Thursday, April 30, 2009

Turtle Splash

Over at Book Worms BookNook they have a reading theme challenge every week. Last week the book was:

Turtle Splash!: Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwell

I was not on the ball last week so I did not get our activity posted, but we sure had a lot of fun this morning making some turtles! We are making 10 turtles total so as we read the book we can take one away each time another turtle leaves in the book. Aidan really enjoys these counting games as we always do one at our library story time, so I thought this would be a fun way to incorporate math, art, and reading together!

What we used:

Green Paint
Green construction paper
Scissors
Glue
Googly eyes
Egg carton
Turtle pattern from Preschool Express (I used the 4" pattern)


Aidan painted each of the individual egg carton "turtle shells".

Ella helped with a couple as well. I love the look of concentration on her face!

While the paint was drying, I traced and cut out turtles with the turtle pattern and green construction paper. When the paint was dry, Aidan glued the shell onto the turtle's back and then glued on some googly eyes.


I might also grab some felt next time we are at Walmart and make some turtles for our flannel board so we could also use those as we read the story. If you don't have a flannel board at home but would like to make one, I found a pretty good tutorial over here.

Has anyone else read this story? It really is an adorable book. Have you done any fun turtle crafts?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mini Clipboards

I saw this genius idea over at Let's Explore and had to make one for Aidan. It is so simple, has many uses, is made from material already in your house, and you can totally personalize it however you want!

What you need:

Cardboard (we used the front and back of a Teddy Grahams box and glued them together to make it more sturdy)
Pretty paper or your child's artwork
Binder clip
Contact Paper (if you want to cover it all to protect it)

All I did was cut the front and back off a Teddy Grahams box, glued the two rectangles together. Aidan picked out the paper he wanted from my scrapbook paper stash. I glued the paper onto the cardboard and then covered with clear contact paper.

Add some paper and you have the perfect little miniature clipboard.



While you of course can make yours any size you like, I like ours because it will fit nicely in the diaper bag, and its easy for him to carry himself.

Ways I plan to use it:
  • Dramatic Play - if we play restaurant he can "write" orders down
  • Science/Nature - he could take it along on one of our walks and draw any animals or bugs or trees or whatever he finds interesting during the walk
  • Church or Retraurants - it's just the right size for a little scribble pad for him to draw on to keep him entertained when he needs to be quiet
  • I might tape a letter or number to the bottom of it so he can see what it looks like as he starts to practice writing
Do your children have little clipboards? How do you use them?
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Rainy Day

So yucky and rainy here today. We made our own fun indoors with a good old fashioned blanket tent!

I brought the card table up to the living room, set it up, put it next to the train table (they like to crawl under it anyway), threw some blankets over, and we had our tent! They had a ton of fun crawling through it every which way. We also read books under the tent and later I added our tunnel off of one end to keep it interesting. When Daddy got home he expanded it a little by adding a chair and some more blankets so we had more room to maneuver underneath.

I don't know about your kids, but mine love crawling under things and having their own "secret" places. It was a great addition to the room today that they enjoyed while we were stuck inside.



What are some of your favorite rainy day activities?

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Straw Necklace

My three-year-old has really been into using his scissors lately. He doesn't cut across a paper though, he mostly makes little slits and then tears and cuts again to cut a tiny little triangle. I wanted to give him some more practice cutting and using his fine motor skills that was different than cutting paper.
My 17 month old got a necklace at a parade last weekend and Aidan really likes it, so I thought maybe he could make his own necklace. I remembered that I happen to have some neon colored straws and thought they would be great to cut up and thread onto some yarn to make his very own necklace!

What we used:

Straws
Scissors
Yarn
Tape

First Aidan used his scissors and cut up the straws to about an inch or less in length. I did help a little as he got down to only having a little bit of straw left.

Then he strung them onto the yarn. I wrapped a piece of tape around the end of the yarn so it would be more stiff and not fray as he was threading the straws on. We also talked about making a pattern and made a repeating pattern with our 4 colors. If you wanted to include a lesson on patterns, use the number of colors your child would be able to handle in completing the pattern. A younger child for example might be able to go blue-green-blue-green, but a child with more experience might be able to do a more complex pattern.

When finished, he proudly wore his necklace. And, at least for us, no more fighting over the red beaded necklace from the parade!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day

I know there are a lot of Earth Day crafts being posted out there. Make and Takes has links to a lot of fun ideas. I actually have no original idea to share. I saw this one over at Just For Fun and thought it was super cute and asked Aidan if he would like to make an earth. He was very excited about it, so that is what we made today. We ended up putting our own little twist on the project which I will explain below.

What we used:

Paper Plate
Blue and green paint
Stapler
Newspaper
Glue
Cotton Balls

  1. First Aidan covered the paper plate in blue paint (ocean)
  2. Then he painted his hand green and made a hand print on the plate (land)
  3. He had decided to make two earth paper plates, so I thought it might be fun to staple them together and put some stuffing in, which is exactly what we did (after the paint was dry). I stapled about half of it shut, let him rip up some newspaper, ball it up and put it in the middle. When he decided it was full enough I finished stapling it shut.
  4. He was very proud of his project.
After dinner tonight we decided to be even more elaborate and glue some cotton balls onto his earth to be the clouds you can see from space.




I also just got an email from Barnes & Noble with a list of Children's Earth Day books and a 30% off in-store coupon you can print off.

Do you have any favorite crafts or books you are sharing with your children for Earth Day?
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cookie Cutter Stamps

Cookie cutters are awesome. They are cheap. They come in any shape you want. You can use them for playdough, as stencils, or as stamps! Which is just what we did.

What we used:

Tempera Paint
Cookie Cutters
Paper

We did this project outside as well, just because it was such a beautiful day. I covered the table on our back porch with our big roll of newsprint paper, poured some paint into a bowl, and then showed the kids how they could dip the cookie cutters into the paint and stamp them onto the paper.


They had fun, got a little messy, and it was oh so simple.

I have to share this picture of my messy little bear. She was really enjoying the whole creative process today!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bubble Wrap Painting

Have you ever tried painting with bubble wrap? Makes for a great sensory and art experience!

What we used:

  • Bubble Wrap
  • Tempera Paint - the kind of paint doesn't matter, that is just what we used
  • Plain Paper or Construction Paper
  • Paint brushes - or just use your hands or however you want to apply the paint to the bubble wrap

First we just explored the bubble wrap, popped a few of the bubbles (Ella likes to say "POP" and clap her hands!).

I put the paint in little cups (these were actually leftover Easter egg dying cups), gave them paint brushes and let them paint the bubble wrap. I had taped the bubble wrap to the table so it wouldn't move around while they were painting.

When Ella decided she was done painting the bubble wrap, we put a piece of paper on top and patted all around to make sure we picked up the paint underneath.

Lift it up and... TA DA! Pretty circle prints!



My three-year-old also did the project, but he wasn't really into it today for some reason. He has enjoyed this project in the past. I was really excited by how much Ella enjoyed it all though. She really worked hard to paint her bubble wrap and helped me with each step.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Amazing Alligators

Earlier this week we attended a class at our local zoo called Zoo Tots. If you happen to live near a zoo I highly recommend taking advantage of becoming a member of your zoo and signing up for any class like this they may have. Our local zoo is the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa and in the spring and fall they offer about 6-8 different classes for kids age 2-4. We usually choose two of the classes to go to and this week's theme was "amazing alligators".

During the 45 minute class we read a book, do a craft, have a snack and then get to meet and touch an animal.

The book we read was "There's An Alligator Under My Bed" by Mercer Mayer.



Then Aidan colored and cut out his very own alligator. It had been drawn on three separate sheets of paper. There was a hole punched into each of the pieces so that we could connect them all with brads. Aidan loves that his alligator's tail can wag and his mouth can chomp! I know you don't have the pattern, but if you wanted to do this craft, it would be super simple to draw the different body parts yourself, they are not very detailed shapes. I think I might even make some little legs and feet for his alligator and attach them with brads as well.

At the end we got to touch a 2 year old alligator. Apparently he will grow to be about 13 feet long. For the rest of the week Aidan has been telling everyone he got to touch an alligator, but we only touch his tail and back, NOT his head because he has teeth!

We didn't sing this at our class, but one of my kids favorite alligator songs is:

Five Little Monkeys Swinging from a Tree

Five little monkeys swinging from a tree
Teasing Mr. Alligator, Can't catch me!
Along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be and
SNAPPED that monkey right out of the tree.

Four little monkeys swinging from a tree...
Three little monkeys swinging from a tree...
Two little monkeys swinging from a tree...
One little monkey swinging from a tree...

No more monkeys swinging in the tree!

I just found this video on YouTube in case you don't know how the song sounds.

Have fun!

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Foam painting

What we used:

Paper
Pan
Colored Bath Foam - I found these at WalMart by the kids bubble bath. We use it for our sensory tub sometimes as well.
(You could also use shaving cream and color it with food coloring or liquid water color paint. If you use food coloring be aware that your kids hands will be that color for the rest of the day!)

I sprayed the bath foam into the cake pan and let the kids explore it with their hands. They thought it was pretty cool!


After they were done exploring the foam, we put a piece of paper on top of the foam and patted all around to make sure we covered the paper.



Lift the paper out and lay it foamy side up.

Use some sort of scraping tool and scrape off the excess foam/shaving cream. I think this is actually some sort of kitchen scraper, though I have never used it before, but I found it in a drawer and it worked perfect for us. Anything with a flat edge will do nicely though.

This is what our marbleized paper looked like at the end. It is pretty faint, but if you did use food coloring or liquid watercolor it would be a little more colorful.

The kids both enjoyed the sensory experience, mixed with making a little work of art!

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Sun Catchers

So I am a little late posting this for Easter, but you can use the concept for any shape. I meant to get it posted before I left for my in-laws this weekend, but it always takes a lot longer to pack up all the stuff two little ones need than I think it will!

What you need:
Tissue Paper
Clear contact paper
Scissors
Tape

I cut the contact paper to the size I wanted, peeled off the backing, and taped it sticky side up to the table.

Then I gave the kids the tissue paper squares and let them put it on however they liked. Aidan was very meticulous on where he positioned each square...

...and Ella just grabbed a handful and put it on the contact paper!

When they were finished putting their tissue paper on, I covered it with another sheet of contact paper so it all stuck together and cut it out into an egg shape (but of course, make whatever shape you would like!) Then I just used small loops of scotch tape and stuck it to the window. So pretty when the sun shines through it!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Finds

Make some rain over at My Little Gems.

Super cute hand print bunnies at Just For Fun.

Tons of Easter crafts at kiddio's Kid-Craft Jamboree.

Make your own mini clipboards at Let's Explore.

Cute book at Stories for Snuggling. This morning it was one of the books at story time at our library. What a coincidence!

Yummy looking edible bird's nest treat over at This Little Project.

Recycled Crayons

What a cute idea- break down your old crayons, melt them down and make new (more fun!) crayons! I saw this in a couple of places:

Make and Takes
and
Chica and Jo

At Make and Takes they used muffin tins and just put colors that would look nice together into the same space. At Chica and Jo they made rainbow crayons in a triangle shape. Check out either website for directions on how to do it. I will just add a few things I learned here.

Last week I bought some candy molds at Michael's (using the weekly 40% off coupon of course - even though they only cost about $2 to begin with - I like to save a few pennies!) I chose the transportation and the sea life themes. I also used a muffin tin.

The first time I tried this, I broke the crayons and then tried the melting technique of using the microwave and paper cups. It took forever for the crayons to melt. Perhaps I did not break them down small enough, perhaps I did not have the microwave set on high. Either way, I will not be doing it that way again.

Today I put the crayons into empty, dry tin cans and melted them in the oven. This still took awhile, but only because I did one color at a time, or at least staggered their cook start times so as I was making the rainbow crayons, each color had a chance to set before I added a new color on top of it. I melted them at 275 degrees for about 10 minutes, but again, I should have broken the pieces down a little smaller, maybe it would have taken a little less time.

Then you just carefully remove the can from the oven and pour into whatever mold you have decided to use. Let cool on the counter or stick in the freezer for a little bit and they will pop right out.




I think they turned out pretty cute. I think these are going in the Easter baskets as well. :)

Oh...and if you choose to try the cookie cutter route as suggested at Make and Takes, be sure to check out Mandi's experience over at Doodles' Place. She has a suggestion that might make it work a little better.

Happy crayon crafting!
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Placemat Puzzle

I have seen this idea in a few different places now, during a few other holiday seasons. I saw this place mat at Kohl's the other day on sale for like $1.50, plus I had the 30% off coupon this time, so I could not pass it up. I bought the place mat and brought it home.

Tonight I cut it up into 8 pieces...

...and put it in a plastic baggie.



It will show up again on Sunday in Ella's Easter basket!
This particular place mat is made out of pretty thick foam so I decided to make it into a puzzle for my younger one. Aidan is already loving 48 piece puzzles, so I guess if Ella doesn't care for it, I can just cut the pieces up even more and let him have a go.

So easy, and yet so cute!
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