Quick and Easy Math or Literacy with Don’t Break The Ice Game












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One of the best family games at our house growing up was Dont Break The Ice.  I remember getting this game for Christmas one year and playing it with my siblings.  It was sooo much fun to strategically tap out the blocks of ice without letting the red man fall off! We were allowed to get a little more rowdy in the house with this game as there was no real way to play it quietly:) All these reasons make the game perfect for play when the weather didn’t allow us to go outside.

Now a days the game uses a red bear in ice skates to stand on the ice, but it is still fun even at my age! 


I just had to get it for my kids as my mom had gotten her childhood favorites for me.  

It’s a bit noisey granted but when you and the kiddo are stuck indoors it’s a super fun game to pull out!  My son loved the hammering and was able to follow the simple goal of keeping the bear on the ice. There’s only one step- tap out the block of ice of your choice-before the next persons turn.  I’d highly recommend it for teaching children turn taking.


After PJ learned how to take turns I thought it would be fun if he could use the game to practice numbers and the alphabet.

One school holiday in his Kindergarten year I tried adding capital and lower case letters to the Don’t Break The Ice Game using dry erase markers. I tested one block first to see if the dry erase marker would wash off and wallah!  A baby wipe took it right off!

These pictures are a few years old but this is how we “played” by adding letters of the alphabet.

I  wrote about 10 or so upper case letters on ice blocks and the matching lower case letters on the remaining blocks.








We played as you usually would but each player recorded the letter of their knocked down ice block.  For this I drew columns on white paper and added the names of the players at the top.




Whoever can make the most Upper to lowercase matches after 5 games is the ABC Don’t Break The Ice champ!

We practiced Number Identification, too. 

I dotted the each ice block like the side of a die.  PJ practiced writing the numbers 1-6. Below, I’ll let the picture do the talking.

Quick and Easy Math or Literacey with Don't Break The Ice Game










More ways to use Don’t Break the Ice

  • You can have your child practice addition: Each player adds up all the blocks they have.  Whoever has the largest total wins.
  • Practice word families, CVC words, or Nonsense words for letter sounds.
  • Write numbers instead of dots on the blocks and have them match numbers to the corresponding amount of dots.
  • For older children, practice multiplication: Group blocks by the number of dots they have. Three blocks of three dots make 3 x 3 = 9

What other ways can you think of to put a new twist on this old classic??  I would like to read about your learning fun so please comment below!

Thank you for reading!

Crystal 🙂

Places I may share with or contribute to:








Magic School Bus Costume & MORE Fun

Magic School Bus Costume & more









This post contains affiliate links..

Do the kids love The Magic School Bus TV series??  Oh, my son does!!  So much so, we made a costume last year for “Favorite book Character Day” at his school.

With Halloween coming up (and this  Amazing, Hands-on, Year long,  Science Journey Deal!) I thought it would be a great time to share how we made my sons Magic School Bus costume.

For All the kids that love The Magic School Bus….and parents, too!

What you need…

  • Several pieces of white card stock
  • 2 Bounty card board boxes
  • 1 Milk cardboard box
  • 4 pizza box rounds
  • 2 blue pieces of construction paper
  • 1 red piece of construction paper
  • 2 yellow rectangular craft foam pieces with sticky back
  • Lots of yellow acrylic paint from Micheals- we used 2 16 oz bottles
  • A black marker
  • Black paint


ALMOST ALL OF THE SUPPLIES can be found  at home and at your local BI LO, Winn Dixie, or Harveys Grocery.   Just ask them for Bounty paper towel roll boxes and a milk box that would hold 4 gallons of milk.

To get started, I trimmed 1 Bounty box about 3/4 from the top.  Then, WE painted all 3 boxes yellow and let them dry over night.  Save the trimmed portion!!

Magic School Bus Costume & More Fun









You don’t need to paint 1 side of the milk box (the side with the handle) because this side will be glued to the front of a Bounty box.

Magic School Bus Costume & More









We painted a tire on 4 pizza rounds.

Magic School Bus Costume & More










I turned the two Bounty boxes on their sides and glued them together (tucked one inside the other a tad bit.) Let them dry.  And cut a rectangular hole in the top and bottom where PJ would stand inside.

Magic School Bus & More










I glued the smaller box to one end of the Magic School Bus body and PJ held it in place to dry.

We hand drew and cut out all the features like the mouth which was two white pieces of card stock and this one pattern drawn on both pieces.

image image


















Eyes: larger circles on white card stock with the smaller circles on blue card stock











Once the main design for the Magic School bus was together we glued on the cardboard pizza round wheels.  Two wheels went on both sides of the larger boxes and two on both sides of the smaller front box of the bus.

I used the remaining yellow painted larger box ( the saved portion that was trimmed from the top of one Bounty box) to cut and glue fenders half way around the front wheels.

PJ had a lot of fun gluing the rest of the features on the bus:  a blue school bus sign, a white poster board side door and front wind shield with yellow strip down the center, the mouth, and eyes.

Magic School Bus Costume & More










I used two white pieces of cardstock taped together and a ruler with black maker to make the grill. It was not a fancy design!  PJ helped me glue it to the front smaller box.

Magic School Bus Costume &More










We added windows and shaded them with black marker to the other side. Again, just white card stock glued to the bus.

PJ cut out and glued the stop sign to the same side.  He also painted the black bumper on the rear and attached sticky back yellow foam above the top front red lights.

Magic School Bus Costume &More









Batman riding the Magic School Bus!!

You and your kids can get creative with the features.  You also may want to hot glue two straps to the inside of the costume so they don’t need to carry it around.  Maybe criss cross the straps over you childs shoulders.  In hind sight, I was wishing I had thought to do that!











Now for MORE Fun!!!

Take a ride on the Magic School Bus!

The Magic School Bus Science Club is a 12- month science kit subscription based on the award-winning series, The Magic School Bus. If you haven’t heard about the series before, each of the stories center on the antics of a frizzy-red haired fictional elementary school teacher named Mrs. frizzle.  She and her class  board a “magic school bus” to take them on field trips to impossible locations….. the solar system, clouds, the past, and inside the human body. This story-based learning took the science scene by storm in the 90’s.



But it’s the 2000s!!



The kit subscription takes it to the next level with Hands On learning that ties to all on the stories!  also HALF OFF for a limited time!!!!!

The kits include experiments related to Volcanoes, Weather, Water, Fossils, Bacteria and Fungi, Star and Planets, and the weather, which, given recent events I want to brush up on, too.

One experiment I’ve been really excited to try is the Volcano Kit! The kit comes with a small volcanic rock, a pumice stone, sheets of paper, black paint, paint brush, a magnifying glass all to build a volcano.

And there are so MANY MORE Experiments!! Think of a sibling science club coming to life in your home – or friends bonding over making volcanoes explode, and learning all about how the human body works! Getting kids excited about STEM learning is exciting stuff. And it’s especially exciting because it’s 50% OFF for a LIMITED time!

Here’s the run down:


The Magic School Bus



The 12 Themes for activities and experiments that are sent to your doorstep, monthly include:

  • Detailed, extensive 12-page colorful manual that is full of experiments and topic information
  • Each manual was based on the award winning Magic School Bus Book (and TV) series
  • A handy dandy cheat sheet for adults, so you can lead the way with no background in science (shhh.. I always preferred reading…)
  • Tools and instructions for a at least 7 interactive experiments per month
  • Online Clubhouse for further exploration on each package topic (take advantage of this!!)
  • Certificate of Completion – a great way to reinforce learning and accomplishments

USE CODE CANDYCORN for free shipping!!!





Thank you for reading!

Crystal 🙂





Types of Text: Learning About Narratives in First Grade

     I sent a lengthy note to my sons teacher to ask what she had covered in my sons class thus far in the way of types of text and writing.   I like to be “on the same page” when we do activities at home.  Really, we have a monthly goal planner that breaks down into weekly activities to do Afterschool.  And since my son has other things planned Afterschool like sports and speech it really pays to have our Afterschool hours be as productive as possible.  By productive I mean learning what is grade appropriate as well as what is developmentally appropriate for my son.  The task of planning is tricky if you dont keep open communication with your child’s teacher….But that is a blog for another day.



     From his teacher I learned the class had already covered narrative texts.  We are still covering narrative reading/writing at home and I really want him to KNOW what a narrative text consists of before we move into informational text.   Plus, he is already good at pointing out facts in informational science books that we read together.  This made me decide to focus more time on narratives.  So, what is a narrative text in first grade??


Well, if  your children are attending a public school it would be a good idea to start by becoming familiar with first grade Common Core Standards.   The first grade language arts reading can found HERE



****Remember, every state has their own adaptions to common core.  Be sure and check out your states First Grade Common Core Standards, too.****


     ……….Back to reading narrative text.

 A first grader will learn to decipher narrative text from other types of text by remembering a few key characteristics::

  • Narrative text TELLS A STORY.
  • It has a BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END.
  • Narratives have a CHARACTER(s) AND A SETTING.
  • Narrations can be FICTION or NONFICTION. (introductions will begin in Kindergarten)

A Cute visual for characteristics of a Narrative can be found at Fun In First.


is fairly self explanatory.   You want your firster to be familiar with story telling text.  In kindergarten they will be read famous classics, Fairy Tales, Poems, and all the awesome series books like “The old Lady That..” And “Clifford”.   All those types of literature are considered narratives.  So while you are reading to them help them become familiar with the vocabulary term “Narrative”.  They will need to label types of text in first grade and be able to differentiate characteristics of those texts.  



You will also want them to start writing about how they relate to the story.  “What would you do if” types of questions will now be wrote out in sentences.  Your firster will learn how to give supportive reasoning and examples from narratives to form opinions as well.  They will draw from their own experiences as they develop character trait recognition….It is magical to hear my son beginning to compare himself to a character within a book!!  

We will focus in more detail about character traits during our next break……THANKSGIVING!!!  Can. Not. Wait.:)


Supportive reasons activitity for the book "If I Were President"
Supportive reasons activities for the book “If I Were President”.




Sequential Order or BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END……


 Emphasis is placed on pattering, story retell, using words like first, next, last because these skills are the stepping stones to ALL academics!  Later, there is number order/patterning, the scientific process, writing phonetic English patterns…the list is endless.  They are NOT just skills important to reading.   You may want to review those kindergarten story sequencing skills but expect them to point out key details with less prompting…….  More putting thoughts into correctly written words instead of using illustrated retell is what that looked like for my little guy.

The most common way to teach all about narrative reading and writing is to use story maps like these…..

Reading Rockets

Teacher Printables

There are really a lot of FREE printable story maps online at Teachers Pay Teachers if you are a FREE member!!!


At the start of first grade it’s all about using simple sentences to recall key details….

During first grade, children learn to write sentences to describe what is happening in the beginning, middle, and end of a narrative.  They develop more intricate writing patterns as the year progresses.  So they need to use a simple Story Map with say Beginning, Middle, End, character, and setting at the start of first grade.  

Towards the ending of the year the same child may be using a story map that asks the child to describe the plot and conflict in addition to the B/M/E.  For higher learning levels (as leveled by core standards) a story map may even ask them to describe the conflict, peak of conflict, and/or resolution using key details.

***** It is important to remember a story map should be appropriately challenging for each individual child.  AND that it is quite alright for parents to teach with a mixed level story map even if you need to make your own for your children!!  Sometimes my son uses cut and paste or hidden folding story maps for extra writing space. *****




I decided to really target Characters in narratives during break from school.  There is so much more to learn about characters in a story than a story map can cover here.  See how we cover characters using BIG visuals this week (HIS FAVORITE READING AND WRITING TOOL!!) as we step into informational text.  I will come back and post a link to this page!

When you chose to cover characters with a story map you can ask your child to write out the name of the main character with correct capitalization.  If there is more than one character ask them to write each characters name in order of importance.  Most times the main character is who is telling the story but the character telling the story may change at certain points.  Be sure to ask “Who is telling the story?”  

The setting often changes at different times during the story especially when reading firster chapter books.  When this happens my son first does a chapter by chapter story retell with posty notes:)

These are some of his favorite chapter book.  We take turns reading but it is still important that he read chapter books.  He is learning to use features of books like Table of Contents to find chapter title and page number.


Then I help him fill out a simple book report to summarize his notes.  

You can find FREE printable book reports at 123Homeschool4me.


Your firster should already be familiar with story books that are true and not real stories.  At this point they need to know what the vocabulary words Fiction and Nonfiction mean.  These two categories of text will be learned about continually throughout the year and this is why………

Nonfictional and Fictional text can be found in a many types of texts not just Narratives.

  • Narrative text
  • Personal Opinion Narrative text
  • Informational text (is generally nonfiction unless you are reading something like ” The Three Types of  Swap Monsters” 🙂 
  • Opinion text

More Information

Blessed Beyond A Doubt – fREE Fall Writing Prompts

This Reading Mama – Simple Writing Lessons

Fun In First – Narrative text and writing

Hub Pages – Explaining narratives and tons of activities for them








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