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Children's Activities

Welcome to The Bloomington Early Childhood Family Centers Activities Page!

Here you will find:

    Tips for Outdoor Fun 
    Favorite Family Center Songs & Fingerplays
    Family Center Recipes for Crafts & Food
    Reading Tips
    Activities for children birth – five-years-old
    Infant Tummy Time Recommendations

Teaching children of all ages can be as easy as one, two, three!


Tips for Outdoor Fun:   
  • Bat and Ball: Tie a wiffle ball (the plastic one with holes) to a string and hang it just above the child’s waist, so she can swing at it again and again. (This activity builds tracking skill with the eye and coordination)
  • Water Play (Always everyone’s favorite): Set up a car wash for wagons and tricycles. If you don’t have a hose, give your child a bucket of water, rags and sponges.
  • Give your child a bucket of water and a paint brush. Have him paint the house or the sidewalk.
  • Washing doll clothes can be an absorbing experience, especially if you can find a real scrub board (an antique these days). This also provides an interesting tactile experience for children.
  • Balls: Balls in a variety of sizes and textures provide lots of opportunity to throw, kick, run, and chase. With older children, talk about how different balls bounce differently and how they might be used.
  • Pushing and Pulling: Wagons, grocery carts, doll strollers, pull toys-what fun to take them outside. Take your stuffed animals for a walk or collect “nature treasures” and put them
    in your wagon.
Favorite Family Center Songs & Fingerplays    
I have a little turtle. His name is Tiny Tim. (cup hands)
I put him in the bathtub to teach him how to swim. (swimming motions)
He drank up all the water (act out with drinking sounds: glub glub glub)
He ate up all the soap (act out with eating sounds: mmyum mmyum mmyum)
And now my little turtle has bubbles in his throat (fingers over lips with sound)

(child on lap and sway side to side)
Tic toc, tic toc
I’m a little Cuckoo Clock.
Tic toc, tic toc
Now I’m striking one o’clock
Cuckoo (lift child up or lift your knees up)
Continue on: Two o’clock with two ‘cuckoos’

You gotta shake, shake, shake your sillies out
Shake, shake, shake your sillies out
Shake, shake, shake your sillies out
And wiggle your waggles away.
You gotta clap, clap, clap your crazies out…
You gotta jump, jump, jump your jiggles out…
You gotta yawn, yawn, yawn your sleepies out…

I’m bringing home a baby bumble bee.
(Pretend to cup a bee inside your hands, swinging it)
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me!
I’m bringing home a baby bumble bee
OUCH! He stung me!
I’m squishing up the baby bumble bee.
(Press and rub your hands together)
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me!
I’m squishing up the baby bumble bee
OOOO! He’s all over me!
I’m wiping off the baby bumble bee.
(Wipe your hands off on the sides of you legs)
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me!
I’m wiping off the baby bumble bee
Look! He’s all gone!

FYI: Songbooks with over 50 pages of songs, poems and fingerplays are for sale in the Pond Center office for $5. Please call for hours or more details (952) 681-6200.
Family Center Recipes for Crafts & Food    

1 cup water
1 cup powdered milk
1/ tsp food coloring

Pour water in jar. Add milk and food coloring and stir. Use paint brushes to paint murals on driveway. Hose off when finished. (Some paint residue may remain but time and weather will eventually remove it!)

¾ cup cold water
1 T. Food Coloring
1 cup salt
½ cup cornstarch

Pour water & food coloring in medium pan. Stir in salt and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and gathers together. Take the lump of dough and wrap in paper towel. When cool knead. Keep in plastic bag. Refrigerate.

Liquid Starch
Liquid Glue

Mix equal parts of starch and glue together. Mix by hand about 10 minutes. Let stand a few minutes – pour off extra starch.
Reading Tips    

Your baby may bat at a book or point to a picture. This is her way of interacting with you and the book when you are reading to her.
Skill: Print motivation

After you read a book, briefly talk about what happened in the story. This helps develop your toddler's ability to tell a story.
Skill: Narrative skills

Children need to be able to hear how words sound. This is called "phonological awareness." Reading books with repeated words helps develop this skill.
Skill: Phonological awareness

Your baby does not yet understand the words you are reading. That's ok. She learns language when you read to her.
Skill: Print motivation

Toddlers learn more words when you point out familiar pictures in a book and name them.
Skill: Vocabulary

Ask children to retell a familiar story by following pictures in the book.
Skill: Narrative skills  

Activities for children birth – five-years-old    
Infant Activities:
Birth Onward
Change baby near a mirror. Stick wall tiles next to the changing table. Baby will enjoy watching her own image.

6 Weeks to 3 Months
Hang bright, safe, household items up for your child to practice batting at.

3 to 6 Months
Fill a small plastic soda bottle: 1/2 with brightly colored water and 1/2 oil. Glue cover on.

6 to 9 Months
Take juice cans and put different objects (for example, rice, corn, etc.) inside. Tape the lid back on with duct tape and cover the whole thing with contact paper. Instant shakers! (This activity build sound awareness.)

9 to 14 Months
Set your baby in the high chair and put a spoonful of cool whip on the tray. This is a fun sensory activity that builds little finger muscles.

Toddler Activities:
Set up a lamp without the shade in a darkened room and let your child dance in the light and learn about his shadow. Make an obstacle course using chairs, boxes, and pillow. Encourage your child to crawl or walk under the chair, over the pillow, around the basket, through the box. Provide a laundry basket and large ball for your child. Help him throw the ball in/around/over the basket. Give your child several small containers and lids to play with.
Let your child string Cheerios on a string. Be sure to tie a knot on one end and remember those little fingers need your help and encouragement.

Texture Egg Carton (From: Things to Do with Toddlers and Twos by Karen Miller)
Glue small patches of different textures in the bottom of an egg carton compartments. Your child will have to reach with a pointed finger to feel the texture.

Preschool Activities:
Cut pictures of people from a magazine that shows a variety of feelings, glue them to paper and make a book about feelings. Talk about what feelings the people have on their faces.

Pull the back off a large piece of clear contact paper. Stick pieces of paper, cotton, balls, feathers, ribbons etc. to the contact paper.

Wiping and washing off the table after meals with a sponge makes a preschooler feel like a very important helper.

A preschooler can set the table. It makes them feel like they are contributing to the family. Remember to lower your expectations about where things are placed!

Use magnetic letters on the fridge to play with, spell simple, important words.

Give your preschooler their own writing materials. They will scribble at first but over time you will be surprised as they tell you what they are writing.   

Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play!    

Recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health

Babies should be on their backs for sleep, but should spend time on their tummies when awake.
From baby’s first week at home, place him on his tummy for a few minutes 2 or 3 times every day to play. But only when the baby is awake and watched closely.
Tummy time helps babies learn to lift their heads, strengthen their neck muscles and shoulders, and gets babies ready for crawling when they are older (7 to 9 months).
At first some babies may not like tummy time. Some things you can do to help the baby are:
  • Place a toy or book in front of the baby.
  • Sing or talk to the baby while she’s on her tummy.
  • Put the baby on your chest for tummy time.
  • Lay on your tummy on the floor face to face.
  • Have older kids play with him while he’s on his tummy.
  • Keep trying, and your baby will learn to love tummy time with you.


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