My daughter loves flowers , especially picking the petals off so I channeled that into a fun summer craft. These easy to make placemats aren’t only cute they are functional too. We’ve been using ours all week. The other thing I really love about this activity is that it gets kids outside exploring their garden. Another way to explore the garden is to go on a scavenger hunt or try our sticky window for flowers. Here is how we did it.
- Gather your materials. You will need a full sheet of construction paper or card stock , scissors, clear contact paper, and a bucket to collect flowers. You will also obviously need some flowers to pick.
- Start by folding your paper in half horizontally.
- Cut the middle out so you have a frame.
- Send your little one off to pick flowers. Our back garden is very small so she can’t wander too far. I was able to get the contact paper cut and the back peeled off without her offering any help.
- Place or frame on the contact paper. The sticky side should be up.
- Time to pull the flowers apart. My daughter loved this. She does it all the time and it’s great for her fine motor development.
- Add the single petals to the contact paper. Make sure they are inside the frame. My daughter only wanted pink petals so I made a mat with some of the other petals she picked.
- After all the petals are added Add a second layer of contact paper and carefully sandwich the petals between them. Press. My daughter decided to sit on hers to press it.
- Trim the edges and you are ready to go!
Books About Flowers
A Gardener’s Alphabet by Mary Azarian is a fresh and so richly illustrated alphabet book you will likely have the same thoughts I did while reading it with my son ” I need to frame these pages!” they are that awesome. What I think the main benefit of this book is , is that the words chosen for each letter are not the same old ones you see over and over in alphabet books. The words used are things like Japanese Garden for J, Lawn Ornaments for L and my favorite was Underground for U with a cool illustrations of worms, root vegetables and roots !
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle is a story about a tiny seed who unlike the other seeds from his flower makes it against all odds to continue the cycle of life. I really enjoy this book and love how it shows all the obstacles along the way for a simple little seed. My son liked this book but didn’t make it all the way through, which I expected since it is a long book for a 2 year old.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence, loosing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can’t relate to this? I know I can . Thankfully my son has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience . I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author.
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Tea parties are a big part of our daily pretend play. My daughter loves hosting them for her dad and brother and I thought it was time to jazz our tea parties up a little. This tea party place mat craft for kids is seriously simple! Stickers are such a great art material once kids have passed the ” I will eat everything I touch” phase. They offer wonderful fine motor development and at an age where everything turns into a huge mess stickers are virtually mess free.
- Gather your materials. You will need a tea set ( play or real if you have it) , some party napkins , clear contact paper, stickers ,and scissors. I also grabbed a few real cookies as a surprise for our guests at the tea party.
- Start by putting stickers on your napkins. She was very specific about which stickers she would put on each place mat since she was making them for her dad and brother. I made one for myself at the same time. Crafting along side toddlers is a great way to model how to do the craft without direct instruction and those power struggles that toddlers are so famous for.
- After she decided they all had just the right stickers on them I cut a large piece of contact paper and laid the napkins sticker side down on it.
- Then added a second on top to sandwich the napkins between the sheets of contact paper. Make sure the napkins have enough space between them so you can trim .Pressed and cut .
- Then it was time to set the table.
- All ready! Time to invite the guests.
- I hid the Oreos in the play kitchen and after everyone was seated I told her to open the oven and get the cookies. Of course everyone thought I was referring to play cookies and it was great to see such a simple surprise delight all the guests.
- The play continued until my son invited us to a Lego building party in his room. Which was fun but as you can see not quite as refined as our tea party.
Penguin Place Mat!
Who doesn’t like penguins? This penguin place mat craft could easily be turned into a plain old paper craft with white paper instead of a paper towel. You can find contact paper almost anywhere these days, both Walmart and Target carry it in my neck of the woods and of course the big craft stores do too! We use these place mats for play dough, crafts and yes dinner time too. Putting out the place mats for dinner is my son’s job so making something new and fun is a great way to keep it fresh!
- Gather your materials you will need 1 sheet of black construction paper, a sheet of paper towel ( paper will work too),contact paper, some glue, silver and blue sequins, 2 googly eyes, an orange marker, scissors and some white construction paper.
- Start by drawing an outline of a penguin with the marker on the black paper.
- Cut out and glue onto the paper towel.
- Add glue for the sequins.
- Add the snow – the sequins! This is awesome for fine tuning those fine motor skills. Those sequins are tricky.
- We had no orange paper so instead I had my son color this white piece to use for the beak and feet.
- Next cut out the beak and feet from the colored paper.
- Add the eyes.
- Add the beak and feet.
- Let dry - I didn’t because daylight and my ability for ok photos was fading fast in my cloudy sky town! But you will want to to avoid globs of glue stuck under contact paper.
- Measure your contact paper to fit – you will want to sandwich the place mat between 2 sides of a long rectangular piece. Peel back only half the backing , place the place mat face down on the sticky side. Doing it this way will prevent big bubbles and wrinkles on the front.
- Peel the rest of the backing off the contact paper and press to sandwich the place mat. Press firmly to seal.
- Trim the edges and voila!
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester is such a cute and funny story, your kids will love it! Tacky is an odd bird but when hunters come to get some pretty penguins is funny odd ways of doing things turn off the hunters and saves Tacky and his perfectly not odd companions. This is a sweet look at being different and being happy as pie about being different. My son loves this book and will often point out that Tacky is proud to sing just the way he wants. I love that it can preach to kids without preaching at all.
Penguin Dreams by Vivian Walsh is a crazy trip of a book. Both my son and I loved it but it wasn’t at all what I expected. I am not sure what I expected but I’ll summarize. The story is simply one penguin’s dream. He dreams he can fly , and readers follow along as he flies through his clever and off beat dream. I loved thinking about whether or not penguins even dream and that thought had my son and I talking for quite sometime before he himself drifted off to sleep. It’s fun, it’s weird and it’s perfect for creative imagination driven kids!
- Gather your materials. You will need a piece of paper towel, some red, white and blue paper, a star paper punch, scissors, glue and contact paper.
- Start by cutting your blue paper into a square that takes up almost a quarter of the upper left corner of your paper towel.
- Cut your red paper into stripes, some long, some short.
- Punch stars out of your white paper
- Add glue to your blue
- Add the stars
- Add glue for the stripes and start adding them.
- Let dry ( do not skip this step, you’ll get squished glue marks like me, learn from my oops).
- Cover with contact paper. The way that works best I think is to place on piece of contact paper on your table , lay the flag face down so there are no bubbles, then sandwich it with another piece. Press hard and trim.
” How to Make an Apple Pie and see the world” by Marjorie Priceman cost me a total of 15 cents at a thrift store. It is worth so much more than that. This book is a gem! Perfect for older preschoolers who are getting a sense of the world beyond their own home and city, this book takes you on a ride around the world! You follow the little girl to Italy, France , Sri Lanka, England, Jamaica and back to Vermont! As soon as I read this my mind was racing with classroom activities ! I will be posting some soon. I LOVE this book, I just wish I had read it when I was still teaching it would have been so much fun to teach geography with!
“How to Make a Cherry Pie and see the USA” by Marjorie Priceman didn’t disappoint one bit. I was worried after falling in love with the previous book that this couldn’t live up to my expectations. It did! This time she wasn’t looking for ingredients for the pie, but rather materials for her tools. She gathered wood in Washington for her rolling pin, cotton in Louisiana for pot holders granite in New Hampshire for her pastry slab and more. What I wasn’t expecting of this book and loved was how she gathered natural resources and then processed them to make what she needed. I think this is a wonderful lesson about manufacturing and could be used for a launchpad for learning about so much more. Another gem I will be adding to my must buy list.
- Gather your materials. You will need paper towels, markers, and contact paper. Oh and if you have them pinking shears or other shaped scissors make a great detail .
- Give your child a section of paper towel. What I love about this is I am the world’s worst straight line cutter, the paper towels are perfectly cut already.
- If your child is old enough to “get it” show them how if they leave the marker on the paper towel it absorbs the ink and makes a bigger mark.
- Cut the contact paper to size before peeling the backing off, then peel only half and add the place mat face down.
- Cover and press. Trim the edges with pinking shears if you have them.
- Now you are ready for the toddler spills at Thanksgiving dinner !
I am off to the library today, my home library is sorely short on Thanksgiving books, I will be finding some as well as a new batch of counting books to review!