I am always looking for activities that incorporate reading and writing in a fun way. When I saw this activity, I knew there was potential for a variety of learning. The Secret Message activity will expose your child to science, reading, writing, spelling, and even math. At the bottom of this post, I explain how to use this activity to expose your child to different subject matters.
This activity is quick, simple, and uses materials you probably have in your home. Get ready to share a surprise with your little one.
Let’s Get Started!
Use a white crayon to write a secret message on a white sheet of paper.
You may draw pictures, notes, letters, numbers, etc.
Have your child use watercolor paints to brush over the paper.
The watercolor paints will reveal the secret message.
Your child should delight in discovering the mystery message.
Other ways to use this activity
This is a fun way to have your child practice letters, shapes, and number formation.
Write a vocabulary word on the paper and practice using the word during the day.
Practice reading skills by writing a note to your child and have them read it.
Surprise a love one or a friend with a fun greeting message.
Discuss the science of this activity by explaining that colored water paint reveals the message because the white crayon is written on white paper.
Many parents are successful at teaching their children manners through modeling the behavior or reminding kids to use them. This post brings a fun, hands-on approach to teaching manners. The games/activities below can be a supplement to what you are already teaching your children at home. These are great group activities to play with young kids. I hope you find these helpful!
Let’s get started!
Please and Thank You Game
The following game will teach your child when to say Please and Thank you.
3 Stuffed Animals or 3 Action Figures
Explain to your child that Please should be used with any request such as…
When your child wants a drink
They should say “May I PLEASE have a drink?”
If the child is very young then they can say “Drink, please.”
Explain to your child that Thank you is used when they receive an item, favor, or an act of kindness.
For example, children should use it when someone gives them a drink, a gift, or when they have visited someone’s home.
Start the activity by having your child gather their stuffed animals and action figures.
Cut 3 rectangles out of the paper.
Write the word, Doing, on one rectangle and then tape it on the front of one stuffed animal or action figure.
The Doing toy’s job is to role play the scenarios with your child.
Write the word, Thank you, on one rectangle and then tape it on the front of one stuffed animal or action figure.
The Thank you toy’s job is to say Thank you in the scenario if needed.
Write the word, Please, on one rectangle and then tape it on the front of one stuffed animal or action figure.
The Please toy’s job is to say Please in the scenario if needed.
Create four scenarios where the child will have to role play and identify when to use Thank you or Please like the examples below…
The Doing Toy just shared his snack with your child. (Answer – say Thank you)
The Doing Toy would like a banana. What should the toy say? (Answer – May I please have a banana?) (Another option is Banana please).
Your child spilled the Legos on the floor and the Doing Toy helped your child clean up. (Answer – say Thank you)
The Doing toy wants to play at the playground. What should the toy say? (Answer – Can you take me to the playground, please?)
Role play the scenarios above (or scenarios you have created) one at a time with the toys and your child.
Below is an example of how the role play should be played. Let use the first scenario as an example..
The child and Doing toy should role play the following scenario – The Doing Toy just shared his snack with your child.
Now the child should decide if the Thank you toy or Please toy is needed.
In this scenario, the child should get the Thank you toy to say Thank you to the Doing toy.
If your child is confused about whether to use the Thank you toy or Please toy help them to determine the correct answer.
Repeat steps 9-10 with the scenarios given in number 8. You may also create your own scenarios.
This activity gives kids a reminder to cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze.
The child’s arm
Explain to your child that it is important to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of germs.
Germs can cause others to get sick.
The best way to stop the spread of germs is to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
If you don’t have time to get a tissue, then use SUPER V!!!
SUPER V is when you cough and sneeze into the inner crease of your elbow.
When do you this, your arm forms the letter V.
Pretend that you are sneezing or coughing and model to your child how to cover their mouth.
As you model how to cover your mouth, say SUPER V like it is a superhero!
Have your child practice saying and doing the SUPER V mouth cover position.
Every time your child really coughs or sneeze, say SUPER V!
If your child is not into superheroes then create something else like the PRINCESS SHIELD to help them remember to cover their mouths.
Excuse Me Game
This game will teach your child when it is appropriate to say Excuse Me.
Something that makes a loud noise like a bell, drum, whistle, or kazoo
Child’s stuffed animals, action figures, or other toys
Explain to your child that Excuse Me should be used in the following situations…
To get another person’s attention
When you need to get around someone and they are in your pathway.
When you have bumped into someone or accidentally stepped on their foot.
During an acceptable interruption
For example, if mom is talking to someone and the young child needs to go to the bathroom.
When you burp or pass gas
After explaining step 1, role play the situations with your child (using yourself and child as the actors for practice).
Next get your child’s toys.
Give your child a loud noise maker of your choice such as a bell, drum, whistle, or kazoo.
Use the child’s toys to role play each scenario in number 1 and scenarios where Excuse Me is not needed such as…
You give your child a snack.
Your child wants to go outside and play.
After role playing each scenario with the toys, give the child two choices in which to respond…
If saying Excuse Me is an appropriate response to the scenario, then the child should use their noise maker and next say Excuse Me.
Is Excuse Me is NOT the appropriate response to the scenario, then the child can say NO!
For example, you role play that one action figure burps and your child has a drum.
The child should play the drum and then say Excuse Me.
Keep playing the game with various scenarios.
No Interruptions Game
This activity uses the concept of Shaping to teach kids to be patient while parents are talking to others in person or on the phone. Shaping is a technique many counselors use to teach kids new behaviors or skills. It allows you to build a desired behavior in children using small steps. Once the child has mastered a step, then move to the next one.
One of the child’s stuffed animal, action figure, or other toy
Pretend or toy telephone
Explain to your child that interruption is when they talk while someone else is talking.
Interrupting is considered rude unless it is an acceptable interruption such as…
You have to go to the bathroom
You or someone is hurt.
Some kids interrupt their parents for attention or they think the conversation topic with the other adult is boring.
Start the No Interruptions Game by getting your child’s toy and the telephone.
Tell your child they can’t talk to you until the timer goes off.
If this is a struggle for them, suggest ideas to keep them busy like counting, playing with a toy, or just listening.
Set the timer to 20 seconds.
Pretend you are on the phone while the timer is going.
After the times goes off, tell your child they can talk.
If your child does NOT interrupt you within the 20 second period, then next time increase the time to 30 seconds and so on.
Do this until you get to a desired time like 5 minutes.
If your child talks to you before the timer goes off, then try the activity again with the timer set to a lesser time like 10 seconds and work from there.
The following is a guest post from my dear friend, Danielle Jerz. She is an attorney, wife, and a mom of two children, ages four and 1.
This post is a great guide on how to introduce our kids to new experiences in a fun and engaging way!
Does my child really need glasses?
My 3-year-old, DJ, needed glasses. He’d failed an eye test (common tests for toddlers include retinoscopy or Spot Vision Testing Camera) at his 12-month appointment, and a pediatric ophthalmologist suggested we check again 2 years later to see if his eye issues would self-correct.
By 3, DJ was playing t-ball and soccer, he did not hold books too closely, he did not frequently rub his eyes, and he enjoyed learning in preschool. He never complained of difficulty seeing or of headaches, and he passed his visual acuity eye chart test.
So, when we returned to the pediatric ophthalmologist shortly after his 3rd birthday, it came as a surprise to us that his vision issues had not, in fact, improved and that he needed glasses. His doctor told us that if he wore eyewear now, he might not need to in the future. So, we decided to give it a try.
Neither my husband nor I wear glasses, so we were entirely clueless about where to start. As a parent, a million thoughts went through my head: Will he wear the glasses? What will be the consequences if he refuses? Will he be embarrassed? Would he understand why he needed glasses? Will he be teased? The last question was of real concern since most of us know how upsetting childhood taunts can be.
So, I started researching where many people start these days – GOOGLE. While there was plenty of information out there about children wearing glasses, most of what I could find was geared towards older, school-age children. But my child was a toddler or a young preschooler, with challenges and needs quite different than a child 3 or 4 times his age (a 9- or 12-year-old).
How I Got my 3-Year-Old to Wear Glasses
I explained to DJ why he needed glasses. He seemed to understand, but when I asked him if glasses were cool, he matter-of-factly replied “no.” So, I slowly started to set the stage for DJ and his new glasses. Before he was even fitted for glasses, I tried to point out every adult friend, relative, stranger, cartoon character, or person in a television commercial who was wearing glasses.
I would turn to DJ and enthusiastically say look: Aunt Angela is wearing glasses. Doesn’t she look cool? Or, look at the little boy on television with glasses. I think his glasses look so sharp. Or, (your cousin) McKenzi wears glasses, do you think they look really nice? And slowly but surely, his adamant “no’s!” became emphatic “yeah’s!” Glasses were cool!
My husband and I even ordered costume glasses to wear around the house, so they wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary. We wouldn’t announce that we were going to wear them. We would just put them on and wait to see if DJ even noticed. Surprisingly, he may have only asked about mom’s and dad’s “glasses” on one or 2 occasions.
How We Found the Glasses
Because we knew next to nothing about purchasing eyewear, we decided to find an eyeglass store that carried a large variety of toddler-sized glasses. I didn’t know this at the time, but most eyeglass stores that you may find in a mall or big box retailer don’t carry preschool size glasses. You really need to go to a specialty retailer, so we chose My Eye Doctor.
I knew I wanted something for DJ that would survive all the fun things that boisterous 3-year-old boys do, so I researched brands with light, flexible, and kid-friendly frames. I also wanted durable frames because I had a feeling DJ’s one-year old little sister might get ahold of them a time or 2, and I didn’t want her to accidently break them.
At our appointment, the sales associate showed us some of the popular children’s glasses. I told DJ that he could pick out the color, but I would pick out the frame. I figured he might not be equipped to tell what styles fit well with his slender face, prominent chin, and large brown eyes, but he could have the freedom to pick the color since he would be the one wearing them every day.
DJ tried on and rejected several that I liked, but it was surprisingly easily to reach an agreement on color and shape. His Zoobug glasses came in a delightful blue – DJ’s favorite color. They have polycarbonate lenses and a scratch resistant coating and because they are a single rubber piece with no joints or parts to break, they are flexible enough to withstand all manner of contortions attempted by DJ’s little sister.
The glasses came with a detachable headband and sliding earlocks to help them stay on. He could have chosen both, one, or none of them to use. DJ uses the earlocks that fit snuggly behind his ears and prevent the glasses from slipping forward.
Informing the School
I talked to DJ’s preschool teacher, Ms. Sherry, and informed her that he would start wearing glasses. I explained that we would have him wear them only at home for 2 or 3 days and then he would wear them to school.
Ms. Sherry is a great teacher and was very receptive. She stated that she would help him keep his glasses clean and remind him to put them on if he took them off. She also liked my ideas about introducing the glasses to the class.
Time to Party
When speaking with Ms. Sherry, I’d thought, what would be a good way to “show off” DJ’s glasses and answer any questions other students might naturally have about why he was wearing them. I know! We would have a GLASSES PARTY. The day DJ started wearing his glasses, I showed up to the preschool, glasses in hand, and armed with books about glasses, cupcakes topped with a little pair of glasses (who doesn’t love cupcakes??), and a pair of glasses for everyone!
Much to my delight, the party was a big hit. The children were thrilled to wear their glasses. One of DJ’s classmates, Kyser, asked me if I’d brought him a case for his glasses so he could put them away. I apologized and told him that I had not, but to ask his parents. Sure enough, that evening, Kyser asked his parents for a glasses case and not only that, he wore the glasses to school the next day and for the next several weeks.
In fact, Ms. Sherry, DJ’s teacher, reported that several of the children wore their party glasses (and still do) for several days after the party, and some even asked their parents if they could get real glasses (sorry parents!) because it was so cool.
I realized that all my worry about teasing was just that – my own. I came to realize that my concerns were for naught and at that age group (3-4), glasses were cool! They love to read books and are curious to hear stories about new and different things and what makes everyone special and unique.
Our Life Now
DJ is now 4 years old and dutifully wears his glasses daily. At preschool, he takes them off when it’s time for recess and nap but otherwise wears them without protest. In fact, not long after he started wearing them, my husband realized he’d forgotten them at home after taking DJ to preschool. DJ immediately had a bit of a fit (“I can’t SEEEE!”) until Dad explained that he would go home to get the glasses, and all was well.
Now his glasses are a part of his daily routine. He gets to school, puts his belongings away, washes his hands, and puts on his glasses. Like clockwork! We ask him about his glasses occasionally just to make sure they are still fitting and working for him. Santa even brought him a special case with his favorite superhero on it – Batman!
Try these Steps for (Almost) Painlessly Getting your Toddler or Preschooler to wear glasses:
Prepare your preschooler for wearing glasses. Explain why they need glasses. Don’t assume that they won’t understand.
Don’t share or show your concerns, fears, or insecurities with your toddler. I’ve learned from this experience that you may be worried for no reason. Even if you got glasses as an older, school-aged child, your toddler will likely have a different experience than you did.
Introduce them to fictional characters who wear glasses. There is children’s programming featuring characters wearing glasses or that have episodes about getting glasses. For example…
One of the main characters on the show “Little Einsteins,” Leo, wears glasses.
Arthur from the self-titled cartoon wears glasses.
In an episode of “Sid the Science Kid” (season 1, episode 13), Sid explores his sense of vision by trying on his grandma’s glasses.
Talk about glasses and how they can help people see more clearly and how we can appreciate other’s differences.
Research brands such as Tomato Glasses, Zoobug, and Solo Bambini for the look, affordability, and durability you think is best for your toddler/preschooler.
Allow your toddler/preschooler to be involved in the process of selecting his/her glasses.
Does he/she have a favorite color? Toddler glasses often have multiple color options for frames, so ask if the styles you are considering come in different frame colors.
Let them pick out a case with a favorite character on it. Their glasses are special, so they deserve a special holder.
We found DJ’s case on Amazon.
Or take the (usually plain and simple) case provided by the eyewear retailer and decorate it!
Allow your toddler/preschooler to color it with permanent markers or stickers to make it his/her own.
Lay some ground rules:
At the beginning, expecting your toddler to wear his/her glasses all day right away may be an unreasonable expectation and lead to needless tantrums and a battle of wills.
In fact, your child may become averse to wearing the glasses at all! DJ’s ophthalmologist told us that often, toddlers refuse to wear them, and parents put the glasses away and try again in a year or 2.
Of course, that is always an option, but I think there are other ways to get them to wear their cool specs! I believe that until your toddler/preschooler is accustomed to them, you should set up reasonable expectations of where, when, and how oftenthey should wear their glasses.
Questions to ask yourself?
Do you want your child to wear the glasses at home only? While at preschool or daycare? Only on the weekends? When they are permitted screen time?
This trial period doesn’t have to last weeks or months.
Slowly incorporate more time and encourage them to wear their glasses more often.
You May Surprised
You might be pleasantly surprised to find that your toddler/preschooler is very receptive to your slow and steady encouragement to wear their glasses more often, or they may even ask you to wear them more frequently once they see how beneficial they are! DJ wore his glasses at home only during screen time and marveled at how his favorite cartoon character, Blaze from “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” looked. He did that for 3 days and then wore them to school with no complaints!