Brushes and Shields: Finger Painting Part 3

Back in December--when I was looking for Christmas stories--I discovered Tomie DePaola's picture books. We started with his Old Befana, loved Little Grunt, and then found The Knight and the Dragon (mentioned in my post about dragon stories).

We were reading The Knight and The Dragon while we were doing another finger painting project--the same day, co-incidentally, that I had cut a couple of paper bags up for jackets.* Since the knight in the story had to create his own armor, and since the jackets did look rather like breastplates, I started to wonder whether we could also create shields from the paper bags.

We could, and we did.

This is, as usual, a fairly simple project.

Paper-bag shields:Take a paper-bag. Any grocery store bag with handles will work, though one with less printing works a bit better.Help your kids detach the handles from the top of the bag.Fold the bag down flat and fold the end over, taping or stapling it down to create a small, sturdy rectangle.Then, attach th…

Trees, seeds, and growing (stories) for spring

It's spring, and seeds are sprouting all over our yard right now--peas, maple trees, and dozens, and dozens, and hundreds of weeds. This week, I wanted to share some of the picture books about seeds and growing things that we've enjoyed reading.
"Spring, spring, spring! sang the robin." ~ Home for a Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
Do you have any favorite spring stories for preschoolers? Here are some of ours...

Who Will Plant a Tree? By Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Tom Leonard How do animals (and people) help to plant trees? This is a fun read with lots of repetition, showing a wide variety of seeds and the different ways they spread.

Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move, by JoAnn Early Macken, illustrated by Pam Paparone This one is similar to Who Will Plant a Tree, but maybe a bit more science-y? It explains a little more explanation about the seeds and plants, and where they grow.

A Seed Is Sleepy, by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long I found Aston’s An…

Picture...a dragon!

I’ve loved quirky dragon stories eve since reading Donita K. Paul’s DragonSpell
Miniature fainting dragons?

Yep. I’ll read books like that.
So, it’s not really surprising that we’ve read a fair number of dragon stories recently. (No, we haven’t read Dragons Love Tacos—I know it’s the popular dragon book of the moment, but we haven’t made it to that section of the library shelf yet.)
Here are five picture books about dragons, though, that we’ve read in the past year:
The Knight and the Dragon, by Tomie dePaola  Take one knight who has never fought a dragon. Add one dragon who has never fought a knight. Mix it up with a goofy fairy-tale parody, in a nearly wordless children’s book. (Optional: add sound effects to the wordless sections of the story.) My kids love it.

I found dePaola’s books back in December. We’ve only read 3-4 so far, but I love his stories and plan to find more of them. (Bonus recommendation, see Little Grunt and the Big Egg.) The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame …

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…