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Jul
29

Feed the Monkey – a Wikki Stix Fine Motor Game for Kids

In the preschool years, learning how to make marks or write, cut with scissors, and manipulate smaller objects is a part of normal growth and development. Once school begins, many children struggle with small motor control, especially when it comes to holding a pencil (handwriting). By offering playful opportunities to help our children gain fine motor control, we can encourage finger muscles to grow and positive early learning experiences. The Wikki Stix Feed the Monkey Game is a great activity for encouraging finger muscles to grow while playing and having FUN!

Feed the Monkey – a Wikki Stix Fine Motor Game for Kids

Wikki Stix Feed the Monkey Craft

Outline: Feed the Monkey – a Wikki Stix Fine Motor Game for Kids

Materials needed: Brown, White, and Black Wikki Stix and one Monkey template (linked here)

To create the Monkey: Print the Monkey Template (linked here) and laminate for durability (if laminating supplies are not available, clear contact paper will work, too). Invite the children to outline the Monkey with brown Wikki Stix. Near the monkey’s mouth, have the children form a circle from one strand of Wikki Stix and place it on the template. The children should then fill-in the Monkey outline with additional brown Wikki Stix, but the mouth circle should remain OPEN (see photo above). Creating with Wikki Stix is a wonderful fine motor activity. Younger children may need assistance in finishing the monkey for the game.

If desired, the children can make the eyes, nose, or any other monkey facial features with additional Wikki Stix.

Banana Craft: Feed the Monkey – a Wikki Stix Fine Motor Game for Kids

Bananas Craft

Materials needed: Yellow Wikki Stix and scissors.

Have the children cut several strands of Wikki Stix in half. The children can fold each half over and form into a crescent (banana) shape. Make several Wikki Stix banana crafts as they will be used in playing the fine motor game.

Feed the Monkey – a Wikki Stix Fine Motor Game for Kids

To play the game: Press the Wikki Stix created monkey craft onto a small bowl or container (leaving the mouth hole just above the rim of the container). The Wikki Stix monkey craft will adhere to the container without the need for tape or glue. Put all of the small bananas inside a separate container. The object of the fine motor game is to transfer the created bananas into the monkey’s mouth with various utensils. In the photo above, our kids used tweezers to transfer the bananas from the container to the monkey’s mouth. Other suggested transfer utensils might include: a spoon, small tongs, fingers (pincer grasp enhancement), or chop sticks (more advanced fine motor).

By creating and playing with Wikki Stix, kids will garner the fine motor control that is so important for a successful beginning to the formal school years!

Jul
22

Creative Activities to Teach Colors with Wikki Stix

The ability to recognize and identify colors is an important developmental milestone for kids. Early identification helps young children make important brain connections with their physical world. With the Wikki Stix activities below (and a little practice), teaching colors to kids can be a fun and creative learning experience!

Creative Activities to Teach Colors with Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix Glasses and a Nature Colors Hunt

Materials needed: one Wikki Stix Colors printable (Download the Colors Printable pdf here) for each child (laminate or cover with clear contact paper for durability), clipboard, pencils or crayons, scissors, and assorted Wikki Stix for the children to make the glasses craft.

Set out assorted colors of Wikki Stix and invite the children to make the Wikki Stix glasses. The children should make two circles from two Wikki Stix. Cut another Wikki Stix in half and use it to connect the two circles (this piece will make the nose bridge). Have the children use 2 more Wikki Stix to form an ear piece on both sides of the circles. Make a “hook” around the ear with the remaining length of the Wikki Stix on each side. Younger children will need assistance in making their glasses.

When the glasses activity is finished, discuss the individual colors on the printable. Have the children wear their glasses outside to see which of the colors on the printable they can find in nature. The children can circle YES (or NO) if they are able to locate those colors while outside. Note: The children may wish to use a clipboard to hold the printable while outside on their colors hunt.

Extension Activity: Go on a colors hunt inside. Have the children wear their glasses and search for any items they can find that correspond to the colors on the printable. Come together after the search and discuss what items were found.

Gumball Machine Colors

Wikki Stix Gumball Machine Colors

Materials needed: one Wikki Stix Gumball Machine Colors printable (Download the Gumball Machine pdf here) for each child and Red/Yellow/Blue/Green/Purple/Pink/Orange/Brown/Black and White Wikki Stix.

Print the Gumball Machine for each child and laminate for durability. Set out the various colors of Wikki Stix on a table or tray. Invite the children to make a small ball with each color of Wikki Stix and place it inside the circles on the gumball machine. The color words are highlighted to help the children understand the connection between the color word and the color it represents. If desired, the children can mark off each color word with the corresponding colored Wikki Stix as each of the different balls are created.

Wikki Stix Colors Book

Wikki Stix Colors and Basic Shapes Printable Book

Materials needed: one printable book (Download the Colors Book pdf here), scissors, and Red/Yellow/Blue/Green/Purple/Pink/Orange/Brown/Black and White Wikki Stix.

Print the Colors Book for each child. Discuss the colors within the book with the children. Set out the assorted colors of Wikki Stix on a table or a tray. Invite the children to trace the shapes on each of the color pages with the corresponding color of Wikki Stix.

This is a great book to practice reading color words, to recognize basic shapes, and for identifying various colors.

Children are surrounded by colors every day! Learning to identify colors with the Wikki Stix activities above will open new opportunities to explore the beauty of all the colors in their world!

Jul
17

Wikki Stix Sunflower Life Cycle and Crafts for Kids!

Sunflowers are majestic and beautiful plants!

The activities below use Wikki Stix for playful learning at home or in the classroom! Come explore and create the sunflower’s life cycle, practice counting with sunflower seeds, and create a 3-D sunflower craft this summer!

Wikki Stix Sunflower Life Cycle and Crafts for Kids!
Wikki Stix Sunflower Life Cycle Paper Plate Craft

Materials needed: 1 Paper plate per child/life cycle craft, Yellow, Black, Orange, and Green Wikki Stix, scissors, sunflower seeds, and a marker or the printable (linked here) for labeling the craft.

Explain and discuss with the children the growth of a sunflower from seeds to a mature flower that contains more seeds. Remind the children that a life cycle repeats itself over and over again. Have the children divide the paper plate into four sections using Wikki Stix (as shown in photo above).

  1. The life cycle begins in the upper left corner. Have the children cut small pieces of Wikki Stix with scissors and place the sunflower seeds on top of the Wikki Stix inside that section. No glue is necessary as the seeds will adhere to the Wikki Stix.
  2. In the upper right corner of the paper plate, the children can make a small sprout using the green Wikki Stix.
  3. The lower right corner of the plate should contain a young plant. Have the children make make a larger green stem and leaves to resemble the young sunflower.
  4. To complete the life cycle, the children can make a flower with the seeds in the lower left hand corner of the plate.

The children can use markers to label their SUNFLOWER LIFE CYCLE or they can cut the labels from the printable above. The labels will adhere directly to the Wikki Stix without the need for glue.

Sunflower Seed Counting for Kids
Sunflower Counting Stix
Download Sunflower Counting Stix Labels PDF Here
Download the Sunflower Counting Stix Toppers PDF Here

Materials needed: Green Wikki Stix, scissors, sunflower counting labels (linked above), and sunflower seeds.

Print the sunflower counting stix toppers, laminate for durability, and cut out. Invite the children to create any number with Wikki Stix and place it on the sunflower topper. The flower toppers can then be adhered to one Wikki Stix strand. Invite the children to count out the number of sunflower seeds that corresponds to the number created on the topper.

Have the children stick the sunflower seeds directly on the Wikki Stix stem. The Wikki Stix will hold the sunflower seeds as the children practice counting. It is a great 1-to-1 Correspondence activity for young kids!

Extensions: Label the toppers with uppercase letters and the matching lowercase letters. The children can practice matching the uppercase to its corresponding lowercase letter. The toppers can also be used with sight words, word families, blends, or other words the children may be working on.

For older children: Have the children ADD or MULTIPLY two of the Wikki Stix numbered toppers to find the total. The children can then create the problem with Wikki Stix (ex: 4 + 4 = 8).

Sunflower Craft for Kids
Wikki Stix Sunflower Craft

Materials needed: Yellow, Orange, Green, and Black Wikki Stix, scissors, and sunflower seeds.

Invite the children to create by placing all the supplies out on a table or a tray. The orange and yellow Wikki Stix should be cut in half (younger children may need assistance).

To make the sunflower petals: fold ½ of a yellow or orange Wikki Stix over (leaving an opening) and pinch the bottom ends together. The children can pinch the top of the petal to form a point (see photo above).

To make the stem: twist 3 green Wikki Stix strands together. By twisting the Wikki Stix it will create the textured sunflower stem.

To form the center: make a black spiral by wrapping black Wikki Stix around itself. To make the center larger, continue wrapping black Wikki Stix in a spiral until the desired circle is made.

Seeds: press sunflower seeds onto the black center. The seeds will adhere to the Wikki Stix so no glue will be necessary. The sunflower seeds can also be made from white Wikki Stix if desired.

The Wikki Stix Sunflower activities are a great way to integrate fine motor skills into playful learning! The crafts are not only FUN to create, but they make wonderful summer displays at home or in the classroom!

Jul
07

Wikki Stix Created Dominoes: Early Math for Kids!

Wikki Stix Created Dominoes:  Early Math for Kids!

As an old English proverb goes, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention!” While packing classroom supplies at the end of our preschool year, I inadvertently packed our dominoes, too. They will resurface as I unpack for a new school year, but I wanted to use dominoes this summer to expand on the concepts of dot patterns, counting and correspondence, and basic math after reading Donald Crew’s book, Ten Black Dots. Since we use Wikki Stix regularly for playing and learning, we decided to create our own set of dominoes. Not only did our kids gain fine motor skills in creating with Wikki Stix, they were also incorporating many early math skills!

Wikki Stix Dominoes for Early Math
Wikki Stix Dominoes

Materials needed: Wikki Stix and scissors.
Invite the children to create by placing the Wikki Stix out on a table or a tray. One regular strand of Wiki Stix is needed to create the basic rectangle for the domino. Younger children may need assistance in creating the basic domino outline. The children can then fill in the rectangle by tracing inside the outline with additional Wikki Stix (see photo below).

Domino Outline

Once the rectangle is completely filled in, have the children cut a piece of Wikki Stix to divide the rectangle in half. The children can then make small balls or spirals from cut pieces of Wikki Stix for the domino dots. For our younger children, we set out dice so the children could copy the dot patterns to each side of the Wikki Stix dominoes. Invite the children to count out loud as they place each Wikki Stix dot on the dominoes.

Games to play with the Wikki Stix created Dominoes:

WS Domino Train for Early Math

Domino Trains – decide on any one number prior to creating the domino train. Invite the children to place the dominoes in a straight line on the floor until the total number of dots counted is equal to that predetermined number. The number can be any number(s) the children have had introduced. For a math center, have the children make Wikki Stix numerals on index cards. The children must draw one number card at a time and create a domino train that corresponds to that number (can be done individually or in a small group). To print an ENGINE for the domino trains, see the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES section below.

Sink the Wikki Stix Domino – label several plastic or paper cups with a Wikki Stix created numbers. Label the cups with any numbers that correspond to the number of dots on the Wikki Stix dominoes created in the activity above. Have the children count the dots on both sides of a Wikki Stix domino, add the number of dots together, and place it in the corresponding numbered cup.

Domino Early Math Addition with Wikki Stix

Addition, Subtraction (Multiplication/Division) – to help encourage transferring and basic counting skills, give each child a plain sheet of paper and invite them to create the outline of a domino. Our kids used one strand of Wikki Stix for the top, one strand for the bottom, and one-half a Wikki Stix for the center line of a domino. Pass out one of the Wikki Stix created dominoes (from the activity above) and invite the children to make additional Wikki Stix balls or spirals to recreate the number of dots on the paper. As the children gain skills in creating and counting numbers of dots, they can begin to add the sides of the domino together (see photo above).

Domino Multiplication for Early Childhood Math

For older children: the children can practice multiplication/division skills with the Wikki Stix created dominoes. For division, the larger number on the domino would be used first (example: 4 /2 = 2).

Domino Literacy for Early Childhood Education

Domino Literacy Extension Activities

  • Create upper or lowercase letters on the Wikki Stix dominoes for a matching activity.
  • Create word families or sight words on the Wikki Stix dominoes.

Using Wikki Stix with math is FUN for the kids, but it also allows for the additional tactile layer that enhances learning. Involving our kids in the creating process allowed them to integrate basic math (and literacy) skills as we played with our own crafted domino set!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

For more Wikki Stix Math Activities with Dots – see 5 and Ten Frame activities here!
For an entire early math lesson plan click here!
For a printable ENGINE for the domino trains click here!

About the Author:
Darla Hutson is co-founder of The Preschool Toolbox. She has taught children (infant to age 7) at home for the past 30 years. Darla writes primarily at The Preschool Toolbox Blog offering activities and early childhood curriculum for playful learning.

Jul
01

Wikki Stix Patriotic Ojo de Dios (God’s Eye) Craft for Kids!

History of the Ojo de Dios (pronounced “oh-ho-day-dee-ohs”): The Ojos de Dios (commonly known as the God’s Eye) were originally crafted by the Huichol Indians in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. The God’s eyes were created from two crossed sticks with fibers woven around the center and outward. The 4 stick points symbolized: earth, air, fire, and water. According to tradition, a father would make the craft upon the birth of a child. For each year of life (up to age 5), the father would weave a new “eye” or section of the craft. The craft represented a special prayer that “God’s Eye” would watch over the child and bring health, wealth, and a long life. As a symbol of Patriotism, the Ojo de Dios craft is a wonderful way to represent God’s watchful eye over our great Nation!

Wikki Stix is the perfect weaving material for the Ojo de Dios! The Wikki Stix will adhere to the sticks making glue unnecessary while simplifying the weaving process for kids!
Wikki Stix Patriotic Ojo de Dios (God’s Eye) Craft for Kids!
Wikki Stix Patriotic Ojo de Dios (God’s Eye) Craft for Kids!
Materials needed: two sticks (paper or plastic straws, real sticks, or craft sticks) and assorted Wikki Stix.
Patriotic Ojo de Dios (God’s Eye) Craft for Kids!

To make the God’s Eye:

  1. Choose two sticks and make an intersection that forms a cross (+).
  2. Begin securing the sticks by wrapping the Wikki Stix around the intersection. Secure the end of a Wikki Stix behind any one stick (straw). Wrap from underneath and over that stick toward the next stick. The wrapping pattern is over, underneath, and over to the next stick. Remind the children to wrap tightly around all 4 sticks. Children may need assistance in beginning the craft and learning the basic wrapping pattern. The same weaving pattern remains throughout the craft. Once the children understand the pattern, it will be easy for them to complete the craft. (see video below for assistance).
  3. Super Wikki Stix work better for this craft than regular Wikki Stix, but regular ones can be used (see video below).
    Insert Wikki Stix New Eye Picture here
  4. To create a new “eye” for the craft, just have the children stop at the end of one color and begin again with a new color of Wikki Stix.
  5. When finished wrapping, simply press the end of the Wikki Stix behind the craft. The Wikki Stix will adhere to each other so there is no need to “knot” the Wikki Stix end.

The Wikki Stix Ojo de Dios crafts make great displays at home or in the classroom for Patriotic holidays (or any holiday). If you reside outside of the United States, choose colors that will represent your own nation for special events or holidays. If you know of someone who has recently had a baby, the craft is a wonderful gift that children can give! May “God’s Eye” watch over our nations and our children for peace and prosperity!

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