Simple Penguin Craft

penguin craft

We love penguins and was one of my favorite themes for daycare and preschool when I was teaching toddlers. My daughter loves the penguin bath toy you see in this post so we decided to use a penguin to paint a penguin. This was a huge hit with my toddler who thought it was hilarious to whack it on the paper. With older children encourage them to do the cutting but with toddlers the goal is fun, exploration and making something fun to show off on the fridge. This penguin is on our fridge right now and my daughter likes to point to it saying her name and smiles.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 3 sheets of construction paper ( blue, black and orange) , white paint, a dish , a bath toy ( but a sponge will do), glue, scissors and googly eyes ( although I put them on at the end she is too little and still eats things).penguin craft
  2. Start by pouring paint into the dish, and placing the toy in it.
  3. Hand it  and the black paper to your monkey and start painting. My daughter carefully made a few prints…penguin craft
  4. Then really got into it.
  5. We paused to wipe paint off our hands and mouth and switched paper. The blue paper is the icy habitat so it needs paint too! penguin craft for kids
  6. I gave her snack after clean up #2 and allowed the paint to dry some. And cut out some feet and a nose from the orange paper. penguin craft
  7. Then cut out the black into the shape of a penguin.
  8. Time to glue.  We took turns gluing.penguin craft for kids
  9. If they want to take time to explore the glue bottle don’t fret, they are making connections. Just stay close so any giant messes can be minimized.
  10. Put the body on the glue.
  11. I added the glue for the nose and feet putting it on a wide area so she could choose where to place the pieces. Don’t correct your kids  and where they place things, this is their creation. If they are able to glue ( and get more than a few tiny drops) by all means encourage them to do it.
  12. Add eyes ( if your little bug is like mine and eating all small potentially hazardous items wait until they are napping or engaged in other play and add them on) and let dry.penguin craft

Penguin Books

Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner is a cute rhyming book filled with simple facts about penguins. My toddler loved the bold illustrations, and my son really liked the facts and it sparked a desire to learn more about the animal. That is one of my favorite things about non fiction books like this that look like stories , they plant seeds of interest that can be launched into deeper inquiry. Great book for preschool through Kindergarten.

Penguin by Polly Dunbar was an unexpected delight! The book started with Ben who got a penguin as a gift but no matter what he did he got no reaction from his penguin. Finally as happens with young kids Ben lost it, has a temper tantrum and a lion eats him. Yes I said a lion eats him. My son loved it. He howled with laughter and don’t worry in the end it’s happy so nightmares are unlikely if you read this before bed. I loved the rhythm of this book and the simple illustrations were a perfect fit. Big thumbs up from kid and parent on this one!

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester is such a cute and funny story, your kids will love it! Tacky is an odd bird but when hunters come to get some pretty penguins is funny odd ways of doing things turn off the hunters and saves Tacky and his perfectly not odd companions. This is a sweet look at being different and being happy as pie about being different.  My son loves this book and will often point out that Tacky is proud to sing just the way he wants. I love that it can preach to kids without preaching at all.

 

75 TV Free Activities For Toddlers

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75 activities for toddlers

Toddlers are little explorers and love going from one activity to the next so the more ideas you have in your back pocket the better. All of these are free of any tv or other screen time but I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I said my kids never watched any TV as toddlers. This list of TV free activities for toddler  is a way to inspire myself as much as you to try some of these simple activities before reaching for the remote.

  1. Cook – we use play food with real pots a lot.
  2. Toss bean bags into laundry baskets.
  3. Paint with yogurt
  4. Splash in the sink.
  5. Pour and scoop some pasta.
  6. Mix some colors.
  7. Get dressed in sibling’s clothes.
  8. Turn up the music and dance
  9. Cuddle.
  10. Play with a water table with water or rice. pasta in the winter.
  11. Play with a light table
  12. Cut a slot in a container lid and drop dried pasta into it.
  13. Play dress up – use old Halloween costumes, clothes and hats.
  14. Find out will it sink or float?
  15. Blow bubbles.
  16. Have a toy car wash.
  17. Build a block tower.
  18. Knock it down.
  19. Write on the walls.
  20. Draw on the windows.
  21. Go for a swing.
  22. Go into a dark room and play with a flash light.
  23. Go for a walk .
  24. Make a tower out of pantry foods.
  25. Sing songs.
  26. Gather your dining chairs and play airplane.
  27. Help put away the dishes.
  28. Have a bath just for fun.
  29. Play store.
  30. Help with the laundry.
  31. Visit the pet store and see the fish and hamsters.
  32. Play mail carrier .
  33. Run.
  34. Brush teeth ( don’t knock it both my kids loved this)
  35. Take your baby dolls for a walk around the house.
  36. Play trains.
  37. Make playdough cupcakes, muffins and cookies.
  38. Walk the plank.
  39. Wear them while you( parent) hike.
  40. Call Grandparents on the phone and chat.
  41. Wrestle.
  42. Pretend to be animals and crawl, hop and pounce on the floor.
  43. Play at the playground.
  44. Collect rocks on a walk or shells on the beach.
  45. Go to the library.
  46. Explore a local garden center.
  47. Make playdough sculptures with popscicle sticks.
  48. Make a craft.
  49. Help with chores.
  50. Paint with water.
  51. Look through family photos.
  52. Hammer golf tees into foam.
  53. Color the patio.
  54. Have snack on a chair train ( in your kitchen)
  55. Make and play with discovery bottles.
  56. Play ball in the yard.
  57. Play with large magnets on the fridge, cookie sheets or like she is above the washer while mama folded laundry.
  58. Play with a dollhouse
  59. Color.
  60. Touch and Smell the fruits and veggies at the supermarket instead of just grabbing what you need.
  61. Play Duplo.
  62. Look for bugs under rocks.
  63. Rip and cut scrap paper.
  64. Do a puzzle.
  65. Go swimming.
  66. Paint.
  67. Paint with toy cars.
  68. Paint with blocks.
  69. Paint with toy animals.
  70. Play with instruments ( or just a big pot and a few wooden spoons).
  71. Water your plants.
  72. Play peek-a-boo.
  73. Go on a color hunt.
  74. Take every DVD out of the drawers and put them back in. This is completely child led at our house.
  75. Follow their play and see where it leads you.

* Note about the photos. They aren’t as high quality as I try for because all of them were taken with my phone while we were playing. Not for a post just regular pictures of what we do most days.

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Valentine’s Day Activity for Toddlers – Discovery Box

valentine's day for toddler

Toddlers love digging through things. Kitchen cabinets, boxes of blocks or my daughter’s favorite the DVD drawer. I roped in that inherent desire to dig and find for this love themed Valentine’s Day activity for toddlers an easy discovery box.  Besides the silk flower petals inside there are paper hearts and family photos of people she knows and loves cut into hearts. As we played I’d ask her to find someone and she would search and search until she did. Great for families like ours that are spread out, or for any that are separated due to work or deployment.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a container, some silk flower petals, printed card stock, double stick tape , family photos and a heart paper punch.
  2. Start by punching out paper hearts. The reason you want so many is that you want the toddler to pick each up and look on both sides to see if there is a picture. If the ones without the pictures over frustrate your child remove them. This builds concentration and memory.
  3. Cut out your pictures and using double stick tape stick them to some of the paper hearts.
  4. Add them to a container with the silk flowers.
  5. Add a toddler. She loved finding pictures of her brother as a baby the most.
  6. If they get up keep playing yourself, it doesn’t mean the activity is a flop they might just want some goggles… I had a hard time not laughing hysterically when she put the goggles on. She was happy and moved the box to the floor so maybe she was just more comfortable on the floor. I ran with it.
  7. Label things as you go but don’t interrupt too much, be there to help along not to direct.

My Toddler’s  Favorite Valentine’s Day Book

Where Is Baby’s Valentine?: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read this book since I brought it out of storage after Christmas. Countless. Every time we sit and lift the flaps together I get a serious craving for chocolate. Karen Katz is a toddler’s dream come true. Her illustrations are big and bright and filled with happy babies. Her text is short but still meaty enough for young preschoolers and the flaps to lift and open are perfect for this age when a static book often is just too static for a dynamic toddler. I can see why my daughter brings it over to me everyday. It’s the perfect book to go along with this activity and you could even slide a few of the hearts with photos under a few flaps while you read.

 

Toddler Handprint Turkey Craft

Thanksgiving craft

This is not a new craft, handprint turkey crafts in their many variations are everywhere and they should be , they are classic and simply a part of childhood!  This one is adapted for toddlers to make them active participants in the creation of the craft. You can often adapt craft projects meant for older children to a toddler’s ability by using different tools, fewer steps ( less detail) and removing small pieces that may be dangerous.  Also I find with messy crafts like this using a booster that allows you to belt your child in is useful, not to force them in any way to do the craft ( which should not happen) but rather to keep them in one safe place after they have messy hands. No one is calm if their child is making a beeline for the couch with hands covered in paint. This way we can focus on the activity not the mess.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a toilet paper ( or paper towel roll), a paper grocery bag or craft paper, paint, a plastic basting brush and plastic plate, glue , scissors and googly eyes* I used googly eyes because my daughter doesn’t mouth them. If you read my posts from 2008 you will see I never used them when my son was this age, because they would go in his mouth immediately. I still watched her like a hawk and only brought them out when it was time to glue. If your child is like my son , just draw the eyes on like I did with the nose.
  2. Cut open the bag and tape it to the table. I love doing this for toddler art , it’s a drop cloth and project all at once.
  3. Start by tracing their hands 3-5 times on the bag. We did 4 and as you may be able to tell that was not easy. If your child is really resistant trace one hand on a cereal box or other scrap paper then cut it out and use that for a template. Don’t upset them before they even get to make a mess !
  4. Time to paint, add multiple colors on the plate.
  5. See why I used a plastic plate?
  6. Also this brush she is using is a plastic basting brush. I chose it because the bristles are sturdy silicone and have never ripped off despite effort to tear it. It’s also big enough for clumbsy toddler fists to paint with.
  7. Expect them to use their hands , although I should mention some kids at this age start showing a real aversion to getting things on their hands , don’t force them to “relax” , instead offer a wet wash cloth to wipe anything off, and support their play even if it’s not what you expected. Many kids don’t like messy play.
  8. Cut the roll in half. Draw a nose or rather beak for the turkey.
  9. Roll the roll in the paint.
  10. Let dry ( I cleaned up the mess while singing to her and giving the roll a minute to dry ). Add glue to the roll. Help your child place the eyes on the glue.
  11. Let the hand prints dry and cut out.
  12. Add glue to the roll and place the cut out hands on the back as turkey feathers. Tip: Use a clothes pin to hold them in place until the glue dries.
  13. Add this to your holiday mantle.