This simple Chinese New Year craft for kids involves collaboration, exploring line and shape and patterns.
In Chinese culture, fish are considered a symbol of luck and good fortune. The Chinese word for fish sounds like the word surplus or abundance. So during Chinese New Year you will see many fish decorations and it is customary to eat fish during New Year feasts to ensure prosperity.
What you will need for this simple Chinese New Year Craft for kids
Print your fish template onto thin card or trace it onto cardboard scraps.
We reused some cardboard packaging from Christmas presents to create our fish.
My daughter and I passed the fish back and forth to fill in different sections.
This is a great chance to talk about different lines – straight, curved, broken, zig zag, wavy – and shapes. So much vocab!
Once complete, cut the fish out. Use your hole punch to create a hole in the top middle part of your fish.
String some yarn through and thread beads onto your string.
This is a great opportunity to practice 2-part patterns. Red and yellow/gold are dominant colours seen during Chinese New Year festivities.
Hang your fish decoration on your front door to welcome in all the New Year’s good luck!
If you try this simple Chinese New Year craft for kids, I’d LOVE to see! Tag me on Instagram or Facebook.
Looking for more simple Chinese New Year crafts for kids?
We made these We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story stones to mark this classic book’s 30th birthday.
This is a book that brings up all of the warm and fuzzies for so many readers.
And what is a childhood without reenacting the legendary Bear Hunt with some swishy-swashying in long, wavy grass and squelch-squerching in thick, oozy mud? (This read of the story by the author Michael Rosen is so fun.)
Story stones are a fabulous way to help young readers retell the story. They are a concrete material that helps deepen comprehension of the book.
What you will need to make your Bear Hunt Story Stones:
Some smooth stones (I bought mine from Cleverpatch. You could try your local garden centre or go on a rock collecting walk.)
My free Bear Hunt Story Stones printable*
PVA glue or Mod Podge
* To grab your free printable, simply subscribe to my newsletter and an email will land in your inbox straightaway containing the download link. (You’ll also receive a free copy of my READ + CREATE eBook. Over 30+ pages of tips, ideas and templates.)
The process is pretty simple.
Sign up to my newsletter in my header or sidebar.
Once you receive the email with the printable, download it and print it out.
Cut out each oval from the printable.
Choose a stone for each scene.
You will need to trim the oval down to fit each unique stone.
Use PVA glue or Mod Podge to glue the paper onto the stone- “just a dot, not a lot.”
Then put a thin coat of PVA glue / Mod Podge over the paper. This helps to give your story stones a nice gloss, but most importantly, it seals the paper and helps your story stones last a bit longer.
When we made these story stones in my READ + CREATE classes, the conversations that arose were the CUTEST.
One mini maker wondered why they went on a bear hunt if they didn’t really want to find a bear.
We all wondered how the bear was feeling as he trudged back to his cave.
If you do use this printable to make your own We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story stones, I’d love to see them! Tag me on IG or FB with @ohcreativeday.
Gather collage materials. We used coloured craft paper, tissue paper, washi tape, wool scraps, bits of sponge- go wild.
Cut out a red circle to act as your “pizza base.”
Set the glue out and let your Mini Masterchef craft up their most delicious pizza.
Here’s what the set up looked like at our place….
If you wanted to get all teachery, you could use this activity as a counting / data lesson. Once your child has completed their pizza, you could ask things like, “how many pieces of “ham” are on your pizza? How many pieces of “mushroom” are on your pizza? etc”
Or it’s a perfect way to explore symmetry. Have your Mini Masterchef make both halves of the pizza identical.
Once your pizza has finished in the oven (READ: the glue has dried), glue the pizza to the front of the card.
It’s ready to be given to the supreme person in your life!
How cool is your dad?
Cooler than 1000 icy poles?
This printable Father’s Day card lets dad know just how cool you think he is, whilst utilising a super fun and simple painting technique.
Do you call them icy poles? Or popsicles? Or ice lollies? (This is almost an easy way to determine where in the world somebody grew up!)
There are 3 alternatives of this card. So you can print out the version that suits whatever you call those delicious, frozen things that make hot Summer days even sweeter.
An old store loyalty card
Download and print your card onto thin card.
The Mala paints from Ikea are excellent for this project.
Any paint that you can easily squeeze out small dots will work.
Squeeze three small dots of paint onto acrylic paper. Dots need to be as close together as possible.
I usually do this step for my 3 and 5-year-old. I cover a whole sheet of paper with 3-dot colour combinations as the next step is fast and furious.
And mainly because my kids are maniacs with squeezy paint. If I let them do this step independently, it generally ends with them just creating squeezy paint masterpieces.
Older children with more self-control could easily complete this step independently.
And you can always experiment with more colours. 3 colours just seems to be our sweet spot here.
This is the fun part. Place an old plastic card to the left of the paint dots. Press down and scrape across to the right and watch the paint spread.
Experimenting is key here!
You’ll be left with lots of rainbow smears.
Once they have dried, cut them into the shapes of icy poles.
Glue the painted paper onto the front of the card and add little sticks in black marker.
And there you have it- a Father’s Day card for the cool dude in your life!
You can of course create your own icy poles with pencils or crayons- however you wish.
This painting method is fun and highly addictive though. We highly recommend!
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What even is book-based play?
Somebody recently asked me about my beliefs and values.
It was a rather hard-hitting question for my sleep-deprived soul, and one that should probably only be answered after at least two morning coffees.
Somewhere in amongst all the umm-ing and aah-ing, I replied “I believe that reading is as important as breathing.”
Especially for children.
Reading aloud to and with children brings a crazy array of benefits.
Letter and sound awareness. Increased vocabulary. Helping little minds make sense of the world. Imagination development.
The list goes on. And on. And on.
If you want to take things to the next level, encouraging book-based play will do just that.
How to encourage book-based play at yours!
What in the holy bananas is book-based play?
It’s when you create play and learning opportunities that take things beyond the book.
These experiences deepen understandings of story and character and help little people make meaning of the texts they have read.
So here you go.
A poster summarising how I encourage book-based play at my place.
Print it out. Hang it somewhere. Hand it to friends.
Be like “that” preacher at Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, and preach!
It’s as important as breathing, people.
Let me walk you through it with a bit more detail.
1. Read a book
This seems like an obvious place to start. So don’t miss this step. It’s probably the most vital step in the whole process.
Let your child have ownership over the process and ask them to choose a book to share together. And you don’t have to be a thespian. I know that some people feel a bit silly reading aloud. You don’t have to worry about putting on a voice for each character. Just read the book!
As I read, I tune in for the main themes or symbols. If you don’t feel confident doing this on the spot with your child, I encourage you to choose a few books and have a go sans child. It goes against my advice in Step 1 of letting your child choose the book- but better to build your confidence in this process first!
For example: Spirit is a tale of a girl who makes a toy boat and experiments with sailing it in different places. It explores the themes of resilience and rising above frustrations.
3. How can you playfully extend the book’s themes or symbols?
Could you set up a Small World? Make some puppets out of paper bags to retell the story? Anything goes at this step!
For example: With Spirit, it was pretty easy- “Hey, guys- who wants to try and make their own boat?”
4. Create and Play
This step will obviously vary based upon what activity you choose to do.
During this step, I also try and tune in for the Teachable Moments.
Model vocabulary used in the books.
Use open-ended questions to ask your young reader about their thoughts on characters and plot.
For example: We gathered our recyclables and began a Design and Make process. What materials will sink? Which will float? What shape will your sail be? How will we keep the mast upright? Hypothesising. Predicting. Experimenting. OH EM GEE DO YOU SEE ALL THE LEARNING AND RICH VOCAB HAPPENING HERE?? Teacher-Nerd-Happy-Dance
Boat-making led to some frustrations- “it won’t stand up.” “It’s not what I want.” HELLO TEACHABLE MOMENTS! We related our frustrations back to the frustrations of the main character.
5. Gather and Keep Exploring
I then try and gather a few books on the same topic/ themes and leave them out so we can keep discussing and exploring. And so the cycle begins again.
NB- I obviously don’t do this for every.single.book we read. Once you start though, you begin to see the possibilities everywhere!
Pin for later to encourage book-based play at yours:
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I had no intention of sharing this bunny mask craft.
We hosted our littlest’s first birthday party on the weekend and celebrated with a Miffy theme.
It’s our last first birthday. All them feels.
Our kiddy parties always have a craft station for the little party-goers. I like to think of the craft station as a “Buying-Time-for-Parents-to-Eat-Cheese-and-Crackers-and-Have-a-Conversation” situation.
But of course it’s mainly for the little ones to get creative and indulge their craftiness.
The craft station is always popular but I was pleasantly surprised at how popular this simple crafty invitation was.
So I thought I’d share it with you, as well as the free printable template, in time for Easter.
And so that you too, can indulge in some cheese and crackers whilst the kids are entertained.
(We all deserve cheese and cracker time.)
Print and cut out the Bunny Easter mask template. Trace the bunny onto pieces of cardboard. I used all the old cardboard boxes from online shopping that have been piling up.
Due to the thickness of the cardboard I used, I used a craft knife to cut the masks out. I realised towards the end of the process that my craft knife was very, very blunt. Face palm. So my edges were pretty rough. Let’s call it rustic charm, yeah?
If you go the craft knife route, please use a cutting mat! Safety first, people!
If you use thinner cardboard, sharp scissors should do the job.
I then just taped the dowel to the back of the cardboard with decorative duct tape.
We actually made more masks a few days after the party, because I was interested to see if this project was still as popular.
It was a resounding yes.
I pulled the collage box out of the craft cupboard. I store all paper scraps in a fishing tackle box.
You can find some tips and tricks for collage with kids here.
In all honesty, it wasn’t a very organised set up.
There were materials flying everywhere. But I kinda love those kinds of sessions.
However, sometimes it is a good idea to limit the materials on offer as young artists can get overwhelmed by choice.
For me this experience highlighted how valuable it is to create alongside your littles.
Miss 4 has an intense love affair with colouring-in at the moment. She made about 4 masks in 10 minutes flat, using the markers and chalk pastels.
She then noticed my mask and proclaimed “That’s a masterpiece! I want to make one like that!”
So I sat with her and explained the process I undertook.
If I had attempted to guide her process like this from the start, she would not have had a bar of it. She is definitely a child who likes to go her own way.