Monday, January 30, 2012

Chinese New Year Lion Puppet

Every year we go into Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year with our good friend N. And every year Spiff comes back impressed and with an urgent need to be a lion. We make paper lions. Spiff gets out some plastic oranges from the play food bin and makes me drum away on our coffee table while he dances away. I must say, even with a four year old dictator, I mean, director, it's a pretty good show.

Here's how you make our New Year's Lion:

What You Need:
  • crayons, markers etc.
  • scissors
  • glue or tape
  • two popsicle sticks
  • piece of construction paper, any color
  • this printable printed up on cardstock:

The Printable:

What You Do:
The directions are on the printable but here goes anyway. Color the pieces on the cardstock. Cut them out.

Valley fold the inside of the mouth and glue the back of the head to the back of the fold so the pieces line up to complete the front.

Glue a popsicle stick on the back of each set of legs so there's a handle hanging down for each hand to grab.

Next cut out two 3" (ish) strips of construction paper and glue one end of one to one end of the either to make a long 17" strip. Accordion fold every inch or so the entire length.

Glue one end of that to the back of the front legs and the other end to the front of the back legs to complete your lion's body. (The first one I did I had the paper going vertical but Spiff didn't like it since it couldn't fit "over" his head. So on his we put the paper horizontally. I don't think it matters. They both looked great if you ask me, but kids are picky.)

Beat some pots and pans and make your lion dance.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sock Snowballs

We love snow and everything you can do in it. Snow forts, snow men, snow angels, sledding, snow ball fights. All of it. But, let's face it, sometimes it's just too cold and wet. It takes 30 minutes to get the kids bundled up and outside and about 30 seconds before Squidgee loses his mittens and cries over his cold, wet hands. The other day we built a snowman and by the time we crammed the carrot nose on nobody wanted to play outside anymore. So we came inside for a snowball fight. No puddles on the floor, no wet clothes, no crying over numb fingers and wet socks. When Squidgee got bored we didn't all have to stop and go in. It was just a good old fun snowball fight. With one twist. Our snowballs were socks.

Here's what you do:

Scrounge up 6 or so pairs of white adult (or kid) socks. Roll them into balls by putting them together like you're about to cuff the pair but then stuff the toes of both socks into the cuff of the outside sock. Keep pushing them in until the socks are all but swallowed up and look like balls. Divvy the balls and set up your boundaries and let loose! (and watch out for breakables. ) When your done, unroll them, cuff them together and put them back in Dad's drawer before he even misses them.

The other beauty of this is if you plan a Christmas in July holiday, this is a good "winter" activity for a warm summer day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tangram Game

Here are two smaller sets you can share with a friend and a puzzle worksheet too. Challenge each other to see who can solve pattern worksheets first. Or play solitaire to see how quickly you can solve them on your own!

Game Sets:

Printable Puzzle Sheet:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Make Your Own Tangrams

When I was in elementary school we had two math classes. One was your typical (boring, if you asked me) adding, subtracting, short division then onto long division class. Boring, right? The other was a sort of applied math. I don't know if it was the teacher who made it fun or the math which did but we played a couple games to help build our daily math skills that I remember well. One of these was a dice game where, in your head, you had to add or multiply the numbers on the faces of 5 dice to get the answer. If you were right you got to collect that many unit cubes. Whichever team had the most cubes at the end of the class won. That was a great learning game I highly recommend! (and all you need is some dice- and cubes I guess, but pennies would do too!)

The other task I remember well is completing tangram puzzles. Tangrams are a set of shapes all related to each other in size that form a square when a whole. Separate they are a set of two large triangles, 1 medium triangle, 2 small, a square and a parallelogram. When you put them together you can form endless amounts of shapes and pictures. They really are a lot of fun. In my math class we had silhouettes printed on paper that we had to replicate using the tangram shapes. All of them. It's a mental work-out but it's fun and great for the brain.

My kid's been a sickie. It's winter. We're stuck in the house. I remembered: TANGRAMS! I dug around until I found the set my grandfather had gotten me. They were missing a piece. Then I realized, well, duh, I can make my own. So I did. And so can you!

Really, all you need to do is make a grid divided evenly into 16 units on some cardboard. Probably the easiest is the inch. Then divide and cut your square using the following pattern. Or you could just print up the one I made above on to some good old cardstock. That's really the easiest way. And they make a nice big set for little hands. The best thing about tangrams is they will travel neatly. Just stick them in a ziplock bag and throw it in your purse for restaurant waits. And if you lose one? So what, make some more.

Tangrams for everybody!

(and at some point I'll make some pattern sheets, but really if you google tangrams, I'm sure loads of pictures will show up for you to use.)