Poisson d’avril crafts

What is Poisson d’avril?

Poisson d’avril is today, the first of April. April Fish as the French call it, or April Fool’s for us in America.   In France, traditionally for kids, they complete crafts with fish and even tape paper fish to unsuspecting peers’ backs.  

French Together has done some amazingly extensive research and writing on the French tradition and the possible origins of the tradition here, so I’ve kept my explanation short. If you are at all interested in the origins and history, it’s worth the time to read it!

Before completing our Poisson d’Avril craft, I wanted to read a book…

Our favorite book featuring fish:

MC requested Rainbow Fish, and since we don’t have that book, I did a quick search online “Rainbow Fish read aloud.”  The Screen Actors Guild has done an amazing job of having different actors read various children’s classics and “animate” the pictures in the books to bring them to life. These books are all available to view at their website, storylineonline.net.

As a side note, at the beginning of our self isolation that we began a few weeks ago, MC would say, “I want [this book],” or, “When will we get [this book] from the library?” I had started a list of books that MC wanted.

This week, I decided that would be a longer wait than we were all ready for, so I have been searching for these book online. Using the book title with the words “read aloud” have really saved me. Bonus – it’s given me a couple extra minutes here and there to just. Breathe. and. Relax.

Our Poisson d’avril craft

We decided to celebrate the holiday by doing a little craft to send to friends. Although I don’t think many are in the mood for jokes this year, I thought that everyone would enjoy a little card with a fish on it.  

One of the biggest things we do every day is walk to the mailbox.  And I’ve always enjoyed receiving letters and cards – it’s even more of a joy to see someone has sent some correspondence right now.

I think it was also a good mystery for most of the adults (aside from a French teacher colleague!) to try to figure out what the heck “Happy Poisson d’Avril” means.

I cut out some construction paper fish, and Mon Cœur (MC) glued them to our postcards.  They dried while she napped, and afterwards she chose the decorations: stickers and glitter pens!  

She decorated each of the cards, then picked out which card would go to whom, and finally she dictated to me what she wanted to tell each person (mostly, “I love you!”).  

Life lessons: Mailing letters

MC loves to help and wants to be involved every step of the way.  Sometimes this is super helpful, and other times…I just haven’t figured a way for her to contribute without me getting super frustrated or trying to be completely hands on.  

We’ve tried putting stamps on and using the return address stamp before.  This time, I drew a purple square on the back of each envelope and a red rectangle on the front of each envelope.  

We worked one side at a time, and this time she had a visual where to put the postage stamp and where to “stamp” the return address.  We are still working on the return address stamp accuracy; overall, I’d say it was successful!  

I love the envelopes we use – they are super easy to seal and one more way that MC can contribute to preparing the letters to mail.

With all this time on our hands, I am trying to find ways to keep in contact with people – a text, phone call, video chat, or letter. It has been so nice to work with MC on these cards, to know that we’re sending a little bit of sunshine to each of these people. And it has brought me some rays of sunshine to receive pictures, texts, and phone calls from friends and family in response.


How to organize and display toddler art

About four months ago, I noticed that there was no more space on the walls, the windows, or the refrigerator for one more Mon Cœur (MC) masterpiece. Our daughter is only two and a half, and yet in her thus-far short career, she has made quite a few pieces of artwork. Between story time crafts, daycare crafts, various drawings or colorings created at different events, restaurants or friends’ houses, and the art we make at home, MC had amassed healthy collection.

Although there was clutter creeping in from all corners of the kitchen, I refused to throw any of it away. So I began taking all but the most recent works down from all the display areas of the house. (I keep the most recent art on display in various places of the house, and cycle them out monthly.) I gathered all of the rest of my materials.

I took stock of what I had, placed all of the papers in chronological order, and dated them. Then I began placing papers and artwork in sleeves, and in the binder. For artwork done on construction paper, I measured and cropped each artwork before placing in the sleeve, as the construction paper is slightly larger than the plastic sleeve protectors.

If I had not already put MC’s name and the date (-ish, in some cases when I couldn’t remember exactly), I put it on there. As I was labeling each with her name and date, I realized the importance of giving context to each piece of art. We will continue to go to story time and to make art at home (especially now!), and so it’s nice to give a little description about what was happening at the moment we made that specific craft piece.

The monkey above was made at story time – this was the first time that I really started labeling the art. An essential part of my description for our story time crafts is the title(s) of the book(s) we read. I am learning that MC (and maybe toddlers in general?) has a wicked good memory, and sometimes she will ask me about checking out a book from a previous story time. My memory is not as good, so I try to keep track in the description.

I also try to ask MC about her thoughts and include those in the description, too. Keep reading to the end of the post for some questions I ask.

For some of her art at the very beginning, I couldn’t remember the books we read, etc, so I wasn’t able to give a complete description. I make it a point now as soon as we’ve finished a craft to write the description, and those small details help me remember when I’m looking back later.

Remember these turkeys? We made a home for them in the notebook, too.

Additionally, I keep MC’s written stories in her notebook. More about how we make these stories and four other ideas to encourage literacy can be found here.

We don’t typically keep all the coloring sheets that MC does while out at a restaurant, and we definitely don’t put all the completed coloring sheets from home into this notebook. This coloring sheet was special though, as it marked a wonderful evening with family, and I made sure to note that in the description.

Why bother?

Why not? This took a little time to begin, since I had about 30 pieces to put together in the notebook. Since the initial organization, it just takes a few minutes each time we make a new craft to write a quick description. I put the art up around the house for display. Then, at the end of each month, I go through the house and take older artwork and “archive it” in a sleeve in the notebook and that only takes a few more minutes. To me, this is totally worth the time it takes.

Tonight we had the notebook out, and MC flipped through herself, remembering in vivid detail what was made at daycare (a yellow glitter leaf), what was made at Mooma’s (water paintings of animals), and what was made at home (a construction paper snowman). She saw one of her stories and asked me to read it to her. She asked questions about others, some of the first in the notebook. It was a great opportunity for her to look back at and give dialogue to what she’s done. As for me, I couldn’t have been prouder to sit and listen to her as she flipped through and told me about each piece.

Want to start organizing your tot’s art? It’s super easy, and you may have most materials on hand already:


  • Three ring binder
  • Plastic sleeves
  • Pen for labeling
  • Artwork, organized how you wish (I prefer chronologically)

Questions to help with your description

Want to add a description that has your tot’s thoughts, too? This is just a sample of some of the questions I use when writing descriptions for MC’s art. I typically only ask one or two of these questions each time.

  • What was your favorite part of (story time, x event)?
  • (pointing to a part of the art) What is this?
  • How did you make this?
  • What [materials] did you use?
  • What colors did you choose? or
  • Why did you choose ( x color)?
  • What was the (easiest/hardest/most fun) part about making this?

Do you have questions about organizing and splaying your child’s art that weren’t answered here? Or do you organize your child’s art in a different way? Please share any questions or ideas in the comments section!

Valentines three ways with Mon Cœur

Since Mon Cœur (MC) is at the fun age of two, we decided to make some valentines to send out to family and friends.

I love crafting, I love mailing correspondence, and I’m trying to pass these on to her as well. She always loves putting the “stickers” (read: stamps) on the envelopes and stamping our return address on the envelopes (sometimes more than once). 

We had a lot of fun making these three different types of valentines: 

Doily valentines

Materials needed:  Doilies, construction paper, glue sticks, coloring utensil of choice (we used glitter glue pens)

MC received some doilies as a gift and we had stashed it in her craft supplies.  For whatever reason, I associate doilies with Valentines, and thought it would be perfect to pull them out and use them.

We glued them to different construction paper colors.  I picked a few traditional Valentine’s colors (pink, red, purple) and MC picked out some colors too (blue, green).  She had a blast just adding glitter glue to them.  

I had fun experimenting – I cut hearts out of the middle of some and created rubbings of the doilies on others.

Collage valentines

Materials needed: scissors, glue sticks, scrap paper, card paper, modge podge & paintbrush (optional)

I’ve had a stash of old greeting card envelopes, greeting cards, paint sample cards, and maps that I’ve been saving forever, and MC is quickly building a scrap stash of construction paper.  We took scissors and with a few different papers of choice began cutting them into strips and squares.  Once we had a healthy pile of cut paper, I made a heart shape on cards and we began either filling in the heart or filling around the heart.  Afterwards to try to keep the paper down, I took a paintbrush and painted the modge podge on the papers to seal them down.

This was my favorite card to craft – there is something calming in the concentration used to piece together papers to create an image.

Stamp valentines

Materials needed: markers, stamps, construction or other paper for cards.

The collaging was a bit much for MC, it took some coordination and patience. So we experimented with just drawing hearts and letting her stamp the inside of the heart. She loved making these, because she loves to stamp. She can go to town just tap, tap, tapping away with her stamps and pads.

What’s your favorite Valentine craftivity?

Christmas Crafts

I have a confession – I am horrible with thinking of good gifts for people in general. The adults I usually buy for buy what they want or need when they want or need it. The kids we usually buy for already have everything they want. As a recipient, I prefer experiences to things – fond memories with good friends are the best gift I could ask for. I think all of my adult friends would agree.

Recently we have had many birthdays we helped celebrate, and Christmas is coming up, and as per the usual, I have felt very unoriginal in my gift-giving. This year I wanted to give the kids something fun, and something that would last throughout the year.

I looked into the crates and monthly subscription boxes for kids, but that adds up quickly when you have a list of kids to buy for. Even with Black Friday deals, they were coming up around ten dollars per month per kid. As awesome an idea as they are, I feel like if I spent a little time, a little money and collected some household items, I could make my own much cheaper.

I thought what else can we give that I can buy in bulk for many kids and that will be something they receive throughout the year? I looked at kid’s magazines and found one that looked very promising: Ladybug by Cricket Media. It has received many Parent’s Choice Awards over the years and both the Ladybug and Babybug editions won the Gold Award in 2018.

I liked the pictures from the previews I could see and I liked how there were lots of visuals in Babybug to interact with and visuals to reinforce the meanings of chunks of text.

In Ladybug, I liked how there were short poems that could be read in duo, parent and child – the parent can read the poem, while tracking with their finger, and as they encounter a small picture, the child can “read” it.

So I purchased subscriptions for all of our little ladybugs, but then I pondered how can I communicate to them that this was a gift from us? I decided to let Mon Cœur (MC) do the explaining, with a fun craft. We took some postcards, construction paper, and glue. I cut out the body, wings, and head and glued it together, while she took an ink pad and her fingers to make the dots. She also went rogue, with a green marker she found: “Mommy I draw face!” she declared.

On the back, I wrote a simple little greeting from MC: “Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy your subscription to Ladybug magazine – it’s a year of adventures and stories to share!” and I slipped them in with our Christmas cards and off they went.

Do you have fun or creative gift ideas for the young darlings in your life? Share them in the comments section!

Crafty Dad

While we were out to do our Thanksgiving grocery shopping, Chouchou suggested that we get a few more art supplies for Mon Cœur’s (MC) craft stash. On his list: construction paper, googly eyes, and glue sticks. We also splurged on stickers, because they were a buck a book and that’s her current go-to craft item.

Little did I know that while I was prepping the meal, Chouchou had a craftivity up his sleeve that included the whole family! I am not sure who had more fun, him or MC, but I delighted in watching them work on their turkeys together, and we were all way too easily amused by making “turkey conversations” after dinner. Silly talk like, “Did you try the cranberry sauce? It’s delicious!” “No, I’ve been swimming in gravy all day!” “I’m so stuffed from the stuffing!”

Okay, now you know how ridiculous and child-like I can be. But we have to be sometimes, right? I’m learning that the more I take time to laugh and have fun, the happier we all are, and that to me is priceless. Plus, hearing MC’s giggle when she sees me acting this silly just warms my heart.

I am grateful that we had a day together as a family and that Chouchou had such a wonderful idea for a simple craft that brought much amusement to us all.