Alien Dress Up

Aliens are super cool and combining a craft with pretend play is even cooler. We love dress up at our house ( and preschool) and this alien headband craft was created to use as a pretend play prop. I suggested my son glue eyes on the band but he was very adamant that they needed to be up high on antennae. Even though I have directions you can follow this is the sort of craft that is best used as inspiration for your own unique creation.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, glue, sparkly pipe cleaners, sticky back sparkly foam, googly eyes, tape and glitter!
  2. Start by having your child paint the paper. This will be cut in two strips to make the headband. Tell your child you will be cutting it, this can really upset young kids if they aren’t warned. I like using either a foam paint brush or paint markers like these when we want the paint to dry fast.
  3. While they paint, trace a circle 6 times on the backing of the sparkly foam.
  4. Cut out.
  5. Glue the googly eyes on.  Let dry.
  6. Next cut the paper in half.
  7. Add glue and glitter. You want to do it after your cut  not before so that you aren’t cutting into glue and glitter. Trust me glitter is messy enough, but cleaning it out of scissors is no fun. Let dry.
  8. Cut your pipe cleaners into different heights.
  9. When eyes are dry ( or at least dry enough not to slide, peel off the backing of the 3 foam circles that do not have googly eyes on them. Press the pipe cleaners into them.
  10. Peel the back off the circles with eyes , press into the circles with the pipe cleaners so they are sandwiched.
  11. When the glitter is dry tape the pipe cleaners with eyes on the front of  one strip. You will want it near the end because you are going to tape the other strip on top to sandwich them.
  12. Size it to your child’s noggin’ and secure the two ends with tape. I like using tape for 2 reasons. It’s forgiving and it’s fast, so kids can play right away.

Books


The Way Back Home
by Oliver Jeffers is a moving story about a boy , a martian and the moon they were both stuck on. Together they figure out a way to get back home even though they are so sad to say goodbye to each other. I love this author, I love his illustrations as well, they are so unique and the emotion he manages to convey is amazing. There is an illustration of the boy and martian standing awkwardly before they have to say goodbye and it embodies the emotion. Grab anything written by this author and you will be happy!

Hush, Little Alien by Daniel Kirk is a quirky updated version of the classic lullaby. So many bedtime books are super sugary but this one is funky and bright! I love the space theme and the illustrations are great! The rhymes are funny and kept my son interested in the lullaby much longer than the traditional one which he deems a “baby song”.

Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer is an odd, heartwarming, entertaining story. My son loves this story about the man on the moon who wants to be a part of the action on earth and decides to visit himself. Of course as is the custom on earth we are afraid of outsiders and he is thrown in jail. Luckily as he goes through the phases he manages to slip out through the bars.He finds someone to help him return home where he belongs, even though he is sad to go. I couldn’t help but think of ET… but that’s just me.

Knight’s Shield Craft

My son has been pretending he is knight for a few weeks. In all that time he’s been using a cutting board as his shield, it was high time we made him one! When we had a playdate scheduled with a friend who loves art and knights it was a done deal. Now you will notice that my directions and pictures don’t match perfectly, follow the directions because if I did this craft again I’d do a few things differently to make it easier . Oh and crafts while chatting to a girlfriend and holding a baby… just have extra things on hand in case you miss a step or 3.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, foil, colored and scotch tape, paint/crayons/markers, scissors, paper and a toilet paper roll.
  2. Start by cutting out your shield from the cardboard.
  3. Next cut the white paper so it fits into the middle of the cardboard. This is where your child will draw their coat of arms!
  4. Time to paint and color your shield. We started with colored pencils
  5. Then added paint.
  6. Next we taped them on the cardboard. DON”T  Instead cover the whole shield with foil. Tape it on the back.
  7. Then add your white paper when it’s dry . Tape it on with colored tape ( painters tape works great).
  8. Cut a toilet paper roll in two and secure it with tape. This picture was taken 4 days after the craft was made . What was it I said about skipping steps while chatting, holding a baby and making crafts?
  9. Time to play – our boys played for 1.5 hours and amazingly no foil came off, ripped or otherwise needed repair.

Book

Imagine You’re a Knight! (Imagine This!) by Meg Clibbon is a fantastic book for children interested in what being a knight is all about. There are so many great details and answers given that I am eager to read more in tis series. My son loves this book and not just because it answers his many questions about knights but also because it’s the type of book that you can open and close as time permits , reading a little or a lot and still enjoying it. I like the humor and illustrations by Lucy Clibbon. It’s a great choice for 4 and older. 3 year olds might find it to be too much.

    Let’s Play Librarian

    Here is our library area at our house. A few cheap shelves, a throw rug, and bean bags in a small unused area of the house makes a great learning nook.

    Since we have our own little library, we decided to “play” library. Just grab some books, double sided tape, small envelopes, index cards, a notepad, pen, and stamps.

    Put a piece of double sided tape on the front of the envelope and stick it to the inside cover of the book.

    To make it easier for my guys, I tore the flap off of the envelope like this.

    Place an index card in the envelope.

    When you go to check the book out, be sure to have your librarian take out the index card and stamp it. I made my kids take the card completely out and lay it next to the book. I did not want them getting tempted to stamp their books.

    Any good librarian knows that you have to keep track of who has which book. So have your librarian stamp their notepad with the same stamp.

    Be sure that they write the name of the person that checked out the book. Sometimes we play track down the overdue book, too. :-)

    Even non-writers can do this fun activity. My daughter is two years old and loves to be a part of the library. She stamps and stuffs the index cards like a pro.

    Now that I have my kids all trained, please do not tell them that all of the books are really scanned and monitored by a computer system in the library. They have too much fun with this!

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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.

    Post Office Letter Sorting

    I get asked all the time if I throw my son’s creations away. Most do get recycled but one we have used over and over again is our mail box. The other day my son was playing with it when I decided to capitalize on his desire to sort everything and make a post office sorting activity for him. Our letters were sorted by the name on the envelope but you could use numbers and sort it with the zip code , or for even younger kids use different color letters and sort it by color. My son loved this and it even sparked writing a fan letter to his favorite baseball player.

    1. Gather your materials. You will need some boxes, paper, scissors, envelopes, pen, plain sticky labels and crayons. 
    2. Start by writing addresses on the letters. If your child is able have them help or write the addresses themselves.
    3. Write 44 cents ( or whatever appropriate stamp amount) on your blank labels.
    4. Time to decorate. My son loved coloring these envelopes. He insisted on doing it all himself. 
    5. While they do that depending on how many boxes you have write out the letters that will go in each box on paper.
    6. Attach them to the boxes.
    7. Next add on the stamps.  My proudest moment of the day came next when my son said we should purposely leave off the stamp and make a do not deliver basket for those letters.
    8. So I made one quickly.
    9. Time to play- I made a simple sign for our post office and our mail box came to play too.
    10. Pop your mail in.
    11. Dump it out.
    12. Sort it.
    13. Deliver it – we delivered it to various rooms of our house.

    Book

    Delivering Your Mail: A Book About Mail Carriers by Ann Owen is a simple book about being a mail carrier. The text is to the point and perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers learning about mail carriers for the first time. It focuses on not just what the mail carriers do but how it impacts the reader, which is paramount for young children who see the world through their perspective only. Cute beginner book!

    Cardboard Box Dream House

    Big exciting projects are often really simple , this cardboard box dream house is a kids craft anyone can make, and best of all it will get played with after too! We have officially given up nap ( can you hear me crying? ) and my little man is not one for ” Just go upstairs and play sweetie.” He needs a plan and last Friday our plan included making this super cool cardboard dream house after he read books quietly in bed, and played with his trains in his room. Having a big fun project was a great treat to do after he had alone time , which is not at all his nature and taking us some time to get used to.

    1. Gather your materials. You will need a cardboard box, strong scissors, a marker, tape,  and crayons or markers and some toy people.
    2. Start by cutting the box into the shape you want. We made it into a house but you can make a castle, school, hospital…
    3. Next add whatever windows doors etc.. you want in marker . My son was not into this at all, he was like ” Make a few windows mom.”
    4. Color! He was MUCH more into this. I couldn’t get a good picture because he was coloring so quickly, and pressing so hard we broke every crayon we used. It was awesome!
    5. While they color ask them what furniture they want. If they are old enough have them make it themselves. For little guys I find if you make furniture you end up with better play than a plain box. It definitely sparked good imaginative play for us.
    6. Color the furniture .
    7. Cut out and add tape to the back. Stick the furniture to the walls.
    8. Play!

      Yes this guy is blogging. It's a common theme with our pretend play.

    Books

    A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one.  The book teaches about sea creatures, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is  difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable .

    How a House Is Built by Gail Gibbons. In this book  readers are taken from the architect’s desk to the day the family moves in with just the right amount of detail about all the intermediate steps. Each worker and what they contribute to building a house is explained briefly, from the laying of the foundation, the carpenters who frame the house and even the landscapers who lay the sod. If you have a little builder in your house they will love reading about the steps and many people who help build a house.

    Eek! There’s A Mouse in the House by Wong Herbert Yee is a silly book with wonderful rhymes and engaging pictures. In other words it’s a great kids book. In it a mouse gets in the house and to fix it a little girl sends in larger and larger animals until all reason is thrown out the window and an elephant shows up.  My son while protesting me reading him a board book ( it’s for babies he said) couldn’t help but giggle at how silly this book was and was rhyming a long. I think this would make a wonderful book to read to a baby and toddler or preschooler pair, the rhythm of the book will delight a baby and toddlers on up will laugh and rhyme while you read it.