Kinesthetic Painting

Kinesthetic Painting

Dadaism and Surrealism were art eras during which traditional ideas about art were challenged, yet the artwork artists generated during these movements was still considered representational art. You could see what the art was and what materials were used. Many artists used random objects and recyclables. When abstract expressionism followed, it challenged traditional methods and techniques of art-making. The artists described as abstract expressionists seemed to be more free, and the art they created wasn’t always representational. In fact, many abstract paintings looked nothing like their titles.

One of the better known types of abstract painting is a method that uses the whole body to paint. Introduce your preschooler to abstract art with this activity that will have her splatter, drip, and drizzle to create a complex painting. This activity is the perfect way to engage your kinesthetic learner and spark her interest in art history!

What You Need:

  • Large canvas or poster board
  • Acrylic paint (or tempera if you’re worried about stains)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Plastic spoons
  • Popsicle sticks

What You Do:

  1. Explain to your preschooler that throughout history, there have been many different movements and styles of painting that were popular. Discuss how Dadaism and Surrealism were uniquely radical and how these two movements led to Abstract Expressionism. A good way to start the discussion is by showing your child some samples of artwork from these eras.
  2. As she looks at the art samples, have her express her opinions on the artwork. Then discuss how she will be making an abstract piece of artwork that involves applying paint by splattering and using various body movements to create unexpected designs on the canvas.
  3. Lay the canvas on the floor. Have her stand over the canvas and apply paint by splattering, dripping, and drizzling paint on it. Go over how in order to apply paint, she doesn’t have to actually touch the canvas with the paintbrush, spoon, or popsicle sticks.
  4. Encourage her to experiment with her body movements. Is she able to get more paint on the canvas if she stands over it and flings the paint? How about if she squats down closer to the canvas?
  5. Ask her to tell you more about her painting and what she thinks about the abstract art she’s creating.

Helpful Tip: This method is very fun, but very messy. Remember to provide an appropriate work area so there’s no need to impose limitations.

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Teacher’s Guide to Reducing Your Stress Level

Teacher’s Guide to Reducing Your Stress Level

 

According to the British Journal of Educational Psychology (1993 Jun;63 ( Pt 2):261-70), “Results revealed that the majority of teachers sampled, 72.6 percent, were experiencing moderate levels of stress, and 23.2 percent serious levels.” What that boils down to is that teaching is a stressful job. It is a rewarding and satisfying job, but nonetheless, stressful. It is important to take care of yourself physically and mentally to be able to deal with the stressors in your life. Not only does stress come from teaching, but juggling your own kids and family as well. Take a look at this guide to reducing your stress level, and see if you can implement even a couple of these ideas to help make you feel more relaxed.

Stress Busters

  • Try getting up at least 15 minutes earlier each morning to have some time to yourself. You can make coffee or stretch before anyone else in the house gets up.
  • Prepare for your next day the prior evening before you go to bed. Waking up in the morning knowing that you are ready helps make things run more smoothly.
  • Instead of trying to remember multiple things in your head, write them down. ” Practice saying “no” to people. No one expects you to be able to do everything, so don’t even try.
  • Keep a journal. Writing out your feelings is a great way to reduce stress. Seeing your problems on paper often times leaves them there.
  • Think of ways to practice preventative measures, such as making duplicate keys to avoid being locked out of your car or house, and fixing things around the house or classroom that have the potential to breakdown on you.
  • Prepare meals on the weekends and freeze them to be used during the week. Simple meals can be just as nutritious as extravagant meals.
  • Know your goals in life and set priorities. Having direction makes situations more worthwhile.
  • When given a large task to complete, break it down into smaller steps. It won’t look so overwhelming if you try this.
  • Reduce clutter in your home and classroom. Get rid of things that you know you will never use again, or at least find a way to neatly store them away, if you cannot come to throw them away.
  • Uplift other people in your life. Say nice things about them. This goes a long way in making you feel distressed, too.
  • Say positive things about yourself. Believe in what you are doing, and remind yourself that you are making an impact on kids who rely on you. You are pretty important, eh?
  • Take a warm bubble bath to ease tension. ” Develop a hobby that makes you feel good. Some people like to read as a hobby, while others prefer to do something with their hands. Find your niche.
  • Give your appearance a new makeover. Getting a new hairstyle or treating yourself to a new outfit is okay!
  • Consider joining a gym or practice meditation. Breathing exercises are also recommended to reduce stress.

As long as you are a teacher you will feel some effects of stress in your life. You have to make a personal decision that you will take measures to reduce your stress. The people around you may not change, so you are the one who has to do the changing. Stress is not only a mental factor, but a physical factor as well. Taking care of your body and mind is paramount. Eating a healthy diet and putting optimistic thoughts into your head is certainly beneficial. It takes practice, but you’re worth it!

Make a Story in a Bag

Make a Story in a Bag

What a great idea. Children would love making the characters and acting out.

A great way to get children to socialize with others and have fun while learning.

For lots of kids the beginning, middle and end don’t always come so easily.  Ask a first grader to tell a story of the day, for instance, and often the result will be hilarious because it’s all mixed up.  As fun as it is to listen teaching kids that stories have an order is important.  Want to give your kid some practice? Make some puppets and put them to work!

What You Need:

  • 3-4 old socks
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Construction paper
  • Yarn (for hair)
  • Book of your child’s choice (from school, home, or the library)
  • Brown paper lunch bag

What You Do:

 

1. Set it up.  Explain to your child that you are going to read a story and then act it out! Let your child pick whatever book she’d like and start by reading the story together. Stop after every 2-3 pages to talk about what’s happening. At the end of the story, ask your child:

  • Who was the story about?
  • Where did the story take place?
  • What happened in the beginning of the story?
  • What happened in the middle of the story?
  • What happened at the end of the story?

Help your child write down the answers to each of those questions, to use for a puppet show later on, or take dictation if your child struggles with this task.

2. Reuse those socks! Sure, your toe may have wormed a hole in the tip, but old socks make perfect puppets. Just throw them in the wash first! Once they’re clean and dry, tell your child she’s going to make puppets for each of the characters in her story, and then act it out!  Give your child the craft supplies and let her use her imagination. Yarn makes great hair, googly eyes add a fun touch. And old ties or bandanas serve as great “costumes”. If she’d like, she can use construction paper to make background scenes, houses, or any other important settings from the story.

3. Act it out. Gather the family and announce the performance. Let your child take the lead and tell you whether she’d like to play all of the characters, or whether she wants some acting backup from you or a sibling. Once the show is over, place the sock puppets, scenery and written story summary in a brown bag and have your child write the story title on the front.  Be sure to keep your “story-in-a-bag” for future shows! This is a fun way to see if your child really understands and remembers a story, and who knows? It may become a new family tradition!

Hand print Angel

Hand print Angel

This hand print angel adds some sparkle to Christmas. This hand print angel is turns your child’s hand prints into beautiful angel wings. This homemade hand print angel makes a beautiful cover for a Christmas card, or as a special piece of art for Mom and Dad!

What You Need:

  • Pink construction paper
  • Blue construction paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • White paint
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Metallic pipe cleaners
  • Glue
  • Newspaper
  • Plate

What You Do:

  1. Help your child pour a small amount of white paint onto a plate.
  2. Have her dip her hand into the paint before making a practice hand print “stamp” on a sheet of newspaper.
  3. When she’s confident with her hand print stamps, have her carefully make two stamps in the center of the blue paper. Each hand print’s fingers should be pointed out — just like angel wings.
  4. Let your child cut out a large triangle from a sheet of aluminum foil. This shiny piece will be her angel’s body.
  5. Have her glue the triangle, shiny side up, on top of the wings.
  6. Let her cut a circle from the pink construction paper to be her angel’s head.
  7. Then have her glue the pink circle to the top of the foil triangle.
  8. Time to make the angel’s halo! Help your child curve a metallic pipe cleaner into an oval or circle shape.
  9. Let her glue the halo on top of the angel’s head.
  10. To complete her angel, have her use markers to draw in the angel’s face.

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Holiday Place Cards

Holiday Place Cards

For many, green holly leaves and bright red berries are symbolic of Christmas. Here’s a useful craft that your kids can make to bring a touch of classic holly to your holiday table. These simple yet stylish place cards will make guests smile, and make fun conversation starters at dinner. And the best news? Young hands hone fine motor skills in a multitude of ways, including tracing and cutting holly leaf shapes, and taping, gluing, and writing guest’s names in their best printing. This is a great activity for older children to do with younger siblings, too!

What You Need:

  • Plain paper
  • Pencil
  • Green card stock
  • Red craft foam, felt or card stock; or, mini red pom-poms
  • Glitter glue in silver and gold
  • Toilet paper tube, cut down to 1 3/8” to 1 ½” wide pieces
  • Transparent tape
  • Red tissue paper or gift-wrap
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Black felt tip pen

What You Do:

  1. Prepare templates ahead of time. Simply draw and cut holly shapes onto a plain piece of paper and ask your child to trace them onto the green card stock with a pencil. Your child will need two leaves per place card.
  2. Have your child cut the shapes out. Holly can be tricky for small hands to cut out but the good thing is that they are very forgiving, so don’t be concerned with having your child do it perfectly.
  3. Lay one leaf over another so that they overlap or fan out slightly.
  4. Help your child glue the two into place.
  5. While the leaves dry, have your child punch holes in the red craft foam, felt or card stock. These will be the berries. Ask her to make three berries per pair of leaves.
  6. Glue three of the berries onto each pair of leaves. Or, if you are using mini pom-poms, apply a dot of glue underneath the center of all three of them and adhere them to the pair of leaves.
  7. Have your child trace around the outer edge of the leaves with glitter glue.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the place cards and set them aside to dry for several hours, or until the glitter glue is completely dry.
  9. While those are drying, ask your child to work on covering the toilet paper tubes. Have her roll each tube in red tissue paper and tuck the sides inside the tube. A small piece of tape on either side will keep the tissue ends secure inside the tube. To make it a little bit fancier, wrap the tubes in shiny red gift wrap. It helps to pre-measure and cut the tissue paper or gift wrap to fit the toilet paper rolls so that the child can focus on wrapping and taping them.
  10. Help your child practice the alphabet by asking her to print each guest’s name onto the place cards with a felt tip pen. Encourage her to sound out the letters, but if she needs a little help, say the letters out loud while she writes them down.
  11. Glue each place card onto the back of a wrapped toilet paper ring. Set the tubes down so that the glue can set without the leaves sliding around. After a couple of hours, your child can set the table with the gorgeous new place cards! Gently tuck a festive napkin through the tube and set it atop the dinnerware, or simply rest the place cards in front of each place setting. Either way, they will make a splash with your holiday guests!

Did You Know?

Significant meaning was attributed to this beautiful berry-producing plant throughout the ages. The Druids believed that holly possessed magical powers that could ward off evil spirits and misfortune. Romans associated holly with Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest, and hung boughs of holly during the Saturnalia festival for good luck. Christians adopted the tradition of decorating with holly during Christmas, but used it to symbolize their religious beliefs. The prickly holly leaves symbolized the crown of thorns that were placed on Jesus’ head prior to his crucifixion, and the berries represented the blood that was shed when he died.

 

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Easy Puzzles for Kids

Easy Puzzles for Kids

Puzzles are lots of fun, but they can be a tricky toy to master. This activity is a great introduction for kids who aren’t quite ready for the real puzzles yet. You’ll make your own puzzles out of sponges, and then you’ll make outlines for each puzzle you create. Your child will be able to start off using the outline to put the puzzles together, and after she gets the hang of it, she’ll be able to do them all on her own!

What You Need:

  • Sponges
  • Card stock
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Marker

What You Do:

  1. Outline shapes on the sponges. Be sure to create a variety of basic shapes. Squares, triangles, and rectangles all work well.
  2. Carefully cut out the shapes.
  3. Arrange the shapes so that they create a design or picture or some sort.
  4. Transfer the arrangement to the piece of card stock. Then, use a pencil to lightly outline the shapes on the card stock. The card stock is the puzzle base and will serve as a reference for your child.
  5. Retrace the pencil marks with a thick black marker, using a ruler where needed.
  6. Give your child the sponge puzzles and the guides, and encourage her to fit the shapes together to complete her puzzle.

Once she’s gotten the hang of it, challenge her to put the puzzles together without the guides. This is her first step towards doing real puzzles on her own!

 

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A Guide to Kids’ Coughs

A Guide to Kids’ Coughs

What’s that sound? This chart helps decipher your child’s coughs

The key to finding it? Knowing what’s causing the hack to begin with. The chart below can get you on the road to peace. In the meantime, watch out for certain danger signs: If your child’s been coughing for more than two weeks or develops a high fever, take her to the pediatrician. If she has trouble breathing, begins turning blue, or can’t eat or swallow, head straight to the ER. And if you’re tempted to give her an over-the-counter cough medicine, hold up. Studies show they’re not effective, and some may even be harmful.

A Guide to Kids’ Coughs

If your kid’s cough is:

Wet and Productive

It means: she has mucus to clear out of her airways, or she’s got post nasal drip
The likely cause is: an infection (such as a cold, sinusitis, or pneumonia), or allergies
For sweet relief: Use saline nose drops, and offer her lots of fluids to thin the mucus. If she’s got a fever along with the cough, call the doctor to rule out a more serious infection.

Dry and Raspy

It means: there’s irritation somewhere in her airways
The likely cause is: an infection, allergen, or other irritant, such as dust, pollen, or smoke, that produces little or no mucus
For sweet relief: Soothe it as you would a wet cough, with nose drops and lots of fluids. If you suspect the cough is allergy-related, do your best to limit your child’s exposure and wait it out.

Sounding Like a Barking Seal or Dog

It means: her airways are constricted and/or inflamed
The likely cause is: croup, a viral infection that’s usually worse during the night
For sweet relief: Sit with her in a steamy bathroom for 15 to 20 minutes, or go outside in the fresh air if it’s cool (not cold). If she’s having significant trouble breathing, go to the ER.

Accompanied by Wheezing

It means: she has mucus to clear out of her airways, or she’s got postnasal drip
The likely cause is: asthma, or bronchiolitis, an infection of the lungs’ small airways that’s usually seen in kids under 3
For sweet relief: See the doctor to find out exactly what’s going on. If your child has asthma, her medication may need tweaking. If she has an infection, she may need antibiotics.

A Severe Coughing Followed by a “WHOOP”

It means: she’s literally coughing all the air out of her lungs, then taking in a deep breath
The likely cause is: whooping cough, a bacterial infection known as pertussis
For sweet relief: Call the doctor at once. He may prescribe antibiotics to make your child less contagious, but these won’t treat the cough or shorten its duration. This can be a dangerous infection in babies, which is why staying on top of the pertussis shot is so important.

 

 

Finger paint Christmas Cards

Finger paint Christmas Cards

It’s fun to receive photos of friends and family at the holidays, but it’s even more fun to receive a card that someone actually made. These homemade thumb print cards are as personalized as it gets, and your child will love using his prints to make holiday magic!

I used to do this for my Mother’s Day project when I was in my classroom. The kids would make a set of stationery for their moms. There’s a book out there that shows all of the different things they can draw from a thumb print. We would wrap it beautifully and give it to their mommies! Of course with all of the technology nowadays, I always had to explain to the kids what stationery is! Lol!

What You Need:

  • Plain white cards with matching envelopes (or white paper folded in half)
  • Non-toxic ink pads (in blue, green and brown colors, if possible)
  • Colored markers

What You Do:

  1. To make snowmen: have your child dip his thumb in the ink, then press it to the front of the card. Repeat with his pointer finger, pressing directly above the thumb print. Finish with the pink, pressing directly above the pointer finger. Use the magic markers to draw in a red scarf, a small hat, and arms. Write holiday message beneath.
  2. To make reindeer: have your child dip her thumb in brown ink and make a thumb print on the page. Draw two brown antlers above it, two dark eyes and a red nose.
  3. To make a Christmas tree: have him dip his pointed finger in green ink and make prints on the paper in a triangle shape. Dip his whole thumb in brown ink, then press the whole thumb directly below the triangle. Decorate with different colored dots to look like ornaments, a star at the top, and presents beneath.

Not only will these handmade cards make the holidays brighter for friends and relatives, your preschooler will also be practicing fine-motor skills and coordination, which form the foundation for writing!

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Learn Shapes with a Santa Collage

Learn Shapes with a Santa Collage

Shape recognition is a basic math skill that will greatly benefit your child as she moves into the kindergarten classroom. Disguise a lesson focused on these important shapes as a special holiday art project, and she won’t even realize she’s learning! This shape collage featuring St. Nick himself is a simple (yet educational) art activity that will encourage your young child to identify shapes, explore the part to whole relationship, and experiment with an artistic process!

What You Need:

  • Construction paper in holiday colors (red, green, etc.)
  • Pencil or crayon
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Cotton balls

What You Do:

  1. Create shape templates for your child. Include a circle for Santa’s head, a square for his body, a triangle for his hat, and thin rectangles for his arms and legs. Before beginning this art activity, help your child identify each shape by name.
  2. Ask your child to trace your shapes onto her own paper using a pencil or crayon.
  3. Help your child cut the shapes out using children’s scissors.
  4. Invite her to arrange the shapes onto a separate sheet of paper in the form of Santa’s body. Explain that this part of the project is similar to putting together a puzzle; she will need to mix and match the different shapes together to create his body!
  5. When she has the body parts arranged correctly, she can gently lift up each shape and glue it to the paper.
  6. Invite your child to use markers to create eyes, a nose, a mouth, and buttons for Santa’s suit. Have her glue cotton balls onto Santa’s face for the beard and on top of his hat.

After completing this activity, encourage your child to continue building her shape recognition skills! Introduce more shapes such as ovals and octagons, and challenge her to create new and different collages with them.

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Christmas Cones

Christmas Cones

Get your child into the spirit of sharing by making these treat cones for loved ones. You’ll get to reuse those beloved old Christmas cards  by filling them with candies and toys, and turn them into something to enjoy for years. This activity is a great twist on the traditional Christmas stocking, and lets the family build a tradition and practice their crafting skills together.

What You Need:

  • Old greeting cards
  • Template pattern
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn

What You Do:

  1. Help your child print out the template, and tape it onto an old greeting card.
  2. Now he can cut along the dashed lines, and then crease it along the solid lines.
  3. If the template is still taped to the card, remove it, and squeeze some glue onto the tab.
  4. Fold in the sides of the cone and hold it closed until the glue on the tab dries. The easiest way to do this is to press the cone against a table top.
  5. Have your child punch a hole into the top of the cone and thread a piece of yarn through.
  6. Tie off the yarn to create a loop to hang the cone.
  7. Fill the cones with candy or popcorn, and hang them from a tree or hook until they’re ready to give away.

Add a fancy touch by using glitter, rick rack or pompoms!christmas-cones-