Friday, March 30, 2012

Bring the Outdoors in: Nature collage

Looking for a way to enjoy and capture the color and beauty found in early spring?  Then this fun, simple activity will be a perfect experience for you and your children.  Not many materials are needed.

Clear contact paper (as a side note, this is not as easily found as I was anticipating.  When looking for clear contact paper, do not go to your local grocery store, drug store or Staples as I attempted.  After 5 miserable failed attempts, I finally found the apparently illusive contact paper at Home Depot of all places), items from nature: grass, flowers, leaves..., string or ribbon, a hole punch, and a basket to collect your nature items.

While outdoors with your children offer them a basket and often all you'll need to do is take a step back and watch.  Children are natural collectors of beautiful, natural items and will make quick work of finding things to place in their baskets.

I was inspired to write about this by my 17 month old daughter.  Upon arriving home recently, she climbed out of the car and immediately bee-lined for the lawn where she quickly plucked a tiny acorn lid from the grass.  She was amazed by this beautiful item and insisted on bringing it indoors.  This moment reminded me of the many nature collages I have made over the years with the preschool aged students in my class.

Once their baskets are full, this is where the clear contact paper comes in.  You may now begin placing the natural items directly onto the contact paper.  Flat items work best for this.  Izzy's little acorn cap would be a bit challenging to use in this application.

If you are working with young toddlers as I was here, they will not only enjoy sticking items to the contact paper, but will want some time to simply enjoy the tactile experience of the paper itself!

Now that you have filled one piece of contact paper with your beautiful things, you can either place a new piece of contact paper on top to sandwich the items in between, or you could simply fold the paper in half as I did here.

This project is so open ended you can make any size collage you would like.

Once your collage is complete, there are a variety of applications for it.  If you made a small collage, punch a hole in the top, put a piece of string through and instant book mark!
These nature collages also make lovely window hangings.  They truly are a sight to see when the sun shines through.  Be creative and use your imagination (2 things young children are great at).  The variety and beauty found in nature will provide brilliant works of art.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Becoming more blog savy

Well I have finally figured out how to add tabs at the top of my blog thanks to lots of support from Lauren from the Tutus and Tea Parties blog thanks again for all your help.  Hopefully this will help my blog become more user friendly.  Stayed tuned for what's to come under the tab, Upcycle Monthly.  I will soon be featuring crafters and artists that make use of upcycled materials the first Saturday of every month.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scrap monster Giveaway!

I am sponsoring my first every giveaway at the Tutus and Tea Parties blog .  Head on over and find out how you can enter for a chance to win one of these cute little critters.  While there take a look around.  There are so many wonderful posts with crafting ideas and activities for children.

Sean and Izzy both love their scrap monsters.  They often use them as pillows at bedtime!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hands on Handwashing - A Lesson on Germs

If you are the parent of or work with young children, there is one thing you know all too well.  They are notoriously bad at sharing except for when it comes to their germs.  They have a tendency to pick their noses, chew on their fingers and rub their germs on any available surface.  Despite these undesirable behaviors, we love them all the same.

My niece Chloe demonstrating said undesirable behavior.
In an attempt to win the war against germs, I have often used the following activity to help children develop an understanding of germs and how they spread.  This activity also supports good hand washing practice.  And of course it's fun too!

You will need the following items: A dish pan, a few toys that can be washed with soap and water, cinnamon and vegetable oil (any oil will do, this is simply the most cost effective)

 Once you have gathered the necessary supplies it's time to begin.  Place your toys in the dish pan and coat them with oil.  Then sprinkle a bit of cinnamon all over the toys.

Now it's time to invite your children to join you.
Sean dove in right away.  Isabel was a bit unsure at the start.
For my purposes I placed a cloth underneath the bin in an attempt to contain the inevitable mess.

At this time, depending on the age of your children, you can have a brief discussion about germs and how you cannot see them with your eyes.  Explain that you will be pretending the cinnamon represents germs and that your children will be able to see how the germs spread when they play with the toys.  Invite your children to begin manipulating and playing with the toys.  They will quickly notice that their hands are covered with germs.  If using this activity in a classroom setting, children enjoy shaking each others hands and giving high fives to see how they share germs with each other.
The children enjoy noticing how the germs pass from the toys to their hands.

Uh oh.  Isabel even got some germs on her face!
Now that your children are good and covered in germs, it's time for the clean-up.  Thanks to the oil, your children will have to do a thorough job of scrubbing with both soap and water to be rid of all the germs.  
Now it's time to wash the germs away. 

I hope that you will enjoy this activity with either your own children or those in your class.  Following this activity with my students, they became much more adept at hand washing.  They learned that you really need to scrub with soap to get the germs off.  We no longer have any children that just rinse and run!

*Originally posted here Tutus and Tea Parties as a guest blog post.  Check out the rest of the Tutus and Tea parties blog.  Tons of great activities and ideas for children!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let them eat dirt!

Imagine my surprise when I walked out into the backyard where my husband was grilling dinner and my children were playing to find both Sean and Isabel up to their ears in dirt!  They had finally discovered the remnants of last years vegetable garden.

My initial reaction was, "OH MY GOD, did you not see that they were in the garden?"  To which my husband responded, "What, they're having fun".

As soon as the initial shock wore off, I realized that I needed to sit back, relax and enjoy the moment.  Oh and of course, grab the camera!  After all, who could be mad when your children are having this much fun.

This moment was also an inspiration for me to get started on preparing for this spring's vegetable garden.  We will be relocating our garden outside the backyard fence to avoid digging from the dogs.  If you hadn't noticed there are many deep holes thanks to our lab mix Isis.

 At least now I know both Isabel and Sean will be happy to help me prepare the earth for our new vegetable garden.  Stay tuned for our progress in that department.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bring the outdoors in: Snow

Sometimes you can't go and enjoy the great outdoors.  That doesn't mean you can't bring the outdoors inside.  For this experience we brought some fluffy wintery white into our living room.

Sean and Isabel love the snow, but as they are still young, they don't tolerate being out in the cold for very long.  Bringing a tub of snow into the house gave them the opportunity to explore the snow at their leisure. 

Not many supplies are needed for this activity: a large sheet or table cloth to cover the floor, a dish pan, and a few kitchen utensils.  I provided them with spoons, forks and plastic cups for this occasion.  And of course a good dose of snow!

Isabel and Sean made quick work of this snow.  Of course their favorite thing was eating it!  Next time it's just too cold to go out and enjoy the snow, go ahead and bring some in.  Sit back and enjoy the show.  Our house was filled with squeals of delight as Sean and Isabel marveled at the feel of the cold snow on their hands. 

Stay tuned for more, bring the outdoors in activities.  New opportunities present themselves with each season!