When you think of all the things the United States celebrates on the 4th of July independence and freedom are at the heart of it all. So as a fun but still oh so patriotic craft we made these freedom collages. The kids were free to use what they wanted with the only stipulation being that they use red, white and blue. For my kids they do well with fun exciting set ups. The term invitation to play is used in early childhood circles and I often think I set up invitations to create. This was hands off for me other than being a gopher for supplies. While my son created we talked about the revolutionary war ( he is a wee bit obsessed with military history) and while my daughter did I talked a little about what she was doing but really just observed. Here is how we did it.
- Gather your materials. You can use anything. I asked my son what he wanted me to put out and then I added a few more things. We had paint, a canvas, glue,scissors, pipe cleaners (love these sparkly ones ) , buttons, paper, plastic lids, and sticky back foam.
- Step everything up ready for your patriotic artist.
- Create. There are so many possible lessons in open art like this let your child direct the creation and the lessons will follow.
- They both started with paint. And we stumbled upon a lesson in color mixing with my daughter.
- Fine motor skills got a good work out while they peeled the back off the sticky back foam.
- Even though my kids did this project separately ( my son and I did it while my daughter was napping and when she woke she wanted to make one too). There wasn’t much difference other than putting the smaller buttons in the jar and leaving out only the larger ones she won’t try to eat.
- Let dry and display.
Yesterday I asked my son to choose one of the animals we saw at the zoo last week and I’d think up an activity. He chose a lion and this is what we made. Now I can’t post this without saying that I did my fair share of this lion too. If I could do it all over again I’d have the kids paint the body and only collage the mane or make it a way smaller project because they lost major steam about half way through. We took a break I slipped back in the playroom filled in some of the empty spots and then the challenge was just right and they completed it on a high note and our playroom now has a super cool lion on the wall.
- Gather your materials, you will need some craft paper, glue, construction paper ( we used paper from out scrap box ) , a pencil, crayons, markers, googly eyes and scissors.
- Start by drawing a lion on your craft paper. I used the lion from Eric Carle’s 1, 2,3 to the Zoo as my inspiration.
- Next have the kids color the paper to make fur- this was my son’s idea.
- Next cut some of the paper in long strips for the mane. The big adult scissors are a treat for a kid who isn’t super fond of cutting but needs to work on it … funny how something so simple can make all the difference!
- Cut or rip the rest into pieces.
- Add glue.
- Add the paper.
- My son worked hard on the mane. Then we took a break.
- When we got back he added glue for the face pieces ( I cut them out when they were collaging) .
- Added the googly eyes .
- Let dry then cut out and display!
Books For The Zoo
Check out some books about the zoo here.
We are digging murals lately so when my daughter refused her nap for the third day in a row instead of breaking down and crying like I wanted to I grabbed some paper and we made something. This mural like our alphabet wall mural isn’t finished in one sitting, in fact I leave things to add to it out until it’s removed weeks later. I love having on going art projects that grow and change over the course of a few weeks. There is no wrong way to do this just choose materials you have, that are safe for whatever age or stage of development your kids are at and have fun!
- Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper for the wall, I love craft paper but the underside of extra wrapping paper will do too. We also used painter’s tape, glue sticks ( avoid with kids who may put them in their mouths, those suckers are choking hazards) , scrap paper , pom poms, double stick tape… these are just what we used you can add in whatever you can, just try to mix a few materials together. I love handing my kids something new and saying ” How could we use these for this project?” and watching the wheels turn.
- Put the paper up. Grab some construction paper and start ripping . I just sat by the mural while my kids were playing with their usual favorites in the playroom ( Duplo and board books) soon enough they came by to see what I was doing.
- The plan turned into a garden so we added the stems first and the kids went straight for the glue sticks. Oh and yes I ripped the stems at my son’s request, he had a hard time ripping them in long strips. I want to make sure parents know there is no issue with helping your kids create. I get emails asking ” Do you ever help?” at their request of course! I try not to do anything my kids can do on their own but if they get frustrated and ask for some help of course I will. Projects aren’t tests to see what they can do it’s time to work as a team, especially ones like this that is meant to be collaborative. They had fun adding the paper.
- My daughter stuck to one side of the mural. We aren’t sure of her creative vision – but both my son and I thought that her collage looked like a butterfly!
- I was giddy when I heard my son call me back over ( I’d gone to the book nook to read with my daughter) to see how he discovered he could glue ends of paper down but make the middle pop out at you. In true 5 year old boy fashion these were named ” Missile attack flowers” .
- This is how it looked for days ( you can even see it in the background of a few previous posts) A few days later when we were in the playroom and they were busy playing I grabbed the double stick tape and pom poms and set them out. Soon I had two kids creating once a again.
I think when we return from our holiday we’ll get another material out and see how it fits with the paper and pom poms. What do you think we should add next?
Books About Flowers
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence, loosing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can’t relate to this? I know I can . Thankfully my son has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience . I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author.
Zinnia’s Flower Garden by Monica Wellington is really useful not just about teaching about flowers and gardens, but also about patience and the annual cycle of a garden. Zinnia plants and waits, waters, enjoys her flowers, then they die, she collects the seeds and plans her garden for next year. I love that the main story is perfect for my almost 3 year old but there is much more for older children with longer attention spans. There is a little journal with notes about what’s happening with her garden, and various facts about plants as well. Like in so many of her books the author celebrates hard work and her characters take great pride in what they do. A fantastic message for readers, big and little. I also love the mix of illustration and photographs in this book especially, it gives the illustrations depth and a really interesting look.
Exploring nature doesn’t have to be in a far off place, a neighborhood park , school yard or your own backyard will work just great. Explore , talk about what you see, hear and smell. Touch things even they aren’t going into your bag for the collage, explore and take note of how the garden, forrest or park you are in has changed since the spring or summer. I love when I can do an activity with both kids seemlessly and this one was super easy .
- Gather your materials. You will need 1-2 paper grocery bags, scissors,crayons, glue and a yard , park or forrest to explore.
- Start by handing each child a bag and heading outside. Can I just say that my little paint covered point and shoot camera works great for inside crafts when movements around too big or fast, but getting a good shot of either child was next to impossible. Especially a wobbly 15 month old.
- Explore- let your child lead the way. Hopefully the other child( or 5) agree and go the same way, or at least in the same general vicinity.
- Put everything they find and want to glue to the collage in the bag . Don’t say no to little things yet, let them discover later of it won’t glue.
- Huge sticks are totaly ok to refuse, but let them figure it out by asking how it will fit in the bag. Offer scissors to cut a small piece off.
- Head back inside and prepare for part two. I did this while they played in the playroom around me, but don’t feel like you have to do this all in one go. Do this after bed time and continue with part two in the morning if that works best for your family. You will want to empty out the contents and place them on a table – or even a shallow box. Using the bag cut it open and draw an acorn. Tape it to the table to stay steady.
- Now invite the children to chose from their treasures and glue them to the acorn.
- Hmm the pine branch is too big to glue down… what could we do?
- Cut it!
- I helped my daughter add the glue and she happily banged the leaves she gathered down. I was so surprised to see she remembered exactly which leaves she found and used them in her collage.
- Gluing is my son’s favorite part of most art because he pretends it’s a bomb ( yes this stage is still driving me batty but I am trying to roll with it)- his sound effects surprised his unamused little sister…
- Let everything dry overnight.
- Cut out. Display if possible – kids love seeing their own creations displayed with pride.
More Acorn Crafts!
If a nature walk isn’t possible for you try another one of our acorn crafts .
Click the images for the original posts
Now that school is out for most of you I have been brainstorming crafts that are a little more challenging but that can be adapted for younger kids as well. This was fun to make and by no means do you or your child have to make flowers, the sky is the limit with these fun vibrant colors. Also you can take this opportunity to talk about shades and hues ! Don’t miss the matching activity after the craft for younger kids either!
- Gather your materials. You will need some paint samples, scissors, paper and glue.
- Start by deciding what to create, or deciding to make an abstract creation.
- I started with some grass and glued it on my paper.
- Next I made flower stems and leaves, and added them.
- Time for some pretty colors, I chose to make pink and purple flowers.
- Cut out the petals and glued them on.
- Now was the more creative part – the “extras” I decided to make some clouds with a dusty blue.
- Then my favorite a butterfly!
- As it dries the glue will stick but the paint samples will pull away some. I personally LOVE this, I like how 3 dimensional it makes the craft. If you don’t like this just pop a piece of wax paper over it and lay a heavy book on top for a few hours.
Paint Color Match
This activity is not just a color match it’s also a wonderful fine motor challenge for toddlers and preschoolers.
Here are the instructions.