Funny Face with Shapes

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fairy Dust Teaching had a creative art idea using cutting and tracing circle shapes to create pieces of artwork inspired by the artist, Wassily Kadinsky.  I wanted to try this with my daughter because she is working on her cutting and tracing skills.

I made three different sizes of circle stencils with lightweight cardboard.  Miss E traced and cut them.  Circles are a challenging shape to cut, and she requested I help.  I instructed her to layer the circles on top of each other, so she could see all the circles, and she could glue them anywhere on the piece of paper.  This is what was produced with the circles.






This looked like a clown face more than fine art, and I asked Miss E what her picture looked like.  Without hesitation, she said it looked like eyes and a nose.  I asked her if she would like to add other facial features to her picture.  She was excited to add to it, but I knew she was growing tired of the all the work it took to cut and trace, so we saved it for another day.  

Over the next few days, we added ears, mouth and a hat.  The Little Miss decided which shapes would represent each body part.  I made stencils for her to trace with three different sizes for each shape.  She traced all on her own and cut almost everything with just a bit of help from me.  





She arranged the shapes on the face.  






Miss E looks like she is happy with her funny face.  





In addition to supporting fine motor skills such as cutting, tracing and glueing, this project is great at fostering mathematical concepts such shapes, area, size, and comparing. It also allows children to see that shapes can be used to create.

Go Green with Painted Napkins

Monday, August 29, 2011

Since this was Miss E's first time in school, I wanted to fire up her enthusiasm for school. We made a Mommy Daughter Activity Chart, and we have been enjoying our quality time together after school. Another activity we did was paint cloth napkins for her lunchbox. I love that her school encourages families to pack lunches with minimal waste such as packing a cloth napkin instead of a paper napkin.

The materials needed are plain cloth napkins and fabric paint. In hindsight using acrylic paint may have been better since the fabric paint is raised and rough where the acrylic would have dyed the cloth making it a softer napkin. Another option would be the fabric markers, but they cost nearly $20 at the craft store, and I was feeling cheap. It would be sweet for parents to write messages to their children on the napkins with the fabric markers. I suppose sharpies would work well too, but they could fade in the wash.

We used fruit and veggies as stamps.
From August 29, 2011


Both Miss E and I decorated the napkins.
From August 29, 2011


We both liked using the cut tip of the asparagus to make polka dots.
From August 29, 2011


If you want your napkins ready for the first day of school, paint them a few days prior since it takes 72 hours for the paint to set, and you will need to wash the napkins again before using them for lunch.

Better than Chocolate Cake


While I am still adjusting to life without Miss E at home full time, Miss E has taken to her first few days of preschool like a champ.  I have put on a good game face showing enthusiasm for this marvelous new adventure for her, but admittedly I am sad that this sweet and amazing phase of my life is over.  I know we will continue to share wonderful times together, but I will miss her constant presence.  

I am reassured by the fact that I know my daughter is in a place where she will continue to thrive.  I know she must really like it because she says she likes school more than chocolate cake.  



The Force of Water

Tuesday, August 23, 2011




During this summer, one of our favorite summer activities has been going to the splashpad. A splash pad is a fountain park for children. Miss E usually soaks up all water fun, but once in awhile I splash a bit of learning into the play.

We were luckly the last time we went to the splashpad because a kind park employee found a beach ball and gave it to us. Ela loved the addition of the ball into her water play, and I quickly realized how I could use the ball to show her the power of water.

We threw the ball into the different fountains, and we observed the effects the water had on the ball. As we observed, we discussed the different things that water can do.

Water carried the ball.



Water bounced the ball.




Water pushed the ball.




Water held the ball.




Water stopped the ball.





Water spun the ball.




To take this lesson to the next step, we could bring varying balls to the splashpad to notice how the balls behave differently. This activity supports science skills such as observation and experimentation, and it also builds physic concepts such as force and energy. This could be incorporated into a weather unit to model the effects of floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis. At the root of it all, it gives children the notion that forces of nature, such as water, can be powerful. If you don't have access to a splashpad, you could model the force of water with sprinklers, a hose, shower, bathtub, or the kitchen sink.

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A Very Goaty Birthday

Monday, August 22, 2011

If you know our daughter or follow along with this blog, you likely know that Miss E loves goats . She just celebrated her 4th birthday, and, of course, it was all about goats. I knew a goat birthday party would be a challenging theme especially considering we weren't going to include a goat petting zoo.
So if your children or students love goats, you found your one stop shop for goat ideas.

Her birthday morning included a goat pancake.








We created birthday invitations. I made a head shape with a plain notecard. I cut out the pieces to the goat, and set out cotton balls for fur, and googly eyes. Miss E assembled the card.














I made goat horns and ears. Older children could probably assemble themselves. I used cardboard leftover from a painting project and felt for the ears glued onto a piece of construction paper.






We decorated salt dough goat ornaments with tempera paints. Miss E and I made the dough ornaments ahead of time using a goat cookie cutter. It takes several hours to cook the ornaments, so definitely a good idea to make ahead of time.















We had a storytelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff using our story sensory box. Since we were pretending to be goats, I suggested that we may need to bring food to the troll since he is hungry. I gave the girls goat stickers to attach to plastic lids to make a plate of food for the troll.

Before the party, Miss E and I made a large troll out of butcher paper and paint, so the girls could have fun tossing food into the trolls mouth. That brown area in the center is the hole for his mouth. We attached the troll to large, waffle blocks, but it could have worked with a large box, as well.  The spots on his body are the food stickers some girls attached to him.







It looks like the troll may have taken a bite out of one of our goats!!






I made an ice cream cake for my daughter. I had intended to order one, but ran late explaining the very "simple" cake design. I used the goat cookie cutters to help make the shape with sprinkles. The goats look more like dogs, and I fear that this picture may end up on Cake Wrecks.







Since I was busy with the party, I missed some pictures. The little goats had fun with ramming their horns into balloons. The gift bags included oatmeal cookies because goats eat oats, a mini goat found at a gift shop, and goat milk soap.

To ease my stress and ensure my daughter truly enjoyed her birthday celebration, I let certain aspects of the party slide. For this party, I didn't worry about decorating. I put out a pretty tablecloth and flowers, but that's it. I kept the guest list very small since my daughter doesn't usually enjoy large groups of people. I kept food simpler than I usually do with a pasta bar rather than making labor intensive food.

After all the party games, gift opening, and cake eating were over, my favorite part was when the girls played for two hours.  It made me happy that my daughter has matured to the point of enjoying the company of other children and plays creatively.

Happy Birthday, Miss E!!!


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Location:At Home

Mommy-Daughter Fun - Back to School

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

For the first time, Four year old Miss E will attend preschool. Understandably, she is anxious about it, and her most consistent argument against going to preschool is that she wants to stay home with Mommy forever. We both enjoy our long days together, and I want her to know that we will still share these special times.

My brain has been mulling around different ideas to ease her transition to preschool. Go Explore Nature has an excellent idea to make a back to school activity jar. It is filled with outdoor activities picked by both mother and son to enjoy when out of school. I thought this would be a wonderful activity to help alleviate the Little Miss' worry about missing out on our fun activities together.

Taking inspiration from the activity jar, we made a chart with Mommy-Daughter activities to do each day after school. Since there are only six days of school in August, I cut out six strips of paper. Each of us came up with three ideas, and I wrote each on a strip of paper with a simple drawing. Since it will be too hot to play outside after school, our activities are mainly for indoors, but I can't wait until the weather cools, and we can take most of fun outdoors.




I clipped the strips to her Ball Painting. Each day before school, Miss E will choose an activity, and in the afternoon we will make it a priority.





Of course, I have thought of how to calm her fears, but I have yet to think of how I will deal with the sadness of not having my lovely girl home all day.

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Favorite Things Collage

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Last week we ended up with a large painting from our Pitch 'n Paint activity, and I began thinking of how I could make use of this grand scale painting. I realized it would be the perfect backdrop to a collage. Since Miss E's birthday is in less than a week, I decided we could work on a collage to document her favorite things.

First, we wrote her name using 3 dimensional objects, beads, popsicle sticks, twisty ties, and a cardboard ribbon holder, found around the house. I hot glue gunned the letters to the paper. We painted some of the items.

Then, we brainstormed creating a list of her favorite things. We needed more than one board to write her list.




We drew pictures using the list. At times, Miss E took out a favorite thing to help her draw. I labeled the pictures.




She pasted the pictures onto the paper.













I posted the collage in our living room.



It makes a beautiful birthday banner to celebrate Miss E's 4th birthday!  This activity support literacy skills through brainstorming, labeling, and making letters.  It fosters art and fine motor skills through drawing. 


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Outdoor Kitchen in a Box

Monday, August 8, 2011

This past year, I have started making gifts for my daughter's friends, and I was inspired by Childhood 101's sewing basket. It's the perfect gift for a four year old's birthday. This past weekend we attended a three year old's birthday, and I wasn't sure she was ready for a sewing kit.

So, I came up with the idea to make her an outdoor kitchen in a box. Miss E loves her outdoor kitchen, and it was influenced by the mud pie kitchens featured in Let the Children Play and Child Central Station and I couldn't create it on the large scale that we have at home or I've seen at preschools since the birthday girl's because grandiose presents sometimes miss the mark, and I like to try to keep birthday presents simple. I admit that making birthday presents isn't as simple as buying them, but making gifts is more personal and can be less wasteful.

First, I found a basket on discount from Michael's. It was important that the basket could be easily carried by the child, and had a lid. A box should work fine too, but mud pie kitchens are usually wet which would create more wear on a cardboard box.

I made stovetop burners using yogurt top lids and Sharpie markers. My husband drilled small holes on the lids, so I could tie the lids onto the basket.




I filled the box with kitchen items from my home, Goodwill, and World Market. World Market is one of my favorite stores for home goods, and items are generally priced well.




I filled the condiment bottles with red, yellow, and white paint. Paint is one of my daughter's favorite ingredients in her outdoor kitchen.

I poured colored sand in the spice bottles, and the large container has sand.

The cheese shaker would be a great place to put water since water is an essential element in our outdoor kitchen.




Miss E and I created the sign for the kitchen. We used watercolor paper and colored it with bleeding tissue paper. I covered it in contact paper to hopefully make it waterproof. I attached it to the box using hot glue.

A kitchen in a box is an easy and simple toy to create for a special child in your life. It's perfect if you want something that can be transported easily to places, such as a park or playdate. It works well for families who are short on outdoor space because this could be played with on a small porch.

I hope the birthday girl enjoys playing with her outdoor kitchen in a box.





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Simple Math - Hide and Seek

Friday, August 5, 2011

As with most children, one of my daughter's favorite pastimes is hide and seek and she especially likes to play it hiding her stuffed animals. I wrote about playing hide and seek using the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, and this time I decided to incorporate math into our usual game.

To make it simpler for her to process the concepts, we used only five animals and the foam numbers (1-5) from our outdoor hopscotch set. You can write out the numbers on sheets of paper as well if you don't have a number set.

Miss E placed the animals in a line, and she ordered the numbers placing one number next to each animal.




I hid the animals, and she closed her eyes and counted while she waited. As she found each animal she placed them next to the numbers. The statements and questions below are examples of how I encouraged mathematical thinking. She used the number line we created to help her answer the questions.

-How many animals have you found?




-How many animals do you have left to find?




-You have found two animals, and now you found one more. How many animals do you have now?
-What number animal do you need to find next?
-When we had found all the animals, I asked her how many animals we had left to support the concept of zero.




-To encourage concepts of ordinal numbers, I encouraged her to find the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th animal.
-Once she had found the animals, I inquired about what was the first and last animals she found.

We continued to take turns hiding all the animals, and the addition of numbers to the game only heightened her interest in playing. Incorporating numbers into hide and seek fosters learning through play by using mathematical concepts such as numbers, number line, ordinal numbers, addition, and subtraction.

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A Happy Mess

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I appreciate a clean and organized home, but I am understanding of the mess that comes with having a child. When I was a public school teacher, one of the chief complaints from my supervisors was that my classroom didn't look neat and tidy. If someone were to just drop in our home unannounced, he might silently critique the same thing.

I value the mess that comes with our Miss E because it demonstrates so many wonderful things about our daughter.

She loves to read by herself and with others. She is busy playing. She is lucky to have so many wonderful toys.




She creates her own stories out of mud, sticks, water, and rocks. She plays in the fresh air. She has access to an outdoor play space.




I don't interrupt her flow of play by asking her to clean up her toys. A child's work is play. I don't think we'd appreciate our boss telling us to straighten up our desk in the middle of our work, and children need the same freedom to work. Her mind is growing through the play narratives she creates, and being surrounded by her mess with toys at just an arm length away are valuable tools to her storytelling. She is not inhibited by fears or worries about making mommy mad with her mess which I feel can only help her be more creative.




This is reminiscent of Tom Chapin's song, "Neat Mess".

I like my toys when they're nice and neat,
But I like 'em even more all over the floor
And underneath my feet.
A messy room is happiness.
Happiness is living in a neat mess.

No need to fear that a relaxed attitude toward play messes creates a pig sty. At the end of the day, she knows how to put away her toys. If she has a play scene she wants to keep, I sometimes allow her to let it be. Messes can be a positive sign children are busy, happy, playful, and creative.




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Pitch 'n Paint

Monday, August 1, 2011

While I was watching Flipping Out, a Bravo television show about a real estate flipper turned designer, I got an idea for artistic play. Yes, I watch brainless reality television, but this time the lost brain cells yielded something useful. For those unfamiliar with the show, it is definitely not appropriate for children. It's something I watch after the Little Miss has gone to sleep.  On one episode, the designer took his employees out to dinner where a wet napkin fight ensued. Immediately, I knew Miss E would love doing that, and I came up with the idea of pairing the wet napkins with paint.

The materials needed are butcher paper, paint, water, trays, napkins or tissue paper, masking tape.







I taped butcher paper to our fence. The Little Miss added washable tempera paint and water to two trays.







We dipped the napkins into the paint and threw. The first throw was a let down because we didn't see much paint. I realized that white butcher paper would have been better, but brown is what we had at home.







The more painted napkins we threw the more vibrant our painting became.













Miss E was most interested in making the wet napkins stick to the butcher paper, and she was proud she could do this better than Mommy.






After we ran out of napkins, Miss E had just as much fun playing with her animals in the colored water.







A bit later, we decided to throw more painted napkins, and this time we dumped all the napkins into the paint trays at once. This ended up creating a better paint effect since the napkins had time to soak up more paint.














This is the result of our Pitch 'n Paint art. This activity supports gross motor skills by throwing the napkins and fosters artistic expression by using paint and exploring a unique technique to produce art. The painting isn't as bright as I hoped it to be, but Miss E still loved doing this. When we do art projects with children we learn that the process is often more important than the product.





















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