Why do children love dolphins? Dolphins are powerful, fast and extremely intelligent. They're playful, they look like they're always smiling, and they live unfettered by human rules. What's not to like? Dolphins can be a great preschool introduction for topics such as undersea habitats, conservation, echolocation -- even the letter D. Try one of these crafts as part of a dolphin-themed lesson plan, or simply as a way to entertain your dolphin-obsessed preschooler.
Stained Glass Dolphin
To make a "stained glass" dolphin to hang in your window, first cut out a dolphin-shaped template from white paper. Lay a large sheet of clear contact paper over it, sticky side up. You may want to secure it in place using paper clips or tape. Set out a tray full of tissue paper shapes. You can use any color of paper you like, but blues, grays, purples and greens are particularly nice and ocean-like. Let your child decorate the contact paper with the squares. When she is finished, place a second sheet of clear contact paper over the tissue paper, sticky side down, to seal it. Cut out the dolphin shape by following the underlying template's curves. Now you can tape it to a window with clear tape or hang it by punching a hole in the top fin and attaching a suction cup or other fastener to it.
This is an excellent class project. Give each child a dolphin cutout made from posterboard or cardboard. Let them decorate it any way they like with markers, glitter and any collage items you might like to provide from paper and fabric scraps to pieces of ribbon or yarn to small shells and even decorative glass stones. Again, sea colors are particularly appropriate here but you may use any colors you like. Once the cutouts are decorated and dry, hang them from a clothes hanger or crossed dowels with differing lengths of string. At home, your tot can make several dolphins or each family member can contribute one dolphin to the mobile.
Draw a dolphin shape on watercolor paper and let your child paint on the paper with watercolor paints. Watercolor is nice because the water echoes the ocean theme. Alternatively, cut the watercolor paper into a dolphin silhouette before painting. This can make for another lovely classroom project. After all the silhouettes are painted and dried, they can be placed on a bulletin board with surrounding ocean scenery such as seaweed and seashells. At home, you can display your tot's artwork as part of an ocean-themed collage she creates.
Paint your child's hand, minus the thumb, with gray tempura or poster paint. Let him press his hand against a piece of white paper. This will make the dolphin's body. Now let her dip her index finger into the gray paint again and leave fingerprints to form a dorsal fin, flippers and tail fins. After the paint has dried, outline the hand shape in black marker and add eyes and a mouth. You can also use blue paint fingerprints as bubbles to surround the picture.
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.