Number, Letter, and Color Play

Hi Kid Lab, Sarah here. 

Recently my kids have been using a simple bag of large lima beans for all sorts of sensory play that I have been posting on Instagram @drawpaintprint. I thought I would share a few of the ways we have been exploring dried beans because they are such a huge hit with any age child. The very first sensory bin I did with my toddlers involved letting them sit in a large clear plastic bin with some cups and a bag of dried beans. You will know best when your child can safely explore dried beans without trying to eat them! The sound and feel of beans is perfect for little hands to dump, pour, and practice their finger motor skills. But as my children have gotten older we have found even more ways to use dried beans for imaginative play and learning experiences. 

Sharpie markers are perfect to write on the large Lima beans so you can practice number and letter identification. I made a set of upper and lowercase letters to match. My daughter enjoyed finding the pairs of letters and making a few sight words with the letters, starting with her name. My two year old was able to sort sets of letters into two muffin cups. I also made a set of numbers to play with and added some number dots to mimic dice. We love rolling our large dice to build simple equations. My five year old enjoyed coloring some of the beans red with sharpie and I added ladybug details with a black sharpie. These made perfect counters to play with on a green felt leaf. I helped my own mother make a set of ladybug counters for her first grade classroom and I knew I had to make some with my own kids too! Recently, my five year old asked to use the ladybug counters to check her work when I gave her some fill in math equations.

We also tried adding color to the beans by putting a small blob of acrylic paint in a ziplock bag and adding a handful of beans before sealing and then shaking the bag well. Both my children enjoyed shaking the beans in paint and we let them dry on some parchment paper before using them for sorting colors, building patterns, and more counting play. What would you do with dried beans?

My Butterfly Book

Hello Kid Lab community! My name is Sarah and I am a former art teacher who is thrilled to be a part of the Kid Lab team. I have always loved sharing creativity with children and fostering their curiosity. You can find me on Instagram, @drawpaintprint, where I try to document my days that are spent getting messy with my two kids and sneaking in a few moments to make my own art during nap time. Last month's theme was bugs and I was inspired to share a simple printable book. For a science project at home, my two daughters have enjoyed watching the amazing process of caterpillars turning into butterflies. So I made a book to show the life cycle of a butterfly. With just a few folds and one cut, a sheet of copy paper can become a little book perfect for small hands and pockets.  

HOW TO:

  1. Print Butterfly Book. I had the best results when I printed the page at 98%.

  2. Fold the paper in half along the cut line.

  3. Fold in half again. The paper is now folded in quarters.

  4. Fold in half a third time. The paper is now folded into eight parts. This will be the size of the finished book.

  5. Unfold the paper to your first fold line so that you can see the cut line. Use scissors to trim along the cut line so that the middle pages of the book are separated.

  6. Refold the book so that the first page is My Butterfly Book and the last page is Made By.

  7. Add color with any drawing tools you like- colored pencils, crayons, markers, etc!

Hope you enjoy this little book and that you get to make some bug observations! We enjoyed using this butterfly kit to watch caterpillars turn into butterflies. Please tag us so we can see your butterfly books! 

DIY Gift Idea: Mother's Day Corsage

Hi guys, Shannon here.

Anyone else feel like some holidays and celebrations just sneak up on you? Every year, it seems like Mother’s Day falls into that category for me and I’m always rushing around to get my Mama flowers, a card or whip up a homemade gift. Even though the very last thing I’d want is my own Mama to feel neglected or forgotten!

This year, we’re hosting a Mother’s Day tea party for the grandmas and since my 5 year old is helping to plan it, we’re getting all “fancy.” (that likely means she’ll wear a princess dress and ask to paint everyone’s nails) So we’re making felt flower corsages for the occasion. These will double as takeaway gifts and I hope they’ll treasure them for years to come.

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This is an easy project and one that your child can help with. I recommend it for ages 5+ if they’re helping you cut and assemble. We opted to glue clothespins on the backs so they could be put anywhere, but they could just as easily be attached to a wristband and worn as traditional wrist corsages.




MATERIALS NEEDED:

  • Flower corsage template

  • Pen

  • scissors

  • felt material (I recommend soft felt, not the stiff kind, so you can get fluffier flowers)

  • hot glue gun

  • clothespin, or wristband





HOW TO:

Step 1: Cut out the template pieces. Trace onto your felt color of choice. For the corsages above, we used 10 petals, 3 leaves and 1 backing.

Step 2: Fold each petal in half, secure with a dab of hot glue.

Step 3: Fold each petal again, secure with a dab of glue.

Step 4: After each petal has been folded, place four on a flat surface as shown above. Add each additional petal on top, using hot glue to secure in place. Continue until the corsage looks full.

Step 5: Secure petals to the backside with glue.

Step 6: Lastly, glue the backing and clothespin (or wristband). Your fancy lady corsage is ready to show off!


Have fun, and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mamas, Aunties, Nanas, and Fancy Ladies!



Recycled Bug Craft

Happy Earth Week! We hope you’ve had a great holiday and are enjoying the springy weather here in NC. Today we are sharing a great craft to use up some recycled materials and get into this month’s Kid Lab theme - BUGS! These recycled bugs are easy to make and customize to make them uniquely yours.

Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard

  • Paint sticks (or paint)

  • Bottle caps and recycled lids

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Pom poms

  • Scissors

  • Hot glue gun (*always ask an adult for help when using a glue gun!)

How To:

Step 1: Cut out two circles from your cardboard, one larger and one smaller. Also cut out 6 long, thin pieces to be the bug’s legs! Insects have 6 legs.

Step 2: Use your paint sticks (or paint) to paint the cardboard pieces. I made the bug’s body red and the head and legs black. You can make your bug any colors you want!

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Step 3: Use your hot glue gun to glue the cardboard pieces together. Glue the smaller circle at the top of the large one and glue three legs on each side. Next, glue your bottle caps and lids to the bug’s body to create spots! We used all blue caps here, but again you can use any color! Choose two bottle caps to be the eyes and glue them to the head.

Step 4: Add details by gluing two pipe cleaners to the top of the head to become antenna! Curl them around your finger or bend them at the top. You can also add some pom poms. We glued on pom poms to create more spots and glued them onto the eye bottle caps to give the eyes a center dot!

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We hope you can find some time to enjoy making your own recycled critters at home! What other kinds of bugs can you create with recyclables? See what you can come up with and share them on Instagram with @kidlabraleigh - we’d love to see!

This post is by Emily Limer. To see more kid’s craft ideas follow her on Instagram @makingwithmommy

Anatomy of a Frog (FREE PRINTABLE)

Hi guys, Shannon here. If you haven’t been following along, team member Emily, has been doing a weekly craft challenge called “Craft the Zoo” over on Instagram. Follow #craftthezoo or @makingwithmommy to see all her wonderful creations!

Whenever I can, I like to coincide our playful learning prompts with her weekly theme and this week we’re exploring Rainforest Animals! I’ve always personally been fascinated by poisonous tree frogs. They come in crazy brilliant colors and are often covered in spots. Not to mention, some are as small as your fingernail.

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So today, I’m sharing a few more printables for you to play along at home. These can be used for studying regular frogs or poisonous tree frogs, just adapt by your color and pattern choice.

The FREE PRINTABLE includes:

Symmetry drawing

Anatomy of a Frog worksheet

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You can check out more play ideas on Instagram by searching #playthezoo. And if you have any suggestions on resources you'd like to see on here, we’d love to hear from you! Comment below or send us a line at hello@kidlabraleigh.com



Enjoy!

-Shannon

March Play Lab Recap!

Hi, it’s Grace here! I wanted to share some of what we’ve been up to at Play Lab this month. We’ve had such a great time exploring March’s theme: Human Body. Last weekend’s Play Lab in particular was such a fun testament to Kid Lab flexibility. Sometimes, you plan on exploring the human body indoors- and Saturday morning is a gorgeous, sunny day - so you go outside!

Playing with water beads (red blood cells!) out in the sunshine.

Playing with water beads (red blood cells!) out in the sunshine.

Looking at books and posters on the porch.

Looking at books and posters on the porch.

When the kids lead the way, it’s amazing the new ways they find to learn. We went out to the garden and explored some of the newly blossoming beds and realized that being curious about where our food comes from is a way of discovering ways that the human body is nourished!

We even discovered some carrots!

We even discovered some carrots!

As the weather warms up, I can’t wait to see all the new avenues for curiosity as kids explore our outdoor spaces. We’re so excited to dive into April’s theme and hope y’all will join us!

DIY X-ray machine (FREE PRINTABLE)

Hello everyone! I’m so excited to be back with another at-home craft you can make with your kids to learn all about this month’s theme - the human body! Human body science has always been some of my favorite science to teach. It’s always such a fascinating subject for kids! As O and I were talking about the human body together this month he asked so many questions about bones. That inspired this craft - a DIY x ray machine! Read below to learn to make your own and to get the printable template.

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Materials needed:

  • 1 large piece of cardboard ( a little wider and taller than your child’s torso)

  • Black, white and yellow paint sticks (you could swap these for acrylic paint, too!)

  • Yellow construction paper

  • Black permanent marker

  • Glue

  • X-ray machine template

How To:

Step 1: Using a black paint stick (or paint) paint the entire piece of cardboard black and let it dry. I prefer to use paint sticks on cardboard this large because it helps keep the cardboard from warping as it dries.

Step 2: Print the X-ray machine template. Using this as a guide, draw bones onto the cardboard. Let the white paint stick (or paint) dry and then outline them with yellow.

Step 3: Use your permanent marker to write the names of each bone (found on template) onto construction paper and cut them out. Glue the labels onto the bones.

Step 4: Play! This was a fun craft for us that resulted in a good bit of time spent playing doctor. When we’re finished I think we will hang it in our playroom to keep the conversations about the human body going!

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We’d love to see your x-ray machines!! Share them on Instagram and tag @kidlabraleigh.

Thanks,

Emily

DIY Tooth Puzzle (FREE PRINTABLE)

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We’ve been busy learning all about our complex bodies this month. And if you’ve been here or seen pictures of what we do in the Lab, you’ll see we blend Montessori methods into our playful learning. We’re big fans of Montessori anatomy puzzles - dissecting something, putting it back together and labeling it - helps us understand things. We’re also big fans of DIY projects and felt. But this could also be done on cardboard, heavy cardstock paper or even cut wood.

To start the project, we recommend gathering these materials:

How To:

Step 1: Using the template, trace the parts onto felt

Step 2 (OPTIONAL): write Enamel, Dentin, Pulp, Gum on popsicle sticks and use as labels

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For added fun, we added a coloring page and a cut and paste worksheet to try at home. And if you laminate the coloring page, it could double as a playdough mat (play prompt: add small playdough chunks on the enamel that you need to brush off!). If you give it a try, be sure to tag us @kidlabraleigh so we can see!




FREE PRINTABLE Tooth bundle



Have fun!

-Shannon

Human Body Organ Stamps (FREE PRINTABLE)

Hi guys, Shannon here, back with another resource I think you’re going to have fun with!

This month, our Play Labs are focused on the fascinating and complex systems found right inside our own bodies. So to enhance the playful learning we’re doing in the Lab, we thought we’d create a set of stamps to help us practice where each organ should go.

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To start the project, we recommend gathering these materials:

  • our stamps template

  • craft foam or cardboard

  • scissors

  • pencil

  • (optional) recycled plastic lids

  • (optional) glue

  • paint

  • foam brushes

  • printing paper

How To:

Step 1: Using the template, trace the organs onto the craft foam or cardboard and cut out.

Step 2 (OPTIONAL): Glue the organs onto the backs of recycled lids. ** Don’t forget to glue it on backwards so the stamps are anatomically correct when you begin to use them! ** We used shipping mailer caps, but yogurt or peanut butter lids would work well too. This makes it easier for little hands to use and allows them to be reused.

Step 3: Apply an even coat of paint to each stamp using a foam brush.* And have at it!

*We got a little carried away and stamped all the organs at once while the paint was still wet (whoops), but it gave us a chance to learn a bit of color theory in the process. Playful learning in action!! ;)

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If you try this at home, don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @kidlabraleigh so we can see how it turns out!

Watercolor Whale Shark Tutorial

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Hello Kid Lab community! My name is Emily and I am excited to be here at Kid Lab to share an art project you and your kids can do at home. I am a former science teacher and mom to two kids in Raleigh, NC. You can usually find me sharing kids crafts projects on my Instagram page, @makingwithmommy, or hanging out with my little ones at home. I have recently joined the Kid Lab team and can’t wait to see where this journey takes us!

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Today we are sharing a tutorial to create a watercolor whale shark. This month Kid Lab has been all about the ocean deep and this is one of the coolest animals you’ll find down there, in our opinion. Animal crafts are my son, O, and my favorite crafts to make together. This one uses an art process that we also love - wax resist painting. Read below for how you can create your own whale shark at home!

Materials Needed:

White card stock or watercolor paper

Water colors

1 white crayon

Paint brushes

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How To:

Step 1: Draw the outline of your whale shark on your white paper with the white crayon. I do this under a light so that I can tilt the paper and check on my picture as I go! Add some dots to your whale shark with the crayon as well.

Step 2: Using a dark color of watercolor paint, paint over the whale shark drawing. You want to paint slowly and be careful not to flood the paper with too much paint - go over the drawing one section at a time. As you paint, the areas where crayon is on the paper will resist the paint and remain white!

Step 3: Once your image has been revealed, add some other colors of paint to the water surrounding the shark or the shark itself! Let your watercolors dry for a minute and then add any details you like to make them pop!

*Tip: When O painted his shark, he was a little heavy handed with the paint and some of the crayon lines disappeared. I traced back over the white lines with a blue crayon once the paint had dried and the image came back to life!

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If you create a whale shark we would love to see it! Share it on Instagram and tag @kidlabraleigh!

I’ll be back each month to share an art idea you can do at home based on our monthly lab themes! Please let me know if you have ideas for types of art projects you’d love to learn to do with your kids. Leave us a comment below!

Thanks,

Emily

February Update!

Hi y’all!

It’s already mid-February and we’ve had a blast at the last few Play Labs this month exploring our theme: Ocean Deep. We’ve been on a curious adventure discovering endangered species, constructing coral reefs, and examining beautifully illustrated oceanography books.

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If your kiddo (or you!) are interested in joining us on our next deep sea expedition, there are still three more opportunities to play this month:

From 10-11am on Thurs 21st, Sat 23rd, and Tues 26th

Check out our Calendar for all of our upcoming labs!

We hope to see you soon!


- Grace Herndon
Kid Lab Intern