Category Archives: Crafts

Beyond the Nature Walk: Extending the Learning

Here in the Nation’s Capital we are all spending a lot more time outside after a particularly cold winter.

At last.

The long awaited sunshine has us all soaking up the sun, eagerly tending to our yards, hitting the parks, going for leisurely walks and bike rides once again.

Nature Blog Post

Winter’s blanket finally melted away to reveal the first glimpses of colour poking from the ground. Children stop to marvel and often return home with pockets overflowing from found items – or what could be considered nature’s little gifts to these natural collectors. As caregivers and parents we can use a child’s natural curiosity to extend their learning even further.

Here are just a few ideas to use up those little treasures collected on your walks:

Assorted items

Sensory: Place your treasure hunt items into a sensory/discovery bin or a bottle with water to create an eye spy bottle. Place items into a heavy-duty Ziploc bag with clear hair gel and strong tape. Then tape to a window to create a sensory sun-catcher.

Crafts: Provide loose parts and craft supplies for children to create open-ended art. Items can include pinecones, acorns, feathers, stones, sticks, glue, paint, googly eyes, small pom-poms, and even dough for endless possibilities.

Salt (or Cornstarch) Dough Pendants and Key Chains: Press items with texture into small round pieces of dough. Press a hole into it and let dry. Tie string to the pendant for hanging.

Collage: Glue items to paper to create a collage. Or stick them to mac tac to create a window sun catcher.

Rocks

Art: Create pet rocks by painting them and adding googly eyes. Glue pressed flowers to the rocks for a gift for Mom.

Nature Blog Post Pet Rock

Literacy: Create story stones by gluing images to the rocks to guide storytelling. Paint the letters of the alphabet onto each stone. *Optional: Paint one side in uppercase letters and lowercase on the opposite side OR paint one set of rocks in uppercase letters and one set in lowercase for the children to match.

Numeracy: Paint rocks for counting or patterning games.

Leaves and Feathers

Leaf Sun Catcher: Sandwich leaves between two layers of mac tac and place in a window. This can be done with flowers as well.

Leaf stamping: Paint leaves and press onto fabric or paper

Collage: Glue leaves to a page to create a picture or collage.

Leaf Man Book

Pinecones and Acorns

Colour Matching Game: Separate acorn nuts from their cups and paint them in matching colours. Young children can match them by colour.

Classification: Paint acorns in various colours for children to sort by colour or create patterns with. Add tongs for more challenging fine motor practice.

Sticks

Rhythm Sticks: Paint thick sticks in bright colours to make your own music sticks to tap together.Nature Blog Post

Mobile: Create a nature-themed mobile by hanging found treasures from a branch. Or decorate a branch with coloured feathers, ribbons, and yarn to hang in your playroom.

Literacy:

And because I love picture books so much, I’ve included a list of a few of my favourite ones to add to your nature theme programming:

  • A Tree is Nice, by Janice May UdryNature Blog Post Books
  • Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin
  • Leaf Man, by Lois Elhert
  • Not a Stick, by Antoinette Portis
  • The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
  • The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell, by Lucille Colandro
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen
  • Or how about the old classic Fairy Tale: Jack and the Beanstock!

Et en français:

  • Une si petite graine, de Eric Carle
  • De la graine à la plante, de Melvin et Gilda Berger
  • Edgar la patate, de Don Oickle et Sue Skaalen
  • Simon fête le printemps, de Gilles Tibo
  • Après la pluie, le beau temps, de Cécile Gagnon et Joanne Ouellet
  • Mon rayon de soleil, de Mie-Francine Hébert et Steve Adams
  • Le jardin imaginaire de grand-papa, Andrew Larsen et Irene Luxbacher

For more information on bringing nature into your daycare, check out our Getting Back to Nature, post. Thanks for reading!

Signature - Jo

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Halloween Play-based Learning and ELECT

Have you seen how CCPRN is using the ELECT framework to develop children’s events? Here we’ve shown how children learn through play, using our Halloween party activities as an example!

Halloween Felt Board Play Sets

Halloween Party Felt Board

We asked the children: “Can you dress the people in costumes? What costumes do you see?”

With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

3.1 receptive language, simple turn-taking

3.2 expressive language

3.3 vocabulary

3.5 using descriptive language to explain

4.7 symbolic representation

4.10 classifying

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

5.3 visual exploration, visual discrimination, tactile exploration

5.4 sensory motor integration

P is for Pumpkin Group Activity

Halloween Party P is for Pumpkin

We asked caregivers to recite the rhyme: “P is for pumpkin and much, much more. Take a peek when I open the door!” and lift the flap to reveal a picture underneath. The children were encouraged to name the picture.

With this activity the children had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

1.5 interacting positively and respectfully

1.6 co-operating

2.5 regulating attention

3.3 vocabulary

3.6 listening to others

3.10 phonological awareness

3.11 letter recognition

3.13 matching spoken words with written ones

4.5 observing

4.7 symbolic representation

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching

5.2 fine motor coordination, pincer grasp

Leaf Counting Game

Halloween Party Leaf Counting Game

The children were asked to count the leaves and place the correct number in the box. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

2.5 regulating attention

4.2 problem solving

4.7 symbolic representation

4.13 determining quantity

4.15 representing numbers

4.20 completing simple number operations (one-to-one correspondence)

5.1 reaching and holding, gross motor coordination

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

5.3 visual exploration, visual discrimination

5.4 sensory motor integration

Spider Match Game

Halloween Party Spider Match Game

The children placed the spiders on their corresponding webs. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.7 symbolic representation

4.10 classifying

4.17 understanding two-dimensional objects

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

Face Patterning Game / Make a Jack o’lantern

Halloween Party Pumpkin Patterning Game

Children recreated pumpkin face patterns using the assorted shapes. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.2 problem solving

4.7 symbolic representation

4.17 understanding two-dimensional objects

4.18 identifying patterns

5.2 holding and using tools, fine motor coordination, pincer grasp

5.3 senses, visual exploration, visual discrimination

Creature Match Game

Halloween Party Chop Sticks

The children used chop sticks, tweezers and tongs to place little critters in the same coloured pail. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.10 classifying

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

5.3 senses, visual discrimination

Creature Creation Blocks

Halloween Party Blocks

Children were asked: “How many silly people can you make? Stack the blocks and see!” With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

1.6 co-operating

4.10 classifying

4.12 counting

4.13 determining quantity

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding

5.2 fine motor, palmar grasp

Halloween Play Dough Mats

Halloween Party Play Dough Mats

The play dough mats provided an open ended art activity for this children. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

5.2 fine motor coordination

5.3 senses, sensory exploration

5.4 sensory motor integration

Treat Bag Decorating

Halloween Party Treat Bags

Children decorated their own treat bags as well and had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

4.3 representation

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding,

5.2 fine motor coordination, holding and using tools, pincer grasp

Skeleton Bones Puzzle

Halloween Party Skeleton Match Game

The children could lay out the skeleton bones by matching their numbers to the ones on the map. With this activity they had the opportunity to learn the following skills:

1.6 co-operating

2.5 regulating attention

5.1 gross motor coordination, reaching and holding

4.15 representing numbers

4.22 using spatial relations, maps

Click here to view or download your copy of the Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) document and plan out your play-based activities!

Halloween: more tricks, less treats

Halloween doesn’t have to just revolve around candy and scary things ~ it can be fun too! There are so many things you can do in your home to get the little ones ready and excited for the big day. 

– If you’ve got your pumpkins picked out already, it’s time decorate them! Young ones may not be able to carve them, but they can certainly turn them into eye-catching works of art! They can have just as much fun pasting and painting them too!

… if you still prefer the glow of candles in your carved pumpkins, why not use battery operated tealights inside to set the mood.

– Dig out and dust off a few extra items from the back of your closet to add to your dress-up bin. I just know you’ve got some things in there from past decades… give them new life!

– Involve the senses: Make some goop or slime for the children to play with. Or theme your sensory bin to Halloween. Include plastic bugs, worms and skeletons, or cotton balls and ghost felts just to name a few ideas.

– Play Halloween music and maybe even have a dance party with your group! If you have a laptop or computer in your playroom, it’s easy to create a *free* playlist of Halloween songs on www.grooveshark.com (and yes they have the Original Monster Mash album in their extensive online library)!

– There is no shortage of Halloween craft ideas. Here are just a few of our own:

Children can decorate their own masks;

paper treat bags with paper, foam or felt shapes for toddlers and preschoolers;

or go one step further with fabric bags with fabric markers or paints for schoolagers.

For even more Halloween craft ideas, check out our pinterest page here.

And if you have a real sweet tooth and insist on having treats for your little ones this Halloween – have them decorate some cookies or cupcakes as an alternative that is fun to make!

Licorice, marshmallows, sprinkles and chocolate chips can jazz up any cupcake to make them festive!

Of course we all love to see our little ones dressed up in their costumes on the big day but they are often purchased with the cold weather in mind. They might be too warm to be worn indoors for long periods or they may be a couple of sizes too large to accommodate a bulky coat underneath. Consider having the kids dress in orange and black on Halloween so that they can still feel festive, even when they’re not wearing their costume.

For more info on Halloween safety check out Health Canada’s website.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween!

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