Parent’s Corner: Product Review

Watercolor Crayons!

Pleasantly Surprised!

When I found these watercolor crayons at the local art supply store’s kids corner I thought, these will be fun when my little guy is older, but I will try them out and write a review. When my little guy was refusing a nap this weekend I pulled them out and here is our review.

What I liked :

I liked that the set comes with lots of colors, a paint brush, are non toxic and it was under 5 dollars. The mess level is also very low compared with even traditional water colors.

What I didn’t like:

It takes some strength for the crayons to leave good thick marks that will create lots of color when painted over. The crayons were small so it wasn’t easy for my little guy to hold them, although it wasn’t impossible either. In the picture below you can see a flower I drew worried that he’d get no reaction when the water was brushed over his coloring. He did get some but the saturation is much better when you can press hard with the crayon.

What my son liked:

All of it, he liked coloring with the crayons but he loved getting the paintbrush and dipping it in the water and brushing over the crayons. It only took me showing him once for him to catch on. We sat and did water colors for 20 minutes, I was shocked and elated! Also he loved putting the paintbrush in his mouth and unlike with liquid paint these left NO trace of paint on him.

What he didn’t like :

That mommy wouldn’t let him put his whole hand in the water .


I give this product a great big seal of approval, even though young children will need help to make the crayon marks dark enough to get good color saturation when they paint the water on. This would be a great product to take with you when you are camping or traveling because it really isn’t very messy, it packs up easily and won’t leak in your luggage!

Stay tuned , later this week we will be using these crayons and paintbrush to make a hand painted Thank You note for someone special!

Sponge Painting For Toddlers

sponge painting for babies and toddlers

Sponge painting is a wonderful way for young children to explore paint, they don’t need to have superior fine motor skills to succeed at making some fun marks on the paper. It’s the perfect toddler art activity.

  1. Gather your materials. For this art activity you will need a regular kitchen sponge, some paint, a paper plate or the like to put your paint on, paper and scissors.
  2. Cut the sponge into some good hand size shapes for your child. We’ve been learning about shapes so I made some , but you can cut out fish shapes, letters..the sky and your cutting ability is the limit!
  3. Spread some paint on a plate or tray and dip your sponge in.
  4. I like to mix colors as we paint, it’s fun and keep the kids interested, as well as asking them what shape or picture they are making with the sponge.

 

Shape Detectives!

Can You Find The Triangle?

This is a fun and easy activity to do with children who are learning their shapes. You can use any shapes according to what your child is presently learning. This however is too sophisticated for toddlers and may be frustrating for some younger preschoolers too. I used it often as a after lunch , before outside time activity with my Pre-K class with great success!

  1. Gather your materials. All you need is some paper and markers. One color for the outline and one color for each shape.
  2. Draw a picture using obvious shapes. I made a house and a sun, but I have also made shape people, snow men, trains and cars- the sky is the limit. I wouldn’t make too many shapes on one sheet though, you want it to be a challenge but if you make it too hard the challenge turns into frustration and you miss the window for learning!
  3. Make a legend clearly stating that each shape has it’s own color.
  4. Explain it to your child/class by either helping them with the first shape or doing a big version of this at circle time on a dry erase board or large poster paper.
  5. Start finding the shapes and coloring them in!

* I would often tell my students that I wasn’t sure which shape was which and I needed help and then ask them to be my detectives! Also if you are doing this for a class, make one black line master and photocopy the rest, then simply make color dots on the legends.

P is for Penguin

Cut and Paste Penguin

***This is a preschool craft, my toddler helped me with it but I did 95% of this one, don’t be fooled by the picture he was taking the foot OFF! ***

  1. Gather your materials. For this crafts I used 3 foam sheets in white, black and orange, scissors, a pen and glue.
  2. Draw the outline of the penguin on the black foam sheet. I eyeballed it. Also you could easily used construction paper instead of the foam sheets.
  3. Cut the outline out.
  4. Using the black outline, trace it onto the while sheet, and then when cutting it out do so an inch INSIDE the line, so it’s it the same shape but smaller.
  5. Cut out small round eyes out of the left over black foam/paper.
  6. Draw a foot , double the foam so you have two layers and cut.
  7. Cut out a small triangle for the beak.
  8. Start gluing! ( can you tell he’s taking the feet off ? ) if you are doing this with little ones I would marker on the eyes and beak, because these small foam pieces are tempting to chew on and choke!
  9. If you are doing this with an older child , trace the outlines with a good marker and have them cut along it.

One final note to parents, when you are doing cut and paste crafts with your kids, try really hard not to “correct” them on where to glue the eyes, or feet etc… let them put them where they want. Crafts like these are fun but not very creative so let them put their own twist on the craft with a foot where the nose should be. It’s about the process NOT the product.

Song!


I’m a Little Penguin!

I’m a little penguin,
black and white,
short and wobbly ,
an adorable sight!
I can’t fly at all,
but I love to swim,
so I’ll waddle to the water,
and dive right in!

Books!

” The Emperor’s Egg” by Martin Jenkins is a good non fiction book written like a story about penguins and more specifically about how the father penguin cares for the egg. The illustrations in the book are wonderful and will likely appeal to younger children as well as the target 4-6 year olds audience that the text is geared towards. I have used this in a Pre K class and by the end of the year the children were ready and able to sit and pay attention to the whole book.


” 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!


” Little Penguin’s Tale” by Audrey Wood is a funny cautionary tale about a curious and wild penguin. When the tale almost ends in doom and gloom the narrator changes the end a little bit, so the readers and other little penguins aren’t too sad. Still the message is clear that you can’t ignore the rules without some consequences!

Video!

I am not one to promote movies and videos as educational but ” The March of The Penguins” is worth a look for older children. I popped it on and my son looked at it for a second, said ” Bebe” which is his word for penguin and got down to play with his drum. However older preschoolers and school age kids could really enjoy it. There are some sad parts but the narration is such that kids too young to understand death , will likely not catch it. Still if you haven’t seen it watch it before showing it to your kids.

Caterpillars Don’t Meow !

Classic Egg Carton Caterpillar
This is a classic craft but hopefully some of my tips will help you enjoy craft time a little more!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need an egg carton, some paint, a pipe cleaner, some sharp scissors, a paint brush and some markers.
  2. Start by painting the egg carton. My tip with this step is to leave the whole egg carton intact even though you will only need to use half of it. It makes it easier for little guys to paint, and you to hold or tape down for them.
  3. Add more colors of paint. My tip here is for parents to add the paint to the egg carton with really young preschoolers or toddlers. What I do is ask my son what color he wants, then put a small amount on and he brushes it.
  4. Let the paint dry.
  5. Cut the egg carton in two length wise .
  6. Poke 2 holes in the top of the first section.
  7. Thread your pipe cleaner through.
  8. Twist the ends however you want!
  9. Add some eyes and a mouth with markers if you have little guys, or use googley eyes with older ones.
Song!

The Little Caterpillar
( to the tune of The Itsy Bitsy Spider)

The little caterpillar snuggled on a leaf,
Spun a little chrysalis and then fell asleep,
While she was sleeping she dreamed that she could fly,
When she woke up she was a butterfly!

*Sorry no video today, I am sick and I sounded worse than usual, and I don’t want to frighten your kids! I will try to upload one soon!

Books!

” Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar” by Helen Brawley is one of my son’s favorite books right now, due to the fact that there are shiny and shimmery pictures throughout! The story though leaves something to be desired, as the message seems to be that being plain is bad and the only fix for poor Percival is when he turns into a beautiful butterfly! When reading this to my class I would often interject with Questions to my students about what they thought was cool about Percival, and that combated the undesirable message that you have to be beautiful to be worthy.

” The Crunching Munching Caterpillar” by Sheridan Cain is another story about a caterpillar who is not happy about his lot in life. There is a fair bit of language that some parents would object to. This caterpillar is often reminded that he is too fat to fly- so that poses a few challenges to parents like myself who are trying to instill healthy body images as well as using respectful words with others in our children. I have dealt with this book in two ways, first by saying that the caterpillar is getting fat but it’s a good thing because he will be sleeping for a long time in his chrysalis and needs that fat to live. Also I have simply replaced fat with big, a word that is much less ugly to many people’s ears.


” The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle is the standard that neither of the previous books come close to meeting. This is a classic and a personal favorite of mine from Kindergarten! This book helps to teach days of the week, counting and even has a great message about healthy eating! While this book states that the caterpillar gets big and fat, it’s said as a statement not a judgement which is much more appropriate in my opinion. If you don’t have this book you need it!