Here are some simple ideas for fun-filled activities that can be used throughout the year.
All material copyrighted 1996 Karen M. Potter
Make a gift calendar or note pad to help organize the new year. A calendar or note pad personalized by your child will make a great gift for a parent or grandparent.
Let your child decorate the top half of a sheet of construction paper. The paper can be decorated with photographs of the child or some of the child's art work. Use glue stick to attach photos and art work to the construction paper. Then laminate the sheet or cover it with clear construction paper.
Next, you can attach a small calendar or note pad to the bottom
half of the laminated sheet. Punch a hole in the top to hang the
project or place magnetic strips on the back for use on the
You can make a book for your favorite valentine. You will need two sheets of white paper for the pages, a 12" X 6" sheet of white or pink construction paper for the cover, and a sheet of red construction paper to cut into heart shapes. You may also want to use crayons, markers, stickers, glitter, and glue to decorate your book.
The suggested title and words for the pages are just that, suggestions. Please be creative and use your child's words. It is important to let your child know that their words are important enough to be written in a book.
Fold the cover in half and cut a heart shape to fit on the front. Glue the heart on the cover and decorate as desired. Be sure to include the title and your child's name as the author and illustrator. For a title, we chose "For You, Valentine!"
Cut the two white sheets into four pieces. This will give you eight pages, front and back. We wrote a message on one page and drew pictures and decorated the facing page. We chose messages like "I will hug you everyday." and "I will be a valentine helper.". As you create your book you may wish to number the pages.
It is time to put the book together when all the glue is dry. To assemble the book, put the pages in order (use this as a chance to review numbers) and staple them inside the cover.
Read the book with your child!
Make a leprechaun hat. These also make good hats for pilgrims, witches, or fashion dolls (NOTE: This activity requires close parent supervision.) You will need a styrofoam cup, green tempera paint, and green yarn.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cup upside down on a cookie sheet and bake for 3 to 5 seconds (watch closely, it takes very little time). When the cup has shrunk to the desired size, remove from the oven and cool.
Paint the hat and add the yarn around the brim as desired.
Spring is here. It's time to enjoy planting flowers and watching them grow. Take a field trip to a local plant nursery. You may wish to call ahead and request a tour of the nursery if you have a small group of children. While you are there select young plants or packages of seeds that are easy to grow in your area. Plant, water, and feed the new additions to your home.
For older children, it can a fun learning experience to keep a journal about the plant's growth. Your child can measurer and record the growth and other changes in the plane.
Pressing flowers is a fun spring activity. To press flowers you will need is a book(old phone books work well), newspaper, scissors, flowers, and something heavy such as more books or bricks.
Cut the news paper to match the size and shape of the pages in your book. Select and pick the flowers that you wish to press. Open your book, place two pieces of news paper in the book. Then in a single layer carefully arrange some of the flowers you wish to press. Put two more sheets of newspaper on top of the flowers and slowly close the book. If you have selected a thick book you may carefully skip forward about 25 pages and press more flowers in the same book. Do not over fill the book.
It is important to keep the book flat. Do not bend the book once you have placed flowers in it.
Find a cool dry place where the book will not be disturbed. Lay the book flat and place a stack of books on top of it as a weight. Wait about 10 days. Larger flowers may take longer to be completely pressed and dry. Once the flowers are dry they are very fragile and will break if you bend them or the book while they are in it.
Check out the June activity for more fun with pressed flowers.
Use your pressed flowers from the May activity to make book marks. You will need pressed flowers, scissors, clear contact paper, small colorful ribbon or twine, a hole punch, paper, and markers or colored pencils. The paper and markers or colored pencils are optional.
If you wish to have a paper background first cut the paper into 1 inch by 5 inch pieces. Select the flowers for your bookmark and carefully arrange them on the paper. Make a mental note of how the flower looks on the paper. Remove the flowers and decorate the areas of the paper that is not covered up by the flower. You may wish to decorate the paper with a Bible verse, child's name, slogan, or saying. Replace the flowers on the paper and glue in place with a drop of craft glue on the stem. Let the glue dry.
Peel the backing off of the clear contact paper and place it sticky side up on a table. Gently place the materials face down on the sticky contact paper. Peal the backing off a second piece of clear contact paper and place it on the back of your work. Turn the work over and press firmly around the book mark to make a better seal.
Cut around your bookmark leaving a quarter to half inch edge of contact paper. This should make a bookmark about 2 inches by 6 inches in size. Now use punch a hole at the top on the book mark and thread a 6 inch ribbon threw the hole. Tie a knot in the ribbon so it will stay in place.
Now all that is left, is to pick out a good book and enjoy!!
July being so hot here in Houston, one of our favorite activities is to make coffee can ice cream.
You'll need a 1 Lb. coffee can with plastic lid, a 3 Lb coffee can with a plastic lid, 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup fruit (crushed), 4 to 6 cups ice, and rock salt.
Wash and dry the cans. Be sure there are no sharp edges that could cut a child.
Mix the milk, sugar, and fruit in the 1 Lb can. Put the lid on tightly.
Place the 1 Lb can in the 3 Lb can and pack the extra space in the 3 Lb can with ice and rock salt. Give the can to your child and let him roll the can on the floor for about 15 to 20 min. It also makes a good game for several children. Have the children sit on the floor and roll the can from on to another.
Remove the 1 Lb can and wipe the top of the can before (you don't want any salt in your ice cream) it is opened. If the Ice cream is too soft, replace the lid repack the 1 Lb can with ice in the 3Lb can and roll for another 10 to 15 min.
August is quite a month. This is when children get excited about starting a new school year. Making a school bus is a great way to start the month. There are many ways to make a pretend bus. The old favorite is a large appliance box. Find a large box and cut holes in the end and sides for windows. Give the children yellow paint, markers, and crayons to decorate the box.
If you can't find a box big enough for a bus, you can always use your living room sofa. All you need are crayons, a small cardboard box, a sturdy paper plate, butcher paper, scissors, and glue (or some other paper fastener). First, cut the box so it will fit upside down over one arm of the sofa. On the bottom of the box draw dials and knobs. Use glue or a paper fastener to attach the paper plate to the box for a steering wheel.
You can stretch this school bus activity into a theme unit. Use the butcher paper for a backdrop. Draw windows, then ask the children what they can see through the windows. Trees, birds, animals, people and other relevant objects can be placed in the windows. Another option is to draw windows on the butcher paper as if you were looking into the bus. In each window you can place a drawing or photo of a child or family member.
Consider reading books from the "Magic School Bus" series.
In September we think of apples. Spend a week or two learning about apples.
Read "Johnny Apple Seed" and search your library for other books about apples.
Take a field trip to the grocery store. Look at the many different kinds of apples that are available to us. Can you tell the difference between them by looking at their color, shape, or size? Look at all the things that apples are used to make. There is apple jelly, apple butter, apple turnovers, apple pie, apple juice, apple sauce, and a lot more. What else can you find that apples are used to make? Purchase 3 or 4 of each type of apple and various apple products. When you get the apples home can you still tell the difference between them? Can you sort them into groups by color, shape, and size?
It's taste time!. Make an attractive spread of sliced apples and apple products in buffet style and let the children select what they want.
Apple stamping can be great fun. Cut the apples in half in different directions forming stamps. Use tempera paint to make apple stamps on paper. Look at the different patterns made by the apples. Can you tell which cut apple made what stamp?
Building Blocks to Reading's Activities by the letter has more information on apple stamping.
In October we always have to make a jack-o-lantern or pumpkin pie. Save the seeds from your pumpkin activities and roast them using the following recipe.
You will need the following:
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
Shallow rectangular baking pan or cookie sheet spoon
Now is your chance to remind the children that proper hand washing requires soap, water, and scrubbing. Spread seeds evenly in the baking pan. Help the children mix the other ingredients and mix them in the small bowl. Pour the mixture over the seeds. Next, the adult may place the seeds in a over that has been preheated to 300 degrees. Roast for 25-30 minutes. Allow the seeds to cool for about 20 minutes. Crack the seed open, discard the shell, and enjoy the toasty treat. Important: Seed and nuts are considered choking hazard for young children. This treat in not intended for children under the age of 4 years.
Let your children decorate the table for Thanksgiving Dinner. This year make napkin rings out of things you can find around the house and outdoor autumn materials.
First you will want to gather your materials. Collect autumn materials from out doors such as colorful leaves, acorns, chestnuts, and other outdoor autumn materials that are common in your area. From indoors you may wish to collect Autumn shapes cut from old magazines or construction paper, paper tubes (from paper towels or toilet paper rolls), glue, tape, ribbon, glitter, paint, markers, and crayons.
Cut the tubes in to sections that are about 2 inches long. Paint or cover the tubes with leaves, ribbon, paper, or autumn shapes cut from magazines. Let this dry then decorate as desired.
Added decorations might include glitter that spells out the owner's name, a small cluster of acorns and leaves, or a neatly tied ribbon. What ever your children can dream up will be wonderful.
Enjoy the holidays!!
Make Christmas bracelets from plastic soda pop bottles. You will need a 2 litter plastic bottle, a rubber band, permanent markers, and paint pens. Use a rubber band placed around the bottle and a permanent marker to draw circles around the bottle about 1 inch apart.
Have an adult use sharp scissors to cut down the side of the bottle and around each ring. This will form long strips of plastic. Be sure all the edges are smooth. Trim any sharp or pointed edge. Cut each strip so it will fit around the wrist of the person who will wear it and over lap an inch or two.
Use permanent markers and paint pens to decorate the bracelets. If
a bracelet needs more curl, rub the inside of the bracelet on a
corner and it will curl in much the same way as ribbon will curl.
Please email your comments or suggestions. Thank you.
Karen M. Potter
Copyright Karen M. Potter 1996
15810 Crystal Grove
Houston, TX, USA 77082