Letter Watermelons { Summer Alphabet Craft }

alphabet for starters Quick and easy crafts seem to be our thing right now because free play in our yard , reading under our maple tree ,and drenching each other in water fights is occupying most of our time. It’s summer and we are soaking it all in. That said I still want to do some fun summer themed learning activities and this one fits the bill. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters series that exposes children to letters through fun and creative activities instead of drill and flashcards. You can see all the posts in the series here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some black letter stickers, pink and green crayons, scissors and paper plates. letter waternelons
  2. Start by coloring a full plate pink in the middle and green on the edges.watermelon alphabet craft Paint would give you better coverage but this is a fast craft so we used crayons. Coloring on the edge was a really fun sensory experience. It’s bumpy and makes a fun sound. watermelon letter craft for children
  3. Cut in half. watermelon craft
  4. Add the seeds! In this case the seeds are alphabet stickers but you could do numbers too. watermelon lettersMy son did numbers water melonwhile my daughter did random letters on one and her name on another.  letter watermelon abcOlder kids could spell words too. Something you will likely notice with a young child still discovering letter is that they will naturally name each letter and or ask you to name it as they apply it to their watermelon. I love that. You don’t have to drill them because they are exploring on their own.I was about to write let dry but since we used crayons there is no drying time at all. Perfect quick summer themed craft with just a short burst of letter recognition. watermelon letter craft for kids

Art Museum Games & Tips

art for kidsTaking kids to an art museum can be an unpredictable adventure. They might love it, browse the art along with you and beg not to leave. They may also barely scan the art, try to touch everything and use the voice you begged them to only use on the soccer field the whole time. Kids are kids and expecting them to adore things that aren’t completely designed for them and then being angry or disappointed when they act their age is not really fair.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t expose our kids to art at art museums or give them expectations to live up to. What it does mean is that we help them reach these goals by giving them some tools.

Here are 5 simple games you can play with your kids at the art museum to keep them engaged in the art .

Secret Painting

museum

This game was created by my 6 year old on the way to the museum on Friday. I was explaining the next game on our list when he announced from his car seat that he had a better idea. I ran with it.

How to play :
One player chooses a work of art in a room/gallery but does not tell the other players which one it is. The other players try to guess which work of art is the secret one. You can ask for clues that give a yes or no answers just like in the game 20 questions. Whoever finds the secret one first gets to choose the next one in the next room/gallery .

art museum tips for kids

I’ll Take That One !

How To Play:
Each player chooses one piece of art in each room/gallery to pretend they are going to buy from the museum. They must also say where they would put the art in their own home.

art museums

Build A Rainbow

How To Play :
This is essentially a color hunt. In each gallery see if you and your kids can find every color of the rainbow. To make it more challenging you can add a rule that you can only find one color per painting. So that painting with the rainbow … yeah not going to cut it! This is a great game to play with toddlers, just make sure that they know that art is for looking at and not touching ( we are still working on that too ).

museum tips for kids

I Spy

How To Play:
Choose a color from inside a painting and the players can make guesses to what element it may be. For example if there is a brown dog in a painting the spyer will say ” I spy something brown” and the guessers will look for all the brown items in the painting, hopefully guessing the dog. This works great with kids of similar ability levels. My kids are just getting to the point where they can play games like this together and I love it. With older children you could do this with artists or genres saying ” I spy a Jackson Pollock” or ” I spy an impressionist painting.”. Adapt it to your kids.exploring art museums with kids

 

10 Tips For A Fun Museum Trip ( even with toddlers )

  1. Go early when there are fewer crowds and your kids are fresh and open to learning.
  2. Go on a full belly.
  3. Look at the map together and find the bathrooms on the map. Suggest you check them out right away.
  4. Go on a free day so if you must abort ship when a meltdown arises you aren’t out an admission price . It can be busier but if your child isn’t the quietest ( I know mine aren’t) the crowds tend to make a loud toddler voice less distracting and make your trip more pleasant. You can talk to your kids in a regular voice and not worry about your kiddo being quiet.
  5. Find out if photography is allowed and if it is hand your kids a camera to document their trip.
  6. In and out. Most museums will allow you to have in and out privileges so if your kids need a breather take one.
  7. Play games to keep kids engaged . Some museums will have kid friendly maps or guides .
  8. Bring a sketch book.
  9. Know when they are done and find the nearest exit. Don’t try to see just one more thing. If you see the signs of a meltdown just go.
  10. Visit the gift shop and after you return home read about art, museums and artists to keep the learning going.

Books About Art Museums

Babar's Museum Of Art

Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent de Brunhoff is one of my favorite art books for kids. My son has recently decided he hates it because he doesn’t want to see the elephant versions of the art. All the art in the museum are masterpieces that you will recognize redone with elephants. He slams the page in the way only toddlers with a definite sense of justice can and says ” No elephant paintings Mama, real ones!” Trust me though this book is awesome and he loved it a few months ago. The story is about how Queen Celeste wants to change the abandoned railway station into a museum to house all their collected art . The museum itself looks just like the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and the story also explains art for children.

meet

Meet Me at the Art Museum: A Whimsical Look Behind the Scenes by Davis Goldin was a gift shop find at the museum we visited last week and the perfect book to keep my kids learning and interested. I read it to them while they ate lunch after our morning visit and they both really liked it. The book is a behind the scenes tour of an art museum. My daughter liked the inanimate objects that were turned into characters like the ticket stub and name tag while my son loved the insider info like how they choose paintings to display , check to make sure they aren’t fakes, and the security devices they use. I loved how it really explained the different jobs at the museum from docent to archivist to director and curator. The book held both their attention and reading it right after out trip gave us a fresh experience to relate it to.

Museum Trip

Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman is fantastic. This wordless book has a clear strong message – that if exposed children can loose themselves in art, it opens a new world with new adventures before unseen! The story opens with a little boy on a school field trip to a museum, he looses his group , and soon finds himself in the art. After completing many mazes he is given a medal before he rejoins his group. My favorite part is as he is getting on the bus with his class he is wearing his medal and so is the museum curator. Love it!

 

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Animal Print Puzzles

animal print puzzles for kids

My daughter loves matching things and has done well with simple pattern match activities like this one so I decided to make it a little more complicated. These animal print puzzles for kids are quick to make ( they honestly took one minute to make all four)  but for young kids matching the patterns up so the prints line up can be a challenge. This is a great activity to develop attention and concentration but because there are only two pieces to each puzzle it shouldn’t create too great a challenge and end up frustrating your child.

  1. Gather your materials. We used animal print foam sheets but you could use scrap book paper instead just make sure that the pieces are sturdy enough for your child to handle. If they get crinkled or ripped it will be harder to match up . You will also need some scissors.rainy day activities tod
  2. Cut your foam into squares and then cut the squares into two halves using different cutting patterns. I made 4 puzzles for my daughter who is just 3. For older children try 2 in each pattern to create a bigger challenge.rainy day activities
  3. Present the puzzles to your child and ask them to put the squares back together. If they are struggling you can also make a square out of painter’s tape on the table to give them a guide.  When I make puzzles like these I pop them on a tray and leave them out for a few days after our initial play and then pop them in a ziploc and into storage for a while. After a trip to the zoo or when we read one of our favorite books about the zoo I pull them out and we play again.25 simple rainy day activities for toddlers

Books About The Zoo

inside_a_zoo_in_the_city

Inside a Zoo in the City by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a rebus read along , so children who can’t read words yet can help read this with pictures put right into the text! The story is repetitive and builds with one animal and page at a time. Preschoolers love these books and the repetitive nature of it makes it interactive and fun!

peek-a-zoo

Peek-a-Zoo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a vibrant lift the flap book that goes through sounds different animals make while playing peek a boo with the reader. What I like about this book is that the flaps offer a chance for your baby or toddler to anticipate what animal it hiding as well as the sound , so it grows with them. Also the flaps are large enough that little hands can grab them and won’t get frustrated.

goodnight gorilla

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is simply one of my favorite books ever. I love it and love that my daughter doesn’t fuss when I read it to her because it was a special book for my son when he was little and it’s a book he will still curl up and read quietly with us, making it fun cuddle time for all three of us. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s all about a sneaky gorilla who unlocks all the animals at the zoo and they quietly follow the zoo keeper home and climb into bed with him, until his wife wakes up! I love this book cause I relate to the zoo keepers wife , when I wake up there is always a sneaky 3 year old gorilla in my bed!

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Simple Father’s Day Craft

kid made father's day craft Sometimes crafts don’t go exactly as you planned but you roll with it. When my daughter was given a new pack of Do-A-Dot Markers for her birthday I knew what I wanted to use them for. A few years ago my son made my husband a Dad Canvas for Father’s Day and today was my daughter’s turn at this simple Father’s Day craft. As you will see that the project did not turn out as planned but it’s still a great kid made present for Father’s Day. Here is how we made it.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a canvas , some Dot-A-Dot Markers or any other paint, contact paper, letter stickers, a marker and scissors. father's day craft
  2. Draw a tie on the backing of the contact paper. father's day craft
  3. Cut it out , peel the backing off and press onto the canvas. Add the letter stickers to spell out Dad, Daddy, Papa etc…craft for father's day
  4. Start painting!  My daughter started with a few good whacks of each color.father's day canvas art gift Then she carefully added pink and purple. father's day gift from kids paintingNormally if my daughter says she is done painting I would say great and move on but for a project like this there really needs to be lots of paint at least around the image so you might need a few tricks to keep your little one going . ftaher's day canvasWhat I did with my daughter was to spin the canvas around to encourage her to paint all over, then I asked her to count to 5 while we both make dots , then 10, 11, 12 and then she counted to 27 all on her own.  father's day art when things go wrong
  5. Peel off. Make a sad face, but only for a moment because this isn’t the end of the world.  I had a feeling this was going to happen because my canvas was old and the stickers didn’t stick to it very well. You can always place a heavy book over it and let it sit for a few hours before painting. I left it up to my daughter and she wanted to paint over it. Do not make a child change their art . It’s their creation but if they ask don’t resist, it’s their art . father's day craft oops
  6.   I outlined the tie with a silver Sharpie. Now we just have to hide it until Father’s Day. father's day craft for kids

 

Need more ideas for Father’s Day ? Check out our Father’s Day Rocks Pinterest board. Also don’t forget to swing by our Facebook page because today I will be asking our community about what they are doing for Father’s Day … because I need ideas!

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Easy Letter Rubbings Board

how to make a letter rubbing boardI love re-using household items for learning activities and I had the glue gun out for something else when inspiration struck. My daughter loved the magic letters activity we did months ago and I wanted to create another easy alphabet activity that had an element of surprise. This easy to make board was perfect. You and I may not be surprised by the letters appearing on the paper but for someone just shy of 3 years old this was a super cool activity. The letter rubbings she made are a simple craft  but memorable. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters series which is a series of activities that let your children play and discover letters.

  1. Gather your materials. To make the letter rubbing board you will need a cutting board ( I used our old playdough board) , some hot glue, and a glue gun. To make the rubbings you will also need some paper and crayons. You may also want some clips to keep the paper in place while rubbing. letter rubbing board
  2. Heat up your glue gun and write letters on the board with it . I did uppercase but you can do lowercase or a mix, whatever you want. alphabet activity
  3. If you make a mistake just wait until it’s cooled and using a butter knife you can pry it off. Let cool. DIY Letter Rubbing Board for kids
  4. My daughter explored the letters once they were cool. diy letter board rubbing letter tracing
  5. Invite your helper to come and peel some crayon wrappers off. It’s great fine motor skill practice and to tell you the truth my most hated task. Do any of you know if they have unwrapped crayons? I would pay extra for those!  { Um well yes there are unwrapped crayons and our friends at Melissa & Doug have them } diy letter tracing board peeling crayons
  6. Time to start rubbing and revealing the letters.She loved it. DIY Letter Tracing BoardI was worried it might be kinda blah but she enjoyed changing crayon colors, trying to guess what letter would be next and eventually announcing the letter. DIY Letter Tracing board for preschool

Alphabet Books

No Alphabet For Starters activity is complete without some rad alphabet books to deepen the lesson. Here are a few fun ones for beginners.

alphabetbook

Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others) was an amazing gas station find. Yes I said gas station. I ran in for some diet coke and came out with an alphabet book ! This book is amazing, bright beautiful and even though I bought it for my daughter since it’s bright colors and sturdy pages are perfect for a baby, my almost 4 year old son adores it. What I love is when he reads it to her . The Native art is gorgeous and if you are unfamiliar with north west coast art you are in for a treat.

alphabet under construction

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but my 19 month old will sit through Z every time. {This review is from when my son was 19 months old in 2008. His love of this book was really a jumping off point for his love of letters in general. I wish I could say I taught him his letters but really reading this one particular book over and over at his request probably did the trick. }

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. It’s an incredibly fun book!  I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!