We were completely out of baby wipes and while rushing through Walmart these shiny hearts caught my eye. I grabbed them and stood there turning them over in my hand until I knew exactly what Valentine’s Day craft I was going to make with them! Simple Valentine’s day themed chalkboards. My kids love chalkboards and I love anything that inspires them to draw and write. The pack of 3 Wilton cake platers cost me $3.95 , the ribbon cost a buck and this chalkboard paint has been in my garage for years.
- Gather your materials. You will need the cardboard hearts , scissors, chalkboard paint, a brush, something to protect your floor/ table, something to make a hole in the cardboard with ( I used a Robertson head screwdriver and a hammer but I bet a pen would work) , ribbon and chalk.
- Start by painting your hearts. I painted one on the shiny side and one on the plain cardboard side. I wasn’t sure if the paint would adhere to the shiny surface. I am telling you Benjamin Moore really is rad paint. After they were dry you couldn’t tell a difference at all. Let dry.
- Thread the ribbon through. I decided to do two different styles . You will probably want the ribbon to be wired just because it makes threading it through the hole a breeze.
- Time to write ! I tested it out first to make sure it would erase well. It did. Then let my little ones go for it. My son was initially unhappy that the ribbon was pink but as I went off in search of a different color he called me back saying it was OK. Perhaps the anti pink phase is weaning? One can hope.
- After they decorated it all I hung them up in our hall way to add to our Valentine’s Day decor. I think these would be fun gifts for your kids on Valentine’s Day too or you could make these Monogrammed Hearts I created for Melissa & Doug’s blog last week.
Books About Love
Check out our recent round up of great picture books. This list is all about love in all different forms. Read all 14 book reviews here.
My son is in kindergarten and his teacher asked for each kid to address and sign each valentine for their class. I think this is great because it is great real world aka purposeful writing for this age group. Little store bought valentines are usually well little and hard to fit kindergarten sized hand writing in without major frustration and potential set backs in confidence of their writing ability. I wasn’t planning on posting this but when I saw how into it my son was I knew others might benefit.
- Gather your materials. You will need some graphics program – I use picmonkey.com It’s easy to use ( I barely helped my son after giving him a quick tour). If you are going to print it out on regular printer paper like we did you may also want some construction paper and glue to make a backing. You will also want a class list and a sharp pencil with eraser.
- Start by playing around with picmonkey deciding on the design. I showed my son options and he chose the font, did most of the typing and moving the items around the page. * Disclaimer this picture is a recreation of the real events. We did this last night in a dark living room while my youngest and husband cleaned up after dinner. He’s actually admiring a picture of himself on pinterest… but you get the idea!
- This is his design.
- Print. I printed ours at a 3.5×5 size 4 to a page.
- Glued them on the construction paper and cut them out. Set them out with the class list and invited him to choose 4-5 friends to write them to. I like doing them in batches because it makes the task manageable. Writing is hard and I think because we do it so effortlessly we forget how much effort it once took us. Do it in little bits and it will be much easier. My son loved designing these and with a bunch of birthday parties coming up he can’t wait to make more .
This is another part of our learning after school series. I try to engage my son in fun things after school and when I asked him what he wanted to work on he said math. He loves math and comes by it very very naturally. His dad has a bachelors degree in engineering with a minor in math and a MBA in finance. Yeah numbers are well loved in our house . Even I love math although I didn’t always. It wasn’t until I was teaching it to students that I found the fun in numbers.
- Gather your materials. You will need a jar , some hearts ( any hearts will do – we used foam ones but paper, heart erasers, heart candies will all work), The printable found here and again below and a pencil with an eraser.
- Start by printing out the printable – click here or on the image for download. It looks grainy in the pdf but it’s clear when downloaded.
- Lay out the sheet, pencil and hearts and let your little math whiz at it. Of course this is more than just a math lesson. My son is working on writing numbers in kindergarten right now and this is my tricky way of practicing without making him write them over and over again. If the 8 questions are too much do 2 or 3 and put it away for a day or two and complete the rest after. Learning isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon so go slow if needed! He estimated, counted, sorted and counted and wrote some more.
My daughter got this Melissa & Doug easel from Santa and she loves it but at our house we share most everything and her brother got a chance to play with the easel with this Fill in the Blank Easel Story. Writing , spelling and reading all come together with creativity and storytelling in this fast to set up activity. If you do not have an easel you can enter for a chance to win one from Melissa & Doug below or use a big sheet of paper on the wall. The reason I am suggesting the wall or an easel is because when kids write on vertical surfaces likes these their arms, wrists and hands naturally go into the proper position for writing. This makes it easier for many kids that struggle and doesn’t hurt those who aren’t either.
- Gather your materials. You will need some dry erase makers, a dry erase board / easel and a big imagination.
- Start by writing out a simple story on the easel with dry erase markers. Here is mine – Once upon a time there was a ________ named _________. He was brave, smart and ____________ . One day he found a magic ____________ and it started to ____________. He thought that is was amazing and ran to show his ___________. when he got home his magic ____________ disappeared! He looked for it everyday but never saw it again.
- Invite your writer to come fill in the blanks. Have them read it out loud.
- Fill in the blanks. My son kept asking me how to spell things. Here is what I do when he asks. I will ask him first to sound it out. If he is struggling I will help. Generally I ask that he uses his 6 year old spelling for everything. Spelling is developmental and if we skip stages in development there can be struggles later on. Invented spellings are a really important step. Kids aren’t misspelling things they are just spelling them at their level of development. As your child progresses feel free to correct them little by little. My son can read well and simple words like dog, hat, car are ones that I would not hesitate to correct his spelling but words like furious, sword or friends I am still encouraging him to sound out and spell at his level. Interestingly he spelled sword correctly later in the lesson.
- He didn’t like my ending so he edited it. ” When he got home his magic sword would shock people.”
- When he was done writing he proudly read it back to me.
Watching my son write this really showed me how hard white boards can be for new and struggling writers. Many need the friction of a chalkboard to help them form letters correctly. This easel has a black board on the other side and if you aren’t lucky enough to win it in our sweepstakes you can make your own dollar store ones like we did.
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Fill out the form below. Please only one entry per household. SWEEPSTAKES NOW CLOSED
This sweepstakes is open to American residents 18 years or older. To be eligible for the sweepstakes you must enter your name and email in the google form embedded in this post. 1 winner will be drawn at random, using Random.org, after the sweepstakes closes on January 14th 2013 at 8:00pm PST. The winners will receive the Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel and Companion Set , valued at approximately $115. After the winner is notified he or she has 48 hours to respond with their mailing address to ship their easel and companion set to ,or another winner will be chosen at random. No purchase necessary.The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Any information gathered through the sweepstakes including email and postal addresses will not be used in anyway other than contacting winners and shipment of winnings. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. I am a blog ambassador for Melissa & Doug and am compensated for my work. The sweepstakes prize is provided for the winner free of charge from Melissa & Doug.
Drawing wasn’t always something my son liked to do. He loved to paint and craft but his perfectionist side reared it’s ugly head when he wanted to draw ” It doesn’t look the way I want it to.” After much encouragement that he draws just like a 3 or 4 or 5 year old should and a lot of displaying every single thing he drew it got better. But he still wasn’t enjoying drawing as much as I had hoped. Now you may say ” Why worry?” I wasn’t worried but I wanted to encourage it as much as possible as part of handwriting practice and basic fine motor development. When he started to want to draw his Lego scenes from catalogs I adapted this drawing activity idea after seeing this pin on Pinterest that lead to this blog post from ArtMommie using magazines.
- Gather your materials. You will need some toy catalogs, brochures or instruction booklets you don’t mine cutting up. A pencil with eraser, double stick tape, plain paper and scissors.
- Cut out some images that are full of action. You want it to look unfinished so they want to finish the picture.
- Tape to plain paper.
- Invite your artist- he was super excited to see them.
- Have your child choose one and start drawing. There was no lag time or whining about not liking to draw he just dove in!
- He even wrote a caption. When you are working on something like this and your child uses invented spelling let it go. Do not correct it. Let them sound out the words and spell what they hear. This is a really crucial step in literacy if we only give them the right spellings without them trying to make sense of it they will skip this building block. There is plenty of time to get it right, but it’s a developmental process and you have to let it develop.
- I am glad I made a bunch because as soon as he was done the first he grabbed a second and started drawing. Oh and like I mentioned above these drawings are already on my fridge for all to see. Confidence is such a huge component of ability and when we display our kids art that builds their confidence even if it clutters our kitchens. It’s totally worth it.
LEGO City: All Hands on Deck! (Level 1) by Marlyn Easton is another Lego City themed book. If you have any of the Lego City building sets it’s likely you’ll recognize a few in the illustrations. My son loved seeing ones he recognized and loved telling me which of his friends have this set or that. I think being able to relate to a book via favorite toys is actually really positive. Some parents will be apprehensive about books that sprang from a toy franchise but at this age when many children ( boys especially) start showing less interest in books , it can be a great tool. My son loves to read but loves reading these books even more and I am all for it! This story is even simpler following a group of sailors that save a windsurfer from disaster on the water. It’s also shorter than the previous with only 160 words which is great to build children’s confidence in reading which is also key to keeping interest high. MY one complaint is the complete lack of girls in this book. I know the audience is boys but by not including a single girl the audience of girls will drop even more.
LEGO City: Ready for Takeoff! (Level 1) by Sonia Sander is not just a cute book for Lego fans but also for anyone taking a trip by plane to get their kids ready for what to expect. I was pleasently surprised by the quality of the details and how well it helps my son prep for air travel. We got it for a trip from Seattle to Chicago we took this summer and it was an instant hit. The text is a great mix of sight words, words that need to be sounded out and the illustrations are wonderfully helpful for kids needing visual clues for some words. Even if you aren’t going on a plane any time soon this is a good book all about air travel, and it just happens to also be set in Lego City.
LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia was the most loved 5th birthday gift my son received. I can not tell you how much my son loves this book and as someone who adores reference materials herself I can’t say I blame him. I love this book too, it’s helping me speak his language and know who and what he’s talking about all the time. So like the cover says it’s a character encyclopedia, there is no story, instead every page is dedicated to one Star Wars character turned mini figure. Now most of the text tells you about the Lego sets the mini figure comes in , variations on the mini figure and when it first appeared in the toy. However there is still a great description of the characters and huge illustrations of each. The small amount of text is perfect for my son and since he is into the characters not the collector like details he simply skips that without missing out on anything. I should say that this unlike the previous books is not a leveled reader. If I was making a guess I would say that it’s geared towards the average 8 year old. I definitely had to help read the majority of this book at first but now he’s got even the tricky names down pat. I love that we can read a little or read a lot . ** Since this original review was written in 2011 this book as become a all time favorite, one we pack for all long trips and we’ve even turned it into a quiz game as my son has memorized an amazing amount of it . We have since bought more similar books and he loves them all.