Put your Thinking Crown on!

Nancy Balter is our math and science product developer here at Educational Insights. She was a math and science teacher for 11 years, and she’s also the mother of two young children. Here’s a great at-home-learning activity she plays with her kids at home!

My son is in preschool and not many kids learn their shapes before entering Kindergarten. To remedy this, I play a fun shapes game with my 3.5-year-old son. Not only does it help him learn shapes, but it also helps him with critical-thinking skills because he must use the process of elimination to deduce the answer. This game is a fun and simple, yet educationally valuable activity that will help younger kids get ahead of the game!

The description below is for a 4-player game (and therefore uses four shapes). If you’re playing with a different number of people, simply adjust the number of shapes.

You Will Need

  • 4 pieces of paper, approximately 1.5 inches on a side
  • a strip of paper, approximately 1.5 inches x 6 inches
  • a marker
  • tape

Before Playing

Use the marker to draw a different shape on each of the four pieces of paper.

Draw all four of those same shapes on the strip of paper.

How To Play

1. Using tape, stick a shape on each player’s forehead. A player should not see which shape he/she has

2. Allow players to look around and see what’s on everyone else’s forehead.

3. One at a time, ask each player to figure out what is on his/her own forehead. Players can consult the strip of paper with all four shapes. (Sometimes I help my son by asking him to tell me the shape on each person’s head and I cover that shape with my finger has he says it.


4. Once everyone has guessed what is on his/her forehead, players can pull off the piece of paper and take a look.

Change the game by changing the shapes (hexagon, crescent, rectangle, oval, etc.). You can also play this game with other attributes, such as colors, numbers, or letters.

If you want to get really fancy (and make your child feel like royalty), put the shapes onto crowns with Velcro®. You can use giant plastic gems for shapes. Make a scepter (with a Velcro® strip) to hold the four shapes. Here’s how mine looks:

In the photo you can see that I added some paper ‘gold’ coins to give to those who guess correctly. (However, I’ve generally found I don’t need those. My son is simply pleased to guess correctly, without needing the gold coin reward.)

I also put a strip of Velcro® on the back of the scepter which holds any extra shapes that I’m not using for that particular game.

We play this game every so often and it’s a lot of fun for the whole family. My son especially likes it when we include his 1.5-year-old sister in the game. Hilariously, she happily leaves the paper taped to her forehead while we play. Although if we use the crown version, she pulls the crown off her head—and then tries to pull the crowns off our heads too!

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Mommy Mondays: Benefit of the Doubt

I recently read a poll in a parenting magazine asking if parents pay attention to other parents’ “reviews” of teachers. It asked if parents would go so far as to try to have their children moved to other classes if they had heard negative things about the teachers their kids were assigned.

The readers’ responses varied. Some thought it negligent to ignore the negative feedback—why put their kids through a potentially bad experience if they could help it? Others gave the teacher the benefit of the doubt—some teaching styles work better for some kids, so why not give it a try first? If you’d asked me this question last year, when my daughter was heading into kindergarten, there’s no question what I would have said.

[My daughter, Emma. Her daddy is 6’3, with 6’ sisters and a 6’7 brother!]

Flash back…there we were…waiting to see the class list and meet Emma’s teacher. We’d heard such great things about both kindergarten teachers. We’d played for years on the kindergarten playground and peeked through the kindergarten windows at the adorable little chairs and tables. Even the in-class bathroom door was tiny!

What a surprise to learn that one of those two teachers had taken on the school’s new preppy-K class and my daughter was assigned to a new team-teaching pair. At first we were thrilled—two teachers in the classroom! Too good to be true! And it was. What it really meant was that two teachers would split the week. Really? Neither one could commit to a 22-hour work week? Then the other shoe dropped— neither teacher had ever taught kindergarten before. Oh, and that cute little classroom on the cute little playground? Nah, we were down the hall with the big kids. And the tiny bathroom door was replaced with the big girl’s bathroom—across a corridor open to the street.

I did what any good parent would do—I panicked. I tried the principal, to no avail. There would be no relocations; the classes were full. I wasn’t alone: we were all worried—two teachers, two sets of rules, two styles— and in this crucial year, no less! After a few sleepless nights and more conversations than my friends care to remember (oh, and a deposit at the private school down the road, which we really couldn’t afford and whose religious tenets we do not believe), I caved. I mean, what choice did I have?

Well, a year later, I am both thrilled and embarrassed to report that the year could not have gone any better. One teacher was nurturing and sweet. The other was stern, but conducted kitchen science lessons every Friday with edible treat results. I never heard any student or parent complain of trouble adjusting to different styles or routines. In fact, they may have come out more flexible for it. The highlight of my daughter’s year was winning the silent auction at the spring carnival. The prize? Lunch. At Burger King. With her teacher. The stern one.

I am not a go-with-the-flow person, but  man, lesson learned. So when the flurry of phone calls, texts, and emails started rolling in when this year’s class assignments were mailed, I’m happy to report that I closed my ears and went with the flow.

And I’m glad I did. Emma’s new teacher opened this year’s Open House by telling the parents how grateful she was to have a job that she loves so much. Teaching is probably the hardest job in the world (okay, tied with being a mom). Teachers wouldn’t do it if they didn’t love it. So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. I know I will!

September 22, 2012 Deal of the Day: Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

It’s the first day of fall and our Deal of the Day is the perfect way to celebrate! We are kicking off the fall season by featuring one of our best sellers, the ever popular, Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game!

In this whole-family fun game, your forest friends are hungry and they need your help! Spin the spinner, squeeze the matching colored acorn with your Squirrel Squeezers, and place it into your log. Be the first to your log with delicious acorns and you win! You could also spin “pick an acorn,” “steal an acorn,” or “lose an acorn,” so be strategic, little squirrel! It’s a great preschool game that works on motor skills, color matching, and more!

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game™ is only $16.49 from now until midnight tonight (PST). Don’t forget about our extra special EIFREE promo code to get free shipping on your order. Sneak on over before it’s too late! http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/the+sneaky%2C+snacky+squirrel+game–8482-.do

September 16th, 2012 Deal of the Day: Kat!

The purrrrr-fect learning tool for preschoolers! Today’s Deal of the Day is the adorable “Kat”–The Talking, Teaching Kitty™! A feline version of best-selling Ace—the Talking, Teaching Dog™, Kat works with all Hot Dots and Hot Dots Jr. card sets, providing instantaneous visual and audio feedback. Simply press the pen to an answer on any Hot Dots Jr. card for an immediate response—fun, motivating phrases for correct answers and gentle redirection for incorrect responses.

Normally priced at $12.99, you can bring this kitty home for only $8.99 until midnight PST tonight. And don’t forget to add some corresponding Hot Dots Jr. Card Sets to you order. When you enter promo code EIFREE at checkout, you’ll get free standard shipping on your entire order. http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/-kat—8212-+the+talking%2C+teaching+kitty-trade-.do

August 19th, 2012 Deal of the Day: Jumbo Mathmagnets

It’s Sunday August 19th, 2012 and today’s Deal of the Day is our 42-piece magnetic Multicolored MathMagnets®!

Great for ages 4-7, these are the highest quality magnetic manipulatives available. This set features more and stronger magnets than other magnetic number sets to ensure each piece stays where you want it and doesn’t slip! All 42 pieces in 6 colors measure 2.5″H each so they’re easy for small hands to manage and provide tactile reinforcement of early math concepts. It includes math operations signs to practice building and solving equations and it all stores in a durable, stackable tub for easy cleanup!

These Multicolored MathMagnets® can be yours today for just $7.99 (regularly $14.99) PLUS free shipping with promo code EIFREE.

Get your Mathmagnets here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/mathmagnets-reg-+jumbo+multicolored+magnets.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search