family activity · story · topic

Elmer is Unique and so are YOU

This week we will look at stories and activities that help children appreciate differences and acceptance of the uniqueness of individuals.

Today listen to the story Elmer by David McKee (read by David McKee). Elmer is a patchwork elephant that lives in a herd of all gray elephants. Elmer’s friends love to laugh at Elmer’s humor, but Elmer worries that they are laughing at his patchwork. He finds a way to change his skin to gray to fit in, but then realizes that the herd isn’t the same without Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’s presence.

Elmer and his friends learn a valuable lesson… the things that make you different are the things that make you special. This is a lesson that educators work to instill in their classes. The look that uniqueness is not a thing to be looked down upon, but instead to be seen as assets.

Chat about the things that make your child special. Look at physical, emotional, behavioral and other differences. Discuss likes and dislikes. How to these attributes make you… you?

At the end of the story, all the elephants have one day a year where they decorate themselves to show their own unique differences too. (Elmer paints himself gray on these days, to still stand out in his own way). Have your child draw an elephant, or print one off the web. Write on the top of the page “I am special because I am ME” Then around the elephant write attributes that make you… you!

Finally decorate your elephant to show off these attributes. What makes you different is what makes you special, celebrate these differences.

This would make a great family project. Have each member of the family create their own unique elephants. Show that there are attributes that are similar across the family, and ones that are special and unique to each individual.

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!

art · story · topic

Poinsettia

Poinsettia is one of the most popular plants in the US, it even has it’s own “holiday” December 12th is Poinsettia Day. This plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala. In the winter the leaves transform into the well known red coloring with a cluster of yellow buds in the middle.

Zetta the Poinsettia by Alma Hammond

So, lets do some poinsettia fun…

Here is a direct drawing with Art for Kids Hub!

Now let’s make a paper poinsettia. Using red, green and yellow construction paper. Cut leaves out of the red and green paper. I folded both sheets into quarters and then cut two leaf shapes out of the quarter sized paper making 8 of each color, but you don’t have to do it this way. I chose to lay down the green leaves and then layer the red on top. Then I tore the yellow paper to make the poinsettia flower in the middle.

art · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · writing

Let’s Build a Snowman!

Even before Frozen asked “Do you want to build a snowman?….”, building a snowman was a favorite snowy weather activity. (I found out that the first recording of building a snowman was in 1380.)

So, how do you build a snowman? Well… SciShow Kids will tell you in Do you want to build a snowman? So yes, the answer to how to build a snowman is SCIENCE! And I just have to share this favorite from my classes MooseTube’s Yes, I want to build a snowman.

And since we are sharing favorites from my classes. Here are two favorite snowman building stories: Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan and All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle.

Ok… now that we have heard and seen how to build a snowman… let’s write about it.

This is the beginning steps of informative writing… how do you build a snowman? first, then, next, finally for the steps. I chose to fold the paper into four columns this time, but you could do the same thing by folding the paper into four quadrants. The goal is to break it down into simple steps. If you do not have your child doing the writing, make sure to have them articulate the steps.

This is a narrative writing based on Sadie and the Snowman. Sadie used different snack items to make her snowman’s face each time. Have your child draw a picture of a snowman and decide what (s)he would use for the eyes, nose and mouth.

art · story · topic

Snow Rabbit

In the winter, some animals fur change color. Not all animals with fur change color, but some do and scientist have some ideas as to why. One being that they blend better with the snow. They also believe it might be that the lack of melatonin with creates the color allows for air to be trapped in the hair creating a buffer from the elements.

Hares are one animal that changes color. Not all rabbits change but the Artic hare, mountain hare and snowshoe hare are among those who change. (other animals that change color include: artic fox, Siberian hamsters, Ptarmigans [a type of bird], collard lemmings, peary caribou, and weasels)

Let’s listen to the story Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na

Now, let’s create a picture of a snow rabbit.

art

One Last Candy Activity!

Today I’m going to start by linking you to FOUR direct drawings! Yep… 4! They are all different drawings of candy. As you can tell, I really like Arts for Kids Hub for direct drawings!

Today’s story: Harriet’s Halloween Candy by Nancy Calton

Today’s project… provide your child white, yellow and orange paper. Show your child the shape of candy corn. Encourage your child to draw and cut out a candy corn shape. Now tear or cut the white, yellow and orange paper to cover and create your own paper candy corn. (These pictures are from when my own sons were 3 and 4)

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween… I will see you again on Monday when we start a new month and new theme… Animals get ready for winter!

art · story

If you’re a Monster…

Today let’s listen to the story/song: If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberley. This is to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know it, but with a twist.

The illustrations in this story are very bold and on black. This is a great opportunity to create some paper art. In school, I keep a crate of construction paper scraps and we use them all the time for these projects. At home, just keep the larger scraps from art projects in a bin or bag and put them out whenever you want your child to cut up paper to do an art project… reduce, reuse, recycle.

Encourage your child to add the elements in the story on their monster so they can then retell the story with their monster!

art · phonemic awareness · story

Monsters Puppets Love Words

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley. This story will quickly become a favorite. I would encourage you to listen to it once and then the second time have your child create big green monster while listening to the story. It is a great story for retelling!

Today lets make monster puppets. For my sample I used both markers and construction paper. I love encouraging children to use mixed media. You could also add other items such as yarn, buttons, googly eyes etc… the key is creativity!

For Words Wednesday we are going to work on blending onset and rime. Onset is the first sound you hear in a word and the rime is the rest of the word.

One way to help your child see the pattern is to either work with word family words or words groups (animals, names, foods or other familiar groups of words)

Here is a simple chant to use with your child(ren)

  • It starts with a /__/,
  • And it ends with /___/
  • Put it together,
  • and you say __________. (your child needs to say the word)

It starts with a /c/ and ends with /at/. Put it together and you say “cat”

It starts with a /h/ and ends with /orse/. Put it together and you say “horse”

If your child is struggling still, I would provide visual clues. Provide a group of pictures or toys or other items and use words represented there, this helps the visual learner make the auditory connections.

It stars with a /c/ and it ends with /ar/. Put it together and you say “car”.

It starts with a /d/ and it ends with /oll/. Put it together and you say “doll”.

When your child gets good at this, switch the rolls. Have your child say the first part of the rhyme and you finish it with the answer.

art · math · STEAM · teachers pay teacher

Monster Math!

This week is all about MONSTERS! This is such a fun topic for children as they can be both fun and scary. But we will focus on the fun side! Today’s story Monster Math by Anne Miranda… read by Anne Miranda! This is a story about a Monster’s birthday and how many monsters join the fun!

Shape Monster created by Adam Ray Daniels’ Cartoons for my TPT store kits

So … it’s time for a favorite activity and character: Shape Monster! Shape Monster Shape Monster munch, munch, munch? How about about a (color) (shape) for your lunch! This is a common kindergarten shape activity, but can so easily be adapted!

I’ll share with you a few ideas on how you can use the shape monster today.

Create simple shape monsters (or complex if you want). Put them onto bags or onto empty boxes to make the shape monster’s lunch bag/box. Label each monster with a shape. (circle monster, square monster, rectangle monster etc…). Have your child find items around they can put into the shape monster’s lunch bag.

Provide your child with construction paper, either already cut into shapes or have your child cut his/her own shapes. Use the shapes to create a monster out of shapes… a shape monster! Or if you do not have construction paper, they can just draw a monster out of shapes!

Want more shape monster fun? I have two kits in my store that use Shape Monster!

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Shape Monster’s 2D lunch time mini book ($2)… Help shape monster find the shapes he wants to for lunch. Each page focuses on one shape and provides a color for each shape. And, Shape Monster himself describes the shapes attributes.

Shape Graphing with Shape Monster ($1)… This kit has your child(ren) sorting and graphing shapes. The kit includes four different graphing pages (spin and graph, color and graph, grab and graph and find and graph)