Summertime creative expression
Activities for toddlers and babies
This theme provides simple ideas for exploring arts & crafts materials and encouraging children to be creative throughout the summer.
Photograph the children in your group enjoying different arts & crafts activities. Print the pictures and display them on the walls of your daycare.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
An arts & crafts backpack
Fill a backpack with a variety of arts & crafts tools and materials children can explore outside. For example, your backpack could contain paper and crayons, modeling dough, and square pieces of colorful cellophane paper. At the playground or in your yard, encourage your group to use the contents of your arts & crafts backpack. Invite them to sit at your picnic table to draw, prick tree branches in the modeling dough, and set the pieces of cellophane paper on a variety of items found in nature to observe a color change.
Paintbrushes and water
Here is a great activity for outdoor play. Fill several buckets with water and provide large paintbrushes. This painting activity does not require paint, just water. Show children how they can dip the paintbrushes in the water and use them to “paint” a fence, play structures, tree trunks, a balcony, and other outdoor items.
Variation using cardboard boxes: Set several large cardboard boxes throughout your yard. Let children “paint” them with water.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (smell, touch, look)
Pick dandelions with your group. Encourage children to smell the flowers before showing them how they can press and slide them on white paper to see yellow markings appear.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch)
Sunscreen on my body
When it’s time to apply sunscreen, invite children to participate (with supervision). Simply squeeze a small amount of sunscreen on each child’s arm and show them how they can rub the lotion as if they were “painting” on their arm. Repeat on each child’s other arm, legs, stomach, etc. You may also squeeze a small amount of sunscreen onto your cheek and let children help you rub it in.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Painting with leaves
Freshly fallen tree leaves can replace paper and therefore set the stage for an original painting activity. Try to find larger leaves for this activity. Let children paint directly on the leaves.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Photograph children as they explore nature. For example, take pictures of the children in your group playing in dirt, smelling a flower, observing a bird, etc. Print the pictures. Invite children to draw on a large piece of cardboard. When they are done, let them help you glue the pictures on the cardboard. Write Exploring nature together at the top of your poster. Display it on a wall, at children’s level.
Hula hoops and chalk
Set several hula hoops on the ground in a paved section of your yard. Provide sidewalk chalk. Encourage children to use the sidewalk chalk to draw freely. Help those who choose to draw inside the hula hoops notice how the hula hoops are like “frames” for their artwork. Help children notice how other drawings are “next to” or “outside of” the hula hoop frames. You may also integrate the concepts of “above” and “below”.
Traces in the sand
Show young children how they can use a tree branch to draw in moist sand. They will enjoy drawing lines in the sand, moving from one end of the sandbox to the other. This activity is perfect for exploring cause and effect.
Variation involving feet
If the sand is only somewhat moist, encourage children to remove their socks and walk barefoot in your sandbox to create footprints.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Vertical drawing activity
Hang a piece of heavy cardboard from a tree branch. For example, you may use one side of a large cardboard box. Let babies and toddlers paint or draw directly on the hanging piece of cardboard. This activity will be somewhat challenging for young children. Drawing on a moving surface isn’t easy!
Early childhood educator
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