Time for Art: Build a Flower

This activity takes a little prep, but we have done it every year for the last 5 years and it is so fun to watch the transformation over the years as they become more and more aware of what they are doing.

To start you need to make 5-7 petals… in the color of your child’s choice of course, a stem, and a circle for the center of the flower… this is also what everything gets glued to so it needs to be fairly substantial. I go ahead and make a couple of colors that I know my kids will want to use.

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Several years ago I got smart and made myself a template for a large petal and a small petal to make it easier on myself and make my petals uniform. Take a piece of card stock (heavier paper will hold up over the years), fold it in half, and draw half of your petal shape- kind of like mine pictured on the left. Remember the old trick to get a symmetrical heart? This is the  same concept you’re just making a petal shape. Does that make sense? This is what I do for every shape that I need to be somewhat symmetrical. Now, while it’s still folded cut it out, and then open it. Voila! You have a symmetrical petal to replicate over and over for years to come!

Once everything is ready, go ahead and let your child put together their flower. With my younger kids I help with the glue, but I try to let them have as much freedom as possible. It’s more fun to end up with their own creation rather than what we want to make, anyway!

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Let’s talk about what’s going in this activity:

Fine motor: Gluing and putting the paper together are great ways to engage the small muscles of the hand and forearm. It takes a lot of control to gently place paper where you want it! And this is definitely a fun way to work on this area of development.

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Art/Creativity/Independence: Knowing what something will look like and planning ahead is not something that we are naturally born with. Getting to have freedom in activities like this allows our children to explore and learn about what they can do on their own when they are in control. Let your child explore, make mistakes, get messy, and problem solve on their own. It is in these activities that we have to remember it isn’t the outcome we are going for, but the experience!

Happy Playing!

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Time for Art: Handprint Bunny

Anytime a holiday is coming up I always see these beautifully perfect arts and crafts activities and baking activities intended for kids. I always have to laugh because there’s no way a child actually did the craft. Mommy did the craft and shares it as a kids activity! It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine because that’s not fun for kids, nor is it developmentally appropriate. Now, if it’s a gift or something and you want to be more hands on, go for it, but learning happens best when kids can experiment and make their own creation… and it’s ok if it looks nothing like the intended outcome!

Here’s what it looks like when you let your 3 year old take over and do their own bunny, but still offer a little direction and help…

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He picked blue for his bunny because he is obsessed with dark blue. Not light blue, dark blue! I use a brush to cover the hand completely, and then I let him stamp his hand on the paper. This is where, especially with younger kids, you do have to be a little hands on, otherwise the paint will be everywhere but the paper! I usually help them stamp their hand, trying to keep the pinky and ring finger together and the pointer and middle finger together to make the ears. Then, we let it dry.

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Once it’s dry it’s time to add a lighter color between the pinky and ring finger and the middle and pointer finger. This is the inside of the ears. He picked a lighter color of blue for this. This is where chaos may start to ensue… and that’s ok! Your child might want to embellish their bunny with lots of colors.

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Now all our bunny needs is a face. This is where things got interesting for us! Two eyes and a smile, that’s all he wanted to paint on.

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And that brown smile, I think this little blue bunny has been stealing vegetables from the garden!

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This activity offers a lot of various types of fine motor movements, sensory experience with the paint, your child gets to use their hands and a paint brush, plus the chance to experiment and try out their own creativity. This is really the trial and error experience that leads to a lot of learning!

Happy Painting!

 

Time for Art: Make a Lamb

This week we are getting into some Easter activities! I love doing activities that reflect the season and upcoming holidays. It keeps things fresh and offers some great decor for the season! So today we are making a lamb with a paper plate, cotton balls, a few construction paper cut outs, and some craft eyes. You could easily make a bunny if you prefer, just change up your construction paper cut outs. You can go here to see the full instructions and materials list.

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This might seem like a super simple activity, but it as a ton of great developmental concepts going for it. You’ve got the arts and crafts creativity of getting to experiment with the craft materials, fine motor of picking up the cotton balls and pressing them on, and the sensory experience of feeling those fluffy cotton balls.

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You know your child best, so it’s your job to assist and direct as much as you think they need you to. Whatever you do, try your hardest to not take over. Encourage, give ideas, ask questions, maybe even make your own along side your child. I like doing crafts with my kids sometimes because they get new ideas from my own, and it adds to their experimentation.

Sometimes I put glue into a container to dip the cotton balls instead of squeezing the glue onto the plate. It works well and just offers a little bit different dimension. 

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These craft activities are all about trying it out, not getting something that looks just like a lamb (or a bunny if you choose). Have fun and enjoy your time together!

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Time for Art: Bean Turkey

Can you tell I’m totally playing catch-up? I spent the week visiting my brand new baby nephew and I had amazing intentions of staying on top of our activities and posting new activity blogs… but why do that when I could be doing this…

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So, that is why I am posting this week’s art activity on a Friday! Here is another turkey friend and another craft with a hand tracing… I just can’t pass up doing crafts that involve those sweet, chubby little hands!

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This time around you are going to trace around your child’s hand and use that for the turkey body, no cutting involved this week. Once you have the body traced onto the paper plate you can let your child go to work gluing on the beans. You know all those beans you’ve been doing fine motor work with? Now you can use them for a craft!

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You definitely need to use a paper plate, or some sort of cardboard of that weight. Otherwise the beans will be too heavy and will bend it. I don’t even think card stock would be heavy enough for this. So, if you don’t have a paper plate, you could cut a nice circle or square from a cereal or cracker box. Personally, I like to make sure I have a paper plate, because it makes it look a little nicer, and I like to use this craft along with the Turkey Roll to set around at Thanksgiving time.

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Let’s talk about what’s going on here:

Fine motor: Fine motor, fine motor, fine motor… blah, blah, blah. Are you tired of hearing about fine motor? I hope not because it is such a huge part of your child’s development at this age. These crafts are a great chance to get all of those little muscles moving. But your child will come across a lot of fine motor enhancing tasks throughout their day, so make sure you let them try, maybe even struggle a little bit, to keep their hands and fingers working! I know it’s so much easier to just do it, but that isn’t going to benefit your child in the long run.

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Arts and Crafts: I mentioned something to this effect last week with the Turkey Roll craft, but I’m going to say it again. It is such a great learning experience to see a collection of random materials… a paper plate, hand, beans, and glue… as they transform into something. Not just something, but something they were in charge of making! It opens up such a world of creativity, and the chance to just try, experiment, and learn what comes of it. Let your child explore and experiment with this activity and really give their creativity and imagination a chance!

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Time for Art: Build a Campfire

IMG_0023I have a little bit of a camping theme going on this week, and my kids are loving it! Today we started it all off by building a campfire! The great thing about this particular craft is that it also doubles as a great pretend play prop, and is perfect to use with the build a tent activity later this week.

We stacked up the smaller toilet paper rolls underneath the big rolls. Then I snuck a piece or two of tape in between the tops of the big rolls.

The kids then tore apart orange and red tissue paper and stuffed it around the “logs.”

Then, I glued some random spots all over the paper towel rolls for them to stick larger pieces of orange and yellow pieces of tissue paper.

I think they did a great job and that it turned out pretty cute!

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Let’s talk about what’s going on here:

Arts and Crafts: This is a great activity to get your child thinking. It isn’t just apparent how to do it, they have to experiment with what works.

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Time for Art: Make a Flag

We are feeling super patriotic this week as we gear up for the Fourth of July. We are topping it all off with our own, homemade, American flag! This might not be as simple of an art activity that I usually include, but with guidance from us, kids will really enjoy getting to put this together! They won’t even realize that they are getting a fine motor work out, gluing practice, and even some experience with patterning (an early math concept).

Adult Prep:

-I cut a piece of blue construction paper in half. This will be the background, and you will leave the top left corner open to be the blue area for the stars.

-Then I cut 6 white and 7 red, 1/2-inch stripes from construction paper. I did not measure the width of the stripes, I just eye balled it, but I did use the ruler to keep my lines straight.

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-I drew in a box for reference in the left hand corner of the blue paper to know how much space to leave open for stars. (there are 7 stripes that go along the blue star area)

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It looks like a more technical preparation, but it really took me about 5 minutes.

With your child:

Now it’s time to grab the glue and the star stickers and put it all together! Help your child with the first couple of stripes and give them an idea of where they are supposed to go. It might sound something like: “First the flag starts with a red stripe and it goes right along here at the top. Next is a white stripe. Which one do you think comes next?” If they don’t know, that’s ok, help them out. I helped guide the glue on where the next stripe would go, and then I let my son do his best at laying it down.

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Once the stripes are on you can add stars. I’m going to be honest, this is a lot of fine motor work in this activity. So, if your child is not into the stars, save it for another time. They might be ready to move on to something else. That’s ok. I have also found my kids have a hard time getting stars off of the paper backing, so I take stars off and they stick them down.

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Let’s talk about what’s going on here:

Art: This is a great opportunity to talk about colors in a natural way, because the entire craft really revolves around what color the stripes are, what color comes next, etc. It’s also a great time to get some experience with gluing. Keep in mind, for younger children especially, they don’t really have any concept of what glue is. Help as needed, but find the balance for some freedom too. Even with a little help from you, they will be very proud of their creation once it is finished!

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Fine Motor: This involves tons of picking up of the stripes and stars as well as gluing in this activity. It’s a great fine motor work out to strengthen those little hand and forearm muscles that they will use in the future when holding a pencil or a marker.

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Early Math: I like this craft because it is also introducing a simple pattern, which is an early math concept. Being able to see the differences between two objects, in this case the difference between a red stripe and a white stripe, is the beginning of being able to classify, sort, and pattern. We take this ability for granted as adults, because we can’t remember a time that we weren’t able to do this. So, don’t be frustrated if it’s not clicking with your child. It’s OK ! Just fill in the spots where they need help, maybe point out “Hey this goes red, white, red, white! Just like our flag outside!” Ask them if they know what comes next, and if they don’t you can say “White comes next, because we just did a red one,” or if they start to grab the wrong color say “Wait! Are you sure about that one? We just did that white, I think we need a red one now. Can you find a red one?” So, you are offering help, but letting them think it through and ultimately make the “decision” to switch, and grab the correct one.

Happy playing!

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Once the stripes are all on I trim the excess off of the ends of the stripes.

Time for Art: Making a Patriotic Hat

IMG_0174Today we pulled out all of our red, white, and blue paper, stars & stripes, and glittery stickers! It’s time to celebrate the USA! I love the Fourth of July and I love incorporating patriotic activities into our day this time of year.

We just started out by decorating a blank piece of red or blue construction paper. My kids picked stickers (they’ve been on a sticker craze lately), and cut out paper stars, and stripes that I had cut for them. Quick side note, I usually try to keep materials to things that most people already have around the house, or things that are easy to grab at the grocery store or local department stores.IMG_0179 But, we received these shape paper punches as a gift a while back and they are great for my kids! They are something that isn’t always out to play with, something they have to problem solve with, a fine motor process, and something that gives them a fun outcome! So, if you see some of these on sale sometime at the craft store, I think they are worth getting a few! My kids pull them out a lot to use even when we aren’t doing a specific craft.

We have a star punch and a heart punch, and the star got used a lot today! We did a lot of gluing, sticking on stickers, some coloring with glitter crayons. This is another art activity that the sky is the limit. Have some glitter, have some paint, stars, stripes, markers, crayons, whatever you have on hand will make a rich but fun learning experience. IMG_0172

Once their piece of paper was decorated and the glue had dried some, I rolled it into a “tube” and stapled it. I was going to glue it, but it just worked better to staple the edges closed. Then, to make it more stable I stapled it to a clear plastic cup with elastic already stapled to it for a chin strap. IMG_0173You could do this, or you could just skip it and attach the elastic to the construction paper, it just might not be quite as stable. Now with the finished product you have a craft that your child will be proud of, as well as a prop for pretend play to continue the fun!

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Let’s talk about what’s happening in this activity:

Art: Of course this is a great opportunity for practice with art materials and getting to useIMG_0192 their independence to make their own creation. Your younger toddler may need more suggestions and help putting decorations on the paper. Give a little help, and then give them a little space to try some things. For your older toddler, try to let them take the reigns a little more on deciding what they use, how they use it, where it goes etc. It’s a great chance to allow freedom, but I still capitalized on opportunities to offer suggestions too. Like, “do you want to try some red stars?” “You have a bunch of glue already on the paper, use that before you add any more,” or, “Here are red stripes, just like on our flag on the house! Do you want some stripes?”

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Fine Motor: Picking up stickers and decorations, squeezing glue or using a glue stick, coloring or painting… this activity is full of fine motor experiences!

Communication: Just like any other activity, take these chances to talk and talk some more. Talk about colors, talk
about materials, be encouraging, talk about what they are making, describe what you see them doing, and ask questions along the way. Remember that they hear and understand words they hear before they are able to express things
themselves, so even if your toddler isn’t talking back, they hear you and you are constantly adding labels to the things in their world by talking to them.

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