Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Year of the Snake!

This week's activity with the after-school kids at Elfe's school was designed to celebrate the Lunar New Year - Year of the Snake!

First we read The Great Race, which explains how all the animals got their places in the Chinese zodiac - as well as why there is no year of the cat and why Cat and Rat used to be friends but are now enemies...


Perusing the end notes in the back of the book, we discovered that the kids were either Rats, Dogs, or Pigs, I'm a Sheep, and the after-school teacher is a Hare.

Most of the kids already knew that this is the year of the snake, so after the book we got right down to business making our own snakes.  I based this craft on this post from the main Barefoot Books blog, but instead of using paint as they did, I used strips of construction paper.

Here's the prep I did at home first...

 I used a dinner plate to trace circles on a big white sheet of paper, added on the snake's head free-hand, drew a spiral inside the main circle and then cut away the extra paper outside the snake outline.

 I cut one-inch strips of black, red, yellow, brown, and orange construction paper.

 I used some of the strips of red paper to make tongues for the snakes.

...and here are the kids going at it...

 I had them turn their snake shapes over to the blank side, then glue down whatever strips of construction paper they chose.  Some of the kids had been working on patterns in class, so this was an unexpectedly perfect chance for them to practice making a pattern with stripes!  I told them not to worry if the the strips were longer then the snake shape - we cut the extra off at the end, and then they turned their snakes over to the other side and cut along the spiral shape.

...we added in some googly eyes and tongues, and here is a table full of finished snakes!


If I were to do this craft again, I think I would use a smaller plate to make the outline - maybe a salad plate - the snakes look great on the table but were a little unwieldy when the kids tried to pick them up to uncoil them.  Other than that, this was another smashing success - two thumbs up from all the four-, five-, and six-year-olds!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shape Monsters

I've been doing some volunteer work with the after-school program at Elfe's school; I go in every other Monday to read a book or two and do a craft with the K1 kids (K1 in Boston is for 4-year-olds).  The kids get some extra reading time with an adult, the after-school teachers get a little help, and I get to find out how much actual little kids love various Barefoot Books.

I keep a Pinterest board called Crafts for Barefoot Books so I can save various craft projects that I might be able to use with the kids; when their teacher told me that they are currently working on learning shapes, I immediately thought of this great craft making monsters out of shapes.

We started with a little warm up - I played the CD and showed them the book The Shape Song Swingalong and had them dance to get their wiggles out before the main event...

"With my shape collection all I need to do is start with a line, line, circle, circle, square, square, square, square, triangle, triangle..."

Then they were prepared to sit still for my reading of The Mother of Monsters!

(Actually, what I read them was a story called The Girl with No Fear from the Barefoot Book of Monster Stories, but that book has been discontinued by Barefoot and The Mother of Monsters is the same story in early reader chapter book format.)

 Here's the Mother of Monsters from South Africa...

...and here's my version of her made entirely out of circles and triangles...

I used black construction paper for the background, then cut a big triangle and a big circle from orange construction paper, a medium circle from red construction paper for the mouth, two small yellow circles for the eyes, and small white triangles for the teeth.  I used a glue stick to glue everything down, and then I covered her body in white page reinforcers and small colored dots (I love using office supplies for craft projects!).

Based on how enthusiastically the kids dived into the project, I'd say it was a success...

It was amazing to me to see how creative the kids got with this project - some of the monsters had four eyes, one little girl used the little colored dots to give her monster chicken pox, and they added all sorts of details to their monsters that I hadn't even thought of.  All using just circles and triangles!

Finally, here's my little helper with her finished shape monster...