Ocean Shapes Mural

We usually rush off to t-ball after school but the practice was rained out and I was determined not to fill the time with TV although I really wanted to just chill and read too. So we went up to our messy playroom and while my son set up his playdough battleground again and my daughter played with her doll house I set up this ocean mural. We’ve been reading a lot of ocean books lately and this ties in to them perfectly while sneaking in some shape learning and writing practice too! Vertical surfaces like walls are fantastic for developing proper wrist muscles and form for writing so find ways to get your kids writing on the walls…or easels…or white boards… you get my point.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some bright printer paper. You can use construction paper too but this peels on and off the contact paper easier. Contact paper, some good quality painter’s tape or cheap stuff and some thumb tacks, scissors and markers.
  2. Start by putting the contact paper sticky side out on your wall. I used painter’s tape which as long as you have good quality tape will work great. If you have the cheap stuff you may like me  need to use some thumb tacks too.
  3. Cut out all sorts of shapes from the multicolored paper.  This is great scissor practice for kids so have them cut some out too. My wee man was busy and playing well and I wasn’t going to interrupt so I cut them all out but there is no reason an adult has to do this step solo.
  4. When they are up to it invite the kids to play and create an under sea world.Immediately he started adding happy faces.
  5. He discovered that the blue marker made cool water when he colored the contact paper.
  6. My daughter wasn’t as interested as her brother but she did add a purple starfish and color it.
  7. I love seeing them work together even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  8. Now our playroom is brighter !

Books About The Ocean

Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra is a goofy fun book that had me wrapped around it’s fingers with the title, I mean a fish named Barry? And he has fingers?! I love it. Thankfully my judgment was smack dab on because the inside of the book was as funny as the cover. Barry isn’t just a fish with fingers he is a hero when his fingers save the day. The illustrations are so fun, the text is zippy and both my kids ( 4 and 10 months) loved it from start to finish.

The Seaside Switch by Kathleen V. Kudlinski is a book packed with information about tides and creatures in the sea. As a child I found nothing more fascinating than a tide pool and all the scurrying crabs and this book captures that. It’s main story is how the tide changes throughout the day and brings with it different animals. The book is too long for most toddlers but my son enjoyed pointing out the animals in the book.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni has been a favorite of mine for many years. I love Lionni and how he can weave multiple layers of meaning into a simple story for children. Swimmy is a story about a little fish who lost his family to a giant tuna fish and after grieving he was reminded of all the wonderful things there were to see and experience in the ocean. When he came across a school of fish just like his former one hiding afraid of the big fish he knew he couldn’t let them miss out on all the wonders of the ocean and he rallied them to work as a team. This is a great book for teaching children about the power of working as a group to combat challenges as well as conquering fears.

DIY Puffy Paint Fish

My daughter loves fish and I have been wanting to make another batch of homemade puffy paint so I decided to combine the two. We love this paint because it dries puffy even the big globs! I was planning on doing this just with my daughter but when my son heard we were making puffy paint he put away his Lego and ran to the play room. Making your own puffy paint is so simple and this time we mixed in some colored glue which added a lesson in color mixing into the fun.  If you are making a big fish like we did make sure you have a place for it to dry away from little hands for a good 48 hours. Smaller puffy paint creations will dry faster.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some craft paper ( paper grocery bags cut open work great), shaving cream ( plain jane variety), plain white glue, colored glue , a marker, tape, a bowl and some spoons. If you are adding a face you will also need some googly eyes and a pipe cleaner for the mouth.
  2. Start by taping down your paper and draw a big fish.
  3. Now spray some shaving cream into the bowl. The official recipe I like calls for 1/2 cup of glue and 1 1/2 cups of shaving cream. I just eye ball it now we do it so much. My son loves spraying it.
  4. Add glue.
  5. Stir.
  6. Pop it on the fish.  She hated getting her hands dirty – I had an old towel and baby wipes handy.
  7. Add colored glue.  I was very impressed she didn’t try to eat it.
  8. Explore.  Both my kids opted for the spoons. They take after their dad, I was eager to mix it with my hands.
  9.  We popped it in my master bath that is never used. It was a perfect place to be out of my daughter’s reach for the two days. But first we added two eyes and a pipe cleaner mouth.
  10. Let dry. Ours dried for 2 days then I cut it out.

 

Over at my other blog I have a fun fish themed idea for children just starting to recognize their colors. Check it out.

 

Books About Sea Animals

Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone is a fascinating and beautiful board book. The story follows a little seahorse that hides on each page as it makes it’s way along the ocean back to it’s family. The illustrations are felt, fabric, sequins and other fun and very beautiful hand stitched creations. I am never ready for the next page because the previous has so much to look and marvel at. Kids like finding the seahorse on each page too!  My son and I re read this tonight to my daughter and she liked it but he was still loving it, which is pretty impressive for a board book. It’s just so pretty!

O Is for Orca: An Alphabet Book by Andrea Helman is a book about the nature of the North West packaged in an alphabet book.  Each page is dedicated to one large photo and a animal, plant or other part of North West nature.  My son was reluctant at first wanting to read a Star Wars chapter book but only a page or two in he was asking not to skip any of the text and we were discussing the information about the sea animals and he was eager to make a nest in our apple trees for the spotted owls who we read were endangered. Many of the letters represent sea animals like sea stars, urchins and of course orcas. There are a lot of facts in this book and if I were reading it to my toddler I’d skip the paragraphs and go through the alphabet and each photo only. That is what I love about books like this you can adapt them so easily to your audience.

Baby Beluga by Raffi is a classic children’s song cleverly illustrated into a beautiful book. I grew up on Raffi in Canada 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. I must say that I am unable to read this without singing the song. It might be a good thing to read it before listening to the song .

 

Fish Sun Catcher Craft

This is about as low mess you can get and still end up with a fun sparkly craft. Contact paper takes the place of glue and even though we used felt and buttons for differing textures you could add just about anything you have on hand .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper, a sheet of construction paper, crayon, scissors, felt, buttons, and googly eyes.
  2. Start by drawing the outline of a fish on the construction paper.
  3. Cut the fish out so you are left with a frame.
  4. Cut a piece of contact almost as large as the full sheet of construction paper , peel the backing off and stick on .
  5. Cut your felt into small pieces.
  6. Invite your child to the table .If you were me yesterday go into long negotiations with your Batman costumed child over doing or not doing a craft with gloves that belong to his grandmother on… which then turned into ” You always boss me around, I hate fish, I won’t do your baby craft.”  Inspired by techniques discussed in our Parenting Book Club Book “Playful Parenting” I resisted the urge to give a lecture about talking back and instead pretended to call Batman himself for help and listened to “Batman’s” suggestions. So we added some gems from our art closet , he took one glove off and we had a fun time together which is the whole point .
  7. Add your eyes and collage materials.
  8. Hang up in your window – no need to wait for anything to dry.

Today I really wondered for a few minutes if maybe my wee man was actually done with craft time. If he is I will be sad because I love our time creating but only when he loves it too. His play is almost entirely pretend play and he loves making anything that goes with his favorite theme du jour so we’ll see… either way I think I better start saving for his law school, this kid can negotiate!

Book

Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra is a goofy fun book that had me wrapped around it’s fingers with the title, I mean a fish named Barry? And he has fingers?! I love it. Thankfully my judgment was smack dab on because the inside of the book was as funny as the cover. Barry isn’t just a fish with fingers he is a hero when his fingers save the day. The illustrations are so fun, the text is zippy and both my kids ( 4 and 10 months) loved it from start to finish.

Finger Print Fish Craft

Fish are a wonderful theme for all ages, they are accessible to most anyone , even if you don’t have an aquarium to visit nearby a pet store can’t be too far away, and it’s free!  Also there are tons of great  books about fish , I review 3 new ones today. This craft can be made by all ages and would be great as a group project in a classroom with each student adding their unique fish .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper,washable  markers or stamp pads in various colors , scissors, glue, a marker scissors , googly eyes and if you wish blue paper for a background.
  2. Start by drawing the outline of fish. Make one or many. If your child can do this have them make the outline.
  3. Time to get messy! Color your finger tips or use a stamp pad and get ink on your finger tips.
  4. Print onto the fish.
  5. Keep going with all different colors. Make mention to your child about how lots of ink makes a darker print and less makes it lighter.
  6. Cut out the fish.
  7. If desired make a sea for them, I cut the top off my sheet of blue construction paper in a blue wave design.
  8. Glue the fish into the sea.
  9. Add eyes, smiles and let dry.

Books About Fish

Fish Schoolby Nancy Poydar is a really funny book that also manages to teach the reader a lot about fish.The story is about  Charlie who gets Wishy a goldfish for his birthday and then sets off to teach him all sorts of things. When his class takes a field trip to the aquarium guess who Charlie pops into a ziploc and into his backpack. My son loved the silliness of this book as well as the information that is shared as the class progresses through the aquarium. Lots of giggles and learning with this cute story.

Little Shark by Anne Rockwell is another accessible non fiction book from one of our favorite authors. We follow a shark from birth until it’s full grown in this book filled with fascinating shark facts. I like that it reads like a story because it sucks the reader in instead of just spouting off cold facts about these cool and scary ( to me) animals. I loved that my son was rather shocked that sharks don’t stay with their moms or their many siblings, and are instead solitary. I loved how it explained a little bit about the food chain in the ocean and how we get oxygen from air but fish get it from the water. Add this one to your shelf!

Trout, Trout, Trout!: A Fish Chant by April Pulley Sayre is not a story but a chanting book. It lists a number of fish found in the United States in a rhyming text. Along with Trip Park’s funny illustrations the book works although my son didn’t ask to read it again after  our initial reading. I like the facts at the back of the book about each type of fish in the book and think that any child into fishing would probably be more interested in this book than my son was.

Aquarium Kids Craft

by Kim

During a recent trip to the pet supply store my children spotted the small bowls with beta fish in them. After 5 minutes of pleading and begging I finally got them out of the store without the fish. Whew!

So I decided to do this craft at home to make up for not buying the fish. You will need a plastic berry container (this one is for strawberries), scissors, colored paper, tape, and crayons.

Draw a few fish and ocean creatures on the paper and let your child color them. I drew some waves and let my daughter color those as well.

Now you just need to cut the sea creatures and waves out. Next you will tape the waves upside down to the lid.

Make sure you tape the waves to both sides of the lid, similar to this.

Using transparent tape, hang the sea creatures from the bottom. You will want to be sure to hang them on both sides, too.

Now close the lid and you have a fun little aquarium that can hold up to the curiosities of a toddler.

It is fun to watch them open it up and explore the small little world you just created.

My kids carried their aquariums around for days. I didn’t have to feed them or change the water. That is an extra good craft in my book. :-)

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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.