Both my granddaughter and I loved this activity. First, May laid down on a piece Butcher paper, which had been folded in two and was long enough to trace her entire body. Then, once I had traced her body, she drew the clothing and filled it in with colored markers. I cut around the outline and stapled the two cut-out pieces together, leaving one side open to be stuffed like a large envelope. May and I then crumbled up newspaper and stuffed it into the cutout before stapling the remaining side. We then pasted pom poms for eyes, nose and mouth, and glued long strands of wool onto the head for pigtails. As an added feature, I dipped May’s hands into finger paint, imprinted them onto paper, cut them out and glued them onto the paper figure. May, who often wears a big bow in her hair, added a bow to one of the pigtails. The end result served as a keepsake of May’s height and hand size when she was three years and seven months old.
Older children can do the cutting and decorating entirely on their own with someone to assist in the tracing. As an extension, they may want to write a brief summary of their interests, friends, favorite foods and any other facts about themselves to be attached to the back of the cutout. This is a wonderful gift to give to their parents after spending a weekend with grandma and grandpa.
Plastic Cup Pyramid
One Thanksgiving, while my friends, their children and several grandchildren were visiting our home on the Cape, I dragged out my stash of plastic cups that I kept stored in my basement and suggested that the children build a structure using as many cups as they could. The results of their efforts exceeded my expectations. They began by building a fair-sized pyramid. Then, they realized that they could build an even taller pyramid by adding cups to its foundation. As a group effort, they managed to build it to a height taller than the tallest among them. Pictures of the structure surrounded by the proud architects were taken as a keepsake of their combined efforts.
Those cups continue to be a source of entertainment for May. Although Eloise is unable to build structures at this time, she is very capable of crawling over and knocking them down. The beauty of this simple activity is that all age groups can join in on the fun (grandparents too) and it can be extended as a teaching tool by making patterns within each pyramid using the various colors of the cups.
Materials: stickers and/or rubber stamps of animals, stamp pad (if using rubber stamps)
During my teaching tenure, I conducted a small after-school drama group for first through third graders. Before the start of each session, my little group of thespians would do some “animal warm-ups” to get into the acting mode. We’d walk like penguins, swing our arms like the trunks of elephants, slither across the gymnasium floor like snakes, waddle like ducks, and charge like bulls, using our fingers for horns. With each new week, the list of animals grew due to the creative imagination of my young actors.
One day, while Eloise slept and May wanted her grammy to play with her, I thought back to that little drama group and decided to play “animal charades,” a game that would be easy to create since I had a storehouse of stickers, index cards, and rubber stamps.
Making the game was effortless, and May was able to help in its creation. I cut index cards in half (only to make them smaller for little hands), and we put an animal sticker or animal stamp on one side, leaving the other blank. We made duplicates of each card, thus increasing our chances of having a turn at acting out most of the animals in the deck. Duplicating the cards also allows for playing a matching game at another time.
May and I took turns acting out the animals pictured on the cards and trying to guess the animal drawn from the stack. This little game left a lasting impression on her, and it has become part of our repertoire when she and I have special time together.
Pictures of animals taken off the Internet or cut out of magazines and pasted on index cards can be used if stickers and stamps are not available. For children who can read, simply write the names of animals on cards.