Age 5 and older
Drawing wasn’t always something my son liked to do. He loved to paint and craft but his perfectionist side reared it’s ugly head when he wanted to draw ” It doesn’t look the way I want it to.” After much encouragement that he draws just like a 3 or 4 or 5 year old should and a lot of displaying every single thing he drew it got better. But he still wasn’t enjoying drawing as much as I had hoped. Now you may say ” Why worry?” I wasn’t worried but I wanted to encourage it as much as possible as part of handwriting practice and basic fine motor development. When he started to want to draw his Lego scenes from catalogs I adapted this drawing activity idea after seeing this pin on Pinterest that lead to this blog post from ArtMommie using magazines.
- Gather your materials. You will need some toy catalogs, brochures or instruction booklets you don’t mine cutting up. A pencil with eraser, double stick tape, plain paper and scissors.
- Cut out some images that are full of action. You want it to look unfinished so they want to finish the picture.
- Tape to plain paper.
- Invite your artist- he was super excited to see them.
- Have your child choose one and start drawing. There was no lag time or whining about not liking to draw he just dove in!
- He even wrote a caption. When you are working on something like this and your child uses invented spelling let it go. Do not correct it. Let them sound out the words and spell what they hear. This is a really crucial step in literacy if we only give them the right spellings without them trying to make sense of it they will skip this building block. There is plenty of time to get it right, but it’s a developmental process and you have to let it develop.
- I am glad I made a bunch because as soon as he was done the first he grabbed a second and started drawing. Oh and like I mentioned above these drawings are already on my fridge for all to see. Confidence is such a huge component of ability and when we display our kids art that builds their confidence even if it clutters our kitchens. It’s totally worth it.
LEGO City: All Hands on Deck! (Level 1) by Marlyn Easton is another Lego City themed book. If you have any of the Lego City building sets it’s likely you’ll recognize a few in the illustrations. My son loved seeing ones he recognized and loved telling me which of his friends have this set or that. I think being able to relate to a book via favorite toys is actually really positive. Some parents will be apprehensive about books that sprang from a toy franchise but at this age when many children ( boys especially) start showing less interest in books , it can be a great tool. My son loves to read but loves reading these books even more and I am all for it! This story is even simpler following a group of sailors that save a windsurfer from disaster on the water. It’s also shorter than the previous with only 160 words which is great to build children’s confidence in reading which is also key to keeping interest high. MY one complaint is the complete lack of girls in this book. I know the audience is boys but by not including a single girl the audience of girls will drop even more.
LEGO City: Ready for Takeoff! (Level 1) by Sonia Sander is not just a cute book for Lego fans but also for anyone taking a trip by plane to get their kids ready for what to expect. I was pleasently surprised by the quality of the details and how well it helps my son prep for air travel. We got it for a trip from Seattle to Chicago we took this summer and it was an instant hit. The text is a great mix of sight words, words that need to be sounded out and the illustrations are wonderfully helpful for kids needing visual clues for some words. Even if you aren’t going on a plane any time soon this is a good book all about air travel, and it just happens to also be set in Lego City.
LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia was the most loved 5th birthday gift my son received. I can not tell you how much my son loves this book and as someone who adores reference materials herself I can’t say I blame him. I love this book too, it’s helping me speak his language and know who and what he’s talking about all the time. So like the cover says it’s a character encyclopedia, there is no story, instead every page is dedicated to one Star Wars character turned mini figure. Now most of the text tells you about the Lego sets the mini figure comes in , variations on the mini figure and when it first appeared in the toy. However there is still a great description of the characters and huge illustrations of each. The small amount of text is perfect for my son and since he is into the characters not the collector like details he simply skips that without missing out on anything. I should say that this unlike the previous books is not a leveled reader. If I was making a guess I would say that it’s geared towards the average 8 year old. I definitely had to help read the majority of this book at first but now he’s got even the tricky names down pat. I love that we can read a little or read a lot . ** Since this original review was written in 2011 this book as become a all time favorite, one we pack for all long trips and we’ve even turned it into a quiz game as my son has memorized an amazing amount of it . We have since bought more similar books and he loves them all.
Whether you are on the east coast bracing for the coming storm or not you and your kids are likely noticing a lot of weather changes with the season. Now is a fantastic time to talk all about weather with your kids and make some fun weather themed crafts too.
Puffy Paint Clouds
Rainy Day Rainbow Collage
Snowy Train Table Play
Cupcake Liner Umbrellas
Paper Plate and Hand Print Sun
Simple Cotton Ball Clouds
Awesome Ice Bergs
Comb Painted Rainbows
Kite k letter craft
I think I may have promised you that our Monster Math was going to be the last monster activity for a while but as you will see my kids are simply nuts for them so who am I to stop the fun? I got the idea for the muck from a pin I saw of this post by Lisa Murphy aka the Ooey Gooey Lady! I knew we had to make a muck sensory tub and I was so glad we did. My son loved mixing the muck and as you will see after my daughter woke from her nap she too got right into the much and made some monsters too.
- Gather your materials. The muck is super simple and requires only shaving cream and cornstarch. We added sun chenille stems I cut in quarters and a wide array of googly eyes that were sent to us from craftprojectideas.com . The other must have is a tub. I am not mess phobic but even I thought it got messy ( corn starch spreads ) if you are doing this inside you will want a tub to keep it contained.
- Start by spraying your shaving cream in. My son loved doing this and refused to let me have a turn .
- Next we sprinkled a little cornstarch and mixed then dumped the whole thing in and wrote some letters in the muck. It took some working to get it thick enough to mold but soon enough we could make balls.
- Added the chenille stems and eyes and made some monsters.
- My daughter woke up from nap and being too short to reach into the tub I helped her mold some balls and put them on a paper plate for her to customize with chenille stems and googly eyes.
- Next my son got busy making a monster muck fort . The stems are guns and goo blasters, the eyes are bomb detectors and the muck is radio active. So what I am saying is that this is a fantastic sensory activity that sparks one of the most important types of play kids need – imaginative play. They worked peacefully for what seemed like ages until the chenille stems ran out.
- So we cut some more and the play continued.
The Monster Princess by D.J. McHale is a story about a monster Lala who so wished she could be a princess only to discover in the end that being herself is even better. As I was reading this book I was really hoping that the three real princesses that befriend Lala would have more depth and not be the stereotypical mean girls that they are . Even after the mean princesses humiliate Lala she does the right thing and saves them when they are in danger. This book had a very predictable feel to it but I am 35 and have lived through mean girls on film many times and been on both sides of it in real life . To a young child this story is fresh and filled with good messages about doing what is right even when we are angry and hurt, discovering that what we dream about being may not be all it’s cracked up to be as well as my favorite message that there are ” All kinds of special.”
Molly’s Monsters by Teddy Slater is a counting book in monster’s clothes. The book is about a little girl named Molly who is just trying to sleep when her room is flooded with monsters. They come in progressively larger groups and my son liked counting to make sure the text was correct. My favorite part was that the first monster to arrive and the last to leave , never does leave and instead snuggles into bed with Molly. I also like that to get these pesky visitors to leave she turns on the light and makes a scary face and scares them. Clever. * I read this to my daughter for the first time just this week and she loved it so much it’s been read many times this week before nap and bed.
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen is a sweet monster book with minimal text and very rich illustrations by Kelly Murphy. The story is really about the daily wind down and bedtime for two monsters. You and your child will absolutely relate to them on one page or another ( or all). These little monsters are just like our little monsters resisting bedtime, trying to avoid baths… well you know the daily struggle. My daughter was not into the book but my son liked it even though I’d gear it towards the 2-4 crowd. We chose our favorite monsters on each page and found interesting details like the recipe for tentacle soup on the page where the mom is making dinner . Cute, your child will relate to it and it’s not at all scary!This post contains affiliate links
One of the best parts of Halloween is getting a chance to dress up in costumes and dressing up shouldn’t just be for kids, it should be for minions too! When I was asked to help spread the word about Despicable Me 2 coming to theaters this summer I knew exactly what sort of activities I wanted to do. These activities are perfect for Halloween parties or to prepare your little ones for all the unusual costumes they might see. They can play with the minion and see that he’s the same under every single costume we made him and on Halloween night there is nothing to be afraid of it’s just a person under that scary costume too. The simple memory game can be made in a snap and would be a cute quiet game for a Halloween party.
Dress Your Minion For Halloween!
- Gather your materials. You will need some yellow , black and white construction paper, yellow, black , brown and metallic markers, double stick tape, contact paper, scissors, heavy card stock ( full page sheet) and dry erase markers in various colors.
- Start by drawing and cutting out a minion.
- Cut some black construction paper for it’s goggle band.
- Cut out a circle of white paper and outline it in the metallic silver. Add a brown eye with a black pupil. Add yellow at the bottom.
- Using the double stick tape tape the band and eye on. Color the boots and gloves black.
- Tape everything on to the card stock.
- Peel the backing off your contact paper and put the minion face down on the sticky side.
- Press, fold the sides and trim edges. Now you have a dry erase minion!
- Dress him up for Halloween using the dry erase markers. We turned him into a princess, witch , butterfly, vampire and messy monster.
- Everything wipes clean beautifully!
You can also use him for talking about emotions and have your little ones draw his emotions, or dress him up for upcoming holidays too!
Easy Memory Game
I hear from a lot of parents how playing memory with their child is terrible and my first question is always ” Did you play with all the pieces?” When toddlers and young kids are learning games break them down a little and make them more accessible. This is why I love making my own memory games.
Using the Despicable Me 2 Halloween Temporary Tattoo Printables I made this game in a snap!
- Gather your materials. You will need the printables ( 2 copies) from Despicable Me 2. Some orange card stock, black card stock , double stick tape and scissors.
- Cut all your images and card stock into squares. Remember that you want the squares progressively larger so the minion paper is the smallest, orange middle and the black paper is the largest.
- Tape the minion to the orange paper and then the orange to the black paper. Make 4 pairs for toddlers, 6-8 for preschoolers and 10 + for school age kids.
- Flip and play!
After you play and learn (kids are always learning) with these adorable Despicable Me Halloween activities don’t forget to mark your calendar because Despicable Me 2 hits the theaters this July! Check out some other fun FREE Despicable Me Halloween printables including treat bag toppers and pumpkin carving stencils.
About the film
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster, Despicable Me, delighted audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In Summer 2013, get ready for more minion madness in Despicable Me 2. Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed film making team create an all-new comedy animated adventure featuring the return of Gru (Steve Carell), the girls, the unpredictably hilarious minions…and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.
Visit the official website
Watch the teaser trailer for Despicable Me 2
Like Despicable Me on FacebookI was compensated for my participation in this campaign. The crafts are my own creations.
My daughter loves to paint and this fun easy fall leaf craft gave her ample time to explore and glop on as much paint as she wanted and use both her brushes and fingers to create. The painter’s tape relief effect is really optional but the effect is so cool and my daughter who is two was amazed by it while I peeled it off. Even though she couldn’t do it herself it was still a fun step for her. Do not miss the paper towel step though, it adds texture and cuts drying time in half which for a 2 year old makes a world of difference.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper( my favorite!), pencil, paint in your choice of colors, some gold glitter glue, brushes, painter’s tape, paper towel and scissors.
- Start by drawing the outline of some leaves on the paper.
- Next using painter’s tape add veins to the leaves.
- Paint. She started with the brushes but quickly moved to her hands. She didn’t even use a brush with the 2nd one.
- Wash hands. We use the “Hands up!” and freeze with her when her hands are covered. Then I whisked her to the sink to wash up.
- Next grab some paper towel and blot. See the texture?
- Let dry to the touch and peel the tape off.
- Cut and Display- kids love seeing their art all over the house. I added hers to our fall mantle.
Fall Board Book
Leaves by David Ezra Stein is such a sweet book about a young bear who doesn’t understand what is happening when he sees leaves falling from the trees. He even tries to put them back on but it doesn’t work. Eventually he lays down for a nap and hibernates until Spring when he happily notices that there are new tiny leaves budding on the trees. Both my kids loved this book. I got it out of the library for my toddler who loved it and while reading it to her I had to start over so her almost 6 year old brother could listen from the start. We each took our own things from it, my daughter has been noticing the changes of Fall for the first time just like the bear in the story. My son took the chance to tell me all about hibernation and everything he knows about it . I thought it was bittersweet, and related to how quickly the years seem to pass and how quickly my little bears are changing too. A really lovely book!This post contains an affiliate link