Toilet Paper Roll Fish Craft

fish craft for preschool This is such a fun craft. My daughter and I each grabbed some toilet paper rolls and originally I thought we’d turn them into butterflies since my daughter adores butterflies but when I cut one as an experiment we both said ” It looks like a fish!” then grabbed the paints. I like to try to make crafts like this fish craft as exploratory as possible. Yes there are way more boundaries with them than open ended art and but you can adjust that in many ways. I added the glitter to add texture to the fish but also to add some more mixing and hands on creation for my daughter.

Gather your materials.You will need some toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half, paint, glitter, dishes for the paint, paint brushes, scissors, glue and googly eyes … you may want more than one per fish if your kids are like mine!paper tube fish craft

Start by putting the paint into containers and adding glitter. I try to give my daughter as much choice as possible so she chose the paint colors and glitter colors too. She added a lot and I was struck speechless when she didn’t choose pink immediately.glitter paint fish craft

Mix them up if you add as much glitter as my daughter did you might need to add a little more paint after to make sure it will still spread.glitter paint fish craft for preschool

Paint the tubes. I used a plastic lid as a plate for painting and drying.toilet roll fish craft for preschool

I loved the colors she chose and how they blended. Let dry.toilet paper roll fish craft for children

When dry push in the sides of one end of the tube to make a point.paper roll fish craft

Squish the whole tube down.fish craft for preschool

Make two diagonal cuts in the end of the tube and then in the middle.cardboard roll fish craft for kids

Time for glue and goggly eyes.cardboard fish craft Let dry.fish craft for daycare

books about ocean animals

Need some sea animal books? We have a bunch. Click on the image to be taken to the post with full reviews.

Science For Kids : Omnivore, Herbivore, or Carnivore ?

science for kids My first grader is naturally inclined to math and history and if it was up to him I would only ever create games with numbers or facts about past wars. I am happy to have him learn about those things but as his mom I need to stretch him to learn about other things as well.  This is an science for kids game that asks players to classify each animal into omnivore, herbivore or carnivore. The hands on aspect of the game is great of young learners and can encourage later imaginative play as well. I like to keep activities like this short since my son attends school full time and my goal is to use these bite sized activities to spark interest and further investigation. For more check out our other Learning After School activities.

Gather your materials. You will need some card stock ( I use the back of sentence strips), marker, and a mix of animal figurines. I like these Safari Ltd North American Wildlife Toob from amazon ( that’s an affiliate link ).carnivore omnivore and herbivore

Write the groups on the strips. omnivore carnivore herbivore science for kids

When I invited my son to come do the activity I first had him answer a question on the chalkboard. This isn’t a must do but I will explain why I do it with my son. He loves to know the answer so by starting the activity with a question he can answer it starts him off on a strong confident foot. Then I challenge him with the sorting. carnivores omnivores herbivores

Start sorting. carnivore omnivore herbivore sortingSome were easy science sorting - omnivore carnivore and herbivore

Some were not . After he made his final decision he asked  ” Can you Google it to see if we are right?” I loved that he wasn’t looking to get the answer but to check if he was right. This also let me slip in a quick lesson about using reliable online sources. He won’t be searching online without me for a while yet but it’s still a good lesson to start cementing.science omnivore herbivore carnivore sorting

Sort each and every one. sorting science

For more quick but meaningful learning for after school or any time check out our Learning After School series.

afterschool activities for kids

 

Habitat Sorting

Animal Habitat Lesson PreK

On the way to preschool a few weeks ago my son and I got to talking about foreign species of animals and how destructive they are to the habitats they invade. In that rather complex conversation I realized my son knew a lot about habitats but there were some animals he simply said  came from the zoo … it was time for some learning cloaked as a game. I finally got around to making this over the weekend and we had fun.

  1. Gather your materials. I used construction paper and scissors for the paper habitat mats I made, double stick tape and a glue stick. You will also need a marker and lots of animal toys. Some of ours are bath toys that weren’t all the way dry… oops.Habitat Sort
  2. Start by cutting the sheets of construction paper in half , this size is perfect for the mats and then you can use the other half for the cut outs.
  3. Decide which habitats you will make. I decided on jungle, farm, antarctic, and forest because of the animals we had on hand.  Remember to use the toys you have for learning, with some brain storming you can save money and play with all those extras that don’t get much use. My helper played with the animals while I brain stormed, with her goggles on of course.
  4. Create. I loved doing this. If you have older kids see if they want to create this for their younger sibling(s).
  5. Label them and call for someone to come play!
  6. With my five year old I let him sort and when he tried to put the raccoon in the jungle I asked ” Have you seen racoons around here? Do we live in the jungle?” and let him answer and adjust. Always ask why because sometimes they have a darn good reason that may only make sense to them but it will likely open up a teaching opportunity for you.  Younger kids like my daughter can do an simplified version with only one mat and a simple yes or no sorting activity. I’d focus mostly on labeling the animals and their attributes at that age.
  7. After he sorted the rest I took some and placed them in the wrong place. Asking why a monkey couldn’t live in the antarctic, or why a whale wouldn’t enjoy swimming in the pond in a forest. This forced him to consider why animals live in specific places. We also touched on domestication and how farms and zoos are different. It was the best part of the lesson and wouldn’t have happened without the sorting game as an ice breaker.

The Next Step

These are my ideas for extending the activity for children who are ready for it . The next step for this would be to purposefully put an animal in the wrong habitat and ask your child to write down a list of things they would need to survive in the wrong habitat. For example a monkey in the antarctic would need warm clothing, fresh fruit delivered, a enclosure built off the ice, maybe even some snow boots!  Let them make the list but make sure they answer why they need each item too!

Book

A House for Hermit Crab is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one.  The book teaches about sea creatures habitats, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is  difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable.

Frog Life Cycle Craft

Frog-Life-Cycle-Lesson-and-Craft

My son loves learning about animals and with such weird weather this year ( was yours weird too?) we are still seeing lots  tadpoles in water  around here. We had fun with this easy and very kinetic lesson about the life cycle of frogs.  You will see a lot of cutting, coloring and writing around here right now as we work on my son’s fine motor skills. He’s started asking to write everything and to make writing easier we are taking every chance we get to work those skills out even if he’s not writing. Scissor skills are a great and usually enticing way to do that with kids.

  1. Gather your materials you will need a sheet of sturdy card stock , a print out of the frog life cycle ( we got ours here ) , some crayons or pencil crayons, kid scissors, a marker, double stick tape,white paper, clear tape and 5 flip tops from wipes cases.
  2. Start by talking about the life cycle of a frog with your child, you may even want to read the first book listed below as part of this activity.
  3. Next have them color the stages. If your child isn’t into coloring by all means skip this step- the goal is to have fun learning not rigidly follow all steps.
  4. Time to cut. At our house this is a favorite activity. Coloring is zipped through haphazardly but cutting is savored! My son did the cutting with me sometimes helping him position the scissors by making a guide line with a colored pencil. It’s a great way to support while letting independent preschoolers still ” Do it themselves!”
  5. While he cut I made the labels for the flip tops. I could have made them with the ( newly bought) printer but I wrote them out to show you that if your child is able ( and it doesn’t make the whole project too long for them) to have them write it out too .
  6. Then I popped the flip tops in order on the card stock and added wee arrows. My tops didn’t need glue because they still had adhesive on them from their packaging. Yours might need a dab or some double stick tape ( they should really sponsor my blog I go through a ton of this stuff, I <3 it!).
  7. Next up add double stick tape to each stage cut out and find the matching phase of the life cycle. We worked on reading and pretended to me Superhero scientists researching the “Evil Frog of Fear!” Hey whatever works and keeps them having fun!
  8. I had my Superhero Scientists write Frog in the middle , you can add life cycle or really anything you want. Frog was all we had space for as he is still in the beginning stages of writing.  You could also draw a picture as an alternative to writing.

I loved seeing my son show this off to his dad and my parents after we made it. He would enthusiastically flip open the flaps to reveal the stages. Lately he has been extra full of energy , needing to move more and this activity was a good calm break that then also provided him with some movement and a chance to touch and use the craft after making it. Also the tasks of putting the pieces in the right flap really spoke to his desire to solve problems ( or crimes committed by super villains ).

Books About Frogs

From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer is another gem from the “Let’s- Read-And-Find-Out” series. It goes into great detail without offering too much for young readers. When I was reading it to my 2 year old, I skipped some pages, it’s a little long for him still but 3-5 year olds are perfect age for this non fiction book. The illustrations are interesting and kept my wiggly man into the book when the text went above his head.  Edited for 2011 - now at 4.5 years old this book is smack on target for my son. The book has just the right amount of information about frogs for preschoolers to process and to also turn to parents or teachers to ask why and go in search of even more information. I think  a sign of a great non fiction book is that it sparks further curiosity about the subject in the readers.

Once Upon a Lily Pad by Joan Sweeney is a cute book about two frogs that lived on the lily pads in Claude Monet’s gardens. I love the theme of life cycles in this story with the frogs hibernating and having more than one set of tadpoles… and eventually the painter not reappearing. It’s actually a great gentle book to start a open discussion about death without having to go into the thick of things right away. I  love how it sparks interest in the painter and his beautiful work as well as can be used as a launchpad for an outdoor painting activity ( en plein air) . So many ways to use this book.

Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson gave me goosebumps and made me want to give the author a high five. The little frog leaps away from mama frog going further and further away but leaps back home to his mama each time with then end being spot on with the text changing from ” then leap home to me” to ” when you leap back home , here I’ll be”. My heart was aching seeing the little frog grow so fast!  I love this book. It’s got very simple repetitive text ( great for emergent readers!), the illustrations by Matthew Cordell are goofy and sweet. They match the text perfectly so they give great clues to readers who may be struggling with a word. As a read aloud this book is awesome , not only because the repetitive text has a great rhythm but as the little frog gets more independent and goes further from home the things he is leaping over are pretty goofy and will get more than a few laughs from any audience you are reading it to!