Slush

The snow is melting!  The snow is melting!  Can you see my smile through the interwebs?  It’s big.  We went outside to play and celebrate.  And we got out hoes.  Yes.  I’ve never tried it before, but sidewalk scrapers and hoes easily pushed around the slushy snow on our driveway.  And if you have similar driveways/weather conditions…give it a try!

We made…

  • straight, curvy, and zig-zag lines and then walked on them
  • shapes
  • letters
  • numbers
  • words
  • and our favorite- “snow castles” or the if you want to be honest…piles of slush

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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

Make a Doodle

If you have a pen and some paper, you can entertain your kid while you wait at a restaurant or doctor’s office.  Heck, you don’t even have to have paper.  Try a napkin or even the back of your hand!

Just draw some lines or shapes…

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Then hand over the pen to your kid.  See if they can make your scribbles into a doodle.  (These are a flower, two clowns, and a caterpillar courtesy of my four-year-old daughter.)

 

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Preschoolers: They can do it with a little help!

  • Demonstrate how to turn a line or shape into a drawing.
  • Use simple geometric shapes (square, circle, triangle)
  • Help them get started by brainstorming with them.  “It’s a circle.  What things have circle shapes?  Maybe it could be a face.  Or a wheel on a car?  Can you think of other things with circles?
  • If the activity is still too difficult, switch it up!  Your kid can make a few marks on a paper and YOU turn it into a picture!

Elementary: Elementary aged kids should be able to make doodles without much prompting.  They might even need an extra challenge.

  • Draw several lines on one paper and see if they can connect them all into one drawing!
  • Can they make all the drawings fit in one category (food, animal)?
  • Draw several of the same shape or line (example- 5 squares all the same size).  Challenge them to make each one into a different drawing.

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 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)