Sunday, July 31, 2016

Colors All Around Us

Dear Friends,

As we prepare our preschoolers for "Back to School" let's review colors this week. There are colors all around us and using these activities will teach our children to recognize and appreciate the beautiful hues we have close by. Check out these projects and if you enjoy them, please share this page with a friend.

Until next week,
Happy Parenting :)

Colors make our world beautiful in many ways, through nature, food, clothing, crayons—the list is endless. It’s important to emphasize colors in our daily lives as they stimulate a child’s imagination and delight their sense of sight.

There are plenty of activities designed to help children become aware of the many colors that surround them. Here are a few ways to teach colors to children:

  • Use the seasons to help teach your child about colors—green in spring, white in winter, orange in fall, blue in summer and so on. Make drawings emphasizing the colors of each season.

  • The use of toy blocks, cards, paints, and crayons can help your child develop color skills and learn to name them.

  • Talk a walk outdoors (or even in the house) and look for a particular color. Say blue for example, and then ask if a toy is blue, or is the car parked out front blue?

  • Choose a day of the week and make it “color day”. Make projects, wear clothing, cook foods and read books about that color.

  • Hot glue crayons to a strip of tag board. Then provide a second set of crayons and invite the children to match the colors.  
  • Read a good book involving colors. Some favorites are:

          The Mixed-up Chameleon by Eric Carle
          Colors (Slide ‘n Seek) by Chuck Murphy
          Colors (Children’s Collection Board Books) by Anne Geddes

Color Match
Pick up free paint chip cards from your local paint store. Choose cards in shades of red, yellow and blue. At home, cut each rectangular chip apart. Spread these across the table and have the children match each hue.

Paint and Sniff
When painting a picture with poster paints, add a few drops of baking extracts to give these paints a flavor (scent). Painting with scents is a fun and sensory experience for children!
Strawberry Extract = Red
Lemon Extract = Yellow
Peppermint Extract = Green
Orange Extract = Orange
Chocolate Extract = Brown
Anise (Licorice) Extract = Black

Color Wands
Dance to the beat of music waving colorful streamers in the air. Use toilet or paper towel tubes for the wands. The children can paint the cardboard tubes and then enhance them with crayons, markers or stickers. Next, attach crepe paper streamers to the wand with a stapler. For a variation, add ribbons and/or colorful strips of cloth.

Color Hokey-Pokey
Have colored circle stickers in four colors. These are easily found in office or craft stores. Every child gets a sticker on each hand and each foot (having one of each color on each body part). Play Color Hokey-Pokey by singing, “Put your blue dot in, put your blue dot out, put your blue dot in and shake it all about. You do the Color Pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about. BLUE!” Continue playing with the other colors.

NOTE: This article has been published in several regional parenting magazines across the country, including Parent Guide News and Metro Parent (SE Michigan).
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons   
Crayon photo by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fish-Themed Activities For Children

It's summer and many families spend these days fishing, boating, at the beach and maybe visiting an aquarium. Here are ways to help children develop knowledge about the creatures that live under the sea.

Fish Stories
Cut out fish shapes from construction paper. From old magazines, cut out interesting pictures and glue these onto the fish. Place all fish into a box. Invite the children to pick a "fish" from the box. Look at the picture and try to incorporate it into a fish story they make up. This is a fun game for a group of children or with the family.

Pick Up Fish (A fine motor game)
Remember the game of pick-up-sticks? Here is a fish version. You will need two containers, one empty and the other filled with fish shaped crackers. Invite the children to use tweezers to move the crackers from one container to the other.

Fish Dramatic Play
Have the children pretend to be fish swimming in the water. Ask, "What type of fish do you want to be?" Tell them to lie on their stomach with their arms close to their side. Now, have them wiggle their body and try to move. Ask, "How would you rest when you are tired? How would you eat? Where would you hide if there were danger?" Have the children describe what they imagine in their underwater world. Act out the following verse.
There is so much activity beneath the sea.
The crab crawls, the eel wiggles,
The octopus swims, the jellyfish jiggles.
Dramatize the creature you want to be!

Fish Net Mobile
Save one of those net bags that oranges or potatoes are sold in. Hang this in a favorite spot. Invite the children to make colorful paper fish cut from construction paper and decorated with art materials. Punch a hole at the top of each fish. Attach the fish to the net with hooks made by opening paper clips.

Going Fishing (Snack)
Give each child two paper cups. One with fish shaped crackers and the other with peanut butter. Give the children a carrot stick and tell them to dip the end of the veggie stick (fishing pole) into the peanut butter and then go fishing into the crackers. The peanut butter makes the crackers stick to the carrot stick. Kids love to see how many fish they can catch!

Children love fish themes and you can enhance these ideas with books, songs and even movies like the new movie Finding Dory. There is a mysterious and beautiful world down under the sea, so as you are having fun with fish activities, children are learning through play.

Photo courtesy of Flickr  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

DIY Puzzles for Children: Crafting and Gaming At the Same Time

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Plan a Trip to the Zoo: Little Trips Educate

Nice weather, family outings and the zoo go hand-in-hand for a day of fun. Millions of people visit zoos annually, making it one of the most popular attractions to view and usually more economical than theme parks these days. What better way to spend a special time together than at the zoo? Here are a few ideas to get the kids pumped up with enhancement activities before, during and after the trip. You will be teaching the kids many valuable concepts that will enrich their visit.

Before the zoo, choose a date but don't tell the kids until a week before the outing. Young children have a hard time anticipating an excursion for a long time. Put a picture of a zoo animal on your calendar and let the children mark off the days as they pass. Or, make a loop chain from construction paper and allow the kids to remove one link each day until the chain is gone; this is your special event day!

During this waiting time, take your children to the library and look up zoo animal books to check out and read. As you look through these books, learn the names of the animals and brainstorm to raise questions about them to discuss and answer on the trip. Write down a list of these questions, so the kids won't forget them on the big day. If you have some old magazines, let young children cut out pictures of zoo animals and glue these onto index cards. Take these homemade flashcards along with you and try to find the real animals.

On the way to the zoo, try changing the words and make sounds to this traditional song. As you sing, "Old McDonald Had a Zoo", this will get the children ready for the menagerie of animals they will see. As you stroll around the premises, talk about the names of the animals, how they live, the sounds they make, how they smell, what they eat and what they look like (sizes, colors, fur and faces). Take out your list of questions from home and see if together you can answer them. Let your children ask the zookeepers any questions you can't answer. And of course, take loads of pictures of your children's favorite animals and of your excursion together.

At the zoo, make sure to visit the zoo's petting area and let the kids pet and feed the animals. By afternoon, animals pretty much have a full belly and shouldn't be too aggressive. However, it's best to check with the zoo staff before allowing your children to enter this area.

If your zoo has a train, monorail or bus, take a ride around the premises to relax before you drive home. This experience is fun and the kids can rediscover the experiences of the day.

After the zoo, use some fun zoo play extenders at home to remind the little ones of their recent visit. Bring out the stuffed animals and boxes and invite the kids to play zookeeper. Pretend to feed, clean and care for the animals in your play zoo. Put the animals into groups of various sizes; this teaches pre-math concepts. Let the children rename their animals using alphabet letters that go with the animal's type. For example, you may have Ellie Elephant or Kristin Kangaroo at your home.

When your photos have been downloaded, make copies for the children to create zoo booklets. They can glue pictures on sheets of construction paper and dictate or write a little story about each animal.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Do You Have a Picky Eater At Home?

Having a picky eater at home is a challenge for many parents. Trying to get nutritious fruits and vegetables into their child’s tummy seems impossible – but have no fear, these ideas will make mealtime an interesting and creative experience. Nutrition is in and fussing out!
The key to this process is getting truly creative with foods. Young children eat with their eyes and cute edible constructions will stimulate interest in most toddlers and preschool age children. Here are a few ideas to try:

Sailboat regatta eggs
Peel hard-boiled eggs and cut them in half lengthwise.
Remove the yolks and mash them in a bowl with some mayonnaise and mustard.
Spoon the mixture back inside the egg white boats. You can decorate the tops with chopped carrots, chopped green pepper and sliced olives.
Cut construction paper into boat sails and invite the kids to decorate them with crayons.
Attach a toothpick to each sail with tape and insert it into the egg boat.
Serve these yummy boats on a lettuce leaf.
After letting the kiddos do a ‘wave run’ with the boats first, see how fast they can gobble them up!

Butterfly salad
Gather lettuce leaves, using both green and red lettuce varieties.
Place the lettuce on a plate to resemble butterfly wings.
Take a carrot stick and insert it in the center of the wings as the insect’s body.
An olive makes the perfect head and sliced olives can decorate the wings, just like the black marks of a Monarch butterfly.
Cut two tiny strips of red pepper for the antennae.
Present this salad to your youngsters with their favorite dressing.

Create a fruit tree
Place a pineapple ring on top of a lettuce leaf on the plate.
Take a banana half and stand it on its end in the center of the pineapple ring.
Invite the kiddos to spear a piece of fruit (grapes, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, etc.) onto a toothpick and stick the other end into their banana tree.
Fill the tree with as many limbs of fruit that it can stand.
What a fun way to get a variety of fruit into your child’s meal without a fuss!
NOTE: Toothpicks are sharp and parental supervision is needed while making the meal and eating it. A variation to toothpicks would be thin coffee stirrer straws.


Snacktivities by Mary Ann F. Kohl, Robins Lane Press, 2001

Butterfly salad adapted from my post on

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Teach Your Children to Wash Their Hands With Fun Soaps

Whether it’s flu season or your kiddos just need to wash dirty hands from being outdoors, using a fun soap product makes the task enjoyable. And, do your children know the proper way to wash their hands? Here is a recipe for clean hands.
  • First, wet hands completely under running water.
  • Put one squirt of liquid soap in your hands.
  • Rub hands together briskly. Spread the soap over the fronts and backs of the hands, between the fingers, and over the lengths of the fingers, and across and under the fingernails.
  • Rub briskly, making “soap suds gloves” all over the hands and wrists. Keep rubbing encouraging your children to sing their favorite song. Some children love to sing “Happy Birthday” a couple times. This keeps your child scrubbing a little longer. The experts recommend a minimum of 15 seconds.
  • Hold hands under the running water with the fingers pointing toward the drain. Rinse away all the soap.
  • Dry hands with a clean personal towel at home, and with a lot of kids around, paper towels are the best. Then, especially in public restrooms, use the towel to turn off the spigot. Help your youngsters understand that their hands were full of germs when they turned on the water. Some of those germs are still on the fixture and will come back onto their clean hands if they touch the spigot again. The towel serves as a barrier.
  • Hang your personal towel up on a rack or throw away the paper towel in the trash can.
  • Now for the fun part – the soap:
There are new additions to the Softsoap brand of liquid soap. How would your kids feel if they had liquid soap in either a Star Wars or Frozen character container? With the new movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Softsoap has three of the most iconic characters on their bottles: Yoda, Darth Vader, and R2D2. And what young child wouldn’t love to take a squirt of soap from a bottle with the Frozen characters on it? Look for bottles featuring Elsa, Olaf, and one with both Elsa and Anna on it. These special Softsoap liquid soap bottles retail for $2.99 (8.5 fl oz) and sold at many drug, grocery, and mass retail stores. Why not try one soon and see if this kids collection helps making the task of hand washing easy and stress-free!
NOTE: The Softsoap Collection has been sent to me by Colgate-Palmolive for review purposes. I was not paid to write this post for this company.

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4th Family Fun

What's the Fourth of July without a parade? Conduct your own family parade full of music, noisemakers and riding toy floats. Invite the neighborhood children to join you. Parading down the street with decorated riding toys is a good way to put spirit into a holiday celebration. Young children can gather their riding toys; a tricycle, wagon, little cars and such and prepare them by taping crepe paper streamers and ribbons to the body of the vehicle, as well as to the handlebars. Older kids may even weave these streamers into the spokes of their bicycles.

Independence Day is a noisy holiday. To make noisemakers, collect empty aluminum soda cans. After they are washed and dry, have the children put dried beans, small pebbles, or pennies inside. Tape the opening shut with duct tape. Proceed to cover the can with construction paper or aluminum foil. Let the kids decorate these noisemakers as they wish with crayons, markers, ribbons and stickers. "Shake, shake, shake" as they parade.

How about a "Revolutionary Hat" to wear? Cut a piece of construction paper into three 9" x 4" strips. Staple the short ends of the strips together to complete this three-cornered hat. Wear these hats in your parade like revolutionary soldiers. It would be quite patriotic to use one strip of each color (red, white and blue). Maybe add a feather if you're singing "Yankee Doodle".

This holiday is happening soon -- get your gear ready!

Happy Independence Day,

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Are You Protecting Your Child's Eyes This Summer?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Dear Readers,

After a crazy year of moving to a new city and getting settled in a new home, I'm back on Creative Preschool Time and geared to bring you oodles of information for your early childhood experience with your children.

From new products, to lesson plans, to crafts and so much more. Please check out my site in the next few days and visit often.

See you on the web!