Collect empty cans, wash them and smooth over any rough edges. Let the children decorate the cans with colorful self-stick paper or by gluing on wallpaper, felt, fabric, shells, or magazine cutouts. Then let them use their decorated cans as holders for straws, buttons, puzzle pieces, games or crayons.
Hint: If desired, let the children give their decorated cans as gifts.
Printing With Cans
Glue pieces of yarn in various patterns on the sides of empty cans. Place folded paper towels in shallow containers and pour small amounts of tempera paint on top. Have the children roll the cans across the paint pads, then roll them on pieces of construction paper to make prints.
Let the children plant seeds or rooted cuttings in attractively decorated cans. (Punch holes in the bottoms of the cans for drainage.) Have the children water their plants as needed and check them weekly for signs of growth.
Place a number of cans on the water table and let the children experiment with filling, pouring, and measuring. Later, use objects such as nails or a hand can opener to punch holes in the covered ends of the cans. Vary the number, kinds, and sizes of the holes. Different sizes of cans and holes will encourage the children to observe, discuss, and explore.
Sizing Up Cans
Collect a variety of cans from small to large. Let the children take turns arranging the cans in order by size.
On a piece of posterboard, trace around the bottoms of various-sized cans. Cut out the circles you have traced. Give the children the circles and the cans. Let them take turns matching the circles to the appropriate cans.
Set out a small grocery basket and cans with labels attached. Ask the children to fill the basket with cans that have similar kinds of foods pictured on the labels, such as fruits, vegetables, or soups.
To increase the auditory skills of the children, choose three or four cans of various sizes. Have the children close their eyes and listen carefully as you tap the cans with your hands, a rule, or an eraser. Let the children repeat your sound patterns on cans of their own.
Let the children decorate cans that have plastic lids with construction paper, rickrack, felt, or stickers. Let them make drums out of their decorated cans by putting on the plastic lids. Or have them make maracas by placing handfuls of pebbles, rice, seeds, or foam pieces in the cans and covering both ends with plastic lids. Let the children make their own music by beating their drums and shaking their maracas.
Fruit Bread Rounds
Heat 1/2 cup raisins in 1/4 cup unsweetened frozen apple juice concentrate until the raisins are tender (approximately 3 minutes). Place raisins in a blender and puree. Then add 1 sliced banana, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, and 1 egg and blend again. In a large bowl, mix or sift together 1 cup whole-wheat flour, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Pour in pumpkin mixture and stir well. Remove the labels from 2 empty 16-ounce vegetable cans. Wash and dry the cans and spray the insides with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Fill cans approximately 3/4 full with the bread mixture. Place in oven and bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool. Remove bread from cans and slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Serve plain or spread with cream cheese that has been mixed with a small amount of unsweetened frozen apple juice concentrate. Makes 16 servings.