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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Letter Memory Game – Alphabet For Starters

heart shaped upper case & lowercase letter memory game

I am still calling this an alphabet for starters activity but really my little girls is graduating to just plain alphabet activities. Matching upper and lowercase letters is not really a beginner activity but the playful way to learn with a memory game still meets the goal of this series . Playful alphabet activities. This game would be a cinch to adjust for more novice learners. Simply stick to only one case of letters or scrap the memory game and try something more straight forward like my friend Jamie did a few days ago on Hands On As We Grow. To make it tougher skip using the scaffold of the matching colors and use only one color of hearts.  To see our other Alphabet for Starters activities see our list here.

  1. Gather your materials.  You will need a sharpie and some colorful foam hearts. I got both at the dollar store for a buck each.heart shaped letter memory game
  2. Write out letter pairs with one upper and one lowercase letter. I didn’t do the whole alphabet , I rarely do. I choose letters I know she knows ( M, A, J) and some I know she struggles with ( Q, G, ) and fill in the gaps randomly. Also each pair is done in the same color. When we played I told my daughter to find the same color. This made the game much more accessible for a 2 year old and gave her color recognition work to boot. heart shaped letter match game
  3. Lay out your hearts face down.heart letter memory game for learning
  4. Play. She was enthusiastic immediately. I demonstrated once and she was off. heart shaped letter memry and match gameWe left our letters face up in their own spaces when we matched them up. She was thrilled when her letter ( M) was flipped overheart shaped upper and lower case memory game and even happier when she made a match. heart letter memory gameThe first time we played she called the Q a “funny O” we tried to figure out what letter is was and I ended up labeling it for her and we kept playing. The next day ( we’ve played daily for 5 days in a row so far) she called it a Q and matched it to it’s lowercase letter without any prompting. No drill needed , just a fun game.
  5. Celebrate with each match heart letter match for valentine's dayand hoot and holler when you have completed the whole game!heart shaped letter match game for kids I often gets asked if I play against my kids for memory games. Sometime I do but usually I don’t. We play as a team . For my daughter with a game like this I will narrate with her after she identifies a letter unprompted I will say ” Hmm I wonder which heart the lowercase B is under ?” or some such thing. If she is having a hard time with a letter. I will try to ask questions to help her instead of just telling her. Like with the Q I said ” What letter do you have ?” and she answered ” A funny O.” then I said ” What makes it funny?” ” It has a tail Mama!” . To which I replied ” Do O’s have tails.” and she giggled  saying “No!” and I said ” That is a an uppercase Q.” Even at such a young age kids can help figure things out and when we engage them like this they learn to ask questions , answer others and not just guess at the right answer.

 

Valentine’s Day Rainbow Wall

valentine heart muralWe needed some extra happy cheer in our playroom after a week of cold, gloomy weather. My kids had fun making something cheerful for their playroom while working on fine motor skills, color recognition and counting. Oh and cooperative projects like these were always the very first thing I’d set up for my class ( and now my kids) when bickering started popping up. Working together has a great way of allowing them to work out their differences and feel like a team again.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper ( or craft paper with double stick tape ) , many sheets of all different color paper, a heart punch, and markers in every color of the rainbow.valentine's day rainbow craft
  2. Start by pinning the contact paper to the wall sticky side out. I prefer contact paper because it allows kids to change where they put a heart if they don’t like their original placement. I pop the paper on with the backing still on then peel. I find it way easier than putting in on with the sticky already exposed. valentines day rainbow
  3. Next punch out a whole bunch of hearts. My kids helped with some but I did most of the punching . valentine's day rainbow craft mural
  4. Draw the rainbow with markers directly on the contact paper.valentine rainbow mural
  5. Set up a heart station ( ours was a plate and a stool) by the contact paper.valentine's day rainbow activity for kids
  6. Let them at it.valentines' day color matching activity for toddlersMy daughter liked taking her time finding the exact right spot for each heart. My son liked gathering a handful of one color and adding them on in a bunch.valentines' day heart mural for kids Clearly they weren’t having any fun at all.valentines' day heart mural for cooperative play
  7. My daughter fizzled out about half way through, if I was making this for just toddlers I’d make a much much smaller rainbow and maybe larger hearts as well. My son and I had a race to see which colors could be filled in first. I was reminded how much I love just working on something like this with my kids. It really does make you feel more like a team and is by far the number one reason we do projects together. He counted each color to see which won and noticed that of course the first few colors would have more than the last few. I love it when learning like that comes so naturally in a self directed way.valentine's day heart mural counting
  8. All done. Now our gloomy winter weather can’t bring us down. Valentine's day heart mural for preschool

9 Snowman Crafts For Kids

winter crafts  for kidsWe haven’t seen much snow this winter but it hasn’t stopped us from making snowmen. These 9 snowman crafts are our favorite that you can make no matter what climate you live in. On Friday we will be sharing our favorite snowman books. Don’t miss it there are so many great ones to choose from.

Playdough Snowman
Snowglobe Snowman
Letter Snowman
Marshmallow Snowman
Snowman at Night
Spice Jar Snowman Blocks
Emotional Snowmen
Snowflake Snowman
Magnetic Snowman