Quick Quote: John Hay on Friends



Finish the Symmetrical Drawing: Easter Egg Patterns

This finish the picture printable for kids makes a perfect art activity for Easter.  And, in true Inner Pieces Gallery fashion, fun is just a good cover for helping kids reinforce important cognitive skills.


For instance:

Visual Closure

When students are able to take only partial information and visualize a complete whole, reading and comprehension becomes easier.  Instead of decoding every letter of each word, readers with strong visual closure skills are able to quickly recognize words by sight.


Finish the Symmetrical Drawing: Easter Egg Patterns

Spatial Awareness

Understanding where an object, or in this case, line, begins and ends will also help children understand the concept of symmetry in this activity.


Pattern Recognition

Supports countless areas of learning such as spelling, reading, math, and problem solving.


Fine Motor Skills

Essential for manipulating small objects such as scissors, pencils, shoelaces, puzzle pieces, or perhaps, in the case of our budding artists, crayons or paint brushes.


After the kids are finished completing and coloring the patterns in these Easter eggs, why not extend the fun?  Feel free to create your own version of an Easter egg hunt.


Here’s one way to play:

Cut out each of the eggs.  (For more eggs simply print more pages.)

Cut each egg in half vertically.

Hide the left halves of the eggs around the house.

Place the unhidden matching halves in a bag or a bowl.

Draw one of the half eggs from the bag or bowl.

Child hunts for the Easter egg match.

Repeat until all eggs are found.


Uh oh.  Find one that doesn’t match?  Have child leave it in place and remember its location. When the next unhidden match is drawn, child can exercise those memory and deductive reasoning skills, too.



If you want to bring this Easter egg hunt to the classroom, the student who collects the most matches first wins!


For kids who like to create their own patterns, this pdf download also includes a page of undecorated eggs.


To access this free printable:

Become an Inner Pieces Gallery newsletter subscriber!  Sign up in the box to the right (if you haven’t already.)  Then confirm.  Receive your private link and password and you’re in!


Cognitive Skill Builders for Kids – Teacher Tip #3


Continuing our series of guest teacher tips, educator Renee answers the question:

What is your favorite activity for strengthening students’ cognitive skills?


Cognitive Skill Builders for Kids Tip 3

As an early learning educator, parents often ask me how they can help their child grow.


Lo and behold the answer is not in flashcards or spelling drills but in building cognitive development.  It is about growing and exercising thinking skills.  Although cognitive skills and intelligence do go hand in hand, cognitive thinking goes beyond facts and academics.  I am sharing with you one of my favorite games to help build these skills with early learners. It is called


Which One Doesn’t Belong, and Why?

You can do this game anywhere including on the go. This game can be tailored to build visual, tactile, and auditory skills.


How to Play:

A person suggests verbally three to four things that relate to each other and one that does not. After the suggestions have been given, the person says, “Which one doesn’t belong? And why?”


This version of the game best builds auditory cognitive skills.



Visual skills: Use pictures or physical objects instead of words. Ask the learner to guess which doesn’t belong from the pictures or physical object.


Tactile skills: Have your learner practice writing skills by writing the answer. Another modification for this type of learner is to put physical items in a box with a slit in it to only feel the physical difference in the object.


Renee is an early learning educator who works with parents of toddlers & school aged children to build a strong foundation for their child’s education.  Learn more at madeforyoulearning.com.


Fun with Visual Figure Ground Skills

Visual figure ground refers to the ability to distinguish an object (figure) from its surroundings or background (ground).


Visual figure ground and letter tracking printableWith regard to reading, this visual skill helps students look at a busy page of print and not become overwhelmed.


That’s a good thing.


Students who have trouble with figure ground skills may become lost in the details, unable to focus.


And, since we never like to use the word “trouble” in the same sentences as “students,” let’s see how we can strengthen visual figure ground skills before any trouble begins.


Sound good?


Have you ever searched for a lucky 4-leaf clover in a giant sea of clovers?  Not very satisfying, was it?


A few simpler activities you can do with the kids include:

I spy games (You can play these anywhere, anytime.)

hidden picture books

treasure hunts

paint by numbers

sorting from a pile of items (socks, silverware, Legos, for example)


Since what I do around here happens to be, well, design learning materials, let me point you to a few printable pages that help build essential visual skills, including figure ground.


Line tracking                               Trace the overlapping lines.

Mazes                                        Full color.  Progressively challenging.

Image Tracking                           i.e. Circle every triangle.

Letter Tracking                           i.e. Circle every letter “b.”


The links above all lead you to my store.  This last one, on the other hand, is a freebie!


Seek & Find & Color-Me Hearts




Making Friends Is an Art

Children’s book author Julia Cook knows that in order to have good friends, kids need to know how to be a good friend.  Thankfully, she shares her wisdom in a book called Making Friends Is an Art!


The Story

Brown is the tallest, sharpest pencil in the box.  He’s not very happy about that.  Not exactly a brilliant or popular color, he isn’t chosen as often as the others.


Making Friends Is an Art!Feeling left out and, well, grumpy, sometimes Brown is mean toward the other pencils.  They seem so much better than he is.


Then Brown learns from the other pencils what friendship is all about.  He learns about empathy, kindness, and about being a good listener.  He learns how to appreciate some of his own good qualities and accept his differences.  Ultimately he learns how to be a good friend.


What I Love About this Children’s Book

Navigating the waters of friendship can be tough for many children.  Even tougher, teaching those same children about friendship without creating deeper feelings of inadequacy.


Making Friends Is an Art! tackles this delicate subject in a lighthearted, nonthreatening way.  Even children who don’t have trouble making friends will learn ways to help those children who do.


And kudos to illustrator Bridget A. Barnes.  Those pencils are pretty adorable!


Recommended for ages 4-8.


Personalize and Color-Me Bookmarks for Kids

Want to make reading an even more personal experience for the kids?  Give them printable bookmarks to color and personalize with their own names.


Wait.  What’s that you say?  You were looking for personalized bookmarks for National Reading Month?


What a lucky coincidence! I just so happen to have some printable patterned bookmarks for you right here!


Personalize and Color-Me Bookmarks



they just so happen to be perfect for National Reading Month.


  Personalize them for your students.  Or…

  Have your children write their own names in the frame.  Or…

  Add customized bookmarks to children’s party favor bags.  Or…

•  Print them any time, especially when you’d like to encourage more reading.  And coloring.  And… more reading.


To access this free printable:

Become an Inner Pieces Gallery newsletter subscriber!  Sign up in the box to the right (if you haven’t already.)  Then confirm.  Receive your private link and password and you’re in!  Final step, enjoy sharing these bookmarks with the kids.  A growing list of free monthly printables is already waiting for you.



Cognitive Skill Builders for Kids – Teacher Tip #2

Guest teacher Alessa Giampaolo Keener brings us the second in our series of cognitive skill builders for kids.  If you missed the first one, start here:

Cognitive Skill Builders for Kids – Teacher Tip #1


Cognitive Skill Builders for Kids

What is your favorite activity for strengthening students’ cognitive skills?


Perfectionism can be a roadblock to academic risk-taking. Not being willing to take a risk or make a guess when you’re learning new skills or content can hold a child back from learning and developing critical thinking skills.


alphametricsI have found that offering students opportunities to work on problems that have more than one answer helps perfectionist students grow as calculated academic risk-takers. Alphametic puzzles are one tool that I use.


Alphametics are clever math word expressions that substitute letters for digits in basic addition problems. Kids can be easily frustrated with these puzzles if they’re just left to plugging and chugging random numbers until they find an answer that works.  But, when they receive a few minutes of training and encouragement in how to look for patterns and number relationships, thereby strengthening logic and reasoning skills, their success rate soars – and so does their confidence.


Alessa Giampaolo Keener loves creating learning tools that nurture the whole child. Find out more about alphametic puzzles and how to solve them with your elementary students. http://everydaylearning.handinhandhomeschool.com/alphametics/