Beautiful Thinking

Video Lessons

Learning Letters During a Tea Party

Length - 1:44; for children ages 3 to 6

Join us as we practice letter recognition during a tea party. When your child wants to learn the alphabet through play, it can be a fun way to learn. Get the circle letter cutouts here as well as other playful Alphabet games.

What are creative ways you help children learn?

Curious About Caterpillars

Length - 4:27; for children 5-8 years

After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to his stuffed animal friends, Mark has a few questions about how caterpillars turn from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Extension Educator Jody answers his questions and shares a few neat ideas to learn about the butterfly life cycle. To learn more about the life cycle of a butterfly click here! Drawing with Chalk

Caring Wish Lanterns

Length - 4:29; for children 2 years and older

Lynn DeVries shares a simple activity to help children foster kindness and compassion by collecting dandelion seeds. She will show you how to make a caring wish lantern to enjoy. This is a great summer activity. What are other ways you can create a caring wish lantern during other times of the year?

Name a Color

Length - 1:40; for children 3-8 years old

Take me outside and encourage me to find things of different colors. Then ask me to name a color and you find something.

Paint with Water

Length - 3:41; for children 2+ years old

Let’s paint with water! Give me a bucket of water and a paintbrush. Have me “paint” the sidewalk, bricks, or rocks. Watch me as I show you my creativity.

Cloud Watching

Length - 2:08; for children 2+ years old

Come outside with me. Lie down next to me and watch the clouds. Talk with me about all of the different shapes we see.

Take Time to Talk

Length - 4:50; for children 3+ years old

Take the time to talk to children about their thoughts and feelings. You can support their ideas by listening, asking open ended questions, being patient and following their lead with the topics. One way to help children who are worried is to listen to their ideas. Children are also finding joy in this time and it is important to help them express their happiness and joys to build resilience to the stressful situation. This video asks children of different ages to share their worries about the pandemic.

Apple Science Experiment

Length - 5:56; for children 2-10 years old

Science experiments enhance a child's predictive skills as well as their understanding of the scientific process. The scientific process involves asking a question, conducting the experiment, observing changes, and recording notes and drawings of the experiment. This experiment requires few materials, and some patience! Then check out this simple  4-H healthy lunch experiment using apples!

Letter Sensory Bag

Length - 4:02; for children 2-8 years old

These letter sensory bags provide a great way to practice fine motor skills, such as writing letters! The child will increase their precision, strength, coordination, and efficiency when using muscles in the hand. All you need is a few materials and a sense of exploration!

Sight Words: "I am, can, see" with Mismiki

Length - 4:54; for children 4-6 years old

Looking for a fun way for your young children to learn and practice writing and reading before kindergarten? Former Kindergarten teacher, Mismiki, shows you a fun and simple activity for you to do anywhere with the children in your house that are ready to be introduced to emergent reading and writing. Put away the worksheets and sitting still, and make these easy sentence strips for your child to take on a walk, car rides, or just a quick reading adventure around the house!

Outdoor Chalk Activities

Length - 5:47; for children 2-8 years old

Chalk activities are always a fun way to express creativity. By adding water to the activity, children can practice tracing letters, which promotes early literacy, experiment with color mixing and cause and effect! The options are limitless, and all you need is a few supplies! Get out and share your chalk art!

Bean Bag Toss at a Target

Length - 2:22; for children 3-6 years old

This fun and interactive game incorporates movement, precision, and addition! Math doesn't also have to consist of using a paper and pencil! Create a target and add points to each section. When the bean bag lands on a target, use a scoreboard to add up the points! See how high of a number you can get and compare it to a peer, sibling, or family member!

Shape Recognition

Length - 2:30; for children 2+ years old

This is a great engaging activity to encourage independent play and shape exploration. You can use a variety of different materials from blocks, magnatiles or paper shapes. You can also take this activity and challenge the children to explore how everything is made up of different shapes!

Play with Shoes - Spatial Sense

Length - 2:31; for children 3-5 years old

Have fun playing with shoes! Pull out different pairs of shoes and see all the creative activities that you can do with your children. During this video you will see different activities that help children with their spatial sense!

Let's Explore a Piano

Length - 3:55; for children 2+ years old

Join us as we take a look inside a piano! You will see how the piano makes different kinds of sounds and what is looks like when someone is playing it. Enjoy!

Snack Math

Length - 8:43; for children 4-8 years old

Make snack all about MATH! Counting, comparing, simple math stories, equations can easily be done with snack! Use a paper towel and marker to create a math mats to help facilitate the learning at snack time! The adult can help facilitate the learning by prompting the child to explore the math skills!

Bubble Fun with Molly

Length - 1:55; for children 1-2 years old

Watch Molly as she has fun playing with bubbles. She tries to stomp them with her feet and catch them with her hands. This provides her a playful way to practice coordination and move her body.

Cars and Ramps

Length - 2:50; for children one and older

This is a great engaging activity to encourage independent play and exploration. We explored so many areas of development with this activity the main focus was using the skill of cause and effect of exploring how cars move down a ramp.

Activities to Develop Toddler’s Self-Regulation at Home

Length - 4:09; for children 18 months to 3 years

Building self-regulation skills is so important for a developing toddler. Self-regulation helps them learn to control their behaviors, emotions, and actions. This video illustrates a few activities and games that can be done to further self-regulation development. Any game or activity that requires a sudden change in movements (e.g. stop and go, switching body movements) can be helpful towards developing these skills!

Take Apart Toys

Length - 2:18; for children 3+ years

This is a great engaging activity to really encourage independent play and exploration. I encourage creating a space specifically for this activity that way you can have guidelines for what you can work on. You can bring in any type of materials, we had an old radio laying around that we took apart, as well as a bunch of old broken toys. They helps them to develop their fine motor skills of taking apart as well as their cognition skills of understanding and exploring how things work and come apart.

Building Forts

Length - 1:56; for children 3-8 years

Building forts is a beloved activity throughout generations. Having a homemade space that you can play in and explore is just so enticing and fun! Forts can be easily made with blankets, pillows, sheets, etc. almost anywhere around the house. We primarily use the basement but have ventured upstairs to use the kitchen table at times.

Infant Games

Length - 1:52; for children 6+ months

Here are a few fun activities to do with an infant at home to engage in building up their fine motor skills! The painting activity invites a mess free way to experience painting with different senses. It allows the children to see the effects they make with painting. The tape game is also a fun way to explore fine motor skills or movements with their fingers and hands as well as engaging them in attention to an activity. There are so many play ideas that you can do engaging with a simple roll of tape!

Favorite Toys with Weston and Kelsa

Length - 5:24; for children 0-3 years

Join Weston (3 years old) as he shows us some of his baby sister, Kelsa’s, favorite toys! Kelsa is almost 6 months old. Notice that Kelsa’s toys are all quite simple, and no batteries are required.

Chicken Craze

Length - 6:47; for children 3-5 years

Meet Anne the Chicken and learn about her life. Did you know after a hen lays an egg they cluck! I will also show you how to make a paper plate chicken and how to gather her eggs.

Independent Play

Length - 3:23; for children 3-8 years

This video gives you tips on how to set up an environment to encourage your child to play independently. Choosing open ended toys and setting them up in an interesting way can keep your child busy for longer periods of time. It is fun to listen in and see how their imagination is working!

Backyard Bird Bingo

Length - 1:40; for children 3-12 years

Exploring the place around us can help us feel more connected to it. Finding native birds does just that, and there are learning concepts involved such as identification and description of the birds. You can spy quite a few different kinds of birds on our nice spring days!

Backyard birding has many benefits like entertainment, hobby fulfillment, and more. Another perk is that it can be a bonding time for your family. This Backyard Birding Bingo game is a great way to keep the children in your life entertained while also getting them engaged with nature. They will learn something useful while they have fun!

Tape City

Length - 1:45; for children 2+ years

Welcome to Tape City! Here is a fun idea to do at home to help engage children in play for a long period of time. Gather just a few materials, tape and an open floor… then CREATE! There are endless possibilities when creating. I allowed Braden to bring in whatever materials he felt like; Magnatiles, rocks, and several cars!

Water Play

Length - 3:31; for children 2-3 years

Water play is an easy activity that can be done for a few minutes or expanded for a longer period of time. It can be done inside or outside on a nice day! Watch this video to get some ideas for how to do water play with your toddler.

Cup Game

Length - 3:50; for children 2-5 years

Children love playing games because it allows them the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge! When it is their turn they feel excited to accomplish their task in the game! This game can help children aged 2-5 to practice number sense and fine motor skills.

Sensory Play

Length - 1:50; for children 1-5 years

This simple sensory engagement activity can easily work in so many different areas of learning! By using water and shaving cream you can explore areas of science with cause and effect, sensory of mixing and creating as well as symbolic play with pretending by “cooking”.

Sunshine Kids for Seniors Project

Length - 1:44; for children 2-13 years

Sunshine Kids for Seniors Project was started by Lincoln’s Mayor, Leirion Gaylor Baird, to encourage children to create artwork for seniors. The drawings and notes can be sent to The art work will lift the spirits of our seniors and promote intergenerational interaction in our community. Have fun creating!

Play School with Rae

Length - 1:27; for children 2-8 years

Rae is missing her friends and school, so she decided to play school at home! Pretend play is important for children’s development and can help them to cope with challenges like a change in routines or missing friends. Rae pretends she is the teacher, and her mom and her dolls are the students. If you are missing your friends and school, you can play school at home, too.

Sink and Float

Length - 4:10; for children 3-6 years

Sink and float is a fun science activity to discover objects that are heavy or light. Children will begin to understand classification of objects by their weight and also improve their prediction and problem-solving skills when engaging in this activity. Some objects may surprise the children, so be prepared to facilitate additional learning and explanations to your curious ones! Have fun!

Infant Play Ideas

Length - 2:50; for children 6 months and older

Here are a few fun activities to do with an infant at home. The painting activity invites a mess free way to experience painting with different senses. You could even expand the experience with engaging with mixing of colors. The pompom drop is also a fun way to explore fine motor skills or movements with their fingers and hands as well as engaging them in attention to an activity. Infants are even experiencing cause and effect of repeating the actions. **Make sure to watch infant with the small pom poms they can be a choking hazard.**

Window Drawing

Length - 1:26; for children 18 months-8 years

Drawing and scribbling can be wonderful and fun ways for children to express themselves and create art. Children also practice using their fine motor skills, and practice concentrating and using muscle control. Drawing also gives children a way to express their thoughts and emotions. Learn more about the benefits of drawing across developmental ages here!

Subitizing in nature - Activity

Length - 2:07; for children 3-8 years

Subitizing is a skill and the ability to instantaneously recognize the number of objects in a small group without the need to count the items. Children enjoy the challenge of subitizing. You can begin the activity by giving the prompt. “Lets find out how many items are in this group without counting.” Start with smaller groups of objects, 1,2, or three. Nature creates many opportunities to subitize!

For more math fun click here!

Bubble fun - Activity

Length - 3:33; for children 2-8 years

Bubbles offer endless exploration opportunities. Gather your dish soap, a container, and kitchen utensils to encourage children to problem solve how to create bubbles. After the solution is made allow the child to figure out different ways to blow the biggest bubble or the smallest bubble.


Length - 3:54; for children 2+ years

Games offer many opportunities to explore numbers, build strategies and engage in problem solving. Shuffleboard dates back to 15th century England and is often played on a long table or outdoor space. However, a simple variation of this game can be played in your home with items found around your house. As you and your family work to score 21 points, you can practice mental math, counting, and recording numbers, find unknown values (e.g., how many more to get 21), or build problem solving strategies.

Encourage your children to evaluate their attempts and consider what would happen if they modified their approach. Investigate how force and motion, friction, mass, and shape impact the game or model tools your children can use to research the questions they generate. You can adapt the level of problem solving and math counting based on the age of the child. Learn more about Building Benchmark Numbers here!

Bubble foam

Length - 3:27; for children 12 months-5 years

This video gives instructions for how to make bubble foam. It is a simple, fun sensory activity that all ages can enjoy. It can be a great inside activity during a spring thunderstorm or an outside activity on a sunny day!

Magazine creative expression - Activity

Length - 4:00; for children 3-8 years

Activities with your child can be as simple as finding materials that you have in your house and saying, “What should we do with these materials?” Using magazines, glue, scissors and paper allows a child to use their creative expressions. This can give you an opportunity to ask open-ended questions. For example, “What did you create? Tell me more about this image.” This encourages creative expression about their work.

Letter Scavenger Hunt

Length - 2:45; for children 3+ years

This activity mixes the idea of a scavenger hunt with the learning of letters and their sounds! Once the child, or children, have identified the letters in their name, review their sounds, and go on a hunt! This is a fun way to get them up and moving and can be done inside or outside, rain or shine!

Ten Frames

Length - 2:09; for children 3-8 years

Ten frames are tools used to support children’s learning and understanding of number sense. This tool uses a two-by-five rectangular frame that helps demonstrate numbers that are less than or equal to ten. They provide a visual understanding for children when exploring simple math equations using single-digit numbers.

Mindful Minutes: Take 5 and Shapes

Length - 5:04; for children 3-5 years

Mindfulness can be learned at any age. When you give young children developmentally appropriate strategies to identify and manage strong feelings, they learn how to be more in control of their own feelings which can lead to processing healthy ways to discuss those feelings with a trusted adult or peer. Teach young children that being mindful at their age is making themselves aware of how they feel, learning techniques of how to calm and control those feelings, and eventually talking to someone they trust about those feelings. The goal is to help the young mind develop natural coping skills to handle stress and strong emotions well into the future!

Building a blanket fort

Length - 5:04; for children 3+ years

Building forts is a wonderful way to support children’s creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and spatial reasoning. Children can also feel a sense of accomplishment after constructing their fort and then have a safe, cozy hideaway to read, play and use their imagination. Building indoor forts as a family is a fun way to connect and play. For more great tips and reasons for building forts, go here!

10 Black Dots

Length - 7:58; for children 3-8 years

A classic book Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews sparks interest in math. This book encourages children to practice math skills such as counting, recognizing numerals, and several other beginning math skills. This video is a read aloud of the book and then demonstrates a fun activity to do after you listen

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Length - 4:25; for children 4-8 years

Creating your own games is not only fun, but it encourages creativity and communication skills. The creators of the game have to consider how to design a fair game, and provide clear directions for players to follow. You don't have to make up your own games from scratch. Think about how to adapt games you regularly play and make them uniquely yours and your family's specialty. Check out these PBS suggestions on ways to make a board game and look for other ways to create something new!

Watch these elementary students in another epic rock-paper-scissors battle!

Make a Water Cycle in a Bag

Length - 4:42; for children 4-8 years

In this video children learn about a water cycle and how to make one. It’s a fun and easy scientific activity. The best part is, they’re doing something fun and creative while learning!

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