Spring Crafts for Kids

My children love to paint and color! We have art time at our house nearly every day. With a two-year old and a four-year old, I try to keep our crafts simple and use supplies that are inexpensive and easy to clean up. I’m sharing them here because sometimes it can be hard to think of something simple to do when you have extra time at home or in the classroom.

And if you’d like a book to go along with any of these spring crafts, check out my post on a  fun springtime read. 🙂

These are 4 spring crafts we have done in our house over the last couple of weeks:

#1 Paper Plate Umbrellas

  • Cut a paper plate in half, then create scalloped edges.
  • Use construction paper to make a “J” shape and tape for the umbrella handle.
  • Allow child to decorate. (We used small pieces of tissue paper and practiced glue skills.)

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#2 Silly Bunnies

  • Cut out a bunny shape from a piece of construction paper. Next, make a set of paws and feet. Allow child to paint or color the bunny.
  • Make 4 thin strips of construction paper, approximately 3-4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Fold each strip fold accordion-style.
  • Tape or glue the paws and feet to the strips and then to the bunny.
  • Add “extras” to decorate the bunny or simply draw in a face using marker. My children used googley eyes, pom poms and we even stuck a cotton ball on the back of the bunny for a tail. 🙂

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#3 Tin Foil Painting

  • Cut a large rectangle from the back of an old cereal box. Cover with tin foil.
  • Use acrylic paints to create a scene or “abstract” spring painting – give your children/students green, yellow, pink, blue and/or purple as cheerful spring colors.
  • If desired, tape yarn or string to the back to hang and display.

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Note: I remember doing this as a child and I loved it! The ones my kids painted turned out so nicely although the picture quality doesn’t reflect it too well. My apologies!

#4 Easter Cross with Sponge Painting

  • Cut out cross using brown construction paper and heart using pink or red construction paper. Glue Heart to the center of the cross.
  • If desired, write a phrase or Bible verse inside the heart using Sharpie. Some examples are Jesus is Risen, Happy Easter, Jesus Loves Me.
  • Cut up a sponge and demonstrate how to dip the sponge in the paint and then dab it on the paper to create a textured look.  They may not end up doing it (one of my kids did and one didn’t) but even using a slightly different medium for painting can be a fun experience!

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Snow, Snow, Snow!

As I type that title, in my mind I hear the song “Snow” from Berlin Irving’s movie White Christmas (1954). So wonderful!

Like many other midwest natives, I admit that I love snow when it comes but am ready for it to magically melt away after the new year. 😉 But for now, winter is just beginning, which means I am ready to welcome the snow with sparkly-eyed delight! Thus far we’ve had some flurries but nothing that has stuck. Still, with our Christmas decorations up and the tree lights glowing, I pulled out an old favorite to read aloud as a family: White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt.

This is a classic children’s book for winter and boasts the Caldecott Medal for its nostalgic illustrations. I like the book because it focuses on 3 characters from a town as they prepare for a big winter snow to come. There are is also ample opportunity for using this with older students for language arts mini-lessons on descriptive language and personification.

Whether you have snow or not where you live, I’m sure you and your children/students will like this book!

Best Ages: kindergarten and up

For Parents:

  • Do you like the snow? If it snows where you live, talk to your child about what you do to prepare for big snow storms and winter weather.
  • Cut out paper snowflakes from construction paper or coffee filters. (Remind your child to fold in quarters and only cut along the lines.) Tape them to the inside of windows in your house and listen to the song “Snow” from White Christmas.

For Teachers:

  • Show your class the clip of the song “Snow” from White Christmas. If appropriate for your region, ask students what they enjoy doing in the snow. Or ask what they would like to do if it snowed where you live. Make a list on the whiteboard.
  • After reading aloud the book, choose a winter art project for your students to complete. (This is a link to one of my favorite websites, created by an elementary art teacher.)
  • For older grade levels, choose several lines from the book that demonstrate personification and descriptive language. Have students work in pairs to identify which ones are examples of each. Review as a class.

 

 

Slowing Down as a Family

When my daughters and I snuggled on the couch this week to read Quiet in the Garden by Aliki, it reminded me of the importance of slowing down as a family. I loved that this book emphasized the need to slow down and enjoy quiet. In fact, when we do slow down, we notice things that we didn’t notice before because we were too frenzied to notice! We wear ourselves out, run ourselves ragged, become stressed and irritable and exhausted… until we force ourselves to slow down and rest.

My husband and I plan regular intervals of experiencing quiet and rest as a family. We find that we need to slow down from extra activity and just enjoy one another and the world around us. We do this as individuals, as a couple and as an entire family. Here are some of our favorite ways to slow down with our kids:

  1. Leave an open weekend on your calendar. Sometimes our weekends fill up quickly with birthday parties, church events, appointments, trips or guests visiting our home. My husband and I enjoy having an occasional weekend that is reserved for family time.
  2. Make breakfast together. My husband likes to mix up homemade waffles or blueberry pancakes and cook with my oldest daughter. My youngest daughter and I help set the table. We enjoy sharing a yummy, special breakfast together!
  3. Spend time in nature or outdoors. Take a walk on a local trail, bike to the park or play a game outside in the yard. Our girls enjoy kicking around soccer balls, playing tag, hide-and-seek and red light, green light. This is also a good time of the year to check out a neighborhood farmer’s market, go apple picking or visit a pumpkin patch.
  4. Play board games or do a puzzle. Even though our girls are young, we play games like Hi Ho Cherry-O, Chutes & Ladders and Candy Land. We also enjoy doing puzzles together on the floor in our sunroom. Almost all of our games and puzzles came from thrift stores. If you don’t have many games and puzzles, these can be great gift suggestions for relatives who ask!

These are just some ideas to get you started in taking some time to slow down with your family. I would love to hear how your family intentionally slows down, whatever the age of your children! My husband and I continue to make it a habit because that time is so refreshing to our family and reminds us of the joy of experiencing life together.

Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • When you reach the last page of Quiet in the Garden, ask your child to find all the animal friends who join the boy for a picnic.
  • Visit a local gardening center and buy some supplies to plant a flower or vegetable in a pot. Even though we live in the city, we have been able to grow cherry tomatoes and flowers in pots on the back steps of our apartment home. Our daughters particularly like to help with the watering and picking of the cherry tomatoes!

For Teachers:

  • Do a matching activity of the garden animals and the foods they eat as the boy observes what is happening around him in the garden. Print out free clipart and tape or hang with magnets on your board for the whole class to see.
  • Take your class outside and be nature observers. Set a timer for 1, 2 or 3 minutes depending on the age of your students and ask them sit to quietly and observe what is going on around them. Then sit in a circle as a class and share what you saw. Finish up the time by playing fun group games, such as freeze tag or red light, green light.

Caribbean Culture

For about two years, my husband and I had delightful neighbors from the island of Curacao, a small island just north of Venezuela. They are native Papiamentu speakers (which they describe as a somewhat antiquated version of Dutch) and some of the most welcoming, warm people we have had the pleasure of knowing. And naturally, I thought of them when my children and I recently read the colorful book Island in the Sun by Harry Belafonte and Lord Burgess.

The book Island in the Sun contains the lyrics of Harry Belafonte’s song of the same title, released in 1957. Belafonte was born in Harlem, NY, with parents who were born in Jamaica. The beautiful imagery of the lyrics remind us all that we have a homeland, a place in our hearts that is dear to us. My children enjoyed seeing the bight colors and hearing the rhythmic language as we read this book aloud together. I liked the rich vocabulary and the cultural insight the text and illustrations provide of Caribbean culture.

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

For Parents:

  • Ask your child what an island is. Make sure he/she understands it is land completely surrounded by water and explain that people use boats or bridges to get on and off islands. Then use blue construction paper and tan, orange, yellow or white to cut out an island and glue on the blue “water.” Decorate and add to the picture as you like to give your child a more concrete image of what an island is.
  • After reading Island in the Sun, look through the illustrations and talk about the things that you do on a regular basis in your community. Are there more similarities or differences between where you live and the island described in the book?

For Teachers:

  • Harry Belafonte, co-author of this book and the artist who performs the original song, is of Jamaican descent. Show students where Jamaica is on a world map and check for understanding of the geographical term “island.”
  • Give students pieces of blue construction paper and tan, orange, yellow or white papers to cut out an island and glue on the blue “water.” Allow them to decorate and add to the picture as they create a concrete image of an island.
  • Go back through the pictures in the book and ask what your students would like to do if they visited this island (ride on a boat, dance to drums, visit the market, fish, etc.). Ask what people enjoy doing in the geographic area you live and during different seasons, if applicable.
  • Follow the title link to play the song Island in the Sun as performed by Harry Belafonte on black and white television. Ask students what they thought of the song – was it slow or fast? How did they feel when they listened to it? Did they like it? Why or why not?

Silly Summer Read-Aloud

All summer, my kids have been asking me to get a watermelon each time we shop at the grocery store. Although I am not a big fan of watermelon, I’m happy to purchase it and slice it up for my family to eat week after week.

Not surprisingly, when one of my daughters recently spotted The Watermelon Seed at the library, it caught her attention immediately. She sat down among the rows of bookshelves and began to peruse it. After finishing her pre-read of the book, she put it in our “check out” pile. Soon after we arrived home, everyone piled on the couch and laughed aloud at the silly text and illustrations. We have read it multiple times and even shared it with friends when they came to our home to play. What a great summer read-aloud!

Even if, like me, you’ve had your fill of eating watermelon for the season, The Watermelon Seed is sure to be a refreshing read with your little ones.

Best Age: prek-1st grade

For Parents:

  • Pick out a watermelon at the store together. Slice it up to eat while you read aloud together.
  • Invite friends over for a fruit bash! Ask each friend to bring along their favorite fruit. Make a fruit salad together. Read The Watermelon Seed before/after/while you eat the fruit salad together. Take a moment to point out the importance of “eating the rainbow” for good health.

For Teachers:

  • Take a class poll of favorite fruits. Create a chart that represents the number of students who like each fruit best. Discuss the importance of “eating the rainbow” for good health.
  • Have students finger paint a watermelon slice. Cut up white paper plates in half or quarters. Use red paint for the inner fruit and green tissue paper for the rind. Hole punchers and a sheet of black construction paper make great seeds! Hang up the completed watermelon slices around the classroom or make a fun bulletin board (hang up favorite fruit chart in the middle if desired).