How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

Inside: How to make an itsy bitsy spider puppet with toddlers – and then use it as a prop during circle time!

You invite your toddlers to join you at circle time. You have the song Itsy Bitsy Spider cued on the CD player. You’ve planned this moment. You’ve written in your planner.

Most of your toddlers join you at first. A few are busy in other areas of the classroom. You can deal with that.

You turn on the CD player and the song starts playing.

One child leaves the circle time.

Two other children push each other because they are in each other’s space. And then it feels like no one even cares about the song.

Props, my friends. You need props. Especially if they are made by the children.

But I didn’t always know this. Nope, not for many years. But let me tell you, the props we made created a circle time where I had all of their attention. And they stayed focused. And absolutely loved being able to take their props home.


How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

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How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

Watch it on our You Tube channel:

Before we started this puppet making activity, we had already been singing some favorite spider songs. We also read Itsy Bitsy Spider. It was then that I remembered how props would make this activity come to life.

What we used to make our Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppets:

  • Paper plates (flimsy ones are just fine)
  • Black and white spider printable (scroll down to find the link to download)
  • Black and/or brown crayons
  • Large craft sticks
  • Glue stick
  • Stapler
  • Scotch tape
  • Googly eyes (optional)

How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

Setting up this spider puppet activity:

Because I was doing this activity with my 2 year olds, I put together the puppets ahead of time. I stapled the paper plate to the craft stick, placed a bit of scotch tape on top of the bottom sides of the staples, as they can be poky. I cut out the spider and glued it to the front of the paper plate.

Altering this activity for older preschoolers:

Have them cut the spiders out and glue them onto the plate.

How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

Making the spider puppets:

Hand your children crayons and invite them to color the spider.

When finished coloring, use a glue stick to place the googly eyes on top of the eyes on the spider printable.

Note: I should have skipped the googly eyes with our 2 year olds, as they became obsessed with peeling them off. Most of our spider puppets ended up not having googly eyes by the time we used them during circle time.

How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

Once the puppets were assembled, I called the children to the circle time area. We used them while singing to these 2 songs:

We also used them while reading the book Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Related: Favorite Preschool Fingerplays

How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

And that’s how to make an itsy bitsy spider puppet with toddlers.

Something fun to create and use!

Grab your spider printable here:

How to Make an Itsy Bitsy Spider Puppet with Toddlers

More ideas for toddlers:

Awesome Muddy Pig Sensory Art with Printable

Strengthen Fine Motor Skills Making Window Art

10 Songs You Will Want to Add to Your Toddler Playlist


Why I love props for circle time, and other tips:

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

27 Awesome Ways to Teach the Alphabet (Without Using Flash Cards)

Inside: 27 Awesome Ways to Teach the Alphabet -And You Won’t Need Flashcards

Preschool parents are concerned their children won’t learn their ABCs. I get that. I was that parent.

Then I became a preschool teacher. I relaxed. As a teacher, I know that alphabet learning  should be hands-on. It’s not about flash cards or workbooks. It’s about providing playful literacy activities that excite young children to want to learn more.

If you are a preschool teacher, you might wonder at what part of your day should you include alphabet learning. My answer? All day long.

Remember my post about how to add literacy in all areas of the classroom? (If not, I’ve got you covered. Just click here.) Parents can add similar activities in the home.

Bottom line: keep it fun and let them explore!

23 Alphabet Activities for Kids


This post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you.


27 Awesome Ways to Teach the Alphabet



Bonus! Add more literacy fun with these alphabet formation rhymes!

Uppercase Alphabet Rhymes

Teach little ones how to write uppercase alphabet letters with these formation rhymes! This set of printables explains how to write the uppercase letters with a fun little rhyme. These can be used as posters around a room, tracing with a finger, or tracing with a writing utensil.

For $3.00 you can download your digital file and start today!

Lowercase alphabet letters are also available. Download here.




More fun for preschoolers:

10 Literacy Games for Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds     preschool color activities     Preschool Math Activities

You can find more activities on our Literacy Board.


23 Alphabet Activities for Kids

 Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

How to Build Preschool Literacy Skills with Games

Inside: How to build preschool literacy skills with games: 10 fun, hands on activities!


You are ready to introduce the alphabet to your young preschoolers. You hang the chart. You find some alphabet songs.

But then what?

You could take the route of flashcards and worksheets.


You can get them engaged in playful learning through games. Fun, playful literacy games that young children love!

(P.S. It works!)


How to Build Preschool Literacy Skills with Games


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

How to Build Preschool Literacy Skills with Games

Please note that some of these games might be more suitable for children who have stronger letter recognition skills. Choose the games you feel will be most fun for your child or group of children.


Learn the letters in your name with a simple name puzzle game.


Make a fun and engaging early literacy game for kids using alphabet ping pong balls and letter tubes. (The Imagination Tree)


Use the provided free printables to make a literacy activity to “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”. (Lalymom)


Throw pretend snowballs at letters while learning letter sounds. (Mom Inspired Life)


Write the letters of the alphabet using a black Sharpie marker to create a set of alphabet beans for literacy play games. (The Imagination Tree)


Add letter stickers to shaving cream to play a letter squish game. (I Can Teach My Child)


Find letters in flour while playing a simple letter matching game. (How Wee Learn)


When your child is ready to learn upper and lowercase letters, play the ABC ice cream game. (Coffee Cups and Crayons)


Move your body while playing the alphabet knock down game. (Toddler Approved)


Use magnetic letters to play the runaway letter game. (Growing Book by Book)


How to Build Preschool Literacy Skills with Games


Add some alphabet finger plays to your circle time, too!

Dr Jean Fingerplays for Preschoolers

A collection of 40 finger plays to help you support the development of important skills in your classroom.

More information: Fingerplays from A-Z


More literacy activities for young children:

literacy in preschool      foam letters for literacy      learning the alphabet


Make sure to follow my literacy board on Pinterest, too!

20 Learning Activities for Toddlers

Inside: 20 learning activities for toddlers that are hands-on and easy to set up!

You are a teacher who is putting together a curriculum for your toddler classroom. Or you are a parent that wants to add some learning to your toddler’s day.

But how?

It’s really much easier than you probably think. You don’t need flashcards. You don’t need fancy materials.

I’ve put together a collection of learning activities that your toddlers will love! And they are learning at the same time!

Activities that are age-appropriate and engage as many senses as possible. These learning activities involve concepts such as shapes, colors, numbers and letters in a fun, playful way. They can be done at home or in a classroom environment, with one child or a group of children.

Easy hands-on fun.

20 Learning Activities for Toddlers

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


20 Learning Activities for Toddlers

20 Learning Activities for Toddlers


More fun for toddlers:

Toddler Play Activities

Play: Playful Activity Plans for Your Busy Toddler

These are 35 hand-chosen activities that you can actually do with your toddler. You’ll be guided on how to find that extra 15 minutes (that you don’t have) to make time for the most important part of your life: your family.

Order Now

The Best Books for Busy Toddlers

Inside: Toddlers love to move – all day long! This is why we keep a collection of the best books for busy toddlers. They are an essential in our classroom, but would also be just as important in the home.

“I cannot get my toddler to sit long enough to listen to a book.”

“If I even try to read during circle time, I lose my toddlers.”

Yep, I’ve received many messages from parents and teachers who are simply frustrated that their toddlers can not sit through a book. They are interested. They will probably carry the books around and even open a page or 2. But to actually sit and listen? Not so much. Busy toddlers want to be engaged. So why not read books that will encourage them to do so?

The key is having interactive books on hand.

Books that prompt them to make different animal noises. Books that have them moving in different positions. Books that make them point to the pages and giggle.

I make sure to have a basket of these books available, especially during back to school, when emotions might be a little fragile. This collection of interactive books for busy toddlers is my favorite, so take note!

 The Best Books for Busy Toddlers

 This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 


The Best Books for Busy Toddlers

This collection of books are easy to read and just plain FUN. Don’t be surprised if your toddlers want to hear them more than once!




From Head to Toe

This energetic book gets toddlers dancing while also recognizing animals such as giraffes, donkeys, and seals. From Head to Toe is one of our favorite books to read while introducing our toddlers to story time.

Where is the Baby’s Belly Button?

Toddlers will delight in this peek-a-boo book as they show where various body parts are, the belly button always being a favorite! Where is the Baby’s Belly Button? also has flaps that the children can lift, getting them more involved with the story.

Pat the Bunny

This book has been a favorite with toddlers for generations, and it’s understandable! Pat the Bunny invites little fingers to touch the different textures on each page, a fun sensory activity.

Counting Kisses

Such a sweet book that involves simple counting while the family is trying to put the baby to sleep. Counting Kisses also helps toddlers learn where different body parts are as the baby gets kissed on her toes, her feet, and her belly button.

Where’s Spot?

Toddlers can’t help but fall in love with Spot the Dog! Where’s Spot? invites children to lift the flaps to help Sally the Dog find her puppy, Spot.

Dear Zoo

Toddlers become engaged in Dear Zoo as they get to lift flaps and peek at animals that are being transported to a child’s house. Finally, the child is sent an animal that is just right.

Five Little Ducks

Hands down, this Five Little Ducks sing-along book is perfect for our toddlers. They can’t help but join in with the hand motions! This particular edition has little holes for their fingers.

Baby Happy Baby Sad

We love Baby Happy Baby Sad for simple awareness of emotions. Why was baby sad? Why was baby happy?


Peek a Who

Toddlers love peek-a-boo, and that’s why Peek a Who is such a hit! What’s hiding on the next page?

Open the Barn Door

Toddlers adore books with farm animals, especially when they can lift a flap and see what’s behind it! Open the Barn Door also encourages toddlers to call out the sounds that the animals make.

Little Horse

Once again, the peek-a-boo holes make this book so much fun with toddlers! Little Horse also has an attached plush finger puppet that attract even the busiest toddlers.

Can You Make a Scary Face?

Can You Make a Scary Face is actually quite silly! Your toddlers will be moving up and down and making some silly faces!



Gallop! is part of a series that includes Waddle! and Swing!, and is loved because of how it shows motion. As each page is turned, the pictures literally move. Toddlers want to flip the page over and over again, watching the motion.

Press Here

If you want laughing toddlers, Press Here is the book for you! Press the yellow dot on the cover and then follow the directions as each page is turned. Toddlers love shaking and tilting the book, watching what happens next. Two other fun books in this series: Mix it Up! and Let’s Play!.

A Kiss for You

What can a hand do? Blow a kiss, say hello, hold you tight. Toddlers love to mimic the motions in A Kiss for You!


The Best Books for Busy Toddlers


As your toddlers transition into preschoolers, try some of these books:

11 Favorite Rhyming Books that Young Children Love       favorite books for the preschool library      best books for kids to sing with

Watch this on You Tube about our favorite books at the beginning of the school year:


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer

“I’m looking for ways to keep my preschooler interested in the alphabet while he’s on summer break.”

This was a recent email I got from a dear reader. While I have my own fun alphabet learning activities, I wanted to expand the collection.

And so, I asked my favorite early childhood bloggers. They didn’t disappoint. In fact, I got over 35 of the very best alphabet learning activities. This collection is amazing!

Best part? No workbooks or flashcards are involved. Nope. These are hands-on, FUN activities with a summer twist. They can be done indoors or outdoors. (Who wants to be indoors on a nice summer day?)

And if you are looking for more ideas, scroll down towards the end of this post to learn about Camp Mom!



Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer


Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer

Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer

Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer

Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer

Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer

Bonus! Moms, make this summer much more fun! And easier, too!

preschool summer camp activities

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in the e-pack. Its jam-packed with gorgeous photos of super fun activities to do with the kids!

  • Several printable summer planning pages (art supply prep list, Summer Bucket List template, etc.)
  • Four summer themes with over 45 Simple and FUN activity ideas with full instructions and supply lists. With 80+ total activities and ideas to do!
  • Adventure ideas and tips – you can have adventures without leaving your backyard or use the ideas to get out and explore your community.
  • Tips and articles for a successful summer: managing sibling conflict, what to do with the toddler, how to enjoy a museum with your kids, etc.
  • Reading recommendations to go with each of the 4 themes.

Download it now!


 Fun Alphabet Learning Activities for Summer

More activities for preschoolers:

Preschool Color Game Using Legos      Art Activities for Busy Kids header      learning games for preschoolers



Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

44 Preschool Learning Activities for the Outdoors

You’ve planned your learning activities for the classroom or homeschool, but it’s just too nice outside to be indoors. What to do? Take learning outdoors! I’ve put together 44 preschool learning activities that are perfect for the outdoors.



Letter hunts.

Science with nature.

And more.

Lose the 4 walls and the ceiling and get outdoors with this fun collection!

Outdoor Learning Activities for Kids

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

44 Preschool Learning Activities for the Outdoors

The photo collages beneath each group of activities is shown left to right, starting with the first activity in the group. When you click the title of the activity, you will be taken to the original post with full directions.


  • Paint with Bubbles: Whip up a batch of vibrant bubble paint and make prints.
  • Outdoor Canvas Painting: Collect flower petals and add them to a watercolor canvas art activity.
  • Water Spray Alphabet Hunt: Work on letter recognition or letter sounds with water and a spray bottle! (Mom Inspired Life)
  • ABC Excavation Sensory Bin: Fill ice trays with ABC beads and freeze for a fun letter exploration activity. (Parenting Chaos)
  • Garden ABC Hunt: Get outside and enjoy some fresh air while practicing letter recognition. (Fantastic Fun and Learning)
  • Alphabet Ice Boats: Match the letters on the boats as the ice starts to melt. (School time Snippets)

preschool learning outdoors



preschool outdoor learning



preschool outdoor learning



preschool outdoor learning


  • Bubble Play: Make your own bubbles and try some fun activities that little kids love. (Red Ted Art)
  • Floating Flowers: Collect flowers from the garden and add to a tub of water. (Twitchetts)
  • Learn with Leaves: 7 math activities that you can do outside! (Crafts on Sea)
  • Exploring Senses in Nature: Make an easy DIY mystery bag and fill with natural materials for a fun tactile sense activity. (Natural Beach Living)
  • Play with Helicopter Seeds: These are fun to use for large motor activities, nature hunts, fine motor, counting, and in crafts! (Lalymom)
  • Outdoor Play Ideas Jar: Use the free printable for activity ideas, place in a jar, and let the kids pick a fun outdoor idea. (Kitchen Counter Chronicles)


preschool outdoor learning


  • Cutting Lavender: If you have lavender in your yard, invite your child to snip it for some fine motor fun. (Teach Me Mommy)
  • DIY Dice Game: Work on gross motor development while completing the task that the dice lands on. (Days with Grey)
  • Hammering Ice: Fill ice cube trays with water and small plastic bugs, freeze, and take outdoors to hammer! (Beauty Through Imperfection)
  • Sink or Float Science: Fill a tub with water, collect items, and see if they sink or float. Use the free printable to document results. (Buggy and Buddy)
  • Blow Bubbles with Household Objects: Discover which household objects work best to blow bubbles. (Playground Parkbench)
  • Spread Shaving Cream on Blocks: Help your children develop spreading skills with this fun activity. (Happy Hooligans)

preschool outdoor learning


  • Safari Small World: Create a safari small world in the sandbox with loose parts, including  natural materials. (Little Worlds Big Adventures)
  • Nature Number Art: Collect items on a walk, roll the dice, and create something with that many of the pieces. (Mosswood Creations)
  • Sand Cast Starfish: Next time you go to the beach, make this fun keepsake! (Crafts by Amanda)
  • Shadow Art: Add some hands-on STEAM to your outdoor time with this fun art and science activity. (Rhythms of Play)


preschool outdoor learning


  • Stone Faces Craft: Collect rocks on a nature walk and use the free printable to create funny stone faces. (Messy Little Monster)
  • Earth Craft with Rain: Use markers on paper and see what happens when rain falls on it. (To Be a Kid Again)
  • Jackson Pollock Art: Drip paint on a large sheet outdoors! (Learning and Exploring through Play)
  • Nature Paintbrushes: Collect pieces of nature while on a walk and then use them to paint with. (Messy Little Monster)


preschool outdoor learning

Looking for a more structured summer camp program for your kids?

preschool summer camp

Let the kids have the best summer ever! They will be busy learning, making and playing active games. Each day Summer Camp at Home offers 3 different activities.

Click here to read more >>>> Summer Camp at Home

Outdoor Learning Activities for Kids



More ideas for kids:

summer sensory bin      Fun Summer Activities for Toddlers     Fun Summer Activities for Preschoolers


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

How to Use Scholastic’s My Big World in the Preschool Classroom

Inside: How to use Scholastic’s My Big World in the Preschool Classroom

We love to explore the world around us. I’ve mentioned many times how young children are more interested when what they are learning is connected to real life experiences. We read books and share our experiences during circle time. We have hands-on exploration and play during centers time that connect to these themes.

However, it can be a challenge to find literature and activities that are appropriate for our younger children.

Recently Scholastic contacted us to see if we’d be interested in reviewing their My Big World with Clifford. I’ve been using Scholastic for over 17 years, starting the first year I began teaching preschoolers. So of course I accepted!

Scholastic My Big World

Scholastic’s My Big World in the Preschool Classroom

A subscription to My Big World with Clifford includes 16 issues each school year, delivered in sets of 2 during the school year. Every issue is filled with simple text, big clear pictures, and easy to understand facts that young children can understand. There is also a big issue for the teacher that we used on our bulletin board.

We first read our magazines together at circle time, and then the children got to take their copies home. This gave them a chance to look at the magazine again, perhaps with their family.

Scholastic My Big World

Using My Big World with Clifford in the Classroom

The April edition of My Big World was all about taking care of plants.

You can grow plants. How would you take care of them?

I soaked some cotton balls in water and asked the children to come up, one at a time, to drop them into a jar.

Scholastic My Big World

We then placed some dried beans inside the jar, between the glass and the wet cotton balls.

We sealed the jar and examined what they looked like.

Scholastic My Big World

Scholastic My Big World

The next day we passed the jar around and noted how the beans had changed, comparing the beans to our model.

We could see that some of the beans had sprouted.

Scholastic My Big World

We did this for each day, noting how the beans were changing and growing. We would refer to the big Scholastic magazine that we had tacked on our bulletin board.

Scholastic My Big World

At the same time, we planted sunflowers. We looked at the photos in our classroom magazine to learn how to take care of our plants as they grew. There was even a sing-along in the magazine to go with the activity.

scholastic my big world

More about My Big World:

My Big World is suitable for preschool and pre-kindergarten children. You will get 18 issues that include an editorial calendar, online resources, skills & standards, and a section for Head Start educators.

You can read more about it here: Scholastic “Our Big World”

Scholastic on Twitter

Scholastic on Facebook

Scholastic on Pinterest


Disclosure: Scholastic sent me a few sets of “Our Big World with Clifford” magazines to use in my preschool classroom. However, I’ve been ordering from Scholastic for over 17 years and love their reading club and resources!


Scholastic My Big World



More ideas for young learners:

     learning with lego - 100+ activities for kids     Learning activities using music for toddlers and preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin

Learning is much more fun when it’s part of play! When it’s hands-on and invites kids to use their creativity and imaginations. When they can touch the materials, move them around. That’s exactly what this fun alphabet recognition sensory bin delivers.

These types of activities are perfect for preschoolers who are starting to recognize letters in the alphabet. They might only be able to recognize a few of the letters, and that is okay! They are being exposed. They might be learning the letters in their names, or even spelling some familiar sight words.

This alphabet recognition sensory bin is appealing to all preschool literacy levels. This is ideal for the classroom! And it provides different textures for a fun sensorial experience.

And…it’s super easy to put together! Let me show you how.

Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin

The first thing you want to think about is what to put in the bin. It doesn’t need to be exactly like ours.

Some ideas:

  • Letters of some sort
  • Construction vehicles
  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • Construction pieces

Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin

We chose to use Kinetic Sand because of the way it feels and molds and moves. (Seriously, if you’ve never touched this stuff, you must. Grown-ups have just as much fun with it. It’s amazing!)

We added Lincoln Logs for a bit of construction fun.

Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin

We used some letter stones that worked well with this construction theme.


Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin

For some preschoolers, the fun will be using the construction vehicles.

For others, it will be using the letters, perhaps spelling their names.

Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin

Handfuls of sand can be mounded and moved. Structures can be built with whatever construction pieces you add to the bin.

Exposure to the alphabet in a playful way!

Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin


Bonus! Grab your Learn the Alphabet Mega Pack!

Learn the Alphabet preschool printable pack

With this 230 page pack, you can help your preschooler learn their letters while practicing early phonic skills, coloring, fine motor skills, handwriting, and more!  Download your digital mega pack now!


Fun Alphabet Recognition Sensory Bin


More ways to learn through play:

Shapes in the Sensory Bin

Color Sorting at the Water Table

Letters in the Block Area


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

Trains and train tracks are a staple in many toddler and preschool classrooms, mine included. They are not only fun to play with, but they are also very helpful when we are dealing with separation anxiety or need something to calm our environment. Recently our block area was transformed into train play with Old Tracks, New Tricks, a new book written by Jessica Petersen. We gathered all the wooden tracks we owned (we’ve had many considerate parents throughout the years who have donated what they no longer use) and our huge tub of Duplos (again, donated by many parents over the years). I watched as our preschoolers worked together to construct pillars and ramps, buildings and walls, all inspired by the book.

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

 Full disclosure: I was provided a copy of Old Tracks, New Tricks for review. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

I introduced the book Old Tracks, New Tricks during our morning meeting. As I read it to our preschoolers, I gave them plenty of time to absorb what they saw on each page. When we saw how bossy the trains were to the 3 new tracks, we paused to talk about feelings. How did it make the new tracks feel when they were treated that way? But then the new tracks decided not to let those trains bother them. Instead, they got creative. The other tracks got involved, and eventually the trains wanted to be part of the fun. We watched what happened when the trains and the tracks had to work together and how they were rewarded with lots of fun. We compared it to how we work together on classroom activities.

Old Tracks, New Tricks Activity

I love getting the preschoolers involved in decisions. We knew we wanted to add trains to our block area after reading Old Tracks, New Tricks, but what would we put with them? We once again looked at the photos in the book and decided that we definitely needed Duplos. LOTS of Duplos.

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

We decided to pull our gigantic plastic tub of assorted Duplo pieces out of the storage closet and add it to our block area. We filled another basket with trains. We were eager to get to work!

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

The preschoolers began stacking the Duplos, figuring out which tracks would need support. A lot of collaboration happened while the bricks were moved around, especially once the tracks were involved.

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

“How can we raise the tracks?”

This was the first question that led to some pillars.

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

Some of the tracks were completely substituted with Duplos.

“The trains can still travel across them.”

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

Structures were also made alongside the tracks, as walls and buildings.

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

I love activities such as this because they encourage children to think of alternative ways to use materials. It’s also a great way to revive old toys, putting them to new use.

Train Play with Old Tracks, New Tricks

More About the Book:

Old Tracks, New Tricks is written by Jessica Petersen, who blogs at Play Trains, and published by The Innovation Press.  The rhyming text is fun to read as children predict the last words in each line. Jessica includes ideas to spiff up your wooden train tracks, such as with foil and even glow-in-the-dark materials for nighttime fun! The photos are bright and fun, showing  off lots of different ways to customize your tracks. While writing the book, Jessica kept in mind all the stages of the train lover, from toddlers to preschoolers and older.

Want to see more? The Innovation Press has provided a free preview of the first ten pages!

More ideas for kids:

Block Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers      16 Large Motor Activities for Kids that Are Perfect for Indoors - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds     music and movement for preschoolers

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Playful Toddler Alphabet Activities

You have started hearing your toddler sing the ABC song. Now you’re wondering about other toddler alphabet activities. How can you add them to your day?

Through play and exploration!

With art and play dough!

In the sandbox, in the pretend play area, in the sensory bin!

In other words, toddler alphabet activities should involve play, exploration, and FUN. And that is what this collection is all about.

Toddler Alphabet Ideas

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


Playful Toddler Alphabet Activities

Note: Some of these alphabet activities might need to be simplified a bit. Start with exploration, and then add on as your toddler transitions to a preschooler and shows more interest in letters. As your child gets older, check out our preschool literacy activities at the end of this post.


The collection:

Fill a bin with foam letters for ABC letter play.

Explore your name’s letters in a discovery bottle.

Sort letters using a DIY letter box.

Press foam letters into play dough.

teaching alphabet to toddlers

Drive cars on letter roads. (Free printables from Gift of Curiosity.)

Play with trucks and alphabet rocks. (Mom Inspired Life)

Serve alphabet pancakes for breakfast. (

Make a playful alphabet garden. (Free printables from Totschooling.)

teaching alphabet to toddlers

Push cars through alphabet tunnels. (Toddler Approved)

Plant an alphabet flower garden. (Buggy and Buddy)

Set up your pretend kitchen with some ABC cookie baking. (Fantastic Fun and Learning)

Paint over wax letters. (Learn with Play at Home)

teaching alphabet to toddlers

Display a tactile alphabet poster. (My Mundane and Miraculous Life)

Remove letters from ice. (Little Bins for Little Hands)

Scoop letters out of water. (Busy Toddler)

Use DIY letter stamps on paper. (Make, Take and Teach)

teaching alphabet to toddlers


When your child is a preschooler, try these literacy ideas:

preschool literacy activities for summer      literacy games for preschoolers      Preschool Name Recognition - Ideas for Preschool Early Literacy - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
Bonus! Grab your copy of The Preschool Alphabet Packet today. There are printables for all 26 letters of the alphabet!

Preschool Alphabet Packet


ABC Play Ideas for Toddlers


Make sure to check my literacy pin board for lots more ideas!

Learn with Play post footer



Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Fun Rainbow Color Sorting Sensory Bin

After a grey winter, we cannot wait for our classroom to burst with color. So is it coincidence that one of our last winter themes involves the rainbow? I think not. During this theme I wanted a sensory bin that not only had every color in the rainbow, but also different textures and tools to strengthen the hands and fingers. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect items to a fun rainbow color sorting sensory bin.

Ready for some colorful fun?

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

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Rainbow Color Sorting Sensory Bin

What we used:

  • Color sorting cups
  • Rainbow pom poms
  • Rainbow buttons
  • Rainbow feathers
  • Tongs or tweezers


Book to go with this activity:

Planting a Rainbow


It all started with these color sorting cups that I found on Amazon. I just knew they’d be perfect for not only this activity, but many future activities as well. (Fellow teachers, I’m sure you understand how we must find toys that have multiple uses, right?)

I love how they nest (each cup is numbered on the bottom).
Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

I love how they stack.

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

The children, of course, love how they can be knocked over.

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

I placed everything into the sensory bin, along with some tweezers and tongs, as I am always looking for ways to strengthen those hands and fingers!

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

I needed to make sure everything was color coordinating, since this would be a sorting activity.

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

The first thing the children did was start sorting them by color. They told me the yellow pom poms were popcorn.

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

They would gently shake the bowl to make the pom poms jump up and down.

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

And then all the colors of pom poms got involved, some ending outside the sensory bin. No worries, our children are working on picking up what falls on the floor.

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

We also have a small broom and dustpan available for taking care of spills.

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

How to adapt this sensory activity for toddlers:

Set the buttons and small pom poms aside. Toddlers love the feeling of the jumbo pom poms! Replace the tweezers with small scoops. (We use these for lots of activities, by the way!) They will be more interested in scooping and pouring the pom poms than actually sorting them by color, but that’s okay. It’s all about exposure!

Fun Rainbow Sensory Bin

More ideas to try:

Rainbow Crayons - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds    Letter Beads Discovery Bottles     Preschool Color Game Using Legos


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Preschool LEGO activities









Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Best Books for Kids to Sing With

Our toddlers and preschoolers love to sing! We sing various times during our day. Some are planned, such as during circle time, and some just happen randomly, such as when we are in the middle of a transition to a new activity.  You don’t need to have a beautiful voice, either. I used to be very self-conscious about my voice, knowing it was nothing close to my sister Lauri’s professional sound. But when I am singing with my little friends, I forget that. I just relax and enjoy the moment. I even sing up on stage with the children in front of an audience! Another favorite time to sing is while reading books. We love our collection of best books for kids to sing with! Singing instead of reading the words is a great way to build language skills and learn new words, too. So check out some of our favorites below and try a few with your toddlers and preschoolers!

Best Books for Kids to Sing With


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Best Books for Kids to Sing With


Inch by Inch: The Garden Song – David Mallett


The Wheels on the Bus – Illustrated by Jerry Smith


Down by the Bay – Raffi


Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes – Illustrated by Annie Kubler


Five Little Ducks – Illustrated by Annie Kubler


You Are My Sunshine – Jimmie Davis


Shake My Sillies Out – Raffi


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Helen Oxenbury


Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed – Eileen Christelow


I Got Two Dogs – John Lithgow


The Farmer in the Dell – Ann Owen


Pete the Cat Collection – Eric Litwin


Down By the Station – Jennifer Riggs Vetter


Roll Over – Merle Peek


Row, Row, Row Your Boat – Jane Cabrera


Old MacDonald Had a Farm – Jane Cabrera


Itsy Bitsy Spider – Iza Trapani


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star – Caroline Jayne Church


Do Your Ears Hang Low? – Caroline Jayne Church


Over in the Meadow – Oliver A. Wadsworth


Cat Goes Fiddle-I-Fee – Paul Galdone


Looking for more book, music, and movement ideas?


Rhyming Picture Books for Preschoolers   favorite songs for 2 year olds    action songs for preschoolers

Playful learning with favorite preschool fingerplays from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds    music and movement for preschoolers     parachute play for toddlers



Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

We love tying our activities to favorite children’s books! When my co-teacher showed me her newest book called Love Monster, she said she was putting together a fun craft that would be done afterwards. Oh my goodness. I cannot wait to show you the Love Monster counting craft she put together for preschoolers!

They had to use their counting skills to put each piece on their monster and also work on their scissor skills to trim the body and create ears.

Check this out!

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

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Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers


Before introducing this activity, cut these from different colors of construction paper (you will need one full set for each child):

  • 1 mouth
  • 3 teeth
  • 6 toes
  • 6 toenails
  • 1 heart
  • 1 body

You will also need 2 jumbo googly eyes per monster.

We first read Love Monster during circle time. We watched how sad he was until he met someone just like him.


Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

And then we were invited to make our own monsters.

We first had them cut triangles from the top corners of their monsters. These are the ears. Glue them to the top of the monster’s head.

Then start gluing the pieces on! We used to have them brush the glue onto paper, but recently we’ve been using squeeze bottles. The hands and fingers need to work hard to squeeze the glue out of the bottle, and there is more concentration needed on where the glue is going.

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

See those jumbo googly eyes? I bought them online for a previous project and had NO idea how big they were. When I opened the package I was a bit startled! They would completely overwhelm the project I had intended them for.

So when my co-teacher was putting this love monster activity together, I just knew they’d be perfect. I mean, really, look at them! They give the monsters so much personality!

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

We wrote out a list of how many of each piece needed to be added so we could point it out to the preschoolers while they worked.

The most challenging were the toes and toenails. But wow, what a great one-to-one correspondence activity! They had to glue 1 toenail to each toe.

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

When all the pieces are on the monster’s body, let dry thoroughly.

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

Aren’t they adorable? And each one has it’s own personality.

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

We had our preschoolers name their monsters and we displayed them on our bulletin board.

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers

Lots of skills being worked but most of all, they were fun to make!

Love Monster Counting Craft for Preschoolers


Related posts:

favorite books for the preschool library      Preschool Math Activity with Groovy Joe     Preschool Name Recognition - Ideas for Preschool Early Literacy - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

20 Eric Carle Craft Projects for Kids


We are in love with the author Eric Carle, so I thought it would be fun to put together 20 Eric Carle craft projects for kids that go with his books.

Literacy is a very important part of our toddler and preschool curriculum. We read several books each day and often will invite the children to create a craft that connects to one of them. Our 3 year olds also enjoy circle time activities that go with the books, and we will also extend related activities to other areas of our classroom, such as the light table and writing table. We even add literacy to our block corner. Our goal is to set a firm foundation for the love of books that will stay with our students their entire lives.


Eric Carle Crafts


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20 Eric Carle Craft Projects for Kids:


More resources:


More activities that go with books:

kids cooking      Water Activity for Kids      rainbow+fruit+8.jpg



Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Winter Bear Dramatic Play Activity

We love to use our dramatic play area for acting out ideas connected to our current theme. After reading one of our favorite books, Bear Snores On, we put together a winter bear dramatic play activity.

We added a great big stuffed bear along with smaller stuffed animals. Since we read the book prior to turning our dramatic play area into a bear’s den, the children were ready to role play what happened in the book.

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

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Winter Bear Dramatic Play Activity

So much learning can take place through play. The dramatic play area is especially popular because the children can use their imaginations as they act out various scenes. When they can tie it in with something they recently experienced in real life, or a book we just read, it becomes that much more meaningful.

I cannot take the credit for this year’s bear’s den. My creative co-teacher decorated a big box, complete with fiberfill on the top to mimic snow. She displayed photos of real bears and we had bear picture books nearby.

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

We asked the children to bring in a favorite stuffed animal. As they arrived, they placed their animals in a basket near the den.

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

And that’s when they noticed a great big bear sleeping in the cave, just like in the book. To say they were excited is an understatement!

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

After our morning meeting, we invited the children to visit the den. They pulled the bear out and brought their own animals into the den. They pretended to be sleeping, waking up, leaving the den, and returning.

Many times.

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

As we got ready to go to gym, we placed the big bear and his friends back in the den for a nap.

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

When we returned from gym, bear had awakened and was out of the den, reading a book! We never did figure out how that bear got into the chair…. hmm….

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

We then made bears at the art table.

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

And made a bear den bulletin board.

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

So much learning going on through play!

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

Winter Dramatic Play with Bear's Den

More ideas to try:

Easy Winter Art with Paper Mittens      Watercolor-Snowflakes - Winter art for kids - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds     20 winter crafts for preschoolers


Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds