Mom Michelle Wilder finds creative ways to stimulate her 4-year-old son James’ creative brain in a variety of situations, especially when it comes to reading.
“Children should be introduced to a wide variety of books,” says Wilder, “and combining a love of reading with hands-on creativity is a great two-way street,” she adds.
Mixing literature with art, games and music can open doors to new exciting vistas for your child. Try:
Preschool and Younger:
by Don Freeman
Sing this new song to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lambâ€:
I know a bear named Corduroy,
I know a bear named Corduroy,
Lisa is his friend.
Draw a bear like Corduroy. Use a sheet of brown grocery bag paper. Color on a pair of green overalls with crayon. Put two buttons to hold up the straps. Use real buttons or cut out buttons from construction paper. Glue these in place.
by Margaret Wise Brown
Collect round jar lids and a crescent-shaped cookie cutter. Dip these into yellow poster paint and proceed to “moon print” onto dark blue construction paper.
Make a room media drawing. Draw a bedroom scene with crayons. Make a black or dark blue wash with poster paint thinned with water. Brush over the entire picture. This is called a crayon resist painting. When dry, add finishing touches, such as fabric scraps for the bedspread and curtains.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle
Egg carton caterpillar. Use three connected egg carton cups. For the antennae, thread pipe cleaners into small holes made on top of the head. Paint the cardboard cups green and add facial features with a fine black marker.
Blot butterfly. Fold a piece of construction paper in half. Open. Drop bright colors of poster paints onto one half of the paper. Fold the paper again and press. Open to see a blot butterfly, with both sides exactly the same. Use a brown marker to make the insect’s body and antennae. As a variation, cut the paper into a butterfly shape.
Paper plate food collage. Cut out items from magazines and glue them onto the paper plate. As a variation, your child can draw the items onto construction paper; cut and paste. You will need an apple, pear, plum, strawberry, orange, chocolate cake, ice cream cone, pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, lollipop, cherry pie, sausage, cupcake and watermelon.
Ages 5 and Older:
Caps for Sale
by Esphyr Slobodkina
Lunch bag puppet with a monkey face. Draw freehand or photocopy from a lunch bag puppet book. Invite your child to color the face and mouth. Glue the face onto the bottom flap of the bag and mouth just below the flap. Cut a piece of colorful felt into a cap and glue this onto the monkey’s head.
Sing this famous chant:
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed.
One fell off and bumped his head.
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed.â€
Continue reciting this rhyme with “four little monkeys,” “three little monkeys” and so on till there are “no little monkeys.â€
The Gingerbread Boy
by Paul Galdone
Make a stuffed gingerbread cookie. Use a brown grocery bag, draw and cut out two gingerbread boy patterns. To stuff, use crumpled paper or polyester filling. Staple all around the edges. Decorate the cookie with a variety of items: buttons, fabric, rickrack trim, etc.
Play a game like Duck, Duck, Goose. One child is chosen to be “it.” He taps each player in the circle (friends and family) saying GINGERBREAD. Then he taps one person and says BOY. That player gets up and chases “it” around the circle until he gets caught or sits down. The new “it” starts the game again.
The Runaway Bunny
by Margaret Wise Brown
Make a set of bunny ears. Measure your child’s head, cut a strip of paper and staple to form a headband. Cut out bunny ears from construction paper and staple these to the headband. Use pink or white cotton and glue onto the ears.
Play the game Bunny Says. Follow the commands: Bunny says …
- Run in place, to run away
- Swim like a fish in the trout stream
- Pick your feet up high, like a mountain climber
- Pretend to grow up like a flower (squat down and slowly wiggle up)
- Pretend to swing on a trapeze at the circus
- Run (in place) home and give your mother a big hug
by E.B. White
Make a spider web using marbles, paint and paper. Use an aluminum pie pan, cutting a piece of white paper to fit inside. Put the marbles into a container of tempera paint. With a spoon, lift the marbles from the container and drop them onto the paper in the pan. Tilt the pan so the marbles can slide back and forth across the paper. Charlotte’s spider web will appear.
Wilbur, the pig puppet. Draw a pig face and mouth onto paper or photocopy a diagram from books that features bag puppets. Using a brown lunch bag, glue the mouth under the bottom flap and the face part on top of the flap. Color the facial features with crayons or markers. For a special fur effect, glue pink cotton (found in most drug and craft stores as pink cotton balls) onto his face and around his mouth._
Sing “Eensy Weensy Spiderâ€:
The eensy weensy spider climbed up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
So the eensy weensy spider crawled up the spout again.
Tania Cowling is a freelance writer.