Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Our Favorite Art Activities

When we are home we have a few to go art activities that we enjoy doing. But first, we always have an art cart with art supplies available at all time so they can create whenever they want! To see what's in our cart, check this post. For more activities, read on!
For regular art activities, one of our favorite supplies that I do not display in their art cart is liquid watercolor. It is not available at all times because it is very staining and therefore still a supervised activity. We use it many different ways:
- with pipettes on diffusing paper
- with pipettes on a vertical card-stock for a drip effect
- with spray bottles
- for paint resist with oil pastels
- with salt for a snow effect
- with permanent markers

DIY rubbing plates.
With a hot glue gun draw what you want on a piece of carboard then let your children rub a crayon on them! It is a very versatile activity as you can draw anything you want!

Color mixing and color matching.
You can do color mixing with tempera paint or liquid paint (use liquid watercolor paint or food coloring with pipettes).

Color matching is fun especially when it comes to different shades of the same color. Paint swatches are great for this however trying to match any color in the house will work too!

Rubber band splatter paint.
All you need for this one is paint, rubber bands paper, paintbrushes and a cookie sheet! Wrap the rubber bands around the cookie sheets, add a sheet of paper in the cookie sheet, then paint the rubber bands... pull on them... and splatter them! It is a fun process art as well, check out the full video tutorial here.

Marbling paper.
This is a messy one -but oh so fun!! First you spray shaving foam on a cookie sheet, then add liquid watercolor (or food coloring) dots all over it and then spread in the foam doing zig zags. Lay your paper on it, remove it, let is dry and wipe the foam off (very fast!) and it makes for amazing looking marble paper! In addition to being a beautiful activity it is a also a great sensory activity and my boys always end up with both hands in the foam!
My boys both went through a phase in which they wanted to glue everything they found! I prefer to use card-stock for a collage and offer them loose parts such as gems, buttons strings, googly eyes... with a glue bottle. For younger kids who cannot yet press the glue bottle hard enough I recommend giving them glue in a small bowl with a paintbrush.
Printing is also fun. You can find a very simple tutorial on my IG page here. It's also a great one to do outside.

You can also do some basic printing with wrapping bubbles!

Bleeding paper with photo paper. Place squares of bleeding paper on top of photo paper and have the kids paint with water on top of it.

Chalk on black paper for a nice contrast.
Paint resist. You can do these many ways! Here are a few:
- oil pastel and watercolor paint
- washi tape and tempera paint
- hot glue on canvas with tempera paint

Process paint.
Our favorite process paint is a mix of  paint, with glue and Epsom salt on top! It is fun and gives beautiful results!

Another good one is to take a large canvas and do a collaborative work with loose parts. First paint the canvas. Once dry add another layer. Once dry mix loose parts with glue and paint and pour on top of the canvas!

Find an unusual canvas!
Use watercolor or tempera paint and paint on shells, pine cones, sticks, leaves, anything they find outside! Use post its and stick them on the windows, use cardboard boxes to draw on, use blank books to draw in...

Our favorite Activities to do at home

A lot of us are home with our kids, and will be for a while. School here is closed for 2 weeks but I expect this to be even longer so I made a list of activities that my kids love and that keeps them busy since I still have to work while they are home.

While they are home we have decided to take it easy and we will not be bringing school into our home. Our days are very laid back with a structure that revolves around meals and Theo's nap-time (we cannot miss a meal!). We also spend a lot of time outside, upward of 3 hours a day.

When we are home here are our favorite activities:
Read, listen to music, play with Legos, cars, trains, Duplos and board games. It is also a great time to cook and bake together as a family.

Our all time favorite is playdough. You can make it yourself  with your children for more fun or you can buy some Playdoh. You will need some tools, usually a roll and some cookie cutters do the job. If you want to make it more sensorial you can add dried herbs, flowers (it is starting to feel like spring here), nature finds, essential oils for the smell...

Try out some goop! All you need is one cup of water for 1.5 cups of cornstarch! If you have never done it before, that's all you will need to entertain the kids as it  is such an interesting fluid (I personally find it very fun to play with).

For kids 3 and up you can try out some air dry clay! At first let them experience with the new texture with their hands, then add basic tools such as craft sticks for cutting and poking the clay. After that you can try to add a roll and cookie cutters and demonstrate how to build things in 3D.
Loose parts are well loved here! You can provide them with natural items and a few ideas on what to do! Since it is spring where I live we have done flowers but you can adapt it to anything you want!

My boys love building. They will build with anything they find and so I try to make the following materials available to them:
- foam blocks with sticks
- paper or cardboard with tape, scissors and markers to draw on
- pipe cleaners with sticks

Also if you haven't tried it yet a large piece of paper stuck on the wall with a drawing that they place stickers on will keep them busy for a long time!
Anything with baking soda and white vinegar is a blast! I like to have them sprinkle baking soda first then with a pipette add white vinegar. I use the pipette vs just pouring on top so that it lasts longer.

And since it is spring, it is a good time for 2 classic science experiments:
- grow a seed in a jar and observe it every day
- place white flowers in colored water and watch  them  change color
The good thing is that even with the lock-down, if you have a yard you are still allowed to be outside. The easiest outside activities we will to do outside are:
- a small mud kitchen
- water bins. It is getting warmer and water bins with some pouring tools, ice, wood toys, Duplos... are always fun!
- sand bin with tools
- color nature hunt
- gardening

For art ideas, click here!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Gross Motor Activities

"Without adequate gross motor strength, coordination, and control, it becomes very difficult to master fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt, cutting with scissors, and taking off shoes"
~ Angela Hanscom (Balanced and Barefoot, 2016)

Gross motor abilities are crucial for our children. From birth it is ideal to give them freedom of movement such as putting them on a flat surface so they can move their legs, arms and head to take in their surroundings. Also no need for restricting devices, such as swings or bumbos or jumpers; babies will be happy to be on the floor on their back or in your arms.

As they grow and start moving, there are popular items such as the Pikler triangle or the Woble Board; however these 2 often do not physically fit in homes nor in household budget! So if you are like me and cannot (or do not want) to buy a Pikler triangle or Wobble board, what can you do to encourage gross motor movement?
I'm going to start with the center image: nature. By Maria Montessori, nature is the original prepared environment. It has everything a child needs to develop his gross motor abilities: natural slopes, rocks to climb and throw, uneven terrain...

But what else can you use?
Laundry basket: with books it becomes a push walker for a pre walker (original idea by Jasmine @3mm.montessori), as they grow the children can carry their own basket with laundry to and from the washing machine and they can place the clothes into the washing machine as well. This is where practical life meets gross motor!
Stairs or stepstool: this is the original pikler triangle. Just "spot" them while they do it so you can catch them if they fall.
Gardening: it involves moving dirt, moving water, digging holes. And is a great learning and sensory experiment! It can be anything from a large garden to just a little container.
Box, bag or bucket: with toys, groceries or water in it.
Tunnel: this is great for crawling children and also older kids who will have to crawl through as it strengthens their wrists. If you don't have a tunnel just use pillows on chairs or a towel on a chair and that's the perfect tunnel for a child!
Pillows and sofa: pillows for carrying, making tunnels, obstacle courses or walking on. Sofa for climbing! Stairs don't have the same top as a pikler triangle but sofas do! • Balance bike: this is the one thing I recommend buying. Replace the tricycle or the bike with training wheels by a balance bike.
Balls: ideally you want an assortment of materials, textures and sizes. They will love running after the balls, throwing them and carrying them.
Playground: this one has it all and most are free 😊

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Our Favorite Art Activities

When we are home we have a few to go art activities that we enjoy doing. But first, we always have an art cart with art supplies availabl...