This year is the year of the snake and Chinese new year is always a great vehicle to learn about a different culture. Lately my daughter and I have been playing pretend play airplane always landing in China to explore the great wall ( my idea) and local candy shops ( her idea) . This week we will make some Chinese food together , look at maps and read the books below. At the age of 2 the idea of New Year is still pretty tough especially when we already celebrated on January 1st. So instead I have explained it to her as a party and the snake is the special symbol for it and used the theme to explore China with her.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sturdy paper. I adore the canvas paper from craftprojectideas.com who graciously sent me this when I couldn’t find any locally. You will also need some paint, a paint brush ( we used a dish scrubber) , double stick tape ( if you need to tape the snake together) a googly eye, pipe cleaner, paint, glue and collage materials.
- Start by drawing a snake and cutting it out. OK now I admit my snake looks like a worm at best but my daughter couldn’t care less so I stuck with it. I cut mine out in two pieces and taped them together. I used tape so we could get to the project right away but glue would be fine too.
- Next step . Time to choose your paint colors.
- Next it’s time to start painting. First with the scrubber…. then with your hands . My table was dirty so I didn’t bother covering it since I needed to give it a good scrub anyway. Have a damp cloth handy if like us you have to pass by carpet on the way to the sink.
- Let the snake dry. We were short on time ( almost nap time) and usually I’d let it dry during nap and finish we had a doctor’s appointment after nap so instead I dried it carefully with a cool hair dryer while my daughter washed her hands and played in the sink. It worked so well.
- Time to glue!
- Add the collage materials. I love sequins and buttons because my daughter is so patient picking them up and putting them on to projects. She also loves peeling them off after the glue is dry so if you saw this snake now days later you’d see a sad no eye no sequin snake. Interestingly my first thought was ” Well I can re-use those and it was great fine motor as she peeled them off too.”
- Add the eye.
- Poke a hole in the mouth area and thread a pipe cleaner through . Bend a Y in the end to make it look like a forked tongue.
- Let it all dry .
Books about Chinese New Year
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz is a simple introduction to Chinese New Year for young children. It’s a board book so if you have let’s say a 4 year old who , let’s say has decided he thinks board books are only for babies, you may want to have him be a reading helper for this one.I had to cajole my son into helping me read this book to his sister but once I started he was into it and enjoying the simplistic way the author illustrator explains the Chinese customs. Even adults may learn something new. Did you know that cutting hair for a fresh start for the new year is a tradition? I never did! The illustrations are bright and cheery and for those of you who aren’t fans of the baby lift the flap books from this author you may want to give the author another chance because her holiday books are really great.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin is a wonderful book to explain Chinese New Year and some of the customs that comes along with it to your preschooler. The illustrations are bright and help explain the festivities and preparations that go into the celebration. The book culminates with a fold out page with a huge dragon briging in the new year. There is also a great explanation of the holiday for parents at the back of the book.
This Next New Year by Janet Wong is a great new to me book about Chinese New Year. I read it with my kids after dinner and they booth really enjoyed it. My daughter liked the illustrations and the text itself was short enough to keep my 2 year old interested too. What this book did a great job of doing was explaining a few of the differences between Chinese New Year and New Year of January 1st and lots of the traditions . My son related well to the main character, a little boy about his age, and had a ton of questions after the book that the author actually addressed in a authors note at the end. Great book for PreK and up.This post contains affiliate links.
It’s gooey , it’s gross and it’s green! It’s a swamp and this sensory play idea was a huge hit with both my 5 year old and my toddler. It was surprisingly easy to make and a great way to spend some chill time outside. Sensory play is so much more than squishing things it’s about discovering with all your senses and pretend play as well. My kids spent a good about of time simply making sounds with the goo, sounds like glurp, goop, glug, squish , slip , slurp. It was fun to see how they both narrated their experience and the giggles were amazing too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some gelatin ( I used plain because I had it on hand and added kool-aid for color but plain jello without the sugar should work too). You will also need a large container, pool noodle, some plastic swamp creatures, water and a large tub or water table to play in.
- My daughter helped me make the gelatin. I followed the directions on the back for fruit jellies doubling the recipe.
- I love that by using kool-aid the gelatin smells awesome and is so tart even if kids do taste it , they spit it out. Also I used this old animal cracker container because it was a perfect fit for a space I had in my fridge. And it had a lid which was important since it was at kid level too. We let the gelatin set overnight in the fridge even though ours was ready to go in about 3 hours.
- We cleaned the water table ( it had dirt and rocks in it from our last play adventure) – this was an activity all on it’s own.
- Then the next morning after the gelatin was nice and set I filled one side with the gelatin and the other with water – added sliced pieces of pool noodle for lily pads and just enough creatures to invite play.
- And play they did.
- My son loved flopping the gelatin into the water side and it was neat to see how it would sink to the bottom.
- My daughter loved squishing and squishing and squishing . I just kept taking pictures and soaking up the giggles. Did I mention it smelled amazing too, much better than a real swamp.
- In the afternoon the sun melted the gelatin and my kids were bummed but we covered it and sure enough the next morning it was all congealed again and they had an absolute blast pulling the creatures out of the goo, and we noticed the imprints they made too. We’ll see how many days we can keep it going!
If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen my tweet on Sunday that we found a snake in our backyard. My husband was mowing and saw it. As soon as my son woke from nap, all three of us went searching, and found it again. I love finding wild life in my backyard ( well when it’s small and non venomous anyway), it makes learning about a specific animal so much more fun . We immediately went online to find the exact species, what it ate and how big it would get. Sadly after nap yesterday my son wasn’t as into making his own snake as I guessed he’d be ( or at all), although he liked the snake book we read . Oh well I can’t win them all!
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 toilet paper rolls, or a paper towel roll cut in two, some sticky back foam, some jingle bells, googly eyes ,glue, scissors , a knee high or leg of panty hose , and a pipe cleaner.
- Start by having your child cut the sticky back foam into shapes. We are using up scraps so they were already in smaller pieces, if you have large sheets you may want to make it easier for your child by cutting them into strips that are easier to handle.
- Put the rolls inside the panty hose, along with the jingle bells.
- Tie the end.
- Peel off the backing and add the shapes. You can even fit in a patterning lesson if you want !
- Add the tongue . I threaded the pipe cleaner through then twisted it into the right length with a v on the end.
- Add glue for the eyes.
- Add eyes. Let dry.
The Snake Is Totally Tail by Judi Barrett is a great book for teaching about animals. It doesn’t go into great depth for each animal instead if focuses on the one most obvious attribute of them all. What I love is that for toddlers they are able to see that easily in the pictures as you read the story. It seems simple and sorta average at first but sit down with a child, read it and it’s simple genius is blatantly apparent!
The Greedy Python by Richard Buckley and Eric Carle is a fun fable about a snake that is so greedy he eats all the animals in the jungle, even ones much larger than him like an elephant! My son thinks this book is hilarious and loves that the animals work together to escape their fate. The story gets even sillier when the greedy snake ends up eating his own tail!
Snake (Watch it Grow)by Barrie Watts is a wonderful non fiction choice to learn a little more about snakes. The book covers a snakes life from egg right through the life cycle to laying eggs. What I liked about this book was that each page offers the reader main points as well as more in depth text, which makes it easy to adjust to a wide range of ages. For toddlers or young preschoolers you can simply read the page titles and discuss the pictures, where older or more interested kids can sit for the full text. We enjoyed this book a lot.
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- Gather your materials. You will need a paper grocery bag or large piece of paper, paint, a brush or roller, 2 googly eyes, some different color foam , a plate for paint, scissors and glue.
- Cut open the bag so it’s a one long piece and draw a snake. I taped it right to the table.
- Start by choosing your paint colors, I was itching for my son to pick something bright but he chose brown and orange- and I am so happy he did I think it looks great. Pour both colors into a plate.
- Start painting.
- While your child is painting ( or before you start if that works better for you) ask your child what shapes they want to put on the snake, or decide yourself if they are too young. Cut large pieces for little guys that are still mouthing things. We don’t want anyone to choke!
- Time to glue the pieces on! I put the glue on in dots all along the snake.
- Cover each glue dot with a shape. Older children should be doing a pattern !
- While they are adding the shapes, cut out a tongue from red foam.
- Add the eyes and tongue.
- Let dry and cut out!
“The Sea Serpent and Me” by Dashka Slater is a sweet dreamy book. A little girl finds a sea serpent in her bath tub and they become friends all the while knowing he belongs in the sea. She promises to take him back but they keep finding reasons to wait. When they do finally go and he returns to the sea you can’t help but get a little lump in your throat remembering all those times you have had to say goodbye even though you didn’t really want to. The illustrations by Catia Chien make the whole book feel like a dream.
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 pieces of construction paper, some paint, scissors, some black and white paper or foam, glue, and a red pipe cleaner.
- Draw a thick S on a piece of construction paper.
- Mix some paint colors together, you don’t need to do this step but I have been noticing since doing this my son has been naming colors more accurately. I ask him ” Which color should we use?” while holding 2 or 3 for him to choose from. It could be a coincidence but it takes an extra 30 seconds so I think it’s well worth the time!
- Paint your S, you aren’t going to cut it out until it’s all dry and this makes it less frustrating for little ones who are less able to stay within the S.
- While your child is painting cut out 2 black circles of paper or foam sheets, and then small white diamonds and glue together. Of course you can use googley eyes if you want to skip this step.
- Let the snake dry.
- Glue the eyes on.
- Add a tongue, I am using a pipe cleaner but red paper glued on would work great too.
- Glue the S onto another full piece of paper for strength, without it the S will be ripped in no time.
” The Greedy Python” by Eric Carle is a fun fable about a snake that is so greedy and keeps eating and eating that eventually he eats everything, even himself! Kids love this silly story!
Magnetic writing boards
An activity I enjoyed doing with a student who loved this was to play restaurant, she was the waitress and would take my order. I would order letters, shapes, and numbers and she would write them down on the board. Older children enjoy playing hang man on this toy too!