Singing silly songs isn't all fun and games. It's also educational. Here's how!

7 Benefits of Singing Silly Songs with Kids

Silly songs. Do you kids love them as much as mine do?

We have a list of several songs in this category, and they’re often requested as we’re driving along singing.

I enjoy singing these songs as well, and love knowing that there’s real educational benefits to them. They seem like they’re just for fun, but they’re really not. Ha!

Here are seven benefits of singing silly songs together:

1. Practice Listening Carefully

These songs are silly! The first few times I sing them, the kids really listen carefully. They often say things like, “What did you just say?” or, “Did you really say she swallowed a spider?”

Music encourages kids to listen. Listening attentively helps improve attention spans and is an important lifelong skill!

2. Learn More About How Language Works

As kids listen to and sing silly songs, they’ll be learning new ways to combine words. They’ll learn more about how the English language works.

You probably won’t ever talk about buzzard eggs and salamander thighs just as a random conversation, but these words are in a song. This will expose your child to the concept that birds lay eggs and animals share similar body parts.

Silly songs typically use phrases and words that are uncommon, which is part of what makes them silly. So sing away and share more of our language with your kids!

3. Strengthen Rhyming Ability

Silly songs are full of rhyming words. If you have a child who is struggling to understand rhyming words, make sure you’re singing silly songs regularly.

After all, exposure is a great way to become more comfortable and confident with a skill.

4. Encourage Creativity

When you’re singing silly songs, your mind gets rolling. You think of things you might not otherwise. You try to make up your own words to go along with the tune.

This is especially true for songs like Down by the Bay where singers are encouraged to become active participants and add their own verses.

What can you come up with? Try to make additional verses to other silly songs. You’ll probably all be laughing by the time you’re done!

5. Improve Memory

Songs are way easier to memorize than speech. The brain identifies with the rhythm and tune, and the songs are easy and fun to sing over and over. Before you know it, your kids will be singing along. Even young kids can memorize the words.

Memorizing songs is a fabulous way to improve memory skills.

6. Strengthen Family Bond

Kids love spending time with their parents! Singing together builds family togetherness, and encourages a common activity.

You’ll also help your child improve social skills by singing together. They’ll learn about taking turns picking songs, finishing one thing before moving onto the next, and how to keep their voice level appropriate to the location and time. For instance, we might sing quieter in the car than we do outside.

7. Laughter

This might be the biggest benefit to singing silly songs! It’s hard to sing very many while keeping a straight face.

Laughing is so beneficial for parents and kids alike.

What Silly Songs Are There?

Most of these songs are ones I learned back in elementary school. I loved singing them then, and it’s been fun teaching them to the kids.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Mama’s Soup Surprise (yes, it’s little gross…but it’s sure fun!)
  2. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (great repetitive song to build language practice.)
  3. There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea (A repetitive song that ends up right back where it starts)
  4. There’s a Hole in My Bucket (Another one that ends at the beginning!)
  5. The Other Day I Met a Bear (There’s also a version about a Bear in Tennis Shoes…)
  6. Down By the Bay (Really works on rhyming!)
  7. Baby Bumblebee (Ew! Who would even think to pick up a bee to take home???)
  8. Boom Boom, Aint’ It Great to Be Crazy? (Love it!)
  9. I’m Being Eaten By a Boa Constrictor (A great what if scenario to spark discussion afterwards!)
  10. Do Your Ears Hang Low? (There are actions to go with this one though this video doesn’t show them.)
  11. Flea Fly (it’s sort of a singing tongue twister with some fabulous nonsense words)
  12. On Top of Spaghetti (Lots of variations of this one)
  13. Going on a Lion Hunt (the sound effects make it fun)
  14. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt (I might not have spelled that one right! But it’s so fun to sing each verse a bit quieter than you did before, and then all shout the chorus.)

What Silly Songs Do You Remember?

Did you sing silly songs as a kid, or sing them with your kids today? I’d love to have you share your favorites in the comments!

Social studies car games

5 Social Studies Car Games

We took a recent road trip hitting both free local ferry services. It was a fabulous trip, and offered opportunity to try out a few new car games. These were all social studies based, giving us the perfect opportunity to practice new skills we’ve been learning.

5 Social Studies Car Games

Social studies is a large umbrella subject, covering:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Civics
  • Economics
  • Community

With all of those subcategories, there’s plenty to work with to create some games! Here’s what we came up with:

1. Where’s It Come From?

This quick playing game gave us a chance to practice naming where different resources come from. It’s simple to play. One person is the host, taking turns asking questions.

Here are some of the questions:

  • Where does hamburger come from? (a cow)
  • Where does gold come from? (mined from the ground)
  • Where do we get wool to make clothes? (From shearing sheep)
  • Where does bacon come from? (Pigs)
  • Where do wooden planks come from? (Trees)
  • Where do blueberries come from? (They grow on bushes.)

You can ask pretty much anything and help your children learn more about the resources we use everyday.

For every question a player got correct, they earned a point. Everyone who earned 5 points earned a piece of candy after the game.

2. Name the States

I challenged my oldest to name all the 50 states. The younger kids helped where they could, but since they haven’t covered US geography in-depth yet, they didn’t play this one for points.

We’ve listened to a great CD set from Wee Sing full of American songs. One of them names all the states in alphabetical order. My oldest tried singing this to name the states, but ended up missing a few.

It was fun to have my husband jump in and try to help her name the five she was missing. Eventually we named them all!

3. Who’s Who?

This game took what we’ve learned about our family and community. I have several pictures on my cell phone that showed family members and places we go to often.

On a player’s turn, they looked at the picture naming the subject. If it showed a person, they named who was in the picture and how that person was related to them. If it was a place, they said where it was, and why we go there.

For instance, a picture of the doctor’s office would have the player say: That’s the doctor, we go there if we’re sick.

A picture of an aunt would have them say: That’s Aunt ____. She’s your sister Mom.

It’s a great way to review important people and places. Just be sure to fill up your camera roll with relevant clips before you head out on the road.

4. The License Plate Game

This one’s a classic! As we passed cars, we peered out the windows to see what state the license plate was from. The little guys called for help if they saw a plate they couldn’t read that wasn’t Washington.

We wrote down the states that we found. We also saw a province of Canada, so we were able to talk about where that was.

This one would have been better if I’d printed off a US map for everyone before we left. Then they could have colored the states as we found them. The visual clue would have helped the younger kids feel more included!

5. Animal Habitats & Continents

My kids love animals, so this was a fun game. On each player’s turn, they’d name an animal. The rest of us would work as a team to describe the habitat that the animal lived in. Then a continent where that animal could live got named. Here’s how a couple of rounds looked:

Polar Bear

They live in the cold and eat fish so they need to be by water.

Polar bears could live in Antarctica.

Lions

They live in the tall grass. Lions hunt other animals.

This animal could live in Africa.

This game/conversation went on for several miles and let everyone take part in an age-appropriate way.

After the interest slowed down, everyone drew a picture of an animal in a habitat, which extended the game nicely.

Need Other Ideas for Car Games?

We love playing games every time we hit the road. Here are other collections for you to use:

Math Car Games

English/Language Arts Car Games

Musical Car Games

What are your favorite games for the car? I’d love for you to share them in the comments!

Photo credit: Hon Kim via Unsplash

Foster creativity in your child with these simple tips.

10 Simple Ways to Unleash Creativity in Your Child

Creativity drives innovation. It’s an essential life skill, and sadly, one that’s being looked over time and time again.

It’s time to fight back against the over-scheduled calendar, and invite creativity into your family’s life. Your child’s future bosses will thank you!

Creativity doesn’t take much planning. It actually doesn’t require you to do anything. You get to sit back and watch your child unleash the amazing power of imagination that’s already inside. Here are ten simple ways to make it happen.

1. Bring Out the Art Supplies & No Pinterest Inspiration

Set out some basic art supplies, and let your child create. Don’t have an end result in mind that you found on Pinterest. Let your child think about what to do, and then figure out how to do it.

It doesn’t take much. My kids love it when I set out:

  • Crayons
  • Paper (printer & construction)
  • Scissors
  • Glue Sticks

That’s everything they need to create some pretty amazing things. Then everyone helps clean up and we all share what we’ve made. Here’s a post with more tips on simplifying art with multiple ages.

2. Let Your Child Make Up a Game

Ask your child to invent a game, and then play it. If your child is stuck, break it into simple steps:

  1. Go find three items that you want to use in the game
  2. Think about the end of the game–will you all work together for a goal, or will there be a winner? What does winning look like?
  3. Are there any rules we need to know about?

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a fly swatter to slap the tops of tin cans around the house, or if you’re laying on your bellies trying to slide plastic dishes into a masking tape circle. What matters is that you’re allowing your child to think the game through, and be in charge of making it happen. So empowering for a child!

3. Go Outside without a Purpose

Head outside and sit and read or something while your kids play. Let them figure out what to do and how to do it. Of course you’ll be keeping an eye on them to make sure they’re not throwing apples into the road or tying the toddler up to the tree, but unless there’s a huge issue, try to let them be.

4. Turn on Music and Dance

There’s something about music that encourages kids to get up and move freely. Turn on some music and let everyone dance to their heart’s content. There’s no special moves to learn, no steps they have to copy. Just let them be free!

5. Stop Solving All the Problems

If you’re hovering over your child just waiting for minor problems to arise so you can swoop in and save the day, I have a news flash for you. You are not doing your child any favors.

Critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving skills are learned through experience, not observation. So sit down and let your child figure out how to get their toy tractor out of the hole it’s stuck in. Let them figure out how to climb to the top of the playground equipment by themselves.

As they learn and experience, they’ll be gaining vital skills. And you’ll actually get a chance to sit down for a minute as you watch your child grow right before your eyes.

6. Allow Unstructured Time Daily

Boredom is not a problem that you need to solve. It’s a problem your kids can solve. But, if they’re structured from the time they get up to the time they crawl wearily into bed at night, they never have to decide what to do.

They’ll never learn how to manage their own time, how to pursue their interests on their own time, or anything except how to follow a schedule that someone else made.

Give your child a chance to be a kid. Put a quiet play time into your day. Let them play on their own, without anyone telling them what they have to do.

It’s during this time that kids can stop and reflect about the day. When they can do something they want to do, try new things, and just play.

7. Build a Simple Fort

An inside fort encourages creative play. Here’s how I make a simple one for my kids:

I turn the couch around so the back of it is facing into the living room.

Then I drag two chairs from the dining room table over and set them out a ways away from the couch.

Next I have the kids find big blankets and rubber bands. We stretch the blanket over the back of the couch and onto the chairs. Then we secure the corners of the blanket onto the chairs with rubber bands.

You can also just drape a large sheet over your dining room table and make a cave style fort. That’s even simpler!

Then, give your kids time to play inside the fort. Let them make a reading corner and sit and read if they want. Let them gather up toy balls as their “food” and create a little society of their own inside.

Just let them play, inside of the fort.

8. Make House Rules for Games

Does your family love board games as much as mine does? If you do, you might already have your house rules for your favorites.

House rules are exceptions or changes to the rules that you create. They make the game better suited for your individual family.

They’re also a great way to foster creativity. They show your child that you can think outside the box and don’t always have to do everything the directions say you should.

To unleash even more creativity, let your child come up with a rule change to try. It’ll make them think about the game, and how they think they can make it better. That requires some pretty high levels of thinking skills, but is also fun!

9. Buy Open Ended Toys

If every toy in your house has a distinct purpose, you’re really limiting the amount of creativity that can occur.

Kids for years thrived with simple toys. Those simple things, combined with some imagination, led to hours of open-ended play.

So ditch the battery operated toys, and opt for:

  • Blocks
  • Construction sets
  • Train tracks that can have multiple configurations, not glued down
  • Baby dolls
  • A car rug and several cars

And any other toys that foster creative play.

10. Celebrate Creative Thinking

When your child suggests something, don’t be so quick to blow them off. Let them try putting ketchup on their ice cream even though you think it’s disgusting.

You don’t want your child to be you. You want to encourage them to be the best self they can be. They have to be allowed, and encouraged, to stretch their wings, and fly a bit. So don’t squash them every time they try to be different.

Let them be creative in the kitchen, in play, and in talking about the future. Just listen, and celebrate their creativity.

Instead of saying, “That sounds gross!” say, “I never thought of doing that!”

Instead of saying, “You can’t do that!” say, “I’m not sure how it’ll work, but I’d love to see you try!”

Use positive words that encourage creative thinking.

How do you unleash creativity in your child?

Please share your best tips in the comments so we can all benefit from your experience!

Looking for ideas to extend reading time? Here are 10 to get you started.

10 Simple Ways to Extend Reading Time

Do you want your kids to love reading time? Often when you extend reading time, you can really draw children into the books. You can dive into topics, explore characters, and learn more than you ever could just by reading.

But, sometimes it’s hard to think of simple ways to extend reading time. After all, you probably don’t have a ton of time to drag out special supplies. I know I don’t!

So I’ve compiled a list of ways we regularly extend reading time. These are all flexible enough to use with almost any book. They’re also things that readers of all ages can take part in.

The next time you read, pick one of these to try. You’ll help your child really dive into what they read.

1. Drawing

This is my go-to extension for any book. If I’m reading aloud, I have my kids grab paper and crayons as they listen. Then, they’re free to draw anything that the book inspires them to draw.

They’ve drawn characters, settings, events, and more from the books. I love that it brings the book to life in a different way–they’re able to see what they think things look like.

We always have a sharing time after drawing. It’s fun to compare pictures and learn what each child picked up from the story.

2. Make a Menu

I don’t always have the ingredients on hand to make a meal inspired by the book we read. But since food plays a role in many books, this is a quick alternative.

Simply have your kids make a menu that the characters in the book would enjoy. You can discuss how food changes over time and across cultures.

If desired, let your kids draw a plate with their menu on it.

At some point, try to cook something from the book if you can–getting multiple sense involved really encourages learning. But, if you can’t, don’t stress. It’s okay!

3. Make a Costume

My kids love using clothes and accessories to create costumes. It’s amazing what a little imagination can do to some scarves.

Ask your kids to dress up like a character from the book. Then step back while they create. Have a costume party or a fashion show when everyone is ready to show off what they made. Be sure to have your camera ready!

4. Find Places on a Map or Globe

I love our globe! An easy way to extend reading time is to pull out the globe or a map and find locations that are in the story.

If the location is make-believe, ask your kids to create a map. What do they think it looks like?

5. Write or Talk About an Alternate Ending

The choices that characters make are oh so important in how the story ends up. You and your child can discuss, “What ifs” for any story. What would have happened if this character did something different? What if the story didn’t end like that?

If your child is an independent writer, let them create an alternate ending. Otherwise, have them tell you a story about the book you just read, but change how it ends. This will encourage creativity!

6. Change the Setting

How would Cinderella be different if it took place in modern times? What happens to Peter if Neverland gets moved to the bottom of the sea?

The setting plays an important, though not always thought about, role in each story. Change it up with your child, and point out how things would change based on the location and time period of the book.

7. Make a Comic Strip

If your kids enjoy reading comics or graphic novels, encourage them to create a comic strip for one scene in the story. Then let them share what they made.

8. Act it Out

Ask your child to recreate a favorite part of the story, or even the whole thing. We often act out favorite fairy tales around here after reading them. Our coffee table has been the troll’s bridge, the house made of sticks, and several other key elements.

I act as narrator and the kids handle the rest.

9. Find Other Books by the Same Author

If your child really enjoyed a particular book, take a few minutes to search for other books by the same author. Request them from your library and give them a read too.

Then you can talk about similarities between the books by this author. You can also talk about differences between the stories, and figure out which one everyone liked best.

10. Lego Build

Encourage your child to build something from the story with Legos. Can they make the main character’s house? Was there a vehicle in the story they can recreate?

Give them some Legos and the book to look at and see what they create.

How do you extend reading time?

I’d love to add more simple activities to our reading time, so please share in the comments section.

 

Are you looking for board games for preschoolers that won't drive you bonkers? Here are seven that you'll actually enjoy pulling off the shelf.

7 Board Games for Preschoolers You’ll Actually Enjoy

I’ve written about board games before. I LOVE games!

Playing games as a family allows you to spend fun time together. You get to practice important
Communication, collaboration, and critical thinking are examples of soft skills. Those skills will be used in the future, no matter what field your child goes into. They are important life skills.

Board games naturally help children practice these soft skills. Your child learns to wait patiently for her next turn. She gets to talk about the game, listen to the rules, and practice communication skills. House rules (if you have them) teach your child to think outside the box and use creativity.

Are you starting to understand why I love integrating games into our learning so much?

I used to think I’d have to wait until my kids were older to actually enjoy playing games with them. But, I’m learning that there are plenty of games that everyone can play. This post is dedicated to games for preschoolers.

But, you’ll notice a few classic preschool games missing. You won’t find Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, or Hi-Ho Cherry-O on this list. I tend to find those games too boring. They might engage a three year old for a while, but if mommy gets bored playing it won’t get off the shelf very often.

Here are some of our favorites for the three to five year old crew that won’t bore older siblings or parents as quickly. By the way–yes, those are affiliate links! Thanks for your support.

#1. Richard Scarry Airport Game

This game will keep your little one moving during play! It’s perfect for active little preschoolers. You set up the game by spreading four destination mats around your room. If you want to encourage more movement, you could even spread them out across the whole house.

To play, one player rolls the dice and sees how many passengers and stops are needed. Then, the player sets off to pick up passengers and take them where they need to go. The planes are fun, and motivating for my crew.

#2 Spot-It!

Spot-It is simple to learn, but fun to play. Because of it’s compact size, it’s perfect for slipping in the diaper bag or even your purse for fun on the go.

You can play several different variations of the game, so be sure to read the directions and decide on one version before you jump into game play.

I love that this plays quickly. Each round takes just a couple of minutes.

The object is simple—to match an item from one card to an item on another. Every card has exactly one item in common with every other card in the deck. You just have to use the power of observation to figure out what that item is.

There are multiple versions of Spot-It available, but each one plays the same. Once you know the rules you can play with any deck. We have the original Spot-It, an alphabet one, and a Disney Planes deck. My kids seriously wouldn’t mind if I picked up a few more—they’re that fun!

#3 Racoon Rumpus

Ellie got this game for Christmas last year, and it’s a lot of fun! Your goal is to collect outfits for your racoon. To make this happen, you have to roll the die.

Then you pick an outfit that matches the color shown. You can find community helper outfits, sports outfits, and more. There’s plenty to pick from.

But, it is possible to lose your clothes. Then your racoon will be down to his underwear!

My preschoolers are definitely into the potty jokes, so having underwear in a game makes it a hoot!

#4 Uno Moo

Uno Moo is a cute game that plays very similar to the original Uno you might know and love. I like the sturdy carrying case that houses everything. It’s definitely better than a cardboard box!

The game pieces are shaped like animals. You’ll find pigs, chickens, sheep, and skunks. Each animal has four pieces, one of each color. The skunks mean you skip the next player.

Your goal is to get all of your pieces into the barn by matching either by color or animal type. When you’re down to one piece, you yell, “Uno Moo!” If you forget you could be asked to draw more pieces.

#5 Count Your Chickens

It’s time for a collaborative game! These help children learn collaboration. They teach that not everything is a competition, and that there is a definite benefit to working with others toward a common goal.

I don’t mind competitive games where there’s a definite winner. In fact, most of the games we play result in a winner.

But, I see the value in working together so we play a few collaborative games as well!

The goal of Count Your Chickens is to reunite the baby chicks with Mother Hen. Since we have chicks running around currently, it’s a great time of year to play!

On your turn, you spin the spinner, then move the correct number of spaces. You get to collect that number of chicks and get them back to the mama.

When as a team, you return all the chicks, you win!

#6 Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Game

Do you love Mo Willems books as much as I do? If you’ve never read them, you’re definitely missing out. This game brings that loveable pigeon to life in a new way.

The goal?

Keep the pigeon from driving the bus by keeping him away from your bus.

You will have to use a bit of strategy, because when the pigeon lands on the same space as your bus you have to return to start. On your turn you can decide to move the pigeon towards other busses, into wide open spaces, or away from your bus. It’s up to you.

Learning strategy helps your preschooler look at the big picture and think ahead a little bit. Planning is important!

#7 Tell Me a Story

I’ve written about this one before! Here’s the post that tells you how we use this game to enhance literacy. This is my go-to birthday present for young kids. It’s well made and contains endless fun.

The goal of the game is simple. Use the cards to tell a story.

There are characters and settings to guide you along the way. Story telling is an amazing skill to practice, and this game makes it fun!

Where Are the Games of Chance?

Many of the classic board games for preschoolers are purely based on chance. You had to draw the right color at the right time. You had to roll the right number to avoid going down the slide.
It took luck to be a winner in most of those games.

The games I shared above, aren’t solely about luck. Of course every game has an element of chance, but these games allow for strategy, for critical thinking, and for the player to actually feel like they have a sense of control.

What Board Games for Preschoolers Do You Love?

These are our favorite board games for preschoolers. I’d love for you to share yours in the comments section below!