Nail Those Math Facts!


A few days ago I shared with you our hammering nails in pumpkins activity.   As promised, I’ve got an educational twist to the activity to share with you!   We used our pumpkins to have fun working on math facts.  


Fun way to practice math facts using pumpkins


Materials Needed to Nail Those Math Facts:

  • Pumpkin
  • Permanent marker
  • Nails
  • Hammer (We used a plastic toy hammer.)


Both of my children have been working on memorizing addition and subtraction math facts.

I used a permanent marker to write numbers all over the pumpkin.   Then I gave them a math problem to solve, such as 5+3, and they searched for the answer and hammered a nail into the correct number.

If you put enough numbers all over the pumpkin and played long enough, you can have a pretty neat looking pumpkin to display after practicing all those math facts!


using pumpkins to practice math facts


Ways to modify the activity:

  • You could also use this activity to work on multiplication or division math facts.
  • For a younger child you could write the letters of the alphabet on the pumpkin and have them locate the letters.
  • Use the permanent marker to write sight words on the pumpkin for your child to identify.


Be sure to check out our other fun learning activities with pumpkins!

Hammering Nails in Pumpkins


We were blessed with an abundance of pumpkins in the garden this year.  So far we’ve had fun making colorful crayon-drip pumpkins and even turning one into a pumpkin volcano.  This week we got out hammers and nails and had fun hammering nails into pumpkins! 


Hammering nails in pumpkins -- great for eye-hand coordination and proprioceptive input!


We have had fun with hammering nails into Styrofoam in the past.  With so many pumpkins on our porch, I thought it would be a fun to decorate our pumpkins in a new way.  Plus, hammering nails is a great activity for hand-eye coordination, and it provides procieptive sensory input, too!

My kids were both super excited when they saw my invitation to play (a few pumpkins, small hammers, and container of nails).

fall proprioceptive activity for kids -- hammering nails in pumpkins


Originally I had out a small, metal hammer and a toy wood mallet, but we soon discovered that the plastic hammer from my son’s toy workbench worked wonderfully when it came to hammering nails into the pumpkins.  (And, because the head on the toy hammer is a bit wider than the little metal hammer, it was easier for my son to hit the nails.)

They had fun hammering until every nail was used, and when they finished we had a pretty funky-looking pumpkin to display.

fun way to decorate pumpkin with nails



  • It helps to have a hammer for each child.  Who wants to wait to have a turn with the hammer?  Toy hammers will work if you don’t want them to use the real one.
  • Don’t have a bunch of pumpkins on hand?  Let the kids paint them now, and then once the holiday is past, bring out the hammers and nails and let them go to town!
  • Plan on carving the pumpkins?  You can always do a bit of hammering once the pumpkins start to get a bit moldy.
  • Want to turn it into an even more educational activity?  Check out how we turned it into a math activity!


Other fun pumpkin activities from this site:
Do pumpkins float? make a pumpkin volcano!

colorful crayon drip pumpkins

Spelling Word Practice with Water Beads


When it comes to spelling words, most kids dread having to practice them each day.  But practicing those spelling words doesn’t have to be boring.

Avoid the eye-rolling and heavy sighing as they write spelling words over and over.   Water beads make practicing those spelling words fun, and there are added benefits to those slippery beads, too!

making spelling word practice more fun with water beads


To prepare this fun spelling word practice, I gathered the letter tiles necessary to form each of the words on the list.  (I used the letter tiles from our Bananagrams game.  Have younger kids?  Here’s another way to use those letter tiles.)

I scattered the letters on the bottom of a baking pan, flipping some upside down and leaving some facing up.  And then I covered them with water beads.

using water beads for spelling word practice


Both of my students had fun digging through the water beads, finding the letters necessary to form the words on their spelling list.

making spelling word practice fun


Remember when I said that practicing spelling with water beads had added benefits?


While they are digging through those colorful, squishy beads they are getting tons of sensory input.

Picking up those letter tiles buried beneath those  slippery gems adds in some fine motor practice.

Have a child that gets anxious when it comes to spelling quizzes/having to memorize the spelling?  Water beads can be very calming.

making spelling practice fun with water beads


Making spelling word practice fun, and having added benefits?  I call that a win.  (But I especially like not hearing those big sighs when I ask my 7 year-old to practice those spelling words once again.)



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STEM Challenge: Design a Boat that Floats


Grab the recyclables, toss the kids in the car (gently!), and head to a local creek.

It’s a great time for a simple STEM challenge:  design a boat that floats.


STEM Challenge: Design a Boat that Floats, a fun engineering activity for kids


Our homeschool group got together at a local park with a creek to do this challenge.  You could also test your boats out in a pond, kiddie pool or even the bathtub.   Wherever you go, I guarantee the kids will have fun, and learn something too!

We spread all the materials out on the picnic tables at the shelter and gave the kids plenty of time to get creative.

Some of them chose to collect sticks to form the base of their boat.  These were tied together with a bit of twine.  (Pipe cleaners were also helpful in keeping those sticks together!)


STEM boat challenge


Craft foam and card stock were popular choices for making sails.  These both hold up fairly well to a bit of water, unlike light weight paper choices.


kids build a boat activity


It was fun to see their minds all working:  thinking, designing, and building.


Once they were happy with their boat’s design, it was time to decorate with stickers, permanent markers, pipe cleaners, and whatever else they found.

designing a boat that floats


Then it was time to test out the boat designs!

They were thrilled to see that all the boats they designed stayed afloat.


STEM activity -- designing boats that float


A piece of ribbon, tied to the end of the boat was a good solution for keeping them from traveling too far down stream.


kids STEM activity with boats


Materials to Consider for the Boat Design Challenge:

  • Empty plastic bottles and plastic cups
  • Egg cartons
  • Sticks and straws (to make masts for sails)
  • Yarn, twine, string, and ribbon
  • Craft foam, card stock, and cardboard (sails)
  • Duct tape, electrical tape, and packing tape
  • Stickers, permanent markers, pipe cleaners, and other decorating items


Want to increase the STEM challenge?

See how much weight the boats can hold!  Pennies or small pebbles make good weights.

See how long the boats stay afloat.  Use a timer to see which boat floats the longest.  Brainstorm reasons the boat floats longer than the others.

Find ways to waterproof the boat.  Will plastic wrap work?  Packing tape?