Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Painting Without Paintbrushes

Thinking outside the paintbrush - using other tools for painting.

My kids love to paint, and it is a great go-to activity at our house. We normally use paintbrushes, but I tried to switch it up with my kids by using tools around the house - (aka, almost free).

Popsicle or craft sticks. 
The craft sticks were the winners of the day. 

Cotton balls.
Cotton balls made a different kinds of print, so the kids approved of that experiment. 

Messy always is a favorite. 

Of course, they loved making messes with their hands. 

The pencil didn't work well.
We had two failures. One was the pencil, which didn't hold paint very well but Za wanted to try it, so we did. The other idea was a straw, and I don't have a picture of that because it resulted in tears. We'll chalk up those attempts to learning experiences. 

What other fun tools from around the house work for painting? We'd love to add to our list!

We Addressed the 8 Intelligences! 

Bodily- kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Picture Puzzles

Use extra pictures to create puzzles.

If any scrap-booker is like I am, she orders too many pictures for too few pages. Often I give the pictures to Ty and Za so they can put them in their rooms, but the other day I thought to make an activity from them, and made picture puzzles. I know you can order picture puzzles, but those are often costly. These were very financially friendly.

Ty is no longer this small. I'm just really behind with my scrapbooks.

I glued the pictures onto cardboard - actually the cardboard that came with the pictures. I let them dry, and then cut them into fun puzzle shapes. 

Both thought it was funny that they were a puzzle.

Ty is older, so I made his puzzle a bit more difficult, with stranger cuts. Za's was pretty simple. 

I plan to take the puzzles to restaurants to keep little hands busy. I had cardboard on hand, but I think construction paper would work as well. 

Proud girl.
I also labeled each piece on the back with a 'Z' or a 'T' so we wouldn't get them confused, especially since I plan to make them more puzzles. 

Pictures are fairly inexpensive, and I always have extra around. I think I might make some picture puzzles of family who lives far away. Sometimes print shops have free prints, especially larger prints. That would work well with smaller kiddos. This was an inexpensive project, and it turned out great for us!

We Addressed the 8 Intelligences! 


Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Reading Programs - the Benefits

Reading? Sure. Reading, imagination building, comprehension honing - everything wonderful with reading is encompassed in a local library's reading program. Ty and Za are working through their first program, and I'm finding out this summer that they get more than just benefits from books.

When children are in a reading program, they...

1. Watch adults check-out books. Modeling reading is important, and what better way to show children that reading is part of everyday life than by checking out books alongside them?

2. Follow rules. I'm not just talking about "being quiet" in the library. They must adhere to the rules of the reading program.

3. Speak with adults. When I signed my kids in the program, I was thrilled that the librarian asked them their names, ages, and schools. They had to practice being polite and speaking to a stranger, but with mom right there.

4. Set a goal, and work toward it. When we leave the library with a new set of books, Ty and Za know what they need to read, and in what time frame.

5. Respect another person's property. This probably goes with library experiences altogether, but it is especially true with a high volume and frequency of books checked out: you must be nice to the books! They belong to someone else, and you are only borrowing them.

6. Have fun. My kids love the library, and they enjoy reading a variety of books. They do get excited about the "switch-up" a summer reading program provides, and excitement around books is important.

What else have you found that summer reading programs teach children?

We Addressed the 8 Intelligences: Linguistic, Interpersonal.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cleaning, and Then Recycling

Cleaning with my kids soon turned into a recycling and reusing activity, where we found forgotten treasures. The kids had control over what we kept, and they surprised me with a nice experience. 

Summer break often means cleaning time.

I sat down with my kids as they began "craft time," which is what they call all art/coloring/gluing/messy type activities. I wanted to clean as they played, and I wanted their input. Sometimes toy purging ends terribly, so I wanted them to take ownership in the process.

Ty found small coloring pages inside a plastic, traveling holder.

Immediately, we started having good luck. As I cleaned out their art bags and boxes, we discovered buried toys - birthday morning, almost!

We found a pile of paper plates and construction paper that I had saved because they had very few marks on them. Za grabbed a magazine and started cutting pictures and gluing them. (Lots of fine motor practice for my 3-year-old).

We organized and put old papers in the recycling. The kids had fun organizing, and deciding what belongings stayed or left. After we finished, I started sharpening colored pencils. Za was still dumping glue on a plate when she asked for the cup of colors I was making.

I think I remember doing something similar in school. Maybe with eraser crumbs too?
The finished project.
Za was proud that she created her own "pretty plate" and showed it to everyone who came to our house. We had fun organizing and recycling, and I attribute the lack of arguing to giving the kids power over what they kept, and what they didn't.

We Addressed the 8 Intelligences! 

Bodily- kinesthetic, interpersonal.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July Flag

We made simple flags to celebrate our country. 

July is officially here!

To celebrate America's Fourth of July, we made flags. We didn't use fabric or even glue, but just standard house stuff, so it was inexpensive.


White paper or a blank flag
Tape or glue
Crayons or colored pencils
Ruler, if using a white piece of paper

The printed flag attempt.
At first, we tried using the printed flag. It was great, and would probably work well for older kids. My 3 and 5 year-olds were really frustrated with coloring around the stars - leaving the stars white and the outside area blue.

Za never finished her plain flag, but she practiced a ton with her ruler.


We switched gears and practiced counting fifty stars, and using a ruler. I also gave a mini-history lesson, explaining why the American flag has fifty stars, seven red stripes, and six white stripes.

Ty made the blue, and then added 50 stars. Lots of counting.
Our flags never ended up perfect, but the kids had a blast. Ty attached his fifty white stars (a bit circlish) to the paper towel holder, and is planning on taking it to the parade tomorrow.

Happy Fourth of July!


The kids had a great time, and we counted many times. I wish that I had found a book to read before or while they colored. I did explain the history behind the flag, but I know they would have enjoyed a story as well. 

We Addressed the 8 Intelligences! 

Logical- mathematical.