This arts & crafts tip is provided by special Guest Blogger Julie Kieras from HappyStrongHome.com.
I’m going to be teaching home preschool with my son this fall. With our baby being one year old, I know there will be lots of interruptions. So I’ve already got my back pocket full with these colorful activity bag ideas.
I’ll use them to occupy my preschooler when I have to change the baby, start lunch, set up another activity, or call a sick day as a home school teacher (sub plans!). It’s easy to put together activity bags with basic craft supplies and toys you may have in the house already. Here are some ideas:
1) Pattern-Making with Wooden Lacing Beads – Our bag includes a set of primary lacing beads with laces, plus a set of six printable patterns on card stock. My son had fun matching up the shapes and colors to the patterns I’d printed. Then he went began creating his own patterns!
2) Reverse Color-on-Black – Colored chalk and sheets of black construction paper make a great alternative to the typical coloring activity. The texture of the chalk will be exciting for children, as will the brightness of the colors on the temporary “blackboard.” Although you may have to explain what a blackboard is to modern children!
3) Cutting Skills – Draw a series of lines on cardstock or foam sheets. Try straight, wavy, zigzag, or curvy. Include child-safe scissors and let kids practice their cutting on the lines. For older kids, include an activity kit that offers more challenge! Cut Crease Create kits each have twenty projects with easy pictorial directions, resulting in paper sculptures kids for additional play.
4) Crayon Rubbing Plates – A journal or sketch pad works best so the sheets of paper stay in one place while creating rubbings. Use a raised surface and brightly colored crayons (darker colors work better). Place the raised surface under the paper and use the side of the crayon to “rub” until the image beneath appears. Triangular-shaped crayons work great for this activity as they give a larger rubbing surface! You can even make your own crayon rubbing plates and create any design or pattern your child wants!
5) Play Dough Press – This sensory activity helps kids learn their shapes while making a grand mess! Use shaped wooden beads or blocks or other small shaped object (without many ridges or grooves) and a package of play dough (store or homemade!). Children can made shapes appear in the dough by pressing. Reform the dough and press flat again to create a new “canvas” for creation!
6) Lacing Bead Learning – Sometimes you can put just one toy into an activity bag without added items. Lacing beads are a great choice because they don’t have consumables to be replaced. A set that has shapes, colors, and numbers will extend the activity. Ask kids to sort by color or shape. Find a bead that you describe (“I’m looking for a bead that has…”). Stack into towers (what kinds of towers can be created with various numbers of blocks!). Create a repeating pattern. Find a number block and then line up the specified number of blocks beside it.
Store activity bags separate from other toys, so they will become special and highly anticipated. Rotate their use as needed.
The morning I introduced activity bags to my son was – a Gold Star type of morning! I had to pack for a camping trip and needed him to be in one room for a duration of time while I sorted clothing. The Pattern Making bag kept his attention for a solid thirty minutes, while the Play Dough bag gave me at least another 30-40 minutes of time!
I know he was excited to see all the goodies in the bags and I look forward to using these throughout the school year!
Whether it’s the “I’m bored” refrain, weather delay, or illness that stalls the day’s plans, these colorful activity bags will give you time to catch a breath while keeping children occupied and engaged.
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Julie Kieras mothers two inquisitive boys with the support of her husband in the lovely four seasons of New England. She is often found at home interpreting toddler-speak, elbow-deep in PlayDough, or behind the pages of a book. In her spare time she enjoys organizing, walking, crafting, or baking! She blogs about her family life at HappyStrongHome.com.