It’s A Wrap!

Handmade
Wrapping Paper

If you have small children you probably end up going to a lot of birthday parties, this activity uses your child’s natural excitement for the party and reigns it in for a few moments anyway!

  1. Gather your materials. I am using old Christmas wrapping paper ( I swear this one roll has been around since the 90’s) , I find that using real wrapping paper makes it easier to actually wrap the gift, but any paper will work. Also I am using sponges for a more uniform look, but finger painting or another style is fine too! Of course you’ll need paint too, like usual I am mixing my own colors!
  2. Use a large piece of paper, larger than you think you will need and tape it face down to the table, or my favorite place a porch/ patio , the hose makes clean up easy!
  3. If you are sponge painting cut the sponge into small shapes.
  4. Pour some paint colors onto a dish and mix, this is one of my son’s favorite parts of art time!
  5. Start painting!
  6. Add more colors and keep going!Move your child around the paper for a more even pattern.
  7. Remember how I said use a large piece of paper? This is why, beware of toddlers who think ripping is fun! Luckily I saved enough of the paper for the gift!
  8. Let dry at least 24 hours, and wrap it in a place that is easy to clean as well, sometimes thick paint will flake off after wrapping. I suggest giving your box a good shake after wrapping.
Books!

” Babar’s Birthday Surprise” by Laurent de Brunhof is a story about friends trying to keep a special present a surprise from Babar, and all the trouble it takes to do so. I like Babar books, especially the vocabulary found in the older Babar books, words like stupefied , splendid and catastrophe ! This is a longer book, I would probably not try this with younger preschoolers and toddlers but this is a great book for 4-5 year olds !

” Moira’s Birthday” by Robert Munsch is a silly book, most of his books are, but silly is great! Moira is excited about having her birthday and doesn’t know how to say no to all the kids at school when they beg to come to her party. She ends up with the whole school at her house and her parents don’t know what to do! Luckily Moira does. This book at first look may seem like Moira is a spoiled brat who gets her way but really she is problem solving and when she gives away a present to each child who helps clean up, you can see she just wanted a good party, and isn’t a gift grabbing brat at all! Kids LOVE this book, I have never read it to a class that didn’t laugh hysterically.

“On the Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman is a beautiful book , maybe I am analyzing it too much but it’s really indulgent. Yes I think it’s message is right, everyone is special but what is wrong with just saying your mommy, daddy and family were excited that you were born, do we really need to tell kids that polar bears danced upon hearing the news? The pictures really are amazing I am just not a fan of the text.

Home is where the heart is

Shape House!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, I like using old cereal boxes cause they accumulate quickly around my house. Also some paint, a paint brush, some scissors and glue.
  2. Cut out the shapes to make your house. Don’t limit yourself to the shapes I used, ovals, diamonds and pentagons make great windows too! I kept it simple because of the age of my child, but with older children this can be a complicated and long activity.
  3. Paint the house pieces. To help teach colors and shapes, I lined the paint colors up and asked my son which color he wanted and repeated the name when he pointed it out. Then did the same with the shape.
  4. As we painted each shape I removed that color so that he would use different ones, with older kids this may not work and that’s fine, let them have a say on the colors, but with little ones you can try this.
  5. Let the shapes dry.
  6. Once they are dry glue the pieces on. I put the glue on the house and had my son pop them on. Don’t worry if the chimney ends up in the doorway- remember it’s their house !

Books!

” Building a House” by Byron Barton is a no frills look at how homes are built. The bright colors and concise wording is perfect for preschoolers. I love that there is writing on one page and illustrations on the other, makes it super easy to show children the pictures as well as for them to see you follow the text with your finger!

“Moving Day” by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a fantastic book all about moving. Moving is really hard on everyone and this book doesn’t forget about the feelings of the littlest people in your family! If you are moving or considering a move this book is a great book to have on hand. I really like how it addresses the anxiety that Brother Bear has over leaving his old house for his new one!
“A House For A Hermit Crab” by Eric Carle is a fun book about a hermit crab’s search for things to make her house just perfect! Each month she finds another thing in the ocean to add to her house. This book is a good teaching tool for months of the year, sea life and home !

Additional Activities

Build a Fort!

If you have a tent and good weather you can go outside, or if you are stuck inside you can grab a blanket and some chairs or sofa cushions and make an indoor fort! Ask your child what they NEED to have in a house then help them find it and put it in their “house”. Apparently my son’s must haves are his water and one of my mixing bowls!

Sponge Painting For Toddlers

sponge painting for babies and toddlers

Sponge painting is a wonderful way for young children to explore paint, they don’t need to have superior fine motor skills to succeed at making some fun marks on the paper. It’s the perfect toddler art activity.

  1. Gather your materials. For this art activity you will need a regular kitchen sponge, some paint, a paper plate or the like to put your paint on, paper and scissors.
  2. Cut the sponge into some good hand size shapes for your child. We’ve been learning about shapes so I made some , but you can cut out fish shapes, letters..the sky and your cutting ability is the limit!
  3. Spread some paint on a plate or tray and dip your sponge in.
  4. I like to mix colors as we paint, it’s fun and keep the kids interested, as well as asking them what shape or picture they are making with the sponge.

 

Shape Detectives!

Can You Find The Triangle?

This is a fun and easy activity to do with children who are learning their shapes. You can use any shapes according to what your child is presently learning. This however is too sophisticated for toddlers and may be frustrating for some younger preschoolers too. I used it often as a after lunch , before outside time activity with my Pre-K class with great success!

  1. Gather your materials. All you need is some paper and markers. One color for the outline and one color for each shape.
  2. Draw a picture using obvious shapes. I made a house and a sun, but I have also made shape people, snow men, trains and cars- the sky is the limit. I wouldn’t make too many shapes on one sheet though, you want it to be a challenge but if you make it too hard the challenge turns into frustration and you miss the window for learning!
  3. Make a legend clearly stating that each shape has it’s own color.
  4. Explain it to your child/class by either helping them with the first shape or doing a big version of this at circle time on a dry erase board or large poster paper.
  5. Start finding the shapes and coloring them in!

* I would often tell my students that I wasn’t sure which shape was which and I needed help and then ask them to be my detectives! Also if you are doing this for a class, make one black line master and photocopy the rest, then simply make color dots on the legends.

Everything in its place , and a place for everything!

Pretty Paper Place Mats

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper or card stock, some glue, scissors, crayons and contact paper.
  2. Have your child color , write their name, draw a picture whatever they want on a light color paper.
  3. While they are doing that you can cut out some shapes using another piece of paper , or if your child is able you can have them do this step as well.
  4. Glue the shapes to the paper, for young toddlers I would suggest putting small drops of glue on the paper and having them put the shapes on them.
  5. Cut a large enough piece of contact paper to fold over the place mat.
  6. Place the drawing/ collage on another piece of paper to use as a backing.
  7. Place both pieces face down on the first half of the contact paper, then fold the rest over. You want to do it face down to avoid big bubbles on the front of the place mat.
  8. Trim and you are good to go!!


Books!

” The Princess and the Pizza” by Mary Jane and Herm Auch is a cute revamped fairytale about a Princess who discovers Pizza and independence all at once. There are some sassy parts to this story so you may want to keep this book for older children , but the message of independence is refreshing.

” Mmmm, Cookies!” by Robert Munsch is a silly story about a boy who makes cookies out of playdough and tricks people into eating them, and their revenge. The story itself isn’t extraordinary but the way that the actions in the story are coupled with sounds keeps even the most uninterested reader turning the pages!

” If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff is a fun story about a demanding mouse and the consequences of giving into his whims! The illustrations by Felicia Bond have adorable details and compliment the simple but entertaining story perfectly. I like to use this book while teaching sequencing, and after reading it ask the children ” Well what happened next?” .