Friday, December 7, 2012

December Holiday Fun

Wow, I'm about a week late in posting and Hanukkah is beginning. There is quite a span between this December holiday and Christmas, but I want to give all the teachers, parents, caregivers and homeschooling parents lots of options for holiday activities, crafts, songs and more. So, please check out these links and bring in the holiday spirit with your little ones.

I've just started a new channel on that is chock full of holiday stuff. The front page at the moment has December holiday materials, but check back often as this is the hub for all things holidays for young children. I'd also love if you leave comments and your ideas with each project article. We all learn by sharing. Click on... to visit Holiday Projects for Preschoolers.

Next are individual articles that contain a variety of activities for December holidays:

5 Crafts Made with Christmas Cards: Creative Time with Your Children

Greeting Card Fun for the Kids

Multicultural Christmas: The Ways Other Children Celebrate


Christmas Ornaments for Kids to Make: Think Nature and Go Green

For more, click here...

Celebrating Kwanzaa with Young Children: Crafts

Projects to Make Together for This African-American Holiday

Holiday Toys for Kids: New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Are Back

This is especially interesting how these toy characters are back on the market, hot, hot, toys...

And last, but not least, I just started a Pinterest page with holiday ideas for Christmas. Check it out and repin if you see something you like. 

I want to wish all my readers and followers a very happy holiday season -- and see you all next year. 2013 is just around the corner!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Theme Unit for Daycare & Preschool

During the month of November families in the US celebrate the joys of Thanksgiving. Take this Thanksgiving theme across the curriculum to commemorate this holiday.

To coincide with this holiday, focus on curriculum activities that relate to the famous book, Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Maria Child [North-South Books, 1998], and the traditional song of the same name.

I'm Thankful Bulletin Board

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks. In the past, Pilgrims and Native Americans worked together to host the first Thanksgiving. Today, this holiday is celebrated with family, relatives and friends. At circle time, discuss "Things I'm Thankful For." Together, look through magazines and cut pictures of these items. Have the children bring in pictures of their family, including grandparents. Create a cooperative bulletin board or poster.

In the Pumpkin Patch

The Thanksgiving season is a good time to do pumpkin activities. A pumpkin pie, flavorful with spices, is traditional in most American homes. Take a pumpkin and cut off the top. Invite the children to look at the pumpkin talking about its color and shape. Look inside at the strings and seeds. Ask," Does the outside and inside look the same? How does it smell?"

An adult can cut pieces of pumpkin into shapes. The children can take a paintbrush and paint a thin layer of tempera on the shape. Press this down onto paper to make a print. Printing is a fascinating activity for children because they love to keep repeating this process. Clean and roast the pumpkin seeds. Place a few into cups for the children. They can count the seeds and then eat them as a nutritious snack.

Another sensory activity is to paint pumpkin pies. Cut paper into circle shapes and paint them orange. While the paint is still wet, sprinkle an assortment of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or ground cloves on the pie. Smell the aroma!

Off to the Grandparent's House

Glue five Popsicle (craft) sticks down on construction paper in the shape of a house. Fill in the details, like windows, doors, chimney, and such with crayons, markers or glued-on fabric.

Continue reading...

This article first appeared on by Tania K. Cowling

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fun Foods for Halloween

Think of Halloween as a creative time to make spook-tacular foods to please goblins and ghouls of any age.
Halloween Bones & Blood - Tania Cowling
Whether you are hosting a “boo bash” party or just making Halloween treats for the family, these recipes are easy and fun to create.
Halloween Bones and Blood
  • 1 jar Marinara sauce (blood)
  • canned breadsticks (bones) (can found in refrigerator section)
  • cookie sheet
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Cut the breadsticks into halves.
  2. Curve the ends of each breadstick into bone shapes.
  3. Sprinkle the "bones" with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake as directed on the package.
  5. Place these bones onto a dish and serve with a bowl of warm Marinara sauce.
Spider Punch
  • 1 envelope Kool-Aid orange flavor unsweetened mix
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart bottle ginger ale (chilled)
  • black plastic spiders
  • ice cube trays
  • pitcher
  • large spoon (for mixing)
  1. Place plastic spiders into ice cube tray sections. Add water and freeze.
  2. Pour the Kool Aid and sugar in a large pitcher. Add water and mix together.
  3. Just before serving the punch add the ginger ale.
  4. To make a spooky punch, add spider ice cubes to the pitcher.
  5. Remember to tell your guests "don't drink the spiders"!

Article by Tania Cowling, first published on
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Educational Toys for Preschoolers: 3 Products from MoMA and Chronicle Books

Who are MoMA and Chronicle Books?

Chronicle Books (a major book publisher) and MoMA have designed the concepts for three new educational toys. Together they have developed a line of toys and playthings that inspire children to develop their creativity. MoMA stands for the Museum of Modern Art that is located in Manhattan, New York. The museum has numerous galleries, exhibitions, and educational programs that attract many visitors. MoMA gives the public access to the world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art, holding a numerous amount of works including paintings, sculpture, drawings, photography, film, media, and design objects. For more information about MoMA visit their website.

String-Along Books

IMG 1406Young children, some as early as toddlers, are beginning to master the skill of stringing and lacing. One of the first activities is bead stringing, where children thread a bead, pulls the lace through and releases the lace so the bead slides down. The child’s finger movements will become more precise and must master a three-step sequence with this activity. Eye/hand coordination is also developed.
String-along Books is a toy by MoMA that contains 10 little books and a lace. This is a multi-functional toy where you read the tiny books together and then string them on a cord. The idea is based on classic wooden stringing beads; these little books introduce colors, shapes, and patterns and will keep your preschooler (or toddler) engaged for a lengthy period of time. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Photo by Tania Cowling

Lacing Shapes

Another toy in this collection is Lacing Shapes. Here you connect the dots and lace the cards together to make your very own book. The sturdy cards are full of colors, shapes, and patterns. They can be strung together to create a wall hanging or bind them into a book. The set includes 10 different lacing cards and 11 laces. The concept of this toy was developed by Chronicle Books for MoMA and copyrighted in 2010.
Preschool children love to thread the lace in-and-out along the outline and reverse the operation to unthread the lace. Before playing, identify and talk about the pictures on the card. Encourage your child to trace the outline with his index finger and to feel the holes.
To guide lacing practice, begin by tying a knot in one end of the lace and bring it through one of the holes so that the knot is tied on the wrong side of the card. Give your child the lace in whichever hand is his dominant and the card in the other hand. Guide his stringing until he understands that he should lace through the holes in order along the line and that he must come through the holes alternately from the front and back of the card. At first you may need to indicate the next hole, but in time the child will be able to choose the holes alone. When finished, praise the child for his mastery. Next it’s time to teach the reversal to unlace the cards. This toy is recommended for ages 3 and up.
IMG 1409

Photo by Tania Cowling

Create Your Own Museum

MoMA My MuseumNothing is more important to a preschooler than the art he creates. MoMA has a toy Create Your Own Museum which is an art activity kit that encourages young artists to make and display their own modern masterpieces. The kit comes with 20 4-color frame decals, 5 decorate-your-own frame decals, 8 activity sheets, and 3 colorful museum reproduction sheets. The children can display their art for the entire family to see.
These are only three of the many educational toys for preschoolers that are available through Chronicle Books in conjunction with MoMA. Check out other selections and ordering information on their website.
Photo credit: Chronicle Books
A review made by Tania Cowling

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting Ready for Summer Without the Boredom

Whether you are experiencing bad weather or the kids are out of school, it never fails that you'll hear the infamous, "I'm bored, and there's nothing to do!" One thing I didn't want my kids to do is plop down in front of the television or gaming device and spend hours there. I wanted them to participate in outlets of creativity, whether they engaged in homemade games or presented me with artistic crafts. I want to see my kids smile and hear the shrills of excitement. Read more...

Another company that helps me with summer boredom (or ideas any time of the year) is Crayola. They have so many fun kits for creative expression out in the market. Read on for some great ideas and new products this year.

You can find many Crayola products on this page and on their official website.

Photos courtesy of

Stock up on products or create your own homemade fun and enjoy the season!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A New Book: Piggybanks to Paychecks

One of the most important things a parent can teach a child is how to handle and save money. The author of this new book is a friend of mine, who will give you wonderful tips on presenting money 101 to your youngsters. Please meet Angie Mohr, CA, CMA, with this introduction to her new book, "Piggybanks to Paychecks."

Advertising's Impact on Kids

“Mom, you should get X brand of dishwashing detergent.  It works five times better than other brands.”

Do you ever have those types of conversations at your house?  When my kids were small, they knew every ad on all the kids’ television channels.  They could recite them verbatim and sing the jingles.  It didn’t seem to matter whether the commercial was touting toys or...dishwasher detergent.  They had them all memorized.  When they began watching television shows on non-children-oriented channels, I started to get questions about what depression and erectile dysfunction were. Why is it that kids pay attention to ads, often above paying attention to there parents?

1) Small children often don’t understand what a commercial is.

While it’s clear to adults that commercials are paid for by companies to flog a product, young kids frequently mistake them for part of the show they’re watching.  They don’t understand the difference between programming and paid programming.  This gives ads credibility with kids that ads often don’t deserve.  Kids think that, if it’s on television, it must be true.

2) Ads are relentless.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids are exposed to over 40,000 advertisements on television alone.  And that’s just ad spots.  Now, companies are paying to have product placement in the shows themselves, so now kids see their favorite characters and actors favoring one brand over another which subtlety affects their brand perceptions.  Ads are also becoming more common on the internet, on electronic reading devices, in schools, and even in church.  Kids are literally bombarded with sales pitches from the time they wake up in the morning until the time they go to bed.  No wonder they become walking, talking billboards as soon as they’re able to talk.

3) Ads sell lifestyle.

Advertisers have become very adept at not only selling a product or service, but selling a better life.  This happens in ads aimed at both kids and adults.  Buy X brand of disinfectant spray and your family will be relaxed and happy.  Buy Y brand of jeans and you’ll have more friends and school and be more popular.  Adults have a difficult enough time fighting off these embedded perceptions.  Kids don’t stand a chance.  If they’re led to believe that having an mp3 player makes them cool, it’s hard for parents to break that perception.

So, what’s the answer?  Never allowing your kids to watch television, listen to the radio, pick up a magazine, or go online?  Of course not- in fact, that only makes them less ad-savvy.  The more you teach your kids to be wise, if not outright cynical, consumers of advertising, the better they will be able to filter out the noise in the future.

For more tips and information on teaching your kids money smarts, join me on my March book blog tour here:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Make Music Fun: Enhancing Kid's Songs with Art

Children are natural musicians and will express themselves in a variety of creative ways when given the opportunity. Props can enhance movement and enjoyment of the song. These items can also aid in making children less inhibited. Story props can help provide an understanding of the context of a song using masks and clothing accessories. If the changes of tempo, mood, and dynamics are to be emphasized, try using musical instruments, scarves, and streamers. Even artwork such as painting and drawing provide an outlet for expression and enjoyment of a song.
Below are a few ideas to enhance popular childhood songs:

One Elephant

One elephant went out to play,
All on a spider's web one day,
He had such enormous fun,
He called for another elephant to come.
Make an Elephant Mask as a Prop: Use a paper plate, color or paint it gray. Attach a set of construction paper floppy ears and an accordion pleated trunk. Draw facial features and attach a wooden craft stick to the back to hold the mask over the child's face.

On Top Of Spaghetti

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table,
And onto the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

Make Pasta People: Provide different shapes of uncooked pasta to the children. Have fun creating pasta people gluing the shapes together onto construction paper. Give your "pasta people" special names like Rotini Ralph or Zachary Ziti.

When The Saints Come Marching In

Oh, when the saints go marching in,
Oh, when the saints go marching in.
I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

Create a Homemade Kazoo: Decorate a cardboard tube (toilet roll) with colorful markers and stickers. Cover one end with waxed paper, held in place with a rubber band. Hum loudly into the open end to make sounds. March around the room singing this adapted song.

Oh, when we play our made kazoo,
Oh, when we play our made kazoo,
We want to hum in that rhythm,
When we play our made kazoo!

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

A "Me-Mask" is Fun to Make: Making a "me-mask" is fun for all ages, as well as, teaching facial features to young children. It teaches individuality, as everyone's mask can be different. Take a wire clothes hanger and bend it into a diamond shape. Stretch a leg from nylon pantyhose over the wire frame, knotting the bottom to secure it. Now, with felt pieces, yarn and puffy paint markers, create a face similar to your own. It's a great mask to see through - and no fear factor as children can see each other through the mask.

Old MacDonald Had A Band (Adapted Traditional Song)

Old MacDonald had a band, ei ei o,
And in his band he had a ______, ei ei o.
With a shake, shake here and a shake, shake there,
Here a shake, there a shake, everywhere a shake, shake.
Old MacDonald had a band, ei ei o.

Make Popcorn Maracas: You will need one 35mm film container, one Popsicle stick and uncooked popcorn kernels for each child. Slit a hole into the container lid and insert the wooden stick. Fill the canister halfway with kernels. Put the top back on (glue will help to keep the top on securely) and shake, shake, shake!

Finding creative ways to enhance children's songs will help youngsters with listening, memory and motor skills. Your children will love the experience!

**First printed on
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling

Monday, January 16, 2012

National Soup Month

“Soup’s on” in January as we celebrate National Soup Month.  Keep the “brrr” cold outside and warm the tummy with delicious hot soup.  This meal-in-a-bowl can combine a multitude of food groups, providing a potent serving of nutrients in each spoonful. Here are a few ideas to make “soup” a fun meal!


It's nice to have a placemat under your bowl of hot soup. Why not create your own "soup mat" using real vegetables. Give each child a sheet of light colored construction paper.  Gather vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, pea pods and more.

Prepare paint pads by placing a folded paper towel into shallow pans.  Pour the tempera (poster) paints on top.  The artist can dip the cut vegetable in the paint and then press down onto the placemat paper to make a print. Continue printing all types of vegetables using colors of orange, green, yellow, brown and white.

When the sheet is completely dry, cover the mat with a sheet of clear adhesive plastic.  The "soup mat" can be wiped clean and used over and over again.

NOTE:  Have each child personalize their mat with their name, and favorite soup names before laminating it.


The fun of soup is what's floating on top.  Here are a few favorite garnishes:

*star shaped croutons (toasted bread)
*Goldfish crackers
*oyster crackers
*bacon bits          
*bagel chips
*crumbled tortilla chips
*dollops of yogurt or sour cream  (make a smile face)
*grated Parmesan or Cheddar cheese
*sesame seeds
*fresh snipped herbs (use a kitchen scissors)


*Americans consume more than 12 billion bowls or soup each year. January is the most popular month.

*Three most popular soups are Chicken Noodle, Cream of Mushroom and Tomato soup.

*In one year, Campbell's uses 1 million miles of noodles in its chicken noodle soup, enough to circle the equator approximately 40 times.

*Campbell uses more than 44 billion stars each year in its chicken & stars soup.  In three years, Campbell produces more stars than are in the Milky Way.

*In one year Campbell produces almost 11 billion letters for its alphabet soup.


Photo courtesy of Clarita
Previously posted on Caring For Kids

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Zoo Play At Home ~ Animals From the Art Cart

Children love animals! A trip to your local zoo is bound to be a hit, but when that's not possible you can have lots of zoo fun at home. With a variety of animal activities and with a spark of imagination you and your kids can 'take a walk on the wild side!'

From the "art cart"

With paper, glue, paints, crayons and the recycle bin, your child can create a menagerie of animals at home.

Gentle Giraffe - Cut out the shape of a giraffe on yellow construction paper and let your child put spots on it with a bingo marker or ink stamp.

Slithering Snake - Your children can make a snake out of a paper plate. First, draw a line that goes around and around from the edge to the middle and stops. Next, invite your youngster to sponge paint the plate (dab, dab, dab) with green and brown poster paints. When dry, the kids can cut on the line (lots of curves) to make a spiral. Punch a hole at the top, thread in a piece of string and hang the snake. It will wiggle and cause lots of giggles!

Zebra Stripes - Draw and cut out a horse-shape from white construction paper. Using black poster paint, invite the children to marble paint this animal. Do this by placing the paper shape in a baking pan. Tape it down on the bottom of the pan with a rolled piece of tape. Coat a couple marbles with black paint and then place them into the pan. Your kids can tilt the pan back and forth, letting the balls roll over the animal. Children love to see this "horse" turn into a zebra. As a variation, ping-pong balls can be used.

Thumbprint Monkeys - Give your children a piece of construction paper with the outline of a tree drawn on it (older children can draw their own tree). Set out inkpads and felt-tip makers. Let your kids make thumb print monkeys all over their tree picture. To create monkeys, have them press a thumb on an inkpad and make two thumb prints, one above the other on the paper. Then complete the monkeys by adding faces, arms, legs and tails with the markers.

Playing zoo can be loads of fun and a good way to bring out all the stuffed animals your child has hidden in her room. Whether you have a rainy day or one where staying home is the call, creative play is so productive to your child's development.

Previously posted on 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Circus is Coming to Town~~~

Come one, come all - the circus is coming to town! So "step right up" for activities with a circus theme that children will love. Whether you have the opportunity to visit the circus in person or conduct a pretend one at home or school, the children will find this very entertaining.

The special enchantment of the circus is made up of many things that has always spelled excitement. Children can have this in preschool or daycare with just a little imagination from the caregiver. Here are a few ideas to get started. 

Try this clown craft from for a fun project.

Suggested books to read:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Don't Forget About Thank You Notes!

There are many reasons to give thanks, especially at this time of year. The holiday season is full of gifts and invitations that call for an important gesture - a thank you note, even from the youngest recipients. Giving a "thank you" is one of the most fulfilling gifts you can give a person. Feelings of gratitude are important to nurture. To help children get in touch with these feelings, make time to create thank you activities, from the simple note to other creative ways of showing appreciation.

Read on for fun and creative ways to sent notes and other forms of gratitude.

Also, check out some of the paints and art supplies available for crafting with preschoolers.

Images courtesy of