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.

Clothespin Teaching Turkey

by Katy

For this activity you will need a paper plate, clothes pins, brown and yellow construction paper, scissor, glue, and something to color with. For some reason I had craft confusion and used paint and markers, but that’s overkill.

First, make your paper plate brown–we finger painted because that allows us to work on sensory stuff at the same time. I’m seeing major progress in that my son will paint and also that he’s stopped trying to put the paint in his mouth. Little victories!

Next, cut out a head and beak from the construction paper. Glue them to the plate.

Then you need to color your clothespins. I used markers and did it myself since it’s a little beyond Charlie’s abilities. If your child can do it by themselves, then let them.

Now, for the fun part!

The clothespins become the turkey’s feathers. Use the feathers to do a variety of activities. For us, we were working on identifying colors. You could also do patterns

Since this was our first time doing the activity, we started with only two clothes pins and asked Charlie to select “red” or “blue.” Trying to grab the clothespins has the added bonus of being fine motor practice, but if he’s not able to squeeze properly, they still come off with a tug. If your child has trouble with fine motor, be sure to place the pins far apart to make it easier.

When Charlie correctly identified the blue pin and threw it on the floor, we called it a day!

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Marshmallow Ghost

I love the simplicity of this Halloween Craft.  Many parents comment that they could never do a craft with treats without their child loosing focus and eating up the whole bowl. I have done many of these kids activities over the years with my son and other children and never had that problem. The tick is that you have to allow some to be eaten but make deals. With my son he had to put 10, then 15, then 20 marshmallows on the ghost before he was allowed to eat just one single marshmallow. When the ghost was completed he had another. 4 in total, not bad. If you simply can not use treats try cotton balls or packing peanuts instead. Another bonus is that your child is using fine motor skills the whole time, something essential to literacy!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some glue, mini marshmallows, and black construction paper.
  2. Start by making an outline of a ghost in glue on your paper. I tried, no begged my son to do this step but he didn’t want to. He wants things to be perfect and well – we are working on doing things himself and not needing things to be so particular. I’ll keep you posted!
  3. Next start adding the mini marshmallows. I love the system we use with a treat after counting, because he loves to count and has fun doing it. Even if you are using a non edible item give your child numbers to use as mini goals when adding on items like this. You can even make predictions about how many it will take to complete the ghost.
  4. Add glue for the eyes.  I was pleased when he wanted to do this, and even more so when he added 3 eyes !
  5. Add the marshmallows , three if you want!
  6. Let dry. The marshmallows will dry but not mold.

Halloween Books

The Perfectly Horrible Halloween by Nancy Poydar is a book I think most adults can relate to and kids should read and learn from. In the book a little boy is excited about the costume contest in class, he is sure he will win, but there is one problem, he forgot his costume on the bus! I like how resourceful he is making a new costume with what he has and how the author realistically captures both the excitement  of the day and horror when he realizes he forgot the costume on the bus. I know I forgot my bad, my lunch and a laundry list of other things on the bus when I was a kid and this book launched my son and I into a talk about loosing things and coping. Another good book from an author I have recently discovered and am greatly enjoying.

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and has been read many many time already this month . The premise is simple, a group of trick or treaters are pegged off one by one as they are scared by some Halloween creature.  Readers count down from 10 – 0 and  enjoy the bright detailed illustrations as they do. I particularly like the cute costumes and the final page which has another countdown with candy – always fun to count candy right?

Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson is a sweet and really well done book. The story follows a little mouse who is easily afraid of the many things on Halloween night , but one by one discovers that things like falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treaters aren’t so scary after all. I love the repetition in this book and the illustrations by Bucket Erdogan epitomize the fall spookiness that Halloween nights are filled with. Thumbs up from my son and I .

Letter Tracing – Write and Trace Place Mats

letter tracing preschool

My son has been asking how to spell things for some time, but now he wants to know how to write them too. Problem is he’s not proficient in writing yet but refuses to let me help. So instead of the whole process ending in frustrated tears we made these letter tracing place mats. So easy to make and for the same price as one pre made place mat you can buy a whole roll of contact paper and make a bunch. Remember only to use washable markers on them and you will be set!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need contact paper, a marker , some paper towels, stickers, and scissors.
  2. Start by writing out the words or letters for the mat.  Make sure the marker you use doesn’t bleed. I used paper towels because they are a perfect size for a place mat. Paper will work just fine.
  3. Add your stickers. My son wanted a fire truck themed one and I made an alphabet mat for him as well. We chose uppercase but there is no rule that you have to do uppercase.
  4. Cut your contact paper so you sandwich the place mat in it. Place the place mat face down to help avoid bubbles.
  5. Smooth and trim the edges.
  6. Start writing!  This was a huge hit with my son and the place mat can double as a mat for play dough, art and eating too!

Letter Crafts

I have been asked about the return of our ever popular Letter of The Week craft that was published most Mondays. It will be returning next month until then browse our uppercase and lowercase crafts or for an easy alphabetically organized collection and 5 exclusive (never been or  to be published on the blog) crafts check out my Alphabet Crafts eBook!

Color Wheel Match!

by Kim

Allie did a color matching activity very similar to this one over a year ago, but I recently this variation at a daycare when I went to pick up my friend’s child. I had to make it as the perfect multi-level learning activity for my home.

All you will need are clothespins, paint, marker, scissors, and posterboard.

I traced an upside down large mixing bowl to get my big circle. Then I sectioned it into 8 pieces, but you can do as many as you like. I painted each section a different color.

As I painted the sections I made sure that I painted a clothespin for each color as well. You will see two of each in the photo because I made two sets (and then had to make a third).

I wrote the names of each color in the section. I also wrote the names of each color on the clothespins.

I gave the kids the circles with the clothespins already attached to the appropriate sections. I asked them to pull off all of the clothespins and put them in a pile. They loved pulling them off, maybe a little too much.

Then I told them to match the clothespins to the colors on the wheel. I demonstrated one match up to really show them, too. After all I was dealing with 2 two year olds. My daughter started right at it.

This activity is great for matching, learning colors, and motor skills. Our foster child has trouble doing the pincher hold, so this activity was more for him to work on motor skills and hand-eye coordination (not so much on color matching). Oh, and it is working. He is getting better every time we play this activity. Eve his therapists have noticed a big difference. We will get the color matching down, one day. ;-)

My daughter is learning to match and get more familiar with her colors. But it doesn’t hurt to build those motor skills, either.

This activity is requested constantly at my house. The littler ones have so much fun playing with it that I had to make one for my four year old son, too. I am hoping we will have our colors down as sight words. We should as much as we play this.

So there you have it, an activity that can be done by different ages and developmental stages (including special needs). Here is my daughter so proud of her completion. I know that you can’t tell from the picture, but she is very happy and proud.