Create an Underwater Scene. PART 2. The Diorama

Mar 31, 2012

Since making our fish we've been excited about making the Underwater Scene for them to live in.

This activity would work best as a follow up or precursor to an excursion to the aquarium or beach, as an activity to complement an interest or in conjunction with a book about fish or the ocean.

Before starting the diorama we researched, using the Internet and books we had about what we might find on the bottom of the ocean.



fish craft, activities for kids, under the sea craft


Here is how we made it:


 Here are the materials we used. Cardboard box (we found one that was already blue inside but if you're using a shoebox etc, you might want to paint the inside or cover with cellophane paper etc), rocks (can collect from outside or use river rocks), fishing line (to hand the fish), fish (see how we made them here), PVA glue and brush, things to make coral and seaweed (we used, pipe cleaners, shiny green paper and leaves...you can use whatever you can find around the house), sticks, tape and sand.



 Tearing the green shiny paper in strips to make the seaweed. Good fine motor skill practice



 Twisting and manipulating the pipe cleaners to make coral and underwater plants



 Taping a pipe cleaner to a strip of green paper so that it can be bent into a shape for seaweed



 Poke holes in the bottom of your cardboard box for your child to poke their seaweed, coral and plants in



Pouring glue over the bottom of the box. Being careful to avoid the plants



 Spread the glue so it covers the entire bottom of the box



 Her FAVOURITE part. Sprinkling the sand all over the bottom of the box



Allow the glue to dry and shake off excess sand. Then add your rocks



 Almost finished! Time to add the fish. I taped a loop of fishing line to the back of the fish so they could hang over the sticks



 Hang the fish on the sticks and then place over the top of the box



The beautiful underwater scene in finished. We had a lot of fun creating this. Hope you do too



Some tips:

- You don't have to use all these same materials. See how we did it and then hunt around your own house for things that would work as well

- Take the time to focus on improving particular skills with your child and help them to practice, ie. Carefully pouring glue so that it goes where intended.

- Extend this activity by letting your child attempt some of the more fiddly parts like poking holes where they want their plants and taping fishing wire onto the fish. Ensure that you have talked about and researched the bottom of the ocean so that your child gains a better understanding of what you are doing and why.

- Making things that look visually pleasing as the end result help your child feel proud about what they have created.

- Talk with your child about what they are doing. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "coral" This will help with their language development.

-Ask questions to help connect their understanding and use vocabulary to give them words to describe what they're creating, eg. "How are we going to get the plants to stand up in the bottom of the box?" etc

- Listen to your child talk as they go through their experiences. This will help you determine where they are at with their learning, knowledge and understanding and help you to develop the activity (or future activities) to their level and interests.

-ENJOY spending time with your child :)

Debs :)


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Play Food Sort

Mar 30, 2012


If you have pretend food at your house, help your children learn about the different food groups, as well as the basics of categorising, with a simple food sort.

Here I started with just 3 categories. Fruits, Vegetables and Other food.


I provided 3 containers and started them off with a few items from each category in each



activities for kids, healthy eating, learning food categories, sorting food
The finished sort. She noticed the difference in colours straight away.
(It's up to you how technical you get regarding fruits having seeds...)


Handy tips:

- Use this activity to talk about "sometimes food" and "everyday food"

- This activity led us to many discussions about various foods and where they come from. Be present for the activity and available for any questions they might have.

- Simplify this activity by cutting down the categories to sort into. Start with "Fruit and vegetables" and "Other food"

- Extend this activity by increasing the amount of categories to sort into. The "Other food" category included meats, grains, dairy and sweets/fats. Introduce your child to the Healthy Eating Pyramid that's used in your education system and use it as a guide for categorising foods. (Google search "Healthy Eating Pyramid *your state*" eg. "Healthy Eating Pyramid Victoria" for up to date nutritional information that your government is promoting)


Happy playing,
Debs :)


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Create an Underwater Scene. PART 1. The Fish

Mar 29, 2012

Using a cardboard box as the base for our whole design, we set about making an underwater scene/diorama with hanging, mobile fish.

In this post (PART 1), we show you how we made these simple but effective fish.

activities for kids, making fish, collage, fine motor skills
 Can you tell what we used to create the fish scales?



 Assemble the materials ready for creating. We used cardboard fish shapes that I drew and cut out, PVA glue, cut up patty pans/cupcake liners, googly eyes and glitter



activities for kids, fine motor skills, creativity, collage
 First I demonstrated the technique of layering and overlapping the "scales" as is found on real fish so that she could learn and practice a new skill. I'd omit this step with younger children



 Cover the fish with glue



 The demonstrated technique of layering kind of went out the window when she was sticking on the scales but it's a learning process



 Her finished fish without any assistance


 For contrast, we wanted the little fish to be sparkly fish. Here we stuck the eye down first so it would attach better than over the top of glitter. Covering with glue (and avoiding the eye) was very good fine motor skill and coordination practice due to the small and more fiddly size



 Cover with glitter. A favourite part!



Shake off when dry. Taa-daa! 



Another of her finished fish


Some tips:

- If you don't have these materials at home, simply substitute them with materials you do have available to you. We used patty pans due to their texture but coloured paper would be fine (you could even crinkle it first to give it some texture)

- I suggest using thick cardboard for the fish templates as they will become too floppy under the weight of the glue and embellishments if you use paper or thin cardboard

- Take the time to focus on improving particular skills with your child and help them to practice, ie. Wiping excess glue before pasting to avoid drips.

- Extend this activity by having your child draw the fish templates themselves and/or attempt the cutting of the templates and other materials

- Making things that look visually pleasing as the end result help your child feel proud about what they have created.

- Part 2- Click here to see how we make the underwater diorama for the fish to live in.


Debs :)

Pipecleaners, Craft sticks, Playdoh & Animals. Invitation to play!

Mar 28, 2012

Open ended activities (meaning there is no specific end result required and children can take the activity to whatever level they desire) are my all time favourite types of activities with children.

Whilst we always have a lot of fun learning new skills and creating decorative and useful items when crafting or cooking, providing an activity that I don't know exactly where it's going to lead is when I witness the most authentic learning and where I experience the most delight watching.

Providing 4 materials for my daughter to manipulate and explore on a mat is how I created this invitation for play. The rest was up to the child.

toddler, kids, activities for kids, fine motor skills, playdoh, pipe cleaners
 Here is the invitation to play



 Bypassing all the animals, it was "plant making" time with the pipe cleaners and playdoh



 Using coordination and fine motor skills to wrap one pipe cleaner around the other



 The beginnings of a sculpture. Giving their brain a workout and using problem solving to make things stand up, stay upright, keep balanced etc.



 This is perfect fine motor skill practice for young children. Simply wrapping pipe-cleaners around craft sticks



 She spent a long time wrapping and wrapping and wrapping to create this beautiful "plant," using the playdoh as a stand



"I'm making a sun"



Some tips:

- Notice she didn't use the animals at all. Not once. This is fine. Allowing them to choose which materials they deem necessary to whatever they are creating is important for their own creativity and problem solving. Letting them know they don't have to use everything they see could be valuable for your child

- This activity really doesn't need to be simplified or extended. That is the beauty about open-ended play.

- Listen to your child talk as they go through their experiences. This will help you determine where they are at with their learning, knowledge and understanding and help you to develop the activity (or future activities) to their level and interests.

- This activity can be repeated time and time again with a different end result each time. You can also mix around and change some of the materials that you provide each time to inspire new ideas

- Use this time to demonstrate particular skills to them that they might be attempting unsuccessfully. Just learning to wrap something around an object might need some guidance. Wrapping a pipe cleaner around something solid and stable like a craft stick is easier than wrapping one around another pipe-cleaner. Start with the easier experience first and work up to the harder experiences.

- Make your child aware of the problem solving they are doing with questions and comments. "How did you get that pipe cleaner to stay on the end of the craft stick?" "Using the playdoh as a stand was a good idea to get your plant to stand upright" etc


Debs :)

3 Panel Painting

Mar 27, 2012

Here is another way to paint that has produced some great results at our house.

Using 3 different coloured pieces of paper or cardboard stuck together, your child can create some art that flows differently to having one background while practicing their fine motor skills, colour recognition, creativity, cognitive development and more




Activities for kids, preschoolers, toddlers, art, fun, different, creativity
(Although unintentional, to me this picture looks like a man wearing a hat looking up at an angry cloud where a storm is brewing and above that layer are all the clouds in space... but that's just me lol)
 
Having the 3 colours on the background means that different coloured paints show up differently on each panel and can change how your child approaches the painting.



After setting up the 3 panels you can give your child any painting implements you like. Mix it up to get different results each time. I provided a fine paintbrush, 4 different colours and a few textured stampers and left the rest up to her.



I noticed that it took her quite some time to cross over from one panel to the next. It was almost as if she were doing 3 separate painting on each one.


Some tips:

- After turning the painting vertically, I realised that the 3 panels looked like (or could be) the earth, the sky and space. Next time we do this activity I will have her paint on it vertically instead of horizontally to see if it makes a difference.

- To extend this activity, introduce your child to the idea of the 3 layers being the earth, the sky and outer space and see how they interpret their ideas then.

- This activity can be repeated time and time again with a different end result each time. Mix around and change some of the materials that you provide each time to inspire new ideas

-Ask questions to help connect their understanding and use vocabulary to give them words to describe what they're creating, eg. "Which colour paint shows up best on the black background?" "Why do you think that is?" "I like how you're swirling those colours together. It is creating an interesting effect" etc

- Remember that sometimes children just create, they don't need it to be a specific item at the end. It could just be an abstract creation. Allow this and don't push them to think they must make something "real."


Debs :)



Paper Plate Easter Chicken

Mar 26, 2012

This craft is so simple that it needs very little explaining. The fun thing about using a paper plate as the chicken's body is that the bottom is rounded and therefore rocks when pushed to appear to be pecking. Kids love this :)

Spend time with them as they do this craft to help them experience bonding and emotional development as well as fine motor skills and cognitive development.


activities for kids, easter chicken, paper plate, easy easter craft

Fold a paper plate in half and using whatever materials you have at home, have your child decorate it as a chicken by adding eyes, beak, wings and tail.


Some tips:

- My daughter wanted to colour the plate with crayon and we used googly eyes, coloured paper and a patty pan for the tail. You could cover the paper plate with feathers, paint, paper collage etc and add any embellishments you have available.

- Simplify this activity by helping your child with the folding and cutting. Provide them with some basic materials for the decorations and let them figure out where and how to stick them down.

- Extend this activity by having your child do the folding and use this time to talk about "halves." Folding evenly in half can be challenging for kids so they will often need guidance and practice. Also allow them some input in choosing the materials to cover and decorate the chicken and let them attempt any cutting involved

- Talk with your child and ask questions about what they are doing. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it. eg "That is a good material for the beak. How are you going to attach it so that it stays on?"

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "embellishments" This will help with their language development.

Debs :)


Linked here:

Weekly Kids Activity Planner

Mar 23, 2012

Here I am sharing a way that I have used to organise my child's weekly activities.

I like to know what is coming up and what to expect and so do children. Having a plan not only helps you to know what you're doing, but also builds some routine and structure for your child. This allows your child to feel secure which is extremely important.

I also found that organising my week like this meant that I wasn't scratching my head on a daily basis trying to come up with ideas on the spot for things for them to do. I was able to ensure that my child was fitting in all the areas of learning that I wanted her to experience each week and making sure I had the materials or supplies I needed to support this.

Below is an example of what one working week in our lives looked like. (I include various learning areas under all my activities. This is for me but obviously most of you would not find this necessary. You don't need to include it! :D )

weekly kids activity planner, free template activity planner, weekly planner template free


Here is the link for this example if you'd like to see it larger




Here is a copy of a blank proforma. You can click here to get your own copy* to use if you'd like.


*Note: Apologies about the font change on this downloadable document but the font I used was not compatible with Google Docs. Once you have downloaded the document and opened it in Microsoft Word, you can change the font to whatever tickles your fancy :)



Handy tips:

- Just remember that timetables and routines can change very quickly with young children so you must ensure that you keep it flexible. This is why my overall design of the proforma is very basic.

- If you have extra naps in there (lucky things!) then you just add those in etc.

- Having a "catch up" day/morning/afternoon is a great idea for all those activities etc that you planned that for one reason or other you just didn't get to do. Let's be realistic, these things happen!

- I only include the working week in my timetable as I like to leave the weekends free and open for whatever might come our way or wherever our mood takes us. If you'd prefer to timetable the weekend as well, just add in the extra days.

- I use different colours to quickly identify if the activity is around the house or outside the house as well as for alternating weeks etc. Setting up your own colour scheme can also make things quicker and easier.


Debs :)