Leaf Scrapbook

Leaf Scrapbook

Today’s post is from contributing writer Katy Bird, who reminds us just how simple it can be to explore science and  the natural world around us.  Get some fresh air, and explore with your child, even if your adventure goes no further than your own backyard.
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We were recently studying plants and so we decided to make a leaf scrapbook.  This activity was a huge hit and I think it could be adapted for children of almost any ability level.
First you take a walk–we just went around the yard, but you could go further if you need/want to.
Leaf Craft
Collect leaves–try to collect leaves from plants that you recognize.  This was pretty easy for us since my husband is a gardening nut, but you can always do a little online research if you needed.
Leaf Craft
Create a Leaf Scrapbook.  Paste a leaf on each page of your scrapbook and then label each with its name.
Leaf Scrapbook
Allow your child to do as much of the creating as they are capable. Take time to go over your scrapbook with your child–talk about color, size, and texture.
I ended up laminating Charlie’s cards because he LOVES to put things in his mouth and I was afraid he might eat one of the leaves!  This could work just as well with note cards or heavy paper.  I especially like this activity because it gets kids started on the basics of science in a way that is fun and interactive.

You could do this activity with flowers as well.

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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.

Driveway Graffiti

After you read about this awesome outdoor activity from contributing writer Kim you will be saying just want I did when I first read it, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  and “I am so going to do this like tomorrow!”

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Now that the weather is great, we are outside all of the time.  I am always looking for fun ways to learn and explore outdoors.  But when we just play in the driveway, it can get a little boring after a while.  So I tried this with the kids and it was a HUGE hit.

You need a bowl, corn starch, water, food coloring, a stick or spoon to stir, and a tennis ball.

Pour some cornstarch in the bowl and add water until it reaches the consistency you would like.  I wanted it to about the same as milk.  Add lots and lots of food coloring.  When the “paint” dries it lightens up a lot.

Now roll your ball in the paint.

Then bounce the ball around.  The kids got a kick out of the bounce marks the balls left behind.

I just stood back and watched them explore and experiment with the paint and the ball.  My son rolled the ball across the driveway.  They bounced the balls with varying forces and noticed a difference in the spots left behind.

Now this is a messy activity.  The paint got on their clothes, but it washed out.  I would strongly recommend wearing play clothes, just in case.  The kid’s hands did turn bright blue.  After a few washings the color came off.

It was a great time and great for all ages (even big kids).  My toddler got to learn and experiment with cause and effect.  My preschooler learned about the reaction that different levels of forces put on the ball.  We talked about the cornstarch dissolving in the water.  We talked about the food coloring changing the paint.  This activity was a wealth of scientific knowledge.  The kids had so much fun with it, too.

The project soon evolved into dipping our hands in the paint and making handprints on the driveway and porch.  My son poured out some paint into a puddle on the driveway and then rode his bike through it.  He got a huge kick out of the different tracks that his bike vs. his big wheel made.

It was fun to watch my children explore possibilities and try out different ideas.  I just sat back and let them learn.  And they thought they were just playing.

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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.

Find and Count Bug Hunt

find & count bug hunt nature activity

Math and science all together is my kind of activity, but when it’s fun it’s even better. We have all been a little cranky around here and when that happens one of the best ways to shake off the fuss is to go outside! So I made a quick check list and we were off to find creepy crawlers and tally up what we found!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clip board, a marker and a piece of paper. If you want grab a magnifying glass and a plastic jar if you want to collect what you find.Find and Count Bug Hunt
  2. Make a simple check list with bugs you normally find in your yard. It’s okay if you don’t find some of the things on your list but if you come up completely empty handed that would be a huge bummer. So take their suggestions but fill in some gaps if all they suggest are lions, and tigers and bears! Unless you have those in your yard. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  3. We drew pictures as well as spelled out the words.
  4. Out you go! Start searching!

    Find and Count Bug Hunt

  5. Make little check marks for the bugs/ creatures you find. We took turns. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  6. Here he is counting and yelling out the number of ants he saw and I tallied them. ( which reminds me I need some Dr.Bronner’s to get rid of said ants). Find and Count Bug Hunt
  7. He’s pointing to the  snake we found! Find and Count Bug Hunt 010
  8. Together count up your discoveries. Find and Count Bug Hunt

The best learning for young children are experiences they can do, and if they are resistant to something at the table, get outside ! You will both be happier and the lesson whatever it is will make a much larger impact than anything you had to force or cajole!Find and Count Bug Hunt

Bug Books!

Ant's Day Off

An Ant’s Day Off by Bonny Becker is an interesting tale about an ant who has lived his whole life never seeing the sky , or anything beyond the tunnels he works in until one day he decides to take the day off. The text was a little long for my son who kept flip flopping on my bed, but he didn’t want me to close the book either. The story was solid though, my favorite part was when he tried to return to his tunnel and the guard he expected to give him heck, was supportive and even shared that he too has taken a day off.

The Very Quiet Cricket

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle is one of my favorites and I am a little shocked this is the first time I have reviewed it here. The story is all about a little cricket who is trying and trying to chirp like the others to talk to all the bugs talking to him but he can’t!  Whenever I read it to children ( and it was a classroom favorite too) I would wiggle my shoulders like I was trying to rub my wings together just like the cricket. Kids latched on to that and I loved seeing them so engaged by the repetitive but never boring book. I thought seeing 12 little 3 year olds wiggling was precious but one little 3 year old is pretty cute doing it too!  Of course there is a “surprise” at the end that toddlers and preschoolers alike will love.

The Gentleman Bug

The Gentleman Bug by Julian Hector is a story about a bug but not just any bug a proper gentleman one who lives in the Garden, the Garden being a bug version of London. One day a lady bug comes to town and he is smitten. He tries to get her attention but falls flat. As it turns out though they do have something in common, a love of books and that brings them together in the end.  I liked the details of this book, the illustrations were wonderful and the map of the garden in the inside cover was awesome but the story fell a little flat.  I am eager to read the author’s other works though because I think there was potential it just wasn’t quite a home run.

Need more bug themed activities?
Check all of ours out

Squeeze Painting Hot Dog Craft

hot dog squeeze painting

I am not a big meat eater, but somehow my son is a huge carnivore. He has recently discovered hot dogs and I feel like it may be the end of healthy eating as I once knew it. That or I’ll go broke buying the organic nitrate free ones! Either way I explained we were taking a break from eating hot dogs but that we could make one for art time today. Here is what we did! Squeezing the paint is great for hand strength which is a building block for handwriting.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a brown paper grocery bag ( or other paper) , a brown or black marker, some glue, red and yellow paint, scissors and ketchup and mustard containers. You could use real ones but the beauty of these are that they are solid , washable and kids can’t see that there is only a tiny bit of paint in them. Since there is so little the mess will be manageable.
  2. Pour the red paint into the ketchup bottle and yellow into the mustard. I thinned it out a little.
  3. Cut off a large piece from your grocery bag, and draw a bun and a sausage.
  4. Cut them apart.
  5. Glue the sausage to the bun.
  6. Add your condiments. Ignore my impromptu strap in the picture!
  7. Let dry and cut out.

Song


I’m a little hot dog
here’s my bun
Put me on the grill
until I’m doneAdd some mustard
and ketchup
take a big bite
and gobble me up!Book

“Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” by Judi and Ron Barrett has long been a favorite. This book has a special place in my heart that also houses Corduroy and Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day! This book will take you to another dimension in the way that is usually reserved for longer books or movies. In just a few pages you will dive into the land of Chewandswallow and it’s magical weather. See Chewandswallow is a place where the food falls from the sky. Instead of rain or snow they get hot dogs and a drizzle of soda, or peas and carrots! Things started going wrong in Chewandswallow though and the weather went nuts! I love asking children what food they wished fell from the sky and why after reading this book. Kids love this story and I was thrilled to see a poster for it at the movie theater, they have made a film and it will be released this fall.

Spray Painting!

Outside Art!

Small spray bottles are a great water toy, I picked these up for 99 cents each and they are perfect. For days we’ve been having a heat wave, and have been playing with these in between running through the sprinkler and blowing bubbles. Today we added some paint and had a blast.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some craft paper, some small spray bottles, liquid washable paint and masking tape.
  2. Pour some paint into the spray bottles , add water and shake. You will want to use dark colors, because the water dilutes it .
  3. Tape your paper to your fence.
  4. Start spraying! Your child will have fun but is also giving their pincer grasp a great workout. We had fun spraying it up close , and far away. Older kids can try to make a picture or have fun watching the drips like we did.