Tag Archives: activity

Let them cut paper!

How to teach a toddler to use scissors safely

I know many of you read the title and went running in the other direction thinking I had lost my mind! As a former kindergarten teacher I was always amazed at the number of kids who came to school and had never held a pair of scissors before, let alone cut anything. Using scissors is a fabulous fine motor activity that really helps children in many areas, especially writing. Parents had every excuse in the book as to why their child had not used scissors; they would cut their hair, cut their clothes, cut the couch etc. Honestly I have my fifth child learning how to use scissors and we have never had more than a little hair trimmed. Let me tell you a secret about scissors; if you watch your children while they use scissors and then put them away when they are done they won’t have a chance to get into any trouble with them!! Earth shattering shocking information, I know! So give it a try let your preschooler or toddler use scissors. It will provide hours of entertainment and be a skill that will build their fine motor development.

Try the following activity when introducing scissors……

We are learning about colors this month with my 3 year old. She insists that everything is blue because it is her favorite color so we are trying to open her stubborn eyes to the other wonderful colors of the world! We are reading lots of fun color books like the following.

Every few days we discuss a different color and then she gets to use scissors and cut up a piece of paper in that color. She gets a pair of scissors, a piece of construction paper, and a bowl to catch the scraps.

This method is just getting her comfortable using scissors. There are no lines to follow and it doesn’t matter the size or the shape of the pieces. She is just learning confidence with scissors and practicing her fine motor skills. I am saving each colorful bowl of scraps in a baggie to be used in a fun craft at the end of our color unit.

Try it with your child this month, I promise you won’t be disappointed in how much fun they will have with such a simple activity. Save your scraps and come back soon for our fun rainbow craft!!! 

Paper Roadway Kids Activity

Paper Roadway kids activity

School may be out but we aren’t going to stop learning and exercising our brains.  Trips to the library produce books of every subject, size and grade level. This week we are working on a theme, transportation. Picking a theme helps the kids utilize their research skills with the online catalog and hunting skills trying to locate a book on a shelf. If you’ve ever spent time in a children’s section of the library you know what I mean.

Using words like drive, car, truck, road and vehicle gave up all sorts of options to choose from.  We selected some to read there and some to take home.  Our take homes this week were:

Let’s Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry

My Truck Is Stuck! by Kevin Lews

The 5 year old and I spent many nights lounging in bed reading before bedtime and often way past bedtime.  She’s greatly improved her own reading skills and I give credit to this time spent together.

All of this “car” talk gave us an idea for an activity.  We built a road system for her brother’s matchbox cars.
Using construction paper, crayons and kid scissors she cut and taped her streets together and then added buildings, a pond and even some animals in the forest.

She zoomed her cars through the streets, followed the street signs and even learned how to park them off to the side. We talked about road safety and laws and differences in how we drive versus to those in other countries.

Take the books you and your children read to another level by adding activities or lessons to be learned. Use a theme or character to explore new kinds of fun and entertainment.

Learning While on Camera – Be a Movie Star

Educational Movies

Ready, Action! I have yet to meet a child who does not like to see themselves “on film.” My two young children are constantly asking to see video of themselves and they get such a kick out of it! In fact, they will ask to see the same video clips over and over again.

A great activity is to create a short film and let your children be the stars and even the directors, if they desire. With the wide availability of digital cameras and their video capabilities this can be a pretty entertaining activity for even older children/teenagers. We have made a couple videos so far and have really enjoyed the results. You can base it off a favorite book or recently read story. We usually base our videos off of a nursery rhyme, because it is the easiest to put together with young children and the children also choose how to act out each line. Eventually, we will do something a little more difficult, but for now this is perfect. It keeps them entertained, gets their brains working and they always love the results!

For this particular “film” we made below we captured no more than 2 minutes of video and edited (with software already on my computer) down to less than 1 minute. If you want to do it all in one take to avoid editing, everyone always enjoys bloopers! As you can see, it is not perfect. This was a quick film and by the time I realized we accidentally missed the end of one line, the kiddos were already in bed, but I am sure they will still enjoy this. For another example of a film we have done you can check out our This Little Pig video, too.


What You Need:

  • A digital camera or camcorder
  • Actors and actresses
  • Props (optional)
  • A script/plan (we used a nursery rhyme)
  • Editing software (optional)


Step 1: Gather your actors and actresses and discuss what you are going to do. Let them gather props they think they need.

Step 2: Practice it once or twice or a lot if you want it perfect. My actors/actresses wanted to do this fast, so we quickly discussed and let them have one practice and then I recorded them right there (personality and all).

Step 3: Lights. Camera. Action.

Step 4: If you would like to edit (cut parts out) it, there are usually programs on your computer and sites that are pretty easy to figure out. I have a free software on my computer called Windows Live Movie Maker and there are free sites, too, like One True Media, that are easy to use.

Step 5: Have fun. I love hearing them giggle every time they watch this film.

This is even a great activity for older children, too. I have even watched my older nieces and nephews create their own short films many times. They will spend hours prepping scripts and props and then recording their short film (usually in one take, so they do not have to edit). They will usually do this all by themselves, too. I can see my 6 year old wanting to do this, too. He really wanted to take charge of the camera with the above video. As soon as I find my camera stand, I will let him have a go at it!


Top digital image credit of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gardening Fun With Kids


Spring is in the air!  Perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and plant some vegetables or flowers with your kids! My children love to garden and it all started with a project we did last spring.  It started first with some much needed upgrading to our backyard. The backyard was a square plot of grass with a few trees on one side and nothing else except a view of our neighbor’s adjoining backyard.  Our goal was to transform this lopsided and boring square into a tropical garden with a natural wall of trees and bushes on each side.

Since this project would require a lot of digging and dirt, my husband and I decided it would be fun for the kids to get involved.  They could play in the dirt, learn about gardening, and help us out as we tackled the big project.  With a little bit of help from Google, I was able to research which plants would be easiest to grow and plant in our yard. After our research was done, we took a trip to the nursery and picked out all of the greenery.  The kids each picked their own flowers and a vegetable to plant.  And when we got home, the fun began.  Piles of dirt and weekends later, our new backyard was finished!

And this spring, the fun continues.  As soon as the weather was warm enough, we planted more flowers and vegetables.  This year, we went with sunflowers, tomatoes, radishes, and green bell peppers.  Like last year, the kids have done such a great job taking care of their plants and vegetables.  They have been watering them without any reminders from me, and they check on them often to see how they have grown.  My five-year old has especially enjoyed watching his sunflower grow.  And just last weekend, two of them bloomed.

Gardening has given us a chance to learn a little science along the way.  We talked about what plants need in order to grow, we learned about nutrients in soil, and the germination process.  As the seeds sprouted, we talked about what would happen next and how long it would take for the plants to bloom.

Gardening has also given the kids a chance to work on something they can call their own.  The more their plants grow, the prouder they get. And as our vegetables come in, they are super excited to get them on the dinner table.  Imagine that!

Even though the planting phase of our project has been completed, the children continue to have fun with process.  It’s been great to see the kids involved in making the backyard so pretty.

Have you tried gardening with your kids yet? If so, what is your favorite plant to grow?

For some helpful tips on gardening with your children, check out some of these great parent resources.  Enjoy!

Gardening with Kids: Top Tips for Novice Gardeners
Family Gardening by KidsGardening.org

Help Ease That Anticipation By Counting!

Christmas Countdown

My children count down the year by big events. They know that Thanksgiving is after Halloween, and after Thanksgiving is Christmas. They also know that if they ask when Christmas is coming (back in September), I give them the run through I just gave you! But now Christmas is here and they are so excited. They are getting the idea of when big events come, but they still do not have a complete grasp on the concept of  ”in three weeks” or “in 14 days”, etc. In fact, my five-year-old son woke up just the other day and, before opening his eyes, asked me, “Mom, is it Christmas morning?” I had to laugh when I told him it was not even December, yet!

I am betting I am not the only one with kiddos excited for Christmas! One way I have discovered to help alleviate the “How much longer?” questions is to create a countdown until Christmas. I also find it is a great way to practice counting and number recognition and build some fun memories all at the same time.

I try to start this on December 1st, but sometimes it is a little later. Even if it is the 15th of December by the time you are reading this, just start it today. It is super easy to put together, and your children will love it!

Step 1

Create a list of fun activities to do together. Some ideas are to

  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Sing Carols to neighbors
  • Bake a treat and share with some friends
  • Leave an anonymous gift at someone’s door and run
  • Take a drive at night to look at the Christmas lights
  • Drink hot chocolate
  • Read a Christmas story
  • Attend a concert
  • Make a snowman as a family

And the list could go on and on! I like to ask each of my children to give me five things they would like to do. This helps transfer their anticipation for The Big Day to the daily activities instead.

Step 2

Decide on what your Countdown will look like. You can do a paper chain with an activity written on the inside of every link and a number on the outside. Or write your activity for each day on a small piece of paper and wrap each up with a treat or surprise.

Our first countdown was a couple chocolates for each family member wrapped up in tinfoil to create these little balls. We kept them in a bowl on the kitchen table.

Last year we made little bags with date tags and stuffed each bag with a handful of our favorite candies and our activity for the day. We hung these on the wall in the shape of a tree.

Step 3

Create your Countdown and start using it right away. Also, make sure your children are part of the creation process so that they feel like they have some ownership in counting down every day. For example, even though they may be too young to write all by themselves, it doesn’t stop them from trying. Sometimes it is just a picture.


Here are a couple more suggestions that may come in handy:

  • You can leave the activities up for chance or you can schedule them based on your schedule. If you write them down you will know what is coming and will be prepared with the right supplies.
  • It’s okay to do an activity more than once. I sometimes find it hard to think of 24 things to do.

However you decide to make your Countdown, make sure it is right for you and that your family is enjoying the experience!

What do you think your favorite or your family’s favorite Countdown activity would be?

Pinkalicious Crafts and Activities


Recently here on Rusty and Rosy, the 50 Greatest Children’s Books list was published. One of the books that made the cut was Pinkalicious by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann. My daughter absolutely loves this book. We decided to spend a day, recently, celebrating the book and doing some fun activities and craft projects pertaining to it.

We began our day by reading the book together and talking about all of the funny things that happen, then we sat down and planned the rest of our day. Of course, the first thing my daughter wanted to do was bake pink cupcakes, just like in the book, so we went to the store and picked up our ingredients and went home to bake. I love getting my kids into the kitchen. She cracked the eggs and poured the ingredients into the bowl for me, then she set to work mixing. Once our cupcakes were baked and cooled, I topped each with some bright pink frosting.

While the cupcakes were baking, though, we set to work making a crown and wand, just like Pinkalicious wears when she dresses up.

For the crown, we took a plain gold foam crown purchased at the craft store and added some hot pink glitter glue onto the top like jewels.

While the crown was drying, we started on the wand.

To make this we used some gold foam that had a sticker backing, a wood dowel rod (that my daughter painted hot pink), and some pink ribbons.

You will need to cut out a star template (I printed one on the computer) and place it over the gold foam. Cut out two gold stars.

Using hot glue attach the ribbons to the top of the wood dowel rod.

Next, peel the backing from one gold star. Place the wand carefully onto the sticker backing so that about 1 inch of the wand is stuck to the star. Peel the backing from the second gold star and place it over the top. Press down firmly.

And the result:

She loved her Pinkalicious accessories.

So while she happily enjoyed a picnic outside with her cupcake and her book, I printed out some activity sheets for her.

The first worksheet was a page for her to draw her favorite part of the Pinkalicious book and the second one was a word search, which would help her become more familiar with the key words of the story.

Have you done any fun crafts and activities relating to your child’s favorite book?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Letter of the Day Box

Letter Box

Are you feeling a little crafty but want to do something educational for your child?

The Letter of the Day Box is a great project for your crafty hands and fun activity for your beginning reader. Each day, choose a letter of the day and have your child put objects in the box that begin with that letter. For example, if the letter is S, your child might put in objects such as snake (toy), sand, sewing needle, or star. You can even write words (swing, sorry, sit) on paper and stick them in the box for those bigger or more ambiguous objects. Or you can put in objects that represent the word your child thinks of (sing – picture of music note, seat – doll’s chair, sip – cup). You can have all sorts of fun with this activity.

Let’s get started.

What you’ll need

Wood box (buy from craft store)
Scrapbook paper
ABC Stencils
Mod Podge
Sponge brush

What to Do

  1. Box: Measure your box. Be sure to measure lid separate from base. My box had a low-hanging lid and a lip to measure.
  2. Measure and cut out paper that matches the size of your measurements. When I did my box, I had a total of 10 papers I cut out—four for each side of the base, four for each side of my low-hanging lid, one for the lid, and one for the lip.
    Note: Since the lip rose upward from the top of the box, I traced the box on a paper and cut it out. Then I measured the lip, cut that much around the square I had just cut out, and cut the paper so I had a square snake that wrapped around my now-smaller square.
  3. Begin gluing your pieces to your box.
    Tip for using Mod Podge: With your sponge brush, put a layer of glue on the area you are decorating; be sure to cover ever corner. Place the paper; then put a layer of glue over the paper you just place on your box. The glue will dry and leave a glossy or matte finish, depending on the type of glue you bought.
    Note: You may need to let a side or two dry before continuing with the rest of your box. Also, your paper may bubble, but it should flatten out as it dries.
  4. Letters: Cut out 26 pieces of paper to fit the size you want to display on the top of your box. Mine turned out to be squares about 3”x3”.
  5. On each cutout, trace a letter of the alphabet using your stencils and markers.
  6. Decorate your alphabet.
  7. Place the softer side of Velcro in the middle of your box lid.
  8. Place the harder side of Velcro in the middle and on the back of each of your ABC cards.

You are done! Now you can start the activity.

If you feel one day isn’t enough for one letter, make the activity a Letter of the Week.

Do you have any fun education and crafty ideas? We’d love to hear about them.