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Life Cycles and Young Children

Happy Spring, y'all! I'm Karen from Little Smarticle Particles, and I'm thrilled that Denise is letting me share some fun ideas for teaching and learning about life cycles with your little ones.

First of all... do you think you are not a "science person"? No problem. Children are naturally curious about the world around them, so science concepts are a natural fit (especially when it comes to critters).

Secondly...(I have to get on my soapbox for a moment), as a veteran teacher and a mother of grown children, I have to tell you that the most important thing that you can do for your children is to talk to them. Have conversations. Listen to them. Stop and show them stuff and explain how it works. You don't have to be technical. It is my firm belief that when parents talk to their children and read to them (daily!), they are setting them up for academic success.

But I know you already do this. How do I know, you ask? Because you are already a step ahead of the game by visiting Buck & Chuck!

So... let's get this party started. I have found that one of the best ways to get things rolling is with a good read aloud. I happen to love just about any book by Gail Gibbons. She is my go-to author for all things non-fiction. She is also the illustrator, and she labels her illustrations... (yay! as a science teacher, I'm all about the labeling).

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Let me backtrack for a moment. When my children were small I read to the regularly. I love to read, and I wanted to them to love to read as well. But, what I noticed was that each of my two children were very different. My daughter could sit in my lap all day and be read to, while my son would only sit still for so long. Sound familiar? 

So here's the secret: adapt to them. If they can sit for a while, read the text word for word. Track the text with your finger and take time to discuss the pictures. If you have a little one that doesn't sit still for long then summarize. Hit the highlights. Look at the pictures and describe what is on the page. Ask them questions and let them ask you questions. If you don't get the entire book read, no worries. Read it in chunks. A little here, a little there.

Another fun idea for teaching young children is with play. I saw these fun toys at a workshop and knew I had to have them. Luckily I won a door prize and got to pick what I wanted. Yay!!

When you talk about these toys, be sure to use the words hatchling, chick, chicken, and hen. It won't be long until you notice that when they play with them, they will also be using the proper vocabulary. You can always ask questions that lead your kiddo to sequence the the figurines with the words first, next, last, finally, etc... Your kiddo will be learning valuable skills that go way beyond just knowing about life cycles! These life cycle toys are from Safariology. They also have sets available for butterflies, ladybugs, frogs, plants, and quite a few more. 

While I love my Safariology toys, at $9.99 a set, they can get a bit pricey. about a freebie?
I've created a set of sequencing life cycle cards for chickens, frogs, and butterflies. Each card also has an arrow that can be cut out. Use these arrows to arrange the cards in sequential order and reinforce the concept that a cycle happens over and over. Just copy them on cardstock, cut, and your ready to go!

 I hope you enjoyed my post... have fun learning and exploring with your little one!



Four Fun Ways to Play with Plastic Eggs

Plastic eggs: they're not just for treats anymore! I'm here for a visit with not one, not two, not even three, but four super fun ways to use those gorgeous little jellybean holders that don't have anything to do with jellybean holding :)

Hi, Buck and Chuck buddies! My name is Cara. I'm a stay-at-home momma, homeschool preschool teacher, professional sock matcher, Instagram addict, and blogger. You can usually find me over at, but I'm so excited to be here with you guys! My four-year-old super cool daughter, Kinley, and I have been testing egg activities (egg-tivities?) all week, and I think we have narrowed them down to the top four most egg-citing ideas.

If you are like me, every single year you want to throw all of those cute little plastic eggs away when Easter is over, but they are just too bright and colorful so you just throw them in a tote and save them for next year. But then next year comes and Target has a brand-new egg color scheme and you need those fresh new eggs, too. Is that just me? Well...this is embarrassing. Okay, so even if you aren't a pretty plastic egg hoarder, we can agree that 99 cents is a small price to pay for four educational/incredibly fun and entertaining ideas, right? Oh, good :)

Let's get started!

First up, Plastic Egg STEM.

Leaning Tower of Eggs

Okay, I know what you are thinking-- How exciting can stacking egg halves be?

When I saw this idea from The Resourceful Mama on Pinterest, I was skeptical, too, but I swear it's wayy more fun than it looks. Like your little human is going to plead with you to play this game every. single. day. kind of fun.

Kinley and I had competitions all week to try and build the highest stack without those wobbly eggs falling over. We tried making stacks of just tops, and just bottoms. We tried big Easter eggs and small Easter eggs. We had about a million speed stacking races. We counted them and kept track of our record numbers (she still reigns supreme with a whopping 37!) and tried sorting the eggs by color and then making stacks out of each sorted pile. There were many conversations about different methods we could use to help our towers stay standing and what made them fall.

Basically, we used this game to practice just about every preschool math and engineering (and a heck of a lot of fine motor) skill you can think of. And we had a blast doing it!

Four super nimble thumbs-up from these girls :)

Let's move on to Plastic Egg Art.

Plastic Egg Process Art

While you are at it with the egg halves, break out some paint and let's get a little bit messy! This project really couldn't be any simpler. Squirt paint on plate. Dip half egg in paint. Stamp egg on paper. Voila! :)

Process art concepts sometime seem too simple to hold a little one's attention, but once you try it you realize that your kiddo doesn't need extra instructions to get creative and have fun. I even like to make my own process art right alongside Kinley. It's so relaxing to just paint or draw or stamp and not worry about perfection.

Just in case you don't know what process art is, I'll give you a quick rundown. Process art focuses on the fun of making the art, instead of focusing on the end product. Instead of showing your kiddo a craft to copy, you give him materials and maybe a simple prompt and then step back and let him do it, his way.

Kinley made a rainbow with her egg stamps, and then she tried dipping them in paint and dragging them around and they made really cool egg shapes that almost looked like they had been sponge-painted. There's no wrong way to make plastic egg art!

If you wanna try another plastic egg process art project, I just posted one on my blog the other day. This one involves wiggling and shaking, and turns out some gorgeous results.

I'm not finished yet! Plastic egg activity #3: Literacy/Large Motor/Super Incredibly Fun!

ABC Egg Hunt

Kinley cannot get enough of this game. She asks to play it over and over again. It's the last thing she asks about when she is headed off to dreamland, and the first thing she requests when she wakes up. And how can I say no? After 3 days of playing this game nonstop, she has mastered 5 of the 6 letters she has trouble identifying. It works!

All you need are some eggs and one of these foam ABC puzzles from Dollar Tree. If you don't have a Dollar Tree near you, just fill your eggs with letter magnets or make your own letters out of cardstock. I made a version of this game for St. Patrick's Day with cardstock gold coins and letter stickers from the Target One Spot. I even made a puzzle mat to match the letters to by tracing the paper coins on a white sheet of paper and attaching matching letter stickers to each traced coin. If you want to see what that looked like, I posted a pic on Instagram.

It's really easy-- just put one letter in each egg, choose one room of your house so the hunt doesn't get too frustrating, and hide all of those eggs. We like to do a couple of hard ones, but mostly ones that can be seen without moving things around. Then, you just set your kiddo loose to go on a finding frenzy. Kinley likes when I use my phone to time her egg hunts and she is constantly trying to beat her own record.

After all of the eggs are found, we crack open the eggs and K puts them in the puzzle. As an extra added level of difficulty, I won't let her pop the letter in its spot until she's named it. If she doesn't know it I tell her, but she still has to say it out loud. I think this is what has made a difference with her hard six letters. You could also use this to practice letter sounds.

If you are missing some puzzle letters, send that little egg hunter back in to find the ones that have been left behind.

And then repeat. Again and again and againnnnn.

Yay, letters! Well, that was fun, but I have one last super incredibly fun and versatile use for those pretty plastic eggs.

Sensory/Fun Bin time!

Egg Hunt Bin

When I say we love bins, that is an understatement. I make one for every holiday and unit that we work on, and Kinley is always excited no matter what the filler is. Usually, I go more sensory heavy (water beads, sand, shaving cream, even jingle bells) but we also love a good small world or imagination bin. This one is kind of a mix of all of that!

I filled up our giant bin with four different kinds of super cheap Easter grass--green and orange regular plastic kind, pink polka dotted paper kind, and that pretty iridescent clear kind. Kinley loves to dig in this stuff and she has since she had her first Easter bin when she was just a tiny girl. Picture this stuff strewn from one corner of the room to the other like confetti and a grinning little stinker standing right in the middle of it with Easter grass sticking out of her hair. That's pretty much everyday :) I don't mind a giant mess, as long as it provided at least 15 minutes of fun, and this bin is good for wayyyy more than that.

Other than Easter grass, I put K's first Easter basket in there and a cute little wind-up bunny and chick that we have affectionately named Buck and Chuck ;) and EGGS, of course. I just have Kinley shut her eyes and I hide them under all that beautiful grass for her to dig out.

Finding empty eggs didn't seem very fun, so I came up with a few egg-filler ideas for you:
  • small toys (Shopkins, Tsum Tsums, bouncy balls, finger puppets, fake bugs, etc)
  • letters or numbers, just like the literacy activity
  • slips of paper with wiggle prompts/questions written on them ( "Find something red and bring it to me." "Do 10 jumping jacks." "What's your favorite movie?" etc.)
  • puzzle pieces, one in each egg and complete the puzzle as you open eggs
I broke this bin out for Kinley today, and she opened and reopened those same eggs filled with small toys at least 7 times. And she acted completely shocked and surprised every single time, bless her hilarious little heart :)

I think I'm going to start making one surprise egg a day with a Hershey Kiss or some special treat in it, so she will be actually, for real surprised. And I'm gonna keep brainstorming egg ideas. I'm planning on switching out the fillers every couple of days to keep it fun and interesting.

Well, you guys, I hope you are feeling inspired and ready to get your Easter egg on. Who knew 99 cents could provide so many hours of entertainment? Hey, you might even be able to get to that ginormous pile of clean laundry sitting in the basket waiting to be folded while your little ones are busy painting and hunting and stacking. Here's hopping....wait, hoping? Here's hoping! :)

Happy Easter, y'all!

Wanna have more fun with us?


Resurrection Egg Garland & Other EGG-cellent Easter Ideas!

Easter is quickly approaching & I'm grateful for the potent reminders this season brings. In this family we are BIG fans of bunnies and eggs and baskets [check out our EPIC Easter baskets here!]. However, we feel strongly that it's super important that we are intentional about making Easter about Christ's resurrection. Can you think of a more FABULOUS reason to celebrate?

For Christmas this year, I was really grateful I had chosen to do an advent activity! It seems appropriate to do the same for Easter, so I decided I would combine the popular idea of Resurrection Eggs with something that I could hang for daily reminders. I came up with Resurrection Egg Garland! The garland has 12 eggs that the kiddos decorated on the outside. On the inside, there is a clipart image and a scripture reference.

My plan for delivery is super simple: Each day, starting 12 days before Easter (Easter being the 12th day), we will reference one garland egg and dive into that specific part of the Easter story. I plan to read directly from my Bible and then tell the story in my own words, using images from our Easter books. I plan to use some sort of object or experience to to make each story slightly more concrete. For example, I'll let them taste vinegar or touch the point of nail. By Easter, the kiddos will have heard the entire Easter story, probably a dozen or more times! That's it!

To simplify this process for you, I created a downloadable file! Aaand it's FREE! I hope this activity helps guide your family though the greatest story ever! And I'd LOVE to see how YOURS turns out! Make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

One more thing:

Today, I'm linking up with some other bloggy buddies to bring you several EGG-CELLENT ideas for Easter fun with your littles! Just click on the photos to read more from these creative mommy bloggers!!

Easter Bunny Carrot Treat 

from A Boy & His Mom

Easter Bunny Alphabet Game FREEBIE
from Resources By Mrs. Roltgen

Resurrection Egg Garland [Freebie]
from Buck & Chuck

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
from Oh My Gee

Vegan Bunny Pancakes
from The Mama Journey

Pretty Easter Wreath
from Real Life Mama Drama

Easter Themed Sensory Bin
from Kenz and Matt


How to Teach about Life Cycles

Happy Spring, everyone! I'm Andrea from Right Down the Middle Blog, and I am excited to be here with you today.

Have you ever seen the face of a child when a plant begins to sprout? Or have you witnessed their curiosity while watching a caterpillar transform into a beautiful butterfly? Spring is the perfect time to teach your child about life cycles because there are so many around us that are happening all at once.

Life cycles are around us everywhere, and they serve as teachable moments whether you are a homeschool parent, a classroom teacher, or a parent taking advantage of a learning moment. There are numerous life cycles you can examine: the life cycle of a plant, a butterfly, a chicken, a ladybug, a frog, and so many more. What is so awesome about teaching about life cycles is there are so many ways to teach it and incorporate the lesson into your everyday life.

Here are several of the best ways to teach your child about life cycles.

#1: Hands-On Activities

Children love to learn using their hands. By using their hands, they are active and alert. They feel they are a vital part of the lesson when they are engaged in the learning.

One way you can easily incorporate a hands-on approach to teaching life cycles is by actually planting something with your child and watch it grow. Your lesson will be more memorable, and it is definitely time well spent together.

To grow a plant, here are some supplies you will need: potting soil or soil from the back yard, a container (the size will depend on how big the plant is expected to grow), seeds (I recommend seeds that will begin to grow within a five to ten day window), and water.

One of the seeds we planted together. 

Take a step back and let your little one take over the planting process by allowing them to follow your directions. Children of all ages can put the soil in the container, plant the seeds, and water it. Since the seeds will not grow overnight into a plant, this allows your child to observe the process over the course of about a week. It also gives your child an opportunity to water the plant every day (just a little bit) to really focus and observe the changes that will begin to take place.

We planted four different seeds to observe. 

#2: Read about It

The library is full of books with illustrations and information to capture your child's attention.

One of my favorite books to use while teaching the life cycle of a butterfly is Eric Carl's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My daughter absolutely loved this book! The illustrations really draw the reader into the book and take the reader through metamorphosis of a butterfly.

Another favorite book, From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons, presents a simple explanation of the life cycle of a plant. In the book, the reader learns how many things around them produce seeds and the seeds transform into what we see around us everyday. There is also a plant explanation in this book.

#3: Investigate It

The internet serves as a great tool for teaching about life cycles. You can find videos on YouTube on the different life cycles that are short, informative, and entertaining for your little one. 

Depending on the age of your child, have him or her research a certain life cycle. Through actively learning new information, your child will be able to use the newfound knowledge to tell you and others about life cycles around them. 

Here is a FREEBIE for you to use with your little one. It is a mini-book where the child will Draw It, Write about It!, and Label It! 

Thank you for letting me share with you today some ways to teach your child about life cycles. 

Connect with Me:
Teachers Pay Teachers:
Instagram: @rightdownthemiddle 


Genres Interactive Bulletin Board

I'm back at it! Last month, I shared the bulletin board my bestie "let" me do for Black History Month. If you missed it, here's what you need to know: I'm a SAHM who loves to create and my best friend is a teacher with one million other things to do, so I got to create THIS beaut for her February board! It was such a hit with teachers and student alike, that I decided for March I would follow the same format. Why reinvent the wheel, amiright?!

This month, we're switching gears and focusing on Genres. I chose this theme because it's applicable across grade levels so it can be appropriate for lots of kiddos in the hallway. Plus, it's a great topic to review before those dreaded ever-anticipated standardized tests roll around!

I present to you my What's That Genre? bulletin board!

Like last months board, this board has interactive flaps with a question on the outside and the answer on the inside. Half of the twenty flaps for this board have a title and description of a book. The students use both to decide which genre they think it fits in!

Also like last month's board, I incorporated word scramble cards, where the students will use the scrambled letters + a description of the genre to determine the genre. These make up the other 10 cards.

The ten genres included are: Folktales, Fairy Tales, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Fantasy, Poetry, Historical Fiction, Fable, Realistic Fiction, and Mystery.

Finally, of course, the set includes the extra little tid bits you'll need to bring the board together: The "Name That Genre" title letters, the "Identifying Genres" poster! I'm looking forward to seeing the kiddos interact with this one as much as they did with last month's!

To follow my adventures in teaching at home, raising Kingdom kids, and balancing this crazy Mom Life, plus random journeys back into the school, make sure to follow me on Instagram and BlogLovin'! Use the teeny icons on the top left! 

105 Ideas for an EPIC Toddler Easter Basket!

Does anybody else go ALL IN when it's time for Easter baskets? I LOVE loading them down with goodies for the kids -- but my number one goal is to AVOID the candy-palooza that is all too easy to fall into. Two years ago, I shared a post with ideas for Baby Boy's First Easter. If you have a little bitty boy OR girl at home, I totally recommend checking that one out!

Last year, I pulled a "Bad Mom" and ducked out for Easter weekend. I know. Shame on me for lounging by the pool with my bestie in the Caribbean while my husband tackled bowties and buckle shoes.

It was worth it.

This year, though, I'm staying in town and so excited to share this weekend with the kiddos! April will be filled with tons of Easter activities, heavily focused on the true reason for the celebration, so make sure to check back for fun ideas for sharing with your tot!

In the meantime, I'm busy building the most epic Easter baskets ever. Here's a Tip: Think of fun things your kiddos need and that you'd end up buying anyway. Then shove them in a basket for an extra fun-stuffed celebration! Know that our baskets are filled with tons of items that have been on our shopping list anyway, plus some other fun goodies the kids will go gaga over. I considered SO. MANY items this year. Any items with links are my personal recommendations (and a few from friends)! If there's a link, you can bet that I stand by that product. Items with asterisks (*) are the items that ended up in one or both of my kiddos' baskets! [Disclaimer: This post does contain affiliate links].

For your shopping pleasure, here's ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE ideas for building an Epic Easter Basket!

Health & Hygiene
Hair brush
Hair Gel*
Disposable table mats for restaurants
Hair ties
Kids Hand soap

Outdoor Fun
Fishing Pole
Walkie Talkies
Gardening supplies*
Sand toys
Velcro catch and toss game*

Spring & Summer Gear

Sun Screen
Flip Flops

A beta or gold fish!

Crafting & Fine Motor
Colored pencils
Toddler/jumbo pencils
Window Markers [See one way we used these here!]
Wiggly Eyes*
Pipe Cleaners
Window Clings
Play Dough
Coloring Book
Clip Board
Finger Paint
Paint Brushes*

Hot Wheels*
CDs or iTunes gift cards
Duplo Legos
Stuffed Animal*
Mr. Potato Head

Pretend Play
Feather Boa
Dress up Clothes
Play Jewelry*
Doctor Set
Play tools
Baby Doll
Doll Accessories

Bath Goodies
Bubble Bath
Wash Cloths [We got the little kind you add water to and they expand]*
Bath Mitt
Bath Scoops

The Practical Stuff
Fun Socks
Sound Machine
Fun Pillow Case

Potty Training
A jar of potty treats (ok, so this one may be candy!)
Potty book

Bow tie
Fake Tattoos
A watch*

And that's 105! I'd love to hear your ideas, too! What's going in your kiddos' Easter Baskets?? Connect with me on Instagram so we can stay in touch!


Saint Patrick's Day Math from Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets

You know how the simplest ideas are sometimes the BEST?! I know. Sometimes I seriously need reminding that having a good time with my kiddos, and providing fun, engaging, and MEANINGFUL activities doesn't have to be a Pinterest-buster (that's a thing I just invented). THAT is why I'm so grateful for today's guest blogger, Tricia from Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets, who has already inspired some SUPER SIMPLE and fun activities in our home! 

[I blew this hundreds chart up at, then printed & laminated at home].
Today Tricia's bringing you some Saint Patrick's Day math ideas for kids. As you can see, we've already implemented them! Welcome, Tricia!

St Patrick Day Math Ideas and Freebies for Kids

Shamrocks, Leprechauns and Gold Glitter... 

all celebratory symbols of March's greatest holiday! 

When I taught First and Second Grade, Mr. Leprechaun would visit our classroom leaving teeny tiny green glittered footprints everywhere, turning desks over and flipping anchor charts upside down in search of his gold. Many years, he also locked me in the closet only to be rescued by 26 giggling students. Oooo...the memories!

Top of the Morning! I'm Tricia, creator of Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets where Math is made easy, differentiated and engaging. I am thrilled to guest post today for Buck and Chuck on this glorious spring day.

So how can we take the magic and excitement of St Patrick's Day and integrate it with math? Easy!  Let's chat!

First repeat this manta after me.... "Math can be fun and easy!" 

Just adding the smallest little spark or turning a math topic into a little game, can bring excitement and joy to a child's learning.  As I always say, when practice feels like can be a win-win.  

As far as the "easy" many people say, "I'm not good at Math" or "I never understand Math." Ok ready for a little secret.   Come close... I was never a good student in Not...At...All! There were numerous nights spent at the kitchen table next to Daddy crying.  It was hard and I felt horrible!  And now...I am a math teacher.  

So here is why it works: I am able to scaffold and teach the lesson in parts.  Start easy and small and then when my students are "getting it," I kick it up a notch with the numbers or the concept.  Plus I also have great empathy and understanding on my students.  We say tons of Math Mantras and songs in class so we are always working on building confidence and our best self at the same time. 

Today I teach math to grades K-5.  Every Friday we celebrate "Fun Friday."  In fact, that is how I greet my kiddos at the door on Friday.  "Good Morning!  Happy Fun Friday"... and they answer me back the same way... it's awesome to see them so excited coming into the classroom.  Whatever our lesson is for the day... fractions, ballpark estimates, tally marks, word problems... I add any little game I can to the lesson.  Get a problem correct (independently or with support)... awesome... you get two tries to bowl or throw a basketball in the trash basket.  The excitement that day is electrifying and the students can not wait to try a problem.

Now comes the spin of adding a holiday to our math fun. 
Look at what I picked up at The Dollar Tree for a total of $2.00! 

St Patricks Day Math Fun and Freebies

With all the fabulous manipulatives at Target, Joanne's, Michael's, The Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby (to name a few) it is easy and cheap to pick up darling shamrock erasers and use them as counters or game pieces.  

Click for Freebie Counting Mats!
I will use these adorable purchases to count by 5s and 10s as well as other things like addition word problems and asking kiddos to draw tally marks to match the picture of items I put out.  The uses really are endless and the kids are so excited about the holiday and the sparkle, our math time goes much faster.

I love creating math resources full of games, puzzles and color by number to help children practice their math skills independently. I created an addition color puzzle just for you below!

Click on the image below to grab two cutie Leprechaun Addition Math Fun Practice Sheets

And so there is...a few fun ways to integrate St Patrick's Day and Math Fun at the same time.
It was wonderful getting a chance to share with you.
Now it is your turn... How do you like to get kids excited about St Patrick's Day and learning?

Tricia from Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets
I'd love to connect with you

TPT’s Terrific Teaching Trinkets
Math St Patrick's Day Fun for 6 and 7 year olds

Are you interested in being a guest blogger for Buck & Chuck? Click here for details! To follow my adventures in teaching at home, raising Kingdom kids, and balancing this crazy Mom Life, make sure to follow me on Instagram and BlogLovin'! Use the teeny icons on the top left!