Thanksgiving Doodle Mats

My kids love dry erase activities and these mats were fast to make and they both enjoyed creating with them. They would be perfect for wiggly kids at the  Thanksgiving dinner table before pie is served or on the long road trip to Grandma’s .  With both the dinner plate and Mayflower scenes you can use different prompts and questions to extend the drawing. I have included suggestions below in the tutorial.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some inexpensive canvases or another hard board for a backing, some construction paper , double stick tape, scissors and contact paper. For the Thanksgiving dinner mat I used the plate and fork from Melissa & Doug’s Make-A-Meal Sticker Pad because it’s just so cute and we’d been playing with it earlier so it was fresh in my mind. 
  2. For the Mayflower mat start by cutting out a boat. I could have sworn I had brown paper but no, so I colored some white brown with a marker. Cut some sails, and land as well.
  3. Piece together and secure on a sheet of blue paper with double stick tape.
  4. Cover with contact paper.
  5. For the Thanksgiving dinner mat cut out the plate and fork and tape to a sheet of construction paper.
  6. Cover with contact paper.
  7. Time to create.  I handed my son the Mayflower one and asked a few questions . ” How do you think you would feel seeing land for the first time after such a long journey?” ” What would you pack if you were leaving your home forever?” ” How do you think the Native Americans felt when they saw the huge ship?”
  8. My daughter joined us and started creating her Thanksgiving dinner. I asked her ” What would you like for Thanksgiving?” I got a big old ” Candy!” as the response. She drew spaghetti and ice cream.  With older children you could divide the plate up and ask them to draw foods from each food group, draw a silly Thanksgiving with just their favorite foods or what they usually have at Thanksgiving and talk about traditions.
  9. They happily created and erased over and over. We use socks that can’t find their mates for erasers. 

 

I have had a hard time over them years finding Thanksgiving books that I felt were fun and educational. These books however fit the bill and are sure to work at your house too. Click through for full reviews of these books and a couple other Thanksgiving favorites.

Promoting Open Ended Drawing

I offer my kids crayons, markers and paint daily but my son has been in a rut. He turned down my offers, he wouldn’t grab the basket I’d leave materials in during quiet time, it seemed like I’d never get him to draw just to draw again! Then I bought some clip boards after seeing this art display on pinterest, My original goal was to make it a gallery for any and all of our art work but when I put white paper on them to see if I wanted to spray paint the clip boards white both my kids stopped playing . My son asked immediately what they were for , and I am so glad I was quick enough to answer ” They are for you, grab the markers!”.

And he did, and still is!

Now I simply change the paper every few days, he notices that there is fresh paper and grabs the markers.

He’s not the only one though , my daughter loves the clip boards too.

The paper stays put and now when I grab it off the wall she immediately starts signing “Please!” As you can see she is a huge fan!

Best part is that you have a place to display your art already! Displaying art is really an important thing because it celebrates their creativity, their accomplishments and boosts their confidence in their own abilities.  

Sometimes simple is all you need.

Make Your Own Museum

If you are a regular reader you may remember that my son stopped napping and we started doing quiet time instead. Most days we still use the 1-2-3 approach but some days we mix it up to keep things fresh. One of his favorite things to do is to turn his bedroom into a museum. What I love about it is he is coloring on a vertical surface which is important for wrist development all the while he is also developing a love of museums without ever leaving our house!  Here is what we do.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some color wonder coloring pages. I use both blank and coloring book ones. You will also need some painters tape and color wonder markers. Now feel free to use regular paper , markers and / or crayons but I am not that brave when I am not supervising. Remember this is for quiet aka “Mama is downstairs working out and watching How I Met Your Mother reruns” time.
  2. Tape the pages up around their room. You want it all over the room because after they are finished they are going to give you a tour of the gallery.
  3. Let em’ go.
  4. Workout, read, go to the bathroom in peace .
  5. Time for a tour.  He cracked his dad and I up with the names he gave his paintings. My favorite was ” Splish Dot Squash” .
  6. After the tour we add the new creations to a permanent collection. 

Books


Touch the Art: Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo is the inspiration for this post and my son’s new found love of Renaissance Art. The book is a board book with touch and feel aspects to it. The text is cute but not a story, each page asks the reader to do something with the touch and feel item . The real gem is bringing the art to young eyes. The book includes wonderful masterpieces : Girl with A Pearl Earring , Birth of Venus, The Arnolfini Portrait and more!


Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan is a great book not only about Jackson Pollock but also about how an artist goes through the artistic process, their influences and what their life is like. This book is perfect for older children but my son loved looking at pictures and Jackson Pollock’s dog! I would suggested this for anyone with budding artists!

Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon is going on my Christmas list. I have renewed this book for months from my local library. I finally have to return this book and I just don’t want to! The book is all about Hugo a painter who has painter’s block. He goes to Paris with his best friend Miles for inspiration, and among the sites, the masterpieces and thanks to the Eiffel tower he finds it! I love this book and my son just eats it up. He wants to go to Paris to the “Moosay Dor-see” to see Van Gogh and climb the Eiffel tower thanks to Hugo!

Window Roadway

This activity is only for the brave or desperate… we have been home bound with an ear infection and we were all getting squirrely. I have been trying to motivate my son to write and draw more and doing it upright on an easel, wall or window is a great way to naturally use the muscles needed for writing.  These window crayons are great but I have a few must follow tips that will make your adventure with this activity much easier to clean than ours. Do not miss them. Seriously.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some window crayons, a window, a old dish towel wet on one side and dry on the other and some removable stickers if you want. Notice I have match box trucks in the picture. DO NOT use them… you’ll see why a little later on.
  2. Draw out some streets.
  3. Fill them in. Here is my 2nd ” Do as I say not as I do tip” Filling the roads in looked cool, but big flakes of black window marker fell onto my floor. They cleaned up easily but the one that I stepped on was troublesome. I left a little trail all over my kitchen that was reminiscent of those old Family Circle funnies. I am just thankful I didn’t go into my family room where there is carpet.  Simply drawing on the window didn’t create these flakes, but the large amount needed to fill the road in did. Look for the flakes and clean them up quickly before they spread.
  4. Add lane markers.
  5. Add traffic signs.
  6. Add your kid to draw the buildings, parks and in my case police stations and fire houses .  He loved it and although they may not look exactly like the fire house on your block, the fact that my son was drawing something made me so happy. At preschool he refuses to make any representational pictures saying ” I just like abstract.” so I feel great knowing we may be turning the corner without us pushing him.
  7. Listen carefully – learn from my oops.  Do not add match box cars. He loved running them all over town , but of course their tires picked up the crayons and ….
  8. Did this. My window sill is normally all white. I blame my 6 month old’s lack of sleep last night for my inability to foresee this obvious result but decided to share my oops.
  9. Instead grab re usable stickers if you have them and pop them on.Remember peeling stickers are a good workout for fine motor skills too!
  10. When you are done , wash off. We only left it up for as long as he played with it. I have left the window crayons on for a long time ( think months)  and it always comes off, it’s just a matter of how much elbow grease you feel like using. This came off easy peasy because it was only on for an afternoon.

Books About Trucks

The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon is a fresh twist on the classic Three Little Pigs with trucks instead of pigs. My son ate this book up, he loved it. The “wolf” in the story is a wrecking ball that smashes and crashes the Little Rigs garages , I thought he was a little scary but after reading the book I asked my son his favorite part and sure enough he said the wrecking ball. I loved the illustrations and was not surprised one bit to read that the author/illustrator has done work for Pixar.

My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple a truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck are slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people and the illustrations make me giggle, especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.

The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore is a rare book, it’s rare because it is a story about self esteem clothed in a truck book. The street sweeper isn’t the biggest, the fastest or the most powerful truck but it’s still mighty and proud. I really like this book, we read it before nap and again before bed and I liked it even more the second time. The message about being happy with who you are is really touching . I liked that the book says that you don’t have to be the best at everything to still be proud of your hard work. My son really enjoyed this book as well and it was excited to read it again at bedtime.