Both my two year-old class and not-quite-two kiddos loved exploring ice. Some were tentative about touching it and some reached right in. Each child had his/her own tray of ice in addition to the large tray. What does it feel like? What does it do when it’s being held? What’s dripping on the floor? Is it hard or soft? And what sound does it make when you shake the tray? So fun!
Directly related to exploring ice is Ice Painting. Though Ice Painting may seem like a winter-only Easy DIY Kids Activity, it’s a great science-related lesson any time of year–think water/ice, liquid/solid, and hot/cold. Here’s what you need:
watercolor paints or food coloring
Add either watercolor paint or food coloring to water and stir.
Pour colored water into ice tray. Set craft sticks in ice tray sections. Freeze.
Pop sections out of ice tray and paint with “ice paint.”
Note: Ice paint will melt as it’s being used which adds to the experience. Partly used sections may be re-frozen and used again.
Some preschoolers don’t mind getting their hands sticky, gluey, and dirty, while others pull their hands back when introduced to unfamiliar textures. Example: glueing feathers to outlined hands to create turkeys. Observation: some kids spread their fingers to be outlined and some have to be prodded. Most kids didn’t mind sticking feathers to a gluey surface, but others will only touch the surface lightly and then hold up fingers in a way that says, “I don’t liking this feeling.”
Despite the different tolerance levels, all the kids love playing in the water table. They enjoyed the floating pumpkin pieces and, similarly, the water-table-as-a-giant-sensory-bin is a hit! It’s filled with pinecones, colorful blocks, gear-like connecting pieces, and measuring cups and shovels. I can’t wait to create different texture combinations using pasta, snow, ice, and assorted found objects.
Playing with different types of textures, tastes, and objects help your child build new ways of talking about the world. Suddenly, the tree is more than a tree, it’s a sapling with smooth bark, or it’s a pine tree with rough bark and a sharp pine scent. Water isn’t just wet, it can be rough (waves), slippery with bubbles, or cold and translucent when frozen. Fine motor skills are those that require the ability to use and coordinate small muscle groups and are important for writing, shoe-tying, buttoning, and zipping, among other things. Sensory play often involves using and building fine motor skills by exploring things using pinching, pouring, and lacing movements.
Halloween may be over, but the pumpkins still have a purpose. Before you throw away your jack-o-lantern, here’s an idea–cut it up into pieces. One of the directors at my preschool suggested this easy, fun and educational kids activity, and the kiddos loved it.
My co-teacher and I cut up our classes’ pumpkins and placed the pieces in a water table. Don’t have a water table? A big plastic bin, large sink or even a bathtub will work.
Our two-year olds had a blast scooping, filling, pouring and experimenting. The blog Miss Ashlee’s Class suggests ways to enhance the activity. Older kids could discuss the parts of a pumpkin, hypothesize whether they think the pieces will float or not, learn about density, and record observations.
My niece got married in our backyard this past Saturday, so this week is Wedding Week–pics of the beautiful event!
You know what happens when I get an idea in my head? It swirls around, taking up space and not letting go, until I write, do, or make the thing! This goes for story ideas, preschool crafts, store displays, party favors and so much more. Maybe this is why I feel compelled to take on multiple projects–the only way to stop the swirling and get a good night’s sleep is to act on the ideas. Call is creativity overload!
My niece didn’t ask, but chocolate wedding favors got in my head, so I bought molds, melties and favor bags and got to work. And how nice was this? I called my favorite source for molds, cookie cutters, melties and sprinkles and the like, Sweet n Fancy Emporium in Cranford, NJ, to check that they had the molds I wanted in stock. I was running late but the new owner, Amanda, had a hunch I was still on my way and waited for me before she closed! So-umm-sweet!
DIY chocolate favors are so easy. Here are the steps:
Melt chocolate melties or chips in the microwave, first on 50% power for 30 seconds and then full power for 15 second intervals, stirring in between. Chocolate is ready when it’s shiny and liquidy.
Credit for this “foot-tastic,” Easy DIY kid’s craft goes to Etsy’s “Mama Don’t Blink.” My pre-school class was used to hand crafts, but taking off shoes and socks was new. Painting feet elicited a bunch of, “That tickles!” Fun!
Step 1. Gather supplies: paint, white paper and either construction paper or cardstock, hard surface such as a clipboard, newspaper to catch drips, paintbrush (a foam paintbrush worked well), chair, washcloth or wipes to clean feet, glue or double-stick tape, marker.
Step 2. Sit child down. Paint bottom of feet. Clip paper to clipboard to create hard surface. Press feet against paper, angling feet to create a heart. Let dry.
Step 3. Glue or tape dried feet-heart to construction paper or cardstock.
Step 4. Write, “I” above feet-heart and “you DADDY from the tip of my nose to the tip of my toes!” under feet-heart. Date.
Step 5. Add fun messages to the back of the picture.
K-2 students made these cute, Spring-themed, animals bookmarks using the same steps as the Easy Winter Kids Crafts, Felt Mitten Bookmarks. Pick an animal and get creative with whatever decorative supplies you have on hand. Possible animals and insects besides puppies and birds? Cats, horses, unicorns, lions, butterflies, caterpillars, etc.
Happy crafting, hon!
Create paper patterns.
Cut out shapes. Sandwich ribbon between felt. Decorate.
Spring Felt Bookmarks
felt (or a thick fabric), small pieces will do
grosgrain ribbon (or satin ribbon), about 14 inches per bookmark
small googly eyes
any other things to use for decorating such as glitter glue, thin ribbon, foam shapes, sparkly stars
craft stick (or cotton swabs)
newspaper, wax paper, tin foil, or cloth (whatever you don’t mind getting glue-y)
Measure ribbon. What size book is the bookmark being made for? A picture book? A chapter book? Measure the book, then add 6 inches to that measurement, which will allow ribbon to stick out of the top and bottom of the book and to be sandwiched between the felt. For example, if a book measures 8 inches, add 6 inches and cut a 14 inch piece of ribbon
Create a paper pattern by drawing animals. We drew a profile of a puppy head and a whole bird. Also draw a coordinating pattern for the bottom of the bookmark. We drew a bone to go with the puppies and eggs and nests to go with the birds.
Cut out paper patterns.
Trace shapes on felt: two side of the animal and two sides of the coordinating object. Make sure the two sides are the same so that they line up when glued together.
Match up animals and objects, figuring out which will be the fronts and which will be backs. Using craft sticks (or cotton swabs), spread fabric glue on the insides of the cut-outs. Sandwich 1 inch of the ribbon between the fronts and backs. Press to help glue adhere.
Decorate bookmarks, either one side of each animals or both, there’s no right or wrong.Let dry.
Tips: Trim excess felt. Check seams for gaps and, using craft stick (or cotton swab), add extra fabric glue where needed.
What’s your project’s name? That’s the question SCBWI, the professional Kidlit organization I belong to, asked writers and illustrators who are offering tools, resources, and ideas for kids during the quarantine. I’m calling the collection of posts in the next few weeks (months?) EASY DIY KIDS CRAFTS (including kid-centric recipes, of course). Here’s one I haven’t posted before.
The story behind these adorable felt owls? My youngest daughter and I were visiting friends in Nashville (shout out to Laura) and, while window shopping, saw a basket of oh-so-cute owls. I couldn’t wait to share the idea with my grades 3-5 After School Enrichment class, so I stored an image of the owls and figured out how to make them.
Happy crafting, hon!
small glass, cup or circle cookie cutter
scissors (fabric scissors that can cut felt or scissors sharp enough)
felt, various colors
tapestry needle and thick thread
On paper, draw outline of an owl along with a pocket-shape for front, beak, feet, eyes (trace around glass, cup or circle cookie cutter for eyes).
Cut out paper patterns.
Using paper patterns on top of felt, outline 2 owl bodies (front and back), 1 pocket-shape, 1 beak, 2 large circles, 2 smaller circles for eyes, 2 feet.
Stitch a button onto each small circle (for eyes).
Pin pocket-shaped piece of felt onto front of owl’s body and then whipstitch it on.
Sew eyes to front of owl.
Sew beak to front of owl.
Sew feet to bottom of front of owl.
Pin front and back pieces together and then sew them together, leaving about a 1 1/2″ – 2″ opening unsewn. (I taught my students how to sew the pieces together using a sewing machine, but the front and back can just as easily be hand sewn together, using a whipstitch. Tip: When you get to the feet, sew front and back pieces together with a regular stitch and resume whipstitch around the rest of the body.
Push stuffing through unsewn opening. Tip: A long, skinny tool such as a chopstick or long pen will help move stuffing into ears and fill body.
Sew opening closed.
–The top of the pocket-shaped piece of felt can be left open to make an actual pocket.
–Fabric, other than felt, can be used for the eyes and pocket-shaped piece.
–Love a different animal? The same directions apply for any animal. Outline it and other animals parts such as ears and a tail.
The kids in After School Enrichment classes were happy to share their work, proud of their creations, and loved describing what was happening in their scenes. I loved seeing how each child combined materials. The kids couldn’t wait to share their pictures with their families.
Got kids? Need an easy activity for them? Why not make a snowy mixed media scene starting with marbles, paint, and construction paper? The kids in my After School Enrichment class had fun creating their own background snow.
Supplies to make “snow” with marbles and paint:
white paint (we used water-based poster paint)
paint palette or paper bowl
either a disposable cup with lid or another small container with lid
Steps to make “snowy” paper:
Spread newspaper over work area.
Cut construction paper into strips, squares or whatever shapes you want. Place one strip into disposable cup.
Squirt paint onto palette. Place marbles in paint, rolling them around so that they’re covered.
Place paint-coated marble into cup, secure lid, and shake.
Carefully remove paint-splattered construction paper. Let dry.
Repeat coating of marble, lining inside of cup with construction paper, and shaking marble inside of cup until you’ve created a bunch of “snowy” paper.