Puppets and Stories: Finger Painting Part 2

Preschool art series, continued...
As a kid, I played with puppets a lot and came up with a fair number of wacky stories in the process. Since then, I have created a lot more stories, but have done very little oral storytelling. As a result, introducing my kids to puppets has been fun--and stretching.
The first part, creating a puppet, is super easy:Start with a paper lunch bag.Decorate it! You can just use paint, or you can add other materials--glue on feathers, clothes with markers, or glue paper arms onto the bag.Use triangles or semi-circles to add ears, and ovals to add arms.Add a face: eyes and a mouth. We used white paint on top of the other paint to create our puppets' faces: one thumbprint per eye, and a curvy line underneath for the mouth. You could also cut out paper shapes, and add more details too.
(Preschool art tip: if you are working with 2-3 year-olds, you may need to cut out the shapes and show them where to place the ears, eyes, etc. With 4-5 year-olds, you might…

Counting Flowers...

Yes, I know that “April showers bring May flowers.”
And it's still April.

At the moment, though, we’ve got a lot of April flowers.

Yesterday, on a walk, we started looking for different colors of flowers. (My initial goal was to slow my oldest child down a bit, so that the rest of us could keep up with him. I used to think there was no way I could ever run any substantial distance--that seems to changing now, as a matter of necessity.)

Anyway, today, we decided to count all the flowers in our yard--and a few more around our neighborhood. It made for a good outdoor preschool activity, and kept us busy for at least an hour, including a short walk through our local area.
Any guesses how many flowers we found?
At least 40.
I didn't take pictures of everything we saw--and we only picked flowers in our own yard (not counting the dandelions next to the road), but we found 40 unique species of flowers, counting bulbs, weeds, and even trees.
That’s just the ones with some sort of bud…

Circles and Fish: Finger Painting Part 1

Preschool art series, continued…

Last fall, I discovered the simple way to paint a picture: use a paper plate!

At the time, we were doing a preschool art program at our community center. Two of the four projects used paper plate circles. One circle became a pumpkin, and the other a moon. The plate was both the canvas and the image.

If you look up paper-plate art projects, there are dozens or hundreds of ways to use a paper plate (or some similar circle): add triangles for ears and paint an animal, add strings and make a hot-air balloon, or add cotton balls to the center to create a flower.

I've created a relatively simple project that combines this circle art with some easy scissor practice. We started with the basic circle, and then cut it into sections, gluing the sections together to create a fish.

You can keep things simple by using a paper plate. I traced a circle onto painting paper, partly to add some extra scissor practice to our project.

(Art tip for preschoolers: I start my…

Playtime with flour: messy but easy

Preschool art series, continued…
Once upon a time, I decided to avoid cleaning the house by letting my oldest get it a little messier.
That’s where this flour activity started.
I’ve actually been working on this particular post for a while. Unfortunately, on top of everything else going on, my kids have been taking turns getting sick. My youngest was just starting to sleep through the night before this, so I’ve been missing the extra sleep a little bit more than usual. She’s doing better now, though, and I’m now trying to catch up on life again.
As a result, the kids have gotten to play with their flour this week, since it keeps them occupied for 20-30 minutes at least without a lot of supervision. Clean up, on the other hand, is a bit more hands-on!
This is definitely a messy activity, but it’s been a fun way to add some sensory play on occasion, and the flour is surprisingly easy to sweep or vacuum up afterwards. Most of the time, the kitchen needs sweeping anyway, so once we’re do…

5 types of messy art: the washable version

To continue with my preschool art series…

Kids’ art can be messy sometimes. Especially when the art doesn’t happen on paper.
Pens and markers on the wall? We’ve gotten prodigiously lucky so far, but—to be honest—I have sometimes allowed my kids to draw on the walls.
I’ve even encouraged it on a couple of occasions. It started once upon a time…
…when we decided to drive across the country with a toddler. That trip took us half a dozen long days of driving, split up over several weekends.
Yes, we let him play with a tablet on the drive.
We also found an 8x11” whiteboard with dry erase markers for him to play with in the car.
He did need me to wipe the board clean every 2-3 minutes, and he did paint his hands, legs, and face prolifically. At the end of the day, though, the markers washed off with a bit of water—even the big red blotch that soaked into his jacket after sitting on a marker for most of a day.
After our success with the markers, we picked up a set of washable crayons to add to ou…

A Story in the Snow

One morning last fall, we had a squad of raccoons wander across our yard, past the house, and over the back fence. The kits were big enough that I couldn’t tell them apart from the mom, as they clambered around the trees, before disappearing down the hill. They’ve moved on now, though, and only Mom Raccoon is around now.

How do I know? Well, I found Mom Raccoon's tracks recently, when we had a bit of unexpected snow.

I could see her tracks from our living room window, actually—a neat little line across the back yard.

When we went outside later in the morning we hunted around and found the rest of her trail.

Apparently, Mom Raccoon came around one neighbor’s house, across our driveway and up into the other neighbor’s yard. Then, back down to our driveway, following it down a line of trees that had blocked most of the snow. Tiptoe along our railroad-tie retaining wall, duck under the fence, and wander across the backyard to the same section of fence she’d climbed over the summer, …

The 5 senses: a preschool activity

Yesterday I posted a list of preschool activities. I’m sure the list made me sound super organized and efficient. Unfortunately, I’m not.

For example: a while ago, I bought a neat calendar that showed day-by-day schedules for preschoolers with music time, fun finger snacks, art projects, and play ideas. I’ve looked at the calendar a few times, but so far, all of our projects have been spontaneous. A book mentions volcanoes… “What is a volcano?”  Well, thank you, Youtube and the Hawaiian lava fields, for showing us exactly what a volcano is and does.
(This is what Montessori/child-lead learning is all about, right?)

Anyway: A few months ago, Munchkin and I started talking about how we see and smell. The topic seemed a bit abstract for preschoolers, so I created a 'sensory paper' to show the five senses and how we use them. This is a really easy craft for preschoolers to do, and I can guarantee you’ve got all the supplies, so here’s how to make your own:
Supplies:Take one piece …