March is Youth Art Month and this year's theme is "Art Connects Us"! Get ready for a month of fun, art and education that will keep your kiddos excited and engaged. Today Natasha Griffin and Katie Beckett from Penfield Children's Center are going to discuss three Montessori-inspired creative learning and art activities you can do with your little ones.
1. Paint the seasons
You’ll need an egg carton or jars to separate paint colors, a large piece of paper, a marker, q-tips, and different colors of paint. Fold your paper in half, and then in half again, creating 4 equal sections. Draw a bare tree (no leaves, just trunk and branches) in each of the sections on your paper. Talk to your child about what happens to our Wisconsin trees each season. Discuss how the leaves change colors, from greens, to reds, yellows, and oranges, and then fall off in winter.
Next, label each tree with a separate season (spring, summer, fall, winter). Ask your child to dip a different q-tip in each color of paint. They can then use the q-tips to stamp each tree with leaves that show each season. For example, the spring q-tip dots might be green and pink, showing new leaves and buds. In fall, the q-tip dots might be reds, yellows, and oranges, showing the changing autumn colors.
This activity is not only fun, but helps teach your young child color recognition, includes a nature lesson, and strengthens their pincer grasp when picking up the q-tip and dotting each tree. This type of art is also a great introduction to different textures and for children with sensory issues, it allows them to use a tool (the q-tip) to paint with, without getting fingers wet with paint. As the seasons change, talk to your child about how his art is reflecting real life!
2. Playdoh mapping
You’ll need different colors of playdoh or salt dough + laminated continent cards. This educational activity teaches geography and allows your child to see that continents come in different shapes and sizes. Some are solid land masses and others include islands. Children will have fun manipulating the dough, learning about textures and colors. Use this activity to start a conversation with your child about the people, animals, cultures, foods and geography on each of these continents.
3. Math flags
Gather up pipe cleaners, pony beads and different colored tape. Cut the pipe cleaners in half and fold small pieces of tape onto the top of each pipe cleaner to create the flag.
With a sharpie, write a number on each flag. If your child is a bit older and starting to learn addition and patterns, you can also write an addition problem or pattern (AB, AABB, etc.) you’d like them to create with the beads. Next, help your child string their beads according to the number or math problem on the flag. This is a fun activity that gets kids excited about learning math and really allows the child to see and understand the problem as they are solving it. Younger children also strengthen fine motor skills and work on color recognition and shapes.
For more great ideas for kid-friendly fun, visit the Kohl’s Building Blocks site, penfieldbuildingblocks.org.