National Sorry Day, Australia – Aboriginal Art – Dot Painting

May 26 is National Sorry Day in Australia. It has been an annual event since 1997 to remember and atone for policies that ripped 50,000 Aboriginal children from their families, resulting in a “Stolen Generation.”

Image from GetUp , a not-for-profit organisation. See link for more information on National Sorry Day.

I thought today would be the perfect day for the kids (and myself haha) to try dot painting!

Image from Kirkland Museum.

Dot painting is a traditional visual form of storytelling by the Aborigines of Australia. Natural canvas such as leaves, bark and wood are painted with paint made of sand, ochre, and seeds. Paintings often depict elaborate patterns and symbols. These symbols often help create Dreamtime stories which taught about life and Creation. To read more about Dreamtime stories, the origins of Aboriginal Dot Painting, or to see more examples of Dot Painting, visit:

Didges We Doo

National Museum of Australia

Kate Owen Gallery

For our dot painting lesson, we’ll need:

  • Q-tips (cotton swabs or sticks)
  • Paint (we stuck with our Crayola Washable Paints but acrylics is preferred)
  • Construction paper (or you can use leaves, rocks, tree bark, etc)
  • Didgeridoo music

For our little gnomes, I first showed them some pictures of dot painting on the laptop. I explained to them the origins of dot painting and how the paintings were used by Aboriginal elders to tell stories to children. Then I found some symbols used in Aboriginal art.

Aboriginal Art Graphic Symbols and Meanings

Image from Aboriginal Art Shop

aboriginal symbols

Image from Didges We Doo

Then I drew an outline of a sea turtle on each of their white construction paper

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Then I helped demonstrate and explain the technique behind dot painting. Tell your child to gently dip their Q-tip in their paint and dot along the outline of their picture. If you push too hard, the dot will be wider. Keep your Q-tip as straight as possible or your dots will look more like inconsistent blobs. 🙂 This is a great way to practice our fine motor skills! It does take some concentration.

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So far so good….

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Uh oh! The temptation to use our fingers and hands was too great!

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Well, that escalated quickly!

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Haha I wonder what story this tells….of poor sea turtle.

Managed to save one. Here’s the unsullied version of a fish and an Aboriginal symbol for “meeting place.”

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Earth Day – Crumpled Recycled Paper Art Project

It may be hard to teach young toddlers the concept of Earth Day and recycling, but there are way to get them accustomed and familiar to it. Our kids usually comes with us when we take the rubbish out since it’s on the way to the elevators.

We have two garbage shoots. One is for general waste and one for recycling. They really enjoy helping us throw empty plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, etc down the garbage shoot. Near our mailboxes, there is also a recycle bin for junk mail (paper). They love helping me recycle the junk mail 🙂 Imagine your kids fighting over hot deals from Safeway.

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Today I wanted to do an Earth Day art project using up some of our used construction paper. They were previously used to doodle on.

Materials:

  • Used and/or new construction paper (Black, Blue, Green, Brown)
  • Scissors
  • Paint (White, Green, Brown)
  • Sponge (or paint brushes)
  • Glue
  • Sticky tape
  • Toothbrush

Music / Videos:

I looked up recycling music and found some goodies on YouTube!

Jack Johnson: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Going Green Song (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

Tom Chapin: Recycle Song

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I tried to find the biggest circle template to fit the paper. I ended up using a tupperware lid. Trace the large circle onto your blue paper. You will use this circle as your planet earth.

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Then I did a quick Google search for an image of earth. I searched for the Americas. You can choose your own view of earth of course!

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I found this from Fine Art America. I only used this image to help me draw my version of the Americas (no where as nice haha). You will see it further down the process.

Draw your continent onto a brown or green paper. Cut out your continents.

Have your child decorate the black paper with stars! We used an old toothbrush. Dip the toothbrush in white paint and spray paint the stars onto the black paper. Help little ones as they might not have the dexterity to do so. I had them hold the brush with one hand and scrape the brush head with the other hand’s thumb. Or you can guide them with your hands.

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After they’re happy with their stars, put it aside to dry and hand them their blue circles and brown/green continents to crumple! Take care NOT to rip the paper!

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After they are nicely crumpled, you can paint over them with your sponges or brushes.

With your blue planet, you will want to use the white paint to make clouds and storms! Tell your littlies that it is OK not to have your planet completely covered because you want to leave gaps for the ocean!

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Once they are done painting clouds, set these aside to dry and start painting the continents.

If you have a brown continent, you will want to use green paint. If you have a green continent, you will want to use brown.

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We didn’t have any brown paint, so I mixed yellow with purple. You can basically mix any primary color with its complementary color. Other colors you can mix: blue + orange; red + green

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Once these are done, set these aside to dry as well.

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While waiting for them to dry, I’ve cut out 3 arrows for each planet to represent the 3 Rs of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Once everything is dry, glue your blue planet onto the black starry backdrop. Then glue your continent onto your planet. Have it at an angle so it looks like it’s on it’s axial tilt. More realistic that way! To geek out your kids, you can explain that the Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5° away from the plane of the ecliptic. And it’s because of this tilt that we have seasons here on Earth! Whether you’re tilted towards or away from the sun! Ok, quick lesson over.

To finish the project off, I glued and taped my arrows (with a twist to make it 3-D and look more like the recycling symbol). I wrote the 3 R’s of Recycling on each arrow.

Note my initial typo….”reduce, reuCe, recycle.” The horror!!

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OK fixed!

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Mummy brains….

Happy EARTH DAY everyone! Please teach our children to help look after our beautiful planet.

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X – Rays and Sun Images – Activities with Toddlers

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Looking at X-Ray Images

I found some old x-rays of the kids the other day and thought it would be fun to show them what their bones look like!

Here’s J’s back, shoulders, ribs and arms! This was taken when he was only a day old!

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And here is a photo of my dating scan when I was 8 weeks along with N 🙂 The kids giggled when I pointed out they were only little eggs at that stage!

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X-Ray Paintings or Magic Paintings

Last week, I saw these gorgeous homemade “x-rays” on a fellow Instamom’s account. For the LIFE of me I cannot remember her account name nor find her account! I really wanted to thank her showing us this fun project!

What you will need:

  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Paper Towel
  • Dark-colored Paint (we used tempera paint because that’s what we have handy)
  • Paint prushes

Since the kids have never done this before and are still beginners when it comes to drawing and painting, I drew a few images to show and tell first.

I ripped two sheets of paper towels as you will need to sandwich your images. I kept the two sheets attached to make it easier to fold and align.

Take your glue and carefully draw your image or write your secret words on one of the sheets. If your paper towel is larger in size, just fold a single sheet in half before you apply your glue image/message.

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Then carefully fold the paper towels to sandwich your image.

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With your paint, you will want to water it down with a bit of water. I eyeballed the amount but it was about 1 dollop (1 tsp) of paint with 1-2 tbsp of water. Mix it real well.

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Then paint!

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This was the sample I showed the kids. Then I showed them a picture of a hand x-ray I found online.

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Josh immediately recognized it as a hand.

Then I showed them my next magic image:

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Not bad hey??

Now the little gnomes have their go:

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J had so much fun he wanted to make an image of a rocket too

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Sun (Burn) Images

It’s been beautifully sunny and warm lately. Every time we head out for the day, I lather the kids up with sunscreen. Here was a good way for me to demonstrate why we wear sunscreen!

This wonderful idea was from my Instagram pals over at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. They created images using light from the sun using light-reflective paper. Here is the DIY on their Pinterest page. If you are ever in their area, visit! They do some amazing and FUN activities there

Unfortunately, we don’t live near Pittsburgh and we don’t have any photosensitive paper + chemicals used for developing photos (a lost art?!). Luckily, PGHkids suggested using a plain black construction paper on a really sunny day. Can you see where this is going?

What you will need:

  • Dark colored construction paper ( we used black and brown)
  • Shapes and cut outs (we used beach toys and recycled construction paper the kids had drawn on prior)
  • Sunny spot

Place your shapes on top of you dark construction paper

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Find a sunny spot….

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Leave your sun pictures to “burn through” and…go play 🙂

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Come home and check out your sun images!

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Pretty neat!

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And kids, this is why you need to wear sunscreen!! Like the shapes on our paper, sunscreen protects your skin!

Sorry my pictures got turned somehow! :-/ ?

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Practicing Our Numbers and Letters – Name & Number Recognition + Tracing (Part 2)

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It’s been so difficult lately with the kids not sleeping as well at night. It might be something to do with the warmer nights. Whatever it is, it’s taking it’s toll on me! EXHAUSTION! Even after a quick shut-eye during their naps aren’t cutting it. Migraines!! Ahhhhh…..hence the lack of blogging lately.

However, I’ve been dying to share more of our letters and numbers activities!!

Writing in Shaving Cream with Scent Reinforcements 

Back when I was studying for the SATs (gosh that was centuries ago), I remember reading about how citrus scents can improve cognitive function like visual-motor responses, provide alertness, and assist in memory recall! I have to admit, if I smell a certain brand of perfume, it’d remind me of my days at the university because it was the brand my professor wore. Similarly, when I was living in Australia, if I smelled pine, I’d get homesick as it reminded me of the pine trees in America. How about a special dish that only your mom used to make? Anton Ego from Ratatouille anyone?

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Today, I cut up some ripe oranges and fresh lemons for the kids to smell, touch, and taste while we did our name recognition activity.

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I had them smell and taste some slices.

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Then placed sheets of foil in front of them to write their names on shaving cream. I’ve also presented their names with wooden letters so they can see how it should be spelled.

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Josh loves the letter “O” 🙂

To help him remember “J,” I told him to remember that it’s the letter that looks like a hook. For “H,” I told him it looks like a little bridge. Seems to work!

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So messy 😀

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Numbers Recognition and Counting – using foam numbers, index cards, cocktail sticks, and bottle caps

Here’s an easy activity you can do with your toddler. Although, it was not easy for big brother J to concentrate while little sister N was eagerly helping 😉

Here are my materials:

  • Homemade number flash cards with numbers written along with number of dots associated with that number
  • Cocktail stirrers
  • Bottle caps
  • $1-3 foam numbers from Target

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First, I laid out the cards from 1 – 10 and asked J to match the foam numbers to the cards. We read each number out loud.

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Then we sorted the bottle caps by color and counted how many there were. We found the matching index card and foam numbers. If J got stuck, I’d remind him to count the number of dots on the index card and match the bottle caps to the way the dots are drawn on the cards.

We used the stir sticks the same way and we used the sticks to trace the numbers like an ink-less pencil.

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We even sneaked in a little bit of simple maths (addition). Uh oh Tiger Mom alert! Poor kids.

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Wipe Off Activity Books

We’ve bought these activity books before but after our recent influx of tracing letters and numbers, J and N have refreshed their interests in these. J has been addicted! I couldn’t believe how his tracing improved so much in just a week. It was like he went to bed and woke up a year older!

We bought our wipe off books from Target for $4.99. They are by TRENDenterprises.com . They are full of fun activities, aligns with learning standards, and have bright, colorful pictures kids love…

I also found some good ones on Amazon by Roger Priddy.

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Love it when you can see good results from all the hard work for both parent and child! Happy learning everyone!

Practicing Our Letters and Numbers – Name Recognition + Tracing (Part 1)

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I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front but it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy! Aside from Easter celebrations and activities, we did heaps of learning activities to help the kids learn to recognize their names, spell their names, and write their names. On top of that, we are also practicing our numbers and counting!

Here are some fun AND easy activities to do with toddlers to help them recognize, spell, and write their names and numbers!

Dot Tracing – Numbers, Names, and Pictures

Josh LOVES rockets. He also loves drawing. However, he hesitates sometimes because he recognizes the fact that his drawings are not yet recognizable. Although, having said that, they ARE becoming more and more recognizable.  He’s been asking us to draw rockets and dinosaurs for him a lot. In order to encourage him to draw his beloved subjects, I thought I’d try drawing them in dots. They’re close together, making it easier for him to recognize the picture and to trace.

They were really excited to see this activity waiting for them!

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With Josh’s numbers, I drew groups of dots for him to match the written number to.

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With N, I knew with her age, she doesn’t have the fine motor skill to do most of the tracing and match the dots to the written numbers. So instead, I drew the number of dots correlated to the written number. The idea is that the more she sees her name and the numbers, the easier it will be for her later on to recognize them.IMG_1988

Using Play Dough (or Cloud Dough in our case) to Spell and Write!

Back in February, I made some cloud dough out of apple conditioner and corn starch (flour). After each use, I’ve been storing them in glad wrap and zip locks. It’s been a while since we’ve last used it, so not surprisingly, they were a bit crumbly and dry. I added about a tsp of the same conditioner to each clump and mixed them in their glad wrap. That kept my hands clean and you don’t lose any of the dough because they can stick onto your hands.

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It helps to fold the conditioner in

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I also drew some simple templates of bugs for them to use to mold their dough onto.

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I lost my girl at butterfly. After that she wanted all her dough to fly 🙂

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Using Stickers to Practice Name and Number Recognition

I had TONS of stickers leftover from St Patrick’s Day and Easter. So instead of keeping them in my art supply box for another year, I thought I’d let the kids use them up for this activity. They do love stickers!

Again, I drew their names and age in bubble font and let them go nuts with the stickers. Ok, N needed a bit of assistance 😉

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They turned out so pretty! I wish I could laminate these.

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When I have more free time, I’ll post Part 2 of 2. We did so many fun activities to help them learn their names, alphabet, and numbers. More to come!