Since some schools head back to school as early as the 2nd week of August, I wanted to post some art projects and activities that would go with that theme.
A favorite book that many teachers read the first week of school is Chicka Boom Boom, so I wanted to dream up some new ideas for that, as many teachers also make a Welcome bulletin board with that theme, and gear several days around letter activities as well.
I'm trying to design more things around favorite books and did two huge projects for Chicka Boom because of its popularity.
The first is entitled Trunk Tricks and has a variety of activities based around the trunk of the coconut tree.
I've seen others make painted handprints for fronds, which is cute, but sometimes messy and difficult and time-consuming to do if you're teaching a bunch of little ones by yourself.
I decided to trace my handprints to see how they would turn out and I really liked the affect.
You can have a room volunteer do the tracing and cutting for you, or send the green paper home during open house and have parents do this step
With the handprint portion out of the way, this adorable keepsake artwork can be whipped together in about 10 minutes.
For extra pizzazz, I used brown textured wallpaper for the trunk of my tree.
Brightly-colored foam letters also added that bit of 3-D pop and the picture on the coconut makes it all the more precious.
Click on the link to view/print the masters for the Chicka Boom handprint tree.
In Trunk Tricks you can also make a Name Tree, a Vowel Tree, a Color Tree and a count by 10's to 100 Tree.
Any of these would make quick and easy bulletin boards: "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Look What The K's Did In Mrs. Henderson's Room!"Click on the link to see the rest of this fun-filled activity book. Trunk Tricks
Chicka Boom Envelope Letter Game:
There's nothing like a game to help students learn lessons. Children can play with a partner or in a group of 3.
You can make a class set of Chicka Boom trees, or allow each student to make their own "Chicka Boom Name Tree". Play the game several times in class and then let children take them home to enjoy with family.
Children glue construction paper to a sealed envelope making a trunk so that they can insert letters into the back of their tree's "pocket". Students roll a dice to determine how many letters they put in their envelope.
If they roll a 1 they take a letter out, if they roll a 6 they lose their turn.
Click on the link to view/print the Chicka Boom Envelope Letter Game patterns.
Chicka Boom Popsicle Stick Puzzle:
I love making Popsicle stick puzzles. They are easy and inexpensive and fun for students to put together.
I've also made a Welcome To School apple puzzle for you as well. They'd make a cute gift for each of your students.
You could print their names with a black marker across the center of the apple. A great "learn-to-recognize-your-name" activity for little ones.
Click on the link to view/print that pattern. Back-to-school Apple Puzzle.
A is for Apple and A is a VOWEL.
As mentioned above, apples are a big theme for back-to-school, so I wanted to toss in an apple project.
One of the things that I taught my first graders was a Vowel Song to the tune of Bingo that I made up. (There was a class who knew their vowels and this it what they sang oh: AEIOU-AEIOU-AEIOU They were a very smart class!)
When I designed this project for my first graders years ago, I thought it was funny how they would break out in song while they worked on this vowel apple! They really enjoyed both! I hope your kiddo's do too!
Run off my master on red construction paper, have your students cut and assemble the parts and glue either the vowel song or a words on the back.
Punch a hole in the stem and hang from the ceiling with fish line.
This makes a great decoration as well as a reminer of what all of the vowels are.
Click on the link to view/print the vowel apple pattern.
Watermelon card: I like to incorporate writing and reading with art so I do a lot of centers where my students make a card for parents/grandparents.
I call this "paper love" and have gotten lots of positive feedback from families. One of my all-time favorite compliments was from a mom who popped in to say hi and shared: "Mrs. Henderson, the best thing you taught Tyler was how to love. Do you know he still leaves me little notes on my pillow!"
I sometimes tell my students to take their "paper love" out of their backpacks and leave them somewhere. It makes writing something more exciting, and then telling them to think of a fun place to leave their work makes it an adventure.
You just need to get into a child's head for a moment to make things different and interesting. Anything can become fun if you give it a new twist. Children enjoy mystery and making things for their families.
When I think of summer, I think of watermelons; and when I look at a slice of watermelon I see a smile. This is a cute way to review small, medium and large too.
For a refreshing and special snack time, ask a parent to donate a half watermelon and give everyone several chunks to munch on after they complete their card.
Students can color in the seeds or give them a black stamp pad and make the card even more special by having them stamp their fingerprint in the middle of each seed.
Have children add X's and O's for hugs and kisses and then sign their name on the green rind.
You can either use tradition red and emerald green construction paper, or give them a choice of hot pink and lime green as well.
You could also add the student's school picture next to their name if you wanted to, or take your class outside and photograph each child playing on their favorite playground equipment, with a big smile of course, and then have them glue the photo to the back of their watermelon slice for a nice end-of-the-school-year keepsake. Click on the link to view/print the watermelon card
Patriotic Windsock: Since Flag Day is just around the corner, (June 14th) I like to toss in some red-white-and blue activities as well. Did you know that Flag Day was first celebrated by a school teacher? It was a Flag Birthday.
Some teachers have a star as one of the shapes they study so this is a nice review of that.
A stripe is a rectangle and the windsock is a cylinder 3D shape, which is a report card standard for many. I like to make several windsocks during the school year.
It helps reinforce this concept in a fun way and helps children grasp the vocabulary word cylinder rather easily.
You'll need some yarn, a hole punch, stapler, construction paper, scissors and a glue stick to make this project. Click on the link to view/print the directions and pattern for a patriotic windsock.
Nature Alphabet Book: Your students should now know the letters of the alphabet if they're kindergartners, so why not celebrate and have a review by doing a nature alphabet book.
Run off my block letters and pass one out to each of your students. Try to match up student initials with a letter, or put them face down on the floor and have each child scamper to pick one up and identify the mystery letter they will do.
Send the note home to parents explaining the project, or go on your own nature walk and have children collect things.
Students can try and find things in nature that begin with that letter, look like that letter, or simply collect anything and collage their letter.
Mount each page on a different sheet of colored construction paper for each one, collate your class book and read it to your students.
If you want to make it sturdier, cover the top of each page with a sheet of contact paper.
This makes a great keepsake that new students will enjoy for years to come. You can do another nature book in the fall with your new students and compare and contrast the different kinds of things that they find.
Click on the link to view/print the Nature Alphabet Book and note home.
When I went looking for things for my sample page, I found some huge leaves. I decided to write notes to my students telling them that I hoped they had had a fun time on their walk.
You could write LEAF LETTERS for any reason, or you could collect some huge leaves and have your students compose their own leaf letters using word-wall words.
Have A Super Summer! Notes For Your Students:
If you'd like to send a note home to your students wishing them a super summer, I've designed 4 for you to choose from. Click on the link to view/print them. Student Summer Notes. I also included 2 in the June/July 72-page Apple Bytes.
For more fun things to do, check out the Books of the Month for June. I've got some fun things to do for Father's Day.
Whatever you're doing with your sweeties this summer, may it sizzle with excitement as you kick back and enjoy school being out.
As always, if you have a fun idea you'd like to share, I'd enjoy hearing from you. firstname.lastname@example.org
One of my themes in April is butterflies. It's a month-long science unit for us as we study the life cycle and actually watch our real caterpillars form the J-position, spin their crysalis and finally emerge as Painted Lady butterflies in about 14 days.
The Imagination Station Dress Up box is one of my Y5's favorite play centers. During April I have 4 pairs of butterfly wings and a 1/2 dozen foam masks for them to play with. It's so popular that I thought I'd make the time for everyone to make their own mask as a quick art center. It's always a big hit.
Pretending to be a butterfly and fluttering around the room is a wonderful gross motor activity. We have a "Quiet as a butterfly" parade in the hallway and flit and flutter in a line as well. We also do the Butterfly Pokey with our masks on. We lay our eggs, take our mask off, turn into hungry caterpillars, pretend to eat, spin and roll into our crysalis and then don our masks and emerge once more to flit and flutter as a butterfly. It's a great way to review the life cycle of a butterfly when you really become one! I hope you enjoy this science-art activity as much as we do! Click on the link to print/view the butterfly mask pattern and directions.
Bunny Bags: I LOVE when Easter is in April. It's hard for me to make time for baby animals (bunnies, chicks, lambs, ducks etc.) in March with reading month and everything else that goes into that already-crammed season. Here in Michigan it's also still snowy in March and let's face it, who is in the mood to don spring-like clothes and white shoes when you're still tromping around in soot-covered snow and the north wind is blowing off those pretty little bonnets! Not me!
With Easter at the end of the month this year, I have plenty of time to make these adorable little bunny bags. It's a super easy and quick center that my students enjoy. I buy 2 bags of jelly beans and some plastic eggs from the Dollar Store.
As my Y5's complete their Tabletop lessons and bunny bag art center they get to come over to my table and work one-on-one with me. They tuck some Easter grass in their bag, choose an egg, drop it in their bag and then we tie it shut with bows if they are a girl and staple it shut if they are a boy. If you don't want to do the jelly bean part you can have them stuff their bag with some tissue paper.
When everyone is done with their bag we get in a line and I play the Bunny Hop. We do that for a few minutes and then everyone takes their bunny bag to their backpack. I don't instruct them to do so, but most of them hop to their lockers. Too funny!
I make these every year for our grown children and set them at our Easter dinner table. I use them as place settings and put everyone's names on them. They are much cheaper than traditional Easter baskets, and look festive on the table. I simply fill them with an assortment of candy.
Just because they are young adults doesn't mean they don't enjoy a sweet treat! You can also buy tiny white bags and make a much smaller bunny version and fill with jelly beans or a few chocolate eggs. Click on the link for a Bunny Bag pattern.
I have a monthly handprint keepsake booklet idea that you can do each month. Click on the link and it will take you to my free September stuff. It's listed there. It makes a wonderful Mother's Day gift or end-of-the year gift to tuck in a bag for graduation. My favorite handprint is the bunny. It is also the handprint that gets the most ooh and ahh comments when I hang them in the hallway.
Cut 5x7 rectangles of powder blue construction paper for boys and bright pink for your girl students. Paint the child's palm, pinkie and pointer fingers white and press onto the middle of the paper. When their prints are dry they work with me one-on-one. I give them a dab of glue to fasten a small pink pom pom nose and two wiggle eyes to make a face for their bunny head.
While it's still wet I let them sprinkle on some opalescent glitter to add a bit of sparkle so that it looks like bunny fur. It adds just that extra bit of pizzazz!
Holding their hand we make a mouth with hot pink puffy paint. If you're not making a keepsake booklet, these make adorable spring cards for the children to take home and give to their families. If you're a Christian school you can make these into Easter cards. Our verse is: Happy Spring! You're some-bunny special! Love from your little honey bunny ____________. Click on the link for the Spring card insert.
Since everything is "greening" up especially the grass, it's the perfect time to make "grass heads"! All year long we have been studying how things grow, from our initial science unit on apples through October's pumpkins and then in March with our potato-pot study. It's now time to grow some grass! I call these "Cutie Cups!"
I teach my students the chant: Water - Seeds - Soil and Sun make growing Fun! (We do finger movements for each word. i.e. The rain falls on the seeds that we planted in the soil, that we patted down, and then out comes the big round sun. We sign the word fun. )
My students put spoonfuls of topsoil in a styrofoam cup 'til it is almost filled to the top. I write their names on the cups. They sprinkle a spoonful of grass seed on top and move it around with their finger so that it is spread around, and then they sprinkle a bit more topsoil on top of their seeds and finally add a tiny bit of water. Finally, they put their cup on the window sill in the sun.
We have a cup that we put in the shade that will not get sun but will be watered and a cup in the sun that will not get water so that the children will see what happens to those cups. A child is chosen each day to "spray" the cups until they are damp. I use a water mist bottle. I found this was the best way to water them as little ones tend to literally drown the cups with too much water from a regular sprinkling can and the seeds would be floating every day.
We graph how many days it takes before the grass sprouts. At the end of a few weeks our grass is long enough for the boys to give their grass heads a crew cut. I remind them not to cut it too short. The girls decide if they want to have their "grass head" have a pony tail or pig tails and then I help them tie their hair do's with ribbon or yarn bows. The children draw faces on their grass heads with markers and then everyone takes them home. These students were absent so I drew their faces for them to be sent home for spring break with their siblings. Wiggle eyes are also a fun addition.
My Y5's really enjoy this activity and it's a fun way for them to learn more science. Sometimes I'll keep these around 'til Mother's Day and tie them up with Red, white and blue ribbons and send them home with my Cutie Cup poem. If I decide to do this, I'll have the children plant their grass in an extra Dixie cup and insert it into the styrofoam cup.
I'll have them spend more time decorating the outside face cup so that it's more of a keepsake. I'll also have them glue thier school photo on the back and write "Love from your little sprout" on the back of the cup with the date.
I hope these ideas gave you a few more things to plug into your spring activities, or something that you can do with your little ones who'll be home with you over spring break.
As always if you have something fun that you do with your students/children I'd enjoy hearing from you. email@example.com Thanks in advance for making the time to care and share.
St. Patrick's Day Card:
I like to do a St. Patrick's Day card as a center activity. It's a quick project and involves cutting for a great fine motor skill as well as writing. My students enjoy it and I get positive feedback from parents that it's a nice keepsake.
Because my students keep their shamrock folded I have the opportunity to assess listening and following directions as a whole group as well as review the concept of symmetry with them. Folding a strip of paper back and forth to make their leprechaun "boing" about, is fun for them and great exercise for their fingers.
You can have your students trace the message or copy it from the paper and write it inside their card. You don't have to add the step of gluing their photo to the face of the leprechaun, but I think that's why parents love it all the more.
I know you'll enjoy making this "paper love" as you practice report card standards at the same time. Click on the link to view/print the St. Patrick's Day Card. I've also made a "Happy St. Patrick's Day!" note from your teacher that you can print if you'd like. Keep it as a leprechaun, or glue your school photo in the face just as your students' did on their cards. Enjoy!
Triple Shamrock Stamp Art:
This is also a very easy center for students and makes a nice display for a hallway wall or bulletin board. It's also a great review of small, medium and large as well as groups/sets and counting.
All you need is some white construction paper, 3 different sizes of caps, 3 shades of green paint, Q-tips or brushes, some gold glitter glue and 3 paper plates, then you're all set. It's amazing the different spatial direction patterns your students will come up with! Click on the link to view/print the directions for the Triple Shamrock Stamp Art.
Combine letter recognition and counting with this simple and fun art center. I like to do a recycling project each month and this is the one I do for March.
I save up a bunch of old newspapers and then have a room helper go through and find the pages that have mostly printed articles with hardly any pictures on them.
She tears them out and puts them in a pile. She also traces and cuts 6 tag board templates of a shamrock and a Seuss hat for me. I choose one of these as a center activity for Shamrock or Seuss Day.
My students trace the template on their sheet of newspaper, circle all the letter S's that they can find, counting as they circle them. Then write a grand total somewhere in a space on the newsprint. They highlight the entire shape with a green highlighter if they've traced a shamrock, or color alternating red stripes if they've done a Seuss hat.
When they are done, they cut out their shape and glue it to a piece of black construction paper. For a great math extension, we graph our results and add up the total number of S's everyone found. These make sharp looking boarders for a b. board. Click on the link to view/print the directions and shamrock/Seuss hat templates.
Rainbow Kite Squishing:
March wouldn't be complete without a kite activity. My students enjoy the mystery of making a kite squisher. Simply add blobs of rainbow-colored paint to one side of a folded diamond. Have students rub their hands over the folded paper and then gently open their kite to see a rainbow of smeared and "squished" colors!
Each one is as unique as the child who made it. Mine are thrilled with the results. They look wonderful suspended from the ceiling, gently floating to and fro as people pass by. Click on the link to view/print directions and kite template.
I hope you got some ideas for your "wee ones" to have a bit o' fun during your March center time.
As always if you have an idea to share, I'd enjoy hearing from you. firstname.lastname@example.org