Seven benefits of color by number activities

Color by NumberTomorrow, August 2nd, is National Coloring Book Day! Okay, let’s be honest… have you ever heard of National Coloring Book Day? Me neither. But at least now I know it’s tomorrow!

Since tomorrow is National Coloring Book Day, today seems like a good day to talk about color by number exercises, and some of the principal benefits of color by number activities, and why they are good exercises to give to your kids, either at home or in a classroom setting. So here we go:

1. Color by number exercises encourage creativity

But wait, you might say… color by number exercises give children defined colors and limits… why would this support creativity and imagination? Well, if you have children who don’t naturally want to draw or color, or feel timid doing so, color by number exercises offer a “safe zone” that kids can use to practice working with color and design. This can lead to future drawing, painting, or coloring activities.

2. Color by number printables give kids a chance to solve a mystery

Granted, not much of a mystery. But when you see a blank color by number page, you don’t know what it’s going to look like before you color it in. As you color, the pictures start to come to life beneath the tips of your crayons. It’s fun to watch it happening.

There are also color by number pages out there that do not allow users to see what the pictures are before they are colored… they often feature strange looking mosaics that “hide” a picture in the various shapes on the page. These are also fun classroom activities to complete.

3. Color by number printables build fine motor skills

For younger students, coloring “between the lines” helps to build fine motor skills in the hands and fingers. It helps with children’s dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and skills with manipulating tools. This is not as much of a benefit for older kids, but it is definitely something the younger kids should practice. This will eventually lead to future skills with writing letters and writing in cursive.

4. Color by number printables introduce students to colors

Color by number pages are a good way to teach color theory to children. Initial color by number pages can introduce colors like red, yellow, blue, green – the primary colors and secondary colors. Later color by number pages can introduce more complicated colors like magenta, cerulean, and amber. Color by number pages can help introduce kids to fine arts.

5. Color by number printables are relaxing to complete

Coloring is a relaxing activity. If you have hyper kids coming in from recess or lunch period, you can calm them down by giving them a color by number printable to work on. Once they’ve finished their work, they will be more ready to learn more demanding course material.

6. Color by number printables encourage focus

While coloring by number, kids hone in on a task, and then focus on specific colors, numbers, or shapes while coloring in their coloring pages. This helps to build skills in focus and concentration. It also gives them a specific task to complete with a number of procedural steps to follow.

7. Color by number printables can be differentiated for different students

Color by number pages do not have to be “integers only” pages. We like to use color by number pages to teach mathematics. Instead of giving a number for a space to color, we might give an addition problem: 2 + 3 =. Then, at the bottom of the page, we might say, “5 = purple“. Kids would solve the problem, then color that space in depending on the color given for the answer.

This gets kids practicing their skills with mathematics – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, working with shapes – while completing a fun art project in the classroom. It’s a best of both worlds scenario.

If you’re interested in seeing some of our color by number pages for mathematics, you can fine them here.

Color by Number printables

Happy National Coloring Book Day!

Five ways camping benefits kids

There’s something magical about camping. Being away from it all in a remote location, with no TV, no Internet, no modern conveniences. Of course, some of the reasons camping is appealing are also reasons that it can be difficult… sometimes the romance of camping is more fun than the reality of mosquitos, lumpy tent floors, and lack of a toilet!

Still, camping is not without its benefits, especially for kids! Here are some of them:

Paudash Lake sunset

1. Kids learn about nature by being surrounded by it

It’s one thing to learn about nature in a school classroom. But it’s quite another thing to be surrounded by nature in a beautiful setting. Lots of different types of lessons can be taught outdoors – biology, botany, geology, meteorology – the list goes on. And lessons taught in such a session are likely to be better retained.

2. Kids learn to care for themselves outdoors

When there’s no fridge, microwave, or even running water on hand, kids will have to learn other ways to eat, drink, and take care of themselves. They will likely have to be taught, of course – but adults can certainly show kids how to cook food over an open fire or treat or boil water to make it safe for consumption. Such lessons are fun to learn, and might come in handy in the future – especially if there is a zombie apocalypse.

3. Kids learn to respect life

There is lots of life outdoors – plants, animals, insects, birds. By being outdoors, kids are having a sleepover in the homes of more of nature’s creatures. Children will learn to respect the environment and the various ecosystems they are exploring. Parents and teachers should of course encourage this by showing how to make a minimal impact on the areas they are camping in.

4. Kids learn outdoor safety

Outdoor safety is a useful skill even when you are not camping in remote locations. It’s good to know that you shouldn’t eat those berries or those mushrooms, that you shouldn’t touch that spider, that you shouldn’t dive into a strange lake or pond. Kids can learn that while the outdoors is your friend, it is also a wild and potentially dangerous place. Respect should be given.

5. Kids learn cooperation

If you’ve ever tried to pitch a tent by yourself, you know how difficult that can be! It’s much easier to work together to get things accomplished outdoors. Cooperation while camping is very important when it comes to setting up, searching for food, cooking, playing, or cleaning up after an outdoor adventure. Children can learn how important cooperation is outdoors and take these lessons back home or to the school classroom.

And here’s a bonus reason… it is beautiful out there! And there are plenty of amazing places outdoors all over the world where you can take children to experience the beauty of nature.

If you’re going camping this summer, have fun and stay safe!

Happy Canada Day!

Parliament Hill in Ottawa

You might be wondering… how did Canada Day come about?

On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act was signed, officially creating the Dominion of Canada. This is the day we recognize when we celebrate Canada Day. Later, in 1931, the Statute of Westminster gave Canada and five other British colonies legislative independence from Britain. Finally, in 1982, Queen Elizabeth II came to Ottawa and signed a proclamation ending the remaining British rule over Canada.

Canada is an incredible country with lots of beautiful nature and a thriving multicultural population. And it is where one of us grew up. So Happy Canada Day to you and yours!

This Kid's Life - Canada Country Study

Canada Country Study

A country study for elementary school students featuring a day in the life of a kid who lives in Canada, with discussion questions, writing prompts, and hands-on activities.

TPT sale for the month of May

A smart pupToday and tomorrow, TPT is having a sale, and we are participating. All of our products are 20% off, and TPT will take an additional 10% off of that if you use the code “CELEBRATE”. Thanks for checking out our store, and have a wonderful spring!

Earth Day coloring page

A cottage in northern Ontario at dawnIt is April, and Earth Day is coming up! Earth Day is one of my favorite days, as I am a big fan of the natural world. Earth Day is a great day to get with your kids and explain to them why it is important to care for our amazing planet, and to discuss the things we can do to make life better for all living creatures here on Earth.

Here is a coloring page that you can use in your classroom to celebrate the day! And if you’re looking for products to use in your classroom for Earth Day, please be sure to check out our online store. Have a wonderful month of April!

Lessons in wax

Barack Obama in waxThe other day we visited the Madame Tussauds wax museum in Orlando, Florida. It was an interesting visit, and my first time at a Madame Tussauds.

One thing that surprised me was how interactive the attraction is. Alongside the wax mannequins, nearly every exhibit features a variety of interactive games, quizzes, mini-sports, musical instruments, costumes, and other assorted props and activities that kids (and adults) can freely play with. Before visiting the museum I had expected that the various wax figures would be cordoned off, while people would work their way through the museum in a long queue, as is typical in museums and museum-like settings. However, much of the Madame Tussauds was quite open, and people were invited to touch and otherwise interact with the various wax figures on display. I saw plenty of people taking selfies with their favorite mannequins.

Martin Luther King, Jr. in waxMadame Tussauds had some educational value, but it was somewhat limited. Each wax mannequin featured a little plaque on a nearby wall that presented information about the various historical figures behind the mannequins. However, while the wax museum could have been quite a significant educational experience for students, I found that most of the figures were of famous celebrities. There were a few important figures from history who were featured – Ponce de Leon, Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King, Jr., for example. They even had a replica of Madame Tussaud herself, with an explanation of how she created her original wax mannequins. However, the vast majority of wax figures were of current or recent celebrities – Taylor Swift, Jimmy Fallon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Reynolds, and so on. Of course, you could learn a bit about these celebrities while touring the exhibit, but the Madame Tussauds wasn’t really set up to be an educational experience; it is meant to be simple entertainment for an hour or so.

In all, it was a fun visit.

Valentine’s Day poem and writing activity

Valentine's DayA while back I posted a writing activity for the wintertime, including a winter poem. Today, I’m doing the same thing for Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day for love and caring – not just for couples, but for friends, family, and relatives as well. So I wrote this poem for you to use in your classroom or with your homeschool group. It’s not a very deep poem – just a few stanzas about celebrating Valentine’s Day in February, and keeping the caring going throughout the year.

After you’ve read the poem in class, or had your students read the poem, there is a short writing activity for them to complete. Using this writing activity, your students can analyze the poem and discuss how they felt about it. You can also have them write their own Valentine’s Day poems as an additional activity.

Valentine’s Day Close Reading

Valentine's Day Close Reading

If you’re interested in more fun reading activities for your classroom, I’ve created a Valentine’s Day Close Reading packet, with reading passages and activities for your kids to complete in class. If you check it out, be sure to let me know what you think! I always appreciate the feedback.

I hope you have a wonderful month of February, and a terrific Valentine’s Day!

Video games for fun and fitness

Wii Fit PlusI think our family is in the minority in that we do not have a video game console system. Most people I know of these days have either an Xbox or a PlayStation of some variety – maybe both. As for us, the last console that we owned was a Sega Dreamcast (mostly for the excellent game Soul Calibur). That was before we had children, and while I’m sure it’s safely packed away somewhere, I have no idea where that might be.

Generally I do not find that console games are “good” for kids. I suppose they serve as a diversion from reality, and are fun for kids to play with, but most of the games I’ve seen on these consoles are popcorn for the eyes, with too-fast-paced action, lots of animated violence, and little else.

That said…

My parents do have a gaming console… a Nintendo Wii. It is several years old now, but still in good working condition. They have a variety of games for it, including Just Dance 1, 2, and 3, Zumba Fitness, and Wii Fit Plus.

When we visit my parents, our kids enjoy playing on the Wii, and while I’m usually not impressed by console games, I’m very impressed by the way the Wii manages to incorporate fun and fitness. Wii Fit Plus, for example, has a variety of different games that kids can play that will track what sort of exercises they are doing, how active they’re being, how their balance stacks up, and how many calories they are burning. Our daughter in particular will play on the Wii for ages, going through the different games, doing lots of dancing and moving about, and generally getting in shape while having fun.

The Wii has been discontinued, and it doesn’t seem that many modern gaming systems require the use of the entire body to play. I think that is too bad – but I am hopeful that there will soon be more games that people will play that combine fun and fitness. I think these sorts of games are great for both body and mind. I’d certainly play them!

Indoor gardening with an AeroGarden

AeroGarden BountyThis past Christmas, our son received an AeroGarden system. He is big into plants in general, though he favors edible plants (fruits, vegetables, and herbs) and of course, carnivorous plants.

The AeroGarden system, by Miracle-Gro, is not exactly a full hydroponic system, but it is pretty close. Plant seeds come in small pre-packaged pods that do contain some dirt. These pods then rest in a basin of circulating water, with plant food added. In the AeroGarden Bounty system our son received, there is a little touch screen that will display when water or plant food needs to be added, and the status of the system in general.

AeroGarden Bounty

So far, the system has been working well. Every pod in the starter package of different types of herbs has sprouted successfully. And the system is extremely simple to use – the Bounty system automatically turns the LED lights off at midnight every night, and back on again at eight in the morning. Since the system is already filled with water, you don’t actually have to do anything to care for your plants. The only work involved is adding plant food and water when necessary, and trimming the plants as required.

The ease of this system made me think that it might be useful to put into classrooms. Nobody will have to care for the plants, and it is likely they will grow successfully (at least to begin with – we’ve only had the system for a few weeks, so I can’t vouch for any long-term results). Of course, having your kids take care of the plants in your classroom is part of the benefit of keeping plants at school – but if you’re too busy for that, one of the smaller AeroGarden systems might suffice. And if you get a starter kit with herbs or vegetables, you can even produce your own food for your kids to eat.

Herbs in the AeroGarden

The AeroGarden Bounty system earned generally good reviews on Amazon, though according to customer feedback, there may be a few quality issues with the water pump that circulates the water inside the machine. Time will tell if that is the case for our system in particular.

I’m looking forward to seeing the plants in the system getting bigger and bushier!

Celebrate diversity for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr.I’ve just completed work on a new product – Martin Luther King, Jr. Close Reading. I would love for you to check it out, because I think it is one of the best products I have completed to date.

To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the month of January, I’ve created a Celebrate Diversity worksheet available as a free download for you to do with your kids. You’ll find it after the following information about my new Martin Luther King, Jr. product available at our online store.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Close Reading

For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month, here is a book containing nine different non-fiction informational texts about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. There are chapters about Rosa Parks and President Barack Obama included as well, so that young readers can get an idea of the works of some of the African American leaders in our past and present.

Here are some pictures of some of the stories and activities being completed. Please note that if you have any pictures of your own to send us of kids completing any of our activities, I’d be glad to feature them!

Writing about personal civil rights:

civil-rights-activity

Sorting events in the story of Rosa Parks:

rosa-parks-activity

The completed Rosa Parks activity:

rosa-parks-activity-completed

Reading about the works of President Barack Obama:

obama-close-reading

Completing a civil rights vocabulary word search:

civil-rights-word-search

If all this looks interesting to you, and you would like to check out the product, here it is. I’m hoping that it will serve as a comprehensive introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Close Reading

Click here. Covers Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grades.

Celebrate diversity in the classroom

Here is a fun and free activity for you to use in your classroom or homeschool group to celebrate the diversity of the group. Have students take these printables and interview the other students in the class. They can find out which languages those students speak, what religions they follow, what countries they or their parents come from, and what interests and future aspirations they have. When they’re done, they should have worksheets full of interesting diverse answers from the kids in the classroom.

I hope you have a fantastic month of January, and a fun and educational Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!