Four Ways to Make Art with Packing Paper

Packing paper is big, easy to clean up, and free.  Perfect material for kid art.  Now what can you do with it?

1.  Cover the table.  Put packing paper over a table (it completely covered our kid table) and let them finger paint all over it.  Give them some primary colors and let them mix it by hand to make secondary colors.  The best way to learn is by doing, so let them get messy.  Not feeling the paint?  Give them crayons and markers and let them draw on the table while you make dinner.

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2. Hang it on the wall.  Tape up the packing paper to a long wall and let them create a mural.

3.  Lay it out on the floor.  The floor is the perfect place for sitting babies that haven’t mastered walking.  Plop them in the middle of the packing paper and let them go to town.  Have older kids lay down on the paper and trace around them.  Then they can color themselves and design an outfit with paint, markers, or chalk.

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4.  Take it outside.  On a nice day, put packing paper down on the driveway, deck, or sidewalk.  Take off those shoes and make paint footprints!

Learning with Snow Paint

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We saw snow paint on Pinterest and had to try it out.  It is just water with food coloring in a squirt bottle or spray bottle.  We found the squirt bottle works best for little hands.  Although you have more control with the spray bottle (with jet option).

Some ideas to try with snow paint:

  • Let the kids see how colors are made by squirting in a couple drops of yellow and red food coloring to make orange
  • Practice writing numbers or letters
  • See if they can guess the word you write
  • Make a pattern of shapes and ask them to do the next one
  • Practice making different kinds of lines- straight, curvy, dotted, etc.
  • Take turns making a design and then the other person has to recreate it
  • Experiment with different body movements.  Run while painting.  Skip.  Hop.
  • Free draw!

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Art Museum Scavenger Hunt

What can you on a cold day?  Go to a museum!  Hopefully you have a free museum in your area.  If you don’t, try local galleries, college campuses (especially the art department), or even local art displays in malls.  You don’t need to go to a museum for your kids to see some art.

WARNING:  Taking toddlers to a museum is not for the faint of heart.  I’ve found museum outings work best with babies in carriers, toddlers in strollers, or preschoolers and older kids with good self-control.  If they don’t have good self-control….it’s a great opportunity to PRACTICE!  On our last outing I took my two-year-old, who was too big for the stroller (in her opinion) but a little too young to understand museum etiquette (in my opinion).  But we managed.  You can, too.  Just go over a few basic museum rules before you get there.  No touching or running.  Keep it simple.  And then leave if they can’t follow the rules.  Don’t worry.  You’ll be able to stay longer next time.

While my goal with Little Sis (the two-year-old) was just keeping her from licking sculptures, I aimed a little higher with Big Sis (my four-year-old).  We made a museum scavenger hunt before we set off on our adventure.  Some museums have their own pre-made scavenger hunts for kids and you can also find some online printable worksheets on Pinterest.  I liked our DIY version because we could make it up together and tailor it to her age-level.  I came up with categories (shapes, colors, materials, feelings), and she brainstormed the ideas.  She also colored in the color boxes….

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and made a little mistake.  Notice the yellow and green boxes.  No problem.  It was good opportunity to do some problem solving to fix it.

While we walked around the museum, she marked off boxes on her paper. TIP:  Use a pencil to mark off boxes since pens/markers aren’t allowed in most museums.  The scavenger hunt helped her focus on one piece of art long enough to really look at it.  We talked about how we could check off several boxes with one painting.

We chose a few different categories, but you could also focus on only one.  Here are some ideas to make your own museum scavenger hunt:

  • colors
  • shapes
  • types of lines
  • textures
  • materials
  • letters
  • numbers
  • feelings you get when looking at the artwork
  • particular works of art that are in the museum  (look up names/pictures before you go)
  • subject of the artwork- people, animals, houses, etc.

And a few ideas for older elementary kids:

  • painting styles- impressionism, cubism, surrealism, etc.
  • mediums- paint, pastel, pencil, etc.
  • artists
  • time periods
  • country of origin

Shape Christmas Tree

Here’s an easy Christmas craft…and a great way to practice shapes and colors, too!  This would work great at a preschool/kindergarten holiday party.  I did the first two steps myself because my girls aren’t great with scissors.

1. Cut out 5 green triangles.  Start with a small one and get gradually bigger.  My smallest is about 3 inches across the largest is about 8 inches.

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2.  Cut out shapes in different colors.  I stuck with circle, triangle, square, and rectangle, but you could get all fancy with hexagons, ovals, and trapezoids for older kiddos.

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3.  Get your crafty kiddos and talk about how triangles could make a tree.  Have them arrange the triangles from largest to smallest.

4.  Glue the top couple inches of the biggest triangle and place the next biggest triangle on top of it.  Continue until all triangles are glued together.

5.  Glue on the shape ornaments.  I found it is easier for kids to make a dot with the glue stick directly on the tree, then stick the ornament on the dot.

6.  Have fun decorating the tree with shapes!  Identify the shape and color of the ornament when they pick it up or ask them to identify.  See if they want to make a pattern.

Here’s my four-year-old’s masterpiece glued on red paper.  She is so proud that it is now part of our Christmas decorations!

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Materials:

  • colored construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Time investment: 10 minutes for adult cutting prep and 10-15 minutes for kids to glue craft

Difficulty:  The only difficult part is cleaning up all those extra shapes that will scattered on the floor. 🙂

Learning with Scarves

Playing with scarves is a great tactile activity for kids of all ages!  If you don’t already have some on hand,  you can find them by searching for “movement scarves” or “juggling scarves.”  Here are some ideas:

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Babies

  • Play peek-a-boo.  A baby favorite.  Put the scarf on your head.  Put it on her head.  Either way = pure enjoyment.
  • Let him touch it and compare the texture to other things in the room.  Use lots of adjectives to describe how it feels.
  • Wrap up an object in the scarf like a present and see if Baby can “unwrap” it.
  • Play music and move the scarf to the beat.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Teach colors by putting colored scarves on your head and seeing the world in that color!IMG_7724
  • Experiment with light and color by putting scarves over lamps or flashlights.
  • Dance with scarves.  This is a favorite activity in our house.  Try different music to make fast movements or slow ones.
  • Count the scarves.  (kindergarten- Count to tell the number of objects)
  • Make a letter with with scarf and see if your kiddo can name it.  (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet)
  • Do the same with numbers.
  • Play a game of hide and seek by taking turns hiding the scarves around the room.
  • Practice throwing and catching with scarves.  WAY easier (and safer for your living room) than balls.
  • Throw the scarf into the air and see how many (jumping jacks, claps, etc.) they can do before it hits the ground.
  • Combine primary colors to show the secondary color.  This doesn’t work as well as paint, but it’s fun to try.

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Elementary

  • Get creative and make a picture with the scarves!

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  • Ask some math questions.  How many more blue scarves than red?  Will the scarves divide equally between two people?
  • Be a fashion designer.  Make dresses, skirts, shirts, and hats using the scarves.  Then have a fashion show.
  • Teach your kids to juggle!  Scarves are perfect for beginners.
  • Practice spelling and reading by making sight words out of scarves.  This is more difficult than it looks! IMG_7719

Color Scavenger Hunt

A color scavenger hunt is a great activity to do on a nature walk.  Just use markers or crayons to write the color words on a piece of paper.  This way kids will be able “read” if they know their colors.  Then grab the paper and a bag for your treasures, and you’re ready!  Try a color scavenger hunt on a walk around the block, at the park, or in your backyard.  Show toddlers how to compare the object with the color word to see if a leaf is more red or orange.  Elementary kids who already know their colors can still learn with this activity.  Have them write the color words on their own.  Then they can race each other (or a timer) to see who can complete the scavenger hunt first!  Try the scavenger hunt again in a different season to see how the colors and items change.

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If it is too cold for a nature walk, you can also have a color scavenger hunt inside.  Warning: this could make a mess.  I’d do it when toys are already scattered across the floor.  You might as well sort them by color before you put them away, right?  This time I used construction paper to match the colors.

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Gross Motor Games and Activities

All kids need some time to get the wiggles out.  Maybe they have been working on homework for awhile and their attention is wandering.  Or maybe everyone is cranky and could use some fresh air.  Doing a quick 5 or 10 minute physical activity will put everyone in a good mood.  Especially if you join in the fun.  Here are some gross motor activities to do in your back yard, in the park, or indoors if you have enough space.

  • Color Tag  Shout out a color and have the kids run and touch something that color.  Touching the color means you are safe on base, but if you tag them before they get there then they are “it.”
  • Follow the Leader  The kids get in a line behind you.  You start walking around (or skipping, or hopping, or flapping your arms, etc.), and the kids have to imitate your actions exactly.  Once they get the hang of it, take turns being the leader.
  • Red Light, Green Light  You stand on one side of the yard and they line up on the other side.  Every time you say green light they can run towards you, but when you say red light they have to stop.  If they don’t stop, they go back to the starting line.  This is a great activity to practice listening and bodily control.  Try crawling, skipping, or hopping on green lights.
  • Simon Says  This is another great way to practice listening skills.  For younger kids, say “Simon Says” for everything.  It takes enough concentration to listen and make their body do the actions, without trying to figure out if Simon said it or not.  For older kids, try “Simon says wash the dishes.” and see if you can get some chores done! 🙂
  • Activity Challenge  Older kids love a challenge.  Get a timer and see how long they can stand on one leg.  Or how many jumping jacks they can do in 30 seconds.  Or how fast they can run across the yard.  Write down their time to see if they can improve it next time.
  • Animal Charades  Preschoolers will love acting like their favorite animals and having you guess.  And it’s hilarious to watch mom or dad act like an elephant!
  • On, Under, Beside, Through  Call out directions like “Get UNDER the slide.”  “Sit ON the rock.”  For older kids, give them a sequence of three or four things to do.
  • Jump the Creek  Lay two sticks on the ground a few inches apart.  Ask your child to jump, hop, or leap over them.  Move the stickers farther apart to widen the creek after each jump.

Learning in the Car

Driving in the car is a chore we do every day.  It’s a great time to interact with your kiddo since they are a captive audience. 🙂  Of course, there is a lot to be said for a few minutes of silence.  But if you get bored of the quiet (or it is not quiet at all because the natives are getting restless), here are a few ideas…

Babies

  • Talk out loud about….anything!  Provide a running commentary about what is out the window, what streets you are on, where you are going, or what you’d like to eat for lunch.
  • Sing familiar songs: Mary Had a Little Lamb, ABCs, etc.
  • Talk out loud about….anything!  Provide a running commentary about what is out the window, what streets you are on, where you are going, or what you’d like to eat for lunch.
  • Call attention to when the car stops and when it moves.  Talk about red and green lights.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Talk about….anything!  Ask them questions about their day or where you are going.  Try to ask them questions that will start a conversation and not just a “no” or “yes.”
  • Sing familiar songs, but change some words and see if they notice.  Mary Had a Little Lion.  Kids think this is hilarious!
  • Talk about driving rules and signs.  What does a yellow light mean?  Why are their lines on the road?  What does a red sign mean?
  • Play “I Spy a Color.”  See if they can find something red out the window or in the car.  Once they find something, change the color.
  • Play “I’m Thinking of an Animal.”  Traditionally you ask yes or no questions to figure out the animal.  (Does the animal live on a farm?  Does the animal fly?)  For this age, giving those clues first and then allowing guessing works best. (I’m thinking of an animal that has wings and lives on a farm.  Can you guess what it is?)
  • Ask some simple addition and subtraction math problems related to driving.  (There are 3 people in the car now.  After we pick up brother from school, how many will be in the car then?)
  • Count something together for the length of the (short) trip: the number of trucks you see, how many times you have to stop at a red light, the number of bicyclists on the road
  • Come up with as many rhymes as you can for a given word.  Teach them how to go through the alphabet and rhyme: at, bat, cat, dat (no, that’s not a word)

Elementary

  • Talk about…anything!  Driving is a great time to catch up and ask them about school, friends, sports, or hobbies.
  • Talk about driving.  Why are steering wheels on the left side of the car?  What does “miles per hour” mean?  Why are speed limits important?
  • Ask “If you could be a _____________ what would you be and why?”  Fill in the blank with animal, item in your classroom, food, plant, etc.  Make sure you play, too!
  • Create an addition and subtraction game related to driving.  Let the kids come up with rules.  Maybe for every truck you get 2 points for every green light you pass and subtract a point for every red light.  This is great mental math practice!  You can always make the game easier or more difficult by changing the objects or point values.
  • Play “I’m Thinking of an Animal” the traditional way by asking yes or no questions to figure out the animal.  Vary the game by playing “I’m Thinking of a Sport” or “I’m Thinking of a Number between 1 and 100” or “I’m Thinking of a Book.”
  • Play “I Spy something that starts with the letter _____”
  • Practice spelling words by taking turns saying the letters.
  • Take turns thinking of as many things that starts with a certain letter.
  • Choose a category of things (for example: food).  Name something in that category (pizza).  Then the next person has to name something that starts with the last letter of the item (a- apple…and then e- enchilada)

Learning with Chalk

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Drawing with sidewalk chalk is a great summer activity.  It’s cheap, easily washable, and gets kids outside enjoying the sunshine.  Encourage your kids to do lots of free drawing, but also try out some of these ideas.  Don’t overload them….just one or two ideas per chalk session.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Babies

  • Let them feel the chalk and try to make marks on different surfaces
  • Color in one spot so there is a lot of chalk dust.  Put baby’s hands in it and see if you can help them make hand prints on the pavement.  Messy, but fun!

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Draw different colored shapes a few feet apart.  Play a game and ask them to stand on the blue circle.  Then walk (or run, skip, hop, etc.) to the purple rectangle.  (kindergarten-Identify and describe shapes)
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  • Big sidewalk chalk is perfect beginning writers.  Draw dotted lines of shapes, letters, or numbers and see if they can trace it.  Or write a letter first and see if they can copy it. (kindergarten- Print many upper- and lowercase letters)
  • Write their name in REALLY big letters and have them walk the letters of their name.
  • Write numbers in order.  Let kids hop from number to number counting as they go.  (kindergarten- Know the number names and count sequence)IMG_6338
  • Draw a path for kiddos to use with their tricycle or bicycle.
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Elementary

  • Make a Twister board with chalk and call out directions if you don’t have a spinner.
  • Trace around your kiddo and then have him design and color the clothing.  Or he could draw the organs (heart, brain, lungs, etc.) in their proper spot.
  • Make a large grid.  Work together to make a different pattern in each square of the grid.
  • Tell addition stories and have your child draw to solve the problem.  For example, “I have 3 apples.  Then I buy 4 more.  How many apples do I have now?”   (grades 1 and 2- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Write numbers in order, but leave some out and have your kiddo fill in the missing numbers.  Then have them skip count and hop to the different numbers.
  • Kids write out the alphabet in big letters.  Then say a word and they run from letter to letter to spell it.   (grades K-6- Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing)
  • Write out a silly sentence incorrectly (no capitalization or punctuation) and have kids correct your mistakes.  (grades K-6- Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing)
  • Ask kids to draw shapes and then divide them into equal parts to make fractions.  (grades 1,2,3- Reasons with shapes and their attributes)

Learning with Laundry

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Sorting laundry is a boring task, but it is also be a great time to talk and catch up with your kids.  It can also provide valuable learning  experiences that don’t require anything but you, your kids, and some clean clothes.  Okay, you need a ruler for the last one.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Babies

* Learn about textures by letting her touch different materials.  Use adjectives like smooth, bumpy, soft, and fuzzy.

* Learn object permanence by playing peek-a-boo and hiding things under towels.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

* Sort clothing into piles according to color, type (socks, pants, shirts), or by person to which they belong.  (Kindergarten- Classify object and count the number of objects in each category)

* Compare Mama’s socks to kid socks or Dada’s pants to kid pants.  Talk about opposite words like big and small, large and tiny.

* Count the number of one type of clothing   (Kindergarten- Count to tell the number of objects)

* Make two groups of socks and ask if the amount of socks is greater than, lesser than, or equal to the other group.  (Kindergarten- Compare numbers)

Elementary Kids

* Use laundry to represent addition and subtraction problems.  Ask your child to solve problems like, “There are 4 Daddy shirts and 2 Mommy shirts.  How many shirts were in the laundry?”  You can also have the student model a given problem (ex.- Show me 4+2 using socks.)  (Grades 1 and 2- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)

* Represent multiplication and division problems.  This works very well with socks that already come in pairs (if your dryer didn’t eat any.)  Explain that there are two socks in each group and five groups of socks, so that is 2×5.  A good model for division is dividing the laundry by owner.  It works best if you arrange for equal groups beforehand.  For example, “There are 10 shirts.  Let’s divide them into two groups- your shirts and my shirts.  How many are in each group?  So 10 divided into 2 groups makes 5 in each group.” (Grade 3- Represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division)

* Practice fractions with parts of a group.  What fraction of the laundry are pants?  What fraction of the socks are white?  (Grade 3- Develop understanding of fractions as numbers)

* Estimate the length of clothing and then measure.  You’ll need a ruler or yard stick for this one. (Grade 2- Measure and estimate lengths in standard units)