Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Spring Art and Nature Activities for Pre-K Children (and their parents)

Hello parents with children at home! Here are a few ideas of Spring things to do while you are sheltering in place with young kids during the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Activities were inspired by my desire to help out our family who we are not able to visit now.  They are short activities, some with multiple parts that can be done separately or together depending on your time. Young kid's attention span is very short, so I suggest doing an activity for only as long as the kids are interested and then moving on to something else.  These 5 activities can build on each other and will promote awareness, sense of play, color observation, nature connection and more. Enjoy!

  1. Color Walk
Go for a color walk and ask the children to point out everything they see that is a particular color. These can be natural or man-made objects. Right now with spring emerging, yellow is a good color to look for, as Daffodils and Forsythia are starting to make their appearances. Willows also look yellow this time of year.  Encourage them to look at things that are more subtly yellowish.  Ask: Is dried grass yellow? How about objects like moss that have both yellow and green colors? There are of course, no wrong answers. Or they can look for the first signs of green things starting to come up. As kids 4 and under have a limited attention span, they may only want to do this for 5 or 10 minutes, but as they start looking for things they may see other things that are interesting to them. Let them explore anything that they notice and touch it, if it is safe to do so. Repeat another day, focusing on a different color. You can also do this indoors.

Variation: Bring a camera and let them take photos of their favorite things. Or ask them to pretend they have a camera and snap a photo of something they like with their hands. Then ask them to explain to you, why they chose that thing to photograph.

  1. Toothpick Search  Disclaimer: Not recommended for kids under 3 unless the adult is closely supervising.  i.e. We don't want them to stab themselves or eat the toothpicks. 😃
Get some colored toothpicks and scatter them in your yard. Ask the children to collect as many toothpicks as they can find in 5 minutes. When they bring them back, help them to sort them by color. Which color do they have the most of? Are some colors harder to find? Why? Which is their favorite color? After the discussion, send them out to find objects that are the same color as one of the toothpicks. Or, you can send them out to find ones that they didn't find the first time, encouraging them to look closer and  giving them clues, like hot or cold as they get closer or further away. Don't have colored toothpicks? See the next activity below.

    3. Painting Toothpicks and painting with toothpicks Have the kids paint the toothpicks one day and search for them outdoors later when they dry. Young kids will love dipping them into the paint. Use 3-4 colors of washable acrylic or tempera child safe paints for this. Put the paint in small bowls and have them dip the toothpicks in the paint. Put them on a piece of wax paper to dry. Or they can try painting with them on white paper. They can make dots with the toothpicks, lines, or just smear it around with a lot of paint. When the toothpicks dry, use them for the hunt above or have them glue them onto a piece of paper with tacky glue.

      4. Painting with other common household objects
Give the children, a few colors of washable child safe acrylic or tempera paint in small bowls or in a used egg carton. Use Q-Tips to paint with. These are a lot of fun to dip in paint and make dots with on white or colored construction paper. They will take more paint then the toothpicks. They can also use them to draw lines. If you have old toothbrushes, use these to paint with and splatter paint. They can draw with the tooth brush to get interesting texture or run their fingers over the painted toothbrush to splatter the paint. Place the toothbrush brush side down to keep the splatter on the painting. Be ready for a big mess and use old clothes, newspaper and cover anything you don't want paint on! Or let them, splatter with two paintbrushes or chop sticks dipped in paint, lightly tapping one with the other. You can also cut shapes from old manila folders to place on or tape down on the paper before splattering or use stencils. Experiment with positive and negative shapes. When the paint is dry, have the kids remove the stencils or manila folder to reveal the shapes on the page. They can of course, just use their fingers to paint with too!

  1. Spring Paintings
Choose one color you saw on your walk and give the kids just that color, for example just yellow paint and a brush. Give them a piece of drab construction paper like gray or brown. Ask them to think about something they saw on their walk, like the Daffodils or Forsythia and remind them that they were the color yellow. Ask them to use the yellow paint to paint with Daffodil color on the paper. Give them brushes or Q-Tips or a toothbrush and let them paint or splatter and just have a good time with the painting. Avoid the desire to make it look like something. It doesn't matter. Just let them enjoy using the paint and the color. If the yellow doesn't show up on the paper, mix a little white into the yellow paint to make it more opaque.

Variation for older kids: Give them brown or gray paper and let them use only black or dark brown to make tree lines on the paper. After it is dry, give them yellow paint to splatter or paint Forsythia flower shapes on top of the Forest scene. They can also use toothpicks to make thin lines for branches if they like. Have fun painting!

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