Playdough Earth

playdoh earth
This post from contributing writer Katy is great  for toddlers and preschoolers of any ability but especially geared towards children who are resistant to textures, either because of having special needs or simply being resistant to new sensations. Having a purpose to make something like the earth makes an exercise in textures more authentic instead of simply touching something squishy. I love it!
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Before I do any craft with Charlie, I get all of my supplies ready to go. For this project I rolled three large balls of blue craft clay and then several small balls of green craft clay.Play-doh Earths
I placed a ball of blue clay in Charlie hands and then took a piece of green and helped him smash it into the blue. play-doh earth
We did this several times for each ball creating something that looks a lot like Earth.play doh earth
Charlie, like many kids with special needs, can be resistant to new textures.  He did not like the feel of the clay, but we kept at it for a as long as we could. I had wanted to create a total of four Earths, but we stopped at three in order to prevent a meltdown.  It’s good to push your child, but not so far that they become resistant to all new activities.
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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Letter of The Week – Earth Day

Earth e !

Earth Day Craft

Earth Day is coming up so to extend our learning about the earth into our regular letter of the week craft we made an earth e today. My son loves this paint roller and for a craft like this where you cover over crayon it was the perfect painting tool.  I couldn’t narrow down my books to just 3 today, they range from toddler to school age so there is something for everyone.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white construction paper ( or paper plate), another sheet for the backing, a blue crayon, a black marker, green ( or yellow and blue) paint,scissors , glue,  a dish and a paint brush or roller. Earth Day Craft
  2. Start by writing a lowercase e on your white paper. If you are me fail miserably, try again on the other side ( yes this is a picture of my better e). Still mess it up. Earth Day Craft
  3. Grab a paper plate because that was your last sheet of white construction paper, make a stencil and trace it on the paper plate. Earth Day Craft
  4. Give your child the blue crayon and explain that this e is the Earth ( show them pictures of the earth if need be to explain how the blue is the ocean and the green is the land).  Have them draw some ocean- make sure they press hard. Earth Day Craft
  5. Time to pour paint Earth Day Craft
  6. Now mix it. I prefer to do this than use the regular green if possible. It’s some extra fun and extra learning. Earth Day Craft
  7. Roll it on! Earth Day Craft
  8. Let dry and cut out.  earth day craft
  9. Glue on your backing paper. Earth Day Craft

For more letter of the week crafts check out my eBook Alphabet Crafts !  From A-Z you will be learning and creating with your child .

Books

in the garden

In the Gardenby Leslie Bockol is a little board book all about growing your own fruits and vegetables in your garden. It is simple and although it’s listed for 3-6 year olds I would read it to 1-3 year olds. It identifies a number of fruits and vegetables and completes each page with ” I pick it and eat it!” my son loved the repetition and quickly completed each page for me while I was reading it to him. I think it’s a perfect book for toddlers and young preschoolers to introduce gardening to them.

The Whole Green World

The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston was an unexpected hit with my son.  Today reading it he learned that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, he saw the book in our pile to read and wasn’t taken with it, but I suggested maybe just reading the first page and he was hooked. The book is really about appreciating the whole world, from the view point of a little girl who grabs some seeds, plants them , waters them and savors the beauty all around her. My son loved the sing song text and the ultra detailed illustrations by Elisa Kleven. Which my son would study with every turn of the page asking me ” Mommy which bird, which book, which cake is your favorite?” making reference to the illustrations . It was a wonderful book to snuggle up with !

Herman and Marguerite

Herman and Marguerite: An Earth Story by Jay O’Callahan is a funny story with interesting and sometimes unexpected illustrations. The story is about a worm who has heard about the orchard above and wants to see it, but the sun is threatening and he is saved by a caterpillar! They develop a friendship and because of it the orchard that was once barren starts  attracting  animals again.  It’s not all easy along the way and the worm gets to return the favor of saving the caterpillar when she gets stuck between rocks on her way to spin her chrysalis. When she emerges as a butterfly her worm friend is there and so is a beautiful flowering apple orchard!   My son liked this book , I found it somewhat disjointed and what we both thought was odd was the random inclusion of photos of the author throughout the book. “Who is that weird guy Mama?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that one. Still he sat for the whole thing, and learned just how important worms are. It won’t be renewed over and over from the library though.

EcoMazes

EcoMazes by Roxie Munro is a new book that was sent to me by the publisher for review. The idea of this book is to showcase different ecosystems like wetlands, the tundra, desert and more through both a maze and search and find game. This book is not designed for preschoolers although my son loves it. We do the maze together as that is far too complicated for him, but he loves to find the animals on each page and has learned a lot about them too. What is awesome for older children ( 7-10) is that along with an answer key to the maze and pictures there is a full page of information about each ecosystem in the back of the book. This doesn’t talk down to the reader and gives great information using sophisticated vocabulary. I am excited to see how this book’s use changes over time in my home.

Big Kid Projects

One of my most frequently requested projects are ones for “Big Kids” no real age is ever given since Big is really relative but here are my projects that I have done with Sunday school, after school students and other “Big Kids” over the years. Some of these could be done with a young child with varying degrees of help and mess!

Recycled UFO

(seen above)

Sun Print

Milk Plug Ring

Masterpiece Magnet

Salt Art

All of these projects can be found under the “Ages 8 and Older” category. Looking for more big kid projects? Try the “Age 5 and Older” tab too! I try to add more of these projects in the summer when big kids are home from school, but now that I know they are in high demand- I’ll add them more frequently!

Letter Of The Week c !

Comet c !

comets 016

Space the final frontier perhaps but also a subject loved by preschoolers everywhere! I admit I am not sure if it was a book or somewhere else ( which means tv) that my son was introduced to comets but I wanted to jump on the introduction and teach him a little more.  I think that is key with early learning, if they show an interest in something run with it, you don’t have to teach them a full unit of study, just don’t ignore the interest and their curiosity will inspire you!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some black paper but in a pinch you can do what we did and color a white paper with black crayons ( but I had to go over it a few time to make it dark enough for photos – with my son’s permission , it was his art), some sticky back sparkly foam, white tissue paper streamers, markers, scissors and star stickers. comets 001
  2. Start by writing a lowercase c on the backing of your foam. When I teach lowercase letters that look exactly like their uppercase version , I usually make them smaller and mention it while we are doing the craft casually. comets 002
  3. Cut the c out and set aside.comets 003
  4. If you need to color a white piece of paper use your black crayon and cover as much as you can. comets 004
  5. Add your star stickers. Having your child peel the stickers off is great fine motor, it can be frustrating for little ones so be there to lend a hand but let them do as much as they can.comets 006
  6. Next cut the party streamers. This picture of my son cutting wasn’t what we ended up doing ( he’s just warming up his scissor skills here)  but I’m not an octopus and couldn’t take a picture of what we did do! What we did was I held the end of the streamers still and my son using his scissors cut the middle of what I was holding. Then we repeated this a few times. You can pre cut these if your child isn’t ready to use scissors.comets 007
  7. Color the streamers with the markers. Yes he has 3 markers all bunched in his hand, there was no talking him out of this.comets 010
  8. Peel off the backing of the c
  9. Stick the streamers on to the sticky back to create the comet’s tail. Make sure some of the sticky back is free for sticking onto the black paper.comets 011
  10. Stick it on and slam it down, my son loved smacking it onto the paper. comets 012

Books

Comets

“Comets” by Melanie Chrismer surprised me. This little book was not only full of facts about comets but it also kept my son’s attention from cover to cover. The facts are simple, and presented in small bits with illustrations . The straightforward approach was perfect to support an introductory activity about comets.

Stargazers

“Stargazers” by Gail Gibbons is a good choice of book to teach about stars, constellations, telescopes and more.  My son sat listening to this book and every now and then was engaged but it was a bit lengthy and a little too in depth for him ( he’s almost 3) however the book is great , it explains complicated scientific information in a really accessible way.  I even learned a few new things about telescopes! I will be taking this book out of the library again for sure when my son is a little older.


“Our Stars” by Anne Rockwell is another wonderful non fiction book from this author illustrator. The book shares the most basic facts about stars with the reader as well as more complicated facts about constellations, comets and meteors. I love that the facts are shared pretty independently on each page, so if something is above your toddlers head you can simply skip that page, until they are . The illustrations are fun enough to grab attention but detailed enough to help explain the facts being presented

Recycled Rocket Craft


This craft was not planned at all, we finished our favorite apple juice at lunch and while sitting there eating we brainstormed what we could make with the bottle. This is the first time my son and I have really brainstormed together, with a concrete focus. First of all I am taken aback by how old he is getting and 2nd he had great ideas. We thought of a garbage can, a bird feeder, a worm house and then settled on this rocket! So my challenge was what could we use to make it a rocket, here’s what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. Some are missing from the picture because this craft evolved as we went, but I’ll list them all even those that aren’t pictured. You will need a clean juice bottle, 2 toilet paper rolls, some red, yellow and orange foam ( paper would do), some crayons, some recycled bottle caps, a paper grocery bag, some sparkles, a washed out applesauce container( single use), scissors, white paint and a hot glue gun and glue.
  2. Start by pouring sparkles into your bottle ( totally optional) I was hoping to go for a sparkly effect and in some parts it is but it didn’t turn out as metallic as I’d hoped.
  3. Add your paint, yes you need a lot.
  4. Pop the cap on tight and shake to cover the inside.
  5. Let dry in the hottest place you can find, it can take a while.
  6. While that is drying color your toilet paper rolls with crayons.
  7. Next cut a small square out of a grocery bag or other scrap paper and color it.
  8. Cut it into 2 triangles for wings.
  9. Cut the foam into flames .
  10. Tape them into the bottom of the toilet paper rolls , layer them for effect.
  11. When the bottle is dry, it’s time to warm up the hot glue gun. I burn my self every time I use it so please make sure your child is not within touching distance.
  12. Glue the rolls on the back.
  13. Glue the bottle caps on the front.
  14. Glue the wings on.
  15. This was an after thought but I grabbed an applesauce container and glued it on the bottom so that the flames of the rockets ( aka the toilet paper rolls) don’t get in the way of the rocket standing up on end.
  16. Play !!

Song!


Climb aboard the spaceship
we’re going to the moon,
hurry and get ready
we’re going to blast off soon,
put on your helmet
and buckle up real tight,
cause here comes the countdown
so count with all your might!
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,
Blast off!!