Thursday, April 25, 2013

from the archives and Earth Day friendly: nature bracelets

Here are some new updated photos from a project first posted back in 2007! Nature walk bracelets are great for Earth Day. Just make sure you and your children use only natural bits found on the ground unless you are picking from your own garden. We used an empty berry container to house our discoveries. Have a good time!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Earth Day: paint chip and found stick plant markers

I have to admit, I love paint chips, LOVE them. I however have stopped hitting up the paint store to stockpile said chips. It makes me feel guilty for the energy used in making the chips and for the gas consumed to drive to the store for something I really do not need (oh but all those colors are so lovely). So when I found this old stockpile of paint chips just in time to mark my seeds I thought it would be a fun idea to share for kiddos to use in creating their own plant markers.
The nifty thing about this project is that you can a little developmental goodness to the mix. There is color naming and recognition along with understanding tints, shades, and hues (hey look, new vocabulary words)! You have a smidge of literacy with the reading of the colors used and the writing of the seeds planted. There are fine motor skills involved with the punching of the paint chips and the ripping of the tape, and last but not least, you can add an environmental element by using sticks found on the ground and not picking or pulling from any plants or shrubs.

My sticks came from my front lawn. There is a very sad and sick carob tree in front of the tiny casa that is continuously losing it's branches and bits. The small lawn in from of our apartment is often covered in them. I picked up one longish branch and snapped into five pieces for my planting. 

The larger the punch the easier it is for your kiddos to punch, write, and affix to sticks. I use an extra large butterfly punch that I score with a 40% coupon at Michael's Crafts. Your kiddo can also cut out squares using a kid friendly pair of scissors. 

To affix to the sticks you can use masking tape or washi tape. Before you use washi tape, make sure your tape has stick-to-it-tiveness. Many washi tapes are not very tacky and come unstuck quite easily. If you are without tape, a dollop of glue will do ya just dandy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day: painted newspaper can planters

 Painting on newspaper is a fantastic activity for your children as long as you receive the newspaper, that is. Though I have been known to paint up our free weekly now and then. I paint newspaper whenever I feel a need to be crafty and then I store the painted newspaper in a pile in the closet until I need a bit of whimsy to add that extra punch to a project. Acrylic paints add the best coverage but poster and tempera will work as well. If your can is going to be outdoors, you will want to cover the newspaper with a coat or two of water-resistant mod-podge or something similar. Decorated cans can also house art supplies or be used as a container for gift wrapping. A stack of cookies wrapped in wax paper would fit nicely in your average can just to give you an idea.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Earth Day: yarn wrapped can planters

Using a variegated yarn makes it easier for your kiddo to continue wrapping. Switching it up to a chunkier yarn will make it even easier for your younger kiddos. A wooden clothespin makes a great anchor to hold your yarn in place and if you plan on planting something that is not already in a tiny pot with holes, make sure to punch holes in the bottom of your can using a hammer and nail or cover the bottom of your can with small pebbles to keep the roots from drowning. Succulents and cacti are perfect for cans as they need very little watering.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Earth Day: ivy crown

I always have a difficult time remembering Earth Day as I like to think every day is Earth Day. When it comes to Earth Day crafts and activities for children, I truly hope you make a point of going outside to enjoy our planet. While crafting it up with recycled materials is fine and dandy, why not step out to see what nature has to offer? I have a handful of projects that you and your children can do most any time of year. In fact, each season you try them the results will be different! 
 First up, this easy ivy crown can be whipped up in a jiffy. All you need is ivy (or other abundant vine) and masking or washi tape. I make these crowns for the kiddos at the preschool using morning glory vines. For those we twist and gently tie the loops up but using tape will make your kiddo's crown last a smidge longer. You can even add more leaves and found flowers if you feel so inclined. Make sure to use your own plants or ask permission before your kiddos begin pulling up all sorts of leafy goodness and as always, have fun!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

bring out the egg cartons!

An egg carton is simply not an egg carton to a child. It can be a boat, a spaceship,  a dragon, a habitat, and a treasure box. Cut it up and you can create caterpillars, owls, dragons, flowers, and seed pots. No, an egg carton is not simply an egg carton to a child.

I wear a lot of hats and some of them I think I wear better than others. One of them is as an observer of people, an observer of children. Lately I have observed a lot of something that prickles at my brain. Admittedly this is a bit of a peeve of mine so maybe it stands out more than other bits but I have seen far too many young children with their heads stopped over mom's cell phone or dad's tablet. I'm talking young children...toddlers even and I have to say please stop. Sure there are apps all over the place declaring their creativity but nothing is more creative than your child's very own noggin. Don't you remember digging in the dirt to create cities for ladybugs or moats for castles? Do you remember getting your hands on a stapler and creating your own books full of scribbles and scratches? Or how about using a flashlight as a microphone or an empty oatmeal container as a drum?

I know that our new days are filled with technology and I know it is important for our children to learn how to use it. I know we are busy and need tricks up our sleeves for distracting our children so we can run our errands and such but remember, our parents did it without. There are cultures all over the world that do it without. The best way for a a little brain to develop is to let it develop. On its own. In its own time. Children need to problem solve on their own. Thy need boredom. Absolutely need it so that they can get those neurons in the brain jumpin'.

At work, when I set up our outside play area for the children, I toss a lot of wildcards into the mix. I wonder what will they do with these pipe cleaners or these beads. What will these little pillows become? How will the children engage and will this be enough for their play time and learning this week. Every single day I am floored by their creativity. By the games they create around the oddest of objects. Dinosaur aren't just dinosaurs, they are a dinosaur family. Traffic cones become party hats, shredded paper becomes pom-poms, and pipe cleaners become airline tickets. A beaded necklace isn't just a necklace it is pirate's treasure or fairy coins, and a blanket becomes a shield or a fortress or a cape.

Before you pop a dvd into the television, or hand your kiddo your ipad, or set up a video game on the computer, why not hand them an egg carton, a roll of masking tape, and a handful of markers? Even the youngest tots can art up an egg carton with paint or washable markers. If there is one thing I have learned from working with children is that an egg carton is not simply an egg is a world of wonder.

Monday, April 8, 2013

monday's round up

 More fun from around the web! Here's what has caught my eye last week:

*fantastic play-based ebook sale via Nurture Store
*paint a watercolor terrarium via Art Projects for Kids
*National Screen-Free Week is coming up this month (video w my favorite authors)
*this sweet little story told with few words
*this nifty Montessori classroom

Monday, April 1, 2013

monday's round up

Happy April! Did you know that April is often celebrated as Poetry Month? In honor of it being April and all, this week's round-up is all things poetry. 

*fun poetry for children pinterest board
*games, printables, and downloads from the books of Shel Silverstein
*scrumdilly poetry from the archives
*a sweet video for I Haiku You
*a sweet little book to go with the video