Recycled Alphabet Craft

Scrap paper , magazines and catalogs all crowd my recycle bin. So today I put them all to work for me and made this recycled alphabet craft using only one piece of paper that hadn’t been rescued from the bin. It’s fun, bright and makes a great long term cooperative art project for young kids. Pull it out when it’s rainy and search for a few letters in a magazine, glue them on and add some more another day. I like projects like these because they teach young kids how be committed to something over more than 20 minutes. Also in classrooms these long term cooperative projects always seemed to be the greatest sources of pride for my students.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need one large piece of paper, some construction paper scraps, glue, a pen, some magazines/catalogs and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting your construction paper into squares ( or any other shape)- this just makes a fun frame, you can skip this and simply glue the letters onto the paper too.
  3. Glue them on. This is a fun way to get your child counting to 26, as well as figuring out how to fit all on one page. If your child is really young I would probably do this before bringing them into the activity, just so their energy is on the letters, not the set up.
  4. Write the alphabet on the construction paper squares.
  5. Cut some letters out of the magazines for your child if they need help. I did this for every age group I worked with up until school age.  They are still challenged looking for the individual letters but not frustrated by looking for them in magazines that may or may not have what they need. * Tip … auto magazines are great for these activities, because of the abundance of car makes with Z, Q and X  letters that are usually a pain to find.
  6. Start adding the letters on. Go for as long as your child wants.  This does not need be be done in one sitting!
  7. To make it more challenging for older kids have them find only upper or only lowercase letters.

Alphabet Books

ABC of Canada by Kim Bellefontaine is a cute little book that is a perfect little introduction about Canada for toddlers and preschoolers. The text is short, the colors are bright and the illustrations are both fun and accurate. I was happy to see things like the northern lights, Calgary Stampede and of course Z is for Zamboni ! Even if you have never been to Canada it’s never too early to learn about your neighbor to the north!

The Alphabet Tree is a stunning book. The book is all about letters that come together to make words and then after a caterpillar informs them that they need to say something they join together to make sentences. Up to this point the book is a brilliant teaching tool , but for me the best part is yet to come. When the words get together they decide to say ” Peace on earth goodwill toward all men” and then the caterpillar asks them to jump on his back so he can take the words to the president . Considering it was written in 1968 it’s quite the statement. A fantastic activity to do with your child after reading this would be to ask them what they would write to the president ? For younger children using letters on leaves you could spell out easy 3 letter words like they do early on in the story. All in all a brilliant book.

The Graphic Alphabet by David Pelletier is a fun book to share with a child who has already mastered the alphabet, because this book is challenging. Each letter is shown in it’s own illustration, but you aren’t sure exactly what the picture is of, this is the challenge. As you can see on the cover it has an avalanche, the hardest one for me was N no matter how I looked at the picture I thought it was of magnets! Turns out it was noodles! Very fun book for kids that already know their letters and are up for a challenge.

Want more Alphabet Crafts? Check out my Alphabet Crafts eBook and you will have a craft for every letter!

Quick Summer Activities For Kids

In the summer lots of kids are less than eager to do anything they feel is like school work, so sit down crafts are not always the best choice. Or if you are like me and juggling an infant and an older child these quick summer activities are fast to set up, and easy to navigate with one in your arms and one busy exploring. You are probably familiar with all of these ideas but I know I get in a rut and the most obvious ideas are sometimes forgotten.

Driveway Art

I am sure most of you have sidewalk chalk.  This is not at all an original idea but what we did with the chalk was fun and I want to share it. We drew a train and then grabbed an atlas and chose all different places to go to. Each place we picked up a new person that my son drew into the train. A fun outdoor geography lesson!

Play Dough & Scrap Paper Creations

I have been grabbing the play dough a lot in the past 2 weeks.  My son loves to pretend to be a baker and make cakes while I check my email, or tend to his sister. The other day we decided to grab some scrap paper and add it to the cakes as decorations. Not exactly earth shattering but a really easy twist and it kept him entertained for ages! Also using scissors to cut the paper ( or playdough)  is extra fine motor skills practice.

Spray Painting

$1 spray bottle from the dollar store, 2 pieces of paper, some water, washable paint and he was in heaven! Mix the paint in with the water, and let them loose.

Window Washing

I did a similar activity with my son when he was under 2 so I was shocked that now pushing 4 he would still be into it. Wow is he ever. He loves getting water, paint brushes and “washing windows” he also does the siding and porch for free! Simple , cheap and it promotes imaginative play. Not bad for a quick summer activity!

And if all that fails… Bubbles!

Toothpick Sea Urchin Craft

I spent my first 10 years on the west coast then moved back after university and settled here finally to start a family. I love the beach , not to sit and bake in the sun ( good thing there isn’t much around here) , but to find sea creatures. I have never really gotten over the excitement of tide pools, sea anemones, starfish , crabs and sea urchins.  Even if you aren’t close to the coast you can make this sea urchin craft . This is not a craft for tiny guys, but with help a preschooler could do it without getting too frustrated.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some styrofoam ( or salt dough would be awesome , just skip the tissue paper), tissue paper, tape, a marker , scissors and lots of toothpicks.
  2. Start by cutting your styrofoam into a circle.
  3. Wrap a square of tissue paper around it, and tape.
  4. Color the toothpicks with marker. This is tough – with older children see how many they can do at once . I held a bunch and rolled them in my fingers to paint all sides. With younger ones you could have them finger paint the toothpics, but this would add drying time too.
  5. Stick them in!

Books

A Sea Wishing Day

A Sea-Wishing Day by Robert Heidbreder is a wonderful tale of adventure, pirates, mermaids and treasure! The best part the little boy and his canine companion never really leave his backyard in the city , instead the adventure is all in their imagination. Anyone with a preschooler will appreciate this book, playing pretend is a huge part of most 3-5 year old’s playtime, and it should be. This book encourages, as well as celebrates that as this little boy discovers adventures on the high sea.

Swimmy is a serious tale about a little fish who tragically looses his family, and is forced to face scary things alone. He soon discovers that if he and other little fish band together they have power against the big bullies in the ocean. Personally I love this author and this book is one of my favorites. Some parents have expressed concern over his family being eaten at the start , so read it for yourself before deciding if it’s right for your child.

Ten Little Fish by Audrey and Bruce Wood was another cute find this week. The book is a rhyming countdown story about 10 little fish and what happens to them one by one. The illustrations look like an animated movie, and the rhymes are well thought out. My one wish is that the numbers were shown as digits not simply words, so that younger children who can recognize the numbers in digit form but not yet by reading the word could more easily follow along. The ending made me giggle, and you’ll have to grab the book to find out why !

Milk Carton Fire Station

It’s no secret how much my son loves firetrucks and doing firetruck crafts. I won’t be shocked if I get a restraining order from the fire department in town for stalking, I am always driving by slowly to let my son see which trucks at at the station. Obsession is perhaps not a strong enough word. So during the bruhaha of becoming a big brother I have stockpiled some super fun ideas that I knew he’d be into and we could have some mama son time like before so there is some continuity in his life.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some milk cartons, plain paper, double sided tape , red paint, some black and white paper , glue and scissors.
  2. Start by taping the cartons together. You can use hot glue as well but double stick tape is easier with eager helping hands.
  3. Cut doors in each carton.
  4. Cover with paper. We used butcher paper ( find it at Walmart under the title “craft paper” for cheap), There is probably an easier way of doing this but I wrapped it then re cut the door holes.
  5. We colored with crayons first just because we wanted to but decorate it how you see fit.
  6. Paint with red paint. If your child wants to they can draw windows , signs, etc with permanent marker first before painting it.
  7. While they paint ask them what number station they want it to be and make a sign with the white and black paper. If they are able to write have them do this after painting.
  8. Add glue for the sign.
  9. Add the sign.
  10. Let dry and play… or if you are my son play with it before it’s dry. I couldn’t stop him!

Books

Clifford The Firehouse Dog by Norman Birdwell is not my favorite book. Generally speaking character books never are. They are formulaic, lacking in originality and in general poor quality. This book is no exception, but I have still read it 400 times. My son loves it. He loves anything about firetrucks or firefighters , saw it at the library and grabbed it.  I would rather him enjoy an ok book than no book at all. I am just not personally a fan of this franchise. If your child is into this character or theme I would get this from the library, but I wouldn’t waste your money on it unless you can’t get your child to read anything else. There are much much better books surrounding this theme to choose from ( the two below are fantastic).

Firefighters: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell is a wonderful rhyming book all about the work firefighters do. After only reading it twice my son was rhyming along with the simple but well crafted text. I liked that there was a mix of male and female firefighters, that the text incorporates information about equipment as well as tasks the firefighters complete on a call. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book are the details in the illustrations by Viviana Garofoli, the soot on the faces of the rescued and firefighters, the unique angles used in the illustrations and the fun colors. Great book!

Firefighter Frank by Monica Wellington was a huge score at the library. My son and I both love this author/illustrator and have read many of her books , but this one has never been available, and I can see why. The author has a knack for sharing information with her readers in a fun, simple way that is perfect for preschoolers. This book is no exception to her other great books.  I particularly enjoy some of the vocabulary she uses in this book about Firefighter Frank, words like shrill, intense, and exhausted. They aren’t obscure words but they are not often seen in books geared to those as young as this one, and the context is supportive so that even a young child can help decipher the meaning of the words.  The book itself tells a simple( and common) story but between the author’s ability to tell the story better than other authors, and the bright and beautiful illustrations this books stands out from the firefighter crowd.

Speaking of fire trucks did you enter my

Constructive Playthings Toy Review and $50 gift certificate giveaway?

Flower Math Activity

math for kids

We have giant daisies in our backyard and thank goodness we do because all my son has wanted to do for art lately has been firetruck or dirt related. Not that most of my readers can’t appreciate that but it’s nice to squeeze some prettier more genteel themes in with the diggers and sirens. This was fast but substantial and after making it we picked a few daisies and counted their petals too!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 4 colors ( white, yellow, green and blue)  of  construction paper ( really you only need one full piece , the others can be scrap) , a marker, glue , scissors and a circle paper punch if you have it.
  2. Start by punching out some yellow circles, for the center of the daisies. My son adored this step and I had to get him some scrap paper to keep going.
  3. Cut some stems from the green paper. You can make leaves too, we just chose not to.
  4. Cut out petals from the white paper.
  5. Ask your child for numbers to put in the middle of the flowers. Alternatively you can write in the numbers you know your child is struggling with , if you do that write a few they are consistently successful with as well. By setting them up for success with some of the numbers you will boost their confidence and they are more likely to take on the challenge of a “trickier” number.
  6. Glue the stems on.
  7. Add glue for the centers.
  8. Add the centers.
  9. Add the petals. I had my son read me the number, then he counted the petals as he added them. Then after he was done we “checked his work” by counting them again.
  10. Let dry.

Song

I’m a little daisy
tall and slim.
Here are my petals and here is my stem.
When the sun comes up and the rain comes down
I grow and grow up from the ground.

Books

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence, loosing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can’t relate to this? I know I can . Thankfully my son  has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience . I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author

The Gardener

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart Is a really touching book that I would happily recommend for school age children. It’s a beautiful story about a little girl during the depression who is shipped to the city to work in her uncle’s bakery because both her parents are out of work.  She is obviously nervous but knows that it’s something she has to do.  She takes a little of the country with her in seed packets which she plants in the city while she learns about baking and becomes friends with her uncles employees. This is more a story about making the most of hard times, and would be a great way to talk about the great depression with your child. There are so many little things in the illustrations by David Small to talk about , from a picture of FDR to traveling by train and  the general sense of sadness .  In the end it’s a warm hearted book that I can’t wait to share with my son in a few years.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!