Explore Art With Preschoolers: Concept Books

Art with preschoolers. Does the thought of trying to teach your preschooler art make you cringe? You just know that your preschooler is going to look at your attempts to make art and demand that someone who knows what they are doing teach them? Because you clearly don’t know what you are doing.

Exploring art with preschoolers - concept books

Well maybe not that far, but you do feel far from an art expert. Let me reassure you of something.

Art is not a science. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even pretty to be art. One of the best ways to remind yourself of this is to simply explore art with your preschooler. You will quickly see that some things are considered art that will even make you feel better about your skills. 😉

And since I am a huge fan of the two birds with one stone concept, I found a fun list of concept books (colors, numbers, etc.) to explore.

Explore Art with Preschoolers: Concept Books

Art 123: Count from 1 to 12 with Great Works of Art by Stefano Zuffi – Each number gets a painting or other work of art and has a little whimsical, rhyming prose to go with it.

I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait – “I spy with my little eye…” each shape found in a famous painting. Lots of different styles of painting.

Art: A World of Words in 12 Languages by Doris Kutschbach – Simple format, a piece of art on one page and a word that describes it in 12 different languages on the opposite page.

A is for Art Museum by Katy Friedland and Marla K. Shoemaker – An ABC book about the art museum. Each letter gets a piece of art that corresponds with a word that starts with said letter. Each letter has a question or two to help guide you in exploring the pieces with your preschooler.

The Art Treasure Hunt: I Spy with My Little Eye by Doris Kutschbach – Each painting has a selection of items for your preschooler to search out.

Art Detective: Spot the Difference by Doris Kutschbach, illustrated by Julia Dürr – Compare the original painting to the “forgery” and see what differences you can find.

A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson – If you love alliteration, you HAVE to get this book. Each letter has a piece of art created by the author and has a short passage of text that uses words that start with that letter almost exclusively. It is quite a feat.

I Spy Colors in Art by Lucy Micklethwait – Same format as the I Spy Shapes book.

Make Your Own Art!

The Big Book of Color: An Adventurous Journey into the Magical and Marvelous World of Color published by Walter Foster Jr. – This book is a wonderful tool for exploring color with preschoolers. I plan to use it this coming school year with my preschooler, who is four. There is another book that works with it called The Bib Book of….

So get out there and explore some art and then step out of your box and actually create some. I promise, no one will throw tomatoes at you!

You might also like:

How to Teach Art in Your Homeschool When You Have No Talent!

Kid-Made Washi Tape Ornament – Inspired by Paris: A Book of Shapes

My kids love to be crafty. Some more so than others, but occasionally I will hit on a project that they will sit and do for hours. These simple ornaments were just that for two of my four. The third is planning to make hers tomorrow. The fourth isn’t very interested at this point, I need to find some Minecraft washi tape or something.

This project came around when I joined up with the fabulous Melissa of Mama Miss and a LOT of the Kid Blogger Network bloggers to bring the kid made ornaments blog hop to life again. This has become an annual tradition that is a lot of fun. Last year, we made snowflakes.

This year, with Oliver being really into reading and having had the chance to see a lot of fun board books this year, I chose the book Paris: A Book of Shapes. It is part of a series of board books called Hello World and they are just the best little books. Such lovely illustrations and typography. Each book covers a concept like numbers, colors, or shapes.

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornament

This is another one of those simple craft projects that is only limited by your selection of washi tape. So consider this an enabler alert when I tell you to go ahead and stock up. 😉 You will have plenty of options for projects by the time I’m finished playing with mine so it won’t go to waste.

The steps for this were easy. We cut out shapes we found in the book from cardstock. The older kids cut their own shapes, I cut the one for my young preschooler. Then I let them go to town decorating their shapes with the washi tape.

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

My little guy is getting the hang of this crafting thing. The last time we did a washi tape project, he put somewhere around a pound of washi on his bookmark. It’s more of a display piece than a bookmark.

After we made the ones I needed to take a picture of, my little guy proceeded to craft for a good long time. This little guy likes to be busy and he likes to be independent. These ornaments are perfect for it. There is very little that he needs me to do for him (tying the knot mostly).

Once they were finished, we punched a hole in the shape and strung some pretty baker’s twine type string through it. We tied a knot to make a loop and voila! We had a super cute, super easy kid-made washi tape ornament. I think they turned out pretty great. How about you?

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Oliver’s ornament. See? Note the impressive lack of washi tape weight. 😉

More Kid-Made Ornaments!

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas

Be sure to check out the awesome series. Melissa is doing a weekly wrap up, but there are 10 bloggers each day sharing a kid-made, book-inspired ornament. This is a great way to add some seasonal themed projects to your homeschooling this year.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers participating in the first day with me:

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas


Bird Unit Study for Preschool

I can hardly believe that I’m actually looking into preschool homeschooling again. Our youngest child is three and he is our most active child yet. I am looking forward to lots of fun with this guy.

I’m one of those homeschool moms that likes to make a big plan and then pick and choose what I do as the days go. I like to have options. And sometimes I completely ignore my plans and do my own thing. Even though my plan is also my own thing. I’m complicated like that.

Right now, I am planning on using a theme or unit study approach with Oliver. And I will be sharing these here on the blog. They will consist of books, crafts, activities, coloring pages, simple worksheets, and anything else that happens to fit with the theme.

Please Note: I am not putting these together and expecting us to complete every single activity, every single time. So please don’t think I’m expecting anyone else to do so either. And with that, let’s dive on into our bird unit study for preschool!

(For more bird unit study resources, check the bottom of this post…I like birds.)

Bird Unit Study for Preschool

Bird Unit Study for Preschool

For our homeschool, every unit study starts with a book list. Some lists are longer than other, but it is the foundation. For preschool, I use both fiction and non-fiction picture books. I include some higher level reading books, we use these as read alouds or just to include the older siblings. These are marked so you know.

Books for a Bird Unit Study for Preschool

I’ve broken these up a bit to make the list a bit more organized.

Books About Birds – Living Book Style

These books are picture books that feature birds but in an engaging story about various aspects of bird life versus a list of facts or textbook style text.

  • Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray, illustrated by Kenard Pak – This book has a lovely rhythm to it. The illustrations have a realistic nature-like look to them. There is a little interview with the nesting bird at the end of the story that has some fun facts about nesting birds.
  • Birds by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek – Bright and colorful, this book covers a variety of different looks birds can have.
  • Don’t be Afraid Little Pip by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman – Pip is disappointed that she can’t fly and tries to learn how from a few birds who can fly. Ultimately she learns to appreciate that she is a penguin and penguins aren’t meant to fly, they are meant to swim!
  • Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Megan Halsey – A classroom follows a pair of blue jays from the nest building stage to when their baby birds leave the nest and are able to fly without even one lesson. The illustrations in this book appear to be paper cutouts, they are rather neat looking.
  • Little Bird Takes a Bath by Marisabina Russo – Follow along with the little bird as he goes about his day trying to get a proper bath in the city.
  • An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long – Not all the eggs in this book are bird eggs, but a lot are and the book is too gorgeous to leave out.
  • A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long – Like the egg book, not all bird nests, but still a lovely book to include.

Picture Books With Birds

These picture books feature birds but are more storytelling fun in nature.

  • Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry by Vern Kousky – I love that this book introduces poetry to preschoolers in a fun way. There are excerpts from “real” poets like T.S. Eliot and Emily Dickinson and then Otto creates some of his own.
  • The Little Bird Who Lost His Song by Jedda Robaard – A little bird goes on a short journey to find his song in this board book. There are a couple flaps in this book which make it more interactive for little ones.
  • Home Tweet Home by Courtney Dicmas – This is a fun, colorful book about two bird siblings who try to find the perfect home for their large family, only to realize they already have it.
  • Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer – This is a silly, bird version of the classic There’s a Monster at the End of This Book.
  • Duck & Goose Go to the Beach by Tad Hills – Duck and Goose are good friends and always a fun read. There are multiple books featuring them. This one has them traveling to the beach. I can oftentimes relate to Goose in this book.
  • Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins – A young woodpeckers learns how to peck, and proceeds to peck a hole in just about everything. A slightly silly, fun read.
  • I’m Not Reading by Jonathon Allen – Baby Owl is trying to read a book to his stuffed Owly when a horde of baby chicks invades. It’s a cute horde.

These two picture books tell a story, but they have a sad element in them that you may want to pre-read so you can decide if your child will be ok with them.

  • Bluebird by Bob Staake – This is a wordless book about a lonely boy who befriends a sweet blue bird. The story has a tragic element when the bluebird is struck and killed by a bully with a stick. The book ends with several birds flying the sad boy and his bluebird up in the sky, where the bluebird flies and fades off into the clouds. The geometric illustrations are unique and the reason this book is still on this list.
  • Hungry Hen by Richard Waring, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church – This book is similar to a fairy tale. The fox watches the hungry hen grow, always waiting just one more day because she will be bigger the next day. The fox grows weaker each day until one day he pounces…and the hen eats him. Some kids will find this role reversal funny, some very much not. It reminds me of Aesop’s fables, so I included it on the list.

Bird Picture Books for Older Kids

These books will make a good read aloud or as a way to include an older sibling in on the study:

  • Seabird by Holling Clancy Holling – This is a classic living book that chronicles the journey of a carved ivory gull through every “age of American adventure.”
  • Backyard Birds of Summer by Carol Lerner – The detailed, colored pencil illustrations of this book are lovely. The book covers feeder birds and birds using houses and includes a chapter on attracting birds to your own yard. There is also a section for more information and further reading.
  • Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner – I did not actually have this one on hand, but it is recommended on the back of the birds of summer book by the same author. I am assuming it is similar and wanted to include it so you would know it is available (I didn’t).

Crafts & Activities for a Bird Unit Study for Preschool

I searched for crafts and activities that would be suitable for 3-4-year-olds, but most of these can be done by just about any age child.

If you would like a unit study for older children to go along with this one for the preschoolers, check out the Bird Unit Study over at Every Star is Different! Several of her activities can be used with preschoolers, too. I actually downloaded her science printable pack to use with my kids. I’ll laminate them and we will be able to use them for a long time!

So that is the bird unit study for preschool. In putting this together, I realized a few things. First, I love birds and think they are a lot of fun. Second, I have already written a couple of posts on bird unit studies and even created a couple printables. Third, there will likely be another bird booklist in the future because I found even more adorable bird books to check out at our library. You’re welcome.

Other bird unit study resources on the blog:

Our Goals for Homeschool Preschool This Year

Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? I am a goals person. I love setting them, I love working on them, and I love chucking them when things change and the goals no longer fit.

Meaning? I’m not married to my goals. They just keep me focused. And trust me, I can use all the help with focusing that I can get.

So today, I’m talking about our goals for homeschool preschool this year. Oliver is three and is a high-energy, active boy. Translation? A lovable boy who is very much into anything that interests him ALL.THE.TIME. I’m hoping to help him focus his energy a bit more on productive activities. 😉

Our homeschool preschool goals for our 3 year old. We keep it simple.

Our Goals for Homeschool Preschool

Oliver is a solid 3.5 years old as we start this homeschool year and is showing a LOT of interest in learning about just about anything. He is inquisitive and loves people.

I have the feeling he is going to prove to be a kinesthetic, social learner…the two learning styles that challenge me the most. This is actually why I am starting to work with him in a more focused manner now. I started with kindergarten age with our older children.

Writing Readiness

Basically, I want to work on his fine motor skills. Both of my boys have always had good fine motor skills, I just want to fine tune Oliver’s a bit before diving into working with pencils. I am using the following resources to guide this area:

Developing a Love of Reading

I’m of the “if you can read, you can learn anything” mentality. I want to create a love of reading in my children. This is actually a goal for all of our kids this homeschool year. I’ve let reading fall in our priorities list and I want to remedy that now.

I will work on this goal by being intentional about reading to my kids. Yes, the dreaded read aloud. I am still conquering that one. Love to read, not so much out loud.

Fostering Independence

Oliver is very independent as it is. I am trying to not see this as quite so bittersweet (mah baby doesn’t need meee!) and embracing it. I want to help Oliver develop some good habits that I wasn’t quite so diligent about with the older three when they were little. Things like helping with laundry and putting away toys immediately after use.

I also want to encourage his growing independent play time. He is the youngest (by almost six years) of four so he has always had someone to hang out with. This is a great thing for his social skills (the kid doesn’t know a stranger), but isn’t such a great thing when everyone else has something going on that he can’t help with like their own schoolwork.

That’s pretty much it. I am not one for a lot of structure when it comes to the early years of homeschooling. We are pretty relaxed to allow a lot of time for things like play, exploring their gifts and talents, and building family relationships.

These three goals for homeschool preschool are a good fit for our family. Do you have any homeschool goals for this year?

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children – Jesus Storybook Bible

In our 3-6 children’s church class, we have been working through The Jesus Storybook Bible and I’m always looking for activity ideas for them. Today I have partnered with a group of bloggers to bring you some activity ideas for The Friend of Little Children as a part of a huge blog hop of sorts.

We are building a list of activity ideas for EACH story/account in The Jesus Storybook Bible. I signed up for The Friend of Little children. You can see them all linked up on the main page over at My Mundane and Miraculous Life.

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children from The Storybook Bible | Vicki-Arnold.com

Activity Ideas for The Friend of Little Children

There are a few different themes you can explore with this story:

  • Friendship – As Christians, we are blessed to be friends of Jesus. You can explore the theme of friendship with your little ones by talking about what being a good friend is, role playing out different friend situations (when someone has a toy you want, for example), or make a gift for their friends.
  • Service – Exploring service with preschoolers is a great time for role playing. One possible activity is to wash each other’s feet. You wash your child’s and then have them wash yours. Or serve each other tea and cookies at a tea party.
  • Priorities – A good one if you have older students that you would like to include. Talk about what is important to us and compare it to what is important to God. Maybe make a picture graph for little ones with magazine cut-outs and have older students make a chart or list.

Our Activity for The Friend of Little Children

We chose to focus on friendship for our activity. After we read the story, we talked about how great it is to be a friend of God. Then we talked about our friends. The 3-year-old counted off his friends (most made the list more than once…).

Then we decided to make a gift for a friend. We decided to color a picture for his friend Jeremiah. Oliver is all about dinosaurs right now and my friend Annette over at In All You Do has several dinosaur printables that we just love.

I printed out the coloring pages and let Oliver pick one for Jeremiah. We talked about which one he thought Jeremiah would like and what colors he would like on it. He chose an orange cat. 😉

Dinosaur coloring pages from In All You Do

Then Oliver picked one of his Dragon Legends cards (purchased at the Creation Museum) especially for Jeremiah. He changed his mind after I took the photo so he ended up giving him the sparkly purple one.

Dinosaur coloring pages and dragon legend cards

Then we packaged it up in an envelope, which he also decorated, and hand delivered it to Jeremiah. It was adorable.

I’ve said it many times before, crafting and doing activities with kids does not have to be a complicated affair. They enjoy the time with you and will pick up much more than you could ever actually teach. They’re funny like that, little sponges.

I hope you enjoyed the activity ideas for The Friend of Little Children from The Jesus Storybook Bible. Be sure to check out all the other activities over at My Mundane and Miraculous Life!

The Ultimate Guide to Crafting with Socks

The Ultimate Guide to Crafting with Socks from Vicki-Arnold.com

The Ultimate Guide to 50 Craft Supplies

I am happy to be partnering with 50 other bloggers to bring you the Ultimate Guide to Craft Supplies. Each blogger has taken a craft supply and created a guide for crafting with that supply. The project started on January 1st with Craftulate’s guide of Googly Eyes.

A sample of the guides you won’t want to miss:

You can see the entire list on The Ultimate Guide to 50 Craft Materials!

I chose socks. This may seem odd, but once you see some of the cute things you can do with them, you’ll love it! I have rounded up over 40 craft ideas to put those mate-less socks to use. Or those super cute holiday socks that you found on clearance for 10 cents.

These crafts can be made with kids, but there is a wide range of skills required. I aimed to make this a guide you can return to again and again.

The Ultimate Guide to Crafting with Socks

Toys Made from Socks

Stuffed Animal Sock Toys

Sock Puppets

Gift Ideas

  • Soapy the Sock Fish – This cutie would make a cute addition to a baby shower gift.
  • How to Make a Sock Bouquet – You can make this for any occasion or holiday, for any age. A cute practical alternative when real flowers wouldn’t work.
  • Can Cozy – A handy gift for someone who drinks a lot of canned beverages.
  • Lavender Rice Compress – For those stress-filled days.
  • Diaper Babies – Have fun making a basket of these with your kids the next time you need a baby shower gift. Or consider donating it to your local pregnancy care center to brighten someone’s day.

Socks for Decor

Clothing & Accessories Crafts with Socks

Holiday & Seasonal Sock Crafts

Other Sock Craft Ideas

  • Baby Sock Cat Toy – Make a simple toy that will drive your cat crazy. Very easy project.

MORE Sock Crafts!

You can follow my Pinterest board for sock crafting fun – Crafting With Socks

Crafting with Socks (a Pinterest board)

I would like to invite all my blogging friends to link up any sock crafts that they may have on their blog. Thank you for sharing your creative genius with us!

Sensory Bins – Resources for Beginners

Sensory bin resources for beginners. An ebook, a few Pinterest boards, and some advice to get you started...not overwhelmed.

Sensory Bin Curiosity & Worries

I have been curious about sensory bins/learning for a while. There seems to be a lot of buzz around sensory bins, apparently they are pretty awesome. To me, all I saw was the mess potential and none of my kids were the right ages for it. Or so I thought, but we’ll get to that.

Our current youngest is just about the busiest little guy I have ever met. I’ve had toddlers before (three, to be exact), but this kid takes the cake. Literally, if you don’t watch him.

Please do not pin photos with my children's faces in them. A graphic that you are welcomed to pin is at the top of this post. Thank you!

He’s a sweet little booger, but he gets into everything. All the time. My older three toddlers would actually sit and do things. Not this guy. He prefers climbing, exploring everyone’s stuff, and being outside (preferably with Daddy). And he is the cutest little copycat there ever was…

Please do not pin photos with my children's faces in them. A graphic that you are welcomed to pin is at the top of this post. Thank you!

One day it dawned on me. THIS! This is why people are so crazy about giving toddlers things to explore intentionally. This is why sensory bins, water tables, and tot school came about!

Because if I don’t give him something he CAN do, I’m just following him around all day saying, “No, no.”

Before we start with the resources, I must tell you that a few of these are affiliate links, see my policies for more info.

Introduction to Sensory Bins

One of my blogging friends, Sharla, wrote an ebook called Sensory Bins. When I saw it, my interest was piqued, but still…the mess potential. And then, along came a suggestion from my friend Becky and BAM! Sensory bins were doable!

So I bought the ebook. And read it. And loved it.

There was something mystical and complicated about sensory bins to me before I read the ebook. Sharla did a fine job of explaining what a sensory bin is, why you should bother with them, and how to put them together. For my fellow list lovers out there, she even includes some lists for you. Be still my heart.

Add a bag of lentils from my freezer, a recently vacated plastic tote, some various kitchen gadgets, Becky’s tip, and Sharla’s encouragement, and you get…

Please do not pin photos with my children's faces in them. A graphic that you are welcomed to pin is at the top of this post. Thank you!

Our first sensory bin experience! He actually sat still for over 30 minutes!! Major exclamation points!! I was also wrong about not having kids that would enjoy sensory bins, my older three also enjoy playing with this.

Sensory Bin Ideas

We tried rice, but that didn’t excite him nearly as much because, apparently, our little guy doesn’t appreciate things sticking to his hands. The rice did this more than the lentils. In hindsight, I should have let the rice reach room temp in the open air. I keep it in the freezer, too. I think the condensation as it warmed made it stickier faster than the lentils.

I am really looking forward to trying out more sensory bin ideas as our little guy grows. I’ve started a Pinterest board where I am collecting ideas, but I thought I would share a few links to some that are on our more immediate “must do” list:

Sensory Bin Resources

If you are interested in learning more about sensory bins for yourself, here are some resources I recommend:

Sensory Bins Ebook

Sharla’s ebook will help take the mystery out of sensory bins and encourage you to do what you can. She also has a large selection of sensory bins on her blog. Start with her round up post of their 25 favorite sensory bins.

Sensory Material Storage

If you intend to do this regularly, you will want to keep your materials organized so that you don’t have a cluttered mess floating all over your house and you will be able to easily find what you are looking for. Be sure to check out sensory material storage from Play Create Explore

Sensory Play Pinterest Boards

And don’t forget my new board, Homeschool :: Sensory Bins.

Ideas for Sensory Bin Materials

Look around the house for things you may already have to make your first bin. Here are a few ideas of things to look for:

  • rice
  • pebbles
  • beans
  • cotton balls
  • little animal figurines (Toobs are great for this)
  • trucks and cars
  • scoops, spoons, and measuring cups
  • tweezers
  • funnels

Our first bin was lentils with some measuring cups/spoons, funnel, and a couple random animal toys. I was more interested in seeing if this could actually work than creating a specific theme.

You also want to keep an eye out in clearance aisles. I found a pack of colorful plastic insects for 20 cents at Kroger on clearance.

If you order items from Amazon, be sure to sign up for their Prime program. You get a free 30 day trial that gives you free 2 day shipping (great for holiday shopping, just sayin’).

My Conclusion & Invitation

Overall, sensory bins are NOT that complicated. I intend to use them more in our homeschool, particularly to occupy the little guy while we do group work.

Do you use sensory bins in your home? Do you have a favorite? Please tell me how you use them in your home(school) and leave a link to your favorite bin in the comments so we can see it!

I’m sharing this post a few places and you may be interested in checking them out, too: