Sandpaper & Felt Shape Matching

sandpaper and felt texture puzzleThis was not a planned project at all.  My daughter and I were painting Easter eggs in the playroom when I saw all the materials for this all together in my closet and inspiration hit. This is a simple and quick shape matching activity but it also has elements of fine motor, sensory and the carrots give it just a touch of an Easter craft. You could do any shape to fit whatever theme you are learning about any time of year , another reason I think this is such a great activity.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sandpaper, felt , yarn, crayons and scissors. sandpaper and felt carrots67
  2. Start by drawing your carrots with crayons. In my experience using marker on sandpaper is a bad idea. The sandpaper bits end up in the felt tip and the markers are never the same again. Crayons are much more forgiving and vibrant. sandpaper and felt puzzles for easter 2
  3. Cut your felt and yarn to size. Do not worry about an exact match. If exact means a lot to you reverse the order and use the felt shapes as a template and trace around them so they are exactly the same size. Either way your child will love it. sandpaper and felt texture puzzles
  4. Invite your little one to come explore the sandpaper. Talk a bit about the texture by asking questions and /or labeling what they are doing.sandpaper and felt carrots
  5. Time to match up the shapes.sandpaper and felt puzzles for toddlers Talk about how soft the felt is too if there is a natural chance to do it. If your child is engaged and not at all interested in exploring the textures don’t sweat it. Follow their lead .
  6. I had my daughter remove the shape after putting it down to see how “sticky” the sandpaper was. She was fascinated that her fingers didn’t stick but the felt did. sandpaper and felt puzzles for easter
  7. Add the yarn.sandpaper and felt fine motor skills This was tricky but it was supposed to be. Just remember to walk the line between challenging and frustrating. She matched up a few and that was enough – this is supposed to be fun not a test of fine motor skills. sand paper and felt puzzles

Books About Carrots

the carrot seed

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss is a rare gem, it has been in print for over 60 years and has delighted generations . If you aren’t familiar with the story, a little boy plants a carrot seed and everyone tells him “It won’t come up.” this doesn’t stop the little boy from patiently taking care of this little seed, that eventually grows into a giant carrot. The message is a universal one of sticking to your guns even when everyone tells you you should give up. My son loved the story the simple pictures that will bring you back to your own childhood, at least they did for me. A true classic.

Coco The Carrot

Coco The Carrot by Steven Salerno is an absurd tale of adventure, and I loved it. Coco is a carrot who dreams of a life larger than the vegetable drawer . She dreams big and goes for it. Unlike most carrots that end up in stew she becomes a famous hat designer and is the toast of Paris with her Monkey companion Anton. If you are scratching your head but oddly intrigued you will like this book. It was long but my son sat with me giggling and telling me ” Carrots can’t do that?!” more than once. I loved it because it is so absurd that she is a carrot, but the story itself is about going for your dreams, hitting bumps in the road and realizing that your dreams shift and change and that’s OK.  There is great bits of humor for the adults as well, something I always appreciate!

carrot_soup

Carrot Soup by John Segal is a cute book about planting a garden, in this case carrots, tending it and then reaping the rewards…. or maybe not. Rabbit carefully planned out his garden, took care of it but when it was time to gather all the carrots they were all gone!  Throughout the pages there are hints to where the carrots might be, your child will likely figure it out before Rabbit does. My son liked this book and I loved reading it with him as he was rather exasperated that the Rabbit couldn’t figure out the mystery!

 

Easy Butterfly Crafts For Kids

butterfly crafts for kidsAre you ready for spring? I am done with winter even if my calendar isn’t and what better way to start spring than with an easy butterfly craft or 9 ? These are our favorite butterfly crafts we have made over the years and I am sure spring 2013 will inspire some new ones soon enough.  If butterflies aren’t your thing check out our bug crafts !

Coffee Filter and Colored Glue Butterfly
Toddler Butterfly Craft
Butterfly Sensory Tub
Handprint Butterfly Craft
Fruity Butterfly
Fall Butterfly
Pasta Butterfly Branch
Bandaid Butterfly Craft
Alphabet Butterfly Garden

 

No Wrong Way To Paint

no wrong way to paintThe idea for this post was not an open ended paint project instead I was going to do dribble art with my kids. It’s a simple and still pretty open project when you squeeze watered down paint from sponges onto good thick paper making cool designs. We have been working on fine motor skills and squeezing the sponges are a good exercise. However things didn’t go as planned which is fine! They took hold of the activity and I sat back to document. I did carry them both the the bathroom but other than that I was hands off after step 2. I loved watching them simply explore and the picture above is a perfect example of why just letting them take the wheel more often than not is so important. Look at how different their projects are despite having only a few identical materials.

  1. Gather your materials.dribble painting dribble painting If you want to make dribble paintings use paint, muffin tin, sponges cut into squeezable sizes and paper. If you just want some fun open creative painting – put out anything. Brushes or no brushes, all different colors of paint and make sure to have extra paper on hand.dribble painting df
  2. Start by trying to squeeze the paint out of the spongedribble squeeze painting and make designs with the dribbles.dribble painting art
  3. Sit back and just watch. dribble and squeeze painting collageI think I may have said “Not on the window.” a few times and “Not in her hair!” at least once. dribble painting 4I wasn’t so worried about arm painting.They had a blast and both paintings are proudly on display in my son’s room.  There is no wrong way to paint and I wasn’t about to stop their creativity because it wasn’t in my plan.dribble painting collage

I know letting your kids go wild won’t be something all of you will be into but do let your planned ideas veer off course and run with their ideas when they have them, it’s not a fail it’s just a new path!dribble painting mess = fun

 

Love Potions – Valentine’s Day Science Play

love potions valentine's day scienceWe love to play with vinegar and baking soda at our house . We explored it with squirt guns, at a play date and even pretending to be mad scientists. This time we made potions but really we just made a really awesome fun mess!   We made these after school this week and already my 2 year old has asked to make so many I am out of vinegar and baking soda. Kids love to pretend and mixing imagination with scientific inquiry is a great way to get them interested in asking questions and testing their theories out. We pretended we were making love potions but not the way that maybe a teenager would think about it. Instead we were making potions to make everyone feel loved, not to fall in love with us and even that fell by the wayside . Bottom line, have fun and make sure you have towels ready!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some baking soda, vinegar and then we added  food color and food flavoring ( strawberry and cherry) . You will want clear containers, spoons, and whatever you need to protect your house from food color. love potions preschool scrience play
  2. Set out the ingredients and let them explore. While they started I talked about how some people think that potions and spells will make people fall in love and they both thought that was crazy talk! We pretended we were making people feel love but soon they just got into making a potion and the love bit was lost. This is fine the goal wasn’t to teach about love potions so much as simply explore. love potions science for kids valentine's day activity
  3. My son saw the baking soda and immediately got excited about the prospect of a fizzy overflowing potion. Only he couldn’t remember what made it bubble and discovered it was not the cherry flavoring.love potions for kids
  4. My daughter followed her brother’s lead and absolutely adored every minute. love potion science play activity for kids
  5. Once they figured out it was the vinegar they made potions over and over.love potions  In all different color combinations and with as much excitement every time. love potions 2It soon turned into making predictions about if it would overflow or not. love potion number 5

Snake Craft – Chinese New Year

chinese new year craft for kids year of the snakeThis year is the year of the snake and Chinese new year is always a great vehicle to learn about a different culture. Lately my daughter and I have been playing pretend play airplane always landing in China to explore the great wall ( my idea)  and local candy shops ( her idea) . This week we will make some Chinese food together , look at maps and read the books below. At the age of 2  the idea of New Year is still pretty tough especially when we already celebrated on January 1st. So instead I have explained it to her as a party  and the snake is the special symbol for it and used the theme to explore China with her.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sturdy paper. I adore the canvas paper from craftprojectideas.com who graciously sent me this when I couldn’t find any locally. You will also need some paint, a paint brush ( we used a dish scrubber) , double stick tape ( if you need to tape the snake together) a googly eye, pipe cleaner, paint, glue and collage materials.chinese new year craft for kids
  2. Start by drawing a snake and cutting it out.chinese new year craft for kids snake 2 OK now I admit my snake looks like a worm at best but my daughter couldn’t care less so I stuck with it. I cut mine out in two pieces and taped them together. I used tape so we could get to the project right away but glue would be fine too.Chinese new year craft for kids 3
  3. Next step . Time to choose your paint colors.chinese new year craft choosing colors
  4. Next it’s time to start painting. First with the scrubber…. chinese new year craft for toddlersthen with your hands . My table was dirty so I didn’t bother covering it since I needed to give it a good scrub anyway. Have a damp cloth handy if like us you have to pass by carpet on the way to the sink.chinese new year year of the snake craft for kids
  5. Let the snake dry. We were short on time ( almost nap time) and usually I’d let it dry during nap and finish we had a doctor’s appointment after nap so instead I dried it carefully with a cool hair dryer while my daughter washed her hands and played in the sink. It worked so well.
  6. Time to glue!cheinese new year craft snake craft
  7. Add the collage materials.chinese new year sequins I love sequins and buttons because my daughter is so patient picking them up and putting them on to projects. She also loves peeling them off after the glue is dry so if you saw this snake now days later you’d see a sad no eye no sequin snake.  Interestingly my first thought was ” Well I can re-use those and it was great fine motor as she peeled them off too.”chinese new year adding buttons
  8. Add the eye.chinese new year add eye
  9. Poke a hole in the mouth area and thread a pipe cleaner through . Bend a Y in the end to make it look like a forked tongue.chinese new year snake craft for toddlers and kids
  10. Let it all dry .year of the snake craft for kids

Books about Chinese New Year

My First Chinese New Year

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz is a simple introduction to Chinese New Year for young children. It’s a board book so if you have let’s say a 4 year old who , let’s say has decided he thinks board books are only for babies, you may want to have him be a reading helper for this one.I had to cajole my son into helping me read this book to his sister but once I started he was into it and enjoying the simplistic way the author illustrator explains the Chinese customs. Even adults may learn something new. Did you know that cutting hair for a fresh start for the new year is a tradition? I never did! The illustrations are bright and cheery and for those of you who aren’t fans of the baby lift the flap books from this author you may want to give the author another chance because her holiday books are really great.

Bringing in the new year

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin is a wonderful book to explain Chinese New Year and some of the customs that comes along with it to your preschooler. The illustrations are bright and help explain the festivities and preparations that go into the celebration. The book culminates with a fold out page with a huge dragon briging in the new year. There is also a great explanation of the holiday for parents at the back of the book.

next new year janet wong

This Next New Year by Janet Wong is a great new to me book about Chinese New Year. I read it with my kids after dinner and they booth really enjoyed it. My daughter liked the illustrations and the text itself was short enough to keep my 2 year old interested too. What this book did a great job of doing was explaining a few of the differences between Chinese New Year and New Year of January 1st and lots of the traditions . My son related well to the main character, a little boy about his age, and had a ton of questions after the book that the author actually addressed in a authors note at the end. Great book for PreK and up.

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