Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zoo Crafts

Your child can create a menagerie of animals at home or school. With just a few household items and stuff in your art cart -- zoo animals can be made!

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 ink pads 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 ink pad 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.

Wow, I made it through my first A to Z Challenge. I hope you have enjoyed these early childhood activities and I would love to share more. I also appreciate all my new blogging friends who joined this site. Please pass this site address to any teacher friends or parents of young children. I usually post weekly (sometimes more often). I'm also looking for guest bloggers who would like to post anything related to children, early childhood schooling, and a child's well-being (you can also link back to your website). If you would like to select a week to post, please contact me at:

All the best,

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yellow Activities

Yellow is a color synonymous of the upcoming summer. It reminds many of the big, bright sun shining above, giving warmth and sending children outside to play. Yellow is the color of sunflowers so vivid and lemonade so yummy. Explore the color yellow as your group participates in these summer activities.
Mr. Sun
Cut sun shapes from yellow construction paper and hide them around a room or outdoors in the yard. Have the children go on a "sun search" to find as many sun shapes as they can. Continue to search until all the suns have been found.
After the search, set up a table with crayons, markers, sequins, faux jewels or anything that shines and dazzles. The children can decorate; gluing these materials to the sun shapes they found.
Make Sunflowers
Have each child paint a small paper plate yellow (mix a small amount of white school glue in the paint). Lay pieces of yellow tissue paper in the wet paint (to give it a petal appearance). When this process is dried, give the children sunflower seeds to glue in the center of the plate. Staple two giant green construction paper leaves at the bottom. These flowers make great summer decorations for your room or to take home!
Play Games with Children that Involve Colors
Use a yellow beach ball or other large ball. Players form a line, all facing the leader. The leader calls the name of a player and tosses, rolls, or bounces the ball to the named person. The player catches the ball and returns it to the leader in the same manner.
Teaching colors does not have to be about worksheets and printed pages. Since play is a child's learning tool, use fun activities and projects to embed these skills into a child's mind for life.
Wow, just one more letter. See you tomorrow with the letter Z.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Weekday Lunches

The challenge, as parents, is to create lunches that are reasonably healthful and palatable to kids, that can be carried off to school or play dates and left at room temperature for hours. The place to begin is at the grocery store where children can get involved with food selection. At home, try brainstorming a list of lunches that you both agree on. And don't forget to include a few fun items that your kids can help to prepare. 

Sandwich Shapes
Cookie cutters can be used to turn a peanut butter, cheese, tuna fish, or cold-cut sandwich into something special. Since some children shun bread crusts, shaped sandwiches are an alternative to cutting off the crusts. Most children are glad to chow down on their favorite shapes, no matter what's inside.
Homemade Lunchables
Buy a plastic sectional container. Cut lunch meats and cheese into fun shapes, such as triangles or sticks. Or use small cookie cutters for stars, hearts or teddy bears. Add some wholesome crackers, fruit or yogurt. Top it off with a fun dessert. The container can be brought home and reused. This is an inexpensive and healthy alternative to prepackaged lunches, and a way to add some fun to the lunch box.

Stuff an Apple
Pick an apple or your choice and remove the core (with a little extra space) with a knife and spoon. Fill this hole with peanut butter and top with raisins. Another favorite is cheddar cheese spread topped with chopped nuts. Put this apple into a plastic bag sealed with a twist tie. Remember making apple smiles. Just follow the photo above.
Fruit Kabobs
What child wouldn't like fruit-on-a-stick? For safety reasons, skew pre-cubed fruit on a plastic drinking straw, such as those used for coffee stirrers. To keep the fruit from turning brown, dip it into lemon juice. Pack these into a plastic container to avoid crushing the fruit. Another kebab idea is to layer cubes of cooked chicken breast or turkey, ham, cheese and little grape tomatoes.

This is all for today. See you next week with the letter X. Hmmm, this may be tough.

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Valentine Any Day

Playing with hearts is synonymous with Valentine's Day, but truthfully using hearts in a lesson or creative play could be any day. Here are a few "valentine" related activities that can be used any time of the year.


Teach your child about spatial directions as they participate in this fun activity.  Set a decorated valentine box on the table.  Invite your child to move a valentine card in relationship to the box according to directions you give.  Examples are "move the card" under, behind, in front of, to the left side, to the right side of the box. Continue to play as long as your child desires.


Dramatize the following verse together:

Let's be friends on this Valentine's Day.
We'll show love in so many ways.
I'll blow you a kiss.  Catch it in your hand.
Throw it back.  Watch it land.
Now, be my partner and let's dance to the music.
It's so nice to have a friend like you,
Not just for today, but the whole year through!


Place several shoe boxes on a table.  Fill them with construction paper hearts that you cut in different sizes and colors.  Have your child sort the hearts according to size, color or both. This game helps your little one learn pre-math skills.

You will need 20 index cards
Colored hearts--two of each color

Glue a different colored heart on 10 index cards and then make a matching set. This game is played like the traditional "concentration" game. Place all the cards heart side down.  The children take turns turning over two cards to find matches.  If they don't get a match, they return the cards, and the next player goes.

We're coming along with the A to Z Challenge. Let's see what W will bring tomorrow,

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unique

Families today take many different forms:  two parents, one parent, blended and extended.  But all families play an important role in a child's life. Children have so much to share. "Together Time" activities and sincere attention will let them know you value their thoughts and ideas. We are all UNIQUE~~
We Are All Unique
Explain how everyone has fingerprints unlike anyone else.  Have all the family members make a thumbprint collage.  Press your thumb on an ink stamp pad.  Press the thumbs down on white paper and label with everyone's name.  Look through a magnifying glass and compare prints.
Bag of Disguises Game
No matter what you put on your body---you are still "you".  It's fun to experiment with disguises.  Provide a bag or box of disguise props and a mirror---what fun!!!  Suggestions for your box are wigs, make-up, hats, helmets, uniforms, clothing, ties, jewelry, scarves, glasses and so on.  Bring out the camera, as this is a great time for humorous picture taking.

Oh! Baby
Start with reading library books about animals and their babies. Discuss the similarities and differences between parents and their young. Then enjoy going through old family photo albums. Notice the changes of your children as they have grown through the years. Last, compare pictures of yourself and your parents to your children today. Are there many physical traits across the generations?

See you later for the letter V,

Photo of my child's hand plaque - we are all unique by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Spring Songs

“Music is a great way to engage young children because it is a natural and enjoyable part of their everyday lives. Children hear music or sing while watching television, riding in the car, at school, and as part of bedtime rituals. We often hear children creating their own songs and incorporating music in their play. Music is a socially engaging way to learn, and especially appropriate for the developmental levels of young children”.**
Here are several songs chosen to sing with your group during this spring season:

Signs of Spring Song (Tune: “The Twelve Days of Christmas”)
On the first day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, a bluebird in a big tree.
On the second day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, two green frogs and a bluebird in a big tree.
On the third day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, three yellow buds, two green frogs, and a bluebird in a big tree.
On the fourth day of springtime, my good friend gave to me, four raindrops, three yellow buds, two green frogs and a bluebird in a big tree.
Be creative and finish the songs with ideas from the children.

Baby Animal Lullaby (Tune: “Frere Jacques/ Are You Sleeping”)
Mother cat, mother cat,
Sings to her kitten, sings to her kitten,
Meow, meow, meow
Meow, meow, meow
Sleep baby kitten, sleep baby kitten.
Continue with other verses about animals and their babies.

The Sun Song (Tune: “I’m a Little Teapot”)
When the sun comes up, we start our day,
Dress and eat our breakfast, go outside and play,
When the day is over, the sun goes down,
Moon and stars light up the town

**Excerpted from "Music as a Teaching Tool: Creating Story Songs" by Shelly Ringgenberg - an article in the NAEYC journal, Young Children.
Authors to songs unknown
Sing a spring tune today and come back tomorrow for the letter T,

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Respect

Take a moment to read this poem, written by an unknown author, and decide what environment you think would be beneficial to your children and/or ones you may teach at school. Then promote that environment in your everyday actions.
Teaching “respect” (showing consideration, understanding and regard for people, places and things) is a fundamental part of life. Each time you have the children say those magic words “please” and “thank you” you are teaching the most basic form of respect. In addition, teach children that even an inanimate object is worthy of respect. For example, teaching children at a young age not to tear a book, scribble in a book, or even stand on books can enhance their entire outlook on the fundamentals of reading. Books become respected and take an important place in a child’s life.  This in turn can enhance their quest for knowledge.
If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world!

See you tomorrow with the letter S,

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Queens and Royalty

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!  Capture the enchantment of castles, knights and royalty with these medieval inspired projects. Children love to pretend they are kings and queens for the day!


Let the children’s sense of fantasy carry them back to Medieval Times as they make and decorate regal crowns and maiden’s hats.  For the girls, form a large sheet of heavy-duty construction paper (15” x 24”) into a cone and staple the edges.  Add a piece of sheet fabric or scarf to the top point and let this drape down.  For the boys, using poster board cut a large strip to fit around the child’s head.  Make it wide enough to cut out crown points.  Each child can decorate their royalty hat with paints, sequins, faux jewels, feathers and so on.


Back in Medieval Times, a coat of arms told all you met who your family was and if you were friend or foe.  Your little knights can carry a coat of arms, and even the maidens can carry one for recognition.  For this project, cut out a simple shield-like shape from cardboard.  Make a handle using a 1” by  4” strip of cardboard and glue or staple this to the back of the shield, allowing room to slip in the child’s hand.  On the front, divide the shield into sections using a black marker.  Place the child’s family name at the top.  In the section(s) invite children to clip magazine pictures of fun things related to families.  Another idea is to have your group create their own drawings using art materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils).  Glue these onto the coat of arms board.

See you next week beginning with the letter R,

Photo taken at Disney by Tania Cowling

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Popsicle Sticks

Popsicle sticks (aka craft sticks) can be used for crafts and games. Here are a few ideas I would like to share.

Did you know?

Eating a frozen Popsicle is still part of growing up in America just as it was in the past.  Frank Epperson, from California, invented and patented the “Epsicle” which later became the “Popsicle.”  In 1905, when Epperson was just 11 years old, he mixed some soda water powder to drink.  He accidentally left it overnight on the back porch with the stirring stick inside.  That night the temperature dropped to a record low causing this mixture to freeze.  Voila! The first “Epsicle!”  Today, the Popsicle is manufactured by the Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream Company.  Popsicles come in a variety of fun shapes and flavors, now even offering natural juices and no-sugar-added Pops.  Not only have Popsicles been treats for our children, the famous wooden sticks are great resources for arts, crafts, games, and learning.

CRAFT STICKS AND CRAYONS (crayons & Popsicle sticks)—
Place Popsicle sticks, crayons and white paper on the table.  Invite the children to make designs on the paper by tracing around the sticks with their colorful crayons.  Teach your kids the art of overlapping.

POPSICLE FRAMES (Popsicle Sticks)—
Glue Popsicle sticks into shapes, such as squares and triangles.  You can even create a star by laying one triangle on top of another.  Glue the sticks together.  Trim a photograph to fit the inside of your frame and glue this to the back of the frame.  As a variation, you could glue a plain piece of heavy paper in place to be colored, painted, or decorated inside the frame.  This is an easy project to hang; just attach a loop of yarn or ribbon to the top.

PICK-UP STICKS (Popsicle Sticks)—
Use Popsicle sticks to play a game of pick-up sticks.  This is played just like pick-up sticks except that when your turn is finished you have to add your sticks to that of the person before you.  Let’s say Mom was able to pick up five sticks before she moved any of the others.  Then Bobby picked up three without moving the rest of the sticks.  Bobby would note that since Mom picked up five and he picked up three, then there are eight sticks picked up so far.  Therefore, five plus three equals eight.  If he gets it right, he gets Mom’s sticks.  If he gets it wrong, Mom gets her sticks. This makes the game an incentive to learn math facts.

Summer is the time for eating Popsicles - so save all those sticks for further fun!

See your tomorrow with the letter Q, 

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh, the Music You Can Make With Homemade Instruments

I've been thinking about the letter O and it has been a tough one for me. But, I didn't want to skip a day and wanted to share yet another couple homemade musical instruments with you from my book.

Music is a positive way to promote social interactions among children, involving them in rhythm activities and games. Gross and fine motor skills are exercised as children play rhythm instruments and dance. And if they make their own instruments they will have fun along the way.

My "Green" Tambourine
Punch three to five evenly spaced holes around the outside rim of a heavy-duty paper plate (it's best to use paper instead of plastic for this project). Invite the children to decorate their plate with paint, markers, or crayons. Glitter, sequins or stickers may be added as well. An adult can help the child to tie on several jingle bells in the holes. Elastic thread works well. Children can hold the plate in their hands and shake it. They may also tap the tambourines against their bodies.

Click Those Castanets
If you can find some metal bottle caps you will be all set to make this project. Have an adult punch a hole in the middle of each bottle cap using a hammer and a nail. Be sure to flatten out any sharp edges. Take a one-inch by six-inch strip of heavy cardboard and invite children to use paint or markers to decorate the strip. Then, have the adult punch a hole an inch from each end of the cardboard strip using the hammer and nail.

Place a bottle cap face down over one of the holes in the cardboard strip, lining up the hole in the strip with the hole in the cap. Thread string through the holes and knot them. Repeat this process on the other side. Help the children fold the cardboard strip in half with the bottle caps on the inside. The children can hold the folded end of the cardboard strip in one hand and click the bottle caps together by squeezing the cardboard.

Store-bought instruments may be okay, however, the making of musical instruments offers children fun, great hands-on experience, and the pride of ownership of a project made alone. 

*Instrument ideas have been taken from Shake, Tap and Play a Merry Tune by Tania K. Cowling

Photo by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nature Walks

Take children on nature walks to look for bugs. Tell them to observe only and not touch (a child might touch an insect that could sting). Together talk about how some bugs crawl and other fly. Ask the children to pretend to be an insect and move like the bugs they see. Sing songs like “Eensy Weensy Spider” or “Bringing Home A Baby Bumblebee"

At home, plan a "bug hunting exploration" by hiding several plastic toy bugs around the house and invite the children to find them. Another variation is to fill a dishpan with clean sand, hiding the toy bugs inside. Children can catch the toy bugs by using a tweezer or tongs to pull the insects out.

Make a Bug Hotel

In order to observe insects closely, try capturing a few placing them in a well-confined temporary home. With a little “bug hotel”, children can invite friendly insects inside to spend a day or night studying them through its many windows. Youngsters can use poster paint to decorate the outside of an oatmeal container. Paint or draw the windows, then use scissors or a craft knife (adults only) to cut them open.

Placing insect stickers on the container would be fun too. Take a piece of window screening and roll it so it rests snugly around the inside of the container. Trim so the top edge fits beneath the lid, and leave a one-inch overlap where the sides meet. Place the lid on top. Glue a hotel sign on the container – let the kids choose the name.

After the insects have been captured, take time together to look at the bugs closely either with the naked eye or use a magnifying glass. Count the legs, wings, antennae and look at the colors and patterns of the insect. Be kind to the guests – provide some nature food and water (a filled plastic water cap) while they are visiting. When observation is over, just unfasten the lid and let the insects fly out.

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Moving right along to the letter O,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Mosaic

Think before dumping household junk into the garbage can, as children may want to use it for art projects. Yes, junk! Believe it or not, many items that are otherwise known as trash can be used to create an array of arts and crafts projects – and if this trash is gathered neatly in a decorated "junk box", they'll be more accessible to young crafters.

Smaller pieces of junk can be used to create a colorful mosaic – a picture made of tiny items. Glue materials such as bottle caps, broken toy parts, or torn notebook covers, into a pattern on a piece of cardboard or sturdy paper. Dried foods, such as rice, seeds, beans, dried pasta, and even egg shells also make mosaics appealing.
Rather than a pattern, children may choose to make a representational mosaic of a dog or a house. Have them first draw the figure on the cardboard, then they can glue on the small junk pieces to fill inside the shape.

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

See you tomorrow with the letter N,

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Homemade Lunch Bag

Do you want a fun craft that has a purpose? Think about taking a pair of old jeans and repurposing them into a nifty lunch bag. This activity requires sewing so it’s the perfect opportunity for older children to learn how to use a sewing machine. For preschoolers, this craft is partially for adult construction, but the kiddos can do some decorating.
What You Need:
Old pair of jeans
Ribbon or cording
Sewing machine
Decorative appliqué and/or buttons
Fabric markers and or puffy paints
What to Do:
  1. Cut a 12-16-inch section from the leg of a pair of jeans.
  2. Turn the piece inside out and sew the bottom pieces together with a sewing machine creating a 1/2-inch seam.
  3. Fold over a 1/2-inch strip around the top of the bag and sew it down to make a casing. Leave about two-inches open to pass the ribbon.
  4. Through the opening in the casing, pass the ribbon. The two ends can be tied into a knot.
  5. Turn the bag to the right side. Finish sewing the casing that was left open.
  6. Time to decorate. Your child can use a variety of materials to decorate the denim lunch sack. Iron on appliqué patches, sew on decorative buttons, or draw with fabric pens and puffy paints. The ideas are endless!
  7. Make sure to personalize this lunch bag with your child's name.
This denim lunch bag is eco-friendly as it can be tossed in the washing machine when dirty. How cool is that?

Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Stop by tomorrow to see what I have for the letter M,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kitchen Cord Organizer Gift Craft (toilet tube art)

Do you have the problem with appliance cords being too long and unruly on the kitchen counter?  With these cute organizers you can thread the excess cord inside for a tidy workspace. Decorate empty toilet paper tubes in a variety of ways; paint them or spread glue and cover with pieces of torn tissue paper.  When using the tissue paper, brush a thin layer of glue over the top so all the paper will stick—this is like a decoupage craft.  Stand the tube on end and let it dry thoroughly.  Your child can now add bright stickers.

When presenting this gift (maybe for Mother's Day coming soon), write this verse on paper and roll it up and insert into the cord organizer.

Here’s a cord organizer to use each day,
Slip a cord inside and neat it will stay! 

Photo courtesy of FreeImages


Have a great day and see you next Monday with the letter L.




Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jump for Health with a Jump Rope

The jump rope is one of the oldest childhood games in the world.  Yet in our high-tech world, this classic game has all but become a lost relic.  Let’s revive the jump rope tradition along with rhymes your kids are sure to enjoy (think of the wonderful exercise they will be accomplishing). Your kids can jump rope singly or with friends using a larger rope.

Here are several rhyming games that your children can recite as they jump rope:

MS./MR.______MOVES IN.
The jumper calls out the name of another player for the last line.   That person then begins jumping.

The next jumper must then repeat the rhyme using the letter “B” and fill in “B” words (then continue to “C” and so on).  Pity the jumper who gets to “X”! 

Enjoy your day. Tomorrow is the letter K.
See you then,

Photo courtesy of FreeImages

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Interlocking Bag Books

You are your baby’s first teacher!  Dr. Jean Piaget, upon whose theories many of the foundations of Early Childhood education have been built, said “ that young children are explorers and it is the job of the adults around them to provide the experiences and materials to stimulate their development.”  Parents promote education from the beginning, using everyday life experiences to expand the child’s mind as well as the body.  Toys are stimuli in the world of learning.  When a young child plays—he learns.  Unfortunately in a world of inflation, it is difficult for us parents to provide every toy available on today’s market.

Think homemade! The use of bright colors, soft textures and tinkling sounds have made these play things appealing to the little ones.  For the parent, making these toys provide a sense of gratification and a gift of love, while keeping within your toy budget.

Interlocking Bag Books:
  1. Sew together (by hand or machine) several zipper top closing plastic bags along the bottom edge.
  2. Cut cardboard to fit inside each bag.
  3. Glue magazine pictures or real life photos on the cardboard.  Then slip each page into the plastic sleeve.
  4. Change these pictures often for variety.
  5. Easy to clean with a damp sponge.
  6. Sit with your baby and together turn the pages.  Talk to your baby as you look at the pictures.  It helps to develop important language skills.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Hope you enjoy this "I" craft for babies, please visit again to see what I have for the letter "J"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Health Website

Children ask all kinds of questions about their body that caregivers and parents have a hard time answering. Things like, “Why do I have to brush my teeth?” “What is a birthmark?” “What is a belly button?” These are just a sample of the questions that Kid’s website can answer.
It evens answers some of the rare questions like “Why do I blow wind” and “What’s a wart?”  This interactive website includes articles on some of the most common and bizarre questions children come up with, as well as games, quizzes, videos and puzzles to entertain them while doing research about how the body works.
Older children should have no trouble navigating this colorful, kid-friendly site. Maybe pick a subject weekly and have the children do research. Log onto this site and click on the For Kids section.  There are a variety of tabs on the left for different health subjects.
Caregivers will need to start discussions with younger children and this is a marvelous site to obtain all the information you need to answer questions about the body.
Click on the For Parents section to find instruction sheets for First Aid and Safety. Think about printing out these pages and start your own “first aid” resource book.
Overall, this is a “super” site to visit.
Moving right along to the next letter. Tomorrow is the letter I,
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Game

Continuing on the Sea Life theme, let's play a movement game together.


There is a lot of ocean motion under the sea.  Play "the sea says" just like Simon Says.  Here's a list of the different sea creatures and how they move.
1.  Wiggle like an eel.
2.  Walk sideways like a crab.
3.  Jiggle like a jellyfish.
4.  Crawl with arms and legs like an octopus.
5.  Fly like a seagull.
6.  Bark like a seal.

Think of other motions as you play this game!

This post is short, but there will be more fun tomorrow with the letter H.

Crab craft photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Monday, April 7, 2014

F for Fish Crafts

Children love sea life themes. Here are crafts to make while studying the ocean and fish.

Make mobiles to hang in your room by drawing different shaped fish on pieces of cardboard.  Cut these out and paint them in bright colors.  Add detailed patterns with black markers.  Punch a hole at the tops and thread the fish with ribbons, yarn or string onto a clothes hanger at different lengths.  Hang this from the ceiling. 

Create baggie fish to hang or decorate the walls.  Crumple a sheet of colorful tissue paper.  Use a black marker to make designs that replica scales, an eye, and so on.  Glue on sequins or faux jewels, anything that can be glued on for sparkle.  Now, stuff the paper fish into a plastic sandwich bag.  Gather the opening and secure it closed with the twist tie about three inches from the body to form a tail fin.

Design magic fish pictures with the use of a white crayon.  Draw fish shapes (or other sea creatures) using the white crayon on white paper.  The shapes will be almost invisible.  Have the kids brush a water diluted food color wash over the entire paper.  (Mix food color drops into a small bowl of water until you have a vibrant color)  Voila, magical fish!!

Enjoy! See you tomorrow with the letter G.

Jellyfish craft photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Eat This, Not That

If you need help deciphering which nutritional choices are best for your children, check out the handy guide Eat This, Not That! For Kids!, the kid’s version of the best selling adult book. It points out the healthier options found in fast-food and family restaurants, grocery store aisles, even your child’s cafeteria. The book offers helpful meal suggestions, label-and menu-reading strategies and a listing of the 20 worst kids’ foods in the country. In addition to that, most spreads in the book open up to two food options, one on the left page and one on the right, and it tells you point blank to “Eat This, Not That.” The choices often are surprising.  For example, if you go to Dunkin’ Donuts, encourage your child to order the ham, egg and cheese English muffin sandwich instead of the seemingly healthier banana walnut muffin.  You’ll save almost 200 calories and 11 grams of fat!
This book is authored by David Zinczenko & Matt Goulding (Rodale Books) and can be found in local bookstores and on  This may be a good book to use when planning menus for your group and a wonderful resource book for parents to browse through.

Photo courtesy of

See you same time tomorrow,

Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Drums

Drums are a favorite of children when playing musical instruments. I wrote an entire book for teachers and parents on making musical instruments, so I'm including one of my favorites -- the snare drum made with a cookie tin. I'm sure you have most of the materials you need at home. Try this craft with your kids -- it's a great art project and a way to practice making sounds and rhythm.


You will need:
*Metal cookie/candy tin
*Metal paper clips (about 20)
*Cardboard circle (cut slightly larger than the diameter of the tin)
*Thick packaging tape
*Adhesive stickers, including musical notes
*Drum sticks (unsharpened pencils or chopsticks)

Remove the lid from an empty cookie tin.  Decorate the outside with colorful adhesive stickers (or paint a solid color with acrylic paints).  Paint the cardboard circle, too, if you wish.  Have the kids turn the cookie tin upside down and spread paper clips evenly on the recessed bottom of the tin.  Place the cardboard circle over the bottom (the cardboard should not touch the paper clips).  Secure this circle to the bottom with thick tape, bringing the tape up the sides.  The children can use drumsticks to tap this snare drum.
Encourage the kids to think of other materials to use inside this drum besides paper clips to see what other sounds may be produced.

Sing this song as you play your drum---(tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
Play it loud,
Play it soft,
Rhythm everywhere.
Play it slow,
Play it fast,
Music is in the air!

If you would like to purchase a book on making homemade instruments, check out my website to view "Shake, Tap, and Play a Merry Tune" available through my website for $8.00.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B -- Birthday Party Theme Ideas

Picking a party theme is the trick to a successful event, as the theme provides the uniqueness and personality of the party. The best way to pick a theme is to go to the expert—your child. Use the child’s interests and passions as the motif of your celebration. Once you have decided on the theme, this stimulates the ideas for invitations, decorations, food, games, and party favors. There are several types of parties where your theme idea may fit in. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
The movie party is designed around a child’s favorite film. It could be an animated cartoon, a silly comedy, or a child-rated action movie. How about some of the new favorites like, Toy Story, Alice in Wonderland, and, Marmaduke or classics like The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book, and The Lion King? You can gather the children and take them to the movies or show the classic DVDs at home. It’s easy to find accessories to use at this type event at your local party store.
An activity party focuses on a fun interest your child likes to do. Think about an arts and crafts party, swim party, cooking party, sports, action heroes, dancing, or magic (anything Harry Potter these days) as the theme.
Create a fantasy party where you turn your home or party place into a jungle, pirate’s den, under the sea, farm, outer space, or a princess’ castle. All you need is a handful of materials and a great imagination to make these magical scenes come alive.
What about having a special guest as your theme focus? Invite a clown, magician, puppeteer or storyteller, balloon twisters, face painters, or even a beautician to do little girl makeovers at your event. Think about asking a friend to dress up like a character of your theme. The special guest can entertain the children while you focus on the food and favors.
An outing party is when you take the party guests to a special place like the zoo or aquarium. Think about theater productions, the circus, a children’s museum, amusement park or even a fun restaurant.
The event party can be fun as you creatively feature a homemade event such as a carnival, home camping party, at home water park, bike and trike party, go green and plant a garden, Olympics obstacle course, or even a roller skating party on your patio or sidewalk.
Hope this post gives you some ideas for your child's party this year!
See you tomorrow with the letter C.....

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Alphabet

As we being our 2014 A to Z challenge, I'm sticking to the traditional alphabet as my first post. As a teacher and mother, I loved to use alphabet letters as themes for art, music, games, and even treats. Today, I'm going to share two alphabet art ideas with you. Try them with your kids -- hope you enjoy the projects as much as my family did.

Melted Alphabet Letters
With this alphabet letter art craft, cut large block letters from sandpaper. Have the children color very heavily with crayons directly on top of the rough side of the sandpaper. Place the letters on a cookie sheet and into a 300-degree oven for 4-5 minutes or until the crayon melts. The alphabet letters will emerge in vivid colors.
Create Letter Characters
Give each child a block letter and colored markers. Invite them to 'dress up' the letter by drawing in facial features, hair, and designs. You can even give the children scraps of fabric for them to dress up the alphabet letter with clothes. Challenge the children to give their letter a name, such as "Billy B" or "Tara" T.
These two alphabet art ideas will make learning the letters fun for preschoolers. These craft ideas are perfect for preschool classes, home-based day care, and for parents. Make everyday a learning day with creative art activities.
See you all tomorrow with the letter B!
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling