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Dollar store education: Color sorting blocks

As a homeschool graduate currently homeschooling my own munchkins, I’m always looking for creative and inexpensive educational activities. I absolutely love dollar stores of all kinds for bargain educational supplies to use! They cost so little, and can cover so many different topics. One of my nifty finds has been these color sorting cubes. Being creative with them, I can come up with bunches of different ways to use these little boogers to keep my little smarty pants entertained and educated at the same time. I’ve used them for lots of different things, but I thought that I would share some of what we have done with them as fun & stimulating preschool projects.

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You can order these from Amazon if you want to: Learning Resources Hands-On Soft Color Cubes (Set of 102)

Simple color sorting

Simple color sorting

Simple color sorting 2

Simple color sorting 2

We started off the day simply. Since I’m a penny pincher from way back, I took two styrofoam plates we had used for our lunch, wiped them off, grabbed some colored markers, outlined and filled in half of each plate in the four different colors of her sorting cubes. I then asked her to put all of the cubes on the matching color section. As you can see, she did great. 🙂 She did this a few times before she was ready to move on to something else, so then I came up with a couple of more fun educational games for her…

Pattern and Varied Numbers

Pattern and Varied Numbers

I flipped the two styrofoam plates over, and drew out the new projects with my trusty markers again. What, you thought mrs frugal was gonna use new plates? LOL On the left in this photo, I told her to follow the color pattern using two blocks in each rectangle. On the right, I asked her what each number and color was, then requested that she put the correct number and color of blocks in each rectangle. She really enjoyed this one, since it was a little more challenging. After a little while, she was ready to do something new with her color cubes, so Mommy had to come up with another challenge…

Counting and Sorting

Counting and Sorting

For her last color cube project of the day, I asked her to put 4 blue cubes on the blue side, 5 green cubes on the green side, 6 orange cubes on the orange and 7 red cubes on the red. We did this same “game” with several different series of numbers. She really enjoyed the challenge of remembering how many went on which color, since it wasn’t written down.

Now that I’ve shared a few of the educational games we do with our color cubes, what are some inexpensive items you use to help kiddos learn? What do you wish you could find an educational use for?

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Pompom Pickup

Pompom Pickup

Pompom Pickup

Pompom Pickup 2My little guy loves activities that require hand/eye coordination and concentration. I am constantly coming up with quietly stimulating little things for him to do while my daughter is doing her kindergarten, and that’s one category I focus on. This activity is perfect for keeping him engaged for a good period of time, at least until he picks up every single pompom. He’s very goal oriented, and cannot stand to quit before every pompom is conquered! 😉

You don’t need much for this. A container (a plastic jar or a clean empty apple juice container works well for me), a bunch of pompoms Pepperell Assorted Pom Poms, Standard Colors, 300 Per Package
(cotton balls would work, but colorful pompoms are more fun) and a pair of tongs of some sort will do it.Pompom Pickup 3

Give your munchkin the pompoms and container, then demonstrate how to pick up a pompom with the tongs and place it in the container. Watch him try until he succeeds, and praise him profusely, then challenge him to see if he can get all of the pompoms into the container all by himself.

My son loves this activity so much, he asks for it. He’s so very proud of himself when he gets all of those pompoms in the container, he goes charging around the house bragging about it. 🙂

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Animals At School

Baby School Scholar

Baby School Scholar

For anyone who is homeschooling and has children not yet old enough to participate in formal education, you know one of the biggest challenges is balancing the needs of the little ones with the ability to teach the older and allow them to concentrate. Thankfully, I had fun with a lot of preschool and baby school type activities with my oldest before she started kindergarten, and can adapt most of those ideas to use with my two year old little guy. I document a lot of them, because he has so much fun and he’s so doggone cute. 🙂 I was thinking that maybe someone else might find some of our little “baby school” activities useful in their own homeschool or quiet times with their kiddos, so I’m going to start sharing some.

One activity both of my little ones have loved is oversized animal flash cards. The exact ones I have are these Animals (Slide and Learn Flash Cards) that are really neat, but these are a nice, inexpensive set that will work for any of the activities I’m sharing using my flash cards Animals of All Kinds Flash Cards. I can come up with a lot of different activities using these, and easily keep a toddler happy with them for half an hour or more. Here are a few fun ones for you to try with your baby schoolers.

Big or Little

Big or Little

I have Bambam sort the cards by whether he thinks the animals are big or little. This is a good one for him to start the day with, because he’s good at it and it builds up his interest and confidence.

Another activity he enjoys is sorting the cards by whether they have fur or not. This is slightly more challenging for him, but usually not too difficult for him to reason out, which is a good thing.

Color Sorting

Color Sorting

For variety, I have him stack the cards according to the color of the trim. This one makes him have to focus on a completely different part of the cards, so he feels like it’s a new activity and it keeps him interested for longer.

Some other things we do with the cards are sorting them by the following categories: No feet, two feet or four feet? Can they fly or not? Is the animal a baby or grownup? Scary or nice? Pet or wild (I started with farm, pet or wild, but my kids think farm animals make great pets, so I dropped that. LOL)?

Can you think of any other games you can do with animal flash cards?

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