Archive for the ‘arts & crafts’ Category

Visiting the Preschool Zoo or Circus

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Ohhh! Look …. It’s a lion! … and a llama! Imagine the journey of little feet visiting the zoo or the circus. The simple amazement of big eyes trying to take every little detail in, wishing that the day would never end. Well, it does not have to end there. At home or in the classroom, create your very own zoo or circus to keep the experience alive.


What animals did your little ones see? Was there a snake, an elephant, an ostrich or an iguana? What animals would they have liked to have seen? Did they want to see a koala, yak, turtle, vulture, whale, zebra, alligator and rhino? The simple solution is to make your own – sounds included.


All of the items that you will need to make your own preschool zoo or circus will be crayons, scissors, paper lunch bags, glue, printer with paper – of course, animal templates and an imagination. Your preschoolers will provide the imagination …. you will need to gather the rest.


You could create your own animals using the basic shapes (circles, squares, ovals and rectangles) or you could use ready made bag templates. If using the templates or printables …. have the student color the pieces prior to cutting out the shapes. This process eliminates a lot of frustration on the little one’s part. Next cut out the pieces, follow the directions and paste the pieces onto the bag. Once the critters have been created and dried…. let the imagination take over. If you do not readily have any bag templates, visit for a cute, complimentary llama template to get you started.


Creating the lunch bag puppets does not have to compliment a zoo or circus trip. It can be a fun rainy day activity, themed based art project or a fun fine motor task. No matter the reason for creating these wonderful animals, it is always a joy to see the smiles on the students’ faces as they roar, growl, meow and chirp.

Unique Picture Puzzles

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

 This is a fun puzzle (visual discrimination activity) set. Take a snap shot of each student – print off a small picture of each student (no larger than 2” squared). Create individualized name to picture puzzles by pasting each photo onto a recipe type of card – photo on the left side and the student’s name on the right side. Cut a zig-zag line down the center of each card (make sure the lines on each card are unique). Now the students can practice recognizing their own name and their classmates names with these fun (yet simple) puzzles.

Color Blending – Science and Fine Motor

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Have fun mixing colors with your students (even the older students enjoy this activity).


You will need:


½ cup of water

½ cup salt

1 tsp. Oil

food coloring ( red, blue & yellow)

Choose 1 color and mix the above ingredients ( you will need to make this recipe 3 times – one for each primary color)


Add – gradually (approximately) 1 ½ cups of flour

and 1 tsp. Cornstarch


Knead until the mix forms a ball that is malleable.


Once the 3 colors of salt dough have been made – give the student the dough and encourage them to break off pieces of the ‘colors’ and blend to create new colors. Challenge them to see how many colors they can come up with – if you would like to add some additional color options – make a 4th mix with no additional color – to create variations like pink, lt. Blue, peach, etc……


This is an excellent science project for your early learners as well as incorporating some great fine motor work into the classroom.

Art Supplies

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

If you are home schooling, teaching via day care or an instructor in a school system – supplying the classroom with basic materials for hands-on learning is a necessity.  I know that when I began Peanut Butter Crunch years ago (it took me over a year just to complete the initial submission for the site which is a fraction of what is on the site now) – I began with the homeschool / private care provider in mind.  Individuals usually do not begin with an abundance of resources – money or otherwise – but still want the same or better educational value that the larger institutions are providing. 


So with that in mind, I created basic theme sets that needed very little beyond the very basic art supplies.  Crayons, markers, glue, paper, salt / glitter, scissors, etc…. things that most households have on hand with little ones around.  I also felt it pertinent to make it affordable – especially in today’s economic environment.  I know – because I have been repetitively told – that the value for PBC is incredibly higher than what little I am asking for monthly memberships – but I also know ink / toner and printer cost money too ….. and if you need more than one item because you teach 5 or 15 students – the price of resources can nickel and dime you to death or at least bankrupt your savings account.  After experiencing what one small resource book costs – let alone 50 – I decided that everyone that works with early childhood education leveled students needed a very affordable / convenient tool to assist in teaching our children.  Peanut Butter Crunch was ‘born’.


In addition to curriculum, I thought it would be nice to add some suggestions here at Legend of Learning for the daycare / private provider …. so for starters …..


In this installment to Legend of Learning – I thought I would create a list (not completely comprehensive – but a good start) for the ‘basic’ art supplies needed in your home school / daycare area.


Markers (thick & thin)


Paper (lined, construction, cardstock, shiny, wrapping, heavy ‘butcher’  style ….. too many to list)

Colored Tissue


Tape (packing, duct, masking, clear, etc….)

Food Coloring

Tempera Paint

Water Colors

Brushes (different sizes)


Paper / Styro (not as earth friendly) – Plates, Cups, Bowls

Lunch Bags

Stamps / Stickers

Rubber & Sponge Stampers

Washable Ink Pads







Scrap material

Contact Paper

Wiggly Eyes



Paper Clips


Pipe Cleaners

Doilies (paper)



Hole Punch (various designs too)

Rubber Bands

Index Cards (various sizes)


Colored Pencils

Spray bottles

Craft Sticks – all sizes – mini, Popsicle and tongue depressors

Old magazines and catalogs

Sand (colored too)

Pebbles / Rocks


Cotton balls

Pom Pom style balls

Egg Cartons

Foam Peanuts (the starch based packaging ones are biodegradable and stick together with a little dab of water)

Paper baking cups

Paper towels

Poster board


Yarn, Thread, String

Ribbon & Lace

Smocks or large old t-shirts / button up shirts



As you can see – the list can be quite extensive – but adding items to the area is easier to manage if you add items only as you need them and keep the leftovers for later projects.  

Arts and Crafts for Your Preschooler

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Aside from free time, arts and crafts play is the most exciting time for the preschool student.  The creative bug takes over and the imagination climbs to new heights!  As an educator for these young students we must find new ways (or maybe old ones rejuvenated) to incorporate targeted goals while having fun.  Some of the most incredible times evolve from the simplest activities created using home made mixtures. 

Bubbles and more bubbles, whether blown through a straw or wire hoop, happen to be one of the most appealing summer time thrills in the preschool setting.  A very easy but beautiful work of art comes from placing a narrow cup in the middle of a large piece of craft paper.  Fill the cup with safe, colorful bubble making ingredients and give the budding artist a straw.  Have the student blow an overflowing amount of bubbles up and over the top edge of the cup.  Watch out for the giggling that this activity could bring about or more than just bubbles will be on the craft paper.  Variations to this activity include using several different colors of bubbles – allow the paper to dry between blowing sessions.  Once the art has dried, decorate the walls with cut outs that reinforce your lesson plans. 

Pudding paint is also a popular ‘condiment’ in the preschool or home school class.  Using vanilla flavored pudding, add a couple of drops of food coloring to tint for a rainbow palette that will excite even the ficklest of artists.  Again using craft paper, cut out shapes that will supplement your chosen lesson theme.  Paint the shapes and decorate with sugar ‘glitter’.  This has always brought about rave reviews.

Preschoolers love to create clay style bowls to give as gifts.  These items are among the most economical pieces a student can create that are three dimensional.  Once you have chosen a favorite clay recipe and tinted it (unless the artist will paint the bowl when dried), assign a shape for the base.  Example:  If working on the square, have the student create a square base to build up the sides upon.  The variations to this activity can include sensory items.  Add small rough items to the clay prior to the building of the bowl or add peppermint oil to the clay for a sensory excitement explosion.  This is an arty item that no one will every become tired of creating because of the endless variations.

Although these are truly fun and exciting activities, the possibilities are endless.  Using the many home spun concoctions we can instill a love of creating while reinforcing the educational / developmental goals of the preschool aged student.  Never forget that FUN is always a wonderful foundation to build upon! 

Play Dough / Clay Doh – No Cream of Tartar Needed

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Have you ever ran out of Cream of Tartar? Seriously … the other day I was making some new dough for the kids and absolutely no cream of tartar. So I made several different kinds of ‘doh’ – all without the cream of tartar (which has always been my favorite type) and realized that the play doughs with oil have a nice consistency. After experimenting ….. I discovered (many of you may already realize this ….. and your one ahead of me) that adding a little oil to any of the basic clay doh recipes will make them more malleable and of a decent texture. Now our play dough area smells great with peppermint, coffee, pumpkin / cinnamon and some type of candy scent – and yes I did make that many different recipes to experiment with adding a little oil – and they all turned out great. One more thing …… I did have to add a little extra flour to some of the recipes when kneading the dough. Hope you find this helpful …. and have a great evening.