Age 3-5 years
This 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.
- 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.
- Start by drawing a snake and cutting it out. 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.
- Next step . Time to choose your paint colors.
- Next it’s time to start painting. First with the scrubber…. then 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.
- 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.
- Time to glue!
- Add the collage materials. 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.”
- Add the eye.
- 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.
- Let it all dry .
Books about 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 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.
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.This post contains affiliate links.
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.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sharpie and some colorful foam hearts. I got both at the dollar store for a buck each.
- 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.
- Lay out your hearts face down.
- Play. She was enthusiastic immediately. I demonstrated once and she was off. We left our letters face up in their own spaces when we matched them up. She was thrilled when her letter ( M) was flipped over and even happier when she made a match. The 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.
- Celebrate with each match and hoot and holler when you have completed the whole game! 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.
We 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Next punch out a whole bunch of hearts. My kids helped with some but I did most of the punching .
- Draw the rainbow with markers directly on the contact paper.
- Set up a heart station ( ours was a plate and a stool) by the contact paper.
- Let them at it.My 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. Clearly they weren’t having any fun at all.
- 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.
- All done. Now our gloomy winter weather can’t bring us down.
We 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.
Have you been able to to make a snowman yet this winter? We haven’t been able to make a real one but we did make this fun letter snowman craft. This activity is part of our Alphabet For Starters Series which is a series of simple and fun activities that expose and introduce young kids to letters in playful ways. According to my daughter it can’t get much more fun than stamping so using these letter stamps to decorate our snowman.
- Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, blue , black and a little orange construction paper, glue, googly eyes, alphabet stamp set and a stamp pad.
- Start by making your snowman. Cut out the frame . Glue on the white sheet and trim.
- Pick your letters. She as always looked for letters in her own name first. Do not push young kids to look for new letters instead let them explore . Let them play and get familiar with them as they pick and choose the stamps. As they pick the stamps up label the letters, ask questions about them like ” Where are you going to put the M?” I put the cut out from the head back on the snowman with some tape to stop her from stamping the face.
- While they stamp cut out a nose and hat from construction paper.
- When they are done stamping pass them the glue.
- Add eyes
- Add a nose and a hat.
- Let dry .