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Make it Fun Wrapping Paper

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” -Mother Teresa

Children love to be involved in making things, especially useful items that will be appreciated.  Having art projects that can be used and given have double duty for me. I love to have art on our walls, but if I can share the wealth, I am happy! When your child loves art, this is an ideal ongoing project. The art time is given and then the art is used to wrap a gift and you still have some space on your walls.

This is super easy and the possibilities are endless. Butcher paper or rolls of paper are perfect for making your own wrapping paper. You can do one large project and store to use the wrapping paper when needed or it can be done to suit the person you are giving the gift to. Please note, this can also be done with plain gift bags.

In my example, I have used paint and a few sequins found in the cupboard. This was designed by a preschooler and it was great fun.

An example of a few decorating items could be glitter glue, paint, tissue paper glued on, stamps, photographs, water color, sequins, rhinestones and more.

If you are in a pinch, stickers could also work and then there is no worry about drying time. Another cute wrapping paper is when they use the paint dotters or sponges. Teaching the art of hospitality and joy of giving is a timeless and useful lesson. The simple act of putting love and time into a gift can show much more to our children than simply buying and doing it for them.

A Flag Worth Waving

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

There are many reasons in America to wave your flag. Here is a simple idea to show your pride and instill some tradition in your children. A dear friend of mine had us over for Fourth of July and gave us blank linen flags to take home and write words that we thought would show our feelings of the brave men and women on the

Fourth of July.

Blank Mini-Flag

When we returned home with our blank flags, we read Star Spangled Banner by Peter Spier and then wrote with Sharpie marker onto our mini-flags.

Each year on Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Memorial Day we display these in a glass jar with confetti, curling ribbon or whatever I have on hand.

This activity is ideal for classroom or homeschool children when learning about american symbols. It may be used for Flag Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Flag day is in June and falls during National Flag Week. Search your area for flag raising ceremonies and celebrations. The National Flag Day Foundation is focused on educating and organizing activities and events that honor the country.

Flag Facts:

-On June 14, 1777 the continental congress changed the symbols on the Grand union flag to a new design. The new flag had thirteen stars, one for each state at the time, in a circle on  a background of blue and also had thirteen red and white stripes.

-The United States flag is also called “Old Glory” and “Star Spangled Banner.”

-The modern flag has fifty stars, one for each state and thirteen red and white stripes for the original thirteen colonies.

-Flag Day is observed on June 14th.


Make a Sombrero for Cinco de Mayo

Looking for a cute decoration or craft for Cinco de Mayo? Making a sombrero is fun and creative for children. You can also make for your own fiesta!

First of all the pictures on this page show styrofoam, which I do not recommend for several reasons. The first and most important is that they are wasteful and do not decompose. Now, on the other hand, if you are recycling from a restaurant then I would say use them. They are not as easy to decorate, but worth it if you are reusing. But, you get the idea.

You will need a paper plate and paper cup and tape. You can choose small or normal, it is up to you.

Optional items include pom poms, paint, glitter glue and sequins.

Tape the paper cup to the paper plate (in the picture below, a hole was made to push the cup through.)

If you would like to make the cups look authentic, paint them a light brown or cream color. Let it dry and then decorate.

Otherwise, just decorate and you have a mini sombrero!

Other versions of this craft:

Using larger white and cardboard plates, with paper cups, decorate, add ribbon to the paper plates to tie on and wear. Place hole in the sides of the plate to add the ribbon. Also, to decorate add streamers to the ends of the plate. These sombreros would look great hanging from your ceiling for a fiesta or just for fun.

Have fun and let the children get creative. Plan a small party for a group of friends. Make mini sombreros, do the Mexican Hat Dance and have a piñata and you are all set for a fun celebration. Serve some simple food such as chips, guacamole and salsa. If your having children, serve up quesadillas as most kids will eat this!

Quesadillas

Ingredients

Tortillas (corn, if you are serving gluten free)

Grated cheese (cheddar or monterey jack)

Oil or butter

Optional items to include, avocado, onions, sliced olives, mushrooms, anything you want!

Heat frying pan on medium high heat. Spread oil or butter. Place tortilla on pan, flip it a few times to warm it up. Sprinkle cheese and any other of your optional ingredients. Fold it in half, flip once to melt cheese. Cut into wedges and serve warm. You can always serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

The Mexican Hat Dance

This is a national folk dance that is also known as Jarabe Tapatio and was written in the 1800s during the revolution. Teaching children the dance with music is fun and is a great way to use their brand new mini sombreros! it can be done with a partner or whole group.

Four Seasons Paper Plate Craft

How to Make a “Four Seasons” Paper Plate Craft

What you will need:

White, plain paper plates

Construction paper (green, brown)

Glue

Cotton balls

Crayons or markers

Hole punch

Yarn or pipe cleaners

Tissue paper

This is a fun craft project to go with learning about the seasons. It can be done over several days or as you speak about each season and then display the while craft at the end. This would be appropriate with help for preschool age kids and also for kindergarten and first grade students. Classroom teachers could use this lesson in center time.

To make the Craft:

Winter

Cut out tree with brown construction paper, color background black and ground white (leave blank), glue cotton balls or torn white construction paper for snow.

Spring

Cut out trunk in brown construction paper, color background, crumple small tissue for new buds and glue on branches.

Summer

Color background on paper plate, cut and glue brown tree trunk and cut out green tree tops.

Fall

Color background, cut out brown tree trunk, green leaves and glue falling leaves.


Hanging the paper plate season craft:

Hole punch the top and bottom of paper plates, have children use pipe cleaners to attach together. For younger students, the parents or teacher may need to tie the plates together. On the top plate make a loop to hang on the wall. These hang nicely at home or in the classroom.

Books and Poems:

There are many books, songs and poems about the seasons and each can be used for literature and the thematic unit. Children can make their own poems for each season, which can also be displayed along with the craft or made into a seasons book. Teachers can create thematic books and folders to compile all of their thematic papers and art to take home neatly at the end of the seasons study.

Four Stories for Four seasons by Tomie dePaola

Arctic Winter, Arctic Summer by Reid and Canizares

Scholastic offers many choices

Moonstick: The Seasons of Sioux by Eve Bunting

Music:

Listen to Vivaldi during craft time. For further discussion, have children listen to corresponding season and dance and feel the music and discuss how it reminds them of certain month or season.

Studying the seasons of the year has science and more behind it, this craft and introduction to the seasons is ideal for younger students at home or in school.

Rainbow Poetry

Creating a color poem is fun and can be incorporated into mini-lessons and most curriculum. Here are a few ways to use this creative poetry lesson on your class or home.

Rainbow Poetry

Many Colored Days:

Read the book My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. It is about feelings and a great way for parents to discuss feelings with their children. The book goes through emotions and ties them with vibrant illustrations and color. Make a large list or a personal list in a journal of how certain colors make the writer feel. Transfer thoughts on to strips of paper that match color as the sample pictured.

Click here for another activity for this book!

Color of the Day:

Younger children may enjoy the color of the day or week. Choose a color and focus the whole day and lessons around color.

For example: Red day or week may include eating red foods such as apples, strawberries, cranberries, berries, red bell pepper, red potatoes and the list goes on!  A quick and fun lesson on adjectives or using descriptive words in writing could be to bring in several red items. Have the children list words to describe. For little ones, you will need to write a list for them. A red ball could have several words such as round, bouncy, smooth or bumpy, etc.

Make a red (or any color you choose) collage. Collect red items such as paper, yarn, tissue paper, buttons, art supplies like sequins, ribbon, wrapping paper and more. On sturdy paper like card stock or poster board have the children create a collage. If you have room in your house or classroom, you could have a large poster board size for each color day to reinforce the theme and have some super fun decorations up for color week.

Make prints with fruits or vegetables. Red or green apples make good prints. Potatoes are easy to carve and make prints.

For each color, books and poems should be incorporated either as a read aloud or as a introduction to an activity. Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a great example for the red day.

Games and clothes: Have the children wear the color of the day to school or at home. If you have a large class you can play games like red rover or red light, green light.

The possibilities to include writing, reading, math, science and more into the color theme is endless. Have fun!

Of course do not forget to write one line per day about the color so at the end of the thematic lesson, children can make the rainbow poem.

Spring Poetry Unit:

Poetry ideas are fun to incorporate throughout the year and there is not an age limit. Tying all of the writing skills and expression at the end of the school year is a great way to showcase a student’s progress. Study words and poetry. Have the children or child start a word collection journal. as they read poems, quotes or passages that sound good to them they write them in their journal. This appreciation of words cannot be taught, but if you can show them and have them stop to soak them in, you are giving a gift of  loving words. Words can be powerful and move emotions. Allow students to choose their own and allow for time to share.

Baked Kale Chips

If you are looking for another sneaky way to get those green veggies into your child’s diet, this is the recipe for you. These crispy and salty snacks are a perfect afternoon treat or a fun side to a sandwich. Kale is another super food that everyone should be including in their diet. It is high in antioxidants and powerful phytochemicals. The phytochemicals found in cabbage (kale is a cabbage) have been found to have protective effect against breast, cervical and colon cancer. But wait, there is more….kale is also loaded with iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and K. It also has beta carotene. You can get 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in two cups of kale. This green wonder has much to offer to you and your children’s health and nutrition. If you are looking for a quick way to increase your child’s intake of nutrients and vegetables, just add tiny shreds of kale to the normal salad or even a smoothie.

Kale

Baked Kale Chips

Ingredients: Kale, Olive Oil and Salt.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cookie sheet (you can line with foil or parchment paper).

Tear the leaves away from the middle stem and tear into small bite size pieces.

Wash and dry, use a sales spinner if you have one. Dab completely dry and spread onto pan. Drizzle with about two tablespoons of olive oil and dash with salt. If you have helping hands in the kitchen, they can tear and wash the kale.

Bake about 12 minutes. Watch to make sure they do not burn.

You have a crunchy snack perfect for the children.

Baked Kale Chips


Make Your Own Puffy Paint

Puffy paint is always a big hit with children. It is fun and different. To save the cost of the small containers at the store, you can make your own puffy paint. The best thing about making your own, besides the lower cost, is the amount you can make for a large group of children like a classroom, girl scout troop or just having friends over to the house.  Start out by collecting bottles that can squeeze out paint, like mustard bottles or used paint bottles that are empty. You can also buy the bottles at the store that have not been used. For some strange reason my children have an aversion to mustard and I know they will not want to use paint from a used mustard bottle.  If you prefer to use a paintbrush to use the puffy paint that would work  also. This paint will dry super shiny and will rise. This will be a hit with the children.

You will need:

Flour

Water

Salt

Food coloring

Mix equal parts of all the materials except the food coloring.  Pour into separate cups. add the desired color of food coloring and mix well. You can then have the children paint with paintbrushes from the cup, or you can our the paint into separate squeezable containers.

This recipe is easy for the children to make their very own paint. Anytime children can make their own craft stuff to use is a great accomplishment.  Another advantage of this easy recipe is that little hands can help even if they stick their curious little fingers in their mouth.  The paint is non-toxic. I have not stored any of this paint, so I will have to update the post when I get the chance to see how well and long this puffy paint will store.  Please feel free to let me know if you figure it out!


Making A Tree With Meaning


As a teacher, there are many fun ways to send home art projects that capture the child’s age and size. This is a fun activity that may take some extra helping hands if you have more than one child or doing as a group. Looking at the picture you can see how messy the kiddos are going to get with paint up to their elbows. This art activity will take some preparation before the children enter the picture.

You will need:

Paint (red, green and brown)

Paper

Area with paper or plastic art covering to protect flooring

Start with the brown paint and place along child’s arm and thumb. Have them place their arm onto the paper. Make sure you help them lift the arm off of the paper. If not, it could lead to some messy prints. Have the child clean up. Next, use the green paint to put on child’s hands and fingers to make leaves. Again, clean up and place red paint on one thumb to create the apples on the tree. This would be a creative project for the end of the year gift to parents with a child’s poem written about growing like a tree. As always quotes add an inspirational moment to the gift. Younger students can write a sentence such as “Look at me, I am growing like an apple tree!”

If you wanted to include a math project for kindergarten and younger, you could have them make a certain number of apples in the tree. For example, have index cards with numbers written “ten” or numerically written “10,” then the child would make the amount that their card was labeled. It all depends on the child or children. They could have to make an even number of apples to practice the meaning of even and odd in mathematics. The mini-lesson possibilities in art and all day long are endless!

This art project would also relate to Arbor day, seasons, family tree and a beginning of the year art project for the wall. This applies to teachers, child care professionals, home school moms and scout leaders.

I always recommend finding a paint with no gluten in it, as some art supplies contain hidden gluten. This would be for classrooms or parents that have children with celiac disease.


Earth Day Song and Poem

This is a simple song and tune for children of all ages to enjoy. Ideal for Earth Day or during any unit on nature and recycling.

Recycling

Sing to the tune of I’ve Been working on the Railroad

We’ve been working on the recycling.

All the trash we can.

We’ve been working on recycling.

It’s a simple plan.

Separate your glass and paper,

Separate your plastic and tin.

Take the trash you have recycled

to the recycling bin!

If you would like a memorable, yet simple activity for children to celebrate nature, try writing a poem.

Write Your Own Poem or Song

First have children with a paper and clipboard or poetry journal if they have one. Lay down outside and watch the sky, trees and surrounding environment. Have them write words, phrases and feelings that come to their mind. then, gather at a table or back inside. Have them write a poem using the words and feelings they noted outside. Another version is write a letter to the earth or nature.

How to Make a Nature Can


A perfect activity for families and classes to celebrate Earth Day! I found this on Plum Pudding and I am excited to try it out with the children this month. There little eyes find treasures everywhere. This nature box is a creative way to keep all of their loved rocks and treasures and also helps to keep the house organized. I find this activity to be perfect for our family. This would also be a cute gift box for wrapped food gifts. Click on the link below to get directions on making your own nature can.

Nature Can Activity by Plum Pudding


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