Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice

Playing With Colored Ice

One of our favorite activities is playing with colored ice!  It’s so easy to make and I love that it inspires open ended play that allows my kids to be creative.  All we do is fill an ice cube tray (or two) with water and add liquid food coloring drops to each individual cube to make an assortment of colors. This makes for simple summer fun.


The possibilities are endless. Below are just a few examples of what your child can do.


Make Numbers

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice




Make Letters

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice




Play Tic Tac Toe

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice




Make Structures

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice



Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice




Science Exploration (In this case, observe the melting rate in different colored surfaces)

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice





Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice





Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice





Observe what happens when your structure melts

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice




Make A Rainbow

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice



Put the cubes back in the tray (motor skills)

Empowering Parents To Teach- Colored Ice



There are so many ways to play. Make a tray and see where your children’s imagination takes them!

This activity is linked to:
Montessori Monday (Click on the picture to see the link with tons of ideas for your kids!)

Empowering Parents To Teach- DIY Printables

DIY Printables For Coloring

There are many playful ways to strengthen a child’s fingers for writing–  opening clothespins, mashing play-doh, squeezing a glue bottle, cutting with scissors, and building with Legos to name just a few.  Even with all of this, sometimes kids still struggle with taking command of a writing utensil and forming their letters when the time comes.  You may want to increase the type of activities that require your child to use a pencil, crayon, marker, or pen as your child gets older to provide more practice.


Empowering Parents to Teach- DIY Printables


Coloring is obviously a great fine motor activity because it requires the child to hold a pencil, crayon, marker, or colored pencil and control their movements to the best of their ability.  If your child resists practicing writing their letters (been there!), try encouraging your child to color them instead.  The best part of all, you can easily create your own coloring pages with letters, numbers, words, or sentences!


It takes time, practice, and developmental ability to move from writing and coloring with big movements down to small ones.  Typically, the younger a child is the bigger you want to make the letter or words. You can gradually make the open space smaller as the child’s writing and coloring matures.  However, if you have a little one that totally rocks at handwriting and coloring, make the opening space small for them. Or, if you have a big kid that struggles with coloring, keep the opening a little larger.  That’s the beauty of making your own pages, you can make it to suit your child’s needs!


Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to Microsoft Word
  • Click “insert” tab
  • Click on Word Art
  • Select the first type of word art
  • Type anything you want- letters, numbers, words, sentences
  • Choose your font
  • Drag the text box to the desired size
  • Print it out


Things to make:


This example has one letter taking up the whole page.  This would be good for young ones still learning to control a crayon.  You can make it smaller if needed.


Empwering Parents To Teach- DIY Printables




Empowering Parents to Teach- DIY Printables



Sight words or Spelling list words

Display the sight words on a word wall!

Empowering Parents to Teach- DIY Printables




Child’s Name

Empowering Parents To Teach- DIY Printables


Sentence or Journal Page

Your child can color in the sentence and then illustrate it!  If they are old enough, you can even teach them how to make to sentences in Word Art.  In this example, the open space is a lot smaller.  Older kids or young ones with good control would find this a better fit.


Empowering Parents to Teach- DIY Printables


You can use this for so many things and you can adjust the pages to your child’s ability! The possibilities are endless :)


This post is linked to:

Montessori Monday

Empowering Parents to Teach- 26 ABC Books

26 Alphabet Books

There is definitely not a shortage of alphabet books out there!  Thankfully, with so many to choose from you are sure to find at least one that your child will enjoy.  I’ve listed twenty six of them to help you find one (or two, or three…) just right for your little one!


From classics, such as The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg to high interest books with princesses or Star Wars, I wanted to include books that were either beautifully illustrated, unique, whimsical, themed, or funny.  You will even find an ABC book is three languages!  I selected these carefully focusing on books that highlight each letter with minimal text to it.  They are all wonderful in their own way!


If you click on the book’s picture, it will take you to Amazon.com (affiliate links).  Once there, you can use the “Look Inside” button to see inside some of the the books and read the summaries and reviews.


1.  Usborne’s Alphabet Picture Book


2.  Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown


3.  The Jet Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta


4. Twenty-six Pirates by Dave Horowitz


5. Twenty-six Princesses by Dave Horowitz


6.  A Fabulous Fair Alphabet by Debra Frasier


7.  Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert


8.  Alphabeasts: A Hide and Seek Alphabet Book by Durga Bernhard


9.  Goodnight Moon ABC by Margaret Wise Brown


10.  Star Wars ABC


11.  B is for Brooklyn by Selina Alko


12.  African Animals ABC by  Phillipa-Alys Browne


13.  ABC Drive by Naomi Howland


14.  ABC NYC: A Book About Seeing New York City by Joanne Dugan


15.  Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier


16.  Astonishing Animal ABC by Charles Fuge


17.  The Z was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts by Chris Van Allsburg


18.  G is for Golden: A California Alphabet by Dave Domeniconi  (other states available too)


19. P is for Princess: A Book of First Words and ABCs by Disney Book Group


20.  LMNO Peas by Keith Baker


21.  ABC: A Child’s First Alphabet Book by Alison Jay


22.  Sign Language ABC by Lora Heller


23.  ABC X 3: English, Espanol, Francais by Marthe Jocelyn
The book’s picture is unavailable on Amazon.  Information can still be found by clicking here: ABC x 3 English, Espanol, Francais


24.  Boo ABC: A to Z with the World’s Cutest Dog by J.H Lee


25.  A World of Words: An ABC in Quotations by Tobi Tobias


26.  A Isn’t For Fox: An Isn’t Alphabet by Wendy Ulmer



To be released on June 26:  R is for Robot: A Noisy ABC by Adam F. Watkins


I hope you found something that you and your little one will enjoy reading together!  My sentimental favorite is Usborne’s Alphabet Picture Book because I have so many memories of my youngest as a baby hidden in those pages.



Linked to: Montessori Monday

Empowering Parents to Teach- Letter E hiding

Alphabet Eggs


 The Bunnies’ Alphabet Eggs by Lisa Bassett inspired us to make our own alphabet eggs just like the little bunnies in the story.


Empowering Parents to Teach- The Bunnies' Alphabet Eggs


In the story, the Easter Bunny’s eggs are ruined the day before Easter.  Mr. Rabbit was watering his garden and did not realize the water was soaking through the ground and spilling into the Easter Bunny’s burrow.  Noticing all the color has washed off of the eggs, the Easter Bunny begins to worry that he does not have time to make new eggs in time for the morning.  Mr. Rabbit suggested that his ten children could help him make more.


While the Easter Bunny really wanted beautifully crafted eggs, the kids had another idea.  They painted letters on the eggs.  With very little time left, the Easter Bunny let the children paint as they pleased.  In the morning he was still nervous that the children would be disappointed with the eggs since they would be expecting finely decorated ones.  Instead, the children were very happy to find the letter eggs and they started spelling words with the eggs too!


Inspired by this, we decided to make some letter eggs to hide too!  I made alphabet eggs simply using glitter glue on hard boiled eggs.


Glitter glue

Glitter glue


Squeezing that glue bottle took a lot of hand and finger strength!  It made me realize that making the letters on the eggs are a wonderful fine motor skill for kids that can make the eggs themselves.  To help, you can write the letter on the egg for them with a marker and they can trace over the letter with the glue.


Letter A egg

Letter A egg


Time to hide the eggs and find them!


Empowering Parents to Teach- Letter E hiding


There are so many ways to use the eggs:

  • Find all the eggs and put them in alphabetical order
  • Spell words with the letter eggs
  • Sort them into vowels and consonants once they are found
  • Group them together into words and hide them as a word unit
  • Instead of writing letters on the eggs, write sight words!
  • If you write words on them- create sentences or phrases
  • Try some hands on math when you’re done- add, subtract, compare quantities, etc
  • Have your child trace the glue letter with his or her finger.


The possibilities are endless.  Like the Easter Bunny in the story- follow the children’s lead!  Their ideas may surprise you!


Following my boys’ lead, they wanted to smash the eggs when they were done. They smashed half of them and left the other half to do experiments- my 3 year old loves making up his own experiments.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Egg smashing


Empowering Parents to Teach- Smashed Eggs


Smashing the eggs, squishing them, and peeling them is a great fine motor activity and sensory experience!  They even started hitting the eggs like baseballs with the carton as a bat!  You never know where this activity can lead you :)




Linked to:
Montessori Monday

spelling with alphabet puzzle

Preparing for Curious Minds

How Can a Parent Encourage Self Directed Learning at Home?

My youngest child loves to play a make believe game where he is going after bad guys. He turns almost anything into a pretend weapon. Ask any parent of boys and they will tell you that even if you keep all play weapons out of your house, your son has the ability to pretend any toy is a weapon!


On this day, he and I were playing a game of chasing bad guys with his pretend weapon that he made out of Tinker Toys. He passed by his small child size table where his alphabet puzzle was placed. Upon looking at the puzzle, he started making the “B” sound. I stood back and watched to see what he was doing. I heard him saying the word, “bad”. He took the ‘B’ off of the puzzle and placed it on the table. I immediately realized that he was trying to spell the word “bad” as in “Bad Guys”, the name of his game. He continued to sound out the word attempting to figure out the next letters. This is a developing skill for him, he has not yet mastered this. He’s pretty good at hearing beginning and ending sounds on his own, but middle sounds are still tricky for him. Knowing this about him, I came to his side and modeled for him how we say each sound slowly and clearly so that we can figure out what letter to put next. With me saying the sounds that came next, he was able to match the sound to the letter and correctly spell the word. Obviously this doesn’t work for all words since there are so many special cases in English. In fact, he wanted to spell the word “guy” next so after he figured out the first letter I just told him the rest!


He was motivated to do this task because it helped him in the creation of the game he made up. He had a true purpose for using this skill so he had the motivation to learn it. The desire to learn came from him, not my desire for him to learn it. The difference between the two is huge. If I would have said, “Let’s go spell ‘Bad Guy'”, his level of motivation may not have been the same. He chose to spell the word, therefore he already entered the task with a real interest in understanding how to spell.


The parent role is not passive. In this example, my role started even before the event happened. By having the puzzle available to him whenever he needed it, I was helping to prepare his environment with letters that he can move whenever he wanted. Once he started the task, my role was to help him when it was appropriate. In this case, I modeled for him how to sound out a word to spell it. It is always a matter of judgement when we should step in and help or let them be to figure it out on their own.


Children are curious. If you prepare their environment and help them when they need it, you are guiding their  learning. Observe your children. What interests them? Is there something they have never tried before? This will help you decide what are good tools, toys, pictures, and objects to have in your house to pique their curiosity!


This example was how I helped prepare the home environment with engaging toys that serve multiple purposes. To keep this in context, remember– exploring the outdoor environment is incredibly enriching, complex, and open ended (meaning there is more that one way to play). Free play with in a safe environment is essential to their development also!