Sensory and Creative

Sensory and Creative

String Art

Today’s child-centred activity is from YMCA Blue Quill Child Care and is an activity to help build and strengthen our fine motor skills! Here's what you'll need:
🧶 ¾ inch nails 
🧶 Coloured embroidery thread
🧶 Tack hammer (you can use a regular hammer instead)
🧶 Block of wood measuring about ¾ inch thick. The length and height dimensions of the piece of wood can vary.

Directions:

  1. Lightly sketch a shape or object of your choosing on the piece of wood, or draw it on a blank piece of paper, and use this as a guide for your nails. Your design could be a star, the first initial of your name, or something else!
  2. Following the lines of the shape you've sketched on the piece of wood, start hammering nails ½ an inch apart. If you have sketched your shape onto a piece of paper, start placing the shape on your piece of wood and use the lines of your shape to guide where your nails need to be hammered in. Once you are done, you will need to pull the piece of paper off the nails before adding the thread.
  3. Pick a colour or a variety of colours of thread to use to string along the nails on your board. Grab a nail and tie the end of the thread to the board, leaving a couple of extra inches at the end. You will need this at the end to tie off your thread, so make sure you leave a long enough piece.
  4. Zig zag the thread, wrapping it around the nails as you go to create a unique pattern over the nails. 
  5. Once you are happy with how much coverage you have done with the thread, make your way back to your starting nail and wrap the thread around it. Start to create an outline of your shape by wrapping the thread around each of the outside nails, working your way back again to the starting nail. Now that you are back at the start cut your thread, leave enough to tie a knot with the extra bit that you left at the start. 

“Art is self-expression; where no two works look the same. Providing open-ended art…will encourage creativity and self-esteem while developing fine motor skills” (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Salt Dough Nature Pendants

Today’s child-centred activity is brought to you by our Summer Camp and Club team! This activity incorporates fine motor skills with items from nature to create pendants!
Materials:

  • Natural items (pine cones, shells)
  • Beads
  • Rolling pin 
  • Parchment Paper 
  • Cookie cutters
  • Drinking straws 

Directions:

  1. Grab a bucket or pail and head outdoors to collect your natural items. These will be used in your salt dough pendants, so be careful about the size of items you collect.
  2. Make your salt dough by following this recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/240641/salt-dough. Though it takes longer, salt dough can be left out to air-dry. For this art experience, we recommend you find a nice dry, warm spot to lay your pendants out to dry on their own rather than baking them in the oven. 
  3. Once the salt dough has been made, lay out your nature items and a large piece of parchment paper. Grab your rolling pin, cookie cutters and salt dough. On the parchment paper, roll out your salt dough using cookie cutters or a butter knife cut out the shapes you would like your pendants to be and place your nature items in the middle of the pendants. Once your pendant is done before you place it on a baking tray to dry, use a drinking straw to create a small hole at the top of your pendant. 
  4. Once your pendants are dry, grab some string, beads and your pendants and begin stringing together a necklace or bracelet with the beads and finished pendants. If you would like to add some colour to your pendants, you can paint them during this step.

“Long before words are used, the arts are the voice of the young child’s inner lifer. Movement and the production of rudimentary pieces convey joy, sorrow and fear. Children show the process of discovery in the marks and imprints on the materials they use. Natural elements such as water, wood and sand are used to express imagination and lend a quality of permanence to experience.” (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

DIY Water Table

Our YMCA Child Care team is helping us be prepared for the hot weather with some activities to keep you and your children cool. 

For today's activity, help your child to build a water table! This can be used indoors and outdoors, and all you will need is a medium-sized bin to put water into. Your child can help you decide what you can add to it. Some ideas of items that your child can explore in the water are below.
💧    Ice
💧    Empty containers and measuring cups
💧    Eye droppers
💧    Paint or food colouring
💧    Plastic toys
💧    Pool noodles 
💧    Nature items

"Inquiry is born of play at any stage, from birth through maturity. Exploring materials, ideas and relationships refines the capacity to think. Children are compelled to inquiry by a deep curiosity and a need to explore and understand their world. Through inquiry, children strive to form relationships among ideas and synthesize new discoveries into existing frameworks of understanding" (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015).

Valentines Letter Matching

Your YMCA Child Care team is bringing you Valentine inspired literacy activity for today! All you will need is coloured paper, scissors, and a marker. First, you will cut out as many hearts as you can. Each heart will be used for one letter, so if you make 27, you will have a heart for every letter of the alphabet. On each side of the heart, you will write a letter, with one side uppercase and the other side lowercase. Cut your hearts in half so that the two sides are separate. Now it is time to play! Simply mix your hearts up, and have your children match the two sides of the heart back together.

Tip: For younger children, start with only a few letters, and as they gain confidence and recognition of the different letters, you can add more. 

"Discrimination is the skill that allows the reader to know which features of print affect the meaning (often referred to as the concepts of print). This involves distinguishing letters, words and other language symbols (such as mathematical signs), as well as an appreciation of how books "work" as distinct from other objects. 

A child who has attained the skill of discrimination will understand many important concepts. The child will be able to: 

  • Recognize the letters of the alphabet
  • Understand the relationship between uppercase and lowercase letters"
    (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)
Valentines Heart Display

Why not make your windows into valentines for all that walk by? Your YMCA Child Care Team is bringing you a way to celebrate love and kindness while we all keep our distance! All you will need is some coloured paper, a hole punch (or anything else that can punch holes and shapes), and some coloured strings and ribbons. 

Create different sizes and colours of hearts and use hole punches or shape punches to create designs in your hearts. The sky is the limit so feel free to get adventurous by making these multicoloured or even three-dimensional. Put a hole in the top of the heart and use different lengths of string or ribbon to hang these across your windows. This will no doubt bring joy to all who walk by!

"There are many benefits to fostering visual arts in young children. Growth in the visual arts reflects the development of symbolic thinking. It also offers a prelude to the mastery of physical coordination, as well as a number of cognitive areas important to achievement in school.

Visual arts promote: creativity, aesthetic appreciation, self-expression, observation and descriptive language, eye-hand coordination, self-confidence, master of everyday tools - scissors, paintbrush, pencil, chalk, crayons, [and] skills in using a variety of materials - paint, clay, playdough, wood, wool, sand." (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Snow Dough

Here’s a fun sensory activity brought to you by our YMCA Child Care team! Together, using the ingredients below, make a big batch of snow dough where you can explore and compare your indoor snow dough to what real snow feels and looks like. Once you are done exploring the dough, have fun creating some snowmen and an indoor winter scene. 

What you'll need:
❄️ 5 cups of Baking Soda
❄️ 1 cup of hair conditioner 
❄️ Items such as beads and pipe cleaners if you want to make snowmen out of the dough

Directions:

  1. Combine baking soda and conditioner in a large bowl. Mix these items until you get a smooth consistency and texture. Once this is done, your dough is ready for play! 
  2. When you are finished playing with it, it can be stored in an airtight container. If the dough starts to dry out, add a tablespoon of water and mix well.

“Using all of their senses, children explore the physical and social worlds around them, test their personal capacities, and construct knowledge about people, places and things.” (Makkovichuk, L. Hewes, J., Lirette, P., & Thomas, N., Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Shoe Shape Match

Your YMCA Child Care Team is bringing you a shape matching activity using items from around your home! All you will need is some shoes and a piece of cardboard. To start, lie the cardboard flat out and trace the soles of different sizes and styles using a marker or sharpie. Have the different shoes available but not placed to their match on the cardboard. Your child can discover which shoe fits in the shoe print that has been drawn on the cardboard. 

"Classification is a sorting operation in which objects are grouped according to common attributes, such as color, shape, size and thickness." (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Wind Painting 

With all of the wind that we have been having lately, here is an activity from our YMCA Child Care team that takes advantage of those windy days while creating a beautiful piece of art! Here's what you'll need:
💨 Painting canvas 
💨 Watercolour paint (you can also use tempera paint) 
💨 Paintbrush 
💨 Water 
💨 Windy day 

Directions: 

  1. Mix your watercolour paint and water together. If you are using tempera paint, you might have to add a little bit more water to make it runnier. Once the water and paint are mixed, grab your canvas and use a paintbrush to drop a droplet or small puddle of paint onto the canvas. The bigger the droplet of paint, the easier it will move around the canvas. 
  2. It's time to head outside and find a windy spot to create your piece of art! Hold the canvas up into the wind so that the paint gets blown around, creating different designs depending on the direction and angle you hold the canvas. 
  3. If the wind isn’t strong enough to blow your paint around the canvas, you can use a drinking straw and blow on the droplets of paint to move them around the same way the wind would. 

“There are many benefits to fostering visual arts in young children. Growth in the visual arts reflects the development of symbolic thinking. It also offers a prelude to the mastery of physical coordination, as well as a number of other cognitive areas important to achievement in school. 
Visual arts promote: 

  • Creativity
  • Self-expression
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Self-confidence
  • Mastery of everyday tools” (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)
Snow Globes

For today’s activity, have your child create their own wintery outdoor world as they use their imagination and make their own snow globe.

Materials:

  • Glass jar (an old pasta sauce jar is great to use)
  • Glitter or sequins
  • Winter figurines (you can either get Christmas village figurines or use modeling clay and make your own)
  • Glycerin (this isn’t necessary it just helps the glitter float better)
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Using the lid set up your own winter scene with the figurines. Once you are happy with the way it looks glue figurines to the inside of the lid.

  2. Fill the jar with water and ½ teaspoon of glycerin, then add 1-2 teaspoons of glitter.

  3. Place glue around the outside lip of the jar or along the inside of the lid, this helps seal the lid once it’s place on the top of the jar.

  4. Place the lid back on top of the jar. Once the glue is dry flip it over and shake it up, watching the “snow” float around in the globe.

“ ‘Art is self-expression; where no two works look the same. Providing open-ended art, instead of colouring sheets or pre-cut shapes such as pumpkins or leaves to decorate will encourage creativity and self-esteem while developing fine motor skills.’ Early Returns: Manitoba’s ELCC Curriculum Framework for Preschool Centres and Nursery Schools, 2011" Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015, pg.223

Aurora Borealis

Your YMCA Child Care Team hopes you will celebrate one of our natural wonders, the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights. For anyone who has not seen this in person, check out this video shot in the Wood Buffalo region! Based on this video, encourage your children to create their own Aurora Borealis artwork. All you will need is black construction paper and chalk. You can use the chalk to mix colours and create an image of the night sky. You can also add other details such as trees and lakes to create a full scene. Just like the Northern Lights, no two works of art will look exactly the same!

"Providing open-ended visual art experiences for all ages allows children to draw from nature's inspiration in all seasons and weather." (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Winter Oobleck

Your YMCA Child Care Team is getting messy with some winter-inspired sensory play! We are sharing the Oobleck recipe with you as well as some suggestions to make this winter-themed. Your child can experience the different textures of items that you can add to the Oobleck from outside in your community or from around your home. For easy clean-up, make this is a bin that has higher sides so that your child can reach in and feel the Oobleck on their hands and arms while not spreading this around your home. 

Let's make Oobleck (the amounts below are guidelines but can be altered to create different consistencies):
🔵 1 cup cornstarch
🔵 1/2 cup water

Have loose materials available in different containers for your child to add and mix with the Oobleck as they desire. Some children may even want tweezers or spoons to help them add and mix different items. Some ideas are: 
🔵 pine cones
🔵 tree branches
🔵 cranberries
🔵 glitter
🔵 ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks

"Just as children learn about mathematics through manipulation and discovery, they also learn science by manipulation, observation of the results of their manipulation, and discovery of relationships and effects. The role of experience in science is primary - science requires a child to touch, taste, feel, smell, pull, push, rotate, mix, compare and so on. Young children must construct their own understanding of science from their experiences." (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Salt Dough Ornaments

Your YMCA Child Care Team is bringing you an activity that you can deck your halls with handmade ornaments this holiday season! Here is a recipe for salt dough along with directions on how you can create ornaments to hang throughout your home. Here's what you'll need:
☃️ 1 ½ cups of water
🎄 1 cup of salt
❄️ 4 cups of all-purpose flour
☃️ Cookie cutters
🎄 Rolling Pin
❄️Baking tray
☃️ Straws
🎄 Parchment paper
❄️Acrylic paint, sparkles, glue, ribbon and mod podge spray

Directions:

  1. Mix the salt and flour, then add water. Stir this together, then use your hands at the end to knead it into a smooth ball of dough. If it’s too dry or hard to knead, add small amounts of water. Once it’s all mixed, you should have a smooth ball of dough that can roll out with not too many bumps.
  2. Using your rolling pin, roll the dough out into a ¼ inch to ½ inch thick sheet.
  3. Using the cookie cutters, cut out the shapes that you want to make into ornaments and place them on a parchment-lined baking tray. Use a straw to create a hole at the top of each ornament. Place them somewhere safe and let them air dry for 24 hours. This will help them from not bubbling up when you bake them!
  4. Once the air drying has finished, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the ornaments for 1–2 hours, flipping them halfway through so that both sides dry out. Once they are dry, remove them from the oven and place them on cooling racks until cool.
  5. Once cooled, using your paint and sparkles, decorate the ornaments however you choose! Place them somewhere safe to dry. When the paint is dry, spray with the mod podge spray to seal and protect them and again let them dry. Once dry, place a piece of ribbon through the hole at the top, and hang them around the house to decorate!

“Children must be given daily opportunities to nurture self-expression and creativity through the visual arts.” (Martin and Huggins, YMCA Playing to Learn, 2015)

Snow Art

This week, your YMCA Child Care team has an activity to take art outside! Snow makes a beautiful canvas to create works of art for everyone to see, so for this activity, all you need is some squirt bottles, food colouring and water. Mix up the different colours into the squirt bottles and head outside! To make three-dimensional art, try sculpting the snow before painting. We'd love to see your masterpiece, so tag us in your posts!

"There are many benefits to fostering visual arts in young children. Growth in the visual arts reflect the development of symbolic thinking. It also offers a prelude to the mastery of physical coordination, as well as a number of other cognitive areas important to achievement in school." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

The Great Egg Drop

Today's YMCA Child Care activity could get a little messy but is fun for all ages! Gather up loose materials from around your home, like old dishtowels, balloons, tape, straws and popsicle sticks. The sky is the limit in creating a safe and sturdy container for an egg! 

Try dropping your egg in its container from various heights inside and outside of your home. Your children can test out different materials and revise their egg container to create the best vessel to protect the egg inside. Use a measuring tape to record the different heights that you drop your eggs from and see how high you can get. 

Tip: You can do this with a hardboiled egg rather than raw, and instead of checking if the whole egg breaks, you can check for cracks in the shell after it drops. 

"Using all their senses, children explore the physical and social worlds around them. In the process they refine their senses, test their personal capacities, and construct knowledge about people, places, and things. At play, children learn to make their thinking visible, build theories about how the world works, and practice skills and dispositions for inquiry, negotiation, and problem solving." (Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette, Thomas, Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Sensory Wall Panels

Our YMCA Child Care Team is bringing you a sensory experience for your young infants and toddlers! Use everyday items to create sensory panels for your child to explore, and use painters' tape to put these up on the walls or your floors. As your child explores these different materials, encourage them to describe what they feel and compare the different materials. 

Some suggestions for your sensory panels are:
🔵 Sandpaper
🔵 Bubble Wrap
🔵 Faux Fur
🔵 Contact (sticky) paper
🔵 Flooring tile or backsplash tile (get faux materials from any dollar store)
🔵 Tin Foil
🔵 Parchment or Wax paper

"Touch is central to a baby's early experience in a relationship sense and in their world of learning. 'Touch experience is essential not only for the development of touch sensitivity but for general cognitive development as well.' (Eliot 1999)"(YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Who am I? 

In honour of the blue ribbon worn in support of National Child Day, your YMCA Child Care team is bringing you an activity celebrating each child's individuality and self-concept. Every child is unique, just as their handprint is. Have your child use paint to create a print of their own handprint. After your handprint has dried, take the opportunity to discuss with your child how they see themselves and what you see in them. Write these words either on their handprint or on the space around it. Do this activity alongside your child to see the things you have in common with them. 

“Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework views the child as a mighty learner and citizen – strong, resourceful, and capable. This image affirms each child’s right to be listened to, to be treated with respect, and to participate in daily decisions that affect him or her.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

I'm Not Just a Scribble

To end your week, our YMCA Child Care team found a story about a scribble who teaches others about kindness and inclusion. In honour of World Kindness Day, watch an online storytime called "I'm Not Just A Scribble" by Diane Alber. After reading this story, take some time to sit down with your children and talk about what kindness means to them and how they are kind each day. Click here to watch the story.

"Pro-social behaviour refers to positive actions that support social acceptance and friendship. Elements of pro-social behaviour include empathy, altruism, cooperation, nurturing and caring. Research tells us that children who demonstrate more pro-social behaviour at a young age are also assessed as being more "cognitively ready for school." (Bierman, 2009) (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Remembrance Day Poppies

The poppy is a reminder of those who have dedicated themselves to protecting our freedoms. This year, try making your own poppies with your children with this activity from our YMCA Child Care team! We're making poppies out of loose materials such as coffee filters, felt, or paper. You'll also want to have items like buttons and pipe cleaners handy to make stems and the middle of the flower. For younger children, have them create flower shapes by painting hand or fingerprints. Finally, try displaying your poppies at your home by grouping them around the edge of a paper plate to create a wreath for your door, or hang them in your window for your neighbours to see. 

"The arts are a language that cuts across cultural and social barriers. The arts help children understand their own unique abilities and perspectives, and open the way to understanding others. To produce art, the child needs to evoke an experience, idea or feeling, and to find symbols to express it. This is one aspect of education for which there is no one correct method of doing things." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Bubble Painting

Here is a fun YMCA Child Care activity that combines some science and art together. Let's gather your materials and start creating a bubble painting masterpiece! Here's what you'll need:
🎨 Dish soap
🎨 Dish soap
🎨 Cups or bowls
🎨 Tempera paint 
🎨 Tempera paint 
🎨 Cardstock or construction paper 

Directions

  1. Mix two tablespoons of paint, two tablespoons of soap and one tablespoon of water together to create your bubble solution in either the bowls or cups.
  2. Using the straws, have your children blow into the solution to create bubbles.
  3. Once the bubbles have been created, take a piece of your cardstock or construction paper and lightly place it on the top of the bubbles so that they create a print on the paper. Repeat with either the same colour or try different colours. 
  4. Place them out to dry. Once dry, you can make them into numerous things, just like the examples below.
    • Frame them and hang as art pieces or give them to family members are gifts
    • Cut them into small cards to use as gift tags for presents.
    • Fold the paper in half and use them as greeting cards and mail warm messages to friends and families. 

“Children must be given daily opportunities to nurture self-expression and creativity through the visual arts” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Ghost Leaves

As you and your children get ready for Halloween this year, here is a fun craft from your YMCA Child Care Team that will help you decorate! Go on a leaf hunt to find different shaped leaves and bring them home to dry to prepare for this craft. 

Once your leaves are dry, your children can experiment with different tools such as paintbrushes, sponges, Q-tips and their own fingers to paint these white. All that is left is to add a few ghost eyes, and you will have natural ghosts to decorate your table or hang from your windows. 

Once you have mastered creating ghosts from leaves, try adding some different colours and loose materials to create other Halloween creatures!

"Art is self-expression; where no two works look the same. Providing open-ended art, instead of colouring sheets or pre-cut shapes such as pumpkins or leaves to decorate will encourage creativity and self-esteem while developing fine motor skills." (Early Returns: Manitoba's ELCC Curriculum Framework for Preschool Centers and Nursery Schools, 2011 ) & (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Bubble Painting

If your child can't get enough bubbles in their life and are having a difficult time now that the weather has cooled, we feel their pain. Good thing this next YMCA Child Care activity allows your child to create art with bubbles! See how you can make your own bubbles to paint with by clicking here.

“Children must be given daily opportunities to nurture self-expression and creativity through the visual arts. Stencils, colouring book pictures and teacher-directed crafts are not part of the visual arts program. Not only do they not allow for self-expression, they inhibit growth in creative expression and erode the child’s sense of accomplishment.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Construction Slime

For children that love to explore sensory play, our YMCA Child Care team has an activity for you, and it only requires three ingredients! Find out how you can create this construction slime at home by clicking here.

“Dispositions to learn are not taught to children; however, what educators do matters. When you respond to each child’s dispositions to learn – extending and expanding their playing, seeking, participating, persisting, and caring, you value and acknowledge each child’s learning potential. In this way, you create a responsive care, play, and learning environment that encourages the many ways that children explore and create.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette & Thomas, Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Gratitude Pumpkin

Instead of waiting until Halloween to decorate a pumpkin, why not start a little early in the spirit of Thanksgiving. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, it's important to reflect on all the things we have to be grateful for. This is especially important given the challenges that we have all faced this year. 

For this YMCA Child Care activity, come together as a family to write on your pumpkin what you are most thankful for this year. You can decorate one pumpkin as a family, or each person can create their own pumpkin. Younger children may need some help writing their thoughts on the pumpkin, but you could draw on your pumpkins instead of using words.

"Family practices and parent-child interactions influence and are influenced by stresses, demands, and joys of daily living and desires for the child. The child's sense of belonging to family and community is strengthened through respectful and reciprocal relationships, where educators recognize the value of family connections and contributions in understanding how each child makes meaning of the world." (Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette, Thomas, Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Fall Finger Painting

Break out all of your fall colours and get ready for some finger painting! Let your children experiment with the feel of the paint on their hands as they make fall coloured finger and handprints in this YMCA Child Care activity. This can be done on a smooth surface like paper or use bubble wrap to create a three-dimension effect. To turn this sensory exploration into a fall scene, find some twigs in your back yard and glue them to the picture to create a fall landscape. 

"In the early years, the visual arts involve picture making, printmaking, sculpting and two dimensional artwork. Producing these works of art gives children an understanding of the elements of design." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Fall Sensory Bin

Create your own fall-inspired sensory bin to celebrate the season! Our YMCA Child Care team put a list of ideas of fall-inspired items that you can add to your next sensory bin for your children to discover. For younger children, sensory bins are an opportunity to explore different smells, textures, and sizes of materials. For older children, this is an opportunity for children to practice their grouping skills and create different patterns from the objects in the bin. 

Some are some ideas for your bin:
🍂 corn kernels
🍂 leaves
🍂 pinecones
🍂 mini pumpkins
🍂 cinnamon sticks
🍂 red, orange, and yellow pom poms

Items to add to enhance learning: 
🍂 measuring cups
🍂 tweezers
🍂 muffin tins for sorting

Safety Tip: for younger children, be sure to leave out the small items to avoid choking hazards. 

"Children learn about the properties of objects [by] creating patterns and relationships - sorting and matching, sizing and ordering, sequencing and grouping." (Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette, Thomas, Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Fall Wind Chimes

Here is a fun nature-filled YMCA Child Care activity that allows us to collect some outside items and put them together to create a fall decoration to hang outdoors! Once it's finished, look for a nice spot to hang it up where the wind will catch it. Find a seat and listen to the sounds it makes, and how it moves as the wind blows. Click here to get started!

“Learning to be imaginative and creative requires open and flexible environments, rich in materials and role models that reflect the cultural life of their communities – the songs, crafts, languages and artifacts – and opportunities for children to invent their own cultural forms and symbols; to explore unique and innovative approaches to understanding their worlds.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Molten Lava Slime

Have fun mixing and creating some molten lava slime in this YMCA Child Care activity! Once it’s been created, set up a table full of prehistoric props and dinosaurs that will have you travel back in time to when dinosaurs existed. Spend the afternoon getting lost your own world of dinosaurs, learning their names, what they ate and how they became extinct. Click here to find out how you can make the lava slime!

“Sometimes referred to as functional play, sensory-motor play is the earliest observable play behaviour of infancy. This for of play enables the child to discover properties and characteristics of objects in the physical world through sensory exploration.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Eden and Huggins, 2001)

Painting with Pinecones

It's time to bring fall into the mix, so let's do it by painting an artistic masterpiece. Our YMCA Child Care team is taking a different approach, as this activity uses pinecones as your painting tool! Let's see what shapes, patterns and brush strokes you can make! Here's what you'll need:
🖌️ Pinecones
🖌️ Painting Canvas
🖌️ Paint

Directions:
1.    Dip your pinecones into your paint and use them as your paintbrush. Use the different sides of the pinecones and let your creativity run wild with this different painting medium!

“Learning through the arts has the potential to improve school achievement significantly. Given the importance of the arts in early development, early childhood educators can do no more valuable service for children then to preserve and value their right to be artists. Children have an affinity for creating with natural materials. Adding quality tools and resources will expand the possibilities for artistic creation. Exposures to the Old Masters, classical music and the best of contemporary artwork will open up new vistas for aesthetic appreciation.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Nature Painting

Who doesn't love painting? For our next YMCA Child Care activity, we're combining this great sensory activity with the outdoors by making nature paintbrushes! Here's what you'll need:
🎨 Twigs
🎨 Different nature items, like a variety of flowers, leaves and grass
🎨 Great brush tips
🎨 String or elastic bands
🎨 Paint 
🎨 Paper

Directions:
1.    Assemble all of your materials on a table. 
2.    Using the elastic bands or string, attach your nature items to the end of your sticks to create your paintbrushes.
3.    Head outside and find a nice place to set up some paper, paint and paintbrushes. When you're ready, let your creative side out by throwing a painting party!

“Providing open-ended visual art experiences for all ages allows children to draw from nature’s inspiration in all seasons and weather. Setting up outdoor paint easels, providing paint and brushes to experiment with on icy puddles, and creating an outdoor clay station or clay pit can all help foster children’s sensory experiences and creativity.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Newspaper Kites

We've got another YMCA Child Care activity for you as you head into the long weekend. This one lets you get outdoors, be physically active AND creative. We're making our own newspaper kites!

Click here for instructions!

Can't get to the store to buy dowels? Add a twist by heading outdoors on an adventure looking for the perfect sticks to use instead.

“Children experience a safe and nurturing environment where healthy eating, daily physical activity, and safety – indoors and out – are practised. Learning requires that children have time, space and encouragement to practise personal care skills; to enjoy familiar and unfamiliar foods; to develop food tastes and prepare food; to move, play, and challenge their physical capacities.” (Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, 2014)

Stained glass windows

With the leaves starting to fall, this is the perfect time to go for a walk and collect some to use at home for fun fall art creations like this YMCA Child Care activity! Here's what you'll need:
🍂 Wax Paper
🍂 Leaves (try to get a variety of different colours and shapes)
🍂 Iron
🍂 Thick paper or towel

Directions:
1.    Cut two pieces of wax paper the same size, and place them on a table. 
2.    Using the leaves that you collected outside, have your child place a leaf on one of the pieces of wax paper in whatever design or placement they choose.
3.    Take the second piece of wax paper and place it over top of the leaf. Cover the wax paper with a towel or thick piece of paper and use an iron on low use the heat to melt the pieces of wax paper together. 
4.    Once sealed, hang your stained glass art in a window. Take this opportunity to explore and learn about the parts of the leaves as the sun shines through them. 

“Learning through the arts has the potential to improve school achievement significantly. Given the importance of the arts in early development, early childhood educators can do no more valuable service for children than to preserve and value their rights to be artists. Children have the affinity for creating with natural materials. Adding quality tools and resources will expand the possibilities for artistic creation.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Building with Shaving Cream

In this sensory YMCA Child Care experience, your child will have fun while practicing the skill of spreading with a knife!

Supplies:

🔹 Butter knife
🔹 Shaving cream
🔹 Foam building blocks

Directions:

🔹 Put some shaving cream in a bowl or container.
🔹 Place butter knives and blocks on a table with the shaving cream.
🔹 Using the butter knife, spread the shaving cream over the foam blocks.
🔹 Stack the blocks as you spread the shaving cream. The shaving cream helps the blocks stick together!

“Through playful interaction with her world, she takes in sensory information that is processed by her central nervous system (including, especially, her brain). However, these are the physical and biological parts of the process, and they do not describe what the mind is doing. What we call sensory-motor exploration is the infant’s discovery or early science experiments: Sensory-motor behaviours are about performing circular actions and reactions on the environment, experiencing and testing, and having ideas and checking them out, according to Jean Piaget’s explanation.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Summer Time Capsule

It is time to capture the summer memories for this year and prepare for fall! This next YMCA Child Care activity, we're creating a summer time capsule made up of fantastic memories that were built through the past few months, along with some of our hopes and reflections as we move into fall and all of the unique changes that this will hold for you and your family. 

First, you will need something to make your capsule out of. This could be a shoebox that you decorate, a mason jar, or any type of container. Take a look around your home and see what you can recycle!

Next, you will start filling your jar with creations, reflections, and mementos from the past few months. We've got some ideas below are some ideas to get you started. 

Finally, find a place to keep your capsule safe. You may choose to add to this throughout the fall, or look back on it at the end of 2020 or later in the new year. 

Time capsule ideas:
•    Draw a picture of your favourite summer memories or include photos. 
•    Go on a nature walk and find something unique from your community that you can save. 
•    Write a letter (or have someone help you write a letter) to yourself about what you have learned over the summer. 
•    Set a goal for yourself, something you want to accomplish or something new you want to try.
•    What have you learned about yourself this summer?
•    What is something you are worried about?
•    What is something you are looking forward to?

"Even children within the same family may have very unique experiences of their family because their relationships with the key players differ or they are born at different times. The family's life-ways and routines, as well as their objects, artifacts and preferences, make the environment rich, whatever it is." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Animals stuck in frozen shaving cream

Warm weather is nice, but sometimes the things we enjoy most are the things we can do to cool ourselves down. This sensory YMCA Child Care activity is something to do without using water! Here's what you'll need:
☁️ Shaving cream 
☁️ Blue food colouring 
☁️ Small toy water animals
☁️ Plastic container that you can freeze 
☁️ Plastic mixing spoon 

Directions: 
1.    Using your plastic container, spray shaving cream inside of it until you have created a “cloud” that you're satisfied with.
2.    Add several drops of food colouring to the shaving cream and mix the two until the colour reaches your desired blue. 
3.    Place your water animals in the shaving cream mixture. 
4.    Place the container into the freezer and allow the shaving cream mixture to freeze for at least 1 hour. 
5.    Once it's ready, invite your child to play and explore this frozen sensory experience!
 
“Using all their senses, children explore the physical and social worlds around them. In the process they refine their senses, test their personal capacities, and construct knowledge about people, places, and things.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette & Thomas, Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Painting Foil

Sometimes paper just doesn’t seem as fun to paint on. This YMCA Child Care activity gives your child the opportunity to explore a different texture to paint on! All you need is tin foil, paint and an instrument to paint with (could be your fingers, paintbrush, q-tip, etc.) Here's how the activity works: 
1.    Place a piece of tin foil down on a hard surface, just like you would with a piece of paper. 
2.    Give your child paint and let them explore this shiny, slippery surface! 

“The principles of design provide a framework for artistic expression. These principles, as with the elements, are not formally introduced, but children often use them intuitively. Through sensitive guidance, the young child can come to recognize them in his own work and appreciate how these principles affect the product.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Coin sorting

Does your child ever want to play with their piggy banks? Well, this YMCA Child Care activity gives your child a reason to play with the money inside of their piggy banks! All you need is the piggy bank with change in it and some jars or bowls.
Directions: 
1.    Take your piggy bank and empty some or all of your change into a larger bowl or jar. 
2.    In the remaining bowls or jars, place a different denomination in each. 
3.    Invite your child to now sort the coins. You can make this more challenging for your child by having them count out how many coins are in each bowl when they're done sorting. 

“Classification is a sorting operation in which objects are grouped according to common attributes such as colour, shape, size and thickness. The preschool child will begin to sort by one attribute at a time.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Cooking in the kitchen

A family that cooks together eats together! This YMCA Child Care activity will have your family explore different cooking ideas and tasks during the summer months that will get everyone involved. See how you can get everyone involved by clicking here!

“Well-being is important to all human beings. For young children and their families, a positive sense of well-being is nurtured through participation in an environment that is consistent and where respectful, responsive relationships and community connections are valued.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette & Thomas, Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Feeding the caterpillars

This YMCA Child Care activity is so great because it comes in two parts that will both help their sensory exploration! Take a look below to see how to make your own caterpillars and how to feed them.

Part 1: Making the Caterpillars 
For this part, you will need cardboard tubes, which can be from paper towel or toilet paper rolls. You will need about 4–5 different tubes. Then you will need about 4–5 different paint colours as well as googley eyes. Have your child paint each caterpillar tube in a different colour. Then have them glue the eyes on to create the face. If you don't have paint at home, you can use coloured paper for this activity.

Part 2: Feeding the Caterpillar
With the dry, painted tubes, use painters tape to adhere the tubes to the wall. Then with some pompoms that match the colours of the tubes, place them in a large bowl and have your child feed the coloured pompoms to the correct colours of caterpillars. 

“Throughout the early years, the child’s classification system remains rooted in sensory-motor exploration, rather than logic.”  (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015) 

Apple Donuts

Who doesn’t love a donut! You've probably had one or two, but have you tried apple donuts? For this YMCA Child Care activity, let's create apple donuts at home with your children! Enjoy the healthier option to a fun classic, and let us know how your apple donuts went! To get started, click here.

“Children experience a safe and nurturing environment where healthy eating, daily physical activity, and safety – indoors and out – are practiced. Learning requires that children have time, space, and encouragement to practice personal care skills; to enjoy familiar and unfamiliar foods; to develop food tastes and prepare food; to move, play, and challenge their physical capacities.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette & Thomas, Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Toy Rescue Mission

Have you ever wondered how you can prepare a fine motor activity for your child without it always being an art experience? Well, this YMCA Child Care activity is a great way to challenge your child by using the fine muscles in their hands! All you need for this activity are elastic bands and small toys. They can be plastic or soft plush, whichever you have on hand. All you have to do is wrap the elastics around the toys. You can make this as tight as you need to challenge your child. Then invite your child to rescue the toys from whatever they are entangled in!

“The other two terms that help us appreciate the most important aspects of motor development are differentiation and integration. Differentiation involves developing from crude to precise actions. Integration require putting together actions in such a way that a task is accomplished or action is coordinated.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Shapes Sorting Suncatcher

Windows can be a fun surface for children to explore their shapes, and this YMCA Child Care activity helps your child experience shapes all in one place! Here's what you'll need:
🔵 Mactac or contact paper
🔶 Paper – coloured is fun
🔵 Marker (optional)
🔶 Scissors 
🔵 Tape
🔶 Bowl

Directions:
1.    Without peeling the backing, unroll your Mactac and cut out your shapes; such as a triangle, square, circle and rectangle. 
2.    Once your shapes are cut, it's time to peel! You'll then place the shapes on the window with the sticky side facing towards your face, leaving the slippery side to the window. Use pieces of tape to hold the contact paper to the window.
3.    Then, cut out the shapes from the window into smaller shapes from the construction paper. Mix your shapes out on the floor, or place them inside of a bowl.
4.    Now you and your children can sort your shapes!

“Classification is a sorting operation in which operation in which objects are grouped according to common attributes such as colour, shape, size and thickness. The preschool child will begin to sort by one attribute at a time.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Rainbow Soap

This YMCA Child Care activity is the next best thing to actually touching the rainbow! Recreate it at home in a sensory bin or in the tub!

Click here for instructions!

“The discovery centre is usually an extension of an interest expressed by the children. Extending their interests and learning, however, is part of the educator’s responsibility and there are many excellent resource books to find ideas. Experiments with bubbles, colour, sound-makers and similar items, can open a new set of learning possibilities for the children.” (YMCA Playing To Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Writing with feathers

Help your child practice their letters and words by using different types of writing tools other than a pencil and paper. This YMCA Child Care activity also helps your child develop their fine motor skills! Here's what you'll need:
🔤 Feather
🔤 Sand or Salt (make sure it is fine if you are using sand)
🔤 A plate or tray that has lower sides on it

Directions:

  1. Cover the bottom of the tray or plate with a layer of sand, or salt. This will replace your paper.
  2. Using the tip of the feather as a writing tool, have your child write out letters, words, numbers or symbols that they recognize. You can do this repeatedly by smoothing out the surface and starting over. 

“We know that physical growth is cephalocaudal (proceeds from head to tail) and proximodistal (proceeds from the centre of the body outward), and that gross motor movements occur before fine motor movements. We observe that the control of the head and arm muscles is achieved before control of leg muscles. Similarly, young children are able to control the muscles in their arms before they can control the fine muscles in their hands that are required for tasks such as printing, cutting and brushing their teeth.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

cosmic suncatchers

We're making a cosmic suncatcher craft for this morning's YMCA Child Care activity! It's a fun art activity to do with your children using glue, food colouring and the sunshine to make a suncatcher. Click here to get creative!

“Long before words are used, the arts are the voice of the young child’s inner life. Movement and production of rudimentary pieces convoy joy, sorrow and fear. Children show the process of discovery in the marks and imprints on the materials they use.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Inspiration Rocks

We're spreading a little cheer and inspiration in your community today by making inspiration rocks. This YMCA Child Care activity will have you spread painted rocks around your neighbourhood for others to find! All you will need is paint and some rocks. Let's get started!

Find rocks in a variety of sizes, give them a quick clean and start painting! You can put phrases or words on the rocks that are inspiring and meaningful, then leave them at your favourite park or walking path to bring joy for your community. You can also make some for your friends and family!

"The arts are a language that cuts across cultural and social barriers. The arts help children understand their own unique abilities and perspectives, and open the way to understanding others. To produce art, the child needs to evoke an experience, idea or feeling, and to find symbols to express it." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Bin rescue

Here's a YMCA Child Care activity that will definitely challenge your child this morning! This experience is very similar to the game operation, but has a DIY twist! To make this bin rescue game at home, here's what you'll need:
- A large, shallow bin
- Painters tape or masking tape
- Small toys or items (cars, balls, plastic eggs, etc.) 
- Serving spoon

Directions;
1. Take your bin and begin taping across the bin. You want to do multiple lines that intersect to create almost like a spider web. Make sure that there is enough space in between your tape to fit your serving spoon in.
2. Take your small toys or items and drop them down into the bin. 
3. Hand your child the serving spoon and have them scoop the items up!

“This form of play enables the child to discover properties and characteristics of objects in the physical world through sensory exploration. While sensory-motor play is associated with infancy and early childhood, it continues as a precursor to other learning experiences whenever the child, no matter the age, is confronted with unfamiliar material or objects.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Eden and Huggins, 2001)

Healthy Snacks

Ever wonder what to pack for snacks or extras in lunches for those fun little people in your life? Our YMCA Child Care team is sharing this resource from Alberta Health Services that has some suggestions for healthy and fun snacks to make and enjoy with your children. Click here to get started!

"Children experience a safe and nurturing environment where healthy eating, daily physical activity, and safety - indoors and out - are practiced. Learning requires that children have time, space, and encouragement to practice personal care skills; to enjoy familiar and unfamiliar foods; to develop food tastes and prepare foods; to move, play, and challenge their physical capacities.” (Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, 2014)

Shape sorting scavenger hunt

Want to have a fun scavenger hunt around the house while helping your children sort and classify different shapes? Join our YMCA Child Care team on a shape sorting scavenger hunt! Here's what you'll need:
🔷 Tape
🔵 Household items

Directions:
1.    Find a large area, either on a table or on the floor, and tape different shapes onto the table or floor. Make sure the shapes are large enough for children to put smaller items in. 
2.    Start hunting with your child throughout the house, looking for items that match the taped shapes you have placed on the floor or table. 
3.    Once you have found some items, have your child add these items to the correct shapes. Keep going and discover how many shapes you find throughout the house!

“Intellectual development that forms the basis for mathematics requires mastery of four operations – classification, seriation, spatial relations and numeracy.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Paper Towel Magic

Our YMCA Child Care team found a fun experience for you that combines art and science! We're going to use paper towel to create a magic effect.

Click here for instructions!

“The early childhood educator can play a role in fostering an understanding of science and discovery. This can be done by creating an environment with space, materials and invitations for free play, as well as planned activities that extend the children’s interests and exploration.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Making Moon Sand

Sand is fun, but it's sometimes hard to find, messy and gritty. Use this recipe found by our YMCA Child Care team instead! This "sand" is very soft and fun to play with.

Click here to get the recipe!

“Materials open up possibilities or limit possibilities for young children’s care, play, and learning. Considering the connectedness between the elements of time, space, materials, and participation can result in children having an encounter with materials… Inviting children to become familiar with materials—exploring, inventing, creating, and changing—infuses the materials with their ideas, thoughts, and feelings. By observing and documenting or participating alongside the children’s encounter with the materials, you may get a glimpse of what children are thinking and feeling through the materials.” (Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, 2014)

Puzzle Sensory Bins

Scavenger hunts are always fun to do and if you love them as much as we do in YMCA Child Care, then you'll enjoy this experience. 

Susie came up with this great idea using a sensory bin and a puzzle! This activity is great for any puzzle and any ages, as there are many ways to adapt this experience to fit the needs of your child. 

Click here to learn how to set up your own puzzle hunt sensory bin!

Ways to adapt this activity:
🔹 Use a puzzle with more or smaller pieces.
🔹 Add multiple puzzles so your child has to find which puzzle it belongs to.
🔹 Put the puzzle in one area of the house or yard and have the bin located elsewhere, adding more movement into the challenge.
🔹 If you do not have rice, use other materials such as sugar or sand.

“Inviting children to become familiar with materials—exploring, inventing, creating, and changing—infuses the materials with their ideas, thoughts, and feelings. By observing and documenting or participating alongside the children’s encounter with the materials, you may get a glimpse of what children are thinking and feeling through the materials.” (Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, 2014)

Puzzle blocks

Even if pieces can easily go missing, who doesn't love playing with puzzles! Today's YMCA Child Care activity comes from Kaitlyn's blog, where she creates puzzles using mega blocks. If you have the book, “Goodnight Construction Site”, this is a great activity to do while reading! To start this activity, click here.

“At play, children learn to make their thinking visible, build theories about how the world works, and practise skills and dispositions for inquiry, negotiation, and problem-solving. This learning requires support for involvement in various types of play—exploratory, heuristic, imaginative, language and literate, constructive, and physical; access to a wide variety of materials and equipment; and adventuresome, playful, and persistent role models who actively engage children in processes of playful exploration, investigation, and problem-solving.” (Makovichuk, Hewes, Litrette, Thomas, Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, 2014)

Playing with construction vehicles

Do you have a ton of construction vehicles but want to change how your children are playing with them? Our YMCA Child Care team has an idea for you to explore the construction trucks in a new way and engage your children in sensory play!

Materials:
👷‍♀️ brown paint or brown food colouring
👷‍♂️ shaving cream
👷‍♀️ liquid glue

Directions:

  1. In a large plastic mixing bowl, dispense the shaving cream inside.
  2. Pour roughly ½ cup to 1 cup of white glue in with the shaving cream. You may want to start with a smaller amount and slowly add more to get the desired puffy texture.
  3. Add the brown paint or food colouring to the mixture. Add as many drops as you would like to reach the desired colour for the dirt.
  4. Finally place your dirt puffy paint in a bin, tub or large serving plate for the children to explore with their construction vehicles.

"The infant is the active agent of learning. Through playful interaction with her world, she takes in sensory information that is processed by her central nervous system (including especially her brain)...What we call sensory-motor exploration is the infant's discovery or early science experiments: Sensory-motor behaviours are about performing circular actions and reactions on the environment, experiencing and testing, and having ideas and checking them out, according to Jean Piaget's explanation." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

ice cube painting

This activity lets your child explore self-expression and creativity, learn about colour mixing and use a unique medium to paint. We're painting with ice cubes!

Supplies:
🎨 Popsicle sticks
🎨 Food colouring
🎨 Ice cube tray
🎨 Water
🎨 Paper

Directions:
🎨 Fill your ice cube tray 3/4 full of water and add food colouring to make the primary colours in each individual ice cube slot. The more food colour you add, the more vibrant the colours!
🎨 Use a popsicle stick to mix the water and food colouring, and then leave the stick in the water so it freezes into the ice cube. This will be your handle to hold the ice cube as you paint later.
🎨 Once your ice cubes are frozen, create a masterpiece! This can get messy so you might want to try it outside.

Watch how the colours come out and mix while the ice cubes melt on your paper!

“Children must be given daily opportunities to nurture self-expression and creativity through the visual arts.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Salt dough fossils

Make your own fossils with this simple recipe! Don't worry if you don't have dinosaurs — you can make fossils of any of your favourite toys. When they're finished, you can hide them and your kids can go on an expedition to find them! Or, bury them in sand and go on an archaeological dig!
 
Click here to learn how to make your fossils!
 
"In the early years, the visual arts involve picture making, printmaking, sculpting and two dimensional artwork. Producing these works of art gives children an understanding of the elements of design." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

building with recycled materials

Get ready for a fun building activity, using recyclables from your own home! Gather up the tissue boxes and toilet paper roles and let the building begin! Why not build a marble maze, ramps for cars or a miniature city. The options are endless with these materials and with your imagination. Some suggestions to make building accessible for all children are:
♻️ Infants and toddlers will want to experience the different textures and how they can manipulate your recyclable materials. Don't be surprised if they use them for pushing and pulling or filling and dumping.
♻️ To make an easy ramp, cut a paper towel or toilet paper tube in half lengthwise and attach the ends. Attach as many as you want to get to your desired length.
♻️ If at first you don't succeed - Don't worry! The joy is in the process for this activity!

"Instinctively, young children build traditional architectural forms - bridges, ramps, tunnels, towers. As children construct these structures, they are experimenting with the technology of simple machines: A ramp allows the truck to move up and down with little effort; it is easier to pull heavy objects up a ramp than up a set of stairs" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

cloud dough

Your kids can get creative and develop fine motor and sensory skills while they explore how the cloud dough reacts to their touch. Get out rolling pins and cookie cutters to expand the fun.
Ingredients:
☁️ 1 cup hair conditioner
☁️ 2 cups corn starch
☁️ Food colouring (optional)
☁️ Glitter (optional)

Directions:
☁️ Mix the conditioner with the food colouring and glitter first.
☁️ Start adding cornstarch. Mix as much as you can with a spoon and then knead it with your hands.
☁️ If the dough feels dry, add more conditioner. If it feels too sticky or slimy, add more cornstarch.
The dough will keep for a couple of weeks if stored in an airtight container!

"Children learn about the properties of objects:

  • Playfully exploring and investigating the properties of objects
  • Experimenting with action and reaction, cause and effect”
(Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette, Thomas, 2014)
COOKING TOGETHER

At our YMCA Child Care centres, one of the kids' and educators' favourite things to do is create something fun and tasty to eat. Once the activity of cooking is done, the educator will sit with their kids and share stories while they eat what they've created. Our YMCA Child Care team shares two easy recipes for your family to try together at home:

🍴 Cheese & Bacon Scone Pizza
🍴 Omelette Wedges

“There is a morality that emerges from the family experience. This may be first based on the embedded moral direction supplied by the child’s genetic inheritance… but it is the experience the parents (and you the educator) supply that affords the opportunity for their potential to be realized” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

Create your own lacing cards
YMCA Child Care has another fun activity for you! This one is a fun craft that your child can keep playing with while enhancing fine motor development. We're making our own lacing cards! Supplies:
✂️ Cardboard
✂️ Pencils
✂️ Scissors
✂️ Art supplies (markers, crayons, etc.)
✂️ One-hole punch (or something that will poke a hole)
✂️ Laces (shoelaces, yarn, string, etc.)

Instructions:
✂️ Decide on the shape of your card (it can be a star, a leaf, a dinosaur — anything you choose!) and draw it onto the cardboard
✂️ Cut out your shape
✂️ Decorate your shape
✂️ Poke holes around the edge of the shape
✂️ Start lacing!

Some tips from our YMCA Child Care team:
✂️ Trace things like cookie cutters to help create the shapes
✂️ To challenge older children, make the holes smaller, but for younger children, keep them larger
✂️ Infants and toddlers can explore the different shapes and the textures the holes make
✂️ Make this a literacy activity by creating an alphabet of lacing cards

“Gross motor skills are those of the large muscles, and fine motor skills are those of the smaller muscles. These can be confusing categories, as most movement involves both types of muscles, but we usually think of the large muscles involving the legs and mobility. The hands and fingers are most frequently the fine motor areas thought of by ECEs, but the wrists, feet, toes, mouth and other small muscles can also be included.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
create your own puzzle
Creating their own puzzle helps kids get creative, use fine motor skills, and develop an understanding of the relationship of parts to a whole.

Here's what you'll need:
🖍️ Cardboard
🖍️ Art supplies (markers, paints, crayons)
🖍️ Pencil
🖍️ Scissors or utility knife

Here are the steps:
🖍️ Cut your cardboard to the size of your puzzle.
🖍️ Create your artistic masterpiece on one side of the cardboard.
🖍️ Draw puzzle pieces onto the blank side. These can be traditionally shaped or use your imagination to create curved and angular pieces.
🖍️ Use scissors or utility knife to cut out the pieces (help younger children with this step to stay safe).
🖍️ Put together your puzzle!

"A child who understands the relationship of the whole to part recognizes that certain objects can be broken down into parts and that these parts can, in turn, be used to recreate the whole. This perceptual ability is used in puzzles and play with blocks" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).
field trip: Canadian museum of history virtual playhouse

Take a step back in time and explore toys and games from the past with the Canadian Museum of History. Your children can browse a virtual playhouse and learn about how children used to play. Compare items from your own home to what you see in the museum, and recreate or build your own toys based on the ones you find in this virtual playhouse!

Click here to go on this field trip with us.

"Between ages three and four, children generally begin to create three-dimensional structures that represent objects in the world. Over time, these structures become more ambitious in terms of the variety of materials used, showing the emergency of symbolic thought." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Let's build a fort!

Remember how fun it was to build a fort in your living room and curl up inside with snacks, games or books? Create some of those fun memories while you bond with your children this week. Check out the video below for ideas on how to build a magical and cozy fort — you can make it as simple or elaborate as you like! And when you're done playing with your fort, why not turn pillows, blankets and chairs into an obstacle course for some physical activity?

"Children and their family members influence one another over time. It is not only the parents who shape each child; the child shapes each parent and family member" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

 

Sensory Activity

Let your child work on fine motor skills through sensory exploration! We're going to make our own sensory activity bags.

Supplies:
🔹 Ziploc bags
🔹 Clear hair gel or shaving cream
🔹 Packing tape
🔹 Food colouring
🔹 Small items such as: colourful and different-sized pom-poms, colourful and different-sized buttons, beads, alphabet beads etc.

Fill your Ziploc bag with either shaving cream or hair gel and create each sensory bag based on the items (descriptions below). Once they're filled, close the bags and use packing tape as an extra seal. Don't over-fill!
🔹 Using pom-poms, buttons or beads: draw circles on the outside of the bag and have your child separate the items by moving them into the right circles.
🔹 Using those same items, have your child separate them by size, moving them to different sides of the bag or into pre-designated circles.
🔹 Using alphabet beads, have your child look for certain letters. For an extra challenge, have them spell some words out.
🔹 Using food colouring, dye the shaving cream different colours and add two or three colours to a bag. Allow your child to squish and mix to make new colours.
🔹 Using food colouring, dye your hair gel different colours and add each colour to a separate bag. Tape the bags up on a sunny window and let your child squish the gel from one side of the bag to the other, noticing how the light sparkles through. You can even add glitter to make it extra sparkly!

“Sometimes referred to as functional play, sensory-motor play is the earliest observable play behaviour of infancy. This form or play enables the child to discover properties and characteristics of objects in the physical world through sensory exploration.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

String art
Try this fun string art project with your kids this weekend, recommended by our YMCA Child Care team:

Supplies:
🔨 Tack hammer (a regular hammer works too, but a smaller hammer is easier)
🔨 3/4" nails
🔨 Coloured embroidery thread or string
🔨 Block of wood around 3/4" thick

Directions:
🔨 Lightly sketch a shape (star, airplane, heart, a letter, anything!) onto the piece of wood or onto a piece of paper and use the paper as your guide
🔨 Hammer your nails in to follow the lines of the shape, about 1/2" apart
🔨 Pick a starting nail and tie the end of your string to it, leaving a couple inches extra at the end (you'll need this to tie off your string when you're done)
🔨 Zig zag the thread, wrapping it around the nails to create a unique pattern
🔨 Once you're happy with the amount of string on your board, make your way back to the starting nail and wrap the thread around it
🔨 Start to make the outline of your shape by wrapping the thread around each of the outside nails, working your way around
🔨 Once you're back at the beginning, tie your thread to the tail that you left at the start and cut your thread Your kids may need help hammering the nails in, but they can thread the string around the nails themselves!

“Art is self expression; where no two works look the same. Providing open-ended art…will encourage creativity and self esteem while developing fine motor skills.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
Watercolour painting

Ready to start the weekend on a creative note? Our YMCA Child Care team found this link to five different watercolour painting techniques that anyone can do! Find an inspiring place in your home and spend hours creating masterpieces as a family. Click here to try it.

“The arts are a language that cuts across cultural and social barriers. The arts help children understand their own unique abilities and perspectives, and open the way to understanding others.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)