Sunday, March 27, 2011

April Showers ...

Get ready for April showers by checking out all the spring weather changes: wind, clouds and rainy days!

Wind projects are fun - kids love to play with kites, pinwheeels and flags - and there are lots of projects you can do with them at home. If you have an opportunity to fly a real kite, go for it! If not, a paper kite with a streamer for a tail and craft sticks in a "t," for support, is fun to make! If you trace the shape of a diamond on larger construction paper, give your child practice cutting it out to make the body of the kite. Decorate with markers, paint or stickers (or all three!) and then assemble the rest to form your kite!

To see which way the wind is blowing, make a "wind wand" - use a paper towel roll that you have decorated with stickers, markers or even colored tape. Attach one end of ten to twelve inch party streamers or lengths of tissue paper to one end, leaving the other end of the streamers free. Then take your wand outside and hold it in the wind, and watch the streamers fly!

When you're ready to start checking out clouds, try Google-ing "cloud shapes" - all sorts of websites will pop up with fun pictures of cloud shapes - make sure to preview them first before showing to children. There are also some great books to read with your child: "It Looked Like Spilt Milk" by Charles G. Shaw, "The Little Cloud" by Eric Carle and "The Cloud Book" by Tomie de Paola are just a few! Take some time to view the clouds yourselves - see what cool things you can see in the clouds!

Make cloud pictures with white chalk or white paint on blue "sky" paper - then you can fill in the area with some nice, puffy cotton balls ... pull and stretch them to make them look different, like cloud types look different! Some might be thin and stringy, while others might be full and fluffy! Have children dictate a word for "My cloud looks like a _______," to finish it off.

Sing a cloud song with your child - this one follows the tune of "Frere Jacques" .....

Rain pictures are fun to do: using powder tempera paint on large paper, have your child make a design with the powder. (If you can't find powdered paint, just thin out some finger paint or bottled tempera paint so the rain can splatter it.) Carefully place pictures outside in a drizzle of rain on a tarp or plastic sheet and let the rain do the rest! When the design looks just right, bring them inside, again very carefully, and let dry - you will have a masterpiece!

To celebrate the rain, make a mobile with a cloud on top and some falling raindrops, with fun silver glitter to make the raindrops shine! Super easy project to do: All you need is white card stock or cardboard for the cloud, some varied lengths of yarn and blue paper raindrops. Use a little glue or a few swipes with a glue stick and your  silver glitter will look great on the raindrops! Tape or glue together and hang from a doorway or hanging fixture.

Play a counting game with some hand-made raindrops! Use the same paper as you used for the mobile, but cut a big "puddle" out of the blue and "raindrops" out of the white paper. Trace the shapes you want and have your child practice cutting on or close to the lines, if able. Lay the puddle on the ground and take turns dropping raindrops - some will land in the puddle, some outside the puddle. If you do this in pairs, one child can drop the raindrops while the other counts and then reverse. Count how many are in, how many are out and decide which is more/less/the same.

Have your child finish the sentence, "When it rains, I ______" and draw a picture to go with it! Maybe there are several endings to this sentence, and you will have a book! Take the opportunity to allow your child to point out or form some of the letters, if able.

Sing all the rain songs you know, "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day" and "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring ..." while noticing the rhyming words in the songs. Make up your own rhymes, too! When you use a familiar tune and make up new words, children usually find it easier to pick up.

Have fun!

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