Thursday, June 6, 2019

Cardboard Boxes Spur Imaginations

Make a Town!
Do you have a few cardboard boxes around? Then you are prepared for children. 
 All you need are boxes, string, ruler markers, box cutter or knife, and duct tape.
 If you bring a few boxes home leave them in the children’s bedroom. Don’t do anything with the boxes for a few days.  Just let children use their imaginations and art supplies on the boxes. They may make action figure houses, garages for cars, a vehicle, or a whole city.
   Who are your children’s story heroes? Are they interested in space characters, princesses, book characters, knights, or super heroes? Imaginary play encourages children to plan a story, take turns being characters, design costumes, 
Who Are Your favorite Characters?
set up scenes, plan problems, and use teamwork to solve them. Both the planning and the actual play develop the brain.
    Two large sturdy shipping boxes for stoves are ideal for castles or space stations. Remove any staples. Cut out the top and bottom. For easier storage and handling cut one seam of each box so they store flat. 
  To make a structure, open them up and arrange so they make one large circle with any writing facing inside. Make two puncture holes on end sections and tie them with string so they stay together.
  To make a simple drawbridge type door  a castle or  ship, cut off one section of the cardboard.  Puncture a hole on each top corner of this section about four inches from the top and side. Cut two pieces of sturdy string 2 ½ yards. Tie one to each hole. Leave the other ends free for now.
    Make a hole four inches from the top and side in the two wall sections nearest the drawbridge. Thread each drawbridge string through a wall hole and tie securely. To allow children to close the drawbridge, make a slanted slash on the top of the castle or space ship. Children can pull each side of the drawbridge and secure the strings in the slash. You can help decorate with rulers and markers, cut windows, draw trees and flowers. 
  Children can help make cardboard costumes and props reinforced with duct tape. For crowns, armor, light s  
abers, shields, or swords draw patterns on newspaper first. Then trace on cardboard, cut out, and decorate. 
   Children can act out their story and take turns being a favorite character.  The cardboard will easily fold up ready for storage. 
Make a Video of Your Story Village
These little plays make great Facetime drama or movies to send to long distance relatives.
  There are some children’s books about playing with boxes.  Check out “The Big Box” by Toni and Slade Morrison and “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis. The internet has many ideas for building with cardboard  boxes.
  For more see, Through the Seasons live and podcasts; also Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarling fotos

Friday, May 17, 2019

Teaching Children’s Body Concept

Preschool Games Teach Children About Themselves
 Preschool games teach children important ideas about themselves and how to get on in the world. Remember “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”? How about “Simon Says”? These activities help children identify body parts. Children are very interested in their bodies, but body parts can be puzzling to them. This science activity helps young children learn about their body parts and functions with this fun science activity. 
Body Game
 Children learn best when the activity is a game.You will need several dry sponges or baseball hats, a mirror, and some fun music with a good beat.Explain that the dry sponge or hat you have needs to be placed on the body part you name. Start with familiar parts such as the head, nose, leg, arm, and foot. Then try some less familiar ones, such as, wrist, ankle, knuckle, thumb, knee, chin, and elbow. You may wish to play in front of a mirror. Talk with your children about something that body part can do.  For example, heads wear hats.
Play Music and Pass the Sponge, Please!
  Change the pace at which you call out a part of the body. Start out slow then increase your speed. Give your children a second sponge to add to the challenge. Now call out two body parts and have your children place the sponges on the correct spots. Play some upbeat music and have walk while trying to balance the sponge on a specific body part, such as a head, hand, foot, or shoulder.  Talk about the ease or difficulty of this game and balancing the sponge. 
 Reverse Roles
  Children can call out a body part and you identify it using the sponge.  Try to fool your children and place the sponge on the wrong body part. Talk about where that correct place would be. 
  Vocabulary is very important to children’s language development. In terms of science knowledge, the body part’s name is only the beginning. What parts do are important and interesting. Be sure to talk about the function of the body part. For example, an elbow is one place where the arm bends.
Make Connections: Senses to the Body
  There are many variations. Play some music and challenge children to “clap your hands,” “stomp your feet,” and “make noise with your lips” to the music’s beat. What silly sounds can they create? 
  Teach your children to make the connection between parts of the body and the senses. Make comments such as: “Here are my eyes, they help me see. My nose and brain help me to smell. My skin helps me to feel. My ears help me to hear. My tongue helps me to taste sweet, sour, salty and bitter food.” There are also many good picture books.

 For more see; Through the Seasons; Pinterest, and Facebook.
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarling fotos

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Creating Paper Glass Chihuly Art

Chihuly Glass Sculpture in Nature?
Whenever it is too a cold too wet to play outside or a children are sick grandparents can take out a few art supplies and try a new easy craft. It’s always good to be prepared. This craft is based on the famous contemporary glass lamps and sculptures of Dale Chihuly found in beautiful buildings around the world. You will need  some coffee filters, non- permanent markers, spray starch, a yogurt container or plastic cup about the size of the middle of a coffee filter, and battery operated tea lights. 
  If you and the children search Google images “Dale Chihuly glass” children will  get inspiration for their own paper glass Macchia which means spotted in Italian. Thespotted glass they will make can be used for dishes or a candle holder with a little nonflammable light in the middle.
Paper Glass
  To make the paper glass, cut around a coffee filter edge to make it scalloped or slightly uneven in no particular pattern.
Making Paper Glass
 Flatten out the filter and make a series rows of scribbles like short tightly closed tents with different colors.  Children should make each color about half an inch wide before starting another color around the filter.  They can also make different colored dots. Looking at the images of the Chilhuly glass will help get across the idea that one color is going to bleed into the other. Blue next to yellow will bleed into green. Red next 
Delicate and Translucent
to blue will bleed into purple.  If children want to stick to primary colors, leave a large space between them.  Children can make each filter different or make a set that look the same.
  Once children have made jagged lines, spots, and blobs, drape the coffee filter over an upside down plastic cup or individual yogurt container. Place some newspapers under the containers. Apply spray starch to the filter until the marker colors blend and the coffee filter is completely wet. Allow the filters to dry and do not touch them.
Once dry they will be translucent and mimic the look of Chihuly glass.  They will be as delicate as glass but will not break.  If they are gifts, place them in a box with tissue paper tucked around them. They will keep their shape if not handled too roughly. There is also a short film on Vimeo at
Flower Bouquet  
Coffee filters come in handy for a variety of children’s art projects.  Sprayed with starch or not they can be painted with water colors and attached with pipe cleaners for a floral bouquet. They can be flattened and placed in a window to add a stained glass look to a child’s room.
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarling fotos 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Learning with Spring Eggs

Lots To Do With Plastic Spring Eggs
Every spring bags of plastic colorful eggs appear in stores.  They are inexpensive and appeal to kids of all ages.  Here are some springtime fun activities with the eggs which encourage discovery and learning.
  You will need about a dozen plastic assorted color eggs which come apart in the middle, various small items to fit inside the eggs like pretzels, jelly beans, popcorn, cotton balls, pebbles, pennies, nails, rubber eraser, and cheerios, toothpicks, and dental floss.
   Spend some time just laying out eggs  halves on a soft 
Look for the Patterns
surface.  Count them together.  Group the eggs by color. Ask children a few questions. Can you make some patterns like yellow, blue, red, yellow, blue, red?  Can you use the half eggs to make shapes like triangle, square, or a circle? 
   No bring out the little items and place some pieces in each egg.  Talk about what you are putting in each egg as you do it.  When each egg has something different inside, help children play a little guessing game by shaking the egg and guessing what is inside. How does our sense of hearing help  when we can’t see what is making the noise?  Does the sound suggest something soft or hard, big or little, rubbery? How many did you guess correctly? You can play the game lots of times or add new items.
  The eggs can also be used for a fun container for snacks for little fingers—cheerios, pretzels, small carrot sticks or peas. Younger children may need help to open the egg without spilling the contents.
   Let your child hide an egg and then play the hot (getting closer) cold (going away from) game as you try to find it.  In the bathtub, children can experiment with eggs that float or sink depending on what they put inside.
Hide and Seek With Eggs
Decorate Trees
 Older children can use the eggs to play simple math games with adding one more egg or taking away one or two eggs from the group.  Let them make up some problems for you. Use the eggs to show your answer. Your little ones will have fun using the eggs to decorate the dinner table to help celebrate the coming of springtime.
  You can also hang some colorful eggs in the trees. Tie a piece of a toothpick to some dental floss. Poke a hole through one end of the plastic egg with a large needle and poke the toothpick through the hole.  When you gently pull the floss back out the toothpick will hold the floss inside the egg.  Make a loop on the other end of the floss and use that to hang the eggs on a tree branch. For more see and Through the Seasons, live and podcasts; Facebook, and Pinterest.
Photos: Fran Darling fdarling fotos