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I found a couple of pins recently that inspired me to do some new simple projects with Cricket's easel. This is the style of easel we use. It's just a basic white board on one side and chalkboard on the other.
She loves to paint and draw on it, but these were a few other quick and low budget projects that I used to fill some time when I was tired or she was restless.
First we went through a couple of my old magazines and looked for pictures of people who were showing different emotions, and I cut them out. Cricket helped me find pictures, and we talked about what they might be feeling and why.
It was easy to find happy people, and even excited and proud people, but it took a while to find pictures of people who looked sad and angry. Prescription ads ended up being very helpful. :o)
I just used plain easel paper from this pad I ordered for Cricket's second birthday. It's lasted forever!
I taped a piece of easel paper up and wrote "I Feel" in the middle of it. Then I wrote emotion words like "sad" and "happy" around the paper. She painted some glue around it and stuck the corresponding pictures next to the word as we talked about it.
Of course, she loves painting, so painting glue was great fun for her. She also liked the pictures, and she enjoyed talking about them.
The emotions we ended up with were happy, sad, angry, proud, surprised, and grumpy. These are all emotions we have talked about with her for a while now, and they have come up in several of her books.
Not only does this help teach her how to express her own emotions, it also helps her practice recognizing social cues in other people to determine their emotions. This is a valuable skill for toddlers (and for adults), and one that doesn't always come naturally, so it's good to practice.
After we finished putting the pictures on, she decorated it with stickers just for fun. She used a couple of stickers as band-aids for the sad person, which showed me that she was really listening to what we were talking about and empathizing with the person in the picture.
When she finished her collage, we taped it to her bedroom door. She is very proud of it, and she loves to show it off to people, which gives her even more opportunities to practice recognizing and repeating the emotion vocabulary she is learning. I was really happy with this activity and highly recommend it.
For something even easier, I just put up a piece of paper and let her stick stickers wherever she wanted. She loved it!
Just about every toddler loves stickers, so this is a fun and really easy activity for them. I had a bunch leftover from my classroom that I pulled out, but if you need some, Dollar Tree always has a bunch, as well as the dollar bins at Target or Wal-Mart. Melissa and Doug also has some great sticker pads that come with hundreds of great looking stickers for a decent price. A friend got Cricket one last Christmas, and she's still using it!
The only thing about stickers is, some of them are hard to get off the paper they come on, so I stuck a bunch to a chair so I could do dishes while she worked on her collage.
When she was finished, I gave her the option to further decorate her collage with crayons or colored pencils. She wasn't interested at the time, but I left it up for a few days, and she did come back and color it a little.
She has asked to do this again and again, so I'd call this one a success as well.
Torn Paper Collage
This is another super easy one. I taped a piece of contact paper to the easel, sticky side out.
I let Cricket and her friend tear pieces of construction paper and just stick them on!
They chose to tear the paper into big pieces. I love that since the contact paper is clear, you can see the drawings she had done on the easel, giving it a kind of background.
To add a natural sensory aspect to this one, try the Contact Paper Window I wrote about when Cricket was younger.
Remember, it doesn't have to be complicated to be a fun and absorbing experience for a toddler!