Homemade Monday: Just like Michelangelo…

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. img_0080

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.img_0081 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.

 

Homemade Mondays: Mirror Games

Mirrors are a simple way to entertain your child and help their development, too! Mirrors help strengthen social/emotional development, image tracking, body awareness, bonding, focus, and object permanence. They are a great way to practice writing skills as well as your child grows.

img_9581You will want to use a non-breakable, child safe mirror for these games.

For your preschoolers and school-age children, use a dry erase marker to have them practice writing their name, sight words, vocabulary words, and spelling words. Have them practice words that interest them. They can practice writing letters of the alphabet or their numbers. They can even draw pictures–ask questions about what they are drawing to help increase their vocabulary.

For younger children, use the mirror to play peek-a-boo. Point to different parts of baby’s body like the nose, ears, eyes, hand, etc. Say their names out loud. Make a face and ask baby to imitate your face. These are great games to get siblings involved by letting them hold a hand-held mirror.

For more fun activities with mirrors, check out Mirror Play for Infants and Why Babies Love Mirrors.

Here are some great books for you to read with your child about playing peekaboo!

Homemade Mondays: Fabric Scraps

Have you ever left the baby wipe container sitting out where your child can reach it only to find all of the wipes scattered all over the floor? Or perhaps the tissue box was left on a table within the reach of your toddler and now it looks like it may have snowed on your living room floor? Here is an inexpensive (virtually free!) and quick way to solve this problem–at least when you remember to keep the tissues and wipes in a hard to reach img_9577place.

Peek-a-Boo boxes are a great way to let your child have fun pulling out scraps of fabric or scarves from a box without using up all the tissues or wipes. I found these great little treat boxes after the holidays for pennies, but you can use a Kleenex box (the kind with a hole on top not on the side) or an old baby wipes container. Simply stuff the box with scraps of fabric or lightweight scarves.

You can use scraps of fabric to play matching games as well as build vocabulary. I found fabric swatches at a local fabric store. They usually have them in the upholstery section precut. Often times they are free (just ask before taking). img_9576I cut the fabric in to two pieces. For toddlers and preschoolers, hide one piece of the fabric in a bedroom or living room or other child-friendly space in your house. Show your child its matching piece, and then send them around the room to look for its mate.

You can also use the fabric to talk about texture, size, color, and shape. Ask questions about how it feels using words like soft, stretchy, heavy, light, and rough in addition to color or shape names.

 

Five Activities for the Fall

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.

img_95311. 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.

 

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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 img_9529-2some 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.

 

 

img_95304. 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, img_9549but 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!

Sing a Little Song, Recite a Little Rhyme: Part One

The next couple of week we will be sharing our staff’s favorite songs and rhymes. These can be heard during storytime at many of our locations.

Singing and rhyming can have a very positive impact on young children. Singing helps break up the syllables in words, which makes identifying the parts of words easier. Rhymes help children hear the sounds that make up words, which makes reading easier as children are able to identify parts of words quicker. For instance, say the words “Twinkle, Twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are…” out loud. Now sing those lyrics out loud. Chances are you slowed down a little bit to sing the lyrics. This made hearing the parts of the word simpler. It also allowed you to hear the rhymes better.

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Fun fact: If children can identify all of the words in a word family (-at, -an, -ig, -it, etc…), they will know more than 500 words! How cool is that?!

So, here are a couple of rhymes and songs you can sing with your child when they wake up in the morning or after naptime, in the bathtub, when it is time to change a diaper, when it is time for bed, in the car…and remember, you do not have to be an American Idol to sing a song to your child.

Sunshine, Sunshine
(use a scarf to “dance” around your child–a Miss Elizabeth original)
Sunshine, sunshine warms my nose,
Sunshine, sunshine warms my toes.
Sunshine, sunshine warms my chin,
Sunshine, sunshine makes me grin.
Sunshine, sunshine at my side,
Sunshine, sunshine time to hide.
Sunshine, sunshine warms my head,
Sunshine, sunshine goes to bed.
(can be used with bubble, flower, raindrop, and snowflake)

A Hunting We Will Go
(change out the words mouse/house, dragon/wagon with your own fun rhyming words)
A hunting we will go, A hunting we will go
We found a mouse, and put him in a house
A hunting we will go.

A hunting we will go, A hunting we will go
We found a dragon, and put him in a wagon
A hunting we will go.

Stay tuned for more fun rhymes this month!

 

Homemade Monday: Puzzle of Opposites

Here’s a new way to look at any of those wooden/board puzzles you might have in your toy chest, closet, or playroom floor your children are tired of putting together.

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Instead of putting the puzzles together based on the actual picture on the front of each piece, write and/or draw opposite pairs on each piece and the board onto which they fit. Turn the pieces so they are face side down. Then your children can match the opposites.