Age 3-5 years
by Allison McDonald
Earth Day is coming up and I have been talking to my kids more and more about why we recycle and what we also try to re-use at home. As you can imagine we re-use many things for projects and activities I write about on the blog. So much so that my son will often hand me his garbage and say ” Can you use this for a project?” Even I haven’t found a good use for string cheese wrappers ! Today we are using a collection of recycled objects for a wide open art project. As you will see my daughter has a favorite earth friendly painting tool.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paint, a tray for the paint, some paper, and recycled objects to paint with. We went around the house and into my art closet to choose the objects.
- Pour paint into the tray ( or cake pan) . I had my daughter look outside to tell me what colors she saw. Then we used those colors for the painting. I have the paper taped down because I had a feeling she’d end up finger painting and this keeps the paper from sticking to her hands and ending up on the floor.
- Explore! This is wide open . She liked the toilet paper roll but hated the little cap. The ribbon spool made interesting prints but the real fun was in using her hands. The ultimate re-usable paint brush! After plopping on the paint with her hands she explored the marks that some of the recycled objects made. Rolling the toilet paper roll was a fun discovery too.
Books About Recycling
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome! I only wish that my son was old enough to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s not aimed at 2 year olds at all, but he did like to open it to the page with the recycling truck and point out all the parts to me. The book itself takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5 year olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text. Also the book was printed on 100% post consumer waste paper.
Trash And Recycling by Stephanie Turnball is a great book ! I learned more about garbage and the recycling process reading this to my son over lunch than I ever knew! He loved it and despite being a pretty sophisticated book for a 3 year old immediately asked to read it again as soon as I closed it. It explains the whole process from curbside pick up, land fills, incineration and recycling. The idea for today’s activity came from the sorting of recyclable garbage from this book!
While we were learning about China for Chinese New Year months ago we read about woodcut printing. I was going to do it with my toddler with foam but my daughter didn’t have the strength or dexterity to press hard enough into the foam to make a permanent designs so we adapted. This project will work for toddlers but older children will still love it. Woodcut Prints are normally carved and older children can do them with foam ( meat trays thoroughly washed were always my favorite!) , ivory soap and even erasers work . Did you carve yours in math class with your compass? No? Well if you did it’s the same technique. Our adaptation reverses the technique but for a toddler experience I think it was still fun intro into print making.
- Gather your materials. You will need some card board, good double stick tape, popscicle sticks, paint, paint brushes, some glitter glue ( optional but everything is better with a little sparkle) and white paper.
- Start by adding the double stick tape to the cardboard. It’s tricky but forgiving, even if the tape is lumpy everything will be OK. I loved to see how hard she was working. You will need at least 4 or 5 pieces in random spots for popsicle sticks to stay on. You can absolutely use glue but make sure it’s all dry before moving on to step 4.
- Next add the sticks. Stick them on and press.
- Add your paint.
- Flip and print onto the paper. Add more paint as needed and keep printing layering it if you want.
- When your child is done printing add some flair if you want. My daughter was adamant about adding glitter.
- Let it all dry and display or use for wrapping paper!
Painting rocks is a classic craft and a family favorite around here. When my daughter and I gathered rocks outside I didn’t tell her what they were for knowing if I asked her what she wanted to do with them she’d say ” Let’s paint!” and she did. We used Martha Stewart paints that I got for this post last spring. I love these paints for adult crafts but they are not at all washable. Have wet sponges on hand for anything that might get paint on it like little boots that trail across your deck… for example. You could do this with more kid friendly paint but I just love the colors that this paint comes in and frankly it’s what I had on hand.
- Gather your materials. You will need some rocks , paint ( this is all weather so the eggs can be put outside) , brushes, a drop cloth like a paper grocery bag and sponges or a wet rag to clean up spills.
- After some pink she decided like many of her favorite clothes this egg needed to have polka dots.
- While she made the dots I made a striped egg.
- She helped me choose a few of the colors for the other eggs but after her big polka dot one she was ready to move on to playing in our garden while I had a blast painting in the sun. She came back a few times to observe and give me tips like ” Make it polka dots!” . Toddlers aren’t made to sit for a long time carefully working on projects so don’t take it personally if they have enough way before you thought they would.
This uppercase lowercase letter match activity is not ground breaking but combining it with an Easter theme helps makes letter recognition practice and skill development into play. Adding a fun novelty like a holiday theme does wonders for kids motivation and a motivated child is a child ready to learn. This activity is part of our Alphabet for Starters series which focuses on fun playful ways to learn the alphabet. A few easy adaptations for different levels would be doing a straight identical letter match having only all lower or all uppercase letters and doing this with sight words for emergent readers.
- Gather your materials. I got this egg tray at Walmart for under a dollar. I almost bought all 4 colors but I restrained myself and let my daughter pick her favorite color. You could use an egg carton just as effectively no need to buy anything special. You will also need some paper, marker , plastic Easter eggs and a bucket for the eggs. A circle paper punch is optional for the letters in the tray. You may also want some tape to tape the paper in the tray down. Ours got staticky and interrupted the flow a few times.
- Start by writing lowercase letters on small pieces of paper. Try to include a majority of letters your child knows ( about 2/3) and some you know have been challenging in the past. This will hopefully give them a good balance of ” This is challenging but I can do it!” which is the perfect zone for learning.
- Pop them in your tray.
- Write the corresponding upper case letters on the eggs in marker.
- Put the eggs in the bucket and invite your letter matcher to the table.
- Start matching. She wanted to put the lowercase letter in the egg after matching them which is a fun add on even though a few of the eggs didn’t want to close back up and that frustrated her greatly. I think an older child would do wonderfully with this add on even if it proved to be too much for a 2 year old. I was tricky for her but with some help she got it. After that it was smooth sailing. I thought Q would give her trouble but she was a champ. Celebrate any and all victories.
Books About Easter
Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs? by Karen Katz is a great way of having an Easter egg hunt while reading a story. If you aren’t familiar with the ” Where are Baby’s …” series of life the flap books, they are simple books where the reader searches for an item finding other things first before finally finding the title object, in this case Easter eggs. My daughter loves these books and plays with them even when we aren’t reading them together. I love the bright illustrations and the simple holiday theme.
The Best Easter Eggs Ever! by Jerry Smath is an adorable book about Easter. The story follows the Easter bunny and his 3 young assistant bunnies as they prepare for their big day. The Easter Bunny is getting tired and a little bored of his polka dot design for the eggs and decides to send out his assistants in search of new designs. The little bunnies head out with one egg and paints to all different places to find inspiration. When one of the little bunnies is captivated by the night sky she doesn’t notice how dark it is and how lost she has gotten. The Easter Bunny and his other assistants find her and in the morning the new designs are celebrated. My son loves an inside look at any sort of secret place like the Easter Bunny’s or Santa’s workshop so he was drawn into this book immediately. I liked the illustrations and how detailed they were , it certainly got me excited about Easter.
The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing is a Easter version of the classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” . With fun pictures and an Easter Bunny so joyful I wanted to apply for his job this book was a hit at our house. My son was engaged through the whole book guessing at the rhymes and listening intently from one page to the next. Of all the books this was the only one that really engaged my toddler as well. She pointed out animals and loved the little boy in the book. Great Easter book.This post contains affiliate links.
This 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.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sandpaper, felt , yarn, crayons and scissors.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Time to match up the shapes. 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 .
- 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.
- Add the yarn. 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.
Books About Carrots
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 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 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!