Category Archives: preschool craft

Little Kid in the Kitchen: Octopus (Crescent) Rolls

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2015/01/img_3475-0.jpgPen Elaine loves helping in the kitchen – we put on our aprons and pull a chair up to the counter for her to stand on, and I try teaching her that a good cook does not lick her fingers or the bowl when preparing food that everyone will eat…So, I had saved a super cute idea from Family Fun August 2014 about making crescent rolls into octopi. We had recently read a Christmas gift from Aunt Jenny, Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear (illustrated by Julie Morstad) that makes you want to cook with your cute kid, and Pen Elaine had been into “Octonauts,” in which one of the main characters is some sort of octopus. So, the timing was perfect for trying this simple “recipe.”

Crescent roll Octopus:

1. Pull apart a triangle from crescent roll package

2.Taking the shortest side of the triangle, cut 7 slits about 1-2 inches long with kitchen shears or a knife (I used a plastic knife with success)

3. Place cut triangle onto baking sheet to separate and “stage” each “leg” of the octopus

4. Roll down and shape “head” to look more rounded

5. Add eyes – we used mini chocolate chips (Pen Elaine was solely i charge of this step)

6. Bake according to package instructions

They seem wobbly and delicate when shaping the dough into octopus shapes, but they come out of the oven sturdy and stiff and delicious! These were simple and yet so, so much fun. Plus, when Pen Elaine was staging some of the octopus and their tentacles, she told me how certain ones were family members, etc…and then, she made two octopus who were side-by-side to “hold hands” and said they were my Honey and me when we were getting married! It was the sweetest thing…all thanks to those little octopus crescent rolls ūüôā

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Personalized “grandma” gifts

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So, we used these as Christmas gifts, but here’s some ideas for Mother’s Day or grandparents day, etc. I had seen another blogger paint handprints on little tea towels for the kitchen and matching hot pad, and I thought that was genius! To emulate, I bought hot pad sets from Walmart and looked up ideas for turning hand or footprints into art. Then, I let pen Elaine choose which cheesy artwork to use for our prints. We ended up with the heart shown above for a few, as well as a crab, some footprint birds (I decided to only use Snuggly Man’s feet after painting one with his hands.), and a dinosaur. They turned out cute and very personal!

For a card or photo display for my mom, I took a piece of finished out wood/sign from hobby lobby and glued on a wooden shape that Pen Elaine had already painted. Then, I wrote Deuteronomy 4:9 on there with paint- after hot glueing clothespins, spaced evenly, along the bottom. I determined spacing and placement by having a photo in them and marking my determined spots with pencil.

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Pretend Play Restaurant

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Here’s a follow-up activity for using fake food…or real food! Create a pretend restaurant!

This was one of my absolute favorite games as a kid Рmy mom would let us be the waiters/waitresses for a typical weeknight dinner at home, and I remember it as being the coolest because there was actual, real food involved. My mom knew how the simplest things could make a kid feel special and important.

So, Pen Elaine and I created a restaurant together, and she absolutely loved the power of being the waitress, ha! First order of business, she named her restaurant so that we could decorate a sign to be hung on the door for Daddy to see when he got home from work for dinner. She, naturally, named her restaurant “Elsa’s Caf√©.” She colored the poster with crayons, and we had some extra food stickers from a “Melissa and Doug” create-a-placemat set, which seemed appropriate. Then, I pulled out a pretty little notebook to function as the menu. Based on what we were having for dinner, I drew pictures with the words for the items available for dinner, plus I drew three different glasses filled with each drink option (water, tea, or milk). So, when Pen Elaine took Daddy’s order, as the waitress, she could circle what he chose. (She re-used this menu several times over the following week to take drink orders at lunch or other dinners, but oftentimes, she wanted to talk folks into whatever drink she really wanted to circle…”I think you want milk to drink…” She was a little confused about the waitress’s role to simply take orders and not actually give them.) For some added flair, Pen Elaine wore an apron as the waitress. Having such a special job made Pen Elaine extra enthusiastic with helping set the table and get dinner on the table. This is a very fun, easy activity that my mom passed down that is a favorite!

Mommy & Me class: Pretend Play with Fake Food

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Pretend play is so important for young children – they need time and space to imagine and practice what they are figuring out in “real” life. It is easy to fill up their time with structured activities, commitments, and get caught up with our own schedules so much that we start dragging our kids through each step and “job” of the day. One of my recent resolutions has been to give Pen Elaine some play time (that includes me) before making her complete her morning “jobs” of getting dressed and making her bed, even if I still have a kitchen to clean up or breakfast dishes to put away. This does not and cannot happen every day, but it is at least on my radar and a goal for most days. However, I know making time for children is important since Jesus Christ said that He was not too busy to hold them, touch them, pray over them. Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”

Sometimes a craft project can help lead to more pretend play or more intentional pretend play. Pretend play with food can be a fun time to practice table manners, thinking of other people, using proper utensils, and having mealtime conversations, to get the ball rolling.

I saw these tantalizing play food creations from oneperfectdayblog and really wanted to attempt our own. Ours didn’t turn out looking too much like actual food…although Snugly Man was fooled, as captured in the top photo!

Only supplies needed: sponges from the dollar store, paint & paintbrush, some glue optional

Pen Elaine enjoyed painting and stacking these “slices” of sponges to create a piece of cake and “cookies” (that kinda look like cupcakes…?).

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We also made paper pizzas (to look like¬†one by¬†Looksissquare via Pinterest)¬†– it’s on the bottom in this last pic, we cut out the “dough,” “sauce,” “cheese,” and an assortment of toppings such as peppers, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, meatballs, etc. These could’ve been made with felt to be more durable for creating many times over.

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Make a Preschool “fall festival” at home!

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We are loving fall and all the Halloween, dress-up, outdoor festivals, and pumpkin activities that go along with it! October is a great month to have kids under 5! Pumpkin patch photos and choosing my baby’s costume is enough to make this the best season ever. seriously.

Recently, we watched the newest pbs kids special: “Curious George’s Boo Fest,” which includes a lot of talk about their Halloween festival, including games, costume contests, haunted “fish” house/tunnel, etc. Halloween movies for preschool and toddler-age kids are definitely my favorite, just the right amount of spooky for me.

Watching this show inspired Pen Elaine and I to make our own “fall festival” at home, starting with a “haunted tunnel” that was really just a blanket thrown over toddler sized chairs and table. Pen Elaine loves making tents and tunnels already, and tunnels are helpful for my little crawler (Snugly Man) to practice and develop his gross motor skills. The three of us crawled through it like a train, and Snugly Man returned to it periodically during the whole time it was set up. The tunnel was a definite hit at the festival!

 

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Brainstorming carnival/festival games, I thought of the Ring Toss. So, I gathered some plus rings from a baby toy, and we tried tossing them onto a pumpkin stem. This proved rather difficult for both Pen Elaine and me, so we tried using little plastic bracelets, and while those were a little easier, we only played this game a few times and never returned to it. We did feel extremely accomplished¬†and proud when we got a bracelet to land on the pumpkin.¬†“Pumpkin toss”¬†had a good run.

 

 

 

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diy preschool "festival" @Whimsyinlove

 

To make our festival complete, we obviously needed a sign, so we used a chalkboard for a cute, “scary face” photo op.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The absolute hit of our DIY festival was most definitely the “Ball Toss.” Using a doorway that led to a dead end hallway, I used masking tape to taped up some butcher/wrapping paper remnants that almost spanned those whole doorway after writing “Ball Toss.” Next, I cut out the middles of three paper plates and used duct tape to attach them to the bottom of the sign. For balls, we gathered up some little plastic “ball pit” balls and toy “coins” that could fit through the paper plate openings – “balls” that would not cause any injury if accidentally¬†thrown at Snugly Man.

Actually making the balls go through the rings was only successful for Pen Elaine if she stood very close to the goals, but she also decided that simply throwing your ball well enough to make it roll all the way to the back of the hallway also made it a “winning” throw, so this game turned out to span skill levels. Placing the ball toss in front of a dead end ensured that balls did not go flying everywhere – they were contained. As with any game played with a preschooler, this was great practice for gross motor skills,¬†taking turns, being a good sport and encourager, teamwork and cooperation, and following rules.¬†Plus, it turned out that Pen Elaine and Snugly Man both loved hanging out in the hall behind the ball toss rings, catching balls and throwing them back, being in the middle of the action. Because of that, we kept the ball toss game up for over a week – making visitors come in through the garage door or duck underneath our sign, since we loved playing this so much. For a few days, it was a pre-bedtime ritual to come play ball toss, with both kids retrieving balls while my Honey and I honed our aiming skills. This game will definitely be a returning DIY festival tradition!

As you can imagine from the last pic, Snugly Man did eventually rip the bottom ring, leaving two behind.

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Mommy & Me class: Fall faces

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It has probably been a month since we enjoyed these activities at our “Preschool Moms” class, but I’m posting this anyway…maybe I can change the publication date.

Anyhow, our theme was Fall Faces so that we could make some jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows! Plus, it is a good reminder that kids are very tuned into faces, especially the faces of their mamas, starting at a very early age. A classic experiment, the “Still face” paradigm, started by Dr. Edward Tronick and colleagues, is a moving example of how babies are always watching mama’s face and deeply affected by her emotions and responses. Watch the video on youtube! An unresponsive face leads a baby to distress and despair. Furthermore, a baby worried about the love and safety in her mama’s eyes has all her resources tied up in that issue, with nothing left for learning or exploring or deepening understanding about the world around her. Of course, people don’t really grow out of this “phase;” we need eye contact for human connections and love and security for our entire adult life. I recently was shown a video about Validation Therapy, founded by Naomi Feil, that brought me to tears because of¬†the touching nature of human interaction that includes needs that last a lifetime.

 

Furthermore, these are great activities for teaching facial features and where all the parts of the face belong when creating these faces! Play is learning!

First, I printed this pumpkin/jack-o-lantern poem onto cardstock, leaving a big space for drawing a pumpkin. The idea was to¬†paint or draw a pumpkin, with a handprint stem, then to glue black¬†construction paper pieces, cut into the shapes of eyes, nose, mouth, etc. onto the pumpkin to transform it into a jack-o-lantern. Pen Elaine¬†thought this was so fun – we completed the pic in stages, and I just let her color the orange pumpkin with¬†a crayon, followed by a green paint handprint, and black facial features. I cut out several options for eyes, nose, mouth, and she chose and glued what she wanted onto the “pumpkin.” I did talk her through putting the facial features in the approximate “right” places; maybe I was¬†squelching her artistic license, but since she’s three, I wanted to make sure she was thinking through where body parts should actually go.

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I couldn’t resist – here’s my little pumpkin!

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Second, we made paper plate scarecrows! These were fun – I cut out the shapes for Pen Elaine and let her glue them down, reminding her to place eyes where “eyes go” and mouth where “mouths go,” etc.

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