Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fun with Birds!

This time of year, all the kiddies are longing to be outdoors. Structure your learning around an activity they can all enjoy: bird watching!!

Put their powers of observation to the test - have them peep through some homemade "binoculars" to get started. Tape two small cardboard rolls together and decorate as you wish: we used packing tape to secure ours and then added some construction paper and stickers. There are some really cool designs out in duct tape now, too! Add some yarn or string to hang them and you're all set!

Here's a cute little art project: cut two circles out of white paper and then a larger figure-eight shape out of black. Attach the two circles as lenses of the binoculars and tell your kids to draw what they see in the "eyes" of their binocular pictures. Have them dictate "I see ..." to finish it off!

Check out some bird websites for some identifying pictures and let your little ones try to paint some birds of their own. Sponges in small and medium ovals or circles for the body and little triangles for beaks will help them make a bird shape - then dip some feathers in semi-dry paint to add details. So cute!

Find a children's guide to bird watching at your library or bookstore and don't forget to read some great fiction books, too! "Are You My Mother?" is always fun to read and "Round Robin" by Jack Kent is another favorite of mine!

While you're checking out the birds, fix up a simple bird feeder for your yard. Take a large pretzel, tie a ribbon on it long enough to hang it from a branch. Then, roll it in a small bit of peanut butter (unless there are allergies to watch for!) and dip it in a pan of bird seed from your local market. All you have to do is tie it to a tree branch and wait for the birds to find it. It will make a great spot for sighting some favorite local birds!

Have fun!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Paint Play!

Playing with paint can be so much fun - and filled with self-discovery!!! Sometimes little ones will have a hard time with art projects because their hands can't quite make what they want them to YET, so projects like this are perfect!!

Fill a pie plate or aluminum baking pan with just enough paint to cover the bottom. Have on hand a variety of materials that will either wash clean or are disposable. Lay out some big sheets of paper or a giant roll and let your kids explore! Let them know that there is no right or wrong way to CREATE - just dig in!!

They might have fun with some kitchen implements ... try a potato masher or a slotted spoon. Fly swatters make great prints, as do twists of fabric scraps. One of my personal favorites is bubble wrap!! The point is to let your kids explore and come up with new ways to use the materials.

Bubble Wrap Printing

You will be surprised at how cool the prints will be! Use multiple colors for layering and don't be afraid to let your little ones get messy - hands can make prints with palms, fingers or the outer edge of their fists ... Let them figure it out! If you're looking for a particular outcome, like a flower or a shape for a collage, to use in a card or illustration, you can cut it out after the paint dries. Have fun!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Books to Love: "Over in the Meadow"

Rhyming poems help children learn and remember things, just like songs! The poem "Over in the Meadow," written long ago by Olive A. Wadsworth, does this perfectly. It introduces mother and baby pairs, new vocabulary, spring themes ... all in an easy to read, fun package! There are many books that illustrate the poem - this book version, illustrated by renowned author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, is lovely to look and great to read. You'll find your little ones chiming in to read along with you, especially if you put a little rhythm in it! It's a perfect read for Mother's Day and you can extend it with a project to highlight the holiday!

Try this: Bake a big, round cookie with your child and ice it to look like a fishbowl - then add some Mom and baby candy fish to decorate. Or ... a whole family of cookie fish! You'll be spending some time with your little ones and they'll be joining in a special gift-making that will begin to set up some traditions, a good lesson for the future.

Trace and cut out some mom and baby animal shapes to make a spring scene or card, or surf the Internet, search for the poem by title and find some cool ideas there - I found a little coloring book on my search that would be fun to do :)

Have fun!!