This summer we had the privilege of leading a half-day course with our two eldest kids for children ranging from 4-11 years old.  Luckily Grandma who was a long time educator and curriculum creator joined us too!  We developed daily, connected themes, making sure to have a mix of open-ended activities, some that were a bit more directed and incorporated play.  We provided a few tips that we have found helpful in organizing for a program or in a classroom setting- both those that are general in nature and those specific to activities we chose.

Tip:  When it comes to working with kids, preparing in advance allows you to be available to provide assistance as the activities are being done.  As we were running this program in the neighbouring province, we organized all the components of the activities into re-sealable/re-useable baggies and then placed them in larger bags (one for each project) and then put each day’s projects into large totes.  Supplies like scissors, glue, markers etc. we put into buckets so that they could be accessed when needed, along with putting a set on each of the tables.  We chose a buffet type model for the group, so that each activity had a table (there was a mix of long tables and card tables) and there were options for standing or sitting at the tables.  We covered the tables with paper or plastic to protect them.  Children could chose the projects that interested them.

Tip:  Save containers to re-use in the classroom/ studio.  This brand of jam jar has a label that slides off with water and is great for paint, water etc.  My mom used to use “Goo Gone” to remove label glue from items such as baby food jars for the same purpose.  Plastic deli containers and snack containers are also handy for beads, paint etc.  The lids are great for thicker acrylic paint.  We pop them in the top rack of the dishwasher prior to use.

Save these jam jars to store paint, beads etc.

Tip:  If you are working with younger children, roll your yarn into balls.  Drill a hole through the lid of a deli container and place your yarn balls inside.  Poke the yarn through the holes and then you have a stationary dispenser which allows for kids to cut off their own yarn lengths (without the ball rolling away)!

Yarn Dispensers for Kids!

Tip: Some toys (E.g., Melissa & Doug) come in these beautiful wooden trays, but you can also use cutlery or desk organizers, chip and dip or veggie and dip trays etc. to present materials.  Shopping at second hand stores keeps the cost of these items down and allows for less waste.  Showcasing things in an accessible, easy to see and thoughtful manner tends to elicit interest and engagement.

Tip:  Shallow trays are a great way to keep things contained (beads, paint etc.) and reduce your clean-up.   Restaurant trays are great for this purpose. Simply use a scrub brush to remove paint and glue.

Tip:  Be sure to ask each child to bring a smock and have a few extra on hand!

DISCLAIMER:  The one thing that we want to improve for the next time we do a program is to document it more fully.  When you are engaged and helping the kids it is hard to remember to snap some photos!  Some of the projects we had to re-create at home to share them with you- our apologies!


Opening: Stamped Name tags

Stamped Name Tags:  perfect for in the studio, classroom and with groups.

Stamped Name Tags:  Perfect in the studio, camps or groups!

Tip:  Having an opening allows for children arriving and having something to get engaged in while you wait for everyone. Each day we had different play materials out for both an opening activity and one that they could pop back into throughout the class. (LEGO, Playmobil, Gears, Bristol blocks etc.)  We had a carpet in the centre of the room, so we placed the children’s name tags around and then put some of the projects that they wanted to continue with small trays in the centre so that they could re-visit them while they waited for their peers to arrive.

Tip:  Have a spot for the children to put their name tags each day when they go home so that they can be used throughout the week and then taken home as a keepsake.

Name & Getting to Know You Games:

  • Toss the ball:  Call out a name and then toss the ball to that person.  For a challenge, reverse the order.  Spider Web is a similar activity that uses a ball of yarn where you name a person and then throw the yarn.  It serves as metaphor for creating a community as when one person lets go, the web becomes weak.
  • Drop:  You divide the group into two teams and then hold up a dark sheet/ piece of fabric between (You will need two people for this).  You then select one person from each team to come forward and sit on either side of the sheet.  The sheet is dropped and then the players try to be the first person to recall the person on the other side of the sheet’s name first.  The winning time gains the other team’s player.
  • Jump in if…:  This is where you call out various items, for example “Jump in if you like pizza!” “Jump in if you have a sibling!”  Once the kids understand the premise, they can add various ideas of their own.  This gives you some insight into your group’s interests which you can build on.

Other name games could include, “Switch spots” (one child calls out two names who then switch spots), last one to the spot gets to be the next caller. “Continuums”- getting in order from youngest to oldest, who came the furtherest distance etc.  For older children, challenge them to do this with out speaking.  “Candy or bead selection” Pass around a container of beads or small candies and have each child take a range of 1-5 their choice.  Then they share facts about themselves according to how many items that they took. “Introduce Your Partner” Put the kids into partners and then give them time to converse and then bring a fact(s) that they learned about the other person to the group.  When I was a teacher, we spent much of the first week and throughout September establishing a community, working on our communication and problem solving skills and setting up routines.  This investment paid off throughout the year in building relationships and effective classroom management.  When children participate in creating their own ways of being together, they are more likely to continue with that investment in a long term way.


Since there was a wide range of ages,  a buffet of creative choices allows for differing developmental stages and interests.  Along with play centres we also had a quiet area with cushions and books related to the themes as well.

We used some of our own ideas, but also other’s ideas that we have tried, loved and/or knew that they would be developmentally appropriate for a large age range.  We provide a link so you can access the tutorial (and to acknowledge the source of the creativity) if you want to try it out as well.

Day 1 BOOKS:


1) Yarn wrapped letters (The kids made the first letter of their names and chose from a variety of colours and textures of yarn.) Source: Kids Craft Room


Yarn Wrapped Letters

2) Morse Code necklaces  Children made their name and some extended the activity, making words of things that they were interested in or that were important to them. Source: Pars Caeli


Morse Code Necklaces

3) Clay self portraits (Tutorial to follow!)


Clay Faces

4) Calder inspired wire self portraits  We added some beads to this activity. Source: Art Bar Blog



5) Art folders  Each of the children made these monoprinted folders to store the week’s projects and to take home on Friday.  We punched the holes and laced them prior to, but depending on the age of your group, the style of your approach and the time that you have, the kids could do this independently.  We put out some extra yarn for children who wanted to add more colours.

Back to School Work Folders with Print Making from (Crafts & Activities for Kids!)

Art Folders

* Imagination Market: Make something to tell us about you.  We put out a rainbow of supplies and paper for this open-ended table.


Rainbow Creation Station

* Play Dough:  Loose parts Using cinnamon playdough, the kids used loose parts to make themselves.


OUTDOOR PLAY:  Mid morning we had a snack (we found it easiest to have each child bring their own nut-free snack and water bottle) and then played outside to break up the session.  The first day we played parachute games and partner tag.  As soon as the kids feel open and ready, they will bring up suggestions of activities.  Incorporating their ideas into your day tells them that you value their thoughts.  (And it is always fun to learn something new!)




(All our activities had a circular approach)

Many of the this day’s activities created collage paper for further projects on other days.  We printed on cardstock, making several copies so they had some to take home and some that they could cut up.


1) Collaborative murals-  This activity included using a variety of tools to make circle prints. Source: The Artful Parent


2) Bubble Wrap Prints Source: The Purple Twig


3) Bubbles in containers-  One trick that I read somewhere was to cut a small snip in the straws (each child used their own straw) so that kids could blow out to create the bubbles, but this wouldn’t allow them to suck the bubble mixture in.  We simply printed on the page.


4) Balloon painting- We used this method to make bookmarks in the past and then used it to make prints.

Find the Rainbow Game!  Use this outdoors or indoors as a hide and seek to create a rainbow with your team!

5) Robots For the life of me, I can’t find where I have seen this activity, using white paint on black paper (originally it was a robot), but the kids used recyclables to make the outline prints and coloured them in with crayons made for use on black paper.  We used a similar process here but painted in our floral creations with watercolour paints.  If you know where it came from- please do send me a message!  Source:  Make it Your Own for Let’s Lasso the Moon


6) Circle weaving  I pre-made the circular looms and the kids re-visited these over several days.  Beads were a perfect way to hide the knots of joining two colours together!  Source:  Hello, Wonderful


7) Giant bubble wands  We used Craft Train‘s wand method, but as we live in Canada and some of the recipe materials weren’t available here, we used Happy Hooligan’s giant bubble recipe: (We tried a few, but this one was recommended to us on Facebook and worked the best- don’t you just love the internet?!?)


8)  Paint your clay face:  If your clay is dry (it was quite hot and arid where we were- at least 35 degrees Celsius so the creations dried quickly) paint the first layer- your skin tone.

Play Dough: Lemon play dough, various lids and materials to make circle impressions, using a stamp pad.  Source: Pickle Bums  Don’t have stamp pads, use markers as seen on Homegrown Friends:  We used old stamp pads and added a bit of liquid watercolour paint to get them “juicy” again.  (As described by our five year old!)


OUTDOOR PLAY: Bubbles, Chalk & obstacle course with potato sacks.  We had a variety of bubble wands and tools and the kids created various designs and games with the chalk.  Along with taking a designated break, read the kids energy throughout your time with them- take a dancing break, doing a stretching activity etc. when they need it!




Opening: Colour robots and other stamped creations etc.

1) Spin art butterflies


2) Yarn Butterflies  Source: The Craft Train


3) Spray painting over nature finds

Spray Painting Over Nature Finds

4) Bright Bugs and Butterflies (Tutorial to follow)

Build Your Own Rocket Ship:  Use recyclables to make your own rocket ship!  (An open-ended set-up, perfect for an invitation to create!)

Bright Bugs and Butterflies: Use neon watercolours to create, inspired by the books, "A Beetle is Shy" & "A Butterfly is Patient". This project includes a simple trick for creating a crisp border!

Bright watercolour beetles and bugs inspired by the books, "A Butterfly is Patient" & "A Beetle is Shy". This project shows a simple technique for creating a border to your work.

Build Your Own Rocket Ship:  Use recyclables to make your own rocket ship!  (An open-ended set-up, perfect for an invitation to create!)

5) Clay faces: Adding colour- paint your eyes, hair etc.

* Imagination Market: Collage (using all the textured paper we made the previous day.  Here is an example:

Collage Paper Flower Garden with (Creative activities for kids!)

* Play Dough: Painted background, blue playdough and bugs


OUTDOOR PLAY:  We were lucky to have a playground so we did a rainbow find (Tutorial coming soon), an egg hunt (containing funny things to do with your team mates from Alice & Lois and had free play there as well.  (Sometimes throwing something out of season in there is quite fun/funny for the kids- I still remember Christmas in July at camp as a kid and that was a few years back now..)

Find the Rainbow Game


DAY 4: SPACE- Looking Out on the World



 1) Create a Space Background- Using stickers, create a resist and add salt to increase texture and create “star bursts”.   We added painter’s tape to create a resist border.  Source:  The Artful Parent



1) Shaving cream marbling

Shaving Cream Marbling

2) Marble painting


3) Scrape Painting


Scrape Painting (with plastic credit or gift cards)

Scrape Painting with plastic credit or gift cards.

The following day we created circles out of our textured paper using punches and tracing around lids of various sizes to create the full Space project.  (The kids created multiple pages of each activity so they chose one that they wanted to punch and then we used the extras for a garland as well:  see below)


4) Puffy paint stars  Source: Art Bar Blog


* Imagination Market: Make your own rocket (Tutorial to follow)

Build Your Own Rocket Ship: Use recyclables to make your own rocket ship! (An open-ended set-up, perfect for an invitation to create!)

* Small world:  Space


OUTDOOR PLAY: To go along with the space theme, we threw rings on silver painted rocks (planets), played with frisbees (space ships) and played various water games & sponge games. (Transfer water over your heads, throwing into targets on the ground etc. and the kids contributed Drip, Drip drop- who doesn’t want to see their leader, teacher, instructor get wet!?)


1) Decorate & fill an art kit- Blank boxes and markers allowed the kids to create their own creative kit to take home- we put out various materials that they could fill them with.


2) Ish  After reading the book, we tried this activity, but rather than painting the paper with a brush, our son and daughter wanted to try using fine mist bottles on the crumpled pages and we loved the effect.  Source:  Buggy & Buddy



3) Send yourself a postcard- Provide pre-stamped postcards (template provided in the link) to pop in the mail before you leave so you have a postcard waiting for you when you get home!

Road Trip Idea: Send a Postcard to Yourself from

4) Shrink art memory bracelets-  What do you take from the experience?  Here is the premise, although we used coloured beads this summer:


Shrink Art Animal Necklaces with (Crafts & activities for kids)

5) Make your own garlands & cards- We took the scraps from projects and punched circles out of them to create handmade cards and garlands for the kids to take home.  (One child made a necklace for her mother!  Embrace these expansions- it is great when kids extend an idea!)

Artwork Garland

6) Paint your face-  This is an “oldie, but a goodie”!  Put out mirrors and have the kids paint themselves.  If they feel comfortable they may paint each other (with permission of course).  A few children transformed one child into the ocean.  I have many photos of me in my 20s- my face painted by 3 and 4 year olds- such happiness!

Paint Your Own Face Set-Up

7) Make a sketch book-  We used this easy technique to create a tie-dyed effect on the cover of a notebook which the kids could sketch in while they were there and on the road trip home.


8) Felt book marks- since our week was born of books, the kids created bookmarks to take home out of felt.

Felt Book Mark

OUTDOOR PLAY:  We used our bubble wands to create giant bubbles and then went down to the beach to create a collaborative sand castle.

Be sure to hang the children’s artwork up!  For us it hung on the classroom walls and then we had the opportunity to decorate a space for a community potluck and dance- what pride to have other children and adults enjoying your creations!



  • A huge thank you to the children that attended- we were REALLY impressed by their creativity, their willingness to try out new things and their kindness that they exhibited towards each other! <3

Want to join us next year, for a program based on different books?

Check out Naramata Centre in British Columbia:

Located in the Okanagan Valley, Naramata Centre provides accommodation and optional programming and community events (DIY water slides, campfires with smores etc.) throughout the summer .  If you are into hot weather, an area surrounded by wineries and making new friends (that is where Galen and I met!), we will see you there!


Creative Activities Inspired By Children's Books



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