What Color Is Your Homework?

I’m often asked if I assign homework to my Kindergarten kids. Yes, I do. Once a year.

That’s right, once a year and on our first full day of school together. (I don’t consider daily reading to be homework. That’s simply an activity that should be part of everyone’s at-home routine.)

And, if I’m going to give homework only once, it’s got to be good. It also needs to have multiple purposes. So, I make “Homework Spheres” for my kids. The spheres are balls of homemade play dough with food coloring hidden inside.

This year, the one I’ll make to model the homework with will have red food coloring hidden inside. I’ll make blue ones for half of my class and yellow ones for the other half.

Want to create some homework excitement? This does it, and you’ll be happy with the additional benefits.

Benefits of Homework Spheres:

  • Getting To Know You
  • Initial Letter Identification and Sounds
  • Classmate Names Recognition
  • Writing sample
  • Shades of Color
  • Primary and Secondary Colors
  • Color mixing
  • Number Counting, Ordering, Ordinal Numbers
  • Predictions vs Actual
  • Tally Marks
  • Graphing
  • 2-D and 3-D Shapes
  • Fractions
  • Fine Motor Development
  • Sensory Experience

Homemade Play Dough (makes 9)
You Need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 TBSP Cream of Tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • wooden spoon, ice cream scoop
  • food coloring
  • Ziploc baggie for each student with their name written on it

How To:
In a pot, mix water, vegetable oil, Cream of Tartar and salt over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon for 3-4 minutes. Take the pot off of the heat and stir in flour. Mix well. Once it’s cool enough to handle, knead for about 3 minutes. You want it to feel smooth.

Scoop into spheres and then poke a hole in the top of each. I just use my finger. Squirt a few drops of food coloring in the hole and then cover with dough. Smooth it over and voila! Place each sphere inside a Baggie labeled with their name. I’ll also attach directions for their adults which mainly informs them that their child should do this activity over a sink!

When modeling how to do the homework, I’ll start off by showing them the play dough and then asking them a lot of questions about it regarding shape, size, and color, I’ll tell them that I can make the play dough change color and ask what color they think it will turn in to. We’ll write their predictions and make tally marks. Then I’ll start to play with the dough and they’ll see it changing colors. We’ll then update our predictions chart with the actual color.

We’ll go around the circle and make our predictions of what color their spheres will become. Most typically guess that theirs will be red, too. It’s a great time to discuss predictions, introduce tally marks and to graph predictions.

The kids will bring back their homework so we can use the spheres to discuss shades of color, primary/secondary colors, review predictions, and record actuals. We’ll divide the spheres into halves. The kiddos with a yellow half will trade with those who have a blue half. Then we have our yellow + blue = green fun. Time for more predictions/actuals, tally marks, and graphing.

While they are mixing their dough, I’ll have the opportunity to read aloud! The best book for this time together? Leo Lionni’s first picture book and a great one about friendship, Little Blue and Little Yellow. I’ve also done this with red and blue food coloring and read Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson).

What do we do with all of that green play dough? Use it in our centers!

Making Homework Spheres covers so many different curriculum points and it’s incredibly fun. And, every time I make these, my kids b-e-g me for more homework!

I’m thinking yours will, too.