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.

Roll & Paint – Math and Art Together

notimeforflashcards

Now that my daughter is a very opinionated toddler she makes it very clear that she wants to do what her 5 year old brother is doing. It’s not always easy to find activities that both kids can sit down and do together. This was the perfect after Easter project that uses plastic eggs and they could both sit together and make something. Whether your child is making circle prints like my daughter or rolling, counting and printing they are learning all about math while creating beautiful art!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some plastic Easter eggs ( but any print making tool will do ) paint, paper, a plate for the paint and some dice. math for kids
  2. Start by pouring some fun colors of paint on to the plate.
  3. For the beginner version hand them an egg and start making prints. For toddlers like my daughter I would use a big egg so it’s safe ( of course she grabbed the small one but I watched her carefully and it never went in her mouth) and do one initial print then let them go wild…and wild she did.
  4. For the advanced option roll the dice and see what you get. Whatever that number is is the number of times you make prints in the color of your choice .
  5. Print.
  6. Roll again. Print again… keep going as long as there is room on the paper, or keep going on a new sheet.
  7. Don’t forget about the messy toddler. When they are printing make sure to narrate some of what they are doing . ” Oh that is a lovely red circle!”  ” That pink paint looks fabulous on your hair!” .

This can be done with all sorts of tools like toilet paper rolls, stamps, potatoes and so much more. What is your favorite non conventional tool for painting?

Books About Painting

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!by Karen Beaumont is guaranteed to entertain your child, even my toddler was laughing and anticipating the rhyming text which tickled me to no end! Now I have had some parents in the past not be happy about the use of “ain’t ” and the little boy in the story painting everywhere, I would counter that by saying people do use “ain’t” and kids do paint on things they aren’t supposed to you can use this as an example of what you aren’t supposed to do, and ask your child what they think should happen if they painted all over the house? As far as using “Ain’t” I would play the traditional “It ain’t gonna rain no more” and explain that the author used that song as inspiration for the book.

Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon is going on my must buy list. I have renewed this book for months from my local library. I finally have to return this book and I just don’t want to! The book is all about Hugo a painter who has painter’s block. He goes to Paris with his best friend Miles for inspiration, and among the sites, the masterpieces and thanks to the Eiffel tower he finds it! I love this book and my son just eats it up. He wants to go to Paris to the “Moosay Dor-see” to see Van Gogh and climb the Eiffel tower thanks to Hugo!

Willow by Denise Brennan Nelson is another wonderful book about artistic spirit. Willow doesn’t follow the rules in art class, instead she paints what she sees when she closes her eyes. Her teacher’s rules are unfair, restrictive and she is just plain mean! It’s hard as a teacher to read stories with mean , repressive teachers in them, and this one takes the cake. Willow doesn’t stop painting blue apples and is confident in her individuality and isn’t as bothered by her mean teacher as I am. This story is really worth a look!!

15 Shape Crafts For Kids

15 shape crafts for kids

Creating with shapes to make a bigger creation has been an activity I have done for years at home and in the classroom. If your child decides that they want to create something other than the end product you intended encourage it! They are still playing with, manipulating and getting a hands on experience with shapes which is the goal, the end product isn’t. Some kids like my son want an end goal to work towards to get started , so here are some fun projects to inspire your shape creations.

Shape House. Fantastic for basic shapes and little hands.
Shape Dinosaur. Make shapes exciting for your little paleontologist.
Shape Sail Boat. Set sail while learning about geometry.
Shape Pizza . Add shape toppings to your circle crust.
Shape Trash Truck . Perfect for those kids who go batty on garbage day.
Shape Bulldozer. What can I say my son likes big trucks.
Shape Banjo. Great way to mix math with art and music.
Shape Castle. Make it big and detailed or simple just don’t forget the glitter!
Shape Firetruck. Firetrucks were the big thing around here for a long time.
Shape Snake .
Make a little one or a huge long snake full of all sorts of shapes.
Mining For Shapes.
Play pretend while learning about shapes too.
Shape Skyscraper.
Sort your shapes and make a 3D building with them.
Shape 4 Leaf Clover.
Get ready for St.Patrick’s Day with this fun shape craft.
Shape Sorting. An easy introduction for young preschoolers.
Shape Princess. For your princess obsessed kiddos.

 

Mining For Shapes

by Kim

My daughter is learning her shapes and colors. She is doing fabulous, but I remember my son having trouble with certain shapes simply because we didn’t talk about them as much. Let’s face it diamonds, ovals, and octagons (other than stop signs) don’t really come up that often. So I came up with this sensory box as a fun way to practice these shapes.

You will need scissors, craft foam, cardboard, aluminum foil, and black beans.

I drew some shapes onto the craft foam and cardboard. Rectangles on green (for emeralds), octagons on red (for rubies), ovals on blue (for sapphires), and diamonds on the cardboard.

Cut the shapes out and wrap the diamond shapes with small pieces of foil.

Pour the black beans and shapes in the bowl. I chose black beans because I thought it would look more like coal. It really makes the colors stand out, too.

To make it a tad more authentic for mining, you can cut strips of construction paper and tape them together to fit around your child’s head. Then cut a 1 inch section off of a toilet paper roll and tape it to the headband. I thought we had yellow tissue paper (very cute for the headlamp, but we didn’t). He’s still cute, I think.

You can give your child tongs, sifter, strainer, colander, or measuring cups. Try anything to make it feel more like mining. It’s all about having fun.

Every time my daughter found a shape I would say “Wow, you found a blue oval. Great job!” or the corresponding shape and color. We had a blast mining. My son had to play along after he saw how much fun my daughter was having.

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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.

Shape Shake

This simple activity requires very few supplies. All you need are scissors, craft foam, yarn, a marker, and a hole punch (can use scissors instead).

First cut strands of yarn about 4-5 feet long. Tie them to something extremely sturdy, such as a doorknob. This yarn is going to see a lot of action. Make a strand for each child playing.

Cut craft foam in squares and punch or cut a hole. Be sure to make the hole large. Your children will be threading the yarn through this hole.

Draw shapes, letters, words, whatever you would like them to practice learning onto the craft foam squares.

Ask your child to grab the square that is a specific color or has a certain shape/letter on it. Have them thread the yarn through the square.

The best part of this activity is that it is perfect for different stages in development. I instructed one child to do colors (2 yrs old), while the other child did shapes (3 yrs old). Later on when my 4 yr old returned home from preschool I had him play along with letters.

Now to get some great use out of competitiveness and sibling rivalry. Have each child hold the end of their yarn strand with the square at their hands. Tell them to shake the yarn to get the square to the doorknob. Make it a race!

This activity is also great for one child, too. Use their determination (which we all know they have) to jump and shake that square to the doorknob.

Be prepared for a lot of jumping, wiggling, and giggling. This was so much fun for everyone, especially me standing back watching them burn off some energy while learning and having a blast.

PLEASE NOTE: This activity is designed to be parent involved. Do not use this activity as a busy activity while you leave the room. The long strands of yarn can be dangerous with young children if not supervised. You will need to monitor your children closely and be sure they do not wrap themselves with the yarn.

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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.