Author Archives: AngelDavies

Fingerplay for the five and under set: Five Little Leaves

Leaf coloouring activities for Kids

Colouring activities for Kids

Hello Parents and caregivers of children under five…

Here is a fun fingerplay that you can enjoy again and again with your child and children as you adjust to the cooler weather, spend more time inside and celebrate the fall season together!

Fingerplays support your child’s development in so many ways. They encourage your child to listen and to speak, to co-ordinate hand and finger movements that accompany the words, to use their imagination, to practice counting and to hear the musical quality of spoken words. They play an important part of your children’s fine motor skills development which is the precurser to learning to draw, write and work with their hands.

You don’t need props to do this fingerplay, but the rhyme can easily be extended into a fun and simple craft activity, if you like. All you need are construction paper, tape, pictures of leaves (many can be found in Google Images, or here at 321coloringpages) and crayons or markers or pastels or paints…

When you have found leaf images you like, encourage your child to colour them, then help with cutting them out. Set the leaves aside, then cut out five strips of construction paper, just long enough to wrap around your fingers, like rings. Tape the ends together.

Cut strips of paper long enough to wrap around each finger

Now you can attach the leaves to the rings using paper clips. Put the leaf rings on your fingers and then you are ready to recite this simple rhyme that the little ones adore. With each repetition you can easily remove one leaf at a time by sliding off the paper clip. The leaf cut outs can be used to help your child understand number concepts such as counting and subtracting in a creative way.

Leaf finger Puppets

Leaf finger Puppets


Be prepared to say this rhyme over, and over and over again:

Five little leaves went out to play (hold up five fingers)

They danced upon a tree one day (wave hand back and forth)
The wind came blowing through the town
And one little leaf came blowing down (wave one finger back and forth in a downward direction)

Repeat this rhyme, subtracting one leaf each time until no little leaves remain.

For more information on the importance of art in children’s education, or for educators, parents and care providers who are looking for creative ideas to share with young children, please feel welcome to participate in helping to create a community of teachers and learners who enrich the lives of young children through the arts at the Early Childhood Arts Connection.

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Fun time activities for kids in the Fall

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year.

Watching leaves change from green to gold, red, orange and brown seems so magical to young children.  The different colours and the shapes of the leaves can easily inspire creative art activities to enjoy with your child. Leaf rubbings are simple, and always fun to do for toddlers and preschoolers. They can be a lovely follow-up to an afternoon of looking at and playing in the leaves.

Go for a walk in the park. Bring along a paper bag and collect a variety of leaves – maple, oak, basswood, ash.  When you’re ready for some creative art, place a few leaves under a piece of newsprint. Then hold fall colour crayons on their sides and rub them over the top of the paper to reveal the textures and patterns on the leaves.  Children strengthen the small muscles in their fingers as they grasp and control the crayons.  They also learn the names of different colours and relate these to the seasonal changes they are observing.

If you want to connect your art activity to a wonderful reading experience, go to the library and sign out Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  Her beautiful, fall colour illustrations use leaves of different shapes to create familiar creatures like chickens, pumpkins, fish and butterflies.  You and your child will really love identifying these shapes and following Leaf Man on his adventure.  Use the leaves you collected to imitate the patterns in the book or to invent your own!

Until the next activity, enjoy autumn with your child and the imaginative places that your shared activities can take you.

Letters to my Father: Just a Word of Love

Christopher Davies at

Christopher Davies as remembered by Angelique Davies

On January 25, 2007 I lost my father, Christopher Davies, to spinal cancer. I think about him often, usually at times in my life when I don’t know what to do in a difficult situation and at times when I’d normally turn to him for his help and wise advice. Times like now.

He was the chief negotiator at the Toronto Star for nearly twenty five years and was known for conducting collective bargaining in high style and with humour. And always great food would be part of it. He’d likely make my worries more bearable by saying something very Billy Bragg, like “Kid, you’ve gotta learn to take the crunchy with the smooth.” But it would hardly be a tribute to his memory if I sent out a cosmic cry for help, especially on Father’s Day. My worries will still be there tomorrow.Anyway, I’d rather share a happy memory that would make him smile. This one is about the day my father finally unloaded his forty year old daughter.

Although he fought his two year battle with spinal cancer with tremendous courage and strength, it became clear at a certain point that my father was living on borrowed time. Our focus became quality of time rather than quantity. What could I do that would make my father truly happy? My partner and I talked at some length and decided formalize our relationship. My parents had always worried that I would never marry – I’d pretty much accepted that this was entirely possible, warty troll that I am – and that was OK. But against all odds, Frank came into my life and turned out to be a keeper who happened to like warty trolls. I knew that it would give my father tremendous peace of mind to know that I had someone to take care of me. I just didn’t want to raise a glass at my wedding one year later and say, “If only my father were here to see this.” The time to set things in motion was now.

So we planned a hasty wedding, while he was well enough to attend. It was a simple civil ceremony in Welland, followed by a nice luncheon. My father made the most touching speech, entitled “Just a Word of Love”, which I share with you now. He said, “It is hard to express the love and pride that I feel. Today is so very, very special, so full of happiness. My heart overflows with gratitude that I have been spared to see the day when my lovely, talented daughter has entered into the blessed state of matrimony. I don’t just speak for myself but for Helene who left this world too soon. She would have been so proud and happy. I am particularly pleased that Helene got to meet Frank and saw the goodness in him as I do, knowing that he will take such good care of Angelique. You are both special and may God bless both of you. May the love that you have for each other keep you warm on winter nights and cool when the sun beats down. May the good Lord bless and keep you both, now and forevermore.”

It was truly the happiest day of my life and I’m glad that my father was a part of it, and that the memory of it will sustain me, even on the dark days. I miss my father, but I know he’s always with me.

To others who are missing their fathers today, I hope your happy memories see you through.

Happy Father’s Day!

Arts and Crafts: How to make coffee filter flowers

dancing the breeze, originally uploaded by HeadsUp_Dad.

Hello Dad!

At last, spring is finally here and what a great time to enjoy everything about it – the warmth, the sound of birds singing, and buds appearing on the trees. It won’t be long before you see the colours of flowers appearing in your neighbours’ gardens or before you begin to plant your own. Until then, here is an activity for dads to enjoy with your children. A chance to fill your home with the colours and aromas of flowers, and to welcome spring as you spend time together engaging in creative play!

Coffee Filter Flowers

For this activity you will need:

  • Coffee filters
  • Assorted colours of fruit flavoured gelatin*
  • Containers (e.g., small bowls)
  • Clothes pegs
  • Pipe cleaners

*This activity can also be done using regular food colouring, if you have some. The filters could also be coloured using scented markers!

How to do the Activity:
Prepare three or four small bowls of “dye” by dissolving a heaping spoonful of gelatin powder in hot water. The colours available are quite bright and produce good results. The gelatin also smells really yummy! Talk about which colour is your favourite, and why. Encourage your child to guess the smell of each different gelatin. Is it strawberry? Grape? Lemon? Children learn important concepts using their senses.

Next help your child to fold the coffee filter in half three times, until it resembles a small cone. Clip a clothes peg to it, to make dipping the filter into the dissolved gelatin easier and a little less messy. Dip the filter into the different colours until you have covered as much of it as possible. This part of the activity helps your child to practice using the small muscles in the hands and fingers and to co-ordinate movements.

Carefully open up the filter to reveal the “tie dyed” flower that you have created. Allow the filter to dry. When it is ready, pinch the centre of the filter, and wrap a pipe cleaner around this, to create a stem. Repeat this process with many filters to create a beautiful spring bouquet. Invite your child to select a container for the flowers and to make a display for the dinner table! This will build your child’s pride in his or her creation.

To extend the activity, go to the library and sign out of a copy of the book Dancing the Breeze by George Shannon. This is a beautiful book about a father and daughter dancing together in the garden by the light of the moon. You can explore the different names of flowers, while enjoying the author’s poetry. If you feel inspired to do this, put on your favourite music, wave colourful scarves and invent your own flower dance!

How fathers can demonstrate their love for their children

HeadsUpDad Recommends "Daddy and Me" by Karen Katz

"Daddy and Me" by Karen Katz

Hey Dad!

Valentine’s Day and Family Day are just around the corner.  If you are looking for a fun and creative arts based activity that helps fathers connect, engage and demonstrate their love for their children, try to Trace an Embrace together.

Here’s what you need:
• A long piece of craft paper
• Crayons or markers
• Scissors (a grown up pair for dads and a pair of children’s scissors)
• Additional art materials for decorating (e.g., glue and collage items or finger paint)

To do this activity, take turns lying down on the floor, with your arms outstretched across the paper.  Dad, you can show your child how this activity is done by tracing the outline of your child’s arms (filling in remaining spaces before cutting along the lines).  Then encourage your child to trace the outlines of Dad’s arms.  Your child will practice so many important skills like turn-taking, grasping and drawing with a crayon or marker, measuring and learning to use scissors safely.

While you are taking turns tracing, explain that you are making great big hugs together!  Talk about why hugs are so wonderful and what you like best about them.  After you colour, collage or paint your big hugs, take some time out to enjoy a real hug!

If you have time for a trip to the library, look for the following books about how Dads love their children.
Daddy Kisses and Daddy Cuddles by Anne Gutman and George Hallensleben
Kisses for Daddy by Frances Watts and David Legge
Daddy and Me and Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz

These are perfect for sharing some special time together. We hope you enjoy them!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and Family Day, and remember to share a big hug EVERY day!

How to make a tissue paper collage…

Recently, I watched a group of preschoolers busy at work with creative art materials.

They dipped foam “cheesies” into water and then pressed them onto paper, creating all kinds of colourful patterns. I commented on one child’s artwork, saying that her design reminded me of a flower growing. She responded by telling me that it was a picture of her cat, climbing up the ladder of her bunk bed to come and sleep with her. Amazing! I would never have known this about her picture if I simply had said, “That’s wonderful!” and then put it on the shelf to dry.

Creative activities and experiences – whether these involve arts and crrfts, music, drama, storytelling or dance – can tell us a lot about what young children are observing, thinking, learning, feeling and wanting to communicate.

In the pages of HeadsUpDad, I would like to share with you some ideas and examples of activities that you can do with your kids to spend some quality time together, get connected with your creative side, bring valuable life skills to the table and have a great deal of fun.

As I post different ideas, I hope that these will:

  • suggest ways to encourage your child’s creativity
  • help you to understand the skills that emerge through the enjoyment of art experiences
  • provide you with strategies for engaging with your child as you talk, share an interest, explore and just have fun together
  • encourage you to take the experience in a new direction (e.g., a trip to the library or art gallery)

I’ve decided to start with a very simple sensory activity, using materials that you might find around the house – tissue paper collage.

For this activity, you will need:

  • assorted colours of tissue paper (leftovers from gift bags)
  • pieces of cardboard (a cut up cereal box will work)
  • white glue, or try making paste by combining a handful of flour with some water until the mixture is creamy and thick
  • popsicle stick or plastic spoon, for spreading the paste

Begin by preparing the tissue paper. Encourage your child to tear pieces using fingers. Dads can use scissors to cut out shapes like circles, squares and triangles. If you decide to make your own paste, this will allow your child to practice measuring and stirring, to compare wet and dry ingredients and to enjoy exploring the gooey texture. Spread glue or paste onto the cardboard and then your child can arrange the tissue paper shapes, creating unique designs.

Ask your child to tell you something about the creation. It will be the start of a very interesting conversation!

For more ideas to help get you inspired about collage, visit the Eric Carle Museum. Here you will also find a list of beautiful children’s books illustrated with collage. See if you can find these at your local library.


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