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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How-to Tuesday: Rainy Day/Snow Day Fun with Toddlers

It's mid-February now, and even though it's been a remarkable month weather-wise here, it's not quite prance-in-the-park season yet. I am getting antsy! Sometimes those sunny (but still cold) days feel like a carrot being dangled in front of my nose--Spring is so near, and yet the ground is still frozen. I can only imagine the children I am privileged to work with are feeling it, too. This is where a bit of creativity and spontaneity come into play (pun intended). I am going to devote some of my How-to Tuesdays and other posts to sharing some quick, budget-friendly, kid-tested activities with you. These activities will be generally portrayed for use in the preschool classroom, but are just as fun to do with your kids at home on a rainy or snowy day when you're stuck indoors, or even during their next play-date or birthday party.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and although I do not observe that as a holiday, I felt like it was as good an opportunity as any to borrow a toddler or two and whip up a fun, quick, budget-friendly project. I put together my yearning for the sunlight and color of Spring with my love of clear contact paper and decided to create some "Stained Glass" Heart Sun-catchers. I started out by cutting small chunks of tissue paper I had at home. I used reds, pinks, white and some scraps from a few years back that had heart themed prints. For the border on this one, which is hanging in my kitchen window, I cut a heart shape out of a 12x12 card-stock page I had never used from a scrap-book I made several years ago. I cut a smaller heart out of the center to create a frame. I made several similar frames with construction paper. I cut portions of clear contact paper and peeled off the protective backing. I set them, sticky side up, on a table and stuck on the tissue scraps. This is a very kid-friendly project. Even younger toddlers can enjoy sticking paper scraps to contact paper. Older children can take more independent roles in the project, doing the cutting or even tearing tissue paper. I used my portable laminating machine to protect my final project, though you can also use more contact paper to finish off the project, leaving a large enough border to seam it together.
This is a versatile project, too. We did Chanukah themed "Stained Glass" Sun-catchers in with my preschool class this past year, and you could choose any shape you'd like. I've even seen entire windows done with this method using several smaller shapes or even large rectangular portions of contact paper without a frame. I have also used clear contact paper right on a classroom easel in a toddler class with small containers full of various paper scraps (tissue, wrapping paper, construction paper, magazine cutouts) for sticking on--a great way to encourage use of both fine motor and gross motor skills in the wee ones. Now you finally have a use for the tissue paper you insisted on saving from various gifts received over the years!
So, just a quick recap...

You will need:
  • clear contact paper
  • scraps of colored tissue paper, cut or torn into small pieces
  • colored construction paper for border/frame
This project is generally age appropriate (with proper supervision) for children from 18 months and up and can be adapted for older children as well.

And now I want to ask you: Teachers, Caregivers, and Mommas/Daddies, what are your favorite cost-effective, rainy-day fun activities to do with kids?


  1. Very cute idea, Michelle! I will have to try this sometime with Olivia!

  2. Oooh, I think she'd enjoy that! Plus, so far the biggest mess that can come out it that I have witnessed is when the kiddlets decide to play confetti with the tissue paper scraps--and that's just fun! :D

  3. I love this project, granted, you did it with Damian and seeing how Very Proud! he is of his heart (currently on his bedroom window among his stars) is all my Mommy heart needs.

    Rainy day crafts... well we did the wax window stars the other day. Potato stamps and finger painting are always winners too.

  4. I LOVE potato stamps! And finger painting is a timeless favorite, too. I'm so glad Damian enjoyed crafting with me--it totally made my night to share in that with him!