Shape Safari !

binoculars craft for toddlers
When you are going on a shape safari you don’t need a gun, or even a camera all you need are some funky binoculars, here’s the how to:



Binoculars

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper towel roll cut in half or two toilet paper rolls, some tissue or other colored paper, a hole punch , glue and ribbon or yarn.
  2. Start by cutting out shapes in your paper. If your child is a toddler you will want to do this a head of time and spend this time showing your child the shapes. Don’t worry if they don’t seem to get it, they are absorbing it, but keep it short so they don’t get bored. Older children can cut out their own shapes.
  3. Get out the glue and start gluing on the shapes. Remember to ask questions, about the colors and shapes but don’t pester them.
  4. Glue the two rolls together and let dry . You can also staple them if needed.
  5. Punch 2 holes and tie the ribbon on and you are good to go!
Shape Safari!

  1. Gather your materials. For older children you really do not need anything more than the funky binoculars and a bag or something to act as home base for all the shapes you find. Younger children I would either use blocks you have that are different shapes or cut some out of paper for the activity.
  2. Hide or place the shapes or blocks around the house in places your child can find them easily. For young toddlers you can just scatter them on the floor, or in the backyard.
  3. Grab your trusty binoculars and start searching for those shapes. Remember to be animated and have fun, get into it and your child will too!
Song!


Herman the Worm- remix!
Sittin’ on a fence post chomping on my gum,
chomp chomp chomp,
Playing with my yo yo ,
woo woo,
When a long came Herman the worm,
and he was shaped like this__( hold up a shape)__
And I said ” Herman what happened?”
And he said I ate a ___( name the shape)____

Do with as many or as few shapes as you please !



Books!


” Earl’s Too Cool For Me!” by Leah Komaiko is a cute and short story about the adventures of a cool kid , but the message is in the end when even though he is cool he is still a regular guy too isn’t too cool after all.

” There’s a Square” by Mary Serfozo is a book all about shapes, all the illustrations contain multiple shapes for your children to find!

” The Loudest Roar”
by Thomas Tayloris a cute board book about Clovis a little Tiger with a big Roar!

 

Splish Splash ! Let’s learn about water!

Exploring Water


Note to Parents: Relax, put down a towel and don’t you dare do this in the bath tub, kids love water and they need to have fun and explore how it feels, works and looks outside of the routine of a bath.

  1. Gather your materials. I like to use a container in relation to your child’s age. So the smaller the baby the smaller the tupperware ! You should never have anything large enough that a child could get into and cause themselves harm. You don’t need a huge container for a good time. You will also want some fun things to put in the water- oh and you may want to make sure anything you don’t want in the water is out of reach!
  2. Have fun pouring and if you have an older child, grab some measuring cups and measure out the water, pour it fast, or slow, try to make a teeny tiny trickle. Follow your child’s lead, if pouring is boring move on!!
  3. Get your testers ready- find things in your house for this experiment! Young toddlers will have fun splashing but I have done this experiment with kids as young as 2 successfully. Be animated, follow their cues and throw those toys in the water! As you pop them in ask your child if they think it will stay bouncy floating on top or if they will fall all the way to the bottom and sink.
  4. If your child likes to learn with words and charts make a simple chart like this one. You can test out each object and put them in the right colum. If your child just thinks it’s fun to put the wet toys on paper that’s cool too. Don’t push , we want them to explore.
  5. If you have an older child try making predictions before the experiment. I have always been amazed that the Melissa and Doug blocks don’t sink, they get me every time! I had to go searching for this car just so I had something to sink! Remember it’s great to admit that you thought one thing and were shocked to be proven wrong, discover things with your child !
Song


Note to Parents - I have met very few preschoolers ( and I know lots) that don’t love to sing, so why not!! Also when you sing with your child don’t worry about how you sound, they don’t care, in my opinion the sillier the better!

Here is one of my favorite songs with the water theme in it! This was always a big hit with my students. Click on the video to see how silly adults with no make up and messy hair are singing kids songs- and for the actions!

Five Green and Speckled Frogs
Five green and speckled frogs
sat on a speckled log
eating the most delicious bugs
yum yum !

One jumped into the pool
where it was nice and cool
now there are 4 green speckled frogs
ribit ribit!

Keep going until no more left!


Books


Here are some great picture books that support this theme, so if your child had fun with the water and or song you could introduce these books at a quiet , or not so quiet time too!

“Splash!” by Flora McDonell

“Water is Wet” by Penny Pollack

Note to Parentslet your young child take the lead, they are always learning , always absorbing and not everything HAS to be a teachable moment. Suggest and offer activities but be prepared to end things early or move on to something else, that is ok, normal and healthy! Learning doesn’t happen in a forced environment , but rather one rich in opportunities and experiences!

It’s A Wrap!

Handmade
Wrapping Paper

If you have small children you probably end up going to a lot of birthday parties, this activity uses your child’s natural excitement for the party and reigns it in for a few moments anyway!

  1. Gather your materials. I am using old Christmas wrapping paper ( I swear this one roll has been around since the 90′s) , I find that using real wrapping paper makes it easier to actually wrap the gift, but any paper will work. Also I am using sponges for a more uniform look, but finger painting or another style is fine too! Of course you’ll need paint too, like usual I am mixing my own colors!
  2. Use a large piece of paper, larger than you think you will need and tape it face down to the table, or my favorite place a porch/ patio , the hose makes clean up easy!
  3. If you are sponge painting cut the sponge into small shapes.
  4. Pour some paint colors onto a dish and mix, this is one of my son’s favorite parts of art time!
  5. Start painting!
  6. Add more colors and keep going!Move your child around the paper for a more even pattern.
  7. Remember how I said use a large piece of paper? This is why, beware of toddlers who think ripping is fun! Luckily I saved enough of the paper for the gift!
  8. Let dry at least 24 hours, and wrap it in a place that is easy to clean as well, sometimes thick paint will flake off after wrapping. I suggest giving your box a good shake after wrapping.
Books!

” Babar’s Birthday Surprise” by Laurent de Brunhof is a story about friends trying to keep a special present a surprise from Babar, and all the trouble it takes to do so. I like Babar books, especially the vocabulary found in the older Babar books, words like stupefied , splendid and catastrophe ! This is a longer book, I would probably not try this with younger preschoolers and toddlers but this is a great book for 4-5 year olds !

” Moira’s Birthday” by Robert Munsch is a silly book, most of his books are, but silly is great! Moira is excited about having her birthday and doesn’t know how to say no to all the kids at school when they beg to come to her party. She ends up with the whole school at her house and her parents don’t know what to do! Luckily Moira does. This book at first look may seem like Moira is a spoiled brat who gets her way but really she is problem solving and when she gives away a present to each child who helps clean up, you can see she just wanted a good party, and isn’t a gift grabbing brat at all! Kids LOVE this book, I have never read it to a class that didn’t laugh hysterically.

“On the Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman is a beautiful book , maybe I am analyzing it too much but it’s really indulgent. Yes I think it’s message is right, everyone is special but what is wrong with just saying your mommy, daddy and family were excited that you were born, do we really need to tell kids that polar bears danced upon hearing the news? The pictures really are amazing I am just not a fan of the text.

Feel and Learn

Texture Collage

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a piece of card stock or construction paper, some markers/ crayons, glue and then some smaller pieces of things like feathers, aluminum foil, sand paper- anything that can easily be glued on and have an obvious texture. I used some foam ( squishy), foil wrapping paper ( smooth) and feathers ( soft) .
  2. I had my son start out with markers, because writing / scribbling is an important skill so practicing it is fun and worthwhile, but you don’t need to do this step.
  3. Drizzle or have your child put some glue on the paper.
  4. Put the collage materials on one at a time, talk about how it feels when your child is handling it.
  5. With older children you can ask them to close their eyes , put the collage material into their hands and ask them what it feels like!

Something Smells Fishy!

Duck Duck Fish !

*** Note about Art Activities***

Young kids should always have at least some aspect of open art in every arts and crafts project. Parents love complicated crafts that teachers spend hours preparing and cutting out every piece – the experience is very shallow for kids. They sit and are told where to glue this or that, not very creative. So to find a balance ( isn’t that all we want??! ) I try to include some open art where kids can be free to do whatever even in the more structured crafts. Also while doing crafts be open to your child’s suggestions, this fish they are making is their’s let them put legs on it if they want!

Now to the projects!!

“Hand” made Fish
  1. Gather your Materials. You can use any paper for this but something with a bit of weight works best for the tail when you cut it out. Crayons and double stick tape are great for toddlers and preschoolers do great with paint, markers and glue.
  2. Draw the outline of the fish, or have the child do it. Don’t forget to leave enough paper for tracing your child’s hand for the tail!
  3. Next decorate the fish. This is the open art aspect of this project, there is no wrong way to decorate this fish, let them go for it. I like sparkles ( okay I LOVE sparkles) so I added some to the fish. You can add stickers, ribbon, anything!
  4. Trace and cut out your child’s hand and glue or tape it to the finished fish for a “Hand” made tail!
Duck Stamping! 

  1. Gather your materials. I’ve used ink pads but a plate with very shallow layer of paint would work too. You can use more than one rubber duck too! For my little guy I used a small duckie but older kids do great with standard ones. Any paper will work- old brown grocery bags are fantastic for this!


2. Start stamping. The duck will squeak with hard stamps so young preschoolers will be enthralled with this super simple project.
3. Hang this very cool print on the fridge !

Song!

5 Little Ducks5 little ducks went out to play
over the hills and far away
Mother duck said
” Quack quack quack quack!”
but only 4 little ducks came back!

Continues until there are no little ducks.

 

Books! 

” Hello Fish: visiting the coral reef. ” by Sylvia A. Earle is a great non fiction book for children of all ages, the text is too sophisticated for the under 5 crowd but the the photographs are so wonderful it’s still worth a look. My son loves it ! What I love about it is that it shows all different sorts of fish, including eels, sharks and clown fish! 

” Ordinary Amos and the Amazing Fish” by Eugenie and Henry Fernandesis a funny book that turns the tables on humans , Amos gets caught by a family of fish and they keep them as a pet! There are some cute lines that will give adults a good chuckle and children love the fun illustrations and silliness of this book. 

” The Sissy Duckling” by Harvey Fierstein is an AWESOME book. As a mom to a son I worry about him getting teased when he is older if he isn’t into sports, or likes to bake cookies more than play video games. This book address that, in a cute but frank way. Also there are sparkles on the front cover, I love sparkles!

” The Rainbow Fish”
by Marcus Pfister is a modern classic but not my favorite. When the other fish notice how beautiful Rainbow Fish’s scales are and want one, Rainbow fish refuses. It isn’t until he has no friends that he decides to share. This book is a good book to talk about sharing but beware I have had more than one student who said ” You have to share or I won’t be your friend!” after a reading too. Three year olds can be brutal, so be there to help them navigate the message after reading this.