Frozen! Winter Art Activities

Yes, the children will let you know that the blockbuster Disney movie, Frozen, can be an inspiration for anything and everything cold and icy. You don’t need any cryokinetic powers to produce ice and snow. Depending on where you live, just venture outside or open the freezer. Most of these activities take little or no preparation…and remember, it’s the process, not the finished product…so “Let It Go” if you think the end result is for children to make something that looks like something recognizable (i.e., providing a pattern of a snowflake or snowman to use with the art medium).  Have fun discovering the science in these activities while exploring with art!  As Olaf said, “Some people are worth melting for.”  I think the children will agree.

frozen 1 frozen 2 Rainbow Snow Painting
Fill spray bottles half full with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ (do not dilute the color by adding water). If you have snow, go outside and have fun spray-painting snow. If it gets too cold and fingers in mittens don’t work too well with the trigger sprayers (my favorite sprayers are the ones from Ace® Hardware), let the children scoop the snow in buckets and bring it inside to your water table. Spray away. Observe how the colors blend to make new colors. Way cool!frozen 8

Paintsicles
Squeeze Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ or BioColor® into ice cube trays. Cover trays with aluminum foil and insert craft sticks (poke through foil) into each cube. Place trays in freezer overnight. Pop paintsicles out of the trays. Provide heavy white paper or tagboard and using the craft stick as a handle, children paint the entire paper with bright blocks of color.

frozen 3

Ice Designs
Draw designs on heavy white paper with a washable marker. Using plain ice cubes, children “paint” over the designs and watch how the colors soften and blend..frozen 4Ice Castles
Materials Needed:
Ice—cubes, blocks, etc.
Table salt
Rock salt
Kosher salt (optional)
Eye droppers
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™
Sensory tub or water/sand table
Small containers/cups to hold the salt and Liquid Watercolor™

Procedure:

  1. Freeze water in a variety of sizes and shapes of empty containers—plastic bowls, jello molds, cardboard milk containers, ice cube trays, etc. In cold climates, children could put the containers of water outside to freeze.
  2. Empty the ice shapes and ice cubes into the sensory tub or water table.
  3. Place small cups of salt and rock salt in the tub.
  4. Place small cups of Liquid Watercolor™ in tub.  Add an eye dropper to each cup.
  5. Problem solve with the children how best to use the ice to form ice castles, deciding which blocks of ice would be best on the bottom and which would work better on the top.  Children can sprinkle the salt on top of each chunk of ice before adding another piece.  Talk with them about how the salt begins to melt the ice.  Then when another piece is added, the water refreezes and becomes part of the newly added piece of ice, helping it to stick together creating ice castles.
  6. Children then use the droppers to drop the Liquid Watercolor™ into the cracks and holes created by the rock salt and salt making a colorful kingdom.

Learning Outcomes/Desired Results:

    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Discuss the chemical reaction that ice has when salt is sprinkled on it.  Salt lowers the freezing point of ice, causing it to melt.
    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Solids transforming into liquids.
    • Cognitive-Science – Cause and Effect: Mixing primary colors (red, yellow and blue) you make the secondary colors (orange, green and purple).
    • Physical-Fine Motor Skills: Using small muscles (pincher grasp) in fingers to squeeze the bulb of the dropper and to pick up grains of salt and chunks of rock salt.
    • Physical-Fine Motor Skills – Eye-Hand Coordination: Hands and eyes working together to accomplish a task; using fingers to manipulate dropper with color and squirting colors into salt crevices.
    • Cognitive-Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: Some children will have difficulty in figuring out how to get the color into the dropper and then onto the ice. Handling the eye dropper will be a challenge, so they should be shown how to use it and encouraged to keep trying until they succeed.
    • Language Development: Children talk excitedly about what they see happening.
    • Encourages creativity and persistence.
    • Social/Emotional Development: Fostered as this is an open-ended activity with no right or wrong way to do this activity.  It promotes children’s self-esteem.

frozen 5 frozen 6 Nature’s Frozen Beauty
Freeze nature items (leaves, pine needles, flowers, berries, small rocks) in silicone cupcake liners or an aluminum or silicone cupcake/muffin tray. Let the children put items (flower, leaf, etc.) of their choice into each of the cupcake liners. Then fill them halfway with water. Before putting them into the freezer or outside, insert a paper clip (open half-way) into each cupcake liner that will be used to hang up the frozen decorations. Once frozen, pop them out of their mold (cupcake liner or tray) and decorate your outdoor environment by having the children hang them on tree branches, fences or whatever else will support the icy decoration. As the temperature warms up and the sun comes out, the children will observe and discover what happens to their once frozen beautiful decorations.frozen 7

Product Recommendations:
Ultimate BioColor® Creativity Kit (BCKIT3)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Classroom Favorites Pack (LWKIT4)
E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz. – Set of 6 (TSBOT)
Super Safe Plastic Droppers – Set of 12 (12SSD)
6 Paint Cups in a Base (PNTCPS)
Best Value Sand & Water Activity Table – Medium (LWTAB)
Sand and Water Buckets  – Set of 6 (BUCKSET)
Indestructible Scoops – Set of 4 (SCOOP4)
Regular Craft Sticks – 100 Pieces (CRAF)
White Sulfite Paper – 500 Sheets ((A80SU)
Extra Sturdy Tagboard – 100 Sheets (9WT)
Colorations® Super Washable Chubby Markers (16CHB)

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Sand & Water Fun for Infants and Toddlers

As an Early Care and Education Consultant and Trainer, I am asked to conduct workshops on a variety of topics for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.  My main goal in presenting at conferences and trainings (and also in writing this blog) is to share ideas and activities to use with the children in your care.  I have been asked to present my workshop, “NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE! Extending the Curriculum Outdoors” for Infant and Toddler Teachers.  The program coordinator specifically asked me to focus on the sand and water table and the sensory materials that can be included for this age group.

Is your sand and water table buzzing with activity or is it stagnant like the water you always seem to have in it?  Perhaps your sand and water table is closed because you think it creates a mess.  Whether you need to rekindle interest in your sand and water table or remind yourself about the value of sensory play…read on to discover the sensory learning opportunities found in the sand and water table.

The sand and water table can be equipped with two basins or tubs side by side or it can be one large table.  Whatever the configuration, most of these tables can be used inside or outdoors. Sensory play, sometimes known as “messy play,” happens in the sand and water table.  It is a center for exploring with your senses, experimenting, scooping, and pouring, squeezing and smushing (building fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination for handwriting), sharing and turn taking.  Children can watch chemical reactions, mix colors, repeat observed phenomenon, and try new things.  Sensory play promotes spatial awareness, mathematical thinking, and scientific exploration and discovery.  It also is simply a great way for children to relieve their stress.  Sensory play can be very soothing and relaxing to a young child.

Ideally, the items in the sand and water table should be switched out every week, though there are some materials (i.e., water) that need to be emptied daily. What you can and cannot include in your sand and water table depends on the children and the different policies of your program about the use of food during play and explorations, as well as concerns about children’s food allergies and sanitation.  Some of the items listed may be problematic for toddlers and those children who insist on putting everything in their mouth, ears or nose.  Provide close supervision and use only larger items for the very young.

Materials, Ideas & Activities for the Sand & Water Table:

Depending on the contents of the sand and water table, add small shovels, rakes, sand and water mills, small watering cans, squeeze bottles, sifters, sand molds, buckets, plastic or rubber animals, small people, boats, vehicles, kitchen utensils (wire whisks, slotted spoons, scoops, tongs, tweezers, funnels, mixing cups, basters, ladles, muffin tins, plastic cookie cutters, ice cube trays, sieves) and a variety of containers to foster complex sensory play.

I think it’s important to have two sand and water tables—one for inside and one for outside.  That way, depending on the weather and your setup, some kind of sensory activity can be available for the children to explore.  Infants and toddlers rely on sensory input to learn about their environment. Sensory play helps build neural connections that support thought, learning, and creativity.  It supports language development, cognitive growth, fine/gross motor skills, problem solving/reasoning, and social interaction.  Sensory experiences are like food for the brain.  With a little bit of planning, sensory play in the sand and water table can happen everyday!

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Best Value Sand & Water Activity Table and Lid (SWTAB, SWTABL)
Neptune Sand and Water Table with Lid (NEPTUNE)
Sand & Water Buckets (BUCKSET)
32 Ounce Bubble Solution (BUB32)
Bubble Wands (BUBWNDS)
Small Shovels (SMSHOV24)
Watering Can (WCAN)
Colorations® Easy-Grip Dough Cutters (EGCUTTER)
Sand & Water Mills (MILLSET3)
Pour and Measure Play Set (POURPACK)
Funnels (FUNNELS)
Excellerations® Fun Foam Fishing Set (REELFUN)
Sailboats (SAILS)
Sturdy Scoops (FUNSCOOP)
Super Classroom Sand Set (SDSET)
Sandtastik® White Play Sand (PLAYSAND)
Soft Touch Cute Baby Sea Creatures (BABYSEA)
Soft Touch Cute Baby Wild Animals (BABYZOO)
Soft Touch Cute Baby Farm Animals (BABYFARM)
Soft Multicultural Career Figures (HELPER)
Small Multicultural Career Figures (PEOPLE)
Bathing Dolls (BATHSET)
Primary Toddler Dish Set (DISHSET)
Magic Nuudles™ (ALLNU)
Kinetic Sand ™ (KINSAND)
Colored Play Sand (CSANDALL)
Sparkling Sculpture Sand (BLINGSET)
Shape it!™ Sand (MOONSNST)
Small Gotcha Nets (NETS)
Gator Grabber Tweezers (GATGRABS)
Medium Insects & Spiders (INSECTS)
Foam Wooden Blocks (WDFMBLK)
Foam Tabletop Unit Blocks (FOBL)
Tree Blocks with Bark (TRBLK)
Tree Blocks without Bark (TRBLKNB)
Chubby Land, Sea & Air Vehicles (CHUBBY)
Fun Dough Scissors (DSCISSOR)
Colorations® Tissue Paper Grass (TGRASS)
Super Safe Plastic Droppers (12SSD)
Colorations®
Liquid Watercolor Classic Colors (13LW)
Colorations® No-Drip Foam Paint (BFP)
Colored Macaroni (SMAC)
Colored Rice (RRIC)
Colorations® Washable Finger Paint (CWFPS)
Colorations® Sensory Sand Finger Paint (SANSET)
Fabric Squares (FAB)
Jumbo 2” Pom-Poms (LGPOMS)
Craft Fluffs (FLUFFPK)
Wood Craft Rounds (WOOD50)

Rubber Duckie, You’re Number One!

Rubber Duckie, you’re the one, You make bathtime lots of fun,
Rubber Duckie, I’m awfully fond of you…

Whether you spell it “Ducky” or “Duckie” (as in the Sesame Street song), the rubber duck squeaked in to become a 2013 inductee into the Toy Hall of Fame (along with the ancient game of chess).  Officials at the National Toy Hall of Fame (located inside the The Strong—National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY) say anyone can nominate a toy and thousands of suggestions come in every year.  An internal committee of curators, educators and historians chooses the finalists and then a national selection committee votes for the winners.  Longevity is a key criterion for getting into the hall. Each toy must be widely recognized, foster learning, creativity or discovery through play, and endure in popularity over generations.

Rubber ducks have been recognized as the quintessential bathtub toy since 1970 when Ernie, the cheerful orange Muppet on Sesame Street, first sang the catchy ditty “Rubber Duckie” to his best bath buddy. The song rose to number 16 on Billboard’s chart of hit tunes and, 43 years later, kids still sing the praises of their water play pals.

Not only the bathtub but the water table is a natural place for rubber ducks to reside.  Excellerations™ Letter Learning Ducks from Discount School Supply® are a great play prop addition.  The product includes:

  • 26 plastic ducks—each with an upper and lowercase alphabet letter on the bottom
  • 26 alphabet duck-shaped cards—each with an upper and lowercase alphabet letter on one side of the card and a corresponding picture that begins with that letter on the opposite side
  • Mesh drawstring bag to store ducks
  • Activity guide filled with great game ideas for 2-7 year olds

Activity Ideas for 3-5 year olds

  • Fill the water table and place the Letter Learning Ducks in the water.  Encourage children to find the duck that has the first letter of their name.
  • Place the Alphabet Duck Cards on the floor or on a table with the letters facing up.  When a child finds the duck with the matching letter, have him place the duck next to the matching alphabet card.  After everything is matched, sing the alphabet song together.
  • Add some no tears bubble bath soap to the water and have the children stir up some bubble bath fun for the rubber ducks.

Objectives & Learning Outcomes

Physical Development:

  • Fine motor control—Muscle strength in the hands and fingers and coordination of the eyes and hands is promoted when children play with the ducks

Social & Emotional Development:

  • Playing cooperatively and sharing ducks
  • Explore social roles as they give the ducks a bath

Language Development:

  • Children discuss their observations and experimentation as they manipulate the ducks
  • Children expand their vocabularies as they learn words like sudsy, splash, bubble, pop

Cognitive Development:

  • Understand cause and effect relationships—predicting what will happen when soap is added to the water
  • Recognizing beginning letters in familiar words and names (preschool standard)
  • Matching words with the same beginning sounds (preschool standard)
  • Recognizing all upper and lowercase alphabet letters (kindergarten standard)

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Medium Best Value Sand and Water Activity Table (LWTAB)
Excellerations™ Letter Learning Ducks – set of 26 (LLDUCK)

Nature Bracelets

I just returned from a fantastic family reunion in South Lake Tahoe.  Three of the five grandchildren were present and activities for the week included a hike at beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake.  We got close and personal with chipmunks, a snake, and a Steller’s Jay which was quite bold in stealing cherries from our picnic lunch!  The kids found sticks, went swimming in the lake, and enjoyed skipping rocks.  I happened to bring a roll of wide masking tape with me so the children could make Nature Bracelets of the items they collected on their hike.

Materials:

2 inch wide masking tape or Duck Tape®

sharron nature bracelets 1

Directions:

    1. Cut or tear a strip of the masking tape about an inch longer than the circumference of each child’s wrist.
    2. Wrap the masking tape, sticky-side out, around each child’s wrist.
    3. Go on a hike or nature walk.
    4. Encourage children to pick up anything they like (except live insects!) and stick it to their bracelet.  They discovered that flowers, petals, leaves, dandelions, pine needles, pine cone scales, grass, and even small rocks stuck to their bracelet.

sharron nature bracelets 3

Suggestions & Variations:

  • When you take a hike again, have the children collect only one type of nature item–leaves, flowers–or collect only items that are one color–green, brown, etc.
  • As the children find items, have them arrange their found items in a pattern, i.e., one leaf, one rock, one flower, one leaf, one rock, one flower, etc.
  • Have the children compare their bracelets with a friend.  How are they the same?  How are they different?

sharron nature bracelets 2

You know those sticks the children and I found.  We kept them.  My next two posts will showcase what we did with them.  You’ll be surprised!

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Duck Tape® Solid Colors (DTAPE)
Regular Masking Tape (34MT)

Fit & Fun! Get the Ball Rolling!

kids playing outside

Recent research shows that children spend about 70% to 83% of their time in child care centers being sedentary, not counting the time spent eating and napping. About 2% to 3% of the time is spent in vigorous activities. This study published in “Pediatrics,” the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that educators said they know vigorous physical activity (physical activity that can produce fatigue in a short period of time and is performed at an intensity in which heart rate and breathing are elevated to levels higher than those observed for moderate physical activity–activity that is easily maintained and is performed at an intensity that increases heart rate and breathing) is important to children. But they cited several barriers, including concerns about injuries, parent’s pressure on schools to pursue academics, and limited outdoor space and playground equipment. We know it doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment for children to be active. They just need to be given the time and opportunity to engage in structured  physical activity (activity planned and directed by a parent, caregiver or teacher, and that is designed to accommodate the infant, toddler or preschooler’s developmental level and unstructured physical activity (child-initiated physical activity that occurs as the child explores his or her environment). Teachers need to intentionally plan moderate to vigorous physical activities every day.  Please see this previous post: Why Should We Get Our Kids Moving.

I’ve designed a Daily Physical Activity Chart which helps you and your students to actually document their physical activity.  It asks, “Can you do something physically active for 40 minutes every day of the week?  Color in a wedge each time you complete five minutes of physical activity outdoors or inside!”  If the children spend 10 minutes outdoors in unstructured play, color in two five-minute wedges.  If you led the children in a five-minute structured physically active game, such as Driving with Hoops! color in a five-minute wedge.  I recommend assigning one child each day to be “in charge” of coloring in the wedges or sections (with markers or crayons) on the ball. Perhaps, the first day you do this, only half of the ball (20 minutes) was filled in. The next day aim for 25 minutes of physical activity. With your Planning, Encouragement, and Participation (PEP) you can ensure that the entire blank ball turns into a colorful ball!  Feel free to make copies of this document and post five balls on the wall at the children’s eye level so they can document and see their progress for the week (click here for a weekly chart).  Need more ideas of what to do for structured physical activity?  Don’t forget to browse the archives of this blog, or better yet, invite me (www.sharronkrull.com) to come to your school or organization to present my physical activity workshop, “Get Your Motor Running! Fun Physical Activities for Young Children.”  As Aristotle said, “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.”

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Colorations® Super Washable Chubby Markers, set of 200 (CHBST)
Colorations® Extra Large Crayons, set of 200 (CRXLG)

Education Through Movement! Building the Foundation

This summer I had the privilege of attending a week long HighScope® training on music and movement. As a movement and physical activity specialist, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this highly respected professional development course.

I met people from all over the world–India, Dutch Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States, from Michigan, Tennessee, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. I did a lot of moving, dancing, and singing while learning new strategies and techniques for sharing music and movement with young children and successful methods for integrating movement and music into other curriculum areas. Here are several that stood out and which I am beginning to incorporate in my teacher trainings and workshops:

 

Provide a safe and supportive classroom environment where the children feel they have a say in their own learning. Have children stand in a loose formation, rather than a circle or a line, so they can be anonymous when working in their personal space, making sounds and doing actions at the same time as the other children. This allows for children to express themselves more readily when using exploration and problem solving.

 
Ask the children to describe movements as they are doing them. Having children think about and label their movements leads to those movements becoming purposeful and planned. For example, “I am patting my knees with my hands.” Children develop language skills as well as self-confidence.
 
Once children are comfortable with a movement activity, suggest that they lead it in their own way. Depending on the activity and the length of time available, one, a few, or all of the children can be leaders. Over time, make sure that every child has a chance to lead some activities.
 
Use only one method of presenting an activity or concept. Give verbal directions or silently demonstrate the movement or silently provide tactile guidance. Children respond better when you use only one presentation method.

Remember the child’s pitch range for singing is high–sing higher. Children have short vocal chords and will sing in tune more easily when you pitch songs in their higher range (middle C to A on the piano). As an adult, you may need to call the cat (“Here kitty, kitty”) to feel that place in your voice that is best for children and lead from there.

Steady beat is the consistent repetitive pulse that lies within every rhyme, song, or musical selection. Pat steady beat with both hands or rock to the steady beat. Mother Goose nursery rhymes are wonderfully appropriate for incorporating steady beat.

Action, thought, and language are combined in “Learner SAY & DO,” a strategy that helps children organize steady beat movements and movement sequences. Children speak words that define actions or body parts touched (SAY) and the match the movement to the words (DO). For example, to learn the locomotor movement of marching, children say “March” each time weight is alternatively transferred from one foot to the other.

When first introducing equipment (balls, scarves, bean bags, rhythm instruments, etc.) to children, allow for opportunities to freely explore and play with it before expecting them to use the equipment correctly. Don’t just jump into the “game or activity” you have planned. It’s fun to put out several different pieces of equipment together and see what the children do with all of the pieces, whether exploring them individually or using the pieces together with a friend.

To acquire children’s attention while moving, sing “YOO-HOO” and have the group echo it back to you as they cease all activity. You can also say, “STOP SIGN.” Then you are able to give directions for the next activity or movement.

As you introduce movement experiences to children, remember these “golden rules:”

  • Keep them short.
  • Keep them simple.
  • Make them enjoyable.
  • Design them to assure success.
  • Suggest rather than direct.

Hit the Deck! Shipwreck!

Let’s pretend… and get physically active while playing this fun, non-competitive game.

Materials and Set-Up:
Indoor or outdoor space with boundaries using cones or Hop Around Steps.
Tumbling mat(s) placed in center of playing area designated as “the ship.”

Let’s Get Started:
1. Children watch and listen as directions of how to play are demonstrated.
2. The teacher or game leader is designated as the Captain.
3. Commands will be given by the Captain and the children are to react quickly as members of the ship’s crew. (The mats are the ship.)
4. On the command HIT THE DECK all children are to sit cross-legged on the mat.
5. On the command SHIPWRECK all children leave the mat and pretend-swim in the open sea (the space around the mat).
6. On the command LIFEBOATS children leave mat and find a partner. They sit down with legs apart and feet touching. They hold hands across from one another and sing “‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as they rock back and forth, pretending to row their lifeboat.
7. On the command SEAGULLS children leave mat and stand in open space with legs apart, arms waving and flapping overhead, making a squawking noise.
8. On the command SCRUB THE DECK children go to mat and get on hands and knees and pretend to clean in a scrubbing action.
9. On the command CAPTAIN’S COMING children stand to attention facing the teacher/game leader and salute.
10. On the command SHARKS children run to the middle of the mat and do a group hug or huddle without pushing or grabbing.

Goals:
1. Physical activity = any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.
2. Health-related fitness = components of physical fitness that are related in a positive manner to health and well-being: cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
3. Gross motor skills = using the large muscles of the arms, legs and trunk.
4. Listening skills = ability to follow verbal directions.
5. Space awareness = knowing where the body can and should move in relationship to other people in the play space.
6. Agility = quick, easy, lively movements.
7. Cooperative play = games and activities that the participants play together rather than against one another.

Furthermore:
1. Introduce the game using only 3-4 commands; add others after children become familiar with the game.
2. Vary the length of time between commands.
3. Try to trick children by repeating a command twice in a row.
4. Let children take turns being Captain and giving commands.
5. Children may devise other commands and actions.
6. A parachute can also be used as the ship, instead of tumbling mats.