Monday, April 30, 2012

Rainbow Hats from Egg Cartons

This really was kind of a ridiculous idea.  I'm not really sure where it came from except that a lot of my blogging friends have been doing egg carton activities and rainbow activities lately.  I made the connection that there are six colors in the rainbow, and that there are six eggs on each side of a carton, and decided we should make rainbow hats.

I cut a carton in half and removed the middle egg dividers.  Each girl got to paint half of the carton with the colors of the rainbow.

After they had dried, I punched a hole in each end with a hole punch and tied a piece of ribbon to each hole.  I tied the ribbons in a bow under each girls chin to make a little rainbow hat.

Something about the hats gave M the giggles.
Little G though stayed very pensive.  She apparently takes her rainbows very seriously.
I was a little disappointed that the girls didn't play much with the hats after they tried them on the first time.  Oh well, maybe they'll pick them up again in a week or so.  Or maybe this is just one of my crazy ideas that was fun to make, but dies a quick death (I've definitely had those before)

Have you had any simple costume ideas lately?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dot-to-Dot Learning Activity

Yesterday, I decided to pick up a preschool workbook and work through a couple of pages with my 2 and 4 year old just to see what we've been missing.  We do a fair number of academically oriented activities, (like playdough spelling, and post-it note words) but they tend to be a little more hands-on.

At the end of our workbook time, I mostly felt that we had not been missing out on much (for one thing- the kids spend half their time trying to figure out what the directions are asking them to do.  It's not a bad thing to learn how to follow confusing directions, but it's not the main skill I'm trying to teach them right now)

The one thing we did really like were the dot-to-dot pages- especially the alphabet dot-to-dots.  My two-year-old doesn't have enough coordination yet to draw the lines herself, but we were able to work out a system that was fun for her and a great little learning activity.

Here's what we did:

 Me: Can you find the "a?"
G: (points)
Me:  Good, what comes next?
G: "b"
Me: Can you find it?
G: (points)
Me:  (draw line to "b" while both of us make the bbbbbb sound until I get there)

It was especially a good way to practice lowercase letter recognition and letter sounds.  G watched in happy anticipation for the picture to "appear."
Here's a site with some printable alphabet dot-to-dots if you're like me and would like to do some dot-to-dots without having to buy a workbook full of the other stuff!

Do your kids like dot-to-dot pages?  Have you found any fun or educational twists?  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DIY Suncatchers with Clear Glue

I was thinking the other day about the Elmer's glue suncatchers my aunt used to make with my cousin when she little.  I had been trying to think of something colorful and a little translucent we could make them with when I noticed some pretty and bright drinking straws at the grocery store.

Here's what we did:

First, we filled a yogurt container lid with clear Elmer's glue. You can use the regular opaque kind also, but it won't be perfectly clear when dry.  (Even toddlers love squeezing the glue bottle)

Then we cut up the straws into little pieces.  (Be prepared for the straw pieces to "jump" around when you cut them. )

You can arrange the straws in a design or just sprinkle them randomly.  It will look prettiest if you fill as much of the lid as possible.

Set to dry.  It will take several days, maybe even a week, to harden.  Pull the suncatcher out of the plastic lid.  It may curl a little after you take it out.  If so, you can put it under a heavy book for a couple of hours to flatten it out.

Use a needle to push a piece of thread through the top of your suncatcher and attach to a suction hook so that you can hang it on a window.  So pretty!

For another drinking straw activity, try using them with playdough!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

13 Outdoor Missions for Children

In a passage that has echoed in my head many times since I read it, Annie Dillard says,

"There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny?...But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.

I used to be able to see flying insects in the air. I'd look ahead and see, not the row of hemlocks across the road, but the air in front of it. My eyes would focus along that column of air, picking out flying insects. But I lost interest, I guess, for I dropped the habit. Now I can see birds. Probably some people can look at the grass at their feet and discover all the crawling creatures. I would like to know grasses and sedges- and care. Then my least journey into the world would be a field trip, a series of happy recognitions."

-From Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Seeing as Art

I love that A.D. speaks about seeing as an art that must be cultivated and practiced. Certainly the decision about whether or not to acquire the skill is a personal one, but I wonder if sometimes as parents we impede the development of the "healthy poverty" needed to really see things by overstimulating.

On the other hand, I wonder if by asking questions about what children see and then being truly excited to hear the answers, we might encourage them to become observant and eager when they look at nature.

Send Them on a Mission

Here are thirteen "missions" you can send your children on to help them learn to "see" and to love being outdoors. Of course, they just scratch the surface. There are many, many more, including some that would be dependent on the area of the country where you live and the time of year. The ones I've chosen, however, are pretty generic- things that might be seen in just about any neighborhood or backyard.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fun Lunch Idea: A Shell for a Spoon

It's a little out of season, but M has been fascinated lately with a book about the first Thanksgiving.  (I suppose I can't fault her for trying to learn about American history any time of the year!)  One of the things she thought was neat was that the Pilgrims often used sea shells instead of spoons to scoop up their food.

We had some big scallop shells laying around, leftover from something or other, and M asked if she could eat her lunch that day with one of those.  I was in a bit of a hurry that afternoon and was tempted to say "no," but I couldn't help remembering how many of my crazy ideas M has indulged (spaghetti in the kiddie pool comes to mind).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paper Plate Rainbow

This wasn't my idea at all, but I just wanted to show you the cute craft that my 2-year-old did with her homeschool co-op teacher.  Isn't this a cheery thing for all of this month's April showers?  She found the idea over at Delightfully Learning, (a wonderful site, by the way!)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leftover Easter Egg Idea: The Pool!

When I saw the fun Easter egg sensory tub over at Et Tout Et De Rien the other day, I knew I was going to have to buy up some extra clearance Easter eggs this year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Preschool Art Lesson: Light and Perspective

A book we recently read together for our Five-in-a-Row preschool co-op, Storm in the Night, has lots of nighttime pictures in which the light shines dramatically from various angles.  This seemed like a good opportunity to discuss light and perspective in art.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Liquid Glue Ideas

I used to think that as long as a person had a few glue sticks around the house,  there was really no point in buying the liquid stuff.  I have since changed my mind; there are SO many other uses for the liquid variety beyond sticking two pieces of paper together.  Now when the stores have their back-to-school craft supply specials I buy the stuff in BULK.  Here are a few of the reasons why:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DIY Playdoh Toy: Use Straws

A big bag of bright straws for a dollar fifty caught my eye the other day at HEB.  First, we used them to make suncatchers (more on that later...the glue is still drying).  But today, I decided to cut the straws to all different sizes and take out the playdoh.

The girls set to work seeing what they could create.  Pushing the straws into the playdoh is a pleasing sensory experience, and the possibilities for fun art and play are pretty limitless.
I particularly like the lacy look of a sheet of pressed doh after you poke the circles out with a pen point (or something).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Straw-Blown Painting

Well, I have to admit:

My two-year-old couldn't do this activity at all.  (She can't blow through a straw yet, apparently)

My four-year-old did this activity with difficulty (her blowing  isn't super strong)

But I loved doing it!  (aside from a little light-headedness from blowing so hard :-) ) and I thought the results were very pretty.

It might be a good art technique to explore with an older child, or possibly a preschooler with a little more wind-power.  (My four-year-old is pretty dainty)

We used tempera paint which made for a very interesting texture and marbled effect.  But Anna at  The Imagination Tree used watercolors which I imagine might be a little easier to for a preschooler to blow around on the page.  We may have to try watercolors next time!