Valentine Tic-Tac-Toe

by Chelsea Guerrero | Lakeshore Marketing

This Valentine’s Day, I’m helping kids to give tic-tac-toe a makeover! I know they’ll love decorating these reusable boards and thinking up kind phrases to write on the heart-shaped game pieces.

Note: This craft can also be adapted for use in the classroom—just print out multiple templates and add more supplies!

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You will need:

Preparation:

  1. Cut the foam sheets into six-inch squares. You’ll need one for each crafter.
  2. Photocopy the Heart Shapes template onto white construction paper. Or you can provide foam sheets for kids to trace the shapes onto. (Each game board requires two sets of five hearts.)

Directions:

  1. Provide each kid with a foam square.
  2. Have kids share Glitter Glue Painters to make wavy lines on the foam to create their tic-tac-toe boards. Tell them each space on the game board should be about the same size.
  3. Give each kid a copy of the Heart Shapes template. Have them color in five of the hearts so they can easily see the difference between Player 1 and Player 2.
  4. Ask kids to cut out all 10 hearts to use as game pieces. Or instruct them to trace the hearts onto foam sheets and cut them out.
  5. Now have kids write kind words or phrases such as “Love,” “Be thankful” and “Make friends” on each game piece.
  6. After the game boards have dried, invite kids to play Valentine Tic–Tac–Toe with a partner!

Extension:
Remind kids that tic-tac-toe is more than just a game of chance. Invite them to share their strategies for thinking ahead and winning the game! Will any moves ensure a win? Are there ways to predict what their opponent will do? What moves might block their opponent from winning?

If your kids love Valentine’s Day crafts, join us on Saturday, February 11, for a free in-store event! Click on the banner below for more information.

Make Your Own Gift Wrap & Tags for the Holidays

by Marni Hughes | Lakeshore Marketing Operations Manager

Nothing warms my heart like having my kids help me prepare for the holidays! This year, we’re celebrating the spirit of giving by making our own colorful wrapping paper and holiday gift tags. My kids certainly can’t wait to get creative and add their own special touches to gifts for family and friends. Just follow these simple instructions to see what your little helpers come up with!

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Handmade Gift Wrap

You will need:

Directions:

  1. Cut a large sheet of butcher paper.
  2. Invite your kids to create handprints all over the paper using the ink pads.
  3. Decorate with collage materials.
  4. Wrap gifts any time of the year with one-of-a-kind wrapping paper!

Decorative Gift Tags

You will need:

Directions:

  1. Provide your kids with plenty of construction paper in a variety of colors. Either set out some paper that is precut into various shapes (e.g., ovals, squares, rectangles, trees, bells, candles) or encourage your kids to use the Crinkle-Cut Craft Scissors to cut their own gift tag shapes.
  2. Next, have your kids decorate the tags with a variety of collage materials and use the markers to write holiday messages, such as “Happy Hanukkah,” “Season’s Greetings” or “Celebrate Kwanzaa!”
  3. If desired, punch a hole near the edge of the tag and thread a length of ribbon or string through the tag, or use tape to attach the tag to a holiday gift.

Want more holiday craft ideas? Visit www.lakeshorelearning.com and click on “craft ideas & activities” under resources. Or drop by any Lakeshore Learning Store for Free Crafts for Kids every Saturday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

5 Fall Crafts for Kids

Guest Blog by Lindsay | Lakeshore Blog Ambassador from My Creative Days

Hello, Lakeshore Learning readers! My name is Lindsay and I blog at mycreativedays.com. I am super-excited to be here today sharing five fall crafts for kids.

Fall is our family’s favorite time of year! We are all about crafting and creating pieces we can use throughout the season—especially now that the kids are old enough to really get involved. The five crafts I am sharing with you today are all great ways to get your kids involved with fall decorating, gift giving, and even setting the perfect Thanksgiving table!

1. Wood-Block Pumpkins

Wood-Block-Pumpkins

These Wood-Block Pumpkins are so fun! We used Lakeshore’s Wooden Craft Cubes and our favorite craft adhesive, Tacky Glue. We played around with different pumpkin builds and came up with a tall pumpkin that we really liked.

We glued the blocks together and then painted them orange.

We used tiny blocks for the stem of the pumpkin. We painted the blocks green, then added a green paper leaf and wrapped some floral wire around the stem. These would be great for a teacher’s desk, or you could write names on the leaves and use them as place cards for your Thanksgiving table.

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2. Thankful Journals

people-shapes

These journals are fun to make—and they’re perfect for the season of thanks! We used Lakeshore’s People Shapes™ Project Kit and Blank Softcover Books to make our Thankful Journals. This year, my kids wanted to make them for all our Thanksgiving guests. They designed a journal for each adult guest, and we decided to set out a basket of supplies on Thanksgiving…so our youngest guests can make their own!

3. Turkey Napkin Rings

Turkey-Napkin-Rings

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we could not resist making some Turkey Napkin Rings for our table this year. We used Natural Tree Rings, some goodies from our Arts & Crafts Supply Center, and Tacky Glue.

My daughter loves the Arts & Crafts Supply Center. She uses it for all her creations. For our Turkey Napkin Rings, we used foam pieces, googly eyes, and ribbon—all from our supply center.

To make each turkey’s feathers, we folded a few pieces of ribbon in half and glued the ends together. Then we glued each loop to the back of a Natural Tree Ring.

After that, we added googly eyes and foam pieces to make each turkey’s face.

We cut more ribbon and glued it to the bottom of the tree ring to make feet. To turn the turkeys into napkin rings, I hot-glued rubber bands to the backs. They are so cute—the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving table!

4. Dipped Acorns

dipped-accorns

We have been doing this fall craft for years. The kids always have a blast, and I love using the colorful acorns in my autumn decorations. Just grab some acorns and paint to get started!

I put the paint in small cups, and the kids used tweezers to dunk the acorns in the paint. We laid them on wax paper to dry.

The acorns make beautiful additions to vases, bowls, and more.

5. Gift Tags

Gift-Tags
We do a lot of baking in the fall. Homemade gift tags are the perfect touch to our homemade goodies!

‘Tis the season for gift tags! I love to use homemade tags to add a special touch to gifts and favors. We have made many gift tags over the years. This year, we designed some with Lakeshore’s Draw & Shrink Craft Kit. The kit lets you turn any drawing into a plastic charm. (We made pumpkins and acorns!)

I hope you have been inspired to make some of these fall crafts with your kids.

Happy crafting!

Make sure to stop by My Creative Days or say hello on my Facebook page to see what else I am creating for my favorite season!

Creative Days Blogg

2016 Blog Ambassadors

by Victoria Montoya | Lakeshore Director of Public Relations

508685_Blogger_Ambassador_Badge_fn

We believe that a love of learning is always better shared. That’s why we invited five amazing moms who love learning as much as we do to join the Lakeshore family as our 2016 Blog Ambassadors!

From a former teacher to a practicing nurse, these bloggers come from all over, and together they’ve pretty much done it all. Follow our blog for their fresh perspectives and advice…and read their blogs to learn about the experiences they’ve had using Lakeshore products with little ones.

Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, you’re sure to learn tons of new things from this diverse group of moms!

headshots-revised-without-badge

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Susie Allison, Busy Toddlerbusy toddler thumbnail

Susie is a former kindergarten/first-grade teacher turned stay-at-home mom who’s just trying to make it to naptime each day. She is a mom of two (ages 1 and 3) and has one more on the way—naptimes are very important in her life! To keep the days moving, she creates simple, engaging and (most of all) fun activities to keep her kids learning and active. Susie loves activities that can be thrown together in seconds, but that hold little attention spans for much longer. She launched Busy Toddler in June 2015 as a way to share her easy, but educational, ideas with the world—and help other parents make it all the way to naptime, too.

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Susie believes the best go-to activity is sorting, because it can happen anywhere. Whether it’s in a restaurant, the doctor’s office, or a kitchen—sorting is always on the table as a quick option to keep little hands learning and busy.

Recent post: Early Learning: Math With Toddlers


Brandi Jeter Riley, Mama Knows It Allmama knows it all thumbnail

Brandi Jeter Riley is a proud Oakland, California, mom who started her blog, Mama Knows It All, way back in 2010 to share parenting challenges, tips and all things mom-related. She was pleased to discover a community of other chronic oversharing mothers who were just like her! A former creative educator, Brandi has great parenting tips, mom encouragement and ideas for things to do with your children on her site.

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Brandi enjoys going to the library with her daughter and checking out books about subjects they know nothing about!

Recent post: Building And Playing For A Hands On Summer


Clarissa Hooper, Munchkins and MomsMunchkins-and-Moms-thumbnail

Clarissa is a mom to four kids—three energetic boys (ages 2, 3 and 4) and one sweet baby girl. Clarissa is a dedicated home preschool mama and a learn-through-play advocate. With such a busy house, Clarissa has perfect-sandwich-making and silly-song-singing down to a science. In her spare time, Clarissa is the writer behind Munchkins and Moms, where she shares playful learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers. As a former elementary educator, she takes joy in the opportunity to be her kids’ first teacher at home.

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Clarissa’s favorite learning activity would be any activity involving play dough! She loves to combine play dough with other educational tools (like rubber alphabet stamps or small animal figurines) to create fun invitations to play and learn!

Recent post: Fossil Dig And Balance Board – Springtime Learning And Discovery With Lakeshore Learning


Lindsay Eidahl, My Creative DaysMy-Creative-days-logo-thumbnail

Lindsay is a wife, a mother to two great kids and the writer of My Creative Days. She loves to be creative in her days, with her home and with her kids. Encouraging her kids to learn, create and play in different ways is one of her greatest passions. Her kids have taught her that activities don’t have to be difficult to be productive. In fact, she has found that the simplest things reap the best benefits…and keep kids happy and entertained.

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Lindsay’s favorite activities incorporate learning and fun in one—like the time she and her kids went on an Alphabet Hunt. Armed with disposable cameras, she and her children ventured outside to look for all 26 letters in the alphabet. Once they had pictures of each letter, they printed them out to make alphabet books.

Recent post: 8 Bug Activities For Kids


Suzanne Chan, Mom Confessionalsmom-confessionals-logo-thumbnail

Suzanne is a mom to three and an overbearing aunt to one, dubbed affectionately “her little zoo,” living in the outer boroughs of NYC. She’s a former marketing/PR executive who gave up the glitz to embrace her destiny of motherhood with the support of her amazing husband. Suzanne is also an amateur photographer; she can be seen with her DSLR camera in the craziest and most inconvenient places, because she doesn’t want to miss a shot. She’s always trying some new technique and constantly drooling over photography websites. She loves a house filled with laughter, and her favorite days include friends and family…and sitting around the dinner table!

Favorite Activity with Kids:
Suzanne loves hands-on learning. If her kids are learning about dinosaurs, a trip to the Museum of Natural History is a must. If they are studying Washington, D.C., which is a viable weekend trip, they’re crazy enough to hop into the car and go there. She loves watching her kids’ eyes light up as they plan their adventures together.

Recent post: Stretch Your Child’s Imagination With Lakeshore Learning

Gift Ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week

by Chelsea Guerrero | Lakeshore Marketing

Teachers never cease to amaze me. I mean, how can one person be an absolute math whiz at one moment…and then nail that perfect character voice during a read-along? I love Teacher Appreciation Week because it’s my chance to shower the teachers in my life with some much-deserved admiration and gratitude. Here are some of my favorite Teacher Appreciation gift ideas—I hope you’ll make them your own!

Teacher Appreciation
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1. Crayon Wreath

Easy to make and fun to give, this everlasting wreath makes the perfect addition to any classroom. To make it, just grab crayons, hot glue, ribbon…and something to use as your wreath form. We cut a ring out of recycled cardboard and it looked great! Just hot-glue the crayons around your wreath form and tie a neat bow around the top so it’s ready to hang!

2. Flower Bouquet with Magnetic Letters

Classic flowers get a practical twist when you add Magnetic Letters to a simple jar vase. Just fill a vase with letters and your favorite flowers, add a bright ribbon…and voila—your Teacher Appreciation gift is ready to go!

3. Teacher Appreciation Supplies

By the time Teacher Appreciation Week rolls around in May, many teachers may be short on basic supplies…or already stocking up for next year! This gift takes the idea of the beloved gift basket to the next level. Just put a teacher’s plan book, apron, stickers, crayons, write & wipe markers, a Lakeshore gift card and other school supplies into one of these colorful classroom supply caddies to make a super-creative gift basket.

4. Flower Pens

Every teacher needs a signature pen! Our homemade version makes one thoughtful Teacher Appreciation gift…plus, you can present it in a decorated pot teachers can use again. Just decorate a small collage pot any way you like, create a flower pen using tissue paper and craft tape…then “plant” it by adding sand to your pot so the flower stays upright.

5. Original Artwork

Conspire with other parents to make one-of-a-kind artwork using students’ fingerprints! This adorable tree is super-easy to make; just download a tree template online, print it on some quality card stock and let the fingerprints do the rest! A handwritten message puts the icing on the cake. We used our Fingerprint Artist’s Stamp Pad.

6. Teacher Survival Kit

Dazzle the teacher in your life with all the things they just can’t get enough of—including a lidded coffee cup, antibacterial gel, tissues, immune building supplements, disinfecting wipes and anything else that strikes your fancy. Put these goodies into our adorable teacher’s tote to create one cute—and totally practical—Teacher Appreciation gift.

Need a Teacher Appreciation gift fast? No worries! Here’s a bonus gift idea that requires zero assembly: a gift card. When paired with a heartfelt note that expresses your deepest appreciation, a gift card from Lakeshore, or your teacher’s favorite store, can evoke just as many warm fuzzies as a homemade gift. You can even add a gift card to any of our other ideas for the perfect finishing touch.

Recycled Robots for Earth Day

by Marni Hughes | Lakeshore Marketing Operations Manager

If your kids are anything like mine, you’ve probably witnessed what I call the “cardboard box phenomenon” firsthand. A long-awaited (and very expensive) toy finally arrives and within a few hours, your kids start playing with the box it came in. Don’t fight it—embrace it! That kind of creative recycling is just what our planet needs, after all. Encourage your little cardboard creator to explore all the ways they can make something old new again with our Recycled Robots craft—the perfect Earth Day activity for the whole family!

Recycled Robots

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Note: This craft can also be adapted for use in the classroom—just add more supplies!

You will need:

Directions:

  1. Ask your kids to select a recycled box. This will be the body of their robot.
  2. Glue colored foil sheets onto the front, back, top and sides of the box.
  3. Now have kids make their robot totally unique. They can decorate their bots with glitter painters, construction paper, wiggly eyes and a variety of collage materials—like buttons, beads, bolts, gems and anything else they like!
  4. Next, add pipe stem antennae and legs to really bring the robot to life.

Recycling

Extend the learning:

Ask your kids if they had fun making Recycled Robots. Tell them there’s even more they can do to help keep the planet healthy—every single day. Ask them if they have any of their own planet-friendly ideas…and check out the list below for inspiration!

Create more recycled creatures:
Gather recycled materials kids can work with safely—like milk cartons, newspapers, cereal boxes and plastic bottles. Lay all the materials out with glue, scissors and craft materials and ask your kids to create anything they can dream up!

Rally for recycling:
Hold a recycling contest in your house…or your neighborhood. The person who collects the most cans, bottles or newspapers gets a prize. If your kids are old enough, ask them to head online to find out where they can take recycled items—or even investigate what happens at a recycling center.

Plant a plant:
Teach your kids how to plant seeds so they can grow their own plants. Make sure they know trees and plants help preserve our planet.

Read all about it:
Set up a reading corner and stock it with interesting and age-appropriate books with strong environmental messages. Here are just a few we love: Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Environment by Linda Schwartz, The Lorax by Doctor Seuss, The Great Kapok Tree Big Book by Lynne Cherry, and Planting a Rainbow Big Book by Lois Ehlert.

7 Spring Break Activities | Turn free time into creative fun!

Guest Blog by Lindsay | Blogger from My Creative Days

Hello, Lakeshore Learning readers! My name is Lindsay and I am very excited to be guest posting today. Since this is my first time here, I thought I would share a little about myself. I am a wife and mom of two great kids who are growing up way too fast. I started my blog, My Creative Days, a few years ago to share how we live creatively on a small budget. Today, I am here to share 7 activities that will inspire your kids to get creative this spring break. We always look forward to these days when the schedule isn’t jam-packed and we can relax and do some fun activities with the kids. If you are a planner like me, these activities are great to have on hand before the break starts, so you aren’t struggling to find things to do when the “Mom, I’m bored” antics start. 🙂

Make Your Own Games

Make-Your-Own-Game Activities
Kids love to play games, and my kids love to create their own games. It was easy for them to design their own memory game using simple paper squares with different patterns. Use glue dabbers to adhere the squares onto a sheet of construction paper. Then, simply laminate and cut them out. These squares could be used for so many activities for kids, from sorting and patterning to counting games!

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Build

Build Activities
Both of my kids have watched my husband and me DIY our way through so many projects. They have seen it so much that my daughter has come to us asking for projects she can try. There are some fantastic woodworking kits out there that provide kids with instructions and supplies to build numerous projects―or even to create one of their own. This one was perfect for my daughter. She DIYed her way through a pencil holder and then decorated it with glitter tape. I think that building activities for girls are great for building confidence and creativity. It’s also a fun activity to do outdoors.

Magna-Tiles®

Magna Tile Activities
My kids have the most fun with Magna-Tiles! They have created everything from small villages to skyscrapers with these tiles. As a parent, I love them because they encourage creativity and imagination. Plus, they are exploring early geometry concepts like angles and symmetry while they’re playing. Whenever a toy can do all this and keep my kids engaged without the television involved, I am a happy mom.

Tissue Paper Art

Tissue Paper Art Activities
I remember doing this craft when I was a kid, and my daughter loves to do it now. There are so many different masterpieces to be made with tissue paper squares. When my daughter was younger, I would draw a picture with different colors for her to fill in with the tissue paper. Now that she is older and loves to create on her own, she comes up with her own creations. All you need to do this is a pencil, white glue and tissue paper squares. Wrap the tissue paper around the eraser of the pencil and dip it in some white glue. Then press the tissue paper onto the paper.

Make Your Own Selfie Props

Make Your Own Selfie Prop Activities
My daughter received a new camera for Christmas, so she has been all about photography and taking pictures. She used wooden craft dowels to make her own props for a selfie station. She colored some funny props on white drawing paper, and then we laminated them and cut them out. We used Velcro to attach the props to the dowels so she could easily change them up when she wanted to.

Plan for Your Summer Garden

Plan for Your Summer Garden Activities
With spring and summer right around the corner, we have already started talking about all the things we want to grow in our garden this year. The Watch-It-Grow Window Greenhouse is a great activity to have on hand during spring break. It gives the kids the chance to work on their “green thumb” before the real thing happens in the summer. Science-related activities like this are always popular with our kids. They love learning about different processes, and when it is fun, they retain a lot of what they are learning.

Free Creative Play

Free Creative Play Activities
I think that free creative play is so important for every child at every age. Ever since our kids were little, we have had a “creation station” set up in our home. It is full of paper, crayons, markers, paint, scissors, tape, glue, recyclables, glitter, etc.,  for the kids to create with whenever they want. Sometimes, I will add something new to the station. Rainbow Scratch Paper is a great product for change up your “creation station.” When I add new paper, my kids soak it up like sponges. They create in a new way and experiment with it for hours. I even like creating on this paper. 🙂

I hope these activities have given you some ideas for your kids during their break. Please stop by my blog, My Creative Days, to say hello and see what other creative projects I am sharing.

Creative Days Blogg

Valentine's Day Card

by Michelle Mahony | Lakeshore Editorial Director 

Valentine's Day CardHaving moved to California from “across the pond,” my family doesn’t get to visit with relatives nearly half as often as we’d like. To help my children stay connected with faraway loved ones, we communicate often via phone and computer—but sometimes it’s nice to send more tangible greetings to stay in closer touch. This craft provides a terrific way to send a warm hug to distant relatives—while also helping young children practice their printing skills!

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Note: This craft can also be adapted for use in the classroom—just print out multiple templates and add more supplies!

You will need:

Directions:

  1. Print out the handprint template and cut out the hands.
  2. Glue one hand to each end of a sentence strip.
  3. Cut hearts out of construction paper in various colors. You’ll need one large heart and several small ones for decorations.
  4. Glue the large heart onto the middle of the sentence strip.
  5. Inside the heart, write the verse below. (Or have your child create an original rhyme.)
    I know you miss me when I’m away,
    So I made this hug for you today!
    This special hug, from me to you,
    Will give you hugs all day through!
  6. Have your child write “From” or “Love,” on the left side of the sentence strip and print his or her name on the right side. Remind your child to use the ruled lines on the sentence strip to form the letters correctly. If your child needs a printed reference for forming each letter, you can create your own custom template here.
  7. Decorate the card using the small cutout hearts and the other craft materials.
  8. Fold the sides of the sentence strip into the middle so that the hands appear to be holding the heart.
  9. Your Valentine’s Day Card is now ready for delivery!

Valentine's Day Card

If your child loves Valentine’s Day crafts, join us on Saturday, February 6, for a free in-store event!  Click on the banner below for more information.


Valentine’s Day Card

Happy New Year Glasses Craft

by Christine MacGregor | Lakeshore VP of Marketing

My kids rarely stay awake until midnight—even on New Year’s Eve—but celebrating the New Year is still a big deal in our house. It’s a great time for us to look back at all of our accomplishments—in school, at work and as a family—and make resolutions for the year ahead. This year, my kids will be getting into the spirit by making these outlandish glasses to ring in the New Year—as we share our hopes, plans and goals for 2016.
Note: This craft can easily be adapted for the classroom by setting out the supplies at multiple crafting stations. You can also discuss the concept of New Year’s resolutions as a group, and then invite students to write or illustrate their own resolutions.

New Year Glasses

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You will need:

Directions:

  1. Trace the template onto tagboard and cut out an eyeglass frame for each child.
  2. Invite children to attach a wooden dowel along one side of the eyeglass frame with glue or craft tape.
  3. Let each child use the craft materials to decorate their glasses however they like.
  4. While kids are decorating, talk about the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Help younger children understand the word resolution by defining it for them (something a person decides to do; a goal someone makes). Explain that resolutions can be very specific (I’m taking a vacation to the beach!) or more general (I will be more kind to others). Discuss why people might make resolutions at the beginning of the year.

When kids are done crafting and are waiting for the glue to dry, help them write a list of personal resolutions for the year ahead—and write one for yourself! Post your lists on the refrigerator as a reminder throughout the coming year.New Year Glasses

Polar Bear Craft

by Victoria Montoya | Lakeshore Director of Public Relations

As winter approaches and the cooler weather arrives, my kids start spending more and more time indoors. This is the time of year when I sometimes struggle to find enough fun, educational activities to keep the kids busy and engaged. So, I try to keep a bank of winter-themed crafts on hand to use as boredom busters—and to keep the kids thinking and learning. I especially appreciate simple crafts that use basic supplies we already have at home—like this cute polar bear craft made with cotton balls! After the kids are done crafting, you can channel their enthusiasm for this beloved animal into a fun research project—where kids learn more about polar bears and then record their thoughts and observations.

Note: This craft can also be adapted for use in the classroom—just add more supplies!

Polar Bear Craft

You will need:

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Directions:

Polar Bear Craft

  1. Glue cotton balls onto the plate, covering the surface.
  2. Print out the polar bear face template and cut out the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
  3. Glue the eyes, nose and mouth on top of the cotton balls to make the face, and then glue the ears to the top edge of the plate to complete the polar bear.
  4. To extend the fun and the learning, research polar bears online or check out a book from your local library. As you read about polar bears and look at photos together, guide children’s thinking with these ideas:
    • Talk about the polar bears’ fur. Ask, Why do you think their fur is white? If kids have never heard about camouflage, explain that the white fur makes it easy for them to hide in the snow, allowing them to sneak up on their prey.
    • Discuss animal habitats. Encourage kids to describe the region in which polar bears live and ask them to name other animals that might live in the same region (seals, arctic foxes, snowy owls, walruses, etc.).
    • You can also introduce early map reading skills by helping children use a map or globe to locate the Arctic Circle.
  5. After researching and talking about polar bears together, let kids use the polar bear writing page printout to complete each sentence. Help them think through any tricky concepts, like how to estimate a polar bear’s size.
  6. When kids are done, glue the printout to the back of the polar bear face and let kids use it to practice reading—developing reading fluency.