Thanksgiving Doodle Mats

My kids love dry erase activities and these mats were fast to make and they both enjoyed creating with them. They would be perfect for wiggly kids at the  Thanksgiving dinner table before pie is served or on the long road trip to Grandma’s .  With both the dinner plate and Mayflower scenes you can use different prompts and questions to extend the drawing. I have included suggestions below in the tutorial.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some inexpensive canvases or another hard board for a backing, some construction paper , double stick tape, scissors and contact paper. For the Thanksgiving dinner mat I used the plate and fork from Melissa & Doug’s Make-A-Meal Sticker Pad because it’s just so cute and we’d been playing with it earlier so it was fresh in my mind. 
  2. For the Mayflower mat start by cutting out a boat. I could have sworn I had brown paper but no, so I colored some white brown with a marker. Cut some sails, and land as well.
  3. Piece together and secure on a sheet of blue paper with double stick tape.
  4. Cover with contact paper.
  5. For the Thanksgiving dinner mat cut out the plate and fork and tape to a sheet of construction paper.
  6. Cover with contact paper.
  7. Time to create.  I handed my son the Mayflower one and asked a few questions . ” How do you think you would feel seeing land for the first time after such a long journey?” ” What would you pack if you were leaving your home forever?” ” How do you think the Native Americans felt when they saw the huge ship?”
  8. My daughter joined us and started creating her Thanksgiving dinner. I asked her ” What would you like for Thanksgiving?” I got a big old ” Candy!” as the response. She drew spaghetti and ice cream.  With older children you could divide the plate up and ask them to draw foods from each food group, draw a silly Thanksgiving with just their favorite foods or what they usually have at Thanksgiving and talk about traditions.
  9. They happily created and erased over and over. We use socks that can’t find their mates for erasers. 

 

I have had a hard time over them years finding Thanksgiving books that I felt were fun and educational. These books however fit the bill and are sure to work at your house too. Click through for full reviews of these books and a couple other Thanksgiving favorites.

Toy Catalog Drawing Prompts

drawing activity for kindergartenDrawing 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.

  1. 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. lego drawing activity
  2. Cut out some images that are full of action. You want it to look unfinished so they want to finish the picture.
  3. Tape to plain paper.
  4. Invite your artist- he was super excited to see them.
  5. Have your child choose one and start drawing. There was no lag time or whining about not liking to draw he just dove in! 
  6. 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.
  7. 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 Books

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.

 

Abstract Art Activity

abstract art activity for kids

Kids get so hung up on drawing sometimes and this abstract art can be really liberating. It also helps learn how to color in the lines if you are working on fine motor control. I don’t know what to call this, this is what I used to do in math class, which explains why my grades were so horrible. It is really relaxing, great for a rainy day or even to keep your antsy kids busy while watching a movie or traveling! And they look really cool too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some markers and paper. Yes that’s it!
  2. Start by drawing loops and squiggles that criss cross all over your paper.
  3. Next using your colored markers fill in the closed shapes however you like.
  4. Keep going until you either fill the whole thing or just feel like it’s done!