Creativity Corner

Our best creative activities for your family!

These recipes are often classroom favorites, and the teachers are sharing them with you for the days when long winter snowstorms keep you inside, and your children are looking for something new and fun to do. So, warm up your stove tops, get the ingredients on hand and get ready to play with all these fun concoctions!

Note: These recipes are not for eating, though some of them smell just delicious. Keep these creations on the play table, not the dining room table.

Sprinkle Fireworks
Fun, easy, and simple art activity.
You’ll need:
• Ice cream sprinkles (multi colored)
• Spray bottle filled with water
• White paper
Let your child shake some ice cream sprinkles onto the white paper. Next, let her mist the sprinkles lightly with the spray bottle.The color from the sprinkles will start to transfer to the paper. Allow it to dry, then have your child brush off the sprinkles. A colorful firework art display will appear on the paper. This easy project is fun to do outside on a hot summer day!

Kool-Aid Playdough
You’ll need:
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup salt
• 2 pkgs. unsweetened kool-aid

Mix together.
Add 2 cups boiling water and 3 Tbsp oil. Stir well. Knead, cool and store in an airtight container.

Use equal parts cornstarch and water. Mix as best you can. Pour into tubs or trays.

Puffed Paint
Mix equal parts of flour, salt and water. Add food coloring. Put in a squeeze bottle and paint.

You’ll need:
• 1 1/2 cups white glue
• 1 cup liquid starch

Mix together with hands. If it is wet and a lot of starch is not bonding add water. If it is sticky, add more starch. Keep working it until it feels right.

You’ll need:
• 1 cup water
• 1/3 cup Dawn dish soap

Mix together and see what happens to the bubbles when you blow them in a Minnesota winter.

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough–this produces a classroom-size amount, so save this recipe for a day when you will have a play date with others.
This one takes a bit more work, but it smells delicious, and will inspire creative baking play for sure! (It is still not for eating)

You’ll need:
• 5 1/2 cups flour
• 2 cups salt
• 8 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 3/4 cup oil
• 1 (1 1/2 ounce) container pumpkin pie spice
• Orange food coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
• 4 cups water

Mix all the ingredients together. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth.
Store in an airtight container

Grow a Bean
Learn about roots and shoots in a visual way!
You’ll need:
• A glass jar
• Cotton balls
• 1-3 dried beans
• Water
Let your child fill a jar with cotton balls and place one or two beans inside along the side where you can see them. Dried beans from the dried bean section at the grocery store work well. Butter beans are good growers. Let your child water the cotton balls enough to dampen but not soak. Place the jar in a sunny window, keeping the cotton balls damp. Within 2-3 days the bean will start sprout and grow roots, and should continue to grow. Watch it all through the jar!

DIY Birdfeeder
It’s spring and the birds are hungry!
You’ll need:
• Paper towel or toilet paper tube
• Wild bird seed on a plate, or in a shallow flat dish
• Creamy peanut butter and butter knife
With the butter knife, let your child spread on a thick layer of peanut butter,  covering outside of the cardboard tube. Next, let her roll the tube in the birdseed, patting the seeds into the peanut butter. Then, help your child find a small tree branch to slip the tube onto. The birds will soon discover the tasty treat, and your child can observe!

Hungry Caterpillar Craft–have fun making your own hungry caterpillar as in the book by Eric Carle.
You’ll need:
• Clean egg carton
• Pipe cleaners (for antennae)
• Paint or markers to decorate
Decorate your egg carton to look like a caterpillar using paint, markers and pipe cleaners. Get creative about all the foods your caterpillar can eat using plastic food toys or anything you have around the house! Act out the story any way you like!

Garden in a Glove
Explore the germination process with your older preschooler!
You’ll need:
• Clear plastic glove
• Five types of seeds
• 5 cotton balls, very damp with water
• Pipe cleaner
Write the name of the seed types on each of the glove’s fingers. Put two or three seeds of the same type into a damp cotton ball, and place into the labeled finger of the glove, repeat for all five fingers. Next, blow a small amount of air into the glove and close with a pipe cleaner. Hang the glove in a warm place, like a sunny window. Over the next few days the seeds will germinate. Once the seeds start sprouting, they will need soil, room for the roots to grow, sunlight, and water.

Leaf Prints – leaves are all around us in the fall, use them to make beautiful prints!
You’ll need:
• Paint
• Liquid dish soap
• Leaves
• Paper
Combine paint and a little dish soap. Then paint leaves. Press onto a piece of paper. Children love to see all the lines in the leaves on their beautiful fall prints.

Ice Sun Catchers
Suitable for ages 2-9.
You’ll need:
• Shallow bowl or tin pie plate (for a larger sun catcher)
• Ribbon for hanging
• Water
• Items from nature: leaves, berries, twigs, evergreen tips, pine cone seeds
Collect colorful leaves, berries, etc. Let your child pour a couple inches of water into bowl, then artistically arrange his or her nature items. Cut 2 pieces of ribbon and set at edge of bowl to freeze and hang the sun catcher. Place bowl in freezer or outside to freeze. When frozen, remove from bowl and hang outside. Simple and beautiful.

Letter of the Day activity– fun for any time of year. Choose a letter for the day, and find items that begin with that letter. Go through the house or on a neighborhood walk and see what you find. Make a list of all the things you found for your letter. No need to go in order of the alphabet–just choose the letters that will get the most results! X and Q don’t have to be on the list at all, unless you are inspired for the challenge!

Pumpkin Seed collage–creative and messy fun with pumpkins seeds!
You’ll need:
• Pumpkin seeds
• Glue
• Paper
Wash and dry pumpkin seeds. Children can get artistic gluing their pumpkin seeds to make a collage.

My Photo Book–your child becomes the author of a photo book!
You’ll need:
• Photos of people in your life
• Paper
• Glue stick
• Crayons
This can be as simple as one picture per page with one line of print written about that person, or several photos can be used.  If your child dictates the words and you write them into the book, then your child has become an author! (You are a transcriber). If your child is interested in drawing pictures that show what each person in your book is interested in or likes to do (or even is just interested in creating a border around the picture), encourage her to become the illustrator as well.

Apple Trees! – when its apple-orchard time, this activity is fun for little ones to do.
You’ll need:
• Brown paper
• Green paper
• Red paint
Cut out brown trees with green leaves and have children dip the fingers in red paint and dot apples all over the tree.

Snow Crystal Pictures
Easy, frosty, fun!

• 3-4 old holiday card, cut off the back, just use the picture part.
• Epsom salt
• water
• small paint brush

Make a mixture of one part Epsom salt to one part boiling water,
allow mixture to cool. With a small art paintbrush, let your child spread the solution across the card picture.
When the solution dries it will leave a maze of beautiful snow crystals across the picture.

Carnation Colors!
Preschool-age science fun.
You’ll need:
• White carnation flowers
• Glass jars or glass containers
• Box of food coloring drops
• Water
• Scissors
Fill the jars 2/3 full of water. Add several food coloring drops to one jar and repeat so each jar has a different color. If your child is able, have him or her cut off the bottom 2-3 inches from the carnation stems. Place them in the jars. Let your child observe how flowers drink up from their roots, through the stem, and into the petals. Their carnations should start to change color overnight! Please note that food coloring will stain fabric and carpet.

Borax Crystal Hearts
Cool chemistry for older preschoolers.
You’ll need:
• Mule Team Borax (in the laundry section of the grocery store)
• Pipe cleaners
• Clean wide-mouthed glass jar or glass container
• 2 cups (approx.) boiling water (depending on size of jar)
• Pencil
Shape a pipe cleaner into a heart shape, it must fit easily into your jar. Attach another pipe cleaner to the heart for a “hanger.” Next, boil 2 cups of water, let cool a bit, and slowly pour into your glass jar. Stir 10-12 tablespoons of Borax (one at a time) per two cups of water until completely dissolved. Hang your heart from a pencil, and place on top of the jar, making sure the heart is completely submerged, but not touching the bottom. Keep your heart submerged overnight, in the morning you’ll see a beautiful, crystal-covered heart. Note: Borax is NOT edible, kids should wear safety goggles, supervise children carefully.

Hand Print Polar Bear
Super simple and fun!
You’ll need:
• Light blue construction paper
• White kids paint
• A black marker
• Optional: iridescent glitter
Brush your child’s hand with white paint (or let her do it) and press onto light blue paper. Allow to dry. Draw details of a polar bear face on the thumb, and feet/claws on the finger tips with a black marker. Add a snowy background and glitter — get creative!

Shivery Snow Ooze Recipe
Sparkly, oozy, and oh-such-fun sensory play!
You’ll need 2 mixing bowls and:
• 2 cups of white school glue (or silver glitter glue)
• 1-1/2 plus 1-1/3 cups of very warm water
• Sparkly glitter
• Optional: dash of peppermint extract for scented Ooze
• 3/4 teaspoons of borax
In one bowl combine the white glue, glitter, and 1-1/2 cups warm water. In a second bowl combine the borax and 1-1/3 cups warm water. Mix the ingredients of both bowls well, then combine both bowls. Mix the ingredients by hand for a few minutes. As the ingredients are mixed, the ooze will form, and the play begins! Use cookie cutters or molds to create melty shapes. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Snow Crystal Pictures
Easy, frosty, fun!
• 3-4 old holiday cards, cut off the back, just use the picture.
• Epsom salt
• Water
• Child’s paint brush
Make a mixture of one part Epsom salt to one part boiling water, allow mixture to cool. With a small art paintbrush, let your child spread the solution across the card picture. When the solution dries, it will leave a maze of snow crystals across the picture.

Multicultural Thank You Wreath
Create a wreath with ‘thank yous’ in languages that you choose!
You’ll need:
• A paper plate
• Construction paper in several colors
• Scissors, glue, a black marker
• Crayons to decorate
Help your child trace their hand on at least 4 sheets of construction paper, and decorate them. Look up how to say ‘thank you’ in various languages, then write a different ‘thank you’ on each hand. Have your child color the paper plate while you cut out the hands. Cut out the middle of the paper plate to create the base of the wreath. Apply spots of glue on the paper plate and press on the hands around the wreath. Let dry, then add a ribbon to hang up your wreath.

Autumn Leaf Threading
Older preschoolers will love this fall craft.
You’ll need:
• Plastic ‘string’ (at craft stores)
• Hole puncher
• Variety of fall leaves
• Optional: chunky beads, buttons, or thread-able items
Spend time outside collecting colorful fall leaves. At home, let your child practice punching holes in the leaves while you supervise. Prepare a plastic string with beads or a big knot at the bottom, and have your child begin threading the leaves he or she has collected, adding beads or buttons if you have them. Wear as a necklace or hang in a sunny window.

Alphabet Apple-Picking Activity
Go apple picking for letters!
You’ll need:
• Red and green construction paper
• Scissors
• Markers
• Pipe cleaners
• Basket for holding the “apples”
Cut construction paper into 26 apple shapes and label each apple with a letter of the alphabet. Use the pipe cleaners to hang the apples on low tree branches or a shrub that your child can reach. Give your child the basket and let her pick the “apples.” Spend time together talking about the different letters, or ask her to find a particular letter — there are many fun possibilities to reinforce letter recognition with this activity.

Homemade Sidewalk Paint
Homemade sidewalk paint is easy to make and wipes right off with water!
• ¼ cup corn stach
• ¼ cup water
• 8 drops of food coloring in different colors
• Small containers (one for each color)
• Paint brushes
In a small container mix the cornstarch and water. Add food coloring. Repeat to make more colors. For white, skip the food coloring. The paint appears watery, but when dry, the colors will become brighter. For clean up, hose it off, or use a wet rag. Happy painting!

Fireworks Painting
A perfect project for July 4th or anytime your kids want to create something sparkly.
You’ll need:
• Pipe cleaners
• Paint (red, white, blue)
• Glue (optional)
• Glitter (optional)
• Paper
Take 4 pipe cleaners and fold them in half. Then, twist the bottom portion to create a handle. Fan out the pipe cleaners to create a star shape. Put out red, white, and blue paint (mix in glue if you plan to use glitter). Holding pipe cleaner star by the handle, let kids dip it in the paint. Stamp the star on the paper, then rotate the paper a bit, and stamp again. Repeat with each color to create firework paintings. Sprinkle on glitter (optional) for some sparkle.

Bubble Wrap Beehive
Busy bees will love this art project!
You’ll need:
• White paper
• Paint brush and paint (orange and yellow)
• Markers
• Plastic bubble wrap (with small bubbles)
Depending on ability, have your child do or assist with the following: Cut out bubble wrap in the shape of a bee hive. Now, paint the beehive (bubble side up).Then flip and press onto paper. Dip your thumb in yellow paint and press thumb prints around the hive to create swarming bees. Use a marker to create stripes and wings on the bees when the paint is dry. Bzz bzz bzz!

Ever wonder why early childhood teachers encourage such messy play activities?
Having messy activities in our homes can be difficult to manage (which is why it is so nice that the teachers create opportunities in their classrooms all year), however there is a lot of learning that goes on while children are playing with these different materials.
First of all, because children learn about their world through their senses, they need a wide variety of sensory activities to encourage learning and growth. This tactile play–really getting the hands dirty– helps to stimulate children’s brains and create connections about the world around them. While our little scientists are experimenting with all these materials, they are making discoveries about their world.
In addition, the open-ended nature of these materials allow children to develop and nurture their creativity and self-expression. They become emotionally involved in their play, and emotional involvement in an activity is linked with cognitive development.
So, during these long winter days, choose some of the above recipes and encourage your children to explore with them in whatever way they wish. There are no wrong answers with these materials. When it is time to put things away, have them help to clean up the mess. Who knows, you might find that these recipes become some of your family favorites!

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