Posted in Books, Craft Thursdays

Reindeer Rebellion

Our book for December second was The Great Reindeer Rebellion.

This is a cute book I picked up on the discount shelf at Coles/Chapters.  From an adult perspective, and in light of all the labour unrest that has happened in the past year it is nice to see that there are some employees that just can’t be replaced – Santa’s Reindeer!  This story is written in rhyming verse and sounds similar to the traditional Night before Christmas.  There are a few times the rhymes could be more creative (up & up) but overall it is very nice to read aloud and easy language for kids.

We had Gord’s staff party so Gramma and Grampa watched the kids and did a reindeer craft with them, and after seeing what they came up with I am very happy I gave them this task!  They found an outline for Birch Branch Reindeer and adapted it for the kids.  First my dad went out to the field behind their house to find some appropriate wood.  They wanted to make small reindeer so he found the appropriate size branch but you could go larger to make a reindeer that could stand beside your fireplace.  He cut a body and head for each of the girls and then found twigs for legs and antlers.  He prepared them by drilling the appropriate sized holes for the legs and antlers.  They did suggest to me that if I was to do this again to cut them a few days in advance so the wood could dry out a bit easier, this would make it easier to stick together.  Dad also said you need to be careful where you drill the holes for the legs so your reindeer can stand easily and doesn’t do the splits!

With the girls they first glued on the legs and antler and then added the embellishments.  They added googly eyes and used pom poms for the nose and tail.  Mom found some gymp coring in my craft bin and used it to put the bell around the neck.  Kaitlyn decided she was going to make Rudolph’s girlfriend Clarice so she added a pink bow.  I think they turned out super cute!

Posted in Craft Thursdays, Kindercrafts

Remembrance Day in Kindergarten

The one challenge I find in Kindergarten is covering topics that my Kinders may not always be developmentally or emotionally ready for – and for some Remembrance Day falls into this category.  I feel it is important to teach about Remembrance Day in Kindergarten but you need to be very sensitive to their thoughts and feelings while at the same time filtering what they are exposed to.  Our study began and finished with the song we sang at the Remembrance Day Assembly:

If you love freedom and you know it wear a poppy,

If you love freedom and you know it wear a poppy,

If you love freedom and you know it, wear a poppy just to show it,

If you love freedom and you know it wear a poppy.

I started the week before Remembrance Day by sending a copy of the song home with each child to practice for the assembly.

On Monday I read them the book A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson.  This is a great picture book that explains to students why we wear poppies on Remembrance Day and who we are remembering.  It is done in a way that is very appropriate for Kindergarten aged students.  Ironically the day before I read it to my class our minister at church read it to the children during Children’s Time.

Next we began our poppy craft.  We made poppies out of coffee filters that we would hold while we sang our song at the Assembly on Remembrance Day.  On Monday each child painted two coffee filters (the basket style) red.  We put a piece of scrap paper under the filters to protect the tables. They needed to be gentle painting the filters because they can rip easily but they didn’t need to paint both sides as the paint soaked through.  Tip – peel them off the scrap paper before drying completely or they may rip.

On Wednesday I folded each filter twice and gave each student two filters.  They trimmed the edges so when they were unfolded the corners were curved like a poppy.  We laid the two filters on top of each other, poked a green pipe cleaner through the middle (making sure to curve the end, and I hot glued a black pom pom in the middle.

The other thing we had to make at school was a wreath to lay at the assembly.  The grade 2 class brought us a black wreath template and I let my volunteer Miss King figure out what we would do (with our very limited time).  She helped each child trace their hand on red construction paper and used their hand prints to make poppies on the wreath – I think it turned out pretty good>

I also wanted to do something with my own girls at home for Remembrance Day and decided to stick with the poppy theme.  I took a number of photos of different steps but something strange is going on with my camera and they are all gone.  I took another picture of the finished product to share.

I printed off two poppy pictures on white cover stock for the girls.  You can use any template you can find on google.  I used a magic marker to make the centre stand out for them.  For Kaitlyn I simply gave her glue along with red and white tissue paper and she did the rest herself. Eileen needed a bit more help.  I showed her how to rip small pieces and crumple them up and glue them on.  After a couple of minutes she politely informed me that my job was to put on the glue (because it is a bit tricky to squeeze) but she could do the rest herself.  They turned out pretty good and Kaitlyn has added them to the wall of her ‘Art Gallery’ (the walls of our playroom).

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Saving those Summer Treasures

My girls are collectors.  They love to find and collect treasures, and this multiplies in the summer.  I thought we could make some special boxes for them to store (and contain) their treasures this summer.  I drew inspiration from the awesome site Kiboomu.

This craft started with a trip to the dollar store.  Normally I take the kids with me so they can pick out their craft supplies but I was out without them for a meeting and stopped off on my way home.  They didn’t have exactly the boxes I was looking for but I found something that would work.  They came in many colours but I picked the light yellow ones so that it would be easier for them to paint them whatever colour they wanted.  I also found some cool shells.

The first step was to paint the boxes.  Kaitlyn’s favourite colours right now are orange and red so she painted the ends orange and the sides red.  Eileen decided to use 4 different colours and did an awesome job painting all on her own. For the lid Kaitlyn decided to paint the lower part brown for her sand and then the top blue for the water/sky.  The uneven painting created a great texture and the impression of waves in parts.  After letting them dry overnight we added real sand to the ‘sand’ portions of our lids.

To add the sand they put glue whereever they wanted the sand to stick and then sprinkled sand over top. To decrease the mess I found that working in a large baking dish was handy.  They simply poured the sand over top, then lifed the lid and shock off any excess and I poured the leftovers back in the bucket.  Other than the time when Eileen took a large handful and threw it on the table it was a relatively clean craft.  To finish off they glued on a number of shells and stones and then I added the titles for them.  An easy craft they could both do by themselves and they are now prepared for treasure hunting!

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Chinese Festival Family Style – The Crafts

Other than our Panda puppets we made one craft to prepare for the day and two crafts at the festival.

To decorate we made Chinese lanterns.  These were very easy for Kaitlyn and Eileen loved making them with a bit of help.  We followed the simple directions we found on Kaboose.

First I measured out and marked the lines for the girls.  I cut Eileen’s for her and Kaitlyn cut her own.

After our first one we learned that it was much easier to decorate the lanterns before assembling them.  I got out our craft bins and anything they could use to decorate their lanterns: foamies, stickers, markers, and crayons but their favourite was the glitter glue.

To assemble them all you need is a stapler and some string or wool to hang them up.

At the festival the kids did two crafts.  When all the kids had arrived we made dragon puppets.  I printed off a template I found online an each child coloured their own.  I put out crayons for them to use and let them do any colour they wanted.   After they were coloured the adults helped cut them out.  At this point we realized that this pattern is rather intricate and time consuming to cut out.  After cut out they were assembled using red construction paper and wooden skewers.

Our final craft was Chinese kites.  I looked online for patterns for making kites and settled on a diamond kite.  We followed the pattern exactly and the kids had fun making them but I don’t think they will ever actually fly.  It said to use strong paper so I purchased bristol board, but I think it is too heavy.  Again I got out decorating supplies and let the kids decorate their kites however they wanted.  If we had more time I would have introduced the concept of the zodiac or Chinese New Year and encouraged them to use their symbols on their kites.  Kaitlyn is a bit dissapointed her kite won’t fly so we are going to experiment with other materials and see what we can come up with.  We did manage to find wooden sticks of bamboo in the gardening section of Canadian Tire and they worked well. We have lots left over and will use it on our new kites.

Have you every had any luck making homemade kites that fly?  What are your suggestions?

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Easy Caterpillar Craft

We were busy on Thursday so decided to do our craft today.  I was looking for a craft to do this week and came across a cool idea for painting caterpillars.  I loved the idea, especially since you are using different, and unusual objects to create the patterns.  There is a lot of potential to do this with my Kindergarten class in the fall if we study monarch butterflies again this year.  I thought I would do a test run with the girls today while daddy was cutting the grass.

The first thing we did was make the grass for the caterpillar.  I love when you can get get kids painting with objects other than paint brushes.  The idea of using plastic forks for grass is awesome (not my idea – found it on Education Ease).  Eileen was even able to figure out how to do the grass by herself.  We have bit of grass in the sky but lets just call it an abstract, she is only 2 years old!

Next we used empty applesauce containers to make the body of the caterpillar.  To avoid wasting paint we painted the rims with a paint brush and then used them to make impressions on the paper.  If I did this with a larger group I would put paint on small plates and they could just dip the containers in the paint.

Finally we used Q-tips to create faces, antenna and legs on our caterpillars.  Kaitlyn was able to do this herself but Eileen needed a bit of help from Mommy.  She proudly did the spots herself.

I definitely think this would be a great activity with a preschool or kindergarten class and will try it is some version with my class next year.  I will probably use this when we study butterflies and then try some other art lessons using unique materials.  I would then do a culminating project where they had to create their own original artwork using a variety of objects.  I would provide a bin with materials and they would have to select which ones to use.

What would you put in the bin?  What objects would create the coolest patterns?  Comments encouraged!

Posted in Craft Thursdays, Family Adventures, Literacy Tuesdays

China Festival Family Style – Introduction & Research

If you have been following my Literacy Tuesday blogs you will know that we were reading a number of alphabet concept books.  One of the books we read was D is for Dancing Dragon – A China Alphabet by Carol Crane and Illustrated by Zong-Zhou Wang, and if you are interested in the book I commented on it at my library blog.  This book was the jumping off point for our China day.  From here we found a research idea, crafts and decorations to make, and food we had to include in our celebration.  I am not going to try an include everything in one  blog post, instead I am going to try and group what we did preparing for the day and on the day itself, into a few blog posts.

The past few years I have worked as a teacher-librarian and one of the main focuses has been to teach students how to learn for themselves.  This  was the first opportunity I have had to directly teach my own children research skills, well Kaitlyn was the only one actually researching, Eileen just was along for the ride.  We started by reviewing the letter P in our alphabet book – The Giant Panda.  We started this on a literacy Tuesday so I printed off some P worksheets and colouring pages for an introduction.  Kaitlyn particularly liked the P wordsearch and I appreciated that it was the perfect level of difficulty for her.  Eileen made an attempt to trace the P letter pages I gave her, which is a big step for her.  They both coloured a few printable pages, and Kaitlyn even made an effort to colour the correct colours in the correct places.

Because my kids respond to hand-on crafts, we made paperbag panda puppets.  I found many different templates online but we chose the one through Circletime kids.  They were very easy to make. Kaitlyn did hers all herself and I helped Eileen cut out her pieces but she did most of the gluing.  A quick and easy panda craft

The final part was to learn a bit more about Pandas.  I picked up a number of panda books at the library, both fiction and non-fiction but before I let the girls look at them I told them they had to come up with 5 questions they wanted to know about Pandas.  I first introduced the concept of an endangered species and the definition of extinct.  The example of the dinosaurs being extinct is easy for them to understand.

Kaitlyn’s Research Questions:

  1. Why can’t we have a panda as a pet?
  2. What do they eat?
  3. Do they live around people?
  4. Do they run or walk?
  5. How long do they live?
  6. Why are they endangered? (O.K. this last one was Mommy’s question)

I thought they were pretty good questions.  We used our books from the library to find the answers.  I read the books to the girls and Kaityn stopped me everytime there was an answer to one of her questions.  When we were done we made a Giant Panda poster and picked pictures that answered some of the questions.  For example she learned that Giant Pandas like climb so we made sure to include a picture of a panda climbing.

I decided to try and take it one step further and introduced some social awareness to Kaitlyn.  After discussing endangered animals and the possibilities of extinction we started to talk about what we could do to help.  We discussed the WWF and decided to have a donation jar at our Chinese festival.  She let our family who was coming know of the jar and she collected $13.87 in loose change and her Aunt & Uncle also made a symbolic adoption in her name.  Mommy and Daddy added to the $13.87 to make another symbolic adoption.  One small step to start raising the idea of making a positive impact in the world.  We even got a bit of a math lesson out of it sorting all the coins.

And what is a party without party favours!  I found a seller  through ebay who sold Chinese parasols.  For my cousin’s son who was at the party I got him a small dragon puppet.

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Using Nature’s colours in our Easter Eggs

This week’s Thursday craft was on Saturday.  For the past few years, just by chance, we have painted Easter Eggs on the Saturday of Easter weekend.  Unplanned, it has kind of become a tradition.  This year the change was that I was determined to use natural dyes.  It took a lot more prep work on Mommy’s part but I think the eggs look much better, and there was a much bigger sense of achievement – well at least on my part.

The first thing I did was blow out all the eggs.  Many people just use hard-boiled eggs but we like to keep ours.  Every year I let the girls pick their favourite couple of eggs and we add them to our basket.  Every year our basket grows a bit bigger and they can see how they progress throughout the years.  It takes a little time, and a long of breath, to blow out the eggs but I feel it is definitely worth the effort.  To blow out Easter eggs use a straight pin to make a hole in both ends of each egg.  The bigger the holes the easier they are to blow out but you will then have bigger holes in your eggs.  I like to save all the egg that I blew out and then we have omelets for lunch.

After you blow them out make sure to rinse them and let them dry overnight.  Be careful when putting them back in to the egg carton.  If there is residual egg they can stick to the carton and ruin all your hard work.

Next I had to prepare the dyes.  Gord’s Grandmother use to dye Easter eggs all the time so I called her and asked her what she used.  She told me to use onion skins, and she even helped by saving her’s for me for a week (she goes through a lot of onions).  I also found a Martha Stewart website that outlines what to use for a variety of colours.  We used onion skins for a browny/red, turmeric for yellow, beets for pink and red cabbage for purply/blue.  I followed most of the direction on the website but modified slightly as I was using blown eggs and not hard-boiled eggs.  All worked pretty well but I had trouble getting the turmeric to dissolve.  Next year I am going to try boiling the turmeric in the water to see if it helps.

After everything was made up I assembled all our supplies on the table, which was covered in our craft drop sheet and place mats.  We had our dyes, our eggs, spoons, pens, white crayons, and white vinegar with old baby face cloths.

Every child had to wear their paint shirt.  Friends who live in Ottawa were in town so their daughter Anika joined us for egg decorating.  The more the merrier – there was lots of dye to go around.

The first thing the kids had to do was clean their eggs.  They used white vinegar and an old baby face cloth to gently wipe off the eggs. This creates a clean surface and allows the eggs to dye evenly.  I put their first initial on the bottom of each of their eggs so they would know which ones were theirs.  Then they each had a white crayon and they gently created any pattern they wanted on their egg.  They key to this is  being gentle enough not to break the egg but pushing hard enough to leave the wax pattern on the egg.  Eileen needed some help from Mommy and Daddy and hers ended up being the clearest pattern once they were dyed.

Finally they dyed the eggs.  I had four colours and they each had four eggs so they put one in each colour.  We covered them with object to keep them submersed in the dye.  If you do hard-boiled eggs you don’t have to worry about that because they easily sink. We left the eggs in the dye for approximately 20 minutes.  Then we used the spoons to take them out and carefully place them on the egg carton.

Anika’s mom, Michelle, gave us a great suggestion to make marbled appearances on our eggs.  We took a bit of each dye and put it in a jelly jar and added a small amount of vegetable oil.  The girls also added a few more crayon marking to their dried eggs. We then added some of the eggs to the jelly jars.  This created a cool marble effect.  The best was the blue added to already yellow eggs.  A cool appearance we will definitely play around with more next year.

Our final step was to add our eggs to our basket with the eggs from past years.  It is really neat to see the progression year to year!

If anyone has any other suggestion on how to get great natural colours on your Easter eggs, comments are very much welcome!  Also what are your suggestions for us to add to the designs of our eggs?

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Paper plate Easter Bunnies

A few weeks ago I found these really cool Bunny Napkin Rings we could make for Easter Dinner.  The instructions seemed pretty easy but I would have to find Pony beads.  After checking out Walmart and Michaels I realized finding pink pony beads, not mixed with other colours would be a challenge.  I found a number of online beading sites but they were all American and had crazy shipping rates.  I thought I found a Canadian company that had exactly what I needed at BeadFx.  I placed my order and waited for everything to come in.  The beads arrived and they were the perfect colour but they were too small.  In hindsight I should have called and talked to a representative to make sure I ordered the right beads.  I have not given up entirely but I think this will be a better craft for next year.  That also gives me a year to find the right beads.  If anyone knows of a great company that ships pony beads to Canada for a reasonable price let me know.

So we needed a new craft for this week.  My goal was to find something easy to make that the girls could do by themselves (or at least mostly by them selves).  I can’t remember how but I came across a site with a number of great crafts to make with paper plates.  Upon further investigation I found YouTube video showing how to make simple Paper Plate Bunnies.   The best thing about this craft is that all the supplies are normal things that most people may have in their house and a craft bin.  To make one similar to us you will need: a paper plate, pink paint, pink construction paper, cotton balls, goggly eyes,  a pink pom pom, pipecleaners, glue, markers and scissors.  Kaitlyn was able to make her bunny all by herself and personalized it a bit for herself.  I had to cut out Eileen’s ears and her pipcleaners but she did the rest herself.

Posted in Craft Thursdays

A Very Cool Easter Craft – Pop-up Bunny Puppets

So last week when we were making our Easter Lilies Kaitlyn asked if we could make pop up puppets, actually she pretty much begged.  The results = this Thursday’s craft.  This one was another 2 day craft.  It doesn’t take that long but there is a lot of paint and glue drying time needed.  The most difficult thing with this craft was gathering all the supplies.

You will need:

Paper mache cones – these are difficult to find at this time of year but we found some online through Stockade.  We found the 7″ ones worked best.

Wooden balls or styrofoam balls.  We used wooden but styrofoam would probably have been easier.


Socks –  bright coloured adult socks work best

Felt, ribbon, paint, stickers, scissors, and tacky glue

Before beginning an adult needs to cut off the end of the cones.

Cut just enough to fit the piece of dowel.   Get everyone ready for painting.  For us this means the drop sheet is on the table, paint shirts are on and hair is tied back.  You can use simple tempra paints to paint the cones.  We (meaning Mommy) prefers to use these when we can because they are very easy to clean up when (not if) messes occur.  Paint your cones a solid colour.  You may need two coats of paint.  Mommy thought pink bunnies would be best for Easter but Kaitlyn declared that she doesn’t like pink. We couldn’t find orange socks so she settled for red socks with an orange base – an it was perfect for her.

While the kids are painting their cones a parent can glue the doweling onto the balls.  We managed to glue the wooden doweling to the wooden ball with simple tacky glue but you may have to use wood glue.  If you can find balls with holes to push the dowel in it may be easier.  Syrofoam would probably have worked well also but I am not sure how well they would glue together.

We left our cones and our heads to dry overnight.  In the morning it was assembly time.  First the girls decorated their cones with a variety of Easter stickers.  Next they pushed their heads into their socks.  I helped them tie a ribbon around the neck to keep the sock in place.  We then determined how far we wanted the bunny to pop out of his hole and we cut the remaining portion of the sock.  Use the glue to glue the sock to the opening of the cone and let it thoroughly dry.

The final stage is the decoration stage.  The girls added ears, eyes and noses on their bunnies.





Very cute pop-up bunnies.  They will work great with the puppet theatre Grampa is making them  for Easter.

Posted in Craft Thursdays

Easter Lilies

We have had some bigger crafts the past few Thursdays and the next couple weeks will be bigger as we get ready for Easter so I thought we would do a simple Easter craft today.  I found this cool website: “Artists Helping Children” an on this site found instructions for Handprint Lilies.  You don’t need many things for this craft: heavy weight white paper, pipecleaners, tape and scissors.  It called for white construction paper but we didn’t have any so we used cover stock and it worked great.  The best thing about this craft is that everyone could do parts of it, and needed minimal help from Mom (except Michale ofcourse).


We stared by tracing our hands on the coverstock.  Kaitlyn did her own and I traced Eileen’s and Michaels.  Kaitlyn tried to cut out her own but cutting was the one step they all needed help with.  We didn’t want any fingers/petals cut off.  When cutting out the handprints make sure to leave a bit of a section by the wrist to give room for rolling into the cone.




They then rolled their handprints into cones and taped them in place. Next was rolling down the fingers to open the petals. This step both of the girls were able to do themselves.  Kaitlyn actually seemed better than Mommy at this part.  We added our yellow pipecleaner (cut into 3 equal parts) to the green stem and inserted them in our flowers. This part created a whole new discussion.  Kaitlyn wanted to leave hers just as it was to use it as a puppet.  I convinced her that maybe we could finish these flowers and then next week we would make bunny pop-up puppets for Easter.

Each child made a bunch of 3 lilies and we tied a pipecleaner around as a ribbon.  Everyone chose orange so they all look very similar.  You can tell who’s is who’s by the size of the flowers (Michael’s are much smaller).  A fun and easy craft for this week!