Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Indoor Winter Activities

It's freezing cold here so my kids have not been able to play outside in the snow for several days now. I've been trying to bring some of the outdoor fun inside. I thought you might like to try some of these ideas with your kids too.

~ Ice Skating: Use waxed paper and rubber bands or masking tape. Tape or attach a piece of waxed paper around each foot (preferably with a sock on the foot). Put on some music and watch your children skate.

~Fill your sensory tub (I just use a big plastic bin) with snow. Put mittens on the kids, give them a few gadgets and toys to play with in the snow and they will be happy for awhile. You can also provide magnifying glasses for the children to observe the snowflakes.

~Make Snow Play dough: It's actually just regular homemade play dough with some silver glitter but we like to pretend that it's snow play dough because it sparkles like the snow. You can find a play dough recipe on the Lesson Plans Plus website.

~Simple winter science experiment: Bring a container of snow indoors. Once the snow melts, add food coloring to the water. Place the container back outside until the water freezes into a colored block of ice. Bring the container back inside. The children can observe the changes as the ice melts.

~Bird Feeders: Another fun activity for kids is making bird feeders. Roll a pine cone in peanut butter and then roll (or sprinkle) the peanut butter covered pine cone with bird seed. Tie a string around the pine cone and hang it outside for the birds and squirrels to enjoy. Be sure to hang the feeder in a location where your children can easily see it by looking out a window.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Arts and Crafts

Life has been super busy around here and I haven't had time to update my blog in awhile. We have been doing lots of home improvement projects and we are also getting ready to put our house up for sale. Between all of this and my normal busy life as a mom of four year old twins, there hasn't been much time left-over.

I had good intentions of sharing some of our fun Thanksgiving projects but my life was so busy that I forgot to post. I wanted to give you a few easy and fun Christmas art projects as the Christmas holiday will be here before I know it.

Hand print Wreath: This is super easy. Lay out a large piece of white construction paper as well as a shallow pan of red paint and a shallow pan of green paint. Very lightly (in pencil) draw a circle in the center of the construction paper. Have your child dip his/her hand in the green paint and press it all around the circle. After the hand print circle is complete, instruct your child to dip his/her finger in the red paint and then press it around on the green hand prints. The hand prints are the greenery of the wreath and the red dots are berries. I also cut a red bow from construction paper for my kids to place on the wreath. You can cut the wreath out or leave it displayed on the large piece of paper.

Rudolph: You can trace your child's hands and feet on brown paper, cut out and let your child assemble and glue onto a piece of white (or whatever color you choose) paper for this project or you can use painted hand prints and a footprint. Rudolph's face is the foot shape and his antlers are the hands. Decorate with eyes and a red nose.

Shiny Candy Cane: Draw a large candy cane shape on construction paper and cut out (or let your child do the cutting). Mix red tempera paint with a small amount of corn syrup. Let your child paint the candy cane. When dry, it will have a shiny wet look like real hard candy.

If I get the time, I will try to post some pictures of these projects in a few days.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fall Fun

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful fall. The leaves are starting to change colors and there is a chill in the air here in Michigan. I love this time of the year. My children and I spent this evening creating pumpkin art. My kids painted and decorated large construction paper pumpkins and they also worked on smaller tissue paper pumpkins that we will as fall decorations in our home. I set out a variety of materials for my kids to decorate their pumpkins and they enjoyed using paint, glitter, shape cut-outs, colored pom pom balls, tissue paper, small beads and wiggly eyes. These are no average jack-o -lanterns. It's fun to provide a bunch of materials and let your children be creative.

I want to share a resource that I recently discovered. A Kid's Heart is a fun site offering many free online games and printable activities for children. They have a page of autumn activities that you might enjoy so check it out when you get a chance.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fourth of July (Independance Day) Crafts and Activities

I've always loved the Fourth of July. Getting my kids involved in Patriotic decorating and activities is so much fun. I thought that I would share some of our red, white and blue crafts and activities with you.

American Flag: This is so easy. If you have little kids who are not good with scissors yet you will need to do some preparation while older kids can do their own cutting. Provide a piece of white construction paper to work on. Next provide strips (older kids can cut their own) of red construction paper (these are the red stripes on the flag). Let your children glue the red strips onto the white paper (leaving enough space between the red strips so that the white appears to be stripes too). After gluing the strips onto the paper glue a blue rectangle in the corner. Use white chalk to draw stars on the blue paper. Instead of chalk, you could also use foil star stickers if you happen to have any on hand.

Fireworks Art: Provide black construction paper, red, white and blue tempera paint, glitter and sponges. I like to use the round puffy dish washing type sponges but they can be hard to find so you could simply cut a rectangular sponge into a circle and them cut a few jagged edges to make it look more like a firework burst. Let the children dip the sponges into red, white and blue paint and then sprinkle glitter onto their firework.

Patriotic Shakers: Attach a few pieces of red, white and/or blue crepe paper to a paper plate (these will be streamers). Fold the paper plate in half and staple all but a small opening. Fill with dry beans and then finish stapling. I like to put clear tape across the staples so they don't poke little fingers. Let your children decorate the shakers with red and blue crayons or paint. You could also provide star cut-outs or stickers if you wish.

Flag Cake: Simply bake your favorite cake (I just use a cake mix for this cake) in a rectangle pan. After the cake has cooled, cover it with whipped topping instead of frosting. Use fresh strawberries for the stripes and fresh blueberries in the corner for the star area.

Shaving Cream Fun: Provide 3 large cookie sheets. Spray shaving cream on each cookie sheet. Leave one white but add red food coloring to one and blue to the other. Let your child play in the shaving cream. This is very messy but good clean fun. I like to put the kids in their bathing suits and do this outside so that I can just spray everything (and everyone) down with the hose when finished. If you have children who like to put everything in their mouths, you could use the spray whipped topping instead.

Red, White and Blue Bubbles: Fill 3 separate containers with bubble mixture. Leave one plain but add red food coloring to one pan and blue to another. Check out my website to make your own bubbles.

USA Map Floor Puzzle: Cover a USA map in clear contact paper. Cut the map into several pieces according to your child's ability to make a big floor puzzle.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Fun Ideas

I hope that you are having a wonderful start to summer. We've been spending a lot of time outside as we always do in the summer. I like to take activities that we normally do inside and bring them outside. It's fun to think of the backyard as an extension of our house and living in Michigan, summertime is the best time of the year to do that.

I want to get everyone to "think outside the box" and do a few things differently for a fun change. I will share a few things that I like to do with my kids.

Have art and craft time outside. Bring an easel outside along with paper, washable paint and paintbrushes. If you don't have an easel, attach a large piece of paper to a fence or even a tree.

Make chalk drawings on paper outside. Fill a small bucket with water so the children can make both dry chalk and wet chalk drawings. When they are finished, they can color the pavement with the wet and dry chalk.

Find a shady spot (maybe under a tree) and have story time outside.

Bring some lunch fixings outside and let your children prepare their own lunch outside and then eat on a blanket or at a picnic table.

Fill a child size pool with soapy water, give your children some sponges and let them wash several of their toys outside. When the toys are clean you can rinse off the soap residue with the hose and then let the toys dry in the sun. When I was teaching preschool outside the home, I even brought all of our classroom chairs outside and let the children scrub them clean. It was a lot of fun.

Have a outdoor pupppet show.

Weekly Challenge: Choose one of the activities that I listed or come up with an idea of your own and do it differently than you normally would. If the weather outside does not cooperate with your plans you could think outside the box and even do a typical outdoor activity indoors. My kids loved having indoor picnics in the winter. I would love to hear about your ideas.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 30, 2008

Homemade Bathtub Paint

I've always thought about buying bathtub paint for my kids but have yet to do it. I happened to find a recipe for homemade bathtub paint and I'm going to give it a try soon. It's easy to make and the ingredients are very inexpensive. It's the weekend now and I find that I tend to let my kids linger and play longer in the tub on the weekends since daddy is home to help and we are less rushed. The weekend seems like a great time to give this bathtub paint a try. Art in the tub! Fun and easy to clean. Sounds like a winner to me!

The Recipe for this tub paint was found at FamilyFun.Com

Color-me-clean Tub Paints
½ cup liquid hand soap, clear or white
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Food coloring

Time needed: Under 1 Hour
1. Combine the soap and cornstarch in a small bowl. 2. Divide the mixture into separate containers, then add food coloring one drop at a time. Caution: Test the paints on a small area of your tub or wall first to make sure they won't leave a stain; darker hues may be more difficult to wash off. Tips: Apply to tub and body with fingers or paintbrushes. Use bathroom cleanser to clean the tub if any color remains. Keep any leftover paints in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to three days.

If you try it with your kids too, I would love to know how they (and you) liked it.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day Activities and Patriotic Projects

I would like to start off by saying thank you to all of the military families past and present. I have so much respect for all of the men and woman who serve our country.

In honor of Memorial Day my children and I have been doing a few patriotic projects. We planted some "patriotic" flowers in the yard and have been doing our annual red, white and blue decorating. We've also enjoyed a few art projects and a simple, healthy and yummy patriotic snack. I would love to share some of our ideas with you. These simple projects would be perfect to do at home or in a classroom or daycare setting.

Patriotic Straw Painting:
I added some water and liquid soap (my trick to help paint wash off easier) to a small bowl of red paint, a bowl of white paint and a bowl of blue paint. I wanted the paint to be a runny consistency. I gave my children paint brushes, construction paper and straws. I demonstrated how to splatter paint onto construction paper and then I instructed them to aim their straws at the splattered paint on the paper and blow the paint around the paper (being careful not to suck in any paint).

Hand Print Flags:
I used red, white and blue paint to paint the palms of my children's hands like a flag. I alternated red and white paint on their fingers, painted a small blue square in the corner of their hand (across form the thumb) and I painted their thumbs blue (white would look nice too). When finished, they pressed their hands onto a small piece of construction paper and then placed a star inside of the blue square on their hand print. The end result was a sweet little hand print flag.

Patriotic Painting with Brushes:
I gave my kids blue construction paper along with red and white tempera paint and just let them paint however they chose. I did the same with red construction paper, blue and white paint. The end result was red, white and blue creative artwork.

Fancy Patriotic Parfait:
My children helped make a healthy fruit parfait by slicing bananas and strawberries with a plastic knife. I used their prepared fruit to make parfaits. I used some champagne glasses to make the parfaits a little more fun and fancy. We layered vanilla yogurt, blueberries, bananas and strawberries. I ended with a dollop of yogurt on top sprinkled with a few more blueberries. This was an was an easy, healthy and fun snack that my kids loved.

Some other ways to celebrate Memorial Day and be patriotic:

Go watch a parade with your family. Many cities and towns host Memorial Day parades.
Wear red, white and blue clothing.
Invite some friends, neighbors or family members over for a back yard barbecue.
Enjoy spending time with your family.
Fly an American Flag
Make cards for Veterans and drop them off at a nearby Home for Veterans if you have one in your area.
Make sure to say thank you to anyone you know who serves or has served in our military.
Visit a Veterans Memorial if you have one nearby.
Do a random act of kindness for a Veteran or Veteran family. Some ideas could be weeding, raking leaves, mowing a lawn or even dropping off a homemade treat or card to show gratitude.
Pray for the men and women who serve our country and all of the families associated with them.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Butterfly Fun

Today my kids and I went to a playgroup at our local library. The theme was bugs and butterflies. There was a sensory bin filled with water and pretend bugs and among the bugs was one butterfly. Both of my children were especially attracted to that one butterfly so I thought it would be fun if I could find some bugs and butterflies for our own sensory table at home. After playgroup, we needed to stop by the store so I decided to take a quick look in the toy section for some pretend butterflies. I found a tube filled with an assortment of 16 bugs and butterflies for $3.99 at Target. Perfect! I also bought a couple bags of rice for our sensory table. Back at home, I poured the rice and bugs inside our sensory bin and the kids had a wonderful time playing. They even arranged some of their painted rocks (we get a lot of mileage out of those rocks!) inside the bin and made a colorful rock garden for their pretend bugs.

We also had butterfly craft time at home this evening. One of the crafts was from playgroup but my kids chose not to do it there. I actually had all of the supplies at home because I was planning a similar project later in the week. We made two variations of coffee filter butterflies. I let the kids color coffee filters with markers. When they finished coloring, I bunched the coffee filter together down the middle and secured it with a pipe cleaner. The pipe cleaner became the body of the butterfly as well as the antennae. The second butterfly craft was similar only I used a clothes pin as the body of the butterfly. After fastening the clothes pin in place, the kids glued on tiny wiggly eyes, drew a face and colored the body.

After completing our butterfly craft, My kids enjoyed helping me read aloud one of our favorite Eric Carle books "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".

Do your kids enjoy butterflies too? When I was teaching preschool outside the home, every year I ordered a live butterfly garden from a company called Insect Lore. It was a wonderful learning experience for the children to have such a hands-on approach and to watch butterflies unfold before their eyes. Our local botanical gardens has a wonderful butterfly exhibit every year and my own children and I spent many days there this Spring watching the butterflies bloom.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rock On (Part 2)

I had a feeling that this activity was going to be a hit with my kids but I did not anticipate that it would delight them for over two hours.

We are really enjoying rocks at our house these days. I gave each of my kids a small bucket and we set out for another rock hunt. I told them to collect as many rocks as they wished as long as they fit inside the bucket. Being the particular children that they are, they took their time hunting and choosing rocks that appealed to them. We spent nearly 30 minutes outside wandering around looking for the most special rocks. We had a good conversation about colors, textures, shapes, sizes and even talked how some rocks may have been formed. It was a lot of fun.

Once inside, I filled a large plastic bin with soapy water and placed it on a large towel on the kitchen table. I suddenly thought to take the opportunity to toss in a bit more of a science lesson and I grabbed some food coloring from the pantry. I asked the kids what would happen if we put blue and red food coloring into the water. They already knew the answer but it was still fun to swirl their little hands around in the water mixing the colors together.

After they played in the bubbles for a bit, I told them that they could drop their rocks into the water and scrub them clean. I handed out sponges and they engrossed themselves into rock scrubbing and playing for nearly an hour. I had no idea they would have that much fun with rocks, soapy water and a sponge. I finally talked them into laying the rocks out on a towel to dry so I could clear the table for lunch. They agreed because they knew that after lunch, the next activity would be painting the rocks.

I sent them into another room to play a memory match game while I cleaned off the table and prepared lunch. As promised, after lunch, I lined the table with newspaper, set out various colors of washable tempera paint (some with added glitter) and paintbrushes and I let them paint until their hearts content. They had each collected at least 20 rocks and painted most of them with care which took over 30 minutes. They were kind enough to let me to paint a couple of rocks.

The painted rocks are now very special treasures. I suggested placing them back out into the yard but that idea did not go over at all. Instead, they have been storing them in their buckets and using them in a variety of creative ways. It's so much fun to watch the imaginations of my children soar with such simple things. I can't promise that your kids will spend over two hours on this project like mine did but I think I would be safe to promise some fun. One project became a science activity, nature activity, sensory experience, art activity, language and learning opportunity and a wonderful outlet for creative expression. Not bad for a pile of rocks.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mother's Day Ideas

I've always enjoyed making hand print art with my students. These days, I do a lot of hand print art with my own children at home. I love saving their precious little hand prints to look back on later. Hand print art is very common but there is a good reason for it, mom's love getting hand print gifts. Hand print and fingerprint art makes for a fun art project, sensory experience and science project too.

For Mother's Day I like to do hand print flowers. Paint the child's hand with one color or use as many colors of washable tempera paint as you wish. Instruct child to keep fingers together. Press the child's hand onto a sheet of card stock paper. The child can then dip her finger into green paint and make a fingerprint stem for the hand print flower.

I like to make copies of a fingerprint poem to glue onto the hand print flower picture. One of my favorite poems to compliment Mother's Day hand print artwork is below. The author is unknown.

Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small,
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.
But everyday I am growing,
I'll be grown up someday,
And all these tiny hand prints
Will simply fade away.
So here's a final hand print
Just so you can recall,
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.

Love, (Child's name and date)

Labels: , , , , ,

Sick Day

I need a sick day but it's not going to happen. I can't tell my two preschoolers that mommy is off duty for the day. My kids were sick last week and they were nice enough to share their germs with me. I knew that I needed to find some low effort projects to keep my high energy kids busy today.
  • I put a few pipe cleaners out on the kitchen table along with a pile of Cheerios for each child. They strung the Cheerios onto the pipe cleaners to their hearts content and we made several bracelets and rings. When they finished their projects, I let them eat the Cheerios off their creations and then start over again.
  • When they tired of that activity, I used Elmers glue to trace each child's name onto a piece of construction paper and then I let them stick Cheerios onto their name.

It was a simple low effort, low energy project for me that kept my kids busy, happy and quiet for awhile. I didn't even have to worry about making them a snack because they ate plenty of Cheerios while doing their projects. They also got to learn about ABC's and work on their fine motor skills.

Weekly Challenge: Have some fun with food. I'll post a few other ideas soon.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grass Hair People

Provide small cups and markers and let your children decorate the cups with faces. After the drawings are complete, provide potting soil and grass seed. Children can plant grass seed in the cups. Be sure to place the cups in a sunny spot and water frequently. Once the grass grows tall enough children can give the grass hair person a haircut. You could also encourage your children to help fill in some bare patches on the lawn using their grass hair people.

Weekly Challenge: Whether you chose to do the rock activity, the grass activity, the May Day project or something entirely different, enjoy some aspect of nature and Spring with your children.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 28, 2008

Getting ready for May Day!

May Day celebrations take place on May 1st. It's a time to celebrate springtime. I like to make May Baskets with my children. They decorate paper plates and then I roll each plate into a cone shape and staple it to secure the shape. A ribbon can be attached to the cone to serve as a handle. We go on a walk to collect wild flowers (or flowers around the yard) to place in our May baskets. Once our May baskets are filled, we give them away to brighten someones day. Of course, we also like to gather a few flowers to enjoy ourselves.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rock On!

I don't think I've ever met a child who didn't like rocks. Whatever the shape or size, rocks are cool and fun. Have you ever found a stow away rock while checking tiny pockets before tossing clothes in the wash? I know that I have. If your children enjoy rocks then they are sure to have fun with a project I'm going to share. This activity is easy and appropriate for one child at home or a group of children.

Give your child a small bucket and go for a rock hunt outside. I like to set a specific number ahead of time to add some simple math into the project. For example..."You may choose 10 rocks to place in your bucket". Of course you can also let your child choose rocks to his/her hearts content.

After the rock hunt, find some small containers or bowls and place a couple pieces of folded paper towel into each one. Pour a small amount of washable paint onto the paper towels to make "paint pads". Give your children a large piece of paper and they can dip the rocks onto the paint pads. Children can then use the rocks like they would a rubber stamp. Stamp the rocks onto the paper for rock prints.

Tip: You can find washable paint at almost any craft supply store. Click the link below to see an example:
Washable Paint

Labels: , ,