Thursday, January 26, 2023
WELCOME BACK, FRIENDS! IT’S THURSDAY!
Today we have a follow up to Monday’s post from earlier this week…
We had such fun sharing our favorite Winter Wonderland of children’s books & music.
Check it out if you haven't yet!
In today's post we are focusing on art and fun with hands-on activities
that provide great ways to connect with your Littles during these cold winter days!
Art, in all its glory, encourages brain development through imaginative thinking and creativity, skills that are so important for lifelong success! Our Littles also develop eye-hand coordination, and the small muscles in their fingers, hands and wrists are exercised and strengthened as they learn to grasp objects with one or both hands! Remember that the process of art, especially at young ages, is equally important and shouldn’t be confused with a product of art!! Exploration is the key and providing both kinds of art experiences is worthwhile!
Equally valuable are what we call, in this post, fun experiences… those hands-on activities that get your Littles thinking as they problem solve and use their senses and understanding of the world around them!
When creating art and hands-on experiences for your Littles, here are some important guidelines to ensure that you ALL have a rewarding experience!
• Give your Littles time and space to be creative! Plan for messes!
Set the stage by having everything ready and available. We suggest providing old clothes or a paint shirt for extra protection for your Little and a covering (newspapers or an old sheet or tablecloth) for the workspace, if needed!!
• Provide safe and interesting materials for your Littles to use as they create!
When preparing for the activity, think and plan ahead to make sure all materials are first and foremost safe as well as engaging!
• Allow your Littles to experiment and express themselves!
There is NO specific way of how things should look! If your Little goes in a direction different from the one you’ve planned, go with it! That’s the beauty of art and hands-on activities! Encouraging them builds self confidence!
• Children take joy in creating and not about the end result!
It is important NOT to correct how/where your Littles create or build things! We don’t want to become the inner voice doubting their work!
Hands-on activities, including art experiences, look quite different for infants and young toddlers. The goal at this stage would be to introduce different textures and surfaces, sing and read and talk to your Little, be expressive with your voice and mannerisms and find opportunities for them to track your face and eyes as well as objects!
Once Laurie’s Little D and my Little L were sitting up on their own, our options grew and even more so now that they are both older!! Here are some examples of the winter fun I’ve been up to with Little L!
A Sticky Snowman
When Little L (who just turned 1 this month) came to visit recently, I remembered our recent post about using cotton balls for projects, especially winter ones! I also remembered that Laurie had done a project similar to this one back in November when Little D had fun putting feathers on a sticky turkey. Keeping those things in mind, I adapted and drew the outline of a snowman on the back side of a sheet of clear contact paper, using a permanent black marker. Then I taped it to the window so Little L could look at the snow outside while doing the activity! I removed the protective paper from the contact paper and then modeled how to add a cotton ball to the snowman, one at a time. After I’d added a few, I then gave Little L one and watched her closely! I was worried she might try to put the cotton balls in her mouth!. Sure enough, she started to do so but checked herself when I said “No!” - I pointed to the snowman and she placed her cotton ball there. We cheered together and then I offered her another cotton ball. She put several on, with cheering between each, but, as I expected, she had just as much fun pulling the cotton balls off the snowman! She also was intrigued as she repeatedly tested the feeling of putting her hand on the sticky paper and then pulling it away! Little L came back to her sticky snowman throughout the afternoon, adding cotton balls and then pulling them away. The result was actually a fluffy looking snowman with the remnants of white cotton stuck to the contact paper.
If Little L was a bit older, perhaps as old as Laurie’s Little D (who is 6 months older), I might have some eyes, a nose, a hat, some buttons, two stick arms and a pair of boots cut out of paper available so she could add them to her snowman, too!
Feed the Snowman
Again, I adapted a couple of ideas from past posts and… voila… Little L had hours of fun with this activity! I used a parmesan cheese jar (and transferred the contents to another container). I modeled for Little L how to add Q-tips to the jar by putting them in the shaker holes! After a short time, Little L was a pro and so proud of herself… and so were we! Eventually I drew a carrot nose and a mouth on the jar and added a pair of google eyes, turning it into a snowman!
Little L then fed cotton balls to the snowman, filling up his tummy! Little L entertained herself for at least 20 minutes on 3 separate occasions during the visit! Win! Win! If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen this cute video we posted there last week of Little L feeding the snowman! It makes me smile! Within a few hours it had snagged over 1000 views! (If you listen, be sure to turn the sound up - it's worth it! My heart! 💕)
In addition to the activities outlined above,
we’ve found the following winter activities online.
Feel free to tap on each link to learn more!
This would be a fun sensory project to make for your littlest Littles to explore. Your older Littles (toddlers and preschoolers and even schoolagers) would enjoy creating their own!
Use painter’s tape to create a snowflake on a paper plate for each Little. Then your Littles use paint (finger paints, watercolors or tempera - we suggest a shade of blue) and their fingers or a brush to cover the entire surface of the plate. Once dry, together you remove the tape and voila… there’s your beautiful snowflakes! (NOTE: Be mindful of infants doing this project as most things tend to go in the mouth! Use edible paint or put the project in a Ziploc bag first so that your Little can spread the paint safely!)
Indoor Ice Skating... with Wax Paper!
Snow much fun! January could be a very long month in school, especially in Minnesota when we’d frequently have indoor recess due to frigid temps. As kindergarten teachers, we had to be inventive. One way we provided large motor experiences for our kids indoors was to go ice skating indoors! Yes! We’d give each child two pieces of wax paper and then directed them to put one piece under each foot. We’d then slide around the room, sometimes to music! Be careful, though! This activity can get quite slippery so monitor closely!
Snow Bins - Creative Play
Bins are not just for the littlest ones! Another fun activity that we’d offer regularly during Choice Time in January was Snow Bins! In the classroom, we’d have about 4 individual stations set up. This would be easy to replicate with your Littles at home by providing one plastic bin filled with snow for each child. (Be thoughtful about where you have your Littles playing during this activity as melting will certainly occur to some degree!) Add some different materials to the bin - scoops, shovels and sand toys are fun options! You can also turn your snow bin into a construction zone with trucks and cars or an ice cream shop with scoops, cups and spoons! If you have Mr. Potato Head pieces lying around, add those to the bins, too! Your Littles will have loads of fun creating and playing!
We also found these online activities to add to our growing list of resources!
You may want to check them out, while you are at it!
Your Littles will have a blast creating their own play dough snowmen! You can purchase white play dough or make your own following the recipe here!
How fun does this look? And super easy to set up, too! All you’ll need is a big plastic bin, a bag of ice cubes, some paint brushes (the larger the better) and watercolor paints (or you can use food coloring mixed with water, too). Dump the bag of ice cubes into the bin and let your Littles paint and create! If you have more than one Little paints, give them each a smaller bin to use (like a plastic shoebox)! ANOTHER OPTION - Use SNOW to paint on in the bin, rather than ice cubes and rather than using paint brushes, use spray bottles OR head outside with the spray bottles and paint the snow on the ground!
If you need an art activity that will keep your Little busy for a while and one that will also provide fine motor skills practice, this is it! The size of the snowflake you first draw will determine the time needed for the activity!
Bring the magic of winter indoors and give this experiment a try! While it involves a little bit more prep work on your end the pay off will be worth it!
This photo brings back such fond memories of an all time favorite project from Laura’s years in kindergarten - we just had to share!
Every January my class would complete this directed drawing art project! I would model, step by step, how to draw a snowman. We’d actually use our eraser first to draw the various shapes. Once we’d sketched our snowmen, we’d use thin black permanent markers to outline our snowmen by going over our pencil drawings. Then it was time to paint, using watercolors! The final step was to paint the sky background! We’d add a written story frame to our project and these delightful snowmen then decorated our hallway and brought lots of smiles and joy! The best thing about this project was that every child felt successful and every snowman had its own personality! ☃️💗☃️
And just in case you need more options for your older Littles,
here’s a few extra ideas we’re adding to our library!
Pipe cleaners, colorful beads and a pair of scissors are the only supplies needed for this fun winter project! These would make great ornaments or window hangings!
These directions are fairly simple as your Little will paint glue onto a styrofoam, plastic or paper cup (with a doorway cut out). If you prefer, you can use frosting as the glue. There are many options out there, many more complicated if your Little is interested in a challenge!
WE LOVE THIS ONE! While many of us are familiar with the classic board game, this homemade version is filled with challenges of its own! Kids and adults will have fun strategizing how to be the last player with dice on their tissue! (NOTE: If you don’t have enough dice for multiple people to play, try using sugar cubes or something comparable instead.)
Perhaps you have memories of making this winter treat when you were younger! If so, how fun to share this experience with your Littles now! If you have freshly fallen snow available where you live (and your Middles would be okay with the Littles eating a bit of it), give this sweet recipe a try!
Whether you a Grand who enjoys being outside in winter weather or
one who tends to hibernate during the month of January,
we hope you’ve found an idea or two from the ones offered in this post
to spark some winter JOY with your Littles!
Please come back next Monday (January 30) when we’ll have one final Winter Wonderland post for you! Laurie will share her all time favorite winter story and a fun project to go with it.