Tag Archive for fun

How to Throw a MARVELOUS Art Party for Kids!

painting with leaves

Open ended art is super important for kids to experience. Crafts that turn out cutesy lady bugs or perfect cookie cutter American flags are cute, but giving kids an opportunity to really experience art mediums and have valuable sensory experiences is vital to their development. These activities also give kids the chance to be in control of the outcome and create what THEY find beautiful instead of what we tell them is good.

Creativity is established by age 8, and in the state of Oklahoma, art is not offered in school until 5th grade. What are we missing here? Where is the disconnect? Art is essential for children’s development! Click here to see 10 reasons why.

Children learn so much from open ended, child directed art. According to the National Association for Education of Young Children they learn:

“Social and emotional

Children relax, focus, feel successful, and can express their feelings

Language and literacy

Children may choose to discuss their art and add print to it (on their own or by dictating to a teacher)

Cognitive

Children compare, predict, plan, and problem solve

Physical

Children use small motor skills to paint, write, glue, use clay, and make collages”

There are a multitude of other things children learn from experiencing creating art. Click here to read the rest of the article.

At Little Sprouts, we do a lot of art. I was raised by an artist, and I have seen the impact of art on the world, myself, and children’s development. When my daughter Kayla was little, I made sure she spent a lot of time being creative and now she is perusing creative goals as an adult.

We love to have special art parties at Little Sprouts. It’s a great party to throw outside where the kids can get as into the art as they wish. I ask parents to send children in old clothes and send something to change into after the party. This would also be a great idea for a children’s birthday party or even a party for adults. If you don’t spend time creating things, you will be amazed what it will do for your stress level, your self-esteem, and your sense of accomplishment if you do some creating. Even our God loves to create, look at all the beauty He made and still makes? We are born to do it!

What makes an art party marvelous?

  1. Fun! Make sure the atmosphere is laid back and you are engaged and ready to support children’s efforts. Praising children with “good job” and other comments is not nearly as important as taking the time to appreciate what they are doing. You can ask children what they were thinking as they created their art or how it made them feel. Instead of saying what is it, you can say, tell me about it. You can also say, I loved watching you have fun making this, or I love how many colors you used. This type of feedback encourages children to appreciate their own efforts as well.
  2. Freedom. Children need to be able to explore the art mediums they are offered and use them any way they see fit to create. Avoid using terms like, you need to use the paint brush or do this or that. At our art party last week, the most common thing I said, is “You can use it any way you want”.
  3. Variety. For instance, when offering paint to children, don’t just give them paint brushes. Also offer some leaves or other natural objects to paint with as well as sponges, shaped objects, and of course, they can be free to use their fingers.
  4. Options. Don’t require children to participate. If they just want to put one line on a paper and move to another station, that’s perfectly fine. They are exploring the materials and its part of learning. Soon, you will see them take a deeper look at things and begin to use more creativity.

Here are some of the activities we did at our last art party. No two parties are the same here, I always try to come up with something new and different to expose the children to. Be creative when thinking of ways to encourage the kids to create!

shaving cream painting, art party

Shaving cream paint. Just shaving cream squirted into a bowl and a few squirts of paint added. This was definitely the favorite medium of the day. Kids loved exploring it.

art party for preschool

sidewalk chalk, preschool art partySidewalk chalk is always a fun outlet. Who doesn’t like to color on the ground?

Throwing a marvelous art party for preschoolColored pencils, crayons, and markers were available with stacks of paper to use.

Drawing with markers, preschool art party

watercolor relief art for preschoolLiquid water colors and paint brushes were a big hit. Everyone enjoyed painting with it.

murals painted with nature brushespainting with onion tops

Murals were available. I just used news print cut in pieces and stapled them to the fence. Children could paint with brushes, fingers, onion tops, leaves, branches, pinecones, and a number of other things I found around the yard.

painting with leaves

natural paint brushes

watercolors over glue, relief paint for preschool

As the art party began, children were able to make designs on these papers with glue, then at the end of the party, I gave them liquid water colors to paint over the dried glue and make relief art. They thought that was pretty cool.

There are so many other options, these are just a few we did this time around. If you want to get inspired with children’s open ended art ideas, check out Pinterest. It’s always a great place to get ideas!

To read an interesting article on how creative art can change the lives of neglected and abused children, click here.

I wish you art, I wish you love, I with you the peace in your soul that art brings. I hope you will create something today and tell me all about it!

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

Pablo Picasso

 

How to Throw a Gingerbread Party

At Little Sprouts, we have a yearly tradition of gingerbread decorating.  I build a creation and invite all of the daycare families over to have dinner and decorate.  We donate the creation to KidsSpace, a child advocacy center here in town to bring some joy to the lives of children in transition.  We started this tradition about 18 years ago.  We have entered our creations in contests, donated them to museum sales, and all kinds of things.  We have been donating it to KidsSpace for several years now and it seems to bring them much joy. 

Building gingerbread is so much fun.  If you have a group of adults, you can let them build their creations and decorate them, but with many toddlers and preschool age kids, it’s easier to build the creation a week or so ahead of time so it’s more likely to hold together while they are decorating it. 

The first thing you have to figure out is what you are going to build.  I have several books full of patterns and there are free patterns on the internet and many you can buy.  I started by checking out library books with patterns.  You can even create your own.  I have done that a few times, but usually, I just find a pattern and change it to what I want to build.

Martha Stewart’s recipes

I have always used Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread recipe.  It’s foolproof.  I do not add cinnamon to mine because I am highly allergic, but I do use ginger and black pepper to flavor it.  I use her royal icing recipe as well.  Martha knows!  And this royal icing hardens rock hard, so it’s a great glue for the gingerbread.

Start about a week before your party.  Roll out your dough to the 1/8 inch Martha recommends and cut your pieces from your patterns.  I use a pastry dough cutter or pizza cutter to cut sharp lines. 

gingerbread dough

Bake your house pieces according to the instructions in the recipe and allow them to cool thoroughly.  I cool mine overnight or for a couple of days.

gingerbread cutouts

gingerbread house pieces

Putting the gingerbread together

Now it’s time to assemble.  I use peppermint sticks to hold the house sides together and when adding the roof pieces, I secure them with straight pins like a nail until the creation is dry.  I remove them before the kids come for decorating.

gingerbread building

creating gingerbread

building gingerbread houses

I allow these to dry for about a week.  This year we had several days of rainy weather and our gingerbread was super soft.  Some of the houses had pieces break off, but we were able to put them back together.  If you have a large creation, sometimes the rain will totally destroy it.  I stick with smaller buildings most of the time because of that. 

Another great reason is when I have a lot of people working, it helps if each family has a unit they can work on.  We have done train cars, town buildings, and village houses.  We have also done a beach scene with a house and a lighthouse, Santa’s workshop, a mansion with a gazebo, a big city downtown with skyscrapers and a protest, and many other creations.  Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fun.

gingerbread houses

gingerbread decorating

 

 


Get ready for your party guests

Before your guests arrive, lay out all the supplies.  This year we ate pizza, so I just had to put out dishes and make some tea.  The families brought decorating candy and pizza money.  That made it easy for everyone.  Once the guests arrived, it was all fun.

gingerbread fun

gingerbread creating

creating gingerbread with kids

children creating gingerbread

After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.

gingerbread creation 7gingerbread creation 6

gingerbread creation 5gingerbread creation 4

gingerbread creation 3gingerbread creation 2

gingerbread creation 1gingerbread creation 8

finished gingerbread creation

I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.

gingerbread garden attemptcloseup of gingerbread community garden

After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…

completed gingerbread creation with snow gingerbread party with kids

Having your families gather for a group project any time of year is a great way to let them get to know each other and to feel like they are a part of the daycare.  I have kids that are grown that still remember making gingerbread here with their parents.  It’s a great way to make memories and it’s super fun for everyone.  I hope you try some gingerbreading with your loved ones.  If you feel intimidated by baking the gingerbread, make houses from graham crackers or buy a kit.  Any way you do it, it’s awesome!  And imagine the kid’s faces at the advocacy center when they see all this colorful fun! 

Christmas Surprises

A few months ago my camera that I saved three years to buy for myself met an untimely accident.  It still works, but some of the features such as zoom do not and when taking a picture, there is a long delay.  Sometimes you can’t get it to come on without a little shaking.  Needless to say, with all the blog and daycare pictures, it’s a hassle.  But this year at the party, my sweet parents surprised me with a replacement camera.  It’s better, prettier, and they also gave me multiple cool tools to go with it.  I was flabbergasted.  I couldn’t believe they did this for me.  I was so touched, I had to put it away so I wouldn’t cry.  I hate crying in public.  Anyway, I am super excited about it.  I named her Lynda after my hero Wonder Woman.  Here’s a picture of her, she’s amazing…

gingerbread party gift

Do you have any gingerbread memories to share?  I’d LOVE to hear them!

Don’t forget to pin for later!

how-to-throw-a-gingerbread-party

Garden Glory-Brussels Sprouts

This week my little sprouts and I harvested over 48 pounds of produce from our garden, including Brussels sprouts.  That puts us up over 500 pounds total for this season.  Is that amazing or what?  Last year in our small garden, we harvest over 650 pounds of food, but over 250 pounds of it was pears from our pear tree that did not produce this year.  All of our fruit trees were blooming when we got a deep hard freeze this year and none of them produced fruit.  In addition, our pear tree is fighting a severe case of fire blight, so we’re not sure if it will ever make fruit again.  We are going to prune it severely this winter and see if it can make a come back.  We been enjoying delicious pears from that tree for 15 years, and they were missed this year.  Needless to say, we are enjoying quite a bit of produce anyway.

I have been intrigued by how much of what we have grown, but I think in the future I will just weigh it all and not each type of food because it’s very time consuming.  It will be fun to see the totals at the end of the season anyway.

This is Monday's harvest.  Everything but the okra is slowing down, but we are still getting a lot.

This is Monday’s harvest. Everything but the okra is slowing down, but we are still getting a lot.

This week we picked 3 1/2 pounds of okra, 8 1/2 pounds of cantaloupe, 28 pounds of tomatoes, 4 pounds of Brussels sprouts, and some cucumbers, hot peppers, tomatillos, and cabbage.    We also got a couple of green beans and a handful of dry bean pods.

Thursday's harvest we a little less organized.  Still delicious and beautiful though.

Thursday’s harvest we a little less organized. Still delicious and beautiful though.

We went ahead and harvested the remaining Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and cabbage today.  I figured if they haven’t made any size increase by now they aren’t going to and we need room for our new crop of those things, so we got all that were left.

Some of the kids never tire of picking.  Zealous for gardening.  :)

Some of the kids never tire of picking. Zealous for gardening. 🙂

kids harvesting cabbage

harvesting brussels sprouts

harvesting brussels sprouts with kids

After harvest time we spent some time picking sprouts off the stalks and building up our fine motor skills.

picking brussel sprouts with kids

brussels sprouts picking with kids

kids harvesting brussel sprouts

What’s happening in your garden this week?  I hope even if you don’t grow, you at least got to taste a homegrown tomato or something this week.  There is not much better.

Wondering…

A few days ago I asked readers of the Facebook page to send me questions they wondered about for me to answer, so here goes:
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1. Leslie B Reynolds asks “Do you ever have kids that refuse vegetables?”
That’s a great question, and the answer to that is a resounding YES! Most kids begin uninterested in most of what I serve because it is unfamiliar to them. Over time as they help cook veggies, grow veggies and just the simple repetition of seeing veggies, they end up trying them and find out they like them. I just keep putting them on their plate and let them decide when they are ready to try them. Some kids that are very picky eaters never learn to like many things, but they all learn to like some new things which is a win in my book!

2. Little Big Harvest asks “What is your favorite ‘fun’ garden activity with the kids?”
There are so many things I enjoy doing with the kids in the garden. When I asked them, they all replied “picking stuff” and a few said “picking stuff and planting stuff”. For me, watching them be amazed is the very best part of gardening with them. Seeing their faces and watching their excitement is very rewarding for me. As far as activities go, my favorite is finding caterpillars. We put them in a jar, bring them in, and continue to feed them the host plant we found them on. Them we get to watch metamorphoses. Nothing can beat the amazement involved in that!

3. Yavonna Wright Bolding asks “Who are the people who test soil and do they come out or do you have to take some in ?”
Here in Oklahoma the OSU extension services will test soil for you. You can mail in a sample or take it in to the office to have it tested. Call your local county extension service office to find out where you take it in your area.

4. Sharica Cole asks, “What are some fun ways to help children tell the difference between different plants? And which garden plants are the safest?”
Repetition is the way to teach children to tell the difference between plants. Besides spending time talking in the garden, we use many pictures that we find in our curriculum, online, and in books and magazines to make it fun. Kids will pick up the information fairly quickly and I am learning right along with them. Many plants are poisonous. The nightshade family which include potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant have extremely poisonous leaves as do some other plants. I always teach the kids not to eat anything unless they ask. If I am unsure of the plant’s safety, I will tell them, since I’m not sure, we better not eat it. The safest things are plants that can be eaten from root to leaf tip such as cabbage and other brassicas or vines like peas and sweet potatoes.
I love your questions and comments, so please ask away if you want to know anything.

Garden Glory-Today’s Harvest! :)

At Little Sprouts, today we harvested:

1/2 pound of garlic scapes
2 pounds of peas
2 pounds of cabbage
1 pound of lettuce
1/2 pound of kohlrabi
3/4 pound of radishes
3/4 pound of onions
1/2 pound of swiss chard
and a little bit of broccoli

The oldest wanted to make it all into a cooked salad, so we stir fried the kohlrabi, radishes, onions, broccoli, garlic scapes and swiss chard for a delicious side dish for lunch! Most of the kids eat what we grow very well. We have had a dramatic increase in vegetable loving since we started growing our own. The food does taste better than food from the store, but also, kids are more likely to want to try something if they helped grow or prepare it. Try it, I promise you will see a difference. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.
 

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We are pretty excited to be bringing in this much food within a week’s time.

The kids having an explore...

The kids having an explore…

 The kids love to look around for something to harvest or just play in the garden with the toys we have in there.

The squash is really getting big!

The squash is really getting big!

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Some of these kids never tired of planting and harvesting. They LOVE to pick anything and now that they have some experience, they know WHEN to pick most things. I even hear them telling each other when things are ready. These are lessons that will last a lifetime.

What are you growing and harvesting? Leave a comment below!