Friday, November 25, 2016

Painting with Shaving Cream

Shaving cream is one of those things teachers either love or hate. I tried it once in my kindergarten classroom in a whole group lesson and learned my lesson not to do that ever again! However, I didn’t give up on it… I tried it again in small groups and it was much more manageable, but it’s not like it came out once a week… or once a month even.

Now that I’m homeschooling the shaving cream has come out of the cabinet a few times this year. We’ve practice writing letters, our names, sight words, and numbers. I’ve figured out a few tricks through the years that have made things a little easier, which I’ll share with you later.

This week is Thanksgiving week, so we’re taking a break from the routine and just having fun so I gave the kids a choice…

Shaving Cream or Watercolor Paint

It was a tough choice. They love both, but obviously, they chose Shaving Cream! Since they love painting also and they didn’t choose that I thought maybe they could combine both worlds by painting with shaving cream. They liked the idea, so I pulled out the paint brushes and this is how we got started!

Painting with Shaving Cream:

Shaving Cream
Paint brushes (any size will work, but small watercolor paint brushes work great)
Squeegee or cut plastic square (I’ll share more about this later.)
Optional Decorations: beads, cut pipe cleaner, cut straws, bells… the list goes on!

Tip #1.  Choose a good spot. Shaving cream can get messy pretty fast, but it can be cleaned up pretty easy if you do it right. I like to be near a sink or water source. You don’t want 10 five-year-olds walking down the hall with shaving cream covering their hands, because that’s not the only place the shaving cream will be in the next 5 minutes.

Tip # 2. Choose a smooth surface. You want clean up to be fast and easy to make transitioning into the next activity fast. We have a plastic picnic table that has a gritty surface. While it might be a fun sensory experience at some point, in general the rough surface would make clean up difficult unless you could just spray it off with a hose.

Tip #3. Wear a smock to cover clothing. Even a large old t-shirt would help.

Tip #4. Keep some wipes or paper towels nearby to do a quick wipe up of any shaving cream that drips on clothing, the floor, or anywhere else it is not supposed to be.

Tip #5. Go through your behavior expectations before you spray the shaving cream on the table. It’s important to mention rules like, “Do not clap while you have shaving cream in your hands.” I even explain the WHY. “It might go in your eyes or your friends and it hurts. Even still they might try it, so be prepared with wipes or a sink for eye washing. Also, it’s important to let them know where the shaving cream is allowed to be and where it is not. For multiple students painting in a general area, let them know where each student’s personal painting area is. If they have a difficult time understanding this concept, use painter’s tape to mark a square in front of them.

Tip #6. Squeegees work well to easily clean up shaving cream from a table, but there have their cons. One drawback is their size and shape. Even the smallest size is pretty big so whether you keeping just one or one for each student, storing them could be a setback. Instead, I recommend using a cut plastic square. How? you may ask… It’s simple.

Take a plastic folder and cut it into about 3 inch squares. These are great because storage for even 30 would take up minimal space. They are cheap. One folder would make enough for several students. Also, these work great as erasers. Their small size makes them easy to have on hand for each student. Just show the kids how to use the edge to scrape the table clean and the bend the plastic square while smearing the cream back on the table in a pile. In addition, you can also have them use the squares to spread the shaving cream evenly in front of them.


1. Spray a pile of shaving cream in a central location. I typically choose the middle of the table if students are sharing. As I learned during my first experience, less is more with shaving cream. You can always add more.

2. Provide the students with a paint brush that they can dip in the shaving cream and then paint a chosen object or scene in front of them. They can also paint words or numbers if you want to add academics back into this activity.

3. When finished, have them use their “eraser” a.k.a. cut plastic square, to wipe their area clean and begin again.

Even I joined in the fun...

Christmas Activity:

We had fun shaping the shaving cream into a triangular Christmas tree shape. Then, decorated the tree with cut pipe cleaner as garland and a yellow star topper as well as beads for ornaments. It would be fun to see what designs kids could create. There are many shapes that would be fun to decorate in this fashion from wreaths to snowmen.

Last Thought… If you have some food die to change the color of the shaving cream, I think it would even make this activity more interesting. We might try that next time!

Do you love this idea? Try it! I’d love to hear all about your learning experience and share your pictures too!

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Learning to Sew A Button: Creating a Buttoning & Unbuttoning Activity

Club Time

In an effort to spend more time individually with our children, my husband and I have set aside a time each week for Boys’ Club & Girls’ Club. This gives us a specific opportunity to teach our children to become Godly men and Godly women. We plan specific learning experiences where we can teach our children life skills and role model Godly character in specific situations.

Today in Boys’ Club, Caleb learned gun safety skills at the gun range with Daddy. They shot at our left-over pumpkins to see the damage a bullet can cause.

During our Girls’ club time, I introduced the skill of sewing a button to Lily. Then, we practiced the fine motor skill of buttoning and unbuttoning.  We had a lot of fun together. Would you like to hear about what we did? If so… Keep Reading!

Sewing a Button Activity:

Scrap Fabric Square or Embroidery Interfacing Square

*Disclaimer:  I didn’t have a plastic needle that would fit through the holes of the buttons I had bought for this activity, so we used a real needle. My little girl is 3 years old. I took into account her fine motor abilities, listening skills, and focusing skills when deciding if she was ready to be trusted with a real needle under focused and cautious supervision.

1. The first thing we did was introduce vocabulary of the needle. I stressed that this was a real needle with a real sharp tip that would hurt if it poked into skin… hers or mine.

2. I introduced the word thread and showed her how to thread the needle through the eye.

3. I introduced the word knot. I demonstrated making a knot and explained why it was needed.

4. I demonstrated how to sew the button on the interfacing square a few times and then held the button while Lily stuck the needle through the hole of the button and pulled it through the opposite side. (You may choose to use a scrap piece of fabric for this part of the activity.)

5. When the thread became short, I tied it off in a knot, and cut the string.

6. After the first button was completed, I got her started on the following buttons, but I allowed her to hold the buttons on her own.

7. She sewed the last 2 buttons on a separate interface square on her own with just a little help from me to make sure she continued to go in the right direction. When she finished, I cut 2 holes to match the buttons in the opposite side that were just big enough for the large buttons to fit through.

8. After cleaning up our mess, I showed Lily what we made. A new “toy”! One where she could practice buttoning and unbuttoning on her own. She was so excited that she had made something herself and enjoyed using it over and over again. When Daddy got home she eagerly told him and showed him what she had made and what she could do with the buttons.

For the first button, I allowed Lily to select a button of her choosing. She chose a pink one that just happened to be a large button and it worked well because there was space for my fingers to help her hold the button as she pressed the needle in and pulled it out.

The second button she chose was a purple button that just happened to be a small button. This button made our activity difficult as there wasn’t a safe place to hold the button and caused an accidental poke. No worries! She didn’t even draw blood… tis the life of one that sews.  

After this, I encouraged her to choose a large button instead. We made it through with no further pokes! Yay!

Have you started teaching your child to sew? What are some of your favorite lessons? We had such a great time with this activity that I am definitely planning more sewing during our Girls’ Club time!

Do you like this idea? Try it! I’d love to hear all about your learning experience!

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

Friday, November 11, 2016

Digging into Reading

Digging into Reading

Our kids LOVE their sandbox. We built it for them a few months ago and it is their favorite place to be. A few weeks ago, we played paleontologist. We hid some plastic dinosaurs and sea shells under the sand and then used a paint brush to carefully dig them up. We all had a blast with this game!

This week for reading Caleb was learning some new sight words and Lily was practicing some new short a-blends. We’ve played matching games and sorted words/blends, and used stickers to build the words/blend, but this week I took a little different approach.

I quickly selected 10 sight words I wanted Caleb to practice and I pulled out 10 a-blend cards for Lily. I quickly stuffed them into the sand about an inch down or less as they were playing without saying a word. This caught their attention and right away they were excited to play… and READ!

Playing Word Paleontologists:

Hand your children a paint brush and their off! We get into our paleontologist role by pretending that each flashcard found is rare and fragile. They must carefully use the paint brush to wipe away the sand until it is all swiped clear. (It helped that we did this when playing paleontologist with the dinosaurs and seashells as well!) We are all excited about a dig find and eagerly work to figure out what message is on the card.

As I mentioned, we practiced reading sight words and short a-blends, but this activity is great for practicing all kinds of skills such as letter names/sounds, blends, sight words, and vocabulary words. You could bury a card that had a picture or a word on it and have your child tell you a rhyming word. You could bury index cards with complete sentences on them to have them practice fluency skills. I also think it would be fun to bury a sentence in the sandbox each word on a different card and have your child try to figure out the secret message once all the words are uncovered!

We became Word Paleontologists, but your children might become Number Paleontologists! This would be a fun way to practice recognizing numbers, counting how many dots, addition, or subtraction problems and so much more! They could uncover a number and you could ask them to tell you a number that was more, less, or equal to that number. The list goes on and on!

Don’t have a sandbox? This activity could easily be done by anyone just by placing flashcards face down in a large plastic bin and covering them with some play sand.

On a side note, our sandbox is outside and although it is covered the sand just a few inches below the surface is damp from rain water that comes up from the ground. Caleb’s sight word cards were laminated and were unharmed in the process of this activity. Lily’s blends were written on index card stock and were not laminated. After finding them, although they were not damaged, you could tell they were near some moisture.

Do you like this idea? Try it! I’d love to hear all about your learning experience!

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

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