child in “reading” road signs and business signs in their community. Children can explain about the sign. You can ask, Do you know what this sign says?” “Where do you see this sign?” “What do you do when you see this sign?”

  • Make an environmental print book with your child’s favorite foods, cereals or restaurants.

  • Help child to recognize his/her first and last name in print.

  • Make an “Eat the Alphabet” book: Have your child collect Environmental Print that of foods that can be eaten; put the book next to the corresponding alphabet letter.

  • Match letters in environmental print: Have your child find letters on one Environmental Print. For example; find all the “g”s or “b”s on a Colgate toothpaste box.

  • Search for the names of five buildings in your community. Parents write them down for your child.


Environmental Print Activity Cards:

Environmental Print Alphabet Book:



Understanding shapes and developing spatial sense will help your child learn geometry when he gets older.  The experiences he has during these early years form important pathways in his brain.  The more times these pathways are used the more efficient they become.  Young children generally learn about shapes and space in a specific order.

They learn by:

Stage One:

(two to three years old)

  • Exploring and using solid (3-dimensional) shapes in play.

  • They will actively explore objects and games like large-piece puzzles.

  • Matching solid objects to pictorial (2-dimensional) shapes

  • Begin to use direction and relational words like on and off, here and there, and up and down.

  • Recognize a circle.

Stage Two:

(three to four years old)

  • Recognizes geometric shapes in the environment.

  • Identifying and naming pictorial shapes such as a circle, square, triangle and rectangle.

Books about Shapes

  • Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban (JHOB) Available at both Thomas and Hageman.

  • Circles, Triangles and Squares by Tana Hoban (J 516.2 HOB) Available at Hageman.

  • So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban (J 516.15 HOB) Available at both Thomas and Hageman.

  • When a Line Bends, A Shape Begins by Rhonda Gowler Greene (JGRE) Available at both Thomas and Hageman.

  • The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds (JDOD) Available at both Thomas and Hageman.

Games to Play

Geometric Shape Hunting

Draw a picture of a shape on the outside of a lunch bag. Hide objects around the room that are shaped like the drawing and ask your child to fill his/her bag with them. As an example, if you draw a square on the bag; items to hide may include a block, square picture frame, refrigerator magnet shaped like a square or a baggie with saltine crackers.


Neighborhood Walk

  1. Take your child on a “neighborhood walk”, asking them to look for geometric shapes on buildings or houses.

  2. Photograph the shapes they find such as a rectangle door, the triangular gable-end of a roof, a square window or an octagon window.

  3. Print and display on refrigerator or poster board.

  4. You could also make a “neighborhood walk tab book” by placing all the rectangle photos under the rectangle tab, all the circle pictures under the circle tab, etc.


How to Eat Geometry

  • Serve your child geometric shaped foods i.e., square = cracker, circle = cookie, Ritz cracker, rectangle = slice of block cheese.

  • Challenge your child to name and talk about the characteristic of the shapes they are eating.

  • Graham Cracker Snack – Use graham crackers at snack time to teach rectangles. Break the graham crackers in half to create squares. Let your child spread their graham crackers with peanut butter, cream cheese, or her favorite tasty treat.


Building with Blocks

Using words like over, under, around, and behind, have your child explain to you how to build a structure, describing where each block should go. It might be helpful for you to go first and when you are finished giving directions, switch roles.


Cereal Shape Sorting

Have your child sort shapes using brand cereals such as:

  • Squares: Chex, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or Captain Crunch

  • Circles: Cheerios, Fruit Loops, or Apple Jacks

  • Rectangles: Frosted Mini Wheat

Then use the cereal as a special snack time treat!


Shape Twister

Put shapes on construction paper and attach them to the floor so that they can not move. Pull shapes out of a bucket and have your children put their foot, their hand, etc on it.


Shape Collage

You will need safety scissors, a glue stick, construction paper, a marker, and a few old magazines. Before you begin, divide a piece of construction paper into six boxes. Label each box: square, rectangle, circle, oval, triangle, and star. Help your child search for shapes in a magazine that represent any of the six shapes on the construction paper. Cut the pictures out and have your child glue the shapes in their appropriate box. You can substitute the construction paper for poster board, if you want to make a bigger workspace.


Musical Shapes

Tape Different shapes onto the floor. Have your child step from shape to shape as you play music. When the music stops have him stop and yell out what shape he is standing on.


Shape Rubbings

Provide your child shapes made out of sandpaper, corrugated cardboard, oak tag, and foam for her to use as stencils or for rubbings.


Shape Train

Have your child cut two circles, one triangle, one large square, and one rectangle from paper. They can then add the circles to the bottom of the square and the rectangle standing up on top of the square and the triangle pointy end to the square. Then let your child paint her train. This makes a cute train and lets your child see how different shapes can go together to form a unique shape.

« Older entries