My daughter and I live in Seattle, where the weather often keeps us indoors. As a result, science experiments, learning activities, and art projects are old hat to her even at the ripe ol’ age of 5. We’ve spent many rainy afternoons creating countless painted handprint animals, conducting simple experiments with what we can find in the kitchen, and setting off more baking soda volcanoes than I can count.
As the summer kicks off, though, I want to use the long days to tackle new projects together that let her take the lead, put those motor skills to work, and spark learning and creativity in new ways.
First on our summer to-do list: Write a story! Together we created a one-of-a-kind puppy dog tale. Not only did my kindergartener get a kick out of using pom-poms to create the fluffy dog of her dreams for the cover, she loved writing her very first story about him.
What You’ll Need
Pom-poms (various colors)
We like to get started by making the book’s cover first. On a sheet of colored cardstock, use a marker to draw a circle for the dog’s head, and a U-shape for the dog’s body. My daughter usually adds a second oval as a guide if the fuzzy belly is going to be a different color.
Cut the felt for two ears and a tail. Ears can be simple triangles, long and floppy, or however your child’s imagination strikes. Glue the felt ears and tail to the dog’s body on the cardstock.
Grab the glue again, and start pouring to make sure those pom-poms stick! Kids can design the dog they’ve always wanted, make a pom-pom portrait of the family dog, or re-create some of their favorite dogs like Martha from Martha Speaks, Clifford, or even the current White House dog, Bo.
Once the pom-poms are in place, use the glue to stick two googly eyes and a button for a nose to finish up the pup.
Set aside the pom-pom pooch for now. I recommend letting it dry overnight to make sure everything stays in place. It’s time for the little artist to turn into a little writer for the next step of the project.
Ask your child to write a story about the dog they’ve created on a piece (or pieces) of white paper. You can provide a few writing prompts to help young children get started. What is the dog’s name? What does it look like? Where is the dog’s favorite place to go?
My daughter is entering kindergarten in the fall, so we used the opportunity to practice writing letters and words together.
Once the story is complete and the glue on the cardstock is dry, get another piece of cardstock for the back cover, and staple the book together.
When she finished writing her short story about her dream dog Woofie, my five-year-old shouted, “I wrote a book!” We read it together often, and it’s already become a priceless addition to her library.
If your kids are looking for inspiration for their own puppy dog tales, check out the Martha Speaks episodes “Martha in the White House Parts 1 and 2,” free this week on iTunes!
More Adventures in Learning
Download a Free Episode
Whether you’re at home or on the road this summer, PBS KIDS can be your partner in on-the-go learning. With our award-winning mobile apps (including the PBS KIDS video player) and PBS KIDS video available for download you can ensure your kids will have a trusty educational travel companion all summer long. Stop by our PBS KIDS Raising Readers home at iTunes and download a free episode this week! This week’s free episode is Martha in the White House Parts 1 and 2.