art · story

Strawberries

This weekend, my son and I went to pick strawberries. Have you ever gone and picked strawberries? There is nothing sweeter than strawberries picked fresh off the plant.

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Let’s start by listening the Cherokee story The First Strawberries retold by Joseph Bruchac. In the story, the man went out to hunt for food and the woman stayed home and picked flowers. The man returned tired, hungry and upset, so the wife left. The sun offered to help the man and tried to catch the woman’s attention. Many berries were created by the sun, but it was the strawberry that caught her attention. The story ends by saying that the Cherokee people believe that the sweetness of the strawberry is a reminder that respect and friendship are as sweet and ripe as strawberries.

Watch this time lapse of strawberries growing . Draw out a part of the time lapse, or draw out a time line of the growth.

The watch Art for Kids Hub to draw a strawberry.

Create a list of favorite strawberry items.

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art · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Rainbows

When looking for rainbow stories to share I came across The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of our world shutting down. On March 13, 2020 my world was shaken. That was the last day my sons went to school in the building, the last day my husband went into work, the last day I was teaching in person. It was the first day of major change. One year is a long time in everyone’s life but a really long time in the life of young children. But, we make the best of it. We learn. We grow. We have fun. We can hope that one day really soon life will begin to look a bit more like normal. We can search for the rainbow of hope and know that it is coming….

Let’s learn a bit about the science of rainbows. Listen to the story All the Colors of the Rainbow by Allen Fowler. Then watch SciShow Kids How to Make a Rainbow.

While in the science of rainbows we learn that the colors in light are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, there are so many other beautiful colors in our world. They are the colors of nature. The colors of our skin tones. The colors in my crayon box. Listen to the story Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy. This is a great conversation piece about the rainbows of our world. Color a rainbow with skin tone crayons. Color a rainbow with only your favorite colors, or least favorite colors. Color a rainbow based on yourself.

While we want children to learn about the science behind rainbows and understand that the light is broken down into the colors we can see, we also want them to understand that rainbows are a sight of beauty … and all colors are beautiful.

art · family activity · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Today I want to share one of my favorite books to read in my classes Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. Grandpa tells the best stories… Travel to the Land of Chewandswallow where it rains food three times a day. (In my opinion this book is WAY better than the movie!). There are two more books in this series Pickles to Pittsburgh and Planet of the Pies.

Each of these fun books easily lends themselves to lots of fun and creative activities! Write a weather report for the Land of Chewandswallow to go with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. What would you like to see it rain for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Have your child help you plan and cook a meal of their choosing and pretend the ingredients fell from the sky.

Design a machine that the Falling Food Company can use to help move and package the food for delivery, after reading Pickles to Pittsburgh. This machine can be drawn, built, or even just explained from your imagination.

After reading Planet of the Pies, design a box to deliver the Martian pies to Earth. Create a machine to safely catch the pies before the hit Mars. Bake a pie!

Using literature as a jumping off spot for lessons is a great way to expand upon the learning. When children begin to make connections between the story and real life they are more connected to the learning. It will also help with working on comprehension skills as you can ask them to share pieces of the story that connect to the activity you are choosing to do at home.

art · story

Hats!

Today is Read Across America Day! March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and today is a day to celebrate how much his literature has helped children develop a love of learning.

I decided to focus on the Cat in the Hat’s hat! First, let’s read the story Who’s Hat is This? by Sharon Katz Cooper. This story shares many hats that are worn for different careers.

Now… let’s draw a hat that is easy to recognize… the Cat in the Hat’s hat! Follow along with Art for Kids Hub as they draw this famous hat! Or, make your own out of paper or markers or whatever creative materials you want! I made mine out of Lego.

Today is a great day to read. The best way to help your child to learn to read… is to read to your child!

art · story · topic

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Today we will read the story Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon. I have to say that I not only enjoyed this story, but the teacher who is sharing this book extends the learning to explain a bit about the musicians in the story.

The first activity today is to listen to Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Mood. While you listen to this song, draw. Drawing to music is a great way to express feelings. There is no right or wrong way to draw to music and just as Thelonious Monk believed in adding dissonance to his music, encourage your child to add things that look a bit “off” to their art. When I draw to music, I tend to just like to draw in the abstract, but many children find inspiration to more true to life drawings.

Next, listen to Eboni Ramm and the band explore the various types of jazz combining the story Kayla and Eli Discover Jazz by Steven Earl and samples of the types of music. (click here for the link to SC Jazz Festival’s exploration of this story and music). While listening to this story and music, do not sit and watch the video, get up and move! Listen to the different styles of jazz. How can you move your body to match the different jazz styles? Some music types might make you want to move your whole body and others just your head, toes or fingers. There is not a right way… the goal is to move. Which type of jazz did you like best? Did you like the jazz that gets you moving a lot or the ones that make you just want to sway?

art · STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic

Playdough

Did you ever wonder why teachers in the early years allow, encourage children to play with playdough? Often times parents see playdough as messy. It sticks to things, it gets on the rug and won’t come off. It gets under your nails and often times it smells strange. So why oh why do teachers want my child to play with it?

I’ll tell you why… it’s good for your child. Click here to read NAEYC’s (National Association for the Education of Young Children) article Playdough Power.

Benefits of playdough:

  • fine motor development
  • independent play
  • creativity
  • vocabulary
  • peer interactions
  • sensory play
  • dramatic (imaginative) play
  • science (cause and effect, textures etc)
  • math (size, thickness, number etc)

Ways to encourage and extend playdough play:

  • add tools (plastic knife, dowel for a rolling pin, cookie cutters)
  • read a story before playdough play to encourage play based on story topic
  • add toys (cars, construction vehicles, dolls/plastic toys)
  • provide kid size kitchen tools (pans, fork, knife etc)
  • natural products (rocks, sticks, leaves)
  • provide items to make textures (combs, strainers, buttons etc)

Ways to save your sanity

  • teach your child to clean up the playdough! use the playdough ball to pick up the smaller pieces
  • provide a mat, table cloth or cookie sheet for the playdough to be played on to contain the “mess”
  • provide bins for playdough toys to be collect into at the end of play
  • have your child think of the items to put into the playdough

Make your own playdough and you control the smell!

Basic no cook playdough recipe

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 Tbps of oil (cooking, baby oil, coconut oil etc)
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1- 1.5 cups of boiling water
  • color
  • scent (optional)
  1. Combine flour, salt and cream of tartar in a bowl
  2. add in oil
  3. Put color and/or scent into 1 cup of boiling water
  4. stir to bring together into a sticky ball. if it is too dry and won’t combine add up to 1/2 additional cup of boiling water, but add it slowly or you will put in too much
  5. when it is a sticky ball, let it cool for a bit
  6. roll it out onto the counter and then kneed the dough for a few minutes until the stickiness is gone. This is an important part in pulling the dough together. after a few minutes if it is still really sticky, add more flour
  7. store in an air tight container when not in use and it should last about a month

Colors and scents:

  • kool aid packets is a great way to add both color and scent to dough 2 packets added to the dry ingredients should give the color and smell you are looking for
  • food coloring (gels add more color than liquid)
  • extracts- vanilla, mint, orange, lemon
  • spices- cinnamon, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice

art · STEAM · story · topic

It’s Groundhog’s Day

It’s February 2nd the day to celebrate groundhogs!

You can:

Today is also a great day to learn about shadows! If it is a bright sunny day where you live, go outside and trace shadows with sidewalk chalk. You can go outside again later and see if the shadows have changed! A fun way to do this is to trace your child’s feet and then trace their shadow, later go out and stand in the feet outline… does your shadow still fit in the outline?

If it is too cold, ok like here in my town there is too much snow to do this activity outside today. But that does not mean you can’t play with shadows! Build something with Lego blocks, use dolls or action figures, or use other toys. Stand them on a white piece of paper and use a light to cast a shadow. Using a flashlight, you can change the length and direction of the shadows just as the sun does as the earth rotates.

art · STEAM · story · topic

More Penguin Fun

Today we will read another penguin story. This story is If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor. This fun story looks at many attributes of penguins and various activities that different penguins do based on where they live. You can use some of these facts to add onto your can/have/are chart from yesterday.

my paper penguin (he’s a macaroni penguin!)

Today we will make a penguin! A paper penguin. There are lots and lots of options on the web, or you can just provide your child with black, white, and yellow/orange construction paper and show him/her pictures of real penguins. This in my opinion is the best way to do these projects. Too often people get wrapped up in making the project perfect. They expect all the projects done in a classroom to look the same, or REALLY really similar, but why? I love seeing the size differences. The perception of what is and what is not the main features when you give children permission to be independent and do things on his/her own! So make a paper penguin… just have fun!

How can I add more learning to this craft? Easiest answer is to write. Have your child write a story about their penguin. This can be more information about the penguin OR it can be a story about the penguin. What is your penguin doing? Where is (s)he going? Think about the five senses. What can it see? Hear? Taste (what is it eating?)? What does it smell around? What can it feel?

You could have your child measure their penguin. You can use a ruler or work on non-standard measurement. How many 2×2 Lego blocks tall is your penguin? How many more cubes tall is it than it is wide? Can you find something that is taller than your penguin? Something shorter? Something the same height?

art · story · topic

Christmas Tree

When we think of Christmas, one image often comes to mind… the Christmas tree. It is believed that this tradition began in 16th century Germany. Trees were originally decorated with foods such as nuts, berries, apples and dates. Beginning in the 18th century, people began adding candles to their trees, but this was not very safe. The first Christmas lights were added to the Christmas 1895.

Let’s read some Christmas tree stories: The Littlest Christmas Tree by Janie Jasin and The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever by Steven Kroll.

I decided to share this Art for Kids Hub video How to Draw a Christmas Tree… it is a folding surprise picture. I chose it because when the picture is folded, it is a little Christmas tree, but when opened, it is the biggest one.

Let’s work together on a torn paper picture.

  • green sheet of construction paper
  • another color to use as the background
  • glue
  • markers
  1. tear the green paper into smaller pieces. encourage your child to use their pincer grasp to hold and tear the paper (fine motor work!)
  2. arrange the torn paper into the shape of a tree, if struggling draw a rough outline on the background paper
  3. After gluing all the pieces down, pick up the paper and let any that didn’t stick fall off. Glue them back on if needed
  4. use markers (or other colors of construction paper) to add ornaments and other decorations.
art · story · topic

Hanukkah

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. Each night, for 8 nights, families gather around and celebrate by lighting the Menorah. The Menorah symbolizes the oil that lasted long ago in the temple. After the Maccabean War, the Jewish people went back into their temple they only had enough oil for one night, but it lasted for eight nights. This is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. Each night, the shamash candle (the middle one) is light and from there the other candles are lit. One for each night of Hanukkah.

Families gather together and exchange gifts and a meal. They enjoy potato lakes, sufganiyot (a type of jelly filled donut) and other fried foods (in celebration of the oil that lasted 8 nights). The game of dreidel is played to try and win nuts or gelt (gold chocolate coins). And of course, they light the lights!

Learn more with from National Geographic’s Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights Starts Tonight.

This is the Dreidel by Abby Levine

Follow along as Art for Kids Hub makes a Menorah

Now, let’s make a Menorah. You can either have your child put the whole thing together on one day, or add candles from right to left each night as they do in the celebration.

cut a paper plate in half

one half leave whole, the other half cut out a triangle section for the base (you can color or paint the plate pieces or leave them white… your choice)

on the whole half you will draw curved lines to represent the “arms” of the menorah

cut nine thin rectangles from construction paper (I chose blue, but you can do white, blue, yellow, silver….)

make flames from tissue paper or yellow construction paper

now let’s light the lights!