Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Edible Art

Grade Levels: 

  • PreK through High School

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Background: 

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables month — a time to think about how you incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes dietary guidelines which describe the importance of a well-balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. Including fruits and vegetables in your meals and/or as snacks is one key part of a healthy diet. Healthy eating habits should be encouraged with children throughout their lives. However, getting children to enjoy vegetables, in particular, can sometimes be a challenge. How about turning it into an edible art project that you can enjoy together as a family? 

Activity Description: Gather assorted vegetables to use as a decorative topping for a flatbread pizza. Arrange the vegetables in fun and interesting patterns on pizza dough that is cooked and enjoyed. 

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Assorted colorful vegetables cut into slices or small pieces (tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, spinach, red or green peppers, etc.)
  • Pizza dough (store-bought roll from refrigerated section or homemade)
  • Mozzarella or other pizza cheese (shredded)
  • Cookie sheet or pizza pan (lightly oiled)
  • Rolling pin and a little flour (may be needed to roll out the dough; otherwise just use fingers or a glass rolled in flour) 
  • Oven 
  • Pizza sauce (store-bought jar or homemade) [optional]
  • Fresh basil [optional]

What should I do? 

  1. Prepare the dough. Roll and cut the pizza dough into one large pizza or a few single serve sizes depending on how many children are involved and the size of your pans. You might find it helpful to use a rolling pin and a little flour on the counter to roll out the dough. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use your fingers. Another option is to roll a glass in some flour and use that in place of a rolling pin. 
  2. Arrange the vegetables. Have the children arrange the vegetables on the dough in any patterns of their choosing. Encourage them to incorporate a variety of vegetables in order to create unique designs on their flatbreads. Tell them to fill their art space (dough) as much as possible. Use this decorating time to engage your child in a conversation about the importance of incorporating many different colored vegetables into a healthy diet.
  3. Precook the vegetables and crust. Cook the flatbread(s) according to dough instructions. The sample flatbreads illustrated on this post were made with Pillsbury® pizza dough, cooked at 400O for about 6-8 minutes. 
  4. Add cheese. Remove the partially cooked flatbread(s) from the oven and have your child carefully arrange a small amount of cheese on the flatbread so as to not cover up the design. Use a minimal amount of cheese. About ¼ cup of cheese was used on the flatbreads pictured (each flatbread used ½ of the Pillsbury® dough). Cook the flatbread for another 3-4 minutes to melt the cheese and get a nicely browned crust.    
  5. Cut and serve the flatbread. Cut the cooked flatbread into small pieces. Top with some chopped fresh basil, if you have it. If desired, heat up some pizza sauce to use as a dipping sauce. 
  6. Other considerations. Consider some of these options as you plan and conduct this activity with your children. 
    • Serve the flatbread as part of a meal that includes fresh fruit such as apples, bananas, mangos, pineapples, melon, etc. Cutting these in small pieces and having your child eat them with a toothpick instead of a fork makes it more fun. 
    • Share the Healthy Eating Plate with your child and reinforce this balance when preparing and serving your meals. Learn more at the USDA’s My Plate website. You’ll find some great suggestions at that site in celebration of the 2021 10-year anniversary of the MyPlate concept graphic that serves as a guide to healthy eating from each of the five food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Take a quiz, download an app, create a healthy food plan, or learn how to post about your experience on social media at this site. 
    • Learn some great strategies about promoting healthy eating with your children through the My Plate, My Wins: Real Solutions from Real Families video (3:27 minutes) published by the USDA. 

Tags: 

  • Art
  • Culinary
  • Fine motor skills
  • Food
  • Health and wellness
  • Parent-led activity

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 06/24/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Celebrating Pride month

What is Pride Month?

Although there are many days throughout the year that commemorate LGBTQIA people and events, many Pride celebrations, parades, and marches take place in June. This marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. According to Britannica Kids, these riots involved a series of confrontations between gay rights activists and police officers near the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City in June and July 1969. These riots evolved to an international movement. 

LGBTQIA: How to Talk to Kids

Melinda Lejman, an author, and parent, shares helpful tips and resources on how to talk to about LGBT with your kids for the website Lies About Parenting including:

  1. Don’t assume what your kids know and what they don’t know
  2. Be blunt, your kids can handle it
  3. Be on the Lookout for Reinforcing Stereotypes (and fix them!)
  4. Start Reading
  5. Get involved in your LGBTQ community

Why is it important to discuss LgbtiA with your children?

Issues surrounding gender and gender equity have received great attention in the media and in our society. Children may be curious or concerned about what they hear. It is important for kids to be able to talk with you about anything that they need to in a way that they can make sense of their world. Moreover, Russel Hobby writer for the Guardian assures us that “teaching children about LGBT issues is not brainwashing – it equips them for life.”

How to celebrate pride with your kids

Katie McCarthy, a working mother, explains how she and her husband have made a tradition of attending Pride yearly with their children in her piece titled “Tips for Celebrating Pride with Kids.” 

Bryanne Salazar describes 20 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month for Mom.com. Some of these include: 1) be an activist and an ally, 2) learn about LGBTQ history, 3) attend a virtual or in person pride event, 4) donate, 5) volunteer, 6) fly a rainbow flag, 8) support LGBTQ businesses, 9) use inclusive language, 10) learn about the issues. 

Huffpost shares 13 Craft Ideas to Help Kids Celebrate Pride.

Videos & resources

Blues Clues Pride Parade (PreK-Kindergarten Age Level)

LGBT+ Pride song for kids | Hopster (PreK-Kindergarten Age Level)

Grade Levels: 

  • PreK through High School

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

  • Current events
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Health and wellness
  • Science
  • Social-emotional learning

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 05/26/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Celebrating Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

What is AAPI Heritage month? 

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month – a celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans which was established in 1978. AAPI is a rather broad term that includes all of the Asian Continent and Pacific Islands (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia). 

Why Is It Important?

Not only is this month of celebration important due to the significant contributions of AAPI’s but also due to the hate crimes against AAPI’s in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

engage your family in AAPI Heritage this yeaR & EVERY YEAR.

  1. Visit the  Asian Pacific Heritage website. There you can learn more about Asian Pacific Heritage.
  2. Watch: Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with PBS Kids (You may need to subscribe to this).
  3. Watch Read Alouds: AAPI Read Alouds
  4. Consider the 8 Ways to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month including:
  1. Get out a Globe, or use Google Earth, and explore Asia and the Pacific Islands
  2. Explore AAPI Heritage Sites
  3. See Children’s Books that feature Asian Authors, Artists, and Characters: 9 Books to Asian American Pacific Islander Month; 20 Books for Young Readers To Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month & Year-Round; Celebrating Asian Pacific American History and Culture; and Asian Americans.
  4. Explore AAPI museums and exhibits: a) Asian Art Museum From Home; and Smithsonian Art Museum From Home
  5. Try a variety of healthy AAPI recipes with your kids
  6. Get creative by exploring AAPI art and music with your children 

Grade Levels: 

  • PreK through High School

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

  • Current events
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Health and wellness
  • Science
  • Social-emotional learning

Developer:

Beth Powers

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 05/26/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Earth Day is Everyone’s Day

April 22nd is an important day for the planet. This is the day that people all over the world focus on the importance of protecting our planet. Earth Day is a reminder to all of us that we have a responsibility to take care of our precious home and ensure a safe and clean living environment for today and in the future.

Earth Day originated in the United States in 1970 as a way to promote environmental awareness. It has grown every year since then and officially went global in 1990. Today, Earth Day is a worldwide movement that involves more than 1 billion people in 192 countries. 

Earth Day is everyone’s day because everyone lives on Earth.
Every single person in every corner of the world depends on this planet and the resources it provides. We need every individual to understand the challenges and to be empowered to support our Earth home through collective actions that result in positive change. 

engage your family in Earth Day this yeaR & EVERY YEAR.

  1. Visit the EarthDay.org web site. There you can learn more about global efforts to improve our planet. Be sure to check out their Take Action link for suggestions on what you can do at home to help. 
  2. Watch the This is Why We Celebrate Earth Day video (grades 3-12) or the Let’s Celebrate Earth Day video (Pre-K-3rd) for a quick overview of this important event and to get inspired to celebrate Earth Day. 
  3. Pick up trash. Turn a family outing to a local park or a neighborhood walk into a clean-up activity. Show your children how to safely gather trash and discard it properly. 
  4. Examine your home recycling efforts. Teach children what items can be recycled and how to sort and discard them appropriately. Delegate recycling jobs to children and teens who are old enough to take on these responsibilities. 
  5. Do crafts with your children using recycled materials. See Imagine it. Make It!, Recycled Robots, and Let’s Invent for starters. 
  6. Focus on water conservation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a typical family of four in the United States uses about 400 gallons of water in ONE day! Learn more about ways to save water at the EPA’s WaterSense for Kids site. 
  7. Teach your children how they can save energy at home by turning off lights and devices when not in use. Discuss the benefits of turning down the thermostat in winter and wearing an extra layer instead. 
  8. Read a book with your children that focuses on nature or environmental issues. For young children, there are lots of read-aloud books available online such as Earth Day Every Day by Lisa Bullard and We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. 
  9. Explore programs offered by state parks or nature-focused organizations in your area. Many communities have free or low-cost programs to promote environmental awareness and appreciation. Try searching environmental education programs near me on the web. 
  10. Promote an appreciation for living things and the wonders of our planet by spending time outdoors with your children – young and old. Take a nature hike. Observe insects, trees, or flowers closely. Track how many types of birds you can find together. Start a rock collection. Plant a garden or flower pot. Go on a picnic. Simply enjoy nature!

Grade Levels: 

  • PreK through High School

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

  • Current events
  • Environment
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Health and wellness
  • Science
  • Social-emotional learning

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 04/20/2021

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

IMAGINE iT. MAKE iT!

Listen to the story. Get inspired to be a maker!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Grade Levels: PreK through Grade 3

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)

Description: Listen to the author of the book, Be A Maker, read and discuss her story. Children use this as inspiration to be a maker at home. 

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, scissors, glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, bottle caps, old magazines, newspaper)

What should I do? 

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Be a Maker, written by Katey Howes and illustrated by Elizabet Vuković. Children will learn that the world is full of possibilities and there are all kinds of things you can make and do to have fun, be creative, and help others. The author does more than just read the story. She engages the listeners with questions and comments about the illustrations. She calls attention to important points that children should notice. For example, there are hints in the story about something happening in the neighborhood that’s creating some noise, but it’s not revealed until near the end. At one point, the author calls the children’s attention to the picture of the girl with her head tipped to the side and explains that she is hearing something and she wants to figure out what it is. At another point in the story, the girl makes a map to explore and figure out where that noise is coming from. The author asks, “Do you see something on the map that marks where she’s headed?” Later, she asks, “Do you have a good guess about what’s making all the noise in the neighborhood?” These questions and comments do an excellent job of engaging children in the story and helping them to use their imagination and observation skills to think more deeply about the story.  
  2. Talk about the story. Discuss the story and the many things that the child made throughout the book such as a spaceship, telescope, tower, gift, music, lemonade stand — even a new friend. Sometimes making projects can help others, too. You can help your community and make a difference. In the end, you can feel good about the things you made and be proud of your accomplishments.
  3. Present the children with the following problem which is derived from the book itself:

“In a world of possibilities, today, what will you make?”

Look at the materials you have available.

Imagine what you can do with these things to make
something special for yourself or someone else.

  1. Show the children the materials that they can use for this making project. Help them ponder the making projects mentioned in the book and imagine the new possibilities. Pose some questions or comments if the children are struggling with ideas. 
    • How can these materials be changed (e.g., cut, torn, bent, folded, rolled)?
    • What kinds of things do you enjoy? 
    • Think about something that you might need to solve a problem. 
    • What inspired you about the projects in the book? 
  2. Share. The author of the book emphasizes that children should feel proud of what they make and do. Encourage the children to share their work with others and talk about their ideas. Display their projects for others to enjoy, too!

Tags: 

Art

Creative Thinking

Fine Motor Skills

Inventive Thinking

Listening

Parent-Led Activity

Reading

Social-Emotional Learning

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA
Credit:
ConnectionSpot.org on 04/07/2021

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Let’s Invent

Grade Levels: PreK-8 

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary) 
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)

Background: 

Did you know that we celebrate National Inventors’ Day in the United States on February 11? This day was chosen because it is Thomas Alva Edison’s birthday and he is one of the greatest inventors of all time. Edison received more than 1,000 patents in his lifetime and many of these inventions made incredible contributions to our lives. He is probably best known for having invented the first incandescent light bulb that was able to glow for at least 13 hours! Prior to his invention, scientists were only able to achieve bulbs that burned for a few minutes. You can learn more about Edison through the Library of Congress or the Thomas Edison National Historical Park

We use inventions every day. Some inventions changed our world while others are just plain fun to use. For example, Lonnie Johnson is a famous inventor today. He invented one of the most popular toys of all time — the super soaker water gun. Inventors come from every cultural identity and background. For some examples, see the websites: Ten African American Inventors Who Changed the World, Asian Inventors, and  Famous Hispanic Inventors Who Changed the World. In addition, women inventors have created groundbreaking innovations and LGBTQ+ inventors, innovators, and scientists have a long history of celebrated contributions to science, technology, and invention. 

“The original Super-Soaker prototype and its inventor, Lonnie Johnson.” by Communicator is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The world is full of inventions and new ones are created every day. Look around your home and you are certain to find a lot of inventions. Some are complex like the refrigerator and computer. But, others are rather simple like VelcroR, buttons, pencils, and Post-ItR notes. 

Activity Description: Practice inventing just like Edison. Explore materials around your home. Modify them. Experiment with them. Be curious. Create something new and useful to meet a want or need. 

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Assorted recyclable or throwaway materials and items (laundry container caps, takeout containers, broken toys, dried out markers, old CDs, empty thread or ribbon spools, packaging materials, etc.) 
  • Miscellaneous materials around your home such as string, rubber bands, paper clips, paper bags, disposable cups, etc.
  • Wrapping paper, construction paper, or cardboard scraps
  • Glue, masking tape, and/or clear tape
  • Coloring utensils (e.g., crayons, markers)
  • Scissors

What should I do? 

  1. Closely observe the materials you have to work with. Think about different ways that these materials can be used or modified to create something new. Can the materials be cut or shaped to change them? Can materials be connected together with glue or tape?  
  2. Play around with the materials to see how they might be combined together in different ways. Ponder how these things can be used for something different than their original purpose. For example, can you turn your materials into one of these useful objects? 
    • Coin sorter
    • Picture holder
    • Jewelry
    • Game or toy
    • Cell phone or book stand
    • Crayon storage
    • Desk or drawer organizer
    • Coasters
    • Bookmark
    • Doll furniture
    • Musical instrument
  3. Explore ideas. There are many websites with ideas for converting throwaway items into useful products. If you can’t come up with ideas yourself, search online for some suggestions such as BabbleDabbleDoReuse This Bag, and BeautyHarmonyLife. Check out the pictures below for some ideas, too. 
  4. Improve your design. Once you’ve created something useful, think about how you can make it even better. Ask someone else for an opinion if you can’t think of ideas yourself. Make changes to your invention until you think it’s the best possible. 
  5. Give your invention a name. Be creative and think about a clever name for your new invention. Then share your invention with friends and family members. 
  6. Use your invention. Put your invention to use. Give it to someone as a gift. Be proud of yourself for being a creative inventor!
Hair accessory storage made from paper towel roll, cardboard food tray, and a scrap of wrapping paper. Spinning tops made with old CDs. A dried out marker is the leg, secured in place with rubber bands. These seed starter cups were made with one-half of a toilet paper roll, cut and folded on one end to close it off. 

Tags: 

  • Art
  • Creative Thinking
  • Curiosity
  • Fine motor skills
  • Inventive Thinking
  • Parent-Led Activity
  • Problem-Solving

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 02/10/2021

Categories
Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Toilet Paper Roll Slides

Using toilet paper and paper towel rolls!

Description: Tape the rolls to a wall, floor, or box. You can cut them or make a maze for the balls to fall through. You can also add colors to each tube or to each ball for color matching as shown in the picture to the left.

* This activity requires close supervision. However, this activity is considered kid centered/kid led play.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Paper Towel Rolls
  • Pom Poms OR Cotton Balls, Marbles (*Please note if you use marbles they can be a choking hazard thus requiring adult supervision at all times) 
  • Masking tape, Painter’s tape, Safe tape for your walls or floor 
  • Tongs/Scoops (optional)

What should I do? 

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Oscar and the Cricket written and illustrated by Geoff Waring. Children will learn about moving and rolling .
  2. Talk about the story. What surfaces did the ball roll down the best? Which were faster? Which were slower? Why?
  3. Present the activity to your child. 
  4. Gather your materials.
  5. Set up the activity in a safe location that you can tape on.
  6. Create your tube slides or mazes.
  7. You could also work on color matching by coloring the tubes to match the color of the pompoms and instructing your child to match the colors. For example: “Can you put the blue pom poms down the blue slide? 

Thought-provoking Questions:

  1. Why did the marble move faster than the pom-pom?
  2. If you create a maze: Which slide is faster? Why?
  3. Why do you think the pom-pom got stuck?
  4. How else could you set your slides up? 

Suggested Ages: 3-5 years of age

Tags: 

Fine Motor Skills

Developer:

Lauren McNeely

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020