We are so excited to have Amanda Dixon’s guest post on the blog today! Amanda is the owner, director, and lead teacher of The Nest Children’s School in Lake Forest, California and her passion for the children she works with is reflected in the thoughtful activities she plans for them. Today she shares a fun Easter craft to make with recycled egg cartons, using natural elements or paper and candy. This craft is perfect as a fun activity on a Spring day and Amanda details the materials, process and skills this activity supports in a way that also makes it a great preschool or homeschool lesson plan – enjoy!
“I love this activity because you can use any materials you have on hand! It’s fairly simple to prep for and implement and it works for children of all ages (the children in my group ranged from 16 months to 4.5 years). They were all engaged!” – Amanda Dixon
- Cardboard Egg Cartons (cut into individual “baskets”)
- Pipe Cleaners (cut into 3 inch pieces)
- Markers or crayons
- Grass, rocks, other things from nature
- Green scrap paper
- M&Ms (you could also use jelly beans)
I invited the children to make a mini-Easter Basket, and had them color it with markers. You could also do paint!
Then, I asked them to choose a handle (pipe cleaner) color.
- I poked holes on the side of the “basket” with a pen– Depending on the age of the child, they could be the ones to do this step.
- Then I showed them, with a separate basket, how to feed each end of the pipe cleaners through the holes, making a handle. Again, children may be able to do this independently, or might need your help :).
- Next it was time for our hunt! I encouraged them to move around the yard to collect grass for the “cushion” of their basket.
Then, we “hunted” for rocks, or anything they saw in nature that had a similar shape to an egg. We found small rocks and pieces of smashed sidewalk chalk. It was a great time to talk about ovals, circles, textures (bumpy, smooth, hard, soft), and smells.We also compared the items we found to real eggs. “Are these the same size as real eggs?” “Do these “eggs” have anything inside of them?”
Once their baskets were full, the children in my group wanted to take them to the fairy garden because they were so tiny, the perfect size for fairies! “Who else would these mini-baskets be the right size for?”
Process: Paper and Candy
- Repeat steps 1-4 from the Nature Basket activity.
- Then we made grass from green construction paper. One of the children in my group, was efficient with scissors, so he cut his own tiny strips. The other child chose to tear tiny strips. Both are appropriate and important fine motor skills.
Once their baskets were full of grass, we added 4 m&m “eggs”. And had a taste test too :)!
This activity supports:
- Motor development- manipulating tiny things is exercising fine motor skills; hunting around the yard encourages gross motor development
- Language development – using new vocabulary words like “cushion”, describing words like bumpy, hard, and soft, and just having conversations during the process, all support language development
- Math- discussing shapes, comparing sizes, counting “eggs”
- Creativity- allowing the children to make their basket look as they wish with paint or markers, encourages creative processes. You could even add in glitter, stickers, etc.to take it a step further.
- Imagination- As I mentioned, the children in my group imagined that these tiny baskets were the perfect size for fairies. By asking questions like, ““who would these mini-baskets be the right size for?”, children are encouraged to use their imagination.
Please visit thenestchildrensschool.com to learn more about The Nest Children’s School’s curriculum, program, and philosophy! Amanda Dixon was born and raised in Whittier, California. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree at CSULB. In 2007 she met her husband, Brett, and soon after moved to Orange County. The Dixons have called Lake Forest home since 2012, and after a short time in Seattle, are thrilled to be back. Amanda has her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, and has worked over the past 11 years in the field of early childhood education. As a former preschool teacher, director, behavior therapist for children with Autism, and college professor, it has been a long-time dream of hers to have a school of her own.
She is also a mother to two young children and has been an active member of her son’s parent participation preschool – in her free time, Amanda loves to cook, shop, watch reality tv, read, and spend time with family. She loves animals and, of course, children!