G is for Goldfish!

Fish Bowl!
This is a fun craft project that can be as simple or as complicated as you desire. I kept it simple for my 17 month old, but with older kids you could include real sand, some plants and other species too!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper, a pencil, scissors, some glue, paint ( glitter paint is perfect for this) and a paint brush.
  2. Mix up some regular paint with some sparkle glitter paint. It will make the fish look like they are underwater!
  3. Draw or have your child draw some fish on a piece of construction paper, while you cut out a fish bowl . To cut it out layer 2 pieces ( one blue) of construction paper together and using a cereal bowl trace a circle , then add on a wider brim at top. Cut it out. Cut the top third of the blue paper off and make the edge look like a wave.
  4. Paint the fish.
  5. Let the fish dry. Have your child glue the water onto the fish bowl, then onto a plain piece of construction paper.
  6. When the fish are dry, cut out and glue them onto the bowl!

* Tip for sparkle paint, to save money just buy yellow. it blends into other colors well so you don’t need 5 different tubes of glitter paint !

Books!

Swimmy by Leo Lionni is a profound tale about a little fish who tragically looses his family, and is forced to face scary things alone. He soon discovers that if he and other little fish band together they have power against the big bullies in the ocean. Personally I love this author and this book is one of my favorites. Some parents have expressed concern over his family being eaten at the start , so read it for yourself before deciding if it’s right for your child.


” Baby Beluga” by Raffi is a classic children’s song cleverly illustrated into a beautiful book. I grew up on Raffi and am still shocked when moms don’t know who he is, if he is new to you go to your library and check out one of his cds! My son loves this book, there are so many sea creatures to point out, it’s great for toddlers!

Pot Scrubber Painting

When my son gets up early to help pass the time I grab something out of my cupboard and hope he likes it! Today it was such a big hit, I am sharing it here with you!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, a small bowl or plate and a kitchen scrubber. I used a mesh scrubber with a easy grip handle that fits a toddler’s hand perfectly!
  2. Put some different colors in the bowl and mix away ! Be ready with a rag cause paint can go flying when you let them help!
  3. Pop the scrubber in the paint and start painting, really it’s more like stamping, the prints the scrubber makes are really cool.
  4. Change colors and keep going! We painted for about 10 minutes which is really a long time for a toddler, and if I let my son paint the table I bet he’d still be there!

Paper Plate Elephant Craft


  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate, some construction paper( 2 white, 1 black), glue , scissors, a paint brush, jar or cup and paint.
  2. I like to make the gray paint by mixing different colors, your child will love this.
  3. Paint the paper plate.
  4. While your child is painting , cut out 2 ears and a trunk using the white construction paper.
  5. Paint the trunk and ears.
  6. While your child is painting, cut out 2 black circles and 2 slightly larger white ones for eyes, and some black strips for the trunk.
  7. Let everything dry.
  8. Glue the ears , trunk, strips and eyes on!

* To make this elephant into a mask, you can cut eye holes and attach ribbons on either side or a stick to the bottom !

Note about crafts: As a teacher I love to do open ended art projects that provide a wonderful creative experience for children so as you can imagine all these crafts I have done have gone against some of my teaching instincts. However when you are working one on one with a child you have so many opportunities to follow their lead, and make even a structured craft like this elephant into something creative. My son loved mixing the colors to make the gray paint, so after we were done we got a few more jars out and continued. Watch carefully and you too will find ways to turn these crafts into a whole host of fun!

 

Song!
One Elephant!

One elephant went out to play,
upon a spider’s web one day,
he had such enormous fun that he called for ______ to come!

Two elephants went out to play,
upon a spider’s web one day ,
they had such enormous fun that they called for ______ to come!

* I like to use the child’s/ children’s names but if you are singing this alone with your child you can use their stuffed animals/ toys names or simply say ” another elephant ” instead!

Books!

123 to the Zoo Board Book by Eric Carle is fun counting book perfect for toddlers. Actually as I type this my toddler is reading it. There are no words, just pictures and numbers and that makes it perfect for toddlers who are just learning both numbers and animals because parents can read it slowly counting , naming the animals and making the animal sounds, or more quickly just counting!

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is a silly story about a zookeeper and his charges that follow him home to bed. Luckily his wife is on her toes and gets those silly animals back to the zoo ! This book is good for the 1-3 crowd , after that most kids I know have lost interest in the limited text. I love to use this book as a bedtime story.
 Inside a Zoo in the City (A Rebus Read-Along Story) by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a rebus read along , so children who can’t read words yet can help read this with pictures put right into the text! The story is repetitive and builds with one animal and page at a time. Preschoolers love these books and the repetitive nature of it makes it interactive and fun!

Thanks! Merci! Gracias!

Hand Painted
Thank You Note


Activities are a great way to make a lesson about manners tangible, being polite is a hard thing to learn especially for young children, doing something concrete like making a thank you card will help them learn their manners !

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some card sock or some pre-folded note cards. I used one card for the art work and a second for the inside. You will also need something to decorate your card with, we chose the water color crayons I reviewed last week.
  2. Start decorating your card. The water color crayons were great because they make fun baby scribbles into art! The crayons were a little tough for my little guy to press hard enough so I drew the circles and he took care of the next step!
  3. Bring out the water and start painting!
  4. Let the card dry.
  5. When it’s dry you may have to stick a second card inside the painted one, my card was pretty warped from the water, but a second card taped in with double sided tape fixed all that!
  6. Write in your note but don’t forget to let your child include their signature!
Books



” I’m Sorry” by Gina and Mercer Mayer has a great message about how saying sorry after doing something wrong isn’t always enough. Every page has a hidden frog on it as well , children love to try and find it and it keeps even the most wiggly 4 year olds in their seats!

” Booker and the Bully” by Marilyn Moscovitch tackles a touchy subject in schools these days and does it in s gentle way. The emotions Booker goes through being bullied really come through in the illustrations and young children will be able to identify them which will help them understand the story and topic.

” How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight” by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague is a beautifully illustrated story about the tantrums and dramatics that dinosaurs put their parents through at bedtime. I really like this book because it asks if dinosaurs do all these naughty things and kids love to point out what the dinosaurs shouldn’t be doing. Of course in the end the dinosaur s remember their manners and go to bed with hugs and kisses and the lights off!

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.