Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fingerprint Bugs

We made some fingerprint bugs today!

It's pretty simple and the kids can get so creative! We used jumbo ink pads (love these) and first put ink on the backs of our fingers, like this:

Then we used our fingertips to make smaller bugs.

Then we drew on the rest of the details, making all kinds of creatures.

I asked the girl who made the above art, "What kind of bug is this one?"

She said, "Half caterpillar, half bee, and half fish!" So cute! Here are some more creations:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Glitter Fireworks

This Fourth of July art project is nothing new. I'm sure it's been done many times over. But since we made these today, I am sharing them with you. Glitter fireworks:
You need black paper, glue, and lots of glitter. Glitter glue would also work, although it wouldn't be nearly as messy, and therefore not as much fun! First the kids make a firework with glue, then they sprinkle pour glitter on top of the glue. Any excess glitter is then dumped onto a plate. Then the kids can repeat this process until their paper is filled.

So pretty! So sparkly!
So messy! You will be finding glitter around your room for months. But it's oh so worth it. The kids love using glitter!

**For another Fourth of July art idea, check out the flags we made for Flag Day!**

Walking Sticks

Today's summer creature is the walking stick. For this craft you will need brown pipe cleaners, wiggle eyes, glue or glue dots, and a stick. A real stick. From outside. Break off any "branches" so it's just a straight stick.
The kids will take the pipe cleaners (cut to whatever size you want, depending on the size of your stick) and wrap them around the stick in 3 different spots: at the front, at the back, and in the middle. Wrapping them around just once is all it takes. The kids can form little feet if they desire. Then they glue two eyes on one end of the stick. That's why I like glue dots for this. They work like a charm.

That's all there is to it! If you have some thin wire, you could wrap those around the head for antennae, but I didn't have any on hand.

Fun Fact: Walking sticks can detach their legs if trapped or injured. A young walking stick will grow a new leg the next time it molts. Even some adults, which normally are done molting, will force themselves to molt again just to replace a lost leg.

Monday, June 27, 2011


This week I will show you some of the crafts from my Summer Creatures theme. I am not doing this unit this year (my co-teacher did her bug theme instead), but I thought I could still show you my projects.
This dragonfly craft uses another clothespin, but this time it's the round slotted one. The first thing the kids do is draw great big eyes on the top of the clothespin. We used a Sharpie last year.
Then they paint the rest of the clothespin any way they wish. Once that dries, they add the wings. I found this shimmery material on clearance at Michael's many years ago. It came in pink shimmer and kind of a greenish shimmer.
It's for gift bags, but I really liked it because it reminded me of real dragonfly wings -- kind of iridescent. So anyway, I cut out some wing shapes (keeping them long and skinny to prevent them from looking like butterfly wings) and then taped the middle to squish them together more.
Then the kids put a little bit of glue where the tape is and slide it into their clothespin, completing the dragonfly craft.
Ain't she pretty?

Fun Fact: During the time of the dinosaurs, dragonflies were huge, having a wingspan of 28-32 inches! Can you even imagine?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Today was all about kangaroos, wallabies, and wallaroos! After teaching about them, we listened to the book Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow.
I said listened to because the book comes with a CD of John Lithgow singing the story. The kids really enjoyed it, and it provided a wonderful lesson for them: Always be true to who you are. (Thanks for letting me borrow the book, mom!)
And then after the story, the little girl whose grandma lives in Australia (I mentioned her in yesterday's post) had more surprises for us! She brought in Australian money and a real kangaroo hide!
I have no idea how her grandmother got this, but it was very cool to see. All the kids had a turn at touching the soft furry side and the smooth leathery side.
OK, now on to the art project. I found a coloring sheet of a kangaroo and joey.
I cut out the mama and baby so the kids could color them.
And then instead of using a paper pouch, I cut them out of felt and let the kids decorate them with glitter glue and sequins.
I would have used all different colors of felt, but brown was the only color I had on hand. One girl made her initial (E) on the pouch. How clever!
When they dried, the pouch was glued onto the mommy kangaroo, making sure to glue only the sides of it and not the top. That way the joey could fit right inside.
As a special surprise, when I put these in the kids' mailboxes at the end of the day, I added a sucker to the pouch!

Fun Fact: A kangaroo cannot run or walk on land because its back legs do not move separately. It can only hop. However, if the kangaroo is swimming, the legs can move independently!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crocodile Magnets

We learned about 3 animals today -- the platypus, rainbow lorikeets, and crocodiles. I really wanted to do a platypus craft, but I couldn't find or think of one. (Please share if you have one!) So we did a croc craft instead.
You will need spring clothespins, small green pom poms, small wiggle eyes, green cardstock paper, green paint, and white paint. This is, of course, if you want a green crocodile. It really could be any color. I went ahead and painted the clothespins green the day before so the children would be able to handle them while doing the rest of the craft.
I painted everything but the front part, which will become the teeth. Then I cut small rectangles out of the green paper and cut one side of them with a zig-zag scissors. Then I creased them down the middle.

These will become the scales on the croc's back/tail. The first thing the kids did was paint the "teeth" white, even the inside, which they had to do by squeezing the clothespin open. Then they put glue down the "back" of the croc and stuck on two of the rectangles, making sure the pointy ends were up and they were opposite each other. Then they glued on two green pom poms and two wiggle eyes onto the pom poms. This is where it got tricky. Those things are so darn small! Some kids were getting frustrated. If I ever do this project again, I think I will use jumbo clothespins. I just had these regular-sized ones left over from another project, so that's why I used them this time.

Now, keep in mind that the mouth has wet paint in it and to prevent it from being painted shut, you need to squeeze the clothespins open every couple of minutes for the first 15 minutes or so. No big deal. It only takes a second. I decided to put a self-adhesive magnet to the back of each one so they can go on the fridge and hold art work that the kids bring home.

Never smile at a crocodile
Never tip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away
Say g'night, not g'day
Never tip your hat and smile at Mr. Crocodile!

Fun Fact: If a crocodile has just eaten and isn't hungry, it will let its favorite prey swim or walk on by.

On a side note, one of the girls in my class casually mentioned her grandma lives in Australia. I was floored! I asked her if she had anything she could bring in. And she did. Take a look at this:
That's an emu egg. (It's been emptied.) It was very exciting for everyone in the class. And I love how she brought it in a little Easter basket!

Oh, and we also colored Rainbow Lorikeets today. Have you ever seen these birds? They are so colorful! I just found a coloring sheet through Google and we used oil pastels to make them extra bright.

Still looking for that platypus craft...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fingerprint Koalas

Today's Australian animal is the koala! I taught the kids all about this marvelous marsupial and then we headed to the art center. Here is my example of the art project:
I don't always like showing an example of mine to the kids first because they tend to copy it too much, but I felt it would have been a lot for them to take in without a visual aid. The first thing they did was draw a tree trunk. Very simple, nothing fancy. Then, because I didn't have a gray ink pad for the fingerprints, I painted gray paint onto plates. It worked perfectly.
The body of the koala is made with the thumb, the head is made with the index finger, and the tail and ears are made with the pinky. They made their prints on the sides of the tree.
When the paint was dry, about 20 minutes later, the kids went to the coloring table to put on the finishing touches. These turned out so cute! Some kids made a few koalas:

And some kids made a whole bunch:

Let's have a closer look at that last one, shall we?

I also taught a little bit about another marsupial -- the Tasmanian devil! Our "art" for that was a coloring sheet of Taz from Looney Tunes.
Sadly, only 2 kids had heard of him. Is he not around anymore or is Looney Tunes just not as popular now?
Koala Fun Fact: Baby koala's eat their mother's poop! See, koalas eat the leaves of eucalyptus trees, which are so poisonous they would kill most animals. The mother koala's special droppings, called pap, contain microscopic germs from her intestines which will help the baby digest its own food when it is old enough to eat eucalyptus leaves.

Tasmanian Devil Fun Fact: It is the largest meat-eating marsupial and can crush bones with its teeth!

**Linking up to Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas!**

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Land Down Under

This week I'm teaching about Australia and the animals that live there. Some years I do a Marsupial unit and other years (this year) I do an Australian unit so I can teach about all kinds of animals. Today I mentioned to the kids a few fun facts about Australia, like how they are just starting winter while we are just starting summer, and how some of their words are different than ours even though they mean the same thing. I read that cotton candy is called fairy floss there. Is that true? I hope so, because when I told the kids that they giggled and thought it was so cool! (Maybe my Australian follower Melissa from Honey Bee Books can help me out with this one!) Anyway, I also read the book Over in Australia by Marianne Berkes, to give a little introduction about some of the animals we will be learning about this week.

Oh, I love these kinds of books. Love, love, love! They are like Over in the Meadow and there are a bunch of different kinds, each one focusing on a specific habitat or place. Whenever I read them to the class, the kids always say the part of the baby animals. ("Hop," said the mother. "We hop," said the two.) It's so stinkin' cute!

For our craft today I found a coloring sheet from Enchanted Learning that had several Australian animals on it. I cut out all the animals. Then I found a map of Australia, also from Enchanted Learning. I photocopied that onto green paper. Then I put out glue sticks and colored pencils and the kids colored the animals and glued them to the map.

This activity got the kids all excited to learn about these animals, especially the koala, which many called a bear. Ah, ah, ah! Can't wait for tomorrow!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day Gift

With Father's Day coming up on Sunday, we were busy making gifts today. This whole thing was my co-teacher's idea. It's so cute, I just have to share it with you. First we got 3" clay pots from Michael's for 89 cents a piece. Then the kids painted them. We filled the pots with Riesen candy (with a few caramel kisses to add a little bit of sparkle).

Then the kids came up with 3 "Riesens" why they love their dad! I made a little certificate on the computer that they could color. Some wrote the reasons themselves, others needed our help.
I think the cutest reason I heard today was "Because he's a big sweetheart." All together now, awwwww...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rainbow Pasta Art

Are you ready for a beautiful art project?
This was a huge hit with everyone, but I think mostly with myself! I don't know why I didn't try this sooner. Following instructions on Many Little Blessings, I spent one evening dying pasta. I had all kinds -- wagon wheels, bowties, macaroni, penne, fettuccine... Once you have your pasta, you'll need ziploc baggies, rubbing alcohol, and food coloring. The website said to use 1/4 cup alcohol to 1-2 cups of pasta. Honestly, I only measured the first time. After that I just poured in what looked right. I put the alcohol in the baggie. I had the baggie in a mixing bowl so it would stand up better and that way if I spilled, it would stay in the bowl. (I know I took pictures of all the steps, but I can't find them anywhere!) Then I put in several drops of food coloring. Once it was all mixed, I added the pasta, sealed it up, and swished everything around. I was worried because I was short on time. I only had time to flip the bags once (after 30 minutes). So after an hour (30 minutes on each side), I cut a corner off the bottom of each bag and drained out the extra alcohol. I dried the pasta on top of paper towels on top of cookie sheets on top of old bath and kitchen towels. Follow that? This is why I need to find my pictures! I had all the pasta drying on the floor of my guest bedroom. It was the only way to keep the cats away. So that's why I needed towels underneath the cookie sheets. I didn't want any colored splotches on my carpet. Anyway, I was happy with the results of only an hour of soaking. They turned out well. The kids in my class could make whatever they wanted with the pasta. They glued their creations onto white paper.

Aren't they beautiful? Actually, they are much prettier in person. The good news is I made way too much for this one project, so we can do it several more times.
By the way, I decided to leave one bag of pasta soaking overnight, just to see how much more of the color was absorbed. The next morning it didn't look any darker and the pasta was kind of mushy, so I threw it away. I wouldn't recommend that.