Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Crafts to Re-Create Signs of Spring

Spring is well underway and now that we can finally get outside, the days are feeling shorter and my kids seem to be sleeping better! We've been enjoying talking about all the signs of spring as we see them appear. It's so much fun to discover all these changes in nature alongside my three year old. Of course, there has still been the occasional rainy day, or in our case sick day, when we have been mostly inside. Those days when you may be stuck inside are great opportunities to create abstract versions of what we see happening around us this season, like rainbows, blooming flowers and birds' nests.

Rainbow Baking Soda and Vinegar Experiment

I was inspired by this mom's blog
I love that this activity is multi-sensory and has lots of learning embedded in the process but is still easy to create using things that you likely have at home.

You will need: vinegar; baking soda; food coloring; syringes or eye droppers; a cookie sheet or cake pan; mixing bowl and spoon

The most  time intensive is dying the baking soda but you probably have an eager helper to join you in the process! Be sure to talk about ROY-G-BIV (each successive color of the rainbow.)

To dye the baking soda:
1. scoop 4 big spoonfuls of baking soda in the bowl
2. add 2-3 drops of food coloring
3. moisten with a teaspoon or two of water
4. mix (it will be clumpy but should not be wet)

Arrange the colored baking soda, side by side in your pan. Then fill a syringe or eye dropper with vinegar and let your little one squeeze it onto the baking soda to see the reaction! As a grand finale, pour your entire cup of vinegar over the top of the rainbow :)

Blooming Flowers with Re-used Water Bottles

These kind of paint-stamping activities are easy and have a cute effect. I also like the idea of using an item from our recycling bin to make artwork! With all the seltzer water I drink, we always have an empty bottle handy. To enhance the fine motor component, have your child dip the cap in yellow paint to make the center of each flower. This project would also be a nice gift for a grandparent or elderly neighbor.


Bird's Nest 

We have been so lucky at our house to have bird's visibly nesting two springs in a row! Last year, a Cardinal made her nest in the holly bush in the front of our house and this year we have five bright blue Robin's eggs in a boxwood in our backyard. I've always found it fascinating the way birds can make such beautiful, perfectly shaped nests from materials in their natural environment. Here is an activity for your little one to make his or her own work of art:

1. Take a brown paper lunch bag and cut about 4 inches off the top while the bag is still flat.
2. Then, depending on the age of your child, have him or her cut slits down toward the bottom of the bag (about 2 or 3 inches deep.)
3. Repeat this this with a second paper bag, then open the bags and place one inside the other.
4. Have your child scrunch or twist the fringed ends and voila!
5. To make eggs for the inside, either cut and paint a portion of a cardboard egg carton or take some extra plastic Easter eggs and cover them in masking tape or craft tape. My daughter loves sticking tape on anything!


About the author:

Liza d'Hemecourt is the blog coordinator for Parent Talk. She lives in Needham with her husband and her two and three year old son and daughter. Prior to motherhood, she taught kindergarten and first grade.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten With Donna DeMaria of Hillside School

You’ve all seen the poster: Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten! I learned a lot in kindergarten myself: how to make friends and how to invite them over, how pack my own lunch (and add extra treats), how to use crinkle scissors, and other critical life skills that have served me very well over the past few decades.
Of course we also know that there is a debate raging among parents and educators about just what we should EXPECT kids to learn in kindergarten: should they learn to read? Should they have homework? Begin a second language? What does my kid need to be able to do before she enters the classroom? 

So bring your questions with you and join us onWednesday, May 13th, at 7pm at the Hillside School’s gymnasium in Needham, for a frank and practical discussion with one of Needham’s own veteran kindergarten teachers. Mrs. DeMaria will provide both a high-level explanation as well as a more detailed review of what students will expereince in their kindergarten year, how that fits in with their school experience to follow, and what they should be able to do when they begin school.

To register to attend, please go to: https://parenttalk-preparingforkindergarten2015.eventbrite.com

Post written by Shalini Broderick, Parent Talk Lecture Committee Board Member

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