Writing is a very important skill for children to master. Writing involves creativity, comprehension, fine motor skills, sometimes the ability to follow directions, reading, and so much more. Writing is one of the five early literacy practices helping prepare children for school.
Here is a simple activity you can do with your child to incorporate writing into your day.
- Crayons, Markers, or other item for coloring
- A favorite book
For my example, we read the story Orange Bear Apple Pear by Emily Gravett. It is a simple story with four words: orange, bear, apple, pear. The author uses the words in fun ways through her illustrations.
After we read the story, I asked my group of children to think of four words. They could use any four words. When they had a little trouble thinking of words, I asked them to name their favorite color, fruit, and animal.
We moved to the table. I gave them each a large piece of paper, and I told them to use their four words to write a story and draw a picture to go with it.
The most important part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. The hardest part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. Yes, you read that correctly. As adults, we have a tendency to want to make our children’s work perfect or help them the entire way. For this project, it’s important to let them figure it out on their own. Let them sound out the words and “kid spell.” Let them draw an animal the way they “see” it.
We did this with a mixture of age groups from 3 to 8 years old.
This mixes a little bit of process art (letting them create on their own) with a little bit of product art (there’s a specific end result with a few instructions). You will be surprised what your child comes up with!
Try this the next time your child wants to color or paint.
Find a table or chair low to the ground. Something that is only two or three feet off the ground. Cut a paper grocery bag open or use a large piece of paper. Tape the paper to the under side of the table.
Show your child a book about the artist Michelangelo. Show him a picture of the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. Explain how it took Michelangelo four years to paint it and he did the ceiling work while he was on his back. Ask your child how it might feel like to do something like that.
Now you will need to find some classical music. I like using soundtracks to movies. Something like Fantasia or Harry Potter. Have your child slide under the table on his back. Let him color or paint to the sound of the music on the paper. The music will help create a peaceful atmosphere and keep your child coloring longer.
Take a few minutes to color with your child. Talk about what you are drawing. You may need to use a pillow for your child’s head or back.
It’s starting to feel like Fall around here. The air feels cool and crisp. The leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. You can find pumpkins and mums everywhere. So I want to share some outside of the box games you can play with your children right now.
1. Friendly monsters. This is an easy project using materials you already have at home. I used felt and cut out random shapes and pieces. You could use old cereal boxes for a sturdy base. You could use construction paper or old fabric, feathers, pipe cleaners–whatever you might have on hand. Then the fun begins. As your children design the monster faces talk to them about what they look like and why. Ask your children to tell you a story about their monsters. Have fun with this activity. Let your child be creative. If you can record them telling you about their monster or write down the story.
2. Where the Wild Things Are. After reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, use up your craft supplies and create your own wild thing. Ask your child questions relating to the story to help with story recall. Ask your child what it would be like to be Max. Talk to your child about the wild things in the story. Ask your child what would it be like if they went to their room and dreamed of a faraway place with “wild things.”
3. Stacking Pumpkin Towers. This is a great STEM activity. You will need toothpicks and some kind of gummy candy. We used pumpkin candy. Give your children the materials (making sure to tell them to be careful with the toothpicks), and then let theme have fun trying to build the tallest tower. If their tower falls, let them figure out what went wrong. Guide them with clues. This is a great activity to teach problem solving. You can also include counting and measuring.
4. Pumpkin Hammering. This is a great game to use a pumpkin if you do not want to carve it or if you have an extra pumpkin. Using plastic nails or large push pins and a plastic hammer, let your child hammer the nails/pins into the pumpkin. Add rubber bands around the nails or pins to create shapes. Talk about what shapes you created. Ask your child to identify the colors of the pins or the names of the shapes.
5. Fall Leaf Prints. This is a work of art for your refrigerator. It works best with watercolor paper, but you can use regular paper as well. Have your child gather three to four leaves–different shapes work well, if possible. Place the leaves flat under the paper. Rub the side of a white crayon over the paper pressing hard where the leaves are. (For younger children, you could do this before the children come to the table to make it a surprise.) Then let your child use watercolors to paint on the paper, allowing colors to mix. Watch your child’s face as the leaf shapes appear! And I recommend reading Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley.
Don’t forget to stop by the library and tell us which activity was your favorite this month!
Remember this post from two years ago? In case you missed it, we discussed a few activities you can do with your children after you finish sharing a book together…activities that help bring the book to life. Today, I wanted to share a few activities with you that come from some of our children’s librarians.
- My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
- Create animals using various paper heart sizes. Use fun-themed paper or plain construction paper and decorate with other supplies you already have.
- Press Here by Herve Tullet
- This one is tons of fun but simple to do and only requires two items: paper and BINGO daubers. Use the daubers to make dots on the paper.
- Any books on bubbles or baths
- Use bubble wrap to paint a picture. Have your child brush paint on the bubble wrap, and then press a blank sheet of paper on top of the bubble wrap. Squish it around to make beautiful designs.
- Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
- Make snowmen out of doilies layered in large circle shapes.
- Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
- Draw circles in different colors on a blank piece of paper. Let your child paint inside the circles with matching watercolor paint. No watercolor available? Take old washable markers and set them in shallow cups of water for a little while. The color will bleed into the water and revive the old markers. Your child can then use the markers to color in the circles. One important note: let your child match the colors.
The most important part of extending a book beyond the pages is just to have fun. You don’t need a huge number of supplies, and you don’t need to make it a big project. Don’t forget to stop in to your local Stark County District Library location and tell your children’s staff what your favorite activity was!
Last week we talked about bringing the snow indoors and painting it as an extension activity after reading books about the winter and snow. This week we continue our snowy day theme with tape resist painting.
- White art board/canvas OR thick construction paper
- Watercolor, fingerpaint, or washable paint
- Masking tape OR blue painters’ tape
1. Tape off the edges of the paper or canvas. Begin to create the tree using the tape. Tear the tape into skinny pieces to make the branches. Use tiny pieces of tape around the background of the canvas–this will eventually look like falling snow once the tape is removed.
2. Let your child paint all over the canvas. Let them paint on the tape, but make sure they paint all over the white paper or canvas. Talk to them about the colors mixing. Ask questions. Let your child use his finger to add a red cardinal to one of the branches.
3. Sprinkle glitter on the wet paint.
4. Once the paint has dried slightly, begin to peel the tape off. Add lines across the white areas of the tree so it resembles a birch tree.
5. Talk about the winter scene and let your child make up a story about what is happening.
On days like today, it’s easy to stay inside, put on a movie and watch television or play video games all day–especially, if weren’t planning to stay inside all day. But when it’s too cold and icy to go outside for extended periods of time, here is an easy activity you can do with your children while you try to stay busy inside. You need to things: watercolors and snow. That’s right: snow.
Give your child a bowl or container filled with snow. Let them explore the snow for what it is. Describe it. Cold. Slippery. Wet. Icy. White. Clumpy. Smooth. Sandy. Then give them a set of watercolors or colored water if you don’t have watercolors (just add a couple drops of food coloring to water–be careful though…it’s not as washable as watercolors). Then let them have fun painting the snow. Ask them what they are painting or what happens when the colors mix as they paint. Talk about the rainbow they create.
As an extension, read books about snow and/or rainbows.
Singing, talking, playing, and reading. It can be done in less than one hour. I promise. And I’m going to tell you how.
Step 1: Visit your Stark County District Library location and attend storytime. That’s all.
Here’s the proof: Today at storytime, we read three books, sang four songs, played in the water table with water, candy canes, and toys, talked about the reaction between the water and candy canes, and then created a beautiful candy cane painting. And we were done by 11:15 (just 45 minutes after we started).
And just in case you can’t make it to the library, here’s how you can do all of this at home.
We started with the storytelling portion of storytime. You just need a couple books and some songs. As you read, feel free to stop and ask questions about the characters, storyline, or pictures. Here’s what we used:
- Welcome Song: “Wiggle Them, Wiggle Them”
- Action Rhyme: “This is Big, Big, Big” 2x
- Story: Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney (let your child choose the story…we chose this because Foster loves the Llama Llama series)
- Song: “Up on the Housetop” with hand motions 2x
- Story: Shh (this is my absolute favorite Santa story) by Julie Sykes
- Song: “Jingle Bells” (you can add bells to make even more fun!)
- Story: Peek-a-Boo Snowman by Charles Reasoner
Then we moved to the play portion of the program. I filled a water table (you can use a sink or the bathtub) with about three inches of water (if that). We talked about the water. What does it feel like? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it warm?
Then I pulled out the candy canes! What happens if we put a candy cane in water? We made a few guesses and then tried it. Immediately, the water started to bubble around the candy and the color started disappearing. While the candy dissolved, I gave the children some toys to play with. Don’t be afraid to use words like sink, float, disappear, light, heavy, etc. You’ll be surprised what your children already know.
The last thing we did during storytime was our candy cane painting masterpiece! You need a little red paint (add a little peppermint extract for a sensory bonus!), a marble and a candy cane paper cut out. Place the candy candy cutout in a flat container, squirt a little paint in the corner, and roll the marble back and forth in the container over the paper. Talk about what is happening and why the marble rolls the way it does.
So, while I can’t guarantee storytime will always involve a water table and candy canes, I encourage you to visit your library for storytime and other fun programs because I can guarantee you’ll sing, talk, read, play (and possibly write)! And I encourage you to try these activities at home!
Today, we are going to share a fun activity you can do with your child any time of year. This comes from one of our favorite storytime themes: bubbles.
Bubbles are a great activity for any time of year. There are so many different kinds of bubbles available, too. You can find colored bubbles, bubbles that won’t pop, bubbles that are big, bubbles that are small, bubble machines that do all the work, etc. You can blow bubbles in the summer and watch them fly away. You can blow bubbles in the winter and watch what happens when they float through the cold air. You can read about bubbles, and then you can paint with bubbles–or a type of bubble.
Pairing a book with an extension activity is important because it helps make the book more memorable. It helps make the book come to life. Here are a few books we love about bubbles…
- Bubbles Float, Bubbles Pop! by Mark Weakland
- Bubbles, Bubbles by Kathi Appelt
- Troubles with Bubbles by Frank B. Edwards
- Pop! A Book about Bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
- Bubbles Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock
- Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy
After you read the story or learn more about bubbles, you can do many activities including painting with bubbles, blowing bubbles, and making your own bubbles.
Painting with bubbles:
Add food coloring to a soapy mixture in a bowl, place a piece of paper on top of the bowl, and then blow through a straw into the liquid to make as many bubbles as you can. Remind younger children not to suck on the straw–only to blow. When you lift the paper, you will have a beautiful picture.
Add a little powdered paint or food coloring to your bubble mixture and blow bubbles on a large piece of paper.
They say “April showers bring May flowers…” and, while I know that flowers are on their way, this rain makes me want to stay home, curl up on the couch and read a good book. Maybe the saying should be “April showers make for extended book nook time…” So while you are stuck indoors, here are some fun ideas inspired by Eric Carle and his illustrations.
To begin, go to your local library and stock up on Eric Carle books. Here is a list to get you started.
Sit down with your child and explore the books together. Read the words. Describe the pictures. Ask questions. Let your child ask you questions.
Here is a great blog post with examples of what you could do. Make sure you go to Eric Carle’s website after you read this. He gives step by step instructions are how he creates some of his most basic illustrations. Here is a link to a slideshow where he paints tissue paper: http://www.eric-carle.com/slideshow_paint.html
Don’t forget to visit your library and show your librarian you work of art!