Sidewalk Chalk Fun

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Sunny days call for sidewalk chalk! Here are two fun ways Veronika played with chalk today.

The first was a take on the old game of Simon, a handheld memory game that repeats a sequence increased by one step each time. But nix the technology and you can play Simon on the sidewalk, too!

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First, I drew a full rainbow of colors with chalk (rather than just the original Simon’s four colors), which was great for a quick ROYGBIV review. Then I had Veronika stand in the center and called out, “Stand on purple!”

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She jumped to purple, and then went back to the center. “Stand on purple, then stand on orange!” I instructed.

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At age 2, Veronika’s limit was about 3 steps (we made it through: purple, orange, green), but big kids can not only act out longer patterns, but also see who can remember the most steps!

Then we noticed our shadows behind us, short and squat and funny in the afternoon sun. I invited Veronika to trace mine (though it was a rough approximation, of course).

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Use chalk to fill out your new chalk friend with an outfit and a silly face.

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It’s also fun to trace the shadows of other objects, so next we tried her Duplo doll. Shadows were so short that this one barely showed up, but we colored in the doll’s outfit, too.

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I caught Veronika sideways, so traced her shadow this way before we added silly clothes and features.

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For older kids, consider coming back and making these sidewalk “portraits” throughout the day, watching them change from tall to short to tall again. You might also try having your child “fit” his or her body back into their shadow, almost like a puzzle piece!

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Chalk Fun, Indoors and Outside

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There are so many ways to play with chalk, ranging from the artistic to the educational, and from indoor activities to outdoor fun.

To start, Veronika tested out some indoor ways to play, many of which were suggestions from the Toddler’s Busy Book. Of course you can simply draw on paper, which is a novel variation over a chalkboard. Once complete, set the picture with a spritz of hair spray!

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It’s also fun to wet paper with a damp sponge and see the difference in color in the wet and dry spaces. Note: The Toddler’s Busy Book also suggests wetting paper with laundry starch and buttermilk… but we skipped both of those.

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You can also soak chalk in a sugar-water mixture (about 1 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar) for 10 minutes, then draw with it for a wonderfully saturated look.

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Prefer your chalk on the dry side? Veronika enjoyed simply drawing on the paper and then smearing over it with a cotton ball.

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Now it was time to head outside! First, we placed a piece of paper down on the ground for a “sidewalk rubbing”, similar to those we’ve done against the bark of a tree with crayon.

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Next up was a little learning! I tried some early letter matching for Veronika, having her pick out two Vs from a cluster of letters, for example. Or, if she found the upper case T, could she point out the lowercase t? I used only letters she’s very familiar with, but preschoolers can tackle a whole chalk alphabet!

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Chalk also works well for teaching number correspondence; simply write the numerals next to chalk dots in the corresponding number.

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Don’t forget shapes! To start, I simply drew a few shapes and had her find me two of each, such as the two triangles, or the two circles.

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Then we upped the ante with a chalk maze! I drew paths with squares, circles, and triangles, each in a different color.

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Veronika was a master at this game, zigging and zagging with aplomb and never missing a turn to stay on the same shape.

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She then spent some time pouring water over the chalk, because it’s always great fun to see chalk lines disappear.

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That led us out to the back patio where we ended the fun with more water:

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Dip the chalk sticks into cups of water and then paint right on the glass of a window or patio door.

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What’s your child’s favorite way to play with chalk? Please share in the comments!

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Dirt Day!

 

Armed with a giant bag of potting soil, Veronika and I had a day all about dirt! Here are three ways we played.

We started out inside, with a giant Mud and Dirt Sensory Box. Pour in dirt (or the above-mentioned potting soil), and add a few items that are fun to get, well, dirty! That meant a few of Veronika’s toy construction trucks, plastic cups for scooping and dumping, and some marbles.

First she explored with the trucks. She loved digging through the dirt with the bulldozer and then dumping into one of the cups.

We then pretended that the marbles were little seeds for planting, perfect imaginative play for springtime! She loved digging holes with a spade and pressing the marbles down in the dirt. Then we decided to make some of the dirt into mud; simply pour in a few cups of water and stir. Veronika marveled at the new consistency, as well as the earthy smell that resulted right away! When you’re done, take that sensory bin outside for a rinse down with a hose.

But we weren’t done yet with the dirt! I made a few circles with chalk on the back patio, labeled with point values. Older kids can play a classic game of bullseye, with concentric circles. For Veronika, I spaced the circles all over the patio with different point values based on their size.

Now we needed mud! I scooped some potting soil into a cup and we poured in water. Veronika was in charge of stirring until it was thick and goopy.

Big kids can now stand back, pick up handfuls, and take aim!

Veronika preferred to scoop up the mud with our spade and dribble it over the point values, delighting in the splat of the mud hitting the patio.

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Finally, we took some of that mud and decided to make art! I divided the mixture among 4 plastic cups and we squirted a generous amount of food coloring into each.

Dip in paintbrushes, and brush onto thick white paper. This made surprisingly beautiful colors, from vivid yellow…

…to a deep blue.

Veronika loved pouring and mixing the “paints”, too, or sometimes pouring them directly over the paper and then scribbling through with a paintbrush.

Older kids (and grown-ups!) can have fun making artistic paintings, like this little fishy fellow.

In sum, we had fantastic fun on this dirt-y day!

Halloween Countdown Day 5: Giant Chalk Pumpkin

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In today’s run-up to Halloween anticipation, tell your kids they’re about to grow the biggest pumpkin in the world. Yes, bigger than the county fair winners; yes, bigger than the Great Pumpkin. How, you ask?

With chalk!

Head to your driveway or any similar large surface and pull out the orange and green chalk. Really the only limit was how much space we could color in with our one stick of orange. But we got nearly a patio-sized pumpkin.

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Bigger kids can help with the actual pumpkin; younger siblings will love scribbling with chalk alongside you.

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There was a sort of nostalgia to this project, too, since it’s likely a farewell to sidewalk chalk until spring.

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We’ll love looking out at our “pumpkin patch” for the next few days, until rain washes it away.

Create a Driveway Mural

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Here’s a suggestion if your kids are tired of making hopscotch boards with their sidewalk chalk. Suggest they create a full character mural instead!

One way to do this activity would be to trace each other’s shadows, then fill in the details: clothing, hair, accessories, props, and more. I knew it would be hard to get my kids to stand still for shadow tracing, though, so suggested we trace their dolls!

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Travis loved the way the chalk outlines looked as soon as I made the first tracing.

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Immediately he was filling in the details. The first one was Yoda, with a light saber and cane!

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The Star Wars theme continued, including an Ewok, Darth Vader, and more. And some of them were just silly monsters!

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Older kids can be more serious and true to life in their mural. Challenge them with the following: Can you make the tracing look like yourself, or a friend? What would it wear? What props would it have?

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For kids who are almost 6 and almost 2, I’d say our turned out pretty nicely! I’d love to hear your results in the comments!

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Take Summer Outside

 

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Here’s a round-up of a few ways we played in the summer sun today, all with one common factor: the activity had to get us outside!

First up was a round of animal charades. The idea was to spot an animal and then move like it. Everyone else guesses what you are! Travis spotted a bee and loved buzzing like one.

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In fact he was so enamored with the bees that it was hard to get him to spot a second animal, but he could also crouch and hop like a squirrel.

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Little sister, meanwhile, loved pretending to fly like the birds she saw. Or getting down low to crawl like an ant bug.

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I loved that this simple activity really got them paying attention to how animals move.

Then it was time for a nature walk. As we strolled on a nearby path, we pulled out an oldie-but-goodie, searching out animal homes and guessing who lived inside each.

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This time, Travis snapped pictures with the instant camera, too!

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We also embarked on a leaf hunt! I challenged him to find 5 different leaves and then we used a nature guide to try to identify each one.

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There was such a thrill every time we found a corresponding picture. It was a great activity for talking about similarities and differences.

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Travis glued the leaves to poster board once home and we labeled them, making this a great approximation of an elementary school science project.

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He then drew the leaves, a pretty picture we decided to mail on to a friend!

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To end the outdoor fun, we repeated a classic activity: tracing an item’s shadow to see how it changed over the course of the day.

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Our intent wasn’t to make a full sundial, but just to watch how the shadow changed at intervals. We color-coded our markings for a pretty result!

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Sponge Printing

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I recently introduced Veronika to the idea of stamping, by making Duplo prints. Today, we made sponge prints instead!

This was a great activity for outside on the patio, since first we needed to get the sponges wet. I misted them with a spray bottle until saturated, then showed her how to chalk all over the surface of the sponge.

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Press down firmly on a piece of thick white paper and the mark of the sponge will be left behind. The sponges have a bubbled appearance, with more surface twists and turns than you might expect!

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Next I cut a few of our sponges into shapes like hearts and plus signs.

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She liked seeing the various shapes in our prints.

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Then we discovered that if we used the chalk on wet pavement and then dipped the sponge in the colored water, we ended up with a more saturated print.

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The wetter the sponge the better the print, so eventually we used a bucket of water to dip instead of the mister bottle.

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Of course then Veronika just loved dipping the sponges in the bucket and squeezing them out, and lost interest in stamping!

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But this just fine; it meant this craft was a great way to spend some time making art and simply playing outside.

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Sidewalk Chalk Mark Making

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While big brother was busy using chalk for a school assignment, Veronika made chalk marks of her own today! Originally, I thought it might just be fun for her to use chalk on a bench, as opposed to pavement, for the novelty of the drawing surface. But this also turned out to be the first time that she announced she had drawn a specific thing!

First, we simply started chalking side by side. I made a few recognizable objects for her like a star and heart, and pointed them out.

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Moments later, she told me this red mark was a bird! “Tweet tweet!” she said. “Red bird!”

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I knew she was being deliberate, because she picked up blue next and said, “Blue bird!” as she scribbled.

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From there she was off and running. She told me she was drawing Daniel Tiger, rainbows, and more.

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Of course none of her marks would be recognizable as such, but it was the intent that amazed me coming from an eighteen month old.

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She looked so proud of her work. We’ll have to chalk on non-traditional surfaces more often!

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Shadow Chalk Experiment

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Travis has made sundials before, but never before has he used his whole body for the activity! This might be the coolest version we’ve tried yet.

Okay, so it wasn’t as precise as past versions, since the measurement (your body!) is big and you have to remember to pop outside. But at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. intervals, Travis stood with his feet in the same spot on our patio. He held a big stick for extra effect and struck a dramatic pose.

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Each time, I traced his outline and marked the time.

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Sure enough, it was long and aimed to the south in the morning, short and stubby at 1 p.m, and long and to the north by late afternoon.

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If your kids want to, have them color in their shape each time with fun patterns or colors! Travis preferred to leave his blank, but we still had a neat record of the sun’s passing by the end of the day.

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Giant Puddle Paint Brush

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When life gives you rain… go paint with puddles! After two days of gray skies, the sun broke through in the late afternoon, and I hurried the kids into rain coats and out into the sunshine. The rain had stopped, but left behind warm puddles on the sidewalk, making it the perfect moment for puddle stomping… and puddle painting.

A note to parents on this activity: Your kids are going to get wet and you’re just going to have to be okay with that. As a result, you probably want to play during warm rain rather than cold rain, so no one starts shivering. Then just be ready with towels and dry clothes when you head inside.

With that preamble aside, the fun outside is gorgeous! I showed the kids how to draw with chalk on the sidewalk right next to puddles. Either dip the chalk in the water to wet it, or draw in a saturated spot of pavement for deep, rich colors.

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Then we used a child-sized broom as our “paintbrush”. Sweep across the chalk with water from a puddle, and you’ll get a gorgeous smeary effect.

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Veronika loved sweeping over my drawings, or adding her own.

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Big brother Travis loved making big swirls of color in the deepest part of the puddles and then sweeping through it (he called these “ghosts”).

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We left positive messages for the neighbors, too, since we’re all social distancing!

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Older kids might want to get really artistic with this and younger ones will probably just make doodles.

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Either way, it’s fantastic rainy day fun.

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