Age 5 and older
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.
Learning after school is something we try to do most days but we keep it fun. Making learning a game is my magic trick for my son who is possibly the world’s most competitive 6 year old. I set this up quickly and had it all ready for him before he got home. I wish I could take all the credit for this idea but it’s spin off from our contributing writer Kim’s amazing letter dominoes post from last year. After you read this one make sure you check it out.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sentence strips, a marker, scissors and a list of about 20 dolch sight words . We used a mix of levels 1, 2 and 3. Dolch sight words are high frequency words that are often thought to be best to teach children to read by memorization not through decoding ( sounding out/using other clues like context ) .
- I chose some words that I knew would be easy for my son, some that I wasn’t sure and a few that would take a few seconds to figure out. I always try to boost confidence with some easy, hit right on target for most and challenge him with some as well.
- Cut the sentence strips.
- Draw a line down the middle and write a word on each side .
- We played dominoes by placing one card down on the table and flipping the rest over from a pile over until we found a match . We played on the table because of the terrible light ( winter weather is not blog friendly!) but later on we moved to the floor where we had much more room to make a bigger better domino structure.
- The next game we played with the cards was even more fun. Start with one card each on the same spot on the floor or a table with a clear finish line.
- Place all the other cards in a pile.
- Flip the card and when a match is found add it to your line.
- The person to reach the finish line first wins. He was counting to see who was ahead but we were neck and neck! Repeat! This game got him reading so quickly wanting to hurry up and flip to the next.
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.
I try to include my kids in as much of the brainstorming and decision making about what crafts we make , especially around holidays. When I suggested we make a Thanksgiving craft to give to his grandparents my son immediately suggested a hand print turkey. I knew exactly what I wanted to make and set it up. Both my almost 6 year old and 2 year old enjoyed this craft , I just helped them in different ways to make it appropriate for both of them.
- Gather your materials. You will need a paper grocery bag ( construction paper is fine too) ,pencils, some crayons, glue, googly eyes, scissors , colored paper and adhesive foam dots.
- Star by tracing your child’s hands. I traced my daughters and my son traced his own. Now we traced them 3 times and you can ( just make sure it’s the same hand) or you can just trace one and in step 4 simple layer other paper under to make multiples.
- Now color the hands. You can color them all or just one.
- Cut the hands out.
- While I cut my daughter played with her tea set and tea party place mats and my son grabbed another paper and wrote a Thanksgiving message.
- Now it’s time to glue the eyes on.
- Add the adhesive dots. Layer each hand print on top of the other with the colored one in front.
- Add to your backing of choice.
- Send away to some very proud grandparents!
Every time I’ve asked my kids what they wanted to make this week they both said ” Turkeys!” I warn you now that there may be a bunch of turkey crafts around here this year. Before I start posting too many new Thanksgiving crafts I wanted to make sure we shared our archives of easy Thanksgiving crafts . I have gathered simple crafts for Thanksgiving from years past for you to find easily all in one place. Also do not miss our Walk Through History . It will take your child from England , across the Atlantic on the Mayflower and finally to the table at the very first Thanksgiving. Check it out here.
Foam Turkey Magnet
Stuffed Football Craft
Mosaic Indian Corn
Turkey Baster Painting
Thank You Handprint Wreath
Bubble Wrap Indian Corn
Native American Headdress
Turkey Craft For Toddlers
Thanksgiving Sensory Tub
Candy Corn Math Tray
Shape Turkey Craft
Paper Plate Scarecrow
Fine Motor Turkey Craft
Marshmallow Indian Corn
Potato Print Turkey
Pilgrim Hat Cookies