Create postcard-sized Mixed Media paintings, get inspired by the seasons, have an epic, two day collage craft party like we did or collect your children’s mini creations throughout the year to make a calendar! This is my absolute favorite, toddler approved project to experiment with first layering techniques and Mixed Media!
- Oil pastels or crayons
- Watercolor paper cut in small rectangles to fit your calendar
- Art calendar printouts (Barley& Birch seems too update them every year)
- Liquid Watercolors or watercolor sets
- Tissue paper or tissue paper shapes
- Construction paper scraps
- Paper craft punches
- Glue sticks
- Kids scissors
Focus on the topic of the seasons to introduce making calendars with your preschoolers. Get moving to several rhymes about the seasons like this, or these or this one (I usually make up my own movements). The children will love movements such as ‘raking leaves’ or moving their hands as if ‘snowflakes are falling’ or ‘buzzing like bees in spring’ or ‘flapping wings’ as the birds fly south because winter is cold etc.
You can also talk about the different weather, what activities the children like doing during the different seasons and if there are any colors they can see or remember in their minds and imaginations that are typical for each season (snow in the winter, lots of golden colored aspen trees during autumn, lots of pink and blue and purple wildflowers in the spring and summer etc.). Most children already had an idea of what a calendar is: something their parents use to write down- and keep track of important events like work, preschool, playdates, vacation and birthdays :). And we pretty much left it at that:
For young children the concept of time is quite difficult and much too abstract to understand. Their developing minds still move easily between fantasy and reality as they explore their surroundings, organize their experiences and simply try to make sense of the world. Once children enter kindergarten and have gathered more information about their world, they will be able to draw more rational conclusions, might start distinguishing between fantasy and reality and will be much better equipped to understand abstract concepts like organizing time.
Step 1: Draw and Collage
Set out oil pastels, sharpies, tissue papers, construction paper, paper craft punches, scissors and glue sticks on the table as well as 12 small watercolor papers on a tray for each child. Refresh how to use all the materials: Use one material at a time, put the crayon back before you take a different color, make a little glue dot in one spot instead over the whole paper before taking just one shape to press into the glue – before it dries, keep the scissors pointed away from your friends, keep sharpies and crayons away from wet glue etc.
Invite the children to use their imaginations to create pictures and/or use colors that might remind them of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Start creating to one season and imagine the weather and what you like doing during that season. Keep talking to the children about the seasons as they are creating and notice how they will choose the experiences they are most interested in, e.g. glueing with the collage materials or drawing really detailed scenes inspired by each season:
The 3 year old children were mainly interested in cutting with the scissors as well as the paper craft punches and started to arrange the different construction paper shapes on their papers. They layered transparent tissue papers for a long time before adding some marks with crayons and sharpies on top.
While the younger children seemed to be mostly intrigued with the cutting and collaging, almost all of the 4-5 year old children engaged in symbolic drawing inspired by the seasons (flowers, suns and hearts for spring and summer, snowmen, snowflakes, Santa and skiing and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer for winter etc.) before they added any tissue papers or other paper shapes.
Tip: We collaged all of our 12 papers in one day but if I’d do it again I would spread this out over two days since some children spent a lot of time drawing really intricate designs on just a few cards. If your children are not familiar with the offered materials, consider to just start with the crayons and sharpies (careful: sharpies won’t wash out of clothes!) and add paper craft punches and collage papers as a second step on the same or another day.
Step 2: Watercolor
Let the papers dry overnight. Mix some water with just a few drops of liquid watercolors until you like the hue and intensity of the color. Put a paintbrush in each color and set them out on the table as well as trays with each child’s collaged papers. Invite the children to find their tray on the table and let them take one color at a time to paint right over their collaged papers and drawings (they will still shine through). Take turns to sprinkle some glitter in the wet watercolor puddles. Let dry.
Step 3: Wrap your calendar
Glueing all the papers on the calendar pages for all your preschoolers can be a bit labor intensive but it’ll be worthwhile, I promise! I didn’t hole punch the calendars and simply put a string around the pages so that the parents could decide how they want to display them. Also, if Santa happens to come for a visit he might ask the children to be his little helpers and parents might get a calendar for Christmas :). We didn’t leave time for homemade wrapping (you could use this or this technique) but the children still had lots of fun wrapping their own calendars with store bought paper and dictated Christmas messages for me to write on little cards for their parents!
I really hope you’ll give this a try! Calendars offer so many fun, open-ended opportunities to create and will turn out so beautiful along the way!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!