Calming down and finding a sense of control with modeling clay.

When I was a child I always enjoyed arts and crafts. My children find the same enjoyment in arts and crafts as I always have. When my oldest daughter gets in the mood of “I don’t want to do school,” and “You can’t tell me what to do.” I turn to art to calm her down and give her a sense of control in her world. With art learning can always be incorporated especially when it comes to my youngest (age 2) it’s a great way to talk about the names for colors and find ways to count depending on what we are making. For example if we are using markers we can count the number of markers.

I recently bought my daughters air dry modeling clay that they use to make presents for their grandparents. We also use non drying modeling clay as well. The air dry clay I bought was surprisingly foam like to me. It hardens although it feels more styrofoam than a traditional hard clay. My daughters are always asking to play with the clay. It’s great because it allows them to use their imaginations, work on their fine motor skills especially my youngest, and gives them a sense of control. In life we don’t often get to do things how we want, in the way we want therefore I use art to give my daughters that ability of freedom. When you spend most your day being told no don’t jump on the couch, no don’t climb the tv stand, no you can’t have more candy, and no dirt isn’t for eating. The type of stuff to an adult that seems obvious you shouldn’t do. To kids they feel a prisoner as if their jailer is cold hearted for telling them no they can’t have more candy because they will get a bellyache. Especially after a long day of saying the word no I pull out modeling clay and let them make whatever they want.

Art projects my daughters made out of modeling clay.

The pink and green creation was my oldest daughters in which she made a pink and green frog out of the air dry clay. My youngest daughter enjoys using the non drying modeling clay. She likes to bend the pieces and layer them.

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The clay pictured above are what we use at our house. I had bought the fox kit first. It came with great tools my daughters enjoy using and the carry case is perfect for storing everything inside. I even store the non drying clay inside the fox kit.

Sight Words Beehive Game.

I’m always trying to find more ways to incorporate sight words through play. My oldest daughter (age 6) is often reluctant to read and practice sight words. However she enjoys playing games. I recently made a bee themed sight word game we could continue playing over the summer as well. My youngest daughter (age 2) enjoyed playing the game with us although she’s not old enough to read the words on the card she enjoyed grabbing the bees from the flower and placing them on her beehive card.

I made several cards sets to grow with my daughters age level. The game is great for review. Allowing my daughter to practice the words she’s already learned and become quicker at reading the words. The way we play the game is placing a pile of bee cards face down on the flower. Each player gets their own beehive. On my daughters turn she reads the card if she gets it correctly she places the bee on her beehive. If she reads the card incorrectly the bee card goes back on the flower. On my turn I have her read the card to me and if she gets it right she can keep the card for her beehive if she gets the card wrong I read it to her and place it within my beehive. The length of the game depends on how many cards you decide to start with. Which is determined by the child’s attention span and skill level. Once all the bees have left the flower each player counts their bees and whichever has the most wins the game.

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Above products are my Amazon picks for helpful tools, books, and toys for learning sight words.

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Recycled art projects inspired by Earth Day.

Sunday being our last day of Spring break I decided I wanted to do something fun with my daughters. They both enjoy creating art. With Earth day coming up on April 22nd it felt fitting to incorporate recycled media into our art project. I told them they could create whatever they wanted the only stipulation I had was that they had to incorporate recycled materials. I grabbed out our basket of recyclable materials my two year old daughter dumped them all out on the floor and began to dig in.

My youngest daughter searching for what she wanted to use.
My oldest daughter busy creating.

My oldest daughter (age 6) likes to do almost everything her own way, and when she’s given suggestions it’s met with frustration. Therefore when it comes to art I allow her to do what she wants how she wants because art is a safe place to express oneself. In life we all need a place to feel in control and art is that place for her.

My youngest daughter (age 2) making a monster with me.
Our monsters front view showing it’s belly.
Our monsters side view, she wanted to tape a water bottle to its back.

My youngest daughter started off looking for materials she wanted to use for her own project. Quickly she changed her mind and jumped in to help me with mine. We used a box and a plastic piece from a toy figurine package to make our monster. I cut the front off the box, then my daughter and I filled it with various things which would represent what the monster had ate. We taped it to the box. When finished my daughter insisted on taping a water bottle to the back of the monster. To me it looked like jet pack to help the monster fly. We added construction paper to the top to make a face.

A monster with a bottle for an eye.
A cereal box with construction paper on it. A sail boat, person placed on a monster with a fanny pack. My oldest daughters description of her art project.
Oatmeal box on a water jug made by my oldest daughter. (age 6)

My oldest daughter made several different projects. When we finished I then was left with trying to decide what to do with everything we made. My daughter and I hung most of the projects on our walls in the living room and kitchen with yarn. Our house is filled of their art all over the walls, I love their projects although they take up a lot of space. Therefore I placed a tote in my oldest daughter’s room to fill with crafts she has made since not everything fits upon the walls of our tiny home.

Since we made a few monsters my oldest daughter decided she wanted to play with the monster sight word characters I’ve made in the past. My children memories are much better than mine, so I was lost for a moment on what she was talking about. Then I remembered the characters I had made for Halloween. In our house we try to re-use and keep previous learning materials to save on waste. Therefore we pulled them out of the closet and used them to hide throughout the house.

Click image above to find the monster characters to hide, find, and read.

(I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and any qualifying purchases made through affiliate links I may earn a commission on at no additional cost to you.) Items show above are my Amazon picks for great materials to use during craft time.

With Earth day coming up this month it’s a great time to get inspired and create using recycled materials. I hope some of these ideas inspire you and your little ones to get out there create and reuse and remember messes can always be cleaned up. That’s what I remind myself during art time when all our materials are scattered all over the place and our living room is a complete mess.

Alphabet matching: Help the lowercase mouse eat the correct uppercase cheese.

Exposing children to letters early sets a strong foundation when it comes to learning to read later on. Especially in young children learning through play is a great strategy. With my youngest (age 2) my husbands the type of person who believes we should let kids be kids. He’s not always keen on worksheets and workbooks for a child her age. Therefore we’re always looking for fun play based strategies to teach her basic skills.

My youngest daughter likes animals. I decided to incorporate some sort of animal into an alphabet card game we could play together that would expose her to uppercase and lowercase letters at the same time. A game in which she could visually match them with their pair. I went with a basic concept of mice and cheese. The mice cards are lowercase and the cheese cards are uppercase. At my youngest daughters age I’d bring out 4-8 letters at a time. For older children to gain additional letter review and practice you could bring out all the cards at once and set a timer to see how many mice they could feed in under 30seconds to a minute or longer depending on the age of the child and how challenging you want to make the game.

After printing out the cards I laminated them for durability and then cut them all out. I always round the edges that way they don’t poke my kids hands when they’re playing with the cards.

For additional learning fun I added in mice number cards. Consisting of the numbers 1-10. I made matching cheese cards to feed the mice.

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Items above are my Amazon picks for alphabet and number learning.

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Week four the letter is Dd, the color yellow, shape diamond and the number is 4.

Click image above for letter of the week Dd learning ideas.
Click on the image above for a yellow color poster and matching activity.
Click on the link above for a diamond tracing worksheet and a coloring page.

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Items shown above are my Amazon picks.

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The number is four and the shape is a diamond.

I have been creating a week to week learning plan for my youngest daughter (age 2) to help keep her on track with learning her basic skills. The focus shape for week four is a diamond. I made a diamond shape tracing worksheet that can be laminated or put in a dry erase pocket to reuse throughout the week and later on for review. Since my oldest daughter (age 6) needs to get in plenty of writing and reading practice I placed a section to trace and write the word diamond. I also made a diamond themed coloring page for early readers.

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Items shown above are some of the things we use in our home to learn numbers and shapes.

Click image above for more shape tracing worksheets.
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Shapes coloring pages for early readers with sight words.

My youngest daughter (age 2) is currently learning her shapes and my oldest daughter (age 6) is learning how to read. An activity that bridges the age gap between the two of them is coloring. Coloring is something we can do together as my youngest works on her fine motor skills and my oldest is able to take a break from strict learning materials. I used dashed lines on the shapes to allow my youngest daughter to practice tracing as well as coloring.

I try to add in short sentences for early readers on the coloring pages to add in additional reading practice for my oldest that becomes overwhelmed and doesn’t always want to sit down and read a book. Adding reading onto the coloring pages makes it feel less school-like for her. She often confuses the words this, that, these, and those for each other. Therefore I used those sight words on the coloring pages to give my daughter additional practice.

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Making unicorn puppets with popsicle sticks.

My oldest daughter(age 6) wanted to make unicorns for art class.

She gathered her supplies..
-popsicle sticks
-construction paper
-glue
-tape
-markers and crayons
-unicorn template (originally I made the template for a sight word wall)

My daughters (ages 2 and 6) made the unicorns into puppets by coloring, cutting out, and taping the unicorns to popsicle sticks. We made a background for the puppets by using construction paper. I cut construction paper into strips and glued them down with my kids help onto a yellow piece of construction paper.

Click image above to go to the Unicorn sight word wall post.

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Above crafts supplies are what we use in our home during arts and crafts time.

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Egg matching game.

With Easter coming up in a few weeks I made an Easter egg theme activity that can be used in a variety of ways. I made several sets of cards to go along with the eggs for different age levels and skills. For my youngest daughter (age 2) I made cards with the numeral number on them and cards with shapes on them to match with the eggs. For my oldest daughter (age 6) I made cards with the written number word and written shape word on them. For her to practice reading in a fun way. I left the eggs uncolored for kids to color themselves depending on their skill level. After the egg cards were colored I then laminated everything for durability. You could print them on cardstock to make them less see through.

A game idea with the cards could be placing the egg cards face up and picking whichever set of cards matches the skill you want your child to work on. Placing those cards in a pile and having your child pick a card and place it on top of the correct egg. For example the number four would go with the egg that has four shapes on it.

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Images above are my Amazon picks.

Click image above for more color learning fun.
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Easter theme counting and shape book for early learners.

With Easter coming up in a few weeks I wanted to make something that would be appropriate for both my daughters (age 2 and 6). My youngest is currently working on her shapes and numbers. Although my youngest can count to 12 I’m trying to go beyond rote counting (remembering numbers) to rational counting (connecting numbers to their quantity). My oldest daughter is learning to read which takes utilizing countless strategies daily. Therefore I made an early reading shape and counting book to color that could be stapled together and turned into a book.

What really helps my youngest with rote counting are counting videos. We tend to dance to learning videos. As a way to get exercise in as we learn. It really helps her to learn, and get up and move around. My oldest daughter has always been a reluctant learner and struggles to pay attention and stay focused. It was a struggle for her to pay attention and memorize counting to 20. She started off Kindergarten struggling to count. It wasn’t until recently that she could make it to 120. Our dancing to counting videos really helped her as well.

Here is a list of counting videos we listen to the most to give you more ideas to help your reluctant learners or your eager to learn young learners…

*Jack Hartmann Grandma and Grandpa count to 120
*Jack Hartmann Welcome to the Zoo count to 120
*Count from 1-20

Stapled together, or could be hole punched and strung together.

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The above egg toys are fun shape and number learning toys my daughters enjoy playing with.

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Click image above for more number learning and counting fun.
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