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Learning At Home With Effortless Art

Learning At Home With Effortless Art

I know everyone has been scrambling to find fast and easy activities to do at home with their children as we are all navigating at home learning.  I know that we are all juggling working from home and teaching our own children, who are of multiple ages and grade levels.  It is challenging to find resources and activities that are easy to set up and that you can use materials from around your house.  Let's be real...we don't have the time or money to find the perfectly designed activities for every subject area.  And to be honest, you don't have to! 

We don't have the time to find the perfectly crafted and poised worksheet from Teachers Pay Teachers every day.  Honestly, when I was teaching, my go-to materials were dry erase boards, stickers, index cards, play dough, glue, and markers.  That's it, and that's what I'm using now for my son during this time that he is out of preschool.  Most days, I find scrap paper, glue, markers, if I'm lucky paint, and random craft supplies and create an activity.  I find LOTS of inspiration from my OT friends I follow on Instagram, I will be honest.  I end up adapting to fit the needs of what I have and what my son needs.  But mostly I take an idea and adapt, which is what I did every day as a special education teacher.  If you have basic materials around your house, you can do almost everything. 

I've posted images of some of our craft activities below from the past eight weeks with brief descriptions to help you adopt it for your home and children. 

I used an empty egg carton and let little guy have it it with some paint and cue tips.  We cut the carton apart and made caterpillars and flowers.  The cue tips were perfect for little hands to help get the paint into all the tiny crevices in the cartons.  Plus, cue tips are great for fine motor skills and developing a pincher grasp.  We got two different products from one carton and hours of fun! 

This was a recent project, and we only needed construction paper, glue, scissors, and a sheet of sturdy white paper.  We made a 3D amusement park by folding, curling, and gluing different strips of construction paper in different ways on our paper.  This is great for basis cutting and gluing practice, and all the folding and pinching is a workout for your fingers.  It's a really cool project when all completed.  My son loved being creative and thinking about how to connect and combine the different 3D shapes he had made. 

Here Crayon Kid uses Touch Dots on numbers I quickly wrote on sheets of scrap paper to help him count and add.  If it sounds like I created this activity out of nothing, I did, and it was ready in seconds.  And yes, I said scrap paper!  He peeled the stickers and placed them on each number for a little fine motor practice. 

 Sometimes you need a little sugar to get you through the day, and that's what we did with this activity!  We used Twizzlers pull and peel candy to form different letters. I called out the letter, and he made it with one more more Twizzlers.  Depending on the age of your child, you could do upper or lowercase letters, or you could have your child place the Twizzlers over top of a letter card to "trace" it.  This is great for little fingers and for using some hands-on strategies.  The best part? You can eat the materials when you are done!

This was the adorable scene I was greeted with one day when I came downstairs and saw what my husband and son had set up together.  Again, using some cardboard from our many, many Amazon boxes we have laying around, a square was cut out, a few holes were punched out, and ta-da!  A makeshift shoe was born and a perfect way for my son to practice tying shoes.  We taped it to the table for stability.  Another activity on the cheap for your kids, and reused easily again and again!

One of my son's favorite things to do at his preschool was the sensory table.  He loved it, especially when it was water play!  Well, I have a good old kitchen sink and a step stool, so that will work!  We pulled down these Bristle Blocks (remember those?) from the attic to play with, but they needed a good scrubbing first.  Water play at the Effortless Art sensory sink table commenced!  This was a good hour of time that my son was occupied in washing, playing, and creating at the sink.  Plus, he was already clean when he was done! 

There are so many more, but one of my favorite activities from our remote learning time was our nature scavenger hunt.  We searched for all kinds of items in our backyard, like sticks, flowers, acorns, leaves, etc.  Then we mixed them up together and made a nature soup!  This activity was complete with pretend taste testing and our compliments to the chef!  I loved making potions with my sister as a child and it was fun to see my son enjoy this just as much.

These were just a sampling of what I have been trying to do with my son over these past eight weeks.  Our Effortless Art Facebook page has them all, so please go check it out!  As a former elementary teacher, I admit, I have a good background of what to do and how to help, however, it is still very challenging to do this as I am working full time from home myself.  That's why I focused on the no mess no stress type activities, because that is what I could honestly handle.  I am a mother of ONE preschooler, and this was challenging for me.  I know that many of you mama's are juggling multiple children and multiple ages and stressing big time over this enormous undertaking.  I'm here to say that with some simple materials, simple ideas, your child will learn, and grow, and continue to positively develop, and you don't need Teachers Pay Teachers to do it!  

I'm thinking of you all!  I hope we can all continue to support each other during this crazy time.  Till next time,

Nancy 

Merry and Bright!

Merry and Bright!

The holidays are upon us and that means cookies, candy, presents, decorations, and ribbon galore!  When I was teaching elementary school, I loved this time of year (yes, I know all you teachers are shaking your heads in disbelief right now.)  I know, I know, students are filled with excitement and struggle to stay focused with so much going on.   In the midst of holiday parties, concerts, and crafts, it’s enough to make your head spin!

Now that I am in higher ed, and don’t get the chance to do half as many crafts, (though I’m sure my college students wouldn’t mind trading a lecture for a craft), I look forward to the time I can spend with my son creating and living the spirit of the holiday season.  He absolutely LOVES everything about Christmas and would sit for hours making paper snowflakes if I let him.   I’m sharing with you all today some of the fun we have had decorating and crafting together these past two weeks. All our activities are simple, easy, won’t break the bank, and help your toddler practice their fine motor skills!

The first activity is a really simple tree craft.  All you need is a paper plate, markers, crepe paper or tissue paper, and basic decorations like pom poms, stickers, and jewel beads.  You start by cutting the paper plate in half and then take that half and cut it into thirds.  These thirds are then assembled and glued into a three-part tree.  Have your child color the tree, and then add any decoration they want.  My favorite is having them rip the tissue paper (great for fine motor) and pinching it and gluing it on to make the tree a little 3D.  Punch a hold at the top to make it an ornament or glue a magnet on the back and showcase it on your fridge.  Lots of creative possibilities with this one.



Next is one we just did today.  I call it “Merry and Bright” as I helped my son make colored thumb prints around a black swirly light strand to create his own “twinkle light painting” on canvas.  With a small white canvas and some acrylic paint, you and your child can make your own strand of holiday lights.  I started off by drawing a swirly line with a permanent marker (he’s only four, your child may be able to do that if he or she is older), draw some small sockets, and then have your child dip and press their thumb around the black strand to create colorful lights that will surely dazzle.  Crayon Kid made his masterpiece for his grandparents.  Handmade art is a great present for the ones you love. All you need is some paint and some imagination!

Lastly, we spent the day today finishing up our decorating.  We finally got the tree finished as well as spent some time decorating our windows with holiday decals.  I never thought about this, but these are great for fine motor skills as our kiddoes have to pinch and press to get the decals off the paper and onto the glass, and your child is working on a vertical surface the whole time, which also is really great for strength and stability.

I’ve loved sharing some of our holiday fun with you. I hope it inspires some holiday crafting magic in your house.  These everyday crafts and activities are so great for our kiddo’s development, and they are fun!  No worksheets here!

I wish you all a very blessed holiday season.  We want to thank you for following us and supporting us in our endeavors to bring art and accessibility to others.  We can’t wait to see you all in the New Year. 

Happy Holiday’s from The Effortless Art Family,

Jason, Nancy, and Crayon Kid