Apple Orchard Craft

When my son read this book we started learning about apple orchards and the idea for this craft was born. My son is much more into digging in our backyard and building with legos than art these days but I knew I could entice him to create if it involved food coloring and medicine droppers… and I was right! He even asked his dad to take it to work and put it up in his office he was so proud of it.   There are a lot of steps for little guys in this craft but you can omit some easily and still make a fun apple tree!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need coffee filters, red and green food coloring, 2 eye or medicine droppers, ice cube tray, construction paper, markers, scissors, glue and popsicle sticks. You may also want to use a cutting board and some paper towels under the coffee filters to protect your work surface.
  2. Start by handing your child the construction paper and markers – have them draw the orchard , but make sure they know you will be gluing trees on top. We don’t want any meltdowns over covering their picture.
  3. Next layer the paper towels under the coffee filters.
  4. Pour the food coloring into your tray – I watered down the green but not the red.
  5. Start with the green food coloring on the coffee filters.
  6. Next add red. Let dry.
  7. While they are drying ( doesn’t take long in the sun!) have your child color the popsicle sticks with the brown marker.  This is great fine motor skills practice! My son decided to make a single line on each …one of which continued onto my table. Remember to use washable markers and a wet cloth nearby always keeps blood pressure low !
  8. Glue the sticks onto the construction paper.
  9. Cut the filters into tree tops.
  10. Glue on and let dry.

More Apple Books

Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson  was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard.  This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking.  The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book,  I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson had me tricked into thinking that it was a new edition of an old book. The retro look to the illustrations hooked me and I was shocked to see it was only published 2 years ago. The reader is taken through all the elements that go into making a pie, not the recipe though. The story works backwards from pie to the apples, the tree, the roots and more . The message is one of interconnectedness and makes me feel equally important and small all at the same time. I think it’s useful to teach how everything in nature is dependent on other elements and can’t work alone. My son enjoyed the illustrations of the sun with a face and the little girl helping her father at every step.

Glue Tracing

letter tracing with glue

This glue tracing activity saved my sanity and worked on my son’s pre-writing skills. My son loves glue and I fell in love with this post over at Play Activities - yesterday while trying to keep my sanity with a newborn who wouldn’t sleep and a 3 year old who only wanted to play soccer… in the living room, I busted it out.  Simple, fun and you can let it dry and use the sheets again. My son really loved it ( thank goodness), oh and it works their fine motor and hand eye coordination too!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper ( heavy is better so the glue won’t seep through if they use a little too much), a marker and glue.Glue Tracing
  2. Start by writing letters , making shapes , numbers or even just designs.Glue Tracing
  3. Hand them the glue and have them trace.Glue TracingGlue Tracing
  4. If it’s too tricky grab some new paper and make the letters larger.
  5. Let dry and trace and feel them with your fingers!Glue Tracing

Shape Bulldozer Craft For Kids

Bulldozer craft for kids

I can’t take full credit for this craft, instead I must admit it’s inspired by an episode of Team Umizoomi ( a show I just love). I like crafts like this because it allows my son to manipulate the shapes , as you will see though his favorite part was the cutting step, it went on forever!  Even if your child isn’t into bulldozers find something they love and see if you can break it down into shapes.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper in 4 colors ( brown, black, yellow and green), some kid scissors, adult scissors, markers or crayons and glue.
  2. Start by drawing a square, rectangle, and crescent on the yellow paper.
  3. Draw circles on the black.
  4. Invite your child to draw a construction site. The older they are the more time they will likely take, don’t fret if they make a scribble or two and declare that they are finished.
  5. Hand them the brown paper and tell them that’s the dirt and they will be making piles so they need to cut it into small pieces. Mine cut. And cut. And cut.
  6. While they cut , cut out the shapes.
  7. Time to glue – woo hoo!
  8. Add your shapes.
  9. Add glue for the cut paper dirt.
  10. Add the dirt too and let dry.

Construction Books !

Machines at Work by Byron Barton is a bold and bright book that is perfect for toddlers who are obsessed with construction vehicles. The text is brief but effective. My son loved this book as an infant ,  at 2 he enjoyed reading it, as well as counting the workers and trucks on each page. Now at almost 4 he will still grab it and read it to his imaginary friend Sammy who ” can’t read yet”.  All in all it’s been well loved over the years !

Road Builders

Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy was a birthday gift for my son in November and he was not interested at first. Maybe because of the plethora of lego that was taking over our house… however it has since become such a favorite he recently “read” it to my sister’s dog. It’s a story all about how a road is built , explaining what the crew does, and how each type of construction vehicle has a different role in building a road.  I like that it explains the process from start to finish, in just the right level of detail for preschoolers.  I also like that there is a female crew member and her participation is seamless .

Construction Countdownby K.C Olson is a counting book that uses backhoes, dump trucks and cement mixers among other things to count. Before I even closed the book my son was signing for more. I read it 4 times since getting it out of the library today. A huge hit here!  <–  That was written in 2008 and now over 2 years later my son still likes this book and has grown with it, now doing the counting all by himself.

 

Shell Sorting

When I buy something specifically for an activity and spend more than I want to for only one experience, I try to brainstorm other things to use the item for. That is where this idea came from . I bought these shells for the Beach Sensory Tub we made last week, but wanted to use them for something else as well. Sorting is more than just a time filler in preschools , it’s a math lesson about matching, shapes and counting. Using tongs adds in fine motor and hand eye coordination too. I knew my son would like this but he sorted every single one , dumped them back in and did it again! I got my money’s worth out of these shells!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sea shells, a divided platter ( ours is a chip and dip plate from the dollar store) , and some tongs or kiddie chopsticks ! Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  2. Start by placing one of each shell in the divided sections of your platter as a guide for your child.Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  3. Invite them to the table and have them use the tongs to pick up and sort the shells. If this is too frustrating, ditch the tongs and just use their hands.Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  4. Keep going! Preschool Shell Sorting Activity
  5. Talk about the shells as you play, we googled sea shells after we finished to look at even more variety of shells .
  6. Celebrate their efforts- if they sorted 4 shells or all !Preschool Shell Sorting Activity

Beach Books

 

One White Wishing Stone by Doris K. Gayzagian is a beautiful book. Visually it reminds me of an impressionist painting, the soft beach colors used by illustrator Kristina Swarner are calming and pretty. This is more than just a counting book, there is a story of a little girl at the beach,what she finds and how she plans to use them when she takes them home. It’s so beautifully done that it almost makes me forget how much I hate finding sand in my car after a trip to the beach.
Beach Party! by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback reminds me of “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle , and that comparison is a compliment. This large board book is a fun and cute way to introduce toddlers to movement as well as animals you find or want to avoid at the beach. The reader is asked how they want to walk today then they see how each animal moves. This would be a fun read for a circle time where kids could get up and move!
The Seashore Book
by Charlotte Zolotow is a touching story of a little boy excited to go to the sea for the first time from his mountain home. The mother describes it so well that you will be aching for a trip too! I must admit though that my son and I barely paid attention to the words, we were both so moved by Wendell Minor’s paintings. We couldn’t help but ooh and awe every time we turned the page. My son’s favorite page was the one with the crab, of course!

Fishing Alphabet Game

I think I have made one of these fishing games for every class I have ever taught, my son loves it and it was a huge part of him learning his letters, all while playing!

Cereal Bracelet Craft

Contributing Writer Kim shares this tasty , easy and really fantastically educational activity with us ! I love her perspective of having two children at different levels, enjoy!

Do you remember candy bracelets?  This activity puts an educational and healthier twist to that bracelet from your past.  All you will need are chenille stems, loop cereal (such as Fruit Cheerios or Fruit Loops), and an egg carton or muffin tin.

This activity is perfect if you have children at different levels of development because it can be implemented in so many different ways.  I have a toddler and a preschooler.  Activities that they can both do at the same time score big points with me.  I gave my daughter an egg carton and asked her to put the cereal in each compartment.  This works great for developing motor skills.

My son was given a muffin tin and asked to sort the cereal by colors.  While both of the children put the cereal in their containers, I folded the tips of the chenille stems inward to make sure the wire did not poke the children.

After my son was finished sorting, I gave him a chenille straw.  I asked which colors he would like to use to make a bracelet.  Out of six colors, he only wanted to use two.  So I asked him to thread the cereal onto the stem in a pattern of green, green, orange, orange. Depending on your child, you can do patterns of ABAB, AABB (like we did), ABCABC, or any other pattern.

While my son was threading his cereal, I tried to show my daughter how to thread the cereal onto the stem.  As soon as we got one piece of cereal on she would chomp on it and giggle.  It was extremely cute and provided her with a ton of fine motor skill practice, but didn’t help me get a picture to share with you.  My daughter is only 19 months old and is not ready for patterns, but simply threading the cereal onto the stem is a great activity.  She also just used the chenille stem as a hockey stick to shoot the cereal onto the floor.  We will just call that a hand-eye coordination building exercise.  Mommy didn’t appreciate it very much and put an end to it quickly.

When my son was finished threading the cereal we talked about the pattern and how it made the string look a certain way because of the pattern.  I put on a purple and a red at the very end and asked him if those two matched the rest.  We talked about how those two didn’t fit in with the pattern, so he decided they needed to be taken off.

To make it a neat bracelet we simply wrapped the chenille stem around his wrist and twisted the ends together.  Now you have a great snack to finish up your fun learning activity.  The best thing about this snack is that it is portable and can be taken along for the fun.

My son’s preschool class does this activity on a regular basis.  As you can imagine it is a big hit with the girls, but met with the same enthusiasm from the boys.  I want to thank my son’s preschool teachers for providing me with a fun learning activity that is so easy to do at home.  I know they aren’t the ones that originated it, but they shared it with me and I thought I would share it with you.

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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.