Saturday, June 30, 2012

My son, Mateo (2 1/2), basically invented this activity, and I have to say, it is truly awesome.  He started by sorting all the marbles from a Chinese Checkers game into some paper cups.  He poured water into them, and then used a paint brush to transfer water color paint to each cup.  He then suggested putting ice into the cups as well.  

We went from that to sticking the cups in the freezer for a couple of hours.  When they were frozen, we ran a bit of warm water over the cups so the ice would come out and we put them on a sheet pan.  They slid and spun and slowly melted, which was great, but the real fun came when I offered Teo a wooden hammer to smash the ice and release all the balls.  When he was done, he immediately suggested we make more, so we did. 

When the second set was done,  Teo got into the bath, and I set up a bath table by turning over a plastic tote and setting it in the tub.  Teo used a toy tea pot to pour warm bath water over the ice to melt them.  He pondered whether they would sink or float and tried that as well.  He was delighted to see the paint making color swirls in his bath water.  

I am so excited to try freezing other small objects or toys in ice.  I've seen people freeze big blocks of ice with things inside, too.  What fun!

What are we learning?
Physical Science (freezing / melting, floating / sinking, how objects move - sliding, spinning), Problem Solving,  Fine and Gross Motor and Eye-Hand Coordination (hammering, pouring), Sensory, and Color Matching / Sorting / Mixing.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stop by the local hardware store and pick up some free paint samples.  These can be used in so many ways!  Sort yarn “pasta” to the same color “plate,” or matchbox cars to the same color parking spot.  Your child can carry around one of the samples and search for objects that are the same color.  In pairs, they can be used as a memory game. 

What are we learning?
Color matching and names.  Sorting. 
Here is a fun (and yummy) building project.  Offering two colors of grapes allows for patterning.  

If your child likes this, he might also enjoy making fruit kebabs - another great fine motor and patterning activity.

What are we learning?
Early math (patterning).  Fine motor skills.  Problem solving.  Food activity.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Offer your child several cups filled part-way with water (or offer empty cups plus a squirt bottle of water, as shown here).  Your child may discover on her own how to transfer paint color to the water, or you can show her.  You can offer occasional reflections, such as "I wonder what would happen if you mixed red and blue together."  As long as your child won't be tempted to drink the water, you can inspire some dramatic play by asking her to serve you some blueberry / orange / lime juice / etc. 

Different children will approach this activity differently.  She may pour water from cup to cup.  She may simply ask for paper and want to paint.  Your child will enjoy and learn the most if you follow her lead.  

Another option is to offer pieces of tissue or toilet paper that your child can dip into the colored water to watch the color travel up the paper (suggested by Lory Britton, PhD).  Eye droppers are another great prop for transferring water. 

What are we learning?
Color mixing.  Fine motor skills.  
Begin by pouring a bit of paint onto a sheet pan and letting your child play with it with fingers or utensils.  Then, add a cup with a few tablespoons of baking powder, a squirt of dish soap, and a few drops of food dye.  Give your child another cup with some vinegar in it (1/4 c or so), and let him pour the vinegar into the baking soda mixture.  It will "erupt" like wonderful, colorful lava.  

There are many ways to set this up.  You can construct a volcano out of play dough (put a small bottle in the center to hold the baking soda mixture).  This can also be done in the sand box with a sand mountain.  For dramatic play, you could add small dinosaurs.  

What are we learning?
Your child is watching a chemical reaction.  He will likely delight in the magic of it, and it will engage his senses (touch, sight, sound (fizzing) and smell). 

Fill the balloon with water and tie it.  Offer your child the balloon, a dish of paint, and some paper, and see what happens.  Your child might hold it by the knot and bounce it, or roll it around, or he might find another technique. 

To expand this activity, offer a second balloon filled only with air.  Your child can feel the difference  between them, and you can narrate his exploration, offering concepts such as light and heavy.  For more gross motor exploration with this, you can put the paper on the ground and attach a long rubber band or piece of elastic to the balloon knot.  Your child can swing and bounce the balloon while standing on the paper (best done outside!). 

What are we learning?
Children construct an understanding of their world in part by manipulating objects in different ways.  In addition to being an art project, this is a physics experiment. 
Make a tape bracelet (sticky side outward) for your child.  Show her how things will stick to it, and turn her loose in a field, forest, or just your backyard. 

What are we Learning?
This activity encourages your child to look closely at nature.  She will use fine motor skills to pick leaves and flowers and to press them on the tape.  

To make a little post office, draw a rectangle for each mail slot on a cardboard box.  Cut the sides and bottom of the rectangles with a utility knife to make little doors.  Cut rectangles of different colored paper for each door, and affix with tape.  Write names on the doors (this could be names of family members, friends, or story / cartoon characters).  

Next, poke a hole in each door with the tip of your scissors, and thread through a piece of yarn to tie in a loop (this will make the doors easier to open).  Cut out rectangles for mail from each color.  Your child may enjoy writing / drawing / placing stickers on the mail. 

You may want to put the mail in a basket or bag for your little mail carrier.  Show her how the mail matches up to the mail boxes.  

If your child is beyond color matching, you can make each door the same color and your child can match by name (in this case, write the name of who the mail is for on each piece of mail as well).  Or, you can use single letters, shapes or numbers.

What are we learning?
Early Math (matching).  Fine motor skills (slipping the mail through the slots).  Dramatic play.  This activity also supports literacy learning in a meaningful context.   Even if your child is matching by color, she will probably begin to notice the letters on the mailboxes, and you can point them out as well:  "Oh, I see that Katie and Kerry both have names that start with K."  "Jo has a very short name.  It is only 2 letters."  
To do these really cool paintings, put shaving cream in baggies with some liquid water color (or food dye) of your child's choice. Mix it up, then seal the baggies and clip the corner so your kiddo can squeeze the paint out onto their paper. Glitter can be sprinkled on afterward

This is a great way to use puffy paint, too (just mix a generous bit of glue with the shaving cream, and it will dry thick and puffy).  Without the glue, they are no longer 3D when they dry, but still very pretty. 

What are we Learning?
Squeezing the baggies develops hand strength and control.  This can also turn into a fantastic sensory experience if your child decides to explore the shaving cream with his fingers.