Celebrate New Years – Kid Art Retrospective

retrospective

My kids have been busy playing with their new toys, my son has been  building Legos and my daughter has been pushing babies around the house with her new buggy. I wanted to do something special to celebrate the amazing year we had so while they were playing I ran upstairs, found the bin of art and made an art gallery of their 2011 creations.  It was a fun way to spend snack time and look back at our favorite pieces from 2011.

 

  1. Gather your materials. You will need your children’s art , painters tape ( so you don’t muck up the walls) , some snacks ( all gallery openings have snacks! ) , as well as something to use as a sign, and to write a blurb about the artists.
  2. I sorted through my kids’ art that made it to the keep bin in my son’s closet. I have a canvas bin in the corner of this closet that we run art into that passes the keep test. I also put in almost everything my daughter makes. She’ll get her own bin soon.
  3. I put the art up at their and slightly above their eye level. I was careful to have things my daughter made at a level she could touch… and as you will see that was a huge hit with her to be able to touch the pieces she made, and is clearly proud of.
  4. Make a sign for the door.
  5. Don’t forget a blurb about the artists.
  6. I put out art related books in the reading nook too.
  7. Add some snacks.
  8. Invite your guests of honor. I wish I’d done this when my parents were still in town because my kids loved seeing their art and showing it off to their dad, they would have loved showing it off to their grandparents too.
  9. I loved that she gravitated towards her own art.
  10. My son showed off the pieces he loved making – marshmallow art is his favorite. No clue why.
  11. After her brother had his treats , and gave a quick gallery talk about when he made this or that he went back to legos, but my daughter stayed looking forever. I see many more museum trips in our future, although she has already been to one of my favorite museums with me.
  12. Then we read a few books and quietly had another cookie. Here are some great fine art books to check out .  

Happy New Year !

Pretend Play Grocery Store

This isn’t the first time we have made a grocery store for pretend play , but it was the first time with both kids and because it was such a hit the 2nd time around I thought I may as well post about what made it so much fun.

I started by clearing out some of our toys from the playroom. In the past I have done this in a bedroom and kitchen. In a bedroom I used the low bed for main aisles/ produce section. In the kitchen I used a shelf on an island. It doesn’t matter what you use it matters if it’s in their line of sight.  My son reached for the grocery items on the windowsill and my daughter went straight for the ones on the shelf ( well after the baby in the cart ).  If you don’t have a shopping cart grab a basket or small bag for your shoppers to put their purchases in.

For food and grocery items just raid your pantry. Last time I used real produce but my son was old enough to tell him not to eat it while playing ( which you could encourage also depending on if you need the fruit or vegetable later for a meal), my daughter is a muncher and I knew if I put any real produce out each and every piece would have little baby girl bites out of them, so I opted for our play food.

For an added layer of learning I placed the produce/ fresh food  in food groups. My son has been interested in this lately and immediately when my daughter would place an egg into the vegetable basket he’d correct her. Play like this is a natural opportunity to talk about nutrition too.

We added an old lap top and a desk for the checkout, one of our own cloth grocery bags and a simple sign on the door – then the kids!

They had a blast!  Especially my daughter who went shopping multiple times yesterday.

This time I added some labels and other print like this weekly specials board for my son to read, but both children benefit from a print rich environment so even if your child is not starting to read don’t skip them.

 Labels are a great way to boost print awareness and help show children how people use reading skills in everything we do not just reading stories.  We were crunched for time so I threw it all together but guess what things don’t need to be perfect for the play to be fantastic! Please remember that, so often I see wonderful beautiful things on pinterest and think that as pretty as those things are for the average parent trying to manage a family and throw together some fun things for their kids those perfect pretty things might not be attainable. Perfect isn’t the goal , play is.

 Now play!

Bubble Wand Lightsaber Craft

lightsaber craft star wars party favor

Are your kids crazy for Star Wars?  It is just creeping in to our house but it’s taken over playtime at some friends’ house . With an upcoming play date I knew I had to turn the extra bubble wands from my daughter’s birthday party into some bubble wand lightsabers . This would be a great lightsaber craft for a Star Wars themed birthday party. My son was happily playing batman and politely declined playing with the finished craft because ” Batman doesn’t play with lightsabers mom.” Oh how silly of me.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need an empty bubble wand, black duct or electrical tape, a silver pipe cleaner and a round sticker/ label.
  2. Start by taking the wand out of the handle, throw it away or recycle it if you are able to.
  3. Next wrap the silver pipe cleaner around the handle.
  4. Add tape, make sure to secure the ends of the pipe cleaner under a few layers of tape.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Add the circle label.
  7. Ready to play …just not with Batman

Mining For Magnets!

minig for magnets science sensory tub

My mom returned from an Alaskan cruise with this super cool mining hat for my son and I knew I wanted to use it as a prop for an activity. He is all about pretend play and dress up The same way I use super heroes to get him excited to write I used this new hat for this fun sensory activity. Even though we used magnets you could do this with pinchers , a small scoop or just wee little hands!  Older kids ready for magnets though will love how the wand helps them mine for the ” diamonds”.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some dried beans , lentils or rice, a container, a magnetic wand with steel ringed chips or marbles .
  2. Pour the dried beans/ rice in the container. A lot of parents email me saying that they are shocked that their 4-7 year olds still like sensory bins. I am not surprised in the least.  Especially when you have them help make them and there is a little task involved ( though never required).
  3. Add the magnetic chips – we were pretending they were diamonds.
  4. Start mining. Count, sort do whatever you want with the treasures you mine.
  5. The only thing you must do is have fun!

Book

Mole Music by David McPhail is a beautiful book about the power of music, trying hard and not giving up on your dreams.  The story is about a mole who sees a violin on TV one day and decides to get his own and play. He is terrible at first but sticks with it. His music becomes beautiful, and over the years he thinks only he can hear and enjoy it. In reality his music is nourishing a grand tree above the ground that serves roles in great things including as a mediator in a battle where both sides end up coming to a peaceful agreement instead of warfare. Now yes I think that one little mole’s music ending a war is a rather large statement but if you break it down, music and the arts are vital and do transform people’s lives the way they transformed Mole’s.  My favorite part is in one illustration Mole is playing and in another tunnel you can see his old TV discarded and tipped over, I like that message.

Pizza Parlor Pretend Play & Craft

My son is all about pretend play and we had so much fun yesterday mixing art and pretend playtime as we played Pizza Parlor. I hope this post shows how low key pretend play can be and still be fun . I know that sometimes pretend play can be hard for some parents to get into but when you play scenarios like this one it’s easy to be a customer and the play helps kids try on different roles, get comfy with social interactions and be in control of things they are normally not.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper plates, sticky back foam, crayons and scissors for the pizzas. The extra props like the pizza box came from our local store and the oven was made from a box, a marker , a sheet of construction paper and tape.
  2. Start by cutting or having your child cut the foam into pizza toppings. We made pineapple, peperoni, green peppers and olives.
  3. I made the oven by flipping a box over, cutting one side out and adding some buttons and clock on a sheet of construction paper and taping it on.
  4. First call in the order
  5. Start making some pizza – my son started by throwing the dough.
  6. Add the sauce with crayons.
  7. Add the toppings.
  8. Pop it in the oven!
  9. Into the box and into the delivery car.We played for a long time calling in different types of pizzas. He never made me pay for my orders saying pizza was free every Monday, Tuesday and all weekend.  Now that is my kind of pizza!

Book

Pizza at Sally’s is another great look at a small business owner , and how she does her work everyday and feeds the masses with her yummy pizza! I like how it not only explains how to make pizza but it also looks at the ingredients and how they are grown and processed.  Of course it’s not explained in depth but it is explained enough to start a dialogue with interested preschoolers for further investigation.  My son loves the cat in this book, the same cat is in many of the other books but for some reason he particularly loves it’s presence in this one. It’s inspired me to make the dough from scratch with my son next time we have pizza!  A lovely book!