Blades and Espinoza Source CornerBy Lamonte Blades and David A. Espinoza, instructors, MATC Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Program

Winter days keeping you inside the house with young children full of energy? Here are some ways to keep your children entertained while helping them to learn and grow.

Children need the opportunity to do what they do best – play. At the same time, we want to encourage their physical, verbal, emotional, social and cognitive development.

We would like to share ideas used in MATC’s Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Program that you can try at home, using washable paints, construction paper and household utensils.

You will be surprised at how long your children will enjoy these activities! You can have fun watching them develop language skills as they talk to you, their siblings or friends. They will utilize fine motors skills as they cut, measure and glue pieces of paper. These projects will help them demonstrate social skills as they learn how to wait their turn, as well as learn politeness and respect for mom or dad. They will spur cognitive development and reinforce concepts of colors, textures, problem solving, teamwork and much more.

Here are some activities to try with your children at home:

Soap Bottle Tops – Painting

soap bottle tops Blades

Use bottle tops from different sizes of liquid laundry detergent containers to make designs on the construction paper. Place the construction paper on a table on top of newspaper or any material that will protect your table from paint and other stains. Open the paint containers and then design! When they are finished, you can hang the paintings to dry and have the children plan how they would like to display their work or show it to other family members.


Potato Mashers

Potato Mashers Blades

Dip different types of potato mashers in paint to make designs on the construction paper.  Use primary colors so the children can see how mixing colors creates new ones.


Tissue Paper Art

tissue paper art

Use children’s scissors to cut tissue paper to desired sizes or tear the pieces of paper.  Using glue or glue sticks, attach the pieces and shapes to the construction paper.


Newspaper Face collages

Newspaper Face Collages Blades

Collect newspapers, magazines, mailers, etc.  Cut out the faces with children’s scissors and talk with your children about expressions on the faces.


Color Duct Tape Collage

Color Duct Tape Collage Blades upright

Use children’s scissors to cut different colors or designs of duct tape into small pieces or shapes. Glue pieces to construction paper.


Make Your Own Silly Putty

Ingredients: equal amounts of glue and liquid starch; food coloring.

Procedure: Mix glue with food coloring until the color is even throughout.

Pour the liquid starch into the colored glue mixture.

Stir and let it sit for five minutes.

Take the putty out of the mixing bowl and set it on a paper towel.

Knead the putty in your hands for five to ten minutes.


How to Make Play-Doh

Play-Doh is a classic childhood toy everyone can have fun with.

Basic ingredient ratios: 2 cups flour, 2 cups warm water, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity), food coloring (liquid, powder, or unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar drink mix), or scented oils.

Procedure: Make the colored water; set aside.

Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium-sized pot.

Add oil and colored water and stir until ingredients are well blended.

Place pot on the stove over low/medium heat.

Allow the dough to cool slightly.

Knead for a minute.

Store in an airtight container.

Winter is a great time to spend having fun with your children while watching them develop in many ways!

(All craft photos from Blades’ early childhood courses.)

For more information on the Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Program, visit: