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Madlibs Card Game Review See it here!

Use one inch graph paper. Make a colorful pattern with three or more segments (depending on age and ability) and have your child try to repeat your pattern over the paper. Vary the activity by asking your child to create his or her own pattern with a specific number of elements. Understanding, repeating and creating patterns are important skills for early reading.

Try this fun challenge. Ask your child to write directions to a simple, everyday activity, such as making a peanut butter sandwich or putting on a coat. Now, follow the directions EXACTLY AS WRITTEN! Do not add or take away anything. Be prepared for messes and funny situations. Chances are very good that your child will begin to see the importance of clarity and accuracy in writing!

Choose a Word of the Day that will be new to your child but useful in writing or conversation (try a thesaurus for ideas). Challenge your student to look the word up in the dictionary to discover its meaning, then be the first in the family to work it into conversation.

Sharpen your preschooler's auditory discrimination skills with this fun game. Get an even number of baby food jars with lids. Place small items, such as rice, sand, beans, tacks, or whatever into the jars. Make two of each kind. Close and cover the jars completely with opaque tape. Number or letter the lids and make an answer key for yourself, telling what each jar contains. Have the children try to find the matching jars by listening to the rattle!

Ask your child to give you directions for cooking his/her favorite dish. See how many steps s/he knows, whether they're in the right order, and what ingredients can be listed. If you followed the directions, would you have a culinary delight or a catastrophe?

Play the "dot" game with your kids next time you have to endure a long wait. Make a board by putting rows and columns of dots on a paper to form a rectangle or a square. The more dots all lined up, the better! The players take turns using different colored pens, pencils, or markers to connect two of the dots. When a player completes a square, he or she puts an initial inside. At the end of the game, the player with the most squares initialed wins!

Appoint your older child as the family reporter or secretary. Have him or her write newspaper-style articles about important family events. He or she can interview relatives, write the facts about an event or describe an outing, or even do historical articles to preserve the family history for years to come.

Put those magnetic letters on your refrigerator to work! Use them to practice spelling words or post a "mystery word" for your children to learn to read. You can even spell out short messages to practice those reading skills!

Try a Story Bag! Put a collection of small items into a lunch sack or other opaque container. Let your kids start a story and take turns pulling an item out of the bag. The item they choose must be worked into the story before their turn ends! You can decide how logical it all needs to be, but remember that silliness can be loads of fun.

Here's a great excuse to read the comics section of the newspaper! Have a contest to see who can find the most math in the comics during the week. Look for math words, money, time, measurement, or other types of math and numbers. Who can notice the most?

Kids can never have too much practice with measurement. Make up a list of measurements and have them find items of that size around the house. Don't forget to use both the English and metric systems.

Use an old calendar to practice descriptive writing. Have your child secretly choose a picture and write a description of it. See if you can choose the correct picture based on the written description.

Math problems become a lot easier when the numbers are all lined up properly. Teaching this kind of organization is a snap when you use graph paper. Use 1/4" graph paper and have your student write numerals in each square. Columns will stay straight, and even complicated long division problems will turn out crisp and neat if you use this aid. You can even put the graph paper under regular paper and the lines will show through most paper weights. Use paper clips or small pieces of tape to be sure the pages stay together.

Try your hand at this language game! You'll promote imaginative thinking, self-expression, and organization of thoughts. Choose two characters from different stories, like Red Riding Hood and Matilda, or some other unlikely pair that your children are familiar with. Now, tell a story that revolves around the two of them! How would they interact with one another? What sort of plot would they be involved in? What happens when they meet? How would they get along? You can make this as simple or as elaborate as you wish, but be sure to share your tales with other people to promote lots of valuable language and comprehension skills!

Teaching the alphabet to a young child? Try playing Tic Tac Toe! Instead of using X's and O's, you can use any letters that your child needs to review. Make them very different at first, and then try challenging pairs, like B's and D's or N's and R's. Make learning a game!

Help your elementary (or older) child to memorize the math facts this
summer. Kids in grades 1-2 should be learning the addition and subtraction facts. Kids in grade 3 add multiplication, and kids in grade 4 on up need to learn all four operations. By the time kids are in middle school, they should be able to answer the 100 combinations in all four operations in 3-5 minutes with 98% accuracy or better. And yes, it IS important to build speed and accuracy on those math facts. Your child will find that building these skills will cut homework time dramatically and will improve accuracy in many ways.

In addition to traditional flashcard practice, children can try reciting the facts while bouncing a ball or doing some other repetitive motor activity. Sing the combinations and their answers. Play card games and other games that require a score to be kept. Throw dice and add or multiply the numbers shown. Play Memory with math facts on cards to match to answer cards. Get out the dominoes; they offer tons of great practice. Try having your child answer a tough math fact before getting into the car or other common activity. The important thing is to keep the math facts constantly fresh until they are mastered.

Occupy your youngster for hours with this quiet, imaginative activity! Choose a playset your child enjoys and one that has several parts (Fisher Price Little People, Barbie, or other series work well). Cut several lengths of butcher paper or other sturdy paper that comes on a long roll into a size that will fit on the floor of the play area. Use masking tape to fasten the pieces together side by side as wide as the area will allow. Use a yardstick to draw roads and other features that will make a "town" or "world" for the characters, and make places to set houses, stores, farms, and whatever else your child has in the collection. Make the roads wide enough to accommodate the vehicles of your set. Now, turn your child loose with markers or crayons to add the color and detail to this giant playmate. The creation is half the fun! Now play with it for an added dimension. Roll it up to store in a more convenient size and shape.

Use an old calendar to add some pizzazz to math practice. Cut apart the numbers and have your child glue them back into the proper order. Glue the numbers onto paper to make math problems. Try adding up all the Monday dates or multiplying the first Thursday by the second Friday. Which months have the highest and lowest answers to problems like these?

Give your student extra practice with the fine art of using quotation marks with this homework helper: Give the child the comic page and have him or her write the words of the characters out as conversations, using proper quotations, indentations and punctuation.

Encourage your child's independence by building skills for adult life. How about having him or her plan and prepare a special meal for the family? Depending on the youth's cooking experience, you may want to encourage breakfast, lunch or dinner for the group. Choose a day that is unhurried, perhaps on a weekend. Be as available as necessary for safety and advice, but try to let your child learn the thrill of accomplishment and the challenge of timing all of the courses. Of course, this takes practice, so offer guidance about the menu to ensure a successful effort until your child has more experience in the kitchen.

Sooner or later, children need to create posters as part of school projects. You can eliminate the wrinkly look of glued-on pictures and papers by using rubber cement dry-mount. Carefully choose the places you wish the items to go (this method doesn't allow for mistakes or revision!). Put a thin, even layer of rubber cement on the back of the object AND on the mounting sheet/poster. Allow both to dry. Place the item onto the mounting sheet. The dry rubber cement surfaces will stick together VERY WELL. No wrinkling, peeling or other unpleasantness, just smooth adhesion, and a great-looking finished product!

Nurture reading and language skills and do a fun project at the same time! Choose a favorite story with your child (or write a new one!), and talk about important points in the plot. Make a list of important characters, too. Choose a few scenes that will tell the story. Make background scenery, costumes and props to create each scene that you chose from the story. Now, pose the characters for each scene and snap a photo! Put the finished pictures into a scrapbook with captions or text and you will have made a wonderful homemade storybook!

Looking for a great gift idea for far-away relatives? Try making a family learning scrapbook! Gather up those outstanding school papers, the neatest art projects, and copy the latest report cards. Have each child write or dictate a letter to the relative, arrange the pieces in a portfolio, notebook, or folder, and personalize the entire package with some holiday artwork. If you have the equipment, include a cassette or video of the kids performing their favorite holiday songs or putting on a skit. What better way to make someone else's holiday brighter??

Make a Yummy Tree!

You will need:
Cone-shaped ice cream cones
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp. milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Green food coloring
Red Hots candies
Other decorations of your choice

Take the cone and turn it upside down. Combine the margarine, milk, powdered sugar and food coloring to make a green frosting. Let children frost the cone, then trim with decorations of your choice. This makes a great take-home treat or a fun activity for a holiday party. Enjoy!

Is your child struggling with the concept of negative numbers? Try explaining them by using a thermometer that goes below zero. This common analogy is often overlooked, but most children are familiar with very cold weather. Talk about a warm afternoon in Nome (or any other cold city!) that has a high of 8 degrees. At night, the temperature drops 10 degrees. Most kids will quickly see that the nighttime low is two degrees below zero. From there, it's a simple step to show the same concept on a number line.

Liven up spelling practice with scissors, glue and old newspapers. Have your child find and cut out the letters needed to make each word, then glue them onto a paper. The result will look like a ransom note, but children will focus on letter sequence as they complete this memorable activity. As an added bonus, each completed word will have a unique look and may help the visual learners to later recall the order of the letters as they spell.

Wacky Art
This game is wonderful for two or more players, and a great way to express creative impulses. It works for any number of players, and can be used as a quick diversion or even a party game. Each player needs a pencil and a piece of blank paper. Have everyone make a squiggle on their paper. Any old squiggle will do! Now, exchange papers with someone else. Take the squiggle you were given and use it as the basis of a drawing. What can you make the squiggle into?

Stories To Go
Gather several small objects into an opaque bag or other container. Start a story, either in writing or orally. Players take turns removing an object from the bag and incorporating it into the story. You can set minimum numbers of sentences or words per turn, or put limits on players prone to wordiness as needed. Be sure to read or retell the entire creation when it is completed!

Guess My Number
Try this math and logic game with your children next time you find yourself waiting or traveling in the car together. One player chooses a mystery number, but keeps it a secret. The others take turns asking yes/no questions to guess the number, like "Is it an even number?" or "Is your number less than fifty?" For younger or less-experienced players, limit the range from which the mystery number can be chosen. For example, choose a number that is less than 20.

Want to sing silly kids' songs? Check these out! The Fun to Sing Songbook &   Wee Sing Silly Songs/Book and Cassette  Silly Songs Aren't So Silly After All! Find out why

Go on a number scavenger hunt! How many items around the house have numbers on them? Help your child search out clocks, rulers, scales, stamps, clothing size tags and more. Be sure to talk about the job that each number is doing.

Dream of redecorating! Let your child choose a room and measure it. Now calculate the square footage for carpet and paint or wallpaper. Don't forget to allow for windows, doors and so forth. Window shop or use a catalog to gather prices for the materials that your young decorator likes, and write up a proposal to do this decorating job.

Use a deck of playing cards to practice basic math facts! Remove face cards and draw two at a time. Now add or multiply the two numbers. Add interest to the game by using the totals as a score for each player.


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