Quality Time with Kacey, image of a koala wearing a Maryland EXCELS T-shirt, sitting in front of a clock

Quality Time with Kacey

Activities with Kacey for Families and Providers

Kacey the Quality Koala and Maryland EXCELS will be sharing fun and educational activities for families and child care programs.

Be sure to visit this page or social media regularly! Share your activities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood understands that the activities described on this page and in website links are not suitable for all ages. Ultimately, all activities require adult supervision and are not endorsed by the Maryland State Department of Education or Johns Hopkins University.

Beach and Ocean Life

Summertime is synonymous with the beach! Try these beach and ocean-themed activities to get your children in the summer mood.

Literacy

Cover of the book "The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus PfisterRead these ocean-themed books or watch videos of the books read aloud:

Art

Materials:

  • White paper
  • Plastic bowls (2-4)
  • Blue washable paint
  • White washable paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Sponge brushes 
  • Colored construction paper
  • Cut-out fish (cut out of construction paper by an adult)
  • Confetti
  • Glitter
  • Fish stickers
  • Glue
  • Tape

Create different shades of blue paint by adding varying amounts of blue and white paint to each bowl. Offer two shades of blue for younger children and more for older children. 

Give your child a piece of white paper. Have your child use various tools to paint the paper–paintbrush, sponge brush, cotton swab, cotton ball. They can even use their hands or fingers. If you have it available, you could play ocean wave sounds as they paint.

While the paint is drying, have the children decorate the fish cut out with confetti and glitter. Once the paint is thoroughly dry, have your child glue or tape the colorful fish to their ocean creation!

Drama

Beach Prop Box

Materials:

  • Medium plastic tub with lid 
  • Beach towel
  • Sun visor
  • Flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Small beach ball
  • Small sand bucket and shovel
  • Two beach-themed books

Pretend you’re going to the beach for the day! Take out the beach prop box and have the children play make-believe. Encourage them to read their books on a towel in the “sun.”

Indoor Scavenger Hunt

Blue, red, yellow, and green Legos are placed on construction paper with coordinating colorsWhen you can’t go outside, keep children active indoors with this colorful scavenger hunt.

Give your children 2 to 4 pieces of colored construction paper. The paper will be your children’s sorting mat for items they find around the house with matching colors.

Younger children should start with two colors, and older children can do more. Before playing, show how to play the game. Then set a timer for 1 or 2 minutes.

See how many objects the children can find and place on the matching color of paper.

Fruits and Vegetables

Pancakes decorated with fruit to look like owlsIn celebration of National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables month, here are some fun activities.  

Plan a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market to buy a variety of fruits and vegetables. If possible, purchase multiples of some of the fruits and vegetables so they can be used for the math and science activities below.

Math and Science

First, make sure everyone washes their hands as well as the fruits and vegetables. 

  1. Sort the fruits and vegetables by type or by color.
  2. Order the fruit and vegetables from smallest to largest. Which ones are the smallest? Which are the largest? Now order them from largest to smallest.
  3. Examine each fruit and vegetable with a magnifying glass.
  4. Compare the texture of each fruit and vegetable. Talk about the skin. Is it rough, smooth, bumpy, etc.?
  5. Test to see which fruits and vegetables sink and which float in a bowl of water.
  6. Use the fruits and vegetables to make a pattern.

Literacy

Read Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables From A to Z or watch a video of the book read aloud

After listening to the book, ask your child if they learned about any new fruits or vegetables.

You can also talk about the difference between a fruit and a vegetable. Fruits contain seeds, while vegetables can consist of roots, stems, and leaves.

Cooking and Math

Use the fruit and vegetables you bought to try some new recipes. Enjoy what you made together.

Discuss what each person likes about the fruits and vegetables. You can also ask:

  • What did each person notice about the salads–smells, textures, taste?
  • How many people liked the fruit salad the best? 
  • How many people liked the vegetable salad the best? 
  • Which salad did each person like the most?

To learn more about nutrition and how to add more fruit and vegetables to meals, visit MyPlate on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. To learn more about fruits and vegetables, visit:

Painting Time with Toddlers

Painting of a rainbowLet’s paint with cotton balls! Show your toddlers a fun, new way to paint.

Materials:

  • Cotton balls
  • Muffin pan
  • Clothespins
  • Paper

 

 

Directions:

Add a different color of non-toxic paint to each section of the muffin pan. Clip a clothespin to a cotton ball. This will be your child’s paintbrush. Show how to use the clothespin paintbrush to dip into the paint and paint on the paper.

Baby Chicks

Cover of the book "Five Little Chicks" by Nancy TafuriGet your children peeping for more with these baby chick activities! 

Read Five Little Chicks by Nancy Tafuri or watch a video of the book read aloud.  

Then, watch a video showing a baby chick being born

Play Hide the Worm 

Use pieces of yarn to serve as worms. Hide the worms outside in a small section of grass or inside on the floor or carpet. Give your child a container or bag to collect their worms. Tell your little one that their chicks are hungry and looking for food.

How many did they find?  

Sorting Eggs 

Have your child sort plastic eggs by color or by color and size, depending on their age. Your child can sort eggs onto paper plates or in clear plastic containers. 

Baby Chick Goes for a Ride 

Materials:

  • Tennis balls (old or new) 
  • Orange and black markers
  • Play parachute, blanket, or old sheet

To Play: 

Draw eyes on the tennis balls with the black marker. Make a beak with the orange marker. These are your chicks. 

Have your child work with you to hold the sides of the parachute, blanket, or sheet. Place the “chicks” in the middle. Show your child how you can move your arms up and down and make the chicks go for a ride. You can make the chicks hop slowly or quickly, and you can make them stop. 

The Little Baby Chicks 

(Sing to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus)

The little baby chicks go up and down 

Up and down 

Up and down 

The little baby chicks go up and down 

Until it’s time to stop. Stop! 

Spring Showers

Cover of the book "Rain" by Manya StojicSpring showers bring fun learning opportunities for your child. 

Read Rain by Manya Stojic or watch a video of the book read aloud.

For more rainy day reading, browse this list of 17 Rainy Day Books for Kids

Next, sing this song about rain. 

It is Raining 

(Sing to the tune of Are You Sleeping)

It is raining 

It is raining 

Drip, drop, drip 

Drip, drop, drip 

  

Rain is slowly falling 

Rain is slowly falling 

Drip, drop, drip 

Drip, drop, drip 

  

It is pouring 

It is pouring 

Splish, splash, splish 

Splish, splash, splish 

  

Rain is quickly falling 

Rain is quickly falling 

Splish, splash, splish 

Splish, splash, splish 

 

For a follow-up activity, try one of these rain-themed projects. 

Windy Rain Paint 

Materials: 

  • White paper 
  • Blue tempera paint 
  • Eyedropper  
  • Straw 

Directions:

Add the paint to a shallow bowl. Then add a small amount of water to the paint. Suck up the paint with the eyedropper. Make the paint “rain” on the paper using the eyedropper. When finished, use the straw to blow the rain across the paper, which will create puddles. Discuss how your breath is like the wind, blowing the rain all around during a storm. When dry, display the works of art.

Rain Gauge 

For each rain gauge, you will need a large empty plastic bottle, such as a two-liter soda bottle. Cut about two inches from the top. You will now have two pieces…the bottom and the top. Remove the lid. Flip the top upside down and place it inside the bottom. Push the top down until the edges are even. 

Next, take a ruler and mark inches starting at the bottom. Find a place outside to place the bottle prior to it raining.   

View the rain gauge throughout the rain. Watch how the water gets higher. Depending on the age of your child, discuss how many inches fell each time you looked at the rain gauge.   

Water Cycle in a Bag 

Materials:

  • Small plastic bag 
  • Sharpie 
  • Water 
  • Blue food dye 
  • ¼ measuring cup 
  • Tape

Directions: 

On the plastic bag, draw water across the bottom and sun and clouds at the top. Fill a measuring cup with ¼ cup of water. Add the water to the bag. Add 1 to 4 drops of blue dye to the water. Next, seal the bag tightly and make sure the air is out of the bag. Then tape the plastic bag to a window, securing the bag at all four corners. 

Watch the bag each day. Talk about what you see. What is happening to the water? Why do you think that is happening? Discuss the water cycle and how as water warms, it evaporates, and when it cools, it turns back into water (rain). 

Fun with Carrots

Cover of the book "Creepy Carrots!" by Aaron Reynolds Cover of the book "The Carrot Seed" by Ruth KraussNibble, nibble, crunch, crunch! Celebrate spring with carrots…a favorite food of bunnies.

To get started, read one or both of these books about carrots or watch videos of the books read aloud: 

Follow up with carrot-themed activities: 

Activity #1: Carrot Taste Test 

Start your taste test with cooked and raw carrots. If your child is a toddler, be certain that you are using shredded raw carrots since large pieces of raw carrot can be a choking hazard. Encourage your child to sample the cooked and raw carrots. Talk about which carrot they liked best and why.  

Activity #2: Grow a Carrot Top 

Save carrot tops. Place the carrot tops in a shallow dish. Add a layer of cotton balls to the dish. Add a small amount of water. Put the dish in a sunny location. In a few days, the greenery at the top will begin to grow.  

 

Hidden Messages

Have your preschooler uncover a hidden message in this fun activity.

Materials:

  • White paper
  • White crayon
  • Watercolor paint
  • Small bowl of water

Prepare paper before the activity begins by using a white crayon to write letters, a word, or a message on a white piece of paper. Keep in mind, you will not be able to see the message. Consider using letters or sight words that your preschooler has learned. Have your child use watercolors to paint the white piece of paper until the “hidden” message appears.

Counting Time

Use your toddler’s favorite finger food to help strengthen their fine motor skills and to give lessons in counting.

Take a look at these activities from Lakeshore

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Spring has sprung! Enjoy everything that spring has to offer with a nature scavenger hunt for the children in your care. Look for signs of spring such as birds, spiders, worms, buds, butterflies, ants, green leaves, and flowers. 

You can create a checklist so the children can keep track of items they have found:

  • Smaller children can place a sticker next to each item they find together as a class. 
  • Preschoolers can place a sticker next to items they find on their own or with a friend.
  • Kindergartners and school-aged children can make an X or checkmark next to the items they find on their own or with a partner. 

Spring Science

Spring is about growth and renewal. Teach your little ones about the process of planting with this activity that promotes scientific thinking.

Cover of the book "In the Tall, Tall Grass" by Denise FlemingRead In the Tall, Tall Grass by Natasha Wing or watch a video of the book read aloud.

Next, watch a video called Grass Growing Timelapse to show how seeds sprout.

Pause at different points throughout the timelapse to ask questions about the growing process. Ask the children to tell you what they see. Why do they think that is happening? What do they think is going to happen next?

Then have the children plant their own grass seed in a clear cup so they can observe the planting process.

What you need:

  • Clear plastic cups
  • Bag of dirt or potting soil
  • Plastic spoons
  • Grass seed
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Popsicle sticks

Have each child fill their cup ¾ full with dirt. Sprinkle grass seed on top. Place a little more dirt on top of the seed. Spritz the dirt with water. Write each child’s name on a popsicle stick and place it in their cup. Put the cups by a sunny window. Make sure to water the plants each day with the spray bottle. Within a week or two, you should start seeing sprouts. 

Small children can use their bodies to communicate what they see each day. If they see only the soil, they can touch their waist; if they see roots growing below the soil, touch their toes; and if they see grass growing, they can reach up high. 

Older children can record their findings each day for two weeks. You can create a data sheet where the children can record their findings.  Preschool children can draw what they see. Preschoolers, kindergartners, and school-age children can use words and/or pictures to record what they see.

Compare how long it took to notice roots. How long did it take to notice green buds of grass? Whose grass grew the fastest?

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Get ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these engaging ideas! 

Cover of the book "The Night Before St. Patrick's Day" by Natasha WingStorytime

Read The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing or watch a video of the book read aloud.

Snack time

Next, make a healthy green snack–green deviled eggs!

What you need:

  • Hard-boiled eggs (prepared or purchased in advance)
  • Guacamole (prepared or purchased in advance)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chopped green onions or chives (optional)

Crack the eggshells and carefully peel under cool running water. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a bowl. Mash the yolks using a fork. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

Fill half of the egg whites with the yolk mixture. Then spoon guacamole into the remaining egg whites. If using, top with the chopped green onions or chives. Serve immediately! 

Math time

For a fun St. Patrick’s Day math activity, make sets of golden coins. 

What you need:

  • Yellow construction paper
  • Gold glitter
  • Glue 
  • Scissors

Cut the yellow construction paper into large circles. Spread glue onto the paper and sprinkle with gold glitter. 

If the children are learning how to make sets, have very young children make a set of two coins. Have them point and count. This will help them learn about one-to-one correspondence. Preschoolers can work on making sets of 5 or more.

Music time

As part of the St. Patrick’s Day fun, sing “The Teeny, Weeny Leprechaun”

to the tune of “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.”

The teeny, weeny leprechaun climbed up the rainbow bold

When he lost his balance 

He tipped over the pot of gold

When the gold fell over

The leprechaun did cry

So the teeny, weeny leprechaun

Went up the rainbow again

 

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Cover of the book "In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb" by Marion Dane BauerRead In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer or watch a video of the book read aloud. 

Talk with the children in your care about how March’s weather starts . . . cold, windy, snowy, icy. Then encourage them to describe how the weather is usually calmer and more pleasant by the end of the month. 

Then sing, “In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb”  to the tune of ”London Bridge is Falling Down.”

The month of March comes in like a lion, in like a lion, in like a lion.

The month of March comes in like a lion with a great big growl! (Growl with both hands out like claws!)

The end of March goes out like a lamb, out like a lamb, out like a lamb.

The end of March goes out like a lamb, peaceful and with a hush (Put your finger to your lips and say, “Shh!”)

 

Milk and Cookies

Cover of the book "Milk and Cookies" by Frank AschRead Milk and Cookies by Frank Asch or watch a video of the book read aloud.

For a follow-up activity, you can make pretend cookies with playdough while learning numbers and math.

First, write numbers on index cards or slips of paper. Then have your child choose one of the number cards to determine how many cookies to make. Flatten the play dough with a rolling pin, then use cookie cutters to make different shapes.

For very young children, you can start with the numbers 1 and 2. Preschoolers can use 1 to 10. Kindergartners can make larger groups of cookies, such as 0 to 25, or they pick two numbers and make two sets of cookies.

 

See activities from past weeks: