Inside: This summer name activity blends name recognition practice, fine motor skills, and science into one fun craft perfect for a sunny summer day.
I could feel the sun baking my sunscreen-less arms, burning on a farmer’s tan. My mom was visiting from out of town, and we’d driven down to our Texas coast for a late Sunday brunch. I hadn’t planned on it being a beach day. Yet, it had turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon, with great blue skies and a just-right breeze.
We couldn’t resist.
With full bellies and zero sunscreen, we wandered out onto the beach.
Right away, the kids started creating a sand castle. My enthusiastic sand engineers started building moats and deep holes. I had a feeling it was going to be hard to tear them away. I started worrying about sunburn.
My kids are old enough to understand the importance of sunscreen and the power of the sun’s rays. They’ve noticed how construction paper cards left on a sunny windowsill will fade nearly to white.
For preschoolers, those lessons can be sped up with a fun sun print craft. Sun prints block the sun from part of the paper and allow it to shine on the rest, thus creating shapes and designs.
I think at some point we’ll have to check out the special paper, but it’s pretty expensive. So I stuck with cheap construction paper and my own trick for keeping everything in place while the sun bleached the paper.
Summer Name Activity
I wanted to keep things simple and create a summer name activity that preschoolers would enjoy. You could easily extend this with other stickers if you like.
Learning the letters in their names is often one of a child’s earliest experiences with letter recognition. I love seeing how excited kids get when they realize that those funny squiggles spell out their name.
First, I tried blocking out the sun with wooden and plastic letters, but I didn’t have enough variety to spell out several names. What I did have was lots of foam letter stickers that we had used in our letter rings and letter sticker matching activity a while back.
Foam letter stickers are cheap and come with plenty of duplicates for spelling out names and words. Plus, they won’t blow away in the breeze.
I tried setting out the sun shapes without gluing them down, and when I went back to check, they had blown away! So I tried gluing them in place with rubber cement, and it worked perfectly. The construction paper peels back up easily, and the rubber cement rubs right off the plastic tray.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Foam letter stickers
- Construction paper – red and orange work best
- Child size scissors
- Rubber cement
- Plastic Tray
- For each sun shape, trace 2 concentric circles onto construction paper.
- Then draw on the sun’s rays as shown.
- Depending on the abilities of your children, you may also want to go ahead and cut out each circle, or even the entire sun.
- Alternatively, you could have younger children cut out their suns with fringe like we did in our summer scissors practice craft.
1. Give each child a sun to cut out.
2. Then, give them the letter stickers to spell out their names.
3. (optional) You may also like to set up an experimental control that you keep indoors.
That way the kids can see that it really is the sun that changes the paper.
4. Next, an adult should brush rubber cement onto the back of each sun, and affix them to a plastic tray.
5. Then, set the tray outside in the sunlight for several hours. You may need to move the tray a few times to keep it in full sun. (how’s that for a teachable moment!)
6. Finally, have the children watch as an adult peels off the letters, carefully, so that they don’t tear the paper.
Voila! The sun has faded the construction paper everywhere that wasn’t blocked by the stickers.
The yellow paper didn’t turn out as well. It had a lot less contrast between the faded and non-faded color.
I think a class set of this summer name activity would make a cute summer bulletin board display. You arrange them with a graphic of sunscreen and a caption about sun safety.
As for my family, we did manage to avoid sunburns that day at the beach. When I pointed out that we didn’t have any sunscreen, the kids were easier than usual to talk into leaving the beach. We’ll go back soon, better prepared.