Cardboard Playhouse

Cardboard Playhouse

Playhouses can be expensive, and they take up so much space. Why not make your own collapsible playhouse instead? This activity is a little tricky, but it’s a great way for your child to learn about building, measurement, and design. When you’re done working together, she’ll have her very own fortress that’s the perfect cozy spot to read, or even play pretend!

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What You Need:

  • 2 cardboard boxes
  • Scissors, or a box cutter with parental supervision.
  • Colored tape
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  1. Start with one cardboard box. Set the other to the side for later.
  2. Have your child turn the box on its side. Help her to cut off the top of the box. Set the cut cardboard to the side to create the roof later on.
  3. Help her flip the box so the “floor” of the playhouse is now on top. Reinforce the flaps of the roof with tape. Set the playhouse-in-progress to the side.
  4. Grab the piece of cardboard that was cut off earlier from the “roof.” Measure and cut off at least 1/4″ from one side of the cardboard. If you want your roof to be more steep, cut off up to 1/2″.
  5. Help your child to trace and cut out an exact replica of the roof piece on the 2nd box.
  6. Tape the edges of the two roof pieces together. They should be flexible so they can bend to create a fold, which will be the peak of the playhouse roof.
  7. Grab the base of the playhouse and place its floor on the ground. Now, have her tape the roof to the top of the playhouse.
  8. Have her position the playhouse facedown and help her cut down the exact center of the back and bottom of the playhouse. This will help the playhouse become collapsible.
  9. Then, have her cut on the fold where the back and bottom meet.
  10. Check to make sure the back and bottom flaps can fold outward. She can now flatten the box and tape the edges of the cut flaps together.
  11. Open the playhouse up and hold it in place while she tapes along the side seams.
  12. If she wants, your child can paint her house and draw designs on the cardboard to truly make it her own.
  13. Fill your playhouse with pillows, books, snacks, comics and anything else that sounds like loads of fun!
  14. Now your child has a playhouse she can use whenever and wherever she wants. When she’s all done, just fold it up and stick it in the closet!

 

Olympic Headband

Olympic Headband

When the Games roll around this year, make a simple and colorful headband that’ll show his Olympic pride. Kids can wear it to an Olympics party or while watching the Games on television. Hats are not only a quick and easy way to make the events feel more celebratory, they’re also just plain fun to wear! This activity involves cutting, coloring, and gluing, all exercises that will help your child hone his fine motor skills.

 

Olympic Headband

What You Need:

  • Tape measure (sewing tape measures work best)
  • Ruler
  • Construction paper
  • Printer
  • Printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • White glue or glue stick
  • Tape (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Measure around your child’s head with the tape measure to figure out how long the headband should be.
  2. Help your child cut a strip of construction paper about 2 1/2 inches wide and 2 inches longer than the measurement of your child’s head. You may need to cut two pieces of construction paper and attach them together with glue or tape to make the strip long enough.
  3. Open a word processing program on your computer and ask your child to find a fun blocky font for his headband.
  4. Have your child type a fun phrase such as “Go for Gold” or “Olympic Champion” or make up one of your own.
  5. Make the text 72 points in size and add an Outline effect. In many other word processing programs you can change font effects through the Format menu.
  6. Change the page orientation to landscape. Go to the help section of your program if you have trouble.
  7. Print your page.
  8. Have your child color the letters with crayons, markers, or colored pencils. You can use the colors of the Olympic rings (red, blue, yellow, green, and black), or come up with a color scheme of your own.
  9. Cut out the letters.
  10. Glue the letters to the construction paper headband (the long strip of construction paper you cut out in step 2).
  11. Let the glue dry completely.
  12. Glue or tape the ends of the headband together so it fits snugly around your child’s head.
  13. Let the glue dry again, then place the headband on your child’s head and get ready to celebrate!

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Yeast Balloon Science

Yeast Balloon Science

Whether your child loves science or just likes to be impressed, this activity will have her begging to learn how it’s done. Tell your child that you’re going to blow up a balloon without using your mouth. She may look at you like you’re full of baloney, and proving her wrong will be half the fun. This isn’t just a cool trick, it’s also a great intro to chemistry and biology.

What You Need:

  • Balloons
  • Narrow funnel
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Warm water
  • Ruler

What You Do:

  1. Place the bottom of a funnel into the opening of the balloon. You may need to stretch the opening of the balloon a little bit so that it fits.
  2. Have a parent (or a carefully supervised child), pour the yeast and the sugar into the balloon through the funnel. Then fill the measuring cup with warm water from the sink and carefully pour the water into the balloon.
  3. Remove the funnel from the opening of the balloon. Tie a knot in the balloon to keep the water-and-yeast mixture inside. Measure your balloon.
  4. Place the balloon in a warm place and wait. Measure your balloon again.

Now sit back and wait as the balloon gets bigger and bigger. Soon you’ll have an awestruck child asking, “How did it do that?” Explain to your budding scientist that although it seems like magic, it’s science. The yeast uses the sugar and warm water to grow, and as it grows it expands and gets bubbly. By being “bubbly” the yeast gives off carbon dioxide, the same gas that your body produces when you breathe, and the gas inflates the balloon.

You may not want to use this method to blow up a party’s worth of balloons, but you’ll certainly inflate your child’s imagination and her love of science!

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A Martin Luther King Day Project

A Martin Luther King Day Project

All grades are learning how to get along with different types of people. Celebrating Martin Luther King Day is a terrific way to begin a discussion on compassion, equality, and fairness. It’s also a great excuse to show how just one person can make a difference in the world, and teach kids that they can be that person! This hands-on activity gets kids brainstorming about what needs change in the world, and how they can help.

What You Need:

  • poster board
  • construction paper in rainbow colors
  • glue
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • marker

What You Do:

 

  1. Discuss with your child the significance of Martin Luther King Day. Explain to him that Dr. King was treated unfairly when he was a young boy because he was an African American. Back in those days, there were even laws that said that if you were African American, and you had brown skin, you couldn’t sit at the same restaurants as white people and you couldn’t drink from the same water fountains, or anything!  We call this kind of attitude prejudice. When Dr. King grew up, he worked hard to change people’s ideas about race. He wanted people to understand that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of what they looked like. Dr. King wrote one of the most famous speeches in history, called “I Have a Dream,” that talked about his dream that one day in the near future, all people would respect and care for one another and that “children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Each January we celebrate Martin Luther King’s Birthday to remember his dream.
  2. Talk to your child about Martin Luther King’s dream and the fact that one man managed to help change a whole country. Ask your child what he thinks is unfair, and what he thinks he can do to change it. If he could change big things in the world, what would they be?
  3. Have your child trace the outline of his hand on an array of construction paper in different rainbow colors. Help him cut out each hand shape, then glue them onto the poster board. Now brainstorm things that your child believes need change in the world, and ways that he and your family can help. Few individuals will get the chance to speak before thousands of people at the Lincoln Memorial like Martin Luther King, Jr., but there are things your child can do to make a difference! Perhaps it’s collecting cans for a local food bank to help the hungry, or running a car wash to raise money for the homeless. Perhaps it’s bringing entertainment to cancer patients at a local hospital or sending care packages to soldiers abroad. On each hand, write one thing that your child dreams of changing, like “Hunger” or “Homelessness”, then a few sentences about what he can do to help.

Not only will this project get your child thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr., but it will encourage him to explore what he can do to make the world a better place. It’s never too young to start making a difference. And a few years down the road, this poster will serve as a great reminder of what your first grader found important enough to tackle, full steam ahead.

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Dove Decorations

Dove Decorations

One of the many longstanding symbols of peace and unity is that of the beautiful dove. As Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of uniting the hands of people of all races and heritages, this iconic dove has come be associated with this great orator. Displaying grace and poise, images of this beautiful bird are often hung to represent joy and purity, but also peace and harmony.

Your child can show her respect for the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. by creating her own hanging dove decor! Invite her to adorn her room, doorways, or window sills with these signs of peace. She’ll be boosting her motor and conceptual skills while you engage her in a discussion about the struggle for equality faced by African Americans.

Dove Decorations

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What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • White glue
  • Makers or crayons
  • Tape or tacks (to hang on wall)

What You Do:

  1. Begin by helping your child draw the shape of a dove on a piece of construction paper. Let her choose to draw one that is either perched or in flight. Once the first dove is drawn, ask her to cut it out.
  2. Have your child trace this dove shape onto multiple pieces of paper. Although doves are normally white, she can use multiple colors of construction paper to create a beautiful array of birds. Cutting out at least eight or nine of them will allow for a lengthy string of doves.
  3. Once all the doves have been traced and your child has carefully cut them out, encourage her to draw faces or other embellishments on the doves. Remind her of the parts of the dove: beak, little feet, and eyes. Invite your child to also add a little vest, hat, or whatever else she wants.
  4. After your child has decorated each dove, help her cut a length of string that is long enough to incorporate each dove and leave enough room at the ends to tie or hang them on the wall or doorway. Space the doves out as evenly as you can and help her attach them to the string using the hot glue gun.
  5. After each dove has been affixed and the glue has dried, help your child hang up the decor. Allow her to choose the site and if it is out of reach, either tie it up, tack it down with pins, or use a bit of tape to hang it up.

Your child will be delighted with her colorful homemade decoration. It’s sure to provide a lasting reminder of the importance of peace and unity!

 

Cotton Ball Snowman Craft

Cotton Ball Snowman Craft

This cotton ball snowman craft is a great craft for your children to display their creativity.  It is also a fantastic preschool craft!  Children at this age love glue and this craft uses a lot of it!  Help your child “draw” the three circles with the glue and fill them in with the cotton balls.  Help them use their imagination to accessors the snowman and to draw in the scenery.  This project is a great learning tool for your kids as you can teach them about shapes and colors and encourage them to tell a story about their snowman in their finished craft.

Cotton Ball Snowman Craft

What you’ll need:

  • Blue construction paper or card stock
  • Cotton balls
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • 1 brown pipe cleaner
  • Green, black and orange felt
  • 2 googly eyes
  • 3 buttons
  • White 3-D paint

 

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How to make your Cotton Ball Snowman Craft

  • Use the glue to “draw” three circles on the blue construction paper as an outline of your snowman.  Fill the circles in with glue.
  • Stick cotton balls in the glue circles to form your snowman.
  • Cut a pipe cleaner in half and glue them on either side of the middle circle.
  • Cut a pair of gloves out of the green felt for the snowman’s mittens and glue over the pipe cleaners.
  • Cut a longer and shorter rectangle out of green felt.  Glue the longer rectangle over the “neck” of the snowman.  Glue the shorter rectangle over the longer one at a slight angle so that it looks like the scarf has been wrapped around the snowman.  Cut slits in the ends of the green rectangles.
  • Glue two eyes onto the snowman.
  • Cut a small triangle out of orange felt and glue into place under the eyes.
  • Cut a “C” shape out of black felt and glue into place under the nose as the snowman’s mouth.
  • Cut a hat out of black felt and glue to the top of the snowman’s head.  Add a strip of red ribbon in the middle of the hat.
  • Glue on 3 buttons.
  • Use white 3-D paint to add dots of snow to the background of your picture.

Make Snowman Soup

Make Snowman Soup

Snowman soup is an extra special kind of hot chocolate. When it’s cold and blustery outside, nothing tastes better than a warm cup of cocoa…unless it’s a steaming mug of snowman soup, stirred with a peppermint stick! This cooking project, which requires only stirring, is perfect for kids and makes a fun holiday gift for teachers and friends. Make some snowman soup with your child, and let him practice measuring and mixing this holiday season.

What You Need:

  • For cocoa: 5 cups powdered milk, 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, ¾ cup powdered non-dairy creamer
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Individually wrapped candy canes
  • Clean, empty jars or zip-top sandwich baggies
  • Ribbon
  • Optional: holiday mugs

What You Do:

  1. To make hot chocolate mix: help your child place a fine strainer basket over a large bowl and press each ingredient through the basket with a spoon to break up any lumps. Stir well.
  2. Fill each jar or biggie ¾ full of the mix.
  3. Top with a layer of mini marshmallows and a layer of chocolate chips.
  4. Close baggies or jar. Tie a candy cane to each jar with the ribbon.
  5. To give as a gift, place the baggies of cocoa mix in a new holiday mug and write out instructions: Add a few spoonfuls of snowman soup to boiling water, stir with the candy cane, and enjoy!

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