With spring officially arriving last week and Easter just around the corner; I wanted to come up with some spring themed playful learning ideas for the kids. After hearing a few parents mention they’d love to explore clay but don’t have a kiln; I thought it would be fun to use Sculpey clay to provide an alternative.

I personally love Sculpey brand polymer clay, it’s a great median to use with preschoolers and school aged children because of the fun and bright colors, is great for sensorimotor and grip strengthening and promotes creativity.  Not to mention it is safe to play with,  inexpensive, easy to use and doesn’t require extra tools. You can find Sculpey Clay by visiting their website or at your local craft store. This week Sculpey is offering 20% off your purchase using code CRAFT20.

For this article I made tiny figures out of clay to create my own homemade games: counting carrots, hatching eggs and tic-tac-toe. Here’s a little tutorial on how to make each. If making these figures becomes to stressful, you can also use Easter themed erasers found at your local dollar store.


SUPPLIES NEEDED


  • Variety Pack of Sculpey Clay Colors
  • Knife
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Permanent Markers
  • Kinetic sand
  • Dice
  • Small Containers
  • Plastic Easter Eggs

COUNTING CARROTS


My boys love playing with kinetic sand.  I thought it would be fun to create our very own carrot counting game using kinetic sand.

Creating Your Counting Carrots:

  1. The first step is to make your carrots. They are actually very simple and easy to make. What I did to make the base of the carrot is form a small oval shaped ball using the orange clay and than rolled the clay under my hand on a flat surface; much like how you would roll out a play dough snake. I made sure that one side was a little larger on one end much like a cone.
  2. Next, I worked with the green to make the carrots stem. Much like before I would make a small ball and than roll it out into a long line and than cut little pieces for the stem. Press the stem into the base of the carrot. Make tiny little cut marks on the surface of the carrot.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 250 F. Place your clay pieces on a metal cookie sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper) and let cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  4. Using a pot holder an adult should carefully take the cookie tray out of the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  5. The last step to making your carrots is drawing with orange sharpe over the lines on the carrot. Now they are ready for playing with.

Playing Counting Carrots:

  • Setup the game by pouring kinetic sand into a small tray. Make sure you have your dice and carrots ready.
  • This game is extremely versatile in that you can use it in different way to help your child(ren) master a variety of math skills and can be used for different skill levels.
  • For counting: Use one die. Have them roll the die and than place that number of carrots into their garden.
  • For addition: Use two dice. Have them roll the dice and than add that amount of carrots to their garden.
  • For subtraction: Use two dice. Have them roll the first die and place the same number of carrots to their garden, than have them roll the second dice and subtract the number of carrots from their garden. For more of a challenge they can roll both dice at the same time and put their carrots in the garden. You can check the answer with them.

HATCHING EGGS


Making Your Chicks for Hatching Eggs:

  1. For the first step use yellow to make the chicks body, wings and feather. The best way to do this is to make one small round ball for the body.  Two flattened teardrops for the wings and one tiny heart shape for a feather on top of the chicks head. You will need to make enough pieces for sixteen chicks. Once you are done with this step set the pieces to the side for later assembly.
  2. Next, using orange,  create one small triangle shape for the beak and two small circles for the chicks feet.  Make enough beaks and feet for sixteen chicks.
  3. Now you are ready to assemble your pieces. Take a small yellow ball and gently press wings on each side, feather on top, beak in the center and feet on the bottom. Once you have assembled all sixteen chicks; place them on a metal cookie sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven at 250 F for 12-15 minutes. Once baked, use a oven mitt to carefully remove your cookie sheet from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  5. While your chicks are baking, its a good time to label your plastic Easter eggs. Using a permanent marker label eggs 1-6.
  6. Once your chicks have cooled add eyes by using a permanent maker to add to dots on the front above the beak.
  7. Now you are ready to play hatching eggs

Playing Hatching Eggs:

  • One goal of the game is to work on counting. You and your little one can work on counting by stuffing the eggs together. For an example, if an egg is labeled 5, challenge your child to  put five chicks in the egg. They can stuff all six eggs and than hatch the eggs to check their answer.
  • Another goal of the game can be to teach addition skills. For this variation of the game you will need to change up your eggs a bit. On the first egg write the number 1 on the top and bottom piece. Continue until you have done this for numbers 1-6. Now you can change up the eggs to have different pairings of numbers , lets say a 1 on the top and a 2 on the bottom. These pairings will be used as addition equations. So if their egg had a 1 on the top and a 2 on the bottom, they would put three chicks inside. Have them complete six egg-quations and than hatch them together to check their answers.
  • Using a similar technique as above you can easily work on subtraction too. This time arrange the eggs so that a larger number is on top and smaller number on the bottom. For an exampe, if there was a 6 on the top and a 3 on the bottom, they would put three chicks in the egg. Challenge them to complete all the egg-quations and than hatch the eggs together to check the answers.

 


TIC-TAC-TOE


Making Tic-Tac-Toe:

For your Tic-Tac-Toe you can use your chicks and carrots from above or make some adorable bunny rabbit playing pieces to go with your Easter tic-tac-toe set. Here’s how to make the bunnies:

  1. For the first step use white to make the bunny’s body, ears, feet and tail. The best way to do this is to make one small round ball for the body.  Two flattened teardrops for the ears. One tiny heart shape for the feet and tiny ball for the tale. You will need to make enough pieces for at least five bunny’s. Once you are done with this step set the pieces to the side for later assembly.
  2. Next, using pink,  create smaller tear drops for the inside of the ears and  a tiny little dot for the nose. Make enough for six bunny’s.
  3. Now you are ready to assemble your pieces. Take a small white ball and gently press ears on the top, feet on the bottom, nose in the center. Press the tale on the back. Once you have assembled all six bunny’s; place them on a metal cookie sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven at 250 F for 12-15 minutes. Once baked, use a oven mitt to carefully remove your cookie sheet from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  5. While your bunny’s are baking, make your Tic Tac Toe board. You can use an Altoid box. I used an old tin from a recycled Chick-Fil-a toy. On the inside of the box you can draw your line on the tine, paint the tine or even use craft paper on the inside of the tin to create your playing board.
  6. Once your bunny’s have cooled add eyes by using a permanent maker to add to dots on the front above the nose.
  7. Now you are ready to play hatching eggs
  8. Now you are ready to play Tic-Tac-Toe.

Playing Tic-Tac-Toe:

What I love about this Tic-tac-toe set is that its environmentally friend. You don’t need an endless amount of paper with this reusable set. Tic-Tac-Toe  is simple to play, basically each player takes a turn placing one piece at a time on the board with the goal of getting three in a row. For more information on the game and for strategies to beat your opponent please visit this link. 

***The Playful Parent is 501c3 non-profit and does not make money by endorsing brands. All information provided is my own non-bias opinion and all photographs and content are intellectual property of www.theplayfulparent.org. I write Homemade Monday articles to advocate learning through play. Thank you Sculpey for donating a sample box in order for The Playful Parent to write this article.***