Upcycled Mat Roadway

I love making things with items that would otherwise end up thrown away and with Earth Day coming up now is as good a time as any to reuse things for fun!  This isn’t the first roadway we’ve made, we made this one ages ago and it’s still played with daily . If your child wants design and to make it go for it, my son decided he’d “Be the boss.” Which I am sure was a great change from being a kid and he still felt ownership and pride while playing with it knowing he was the designer. He’s already deemed this to be only for big kids and he is right – the tape used on this craft is not safe for babies or toddlers . If you are making this for a toddler I’d do this toddler friendly one instead.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a green kitchen or door mat, black duck tape, additional colors of tape of your choice, permanent markers and  scissors.
  2. Start by making a plain black road. I wrapped the tape all the way to the underside to prevent it peeling up.
  3. Now add the yellow lane markers.
  4. Time to talk about what sort of buildings to make. A fire station was not surprisingly my son’s first choice.
  5. Next up a police station.
  6. He couldn’t wait to get his vehicles on !
  7. A super market complete with parking lot was next.
  8. Here he is deciding where we should put houses.
  9. We also added a school, and a pond with fish.
  10. It was an immediate hit!

In The Town All Year Round (a perfect book match for this activity).

In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner is amazing.It’s premise are the comings and goings of a town in all four seasons. There is limited text, which serves only to steer readers to look for specific people in the highly detailed illustrations. Each season has multiple pages and the people remain constant throughout the seasons. So you see inside an apartment building , the town square, the park, railroad station etc… in every season. You see the changes in town, the progression and of course the distinct weather in each section. The pictures also progress within the seasons, so a fire truck with a flashing light can be seen on every page in one season with the last page showing it getting to the fire . I can’t possibly explain the amazing detail and sheer number of things to find, make up stories about and spark your child’s imagination in this book. My son adores it. After renewing it multiple times from our library I bought it as his 2010 Valentine’s gift. It goes everywhere with us, perfect for long drives , waits in the Ob’s waiting room and plain old playtime he picks it up every day and finds something new.

What I really love is that because there is no text but still multiple story lines it’s helped my son to understand that literacy isn’t just about words, it about explaining what’s going on, and reading the pictures too. The absence of text has allowed me to really show him that . Now he has started grabbing books with text and telling me he’d read me the pictures, which boosts both his confidence and his enjoyment of independent reading.

Edited for 2011: My son is still crazy over this book. When I am desperate for him to chill out so I can get my daughter down for a nap nothing keeps him occupied ( and quiet) like this book. It’s magic!


Design Your Own Lacing Pattern

by Kim

My son likes lacing activities, but sometimes he needs to be more creative than those can allow. What can I say, I have created a monster.

So we tried this activity and it was a huge hit. I wanted to share it with you. You will need scissors,paper, marker, plastic craft grid, yarn needle, and yarn (or embroidery floss).

Draw a rough sketch of the shape you would like. Remember, the simpler the design the easier. I did a regular rectangle and heart, but I did a dump truck and a bulldozer, too. You do not need to have artistic abilities for this, as you can see.

Place the plastic grid on top of the paper.

Cut out the designs.

Thread your yarn needle. Here is a closer look at the needles I used. I purchased these at JoAnn Fabrics, but they are at Walmart and other craft stores.

Start your kids off by tying the end of the yarn to a spot on the cutout.

Then let them have a blast as they thread the needle into the small squares.

This activity is great for fine motor skills. It also introduces them to grids and creating lines. Creating lines this way is so different from drawing them. Your child will understand points of origin and plotting the lines. Of course you don’t tell them that is what they are learning. The journey is so much more fun!

This activity is great for quiet time. It travels really well, too. That fact makes it a plus for road trips or doctor offices.

While you won’t be selling them at the local craft fair, you will have a cool keepsake. This activity could easily be adapted into ornaments, too. You can use cookie cutters to create fun shapes such as bells or gingerbread men.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

A Month Of Giving

Image courtesy of acclaimclipart.com

Teaching your children especially the littlest ones about giving, charity and service is not an easy task . When I try to explain why we give to charity to my son sometimes his questions stump me and I am not used to being stumped by kid questions. After much thought I decided the best way to learn is by example and we can all get into the spirit together. From today until Christmas Day,  I want to see how many acts of charity, service and giving we as a blog community can accomplish with our kids. Every Saturday I will showcase these acts of giving in a photo slide show and feature one on the blog.  It’s not a contest, it’s not a giveaway, it’s just a way for our kids to make a difference and to be a part of something greater than themselves .

Here is what you need to do :

1.Go do some good ( donate a toy, drop off some food at a food bank, shovel an elderly neighbors driveway, take dog food to the local shelter…)

2. Take a picture of that good deed.

3. Send that picture to us : allie@notimeforflashcards.com with the subject ” Giving” feel free to  add a blurb about what your child is doing, their reaction or thoughts.

4. Visit the blog on Saturdays (Starting December 4th) to see how many good deeds were done and your picture in the slide show- and to see what the “Good Deed Of The Week” was .

Together we can show our kids how important taking care of each other is and how even little hands make a big difference!

Ghost Craft Tutorial

Sometimes when I make a craft I get inspired but I am not sure where from. I made this ghost craft and couldn’t remember where the inspiration came from until I was reading  I Can Teach My Child and remembered this project. You can see the similarities! So yes my inspiration comes from all over . This is a parent and tot craft , there are many steps that are tricky for little ones. But my son loves the final product, he runs into the foyer looks at the ghosts and  screams ” I am frightened, ahhh!” then burst out in giggles daily. So I would say it’s a hit.  I will be packing these up and taking them out every year with my Easy Halloween Wreath .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need clear contact paper, black construction paper, white tissue paper or party streamers ( or any white paper) , Scissors ( kid and adult), and black sticky back foam.
  2. Start by drawing a ghost and cutting out many frames. I used the insides for fun fast activities and let my son color them with chalk .
  3. Have your child cut the tissue paper – if you use a streamer I find it’s easier for beginning cutters to handle and cut independently. Tissue paper is flimsy. My son still only cut a few – another tip, make sure kid scissors are clean ours had something sticky on them and weren’t cutting well, by the time I cleaned them he was over it. Learn from my oops.
  4. Place the frames on the contact paper so the sticky side is up.
  5. Add the paper into the frames.
  6. While they do that make eyes out of sticky back foam.
  7. Cover with another piece of contact paper, press firmly.
  8. Cut the ghosts out.
  9. Add the eyes
  10. Pop on a mirror, window, door… wherever you need a few adorable ghosts!

Halloween Books

Dem Bones by Bob Barner is sort of two books in one. The superficial layer uses the words of the ever popular old time spiritual with fun Halloween inspired skeleton illustrations. There is also a second layer that has longer text for older children that goes into the anatomy of the bones the song sings about. Great way to keep a Halloween theme strong while teaching about the human body!

Monster Math by Anne Miranda is a math lesson turned into a fun and entertaining storybook. You can simply read the book or you can have your little mathematician help you guess how many new monsters arrive and leave on each page. The illustrations are adorable and even if the math skills are above your toddler or preschoolers heads they will still enjoy the book.

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman is a staple in most preschool classrooms. It’s a cute story about a witch who is desperate for pumpkin pie but her giant pumpkin is too big for her to pick up! Luckily she enlists the help of a ghost, vampire, mummy and bat and with a little teamwork they save the night! The rhyming text is almost like a song and kids love it! It’s possibly my son’s favorite Halloween book and I love that it’s the smallest creature who uses it’s brain not brawn to solve the problem.

Panda Bear Puppet

This craft came about because my son wanted to make a puppet to have a puppet show, and I wanted to do a panda bear craft because we’d never done one and I get requests quite often. I love using short cuts like cupcake liners if I  have them on hand but you can just use white paper too. Puppets make great crafts because their usefulness extends past their creation and spark my favorite type of play – pretend play!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper bag, some white cupcake liners or paper, black paper, black marker , googly eyes, glue and scissors.
  2. Start by having your child color the paper bag, a little, a lot it won’t make a difference to the end result. I have been trying to fit more pen/pencil/marker time for my son because we are working on his tripod grip and I am not a fan of sitting down and forcing a skill at this age. However if I can use a fraction of art time to practice it’s a bonus!
  3. While they color cut out a nose( which I forgot and had to do after I took this picture),  2 ears and 2 eye patches for the panda using the black paper.
  4. Next glue on a cupcake liner on the main part of the bag for the panda’s belly.
  5. Glue the 2nd liner on the folded bottom ( now the top) for the face.
  6. Time for more glue – for the eyes.
  7. Add the eyes. You can see crafts are so useful for things like fine motor skills not just killing time with your kids!
  8. Add the ears and nose too!
  9. Let dry and play.

Books

Dinner at the Panda Palace by Stephanie Calmenson is a great book. I grabbed it only because of the title but found a gem. My son and I both loved it and had a blast reading it. The story is about a restaurant and the people , or rather animals that come into the restaurant in ever enlarging groups. The text is rhyming and well written. My son loved counting each group that came in figuring out after a few that each group was one animal larger. It was a great opportunity to practice one to one correspondence as he counted one each page.  There was also a great message about there always being room for one more when all the chairs were taken and a mouse came knocking wondering if he could eat too!

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?by Eric Carle is a sequel to the much loved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? .  What I appreciate about this book isn’t just the vibrant illustrations or the repetitive text that encourages children to recite it along with the reader, it’s that the book is a great intro to endangered animals. The book introduces readers to animals like the giant panda , bald eagle and giant sea turtle that are all endangered.  When my son was little he liked the repetition, colors and rhythm the test provides, now that he is older reading this book sparks talks about taking care of the earth and all her inhabitants.