Got snow? As featured in our January calendar, try out this super satisfying way kids can transform snow into a canvas for their own colorful masterpiece! Don't have snow where you live? Turn an old white bedsheet into a pretend snowy backdrop to inspire play.
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Step 1: Prepare materials.
Fill a few squeeze bottles, spray bottles or jars with water and a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolors.
Step 2:Find snow.
Head out to a spot with snow covering. Don't have snow? Bring an old white bed sheet outside and pretend!
Step 3: Behold your canvas.
Take a moment to notice and talk about the winter colors you see. What would happen if you added color to the snow? Decide together where the painting will take place. Kids can use a large open space to paint or they can arrange 4 sticks to create a frame to paint within.
Step 4: Paint!
Offer the painting materials and step back to watch the snowy masterpiece unfold! Notice together the designs and shapes that are created in the snow. Get down low and notice how the ice crystals soak up the color. If the painting mixture is warm, notice how the shape of the snow changes as it melts.
Color mixing: Offer a few different materials and notice together how the colors change when layered on each other. Can you make new colors in the snow?
Make a snow volcano: Make a mound of snow. Place baking soda and a few drops of food coloring or watercolor paint inside a jar. Place the jar in the middle of your snow mound. Slowly pour vinegar into the jar and watch the snow volcano erupt!
Snow prints: Place a piece of watercolor paper on the bottom of a bin and scoop snow on top until the paper is covered. Invite kids to paint on the snow. Set aside the bin and let the snow melt. If you can, leave the bin for a few days to let most of the water evaporate. Then, lift your paper from the bin to reveal the colors and patterns transferred from the snow.
Snow sculpture: Mold snow into a 3-dimensional sculpture or build a snow cave. Then, add color!
Why is this activity great for kids?
The open-ended invitation to transform snow into a colorful canvas supports kids in using problem-solving skills, activating multiple senses and thinking creatively. Turning what can be perceived as challenging about the winter (cold!) into joyful play is also a super lesson in persistence.
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By creativity, we mean the ability to both imagine original ideas or solutions to problems and actually do what needs to be done to make them happen. So, to help kids develop creativity, we parents need to nurture kids' imaginations and give them lots of chances to design, test, redesign and implement their ideas.
"Creativity is as important now in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
Why, you ask? For one, it is through being creative that a person is able to get senses, sensibility and spirit working together. Simply put, without creativity, we don't think our kids will live a full life.
On a more practical level, it's also the means by which humans of all ages make an impact on the world and other people around them. A lot of heavy stuff is going to go down in our kids' lifetime, and their generation will need to imagine and implement solutions to big and very complicated problems. Although our kids are still far from public office or the boardroom, today's political and business leaders worldwide are already pointing to creativity as the most important leadership quality for the future.
Although years from the art studio or design lab, little kids can learn to think and act creatively if you give them time and the right practice.
What is Sensory Development?
Although some scientists classify as many as 20 senses, when childhood educators talk about "developing the senses," we typically mean developing the five standard senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. In addition to honing these senses, educators care about sensory integration, which is the ability to take in, sort out, process and make use of information gathered from the world around us via the senses.
Why does it matter?
The better kids are able to tune and integrate their senses, the more they can learn. First, if their senses are sharper, the information kids can gather should be of greater quantity and quality, making their understanding of the world more sophisticated. Further, until the lower levels of the brain can efficiently and accurately sort out information gathered through the senses, the higher levels cannot begin to develop thinking and organization skills kids need to succeed. Senses also have a powerful connection to memory. Children (and adults) often retain new learning when the senses are an active part of the learning.
So, if kids have more sensory experiences, they will learn more, retain better and be better able to think at a higher level. Makes the days they get all wet and dirty in the sandbox seem better, doesn't it?
Persistence & Grit
What are Persistence & Grit?
A persistent person can continue on a given course of action in spite of challenges or barriers that arise. In other words, persistence is the ability to stick with something and keep trying. It's partner, grit, is the strength of character, and sometimes courage, to allow one to persist. Those who possess grit don't mind rolling up their sleeves, focusing on the task at hand, and sticking with it to completion despite the challenges that come their way.
Why does it matter?
Talent is helpful, but it's hard work, persistence and grit that unlock talent and turn capable people into success stories. As Thomas Edison so famously said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Practice with being persistent, including the chance to struggle and learn how to overcome struggle, will help kids later have ability to wade through and make sense of confusing new information, navigate difficult situations, and solve tough problems.
Further, studies like those discussed in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's NurtureShock tell us that kids will actually perform better when we praise their hard work instead of just telling them how smart or great they are. As parents, we also tend to offer kids activities which are enjoyable and attainable and, as such, too easy. Bear in mind that if we spare them frustration, we actually deny them the chance to work hard and develop persistence and grit.