Thursday, September 30, 2010

translucent light at the new light easel

In my effort this year to create a mini-light studio I decided to take apart my art easel and turn it into a light easel. I figured this was going to either be spectacular or an epic failure.

To begin I disassembled the boards from the easel which were warping and replaced them with Plexiglas. When drilling into Plexiglas I discovered you need to place something underneath like a wood block, so that it doesn't crack. Lesson learned the hard way.

Transparent side (more on that later):

I then covered one side of the Plexiglas with contact paper to create a translucent effect and left the other transparent.

Translucent side:

I placed Dura-Lar over the translucent side. I set out the paints the children mixed.The light source comes from an uncovered lamp under the easel. 

The effect was lovely.

The painting quickly became a hands on experience with the children using their hands as pallets to mix paints:

Later I learned that paint wont stick to Dura-Lar which ultimately is fine with me as we are process, not product oriented and the children can see the effect of the light on their paintings.

But I'm not one to give up, so I had a thought to add a layer of spray adhesive (which I applied outside due to aerosol restrictions) to see if perhaps it would provide the necessary 'bite' for the paint.

It seemed to help, though it will still flake off if you crinkle the paper. For this reason I hung their art in the 'science' window where it would be protected, and they can still see light filter through.

 We're also experimenting with adding a little glue to the paint to see if it will adhere better as well. I'll let you know when today's work dries if it was succesful or not.

The end!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

natural play-dough dye: turmeric

I used the recipe for natural play dough dye from mini-eco and performed a little multiplication magic to adapt it so that 5 children get a large chunk to play with. 

Before class started I set the turmeric and water on a hot place and left it to reduce. I set six bowls on the art table filled with flour, salt, and cream of tartar along with tools such as spoons, whisks and sifters I purchased from the thrift store.

When B arrived, she had this to say, "Why is the play-dough on fire?"

The children took turns mixing, whisking and sifting. There weren't enough bowls and tools for everyone so some had to share. K and E were so happy to share bowls that they got upset when I offered an unused one because they wanted to mix together (YES!!)

After the turmeric water had cooled (I added a few ice cubes to speed the process along) I added the oil to their bowls. Then I slowly added the dye to their mixture a little bit at a time and they used their hands to knead the dough. If it was too crumbly we added more dye. If it was too sticky we added more flour. When the dough had the perfect consistency, we brought it to the play-dough table (we have a dedicated play-dough table that stays out all year).

While they were mixing they had this to say:

B: I'm making yellow cake!
A: I'm still making it,
N: It smells like french fries.

Not soon after we all finished I noticed a lot of play-dough was missing. It turns out some children had made the dough into cupcakes which I found baking in the oven around clean up time.

They are so interested in cupcakes that I think this will move us into project mode.

The end!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

animal houses from recyclable materials

This recyclable material can be found in cases that carry glass bottles containing (ahem) adult beverages. I snatched them out of the boxes before they went in the garbage at my parent's house. It says something that my parents hardly ever even look at me strange anymore.

Anyhoo, I added them to the table while the children were playing with their animals and sure enough they became little animal houses.

There wasn't a lot of one-to-one correspondence going on and I attribute that to how tall the house walls are. I plan on disassembling them and cutting them down a bit to see if that helps. We tried to get these to stand upright but the material isn't stable enough. Perhaps if we back it with cardboard that would help. It will be interesting to see how the children use this material as I think it has a lot of potential.

The end!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

shake it like a salt shaker!

Well, technically it's a salt grinder. I couldn't help buying this for the classroom. I put it on the play-dough table (we make our own). It's a little large for their hands so it takes some effort and a little ingenuity on their behalf to get it to grind. But grind they do! All the salt dries the play-dough out so we have to add more oil and water, which is fun too.

It makes for a great coordination and hand strengthening exercise in addition to a fun kitchen chemistry lesson to boot! 
The end!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rorschach blot-style paintings

These were popular today. Some children completed over a half a dozen.

I instructed them to get a sheet of construction paper from the paper shelves. I showed them how to fold the paper in half. They then chose colors from paint they mixed themselves a previous day and used a spoon to drizzle the paint on one side of their paper.

Then I showed the children how to refold the paper. We then 'unveiled' each masterpiece and studied the results. I explained a little about symmetry and asked the children what the blots reminded them of.

Aren't they gorgeous!

Here are some of their thoughts:

E: It's a fying lizard.
B: It's a butterfly.
E: This is gonna be beautiful.
E: That's an eagle.
B: I made this for your baby.
E: I think she just loves your baby!
B: This is for your baby, too. Doesn't he love colors?
E: This is a flying frog.
Ms. Erin: Why are all your animals flying?
E: Cuz this is a flying project!
A: Close your eyes Ms. Erin. Ok, now LOOK!
R: Woah! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

ice cubes and tongs

This is a totally simple (and hugely popular) idea for the water table (thanks, Fern!). I placed a couple of buckets of ice next to the "water table" along with several tongs. The object was to use the tongs to add ice to the water table. It could work the other way around, too.

It was great for concentration building, which is definitly a skill children will need for kindergarden,  but done in a developmentally appropriate way.

Later the children found some egg cartons that they used for ice cube trays:

Some of their thoughts:

K: It's cold!
E: Look, snippers!
A: There's ice in these!
E: There are two ice bowls.
A: I like ice cold water.
Ms. Erin: Where do you see ice cubes?
K: In snow
M: At the store. We went to the farm and opened the fridge and we saw a big huge ice cube!

Note to self, tomorrow ask the children what ice is for...

The end!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

transparent and translucent plastic on the light table

Time to change up the light table.

I added various transparent and translucent plastic items (bubble wrap, bottles and caps, jewel cases, etc) from the recycle room to the light table along with markers.

I let the children draw as they saw fit.

Here are some of their creations displayed in the nearby window:

Ms. Erin: What do they remind you of?

K: Car lights, all day long. A bowl.
M: These are water bottles.
K: Look, a button!
A: This is for my mommy.
B: I made this for your baby, Ms. Erin.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the ball machine part II

At our morning gathering, I ask the children where they want to go play and what they are going to do. I think I need to change my question to 'what are you want to create today since it works for all areas.

Anyway, Em decided she wanted to build another Ball Machine. Here is her creation:

The following is our conversation about the machine:

E: First, it jumps inside to get paint [left side].
Ms. Erin: Why do they get paint?
E: It get purple and black. It goes down here with the other balls [points to ramp and circle]. These balls are inside they home. They got to close they home so they all fit.
Ms. Erin: What happens over here? [points to four squares]
E: They go back up here and get more paint.

Here is her drawing, painted with watercolors (MUCH more detailed than the first):

The following is her work represented with three dimentional objects using her drawing as a reference. Set out a plethora of collage materials she could choose from to create with:

Her final product:

Em is definitely interested in the balls being painted, so I plan to continute from that angle.

straw sculpture

One of our lovely parents was generous enough to donate to us a large box of straws. I added some to our collage materials and put the rest into a sensory table in the atrium.

In no time at all they ended up in these wonderful wads:

The wads got bigger and bigger!

Unfortunately, they were getting all over the ground and it was very difficult to clean up without getting dirt and wood chips mixed in. I told the children I would move the table to a better surface so that we wouldn't have to worry about cleaning up so much.

The next day we moved the table. I thought the wads of straws were so interesting I brought out a large piece of cardboard from our recycle room and we added the wads to the cardboard. I thought we would do some individual sculptures but everyone wanted to add to it.

We added just about every single straw and it kept growing and growing!

Until finally it looked like this:

This is what they had to say:

E: It's a big, puffy, prickly, mountain.
S: It look like Willis Tower and the little tower.
S: It looks like a tiki hut.
J:  We made a bridge!
R: It's the three little pigs!

The end!

Monday, September 13, 2010

salad spinner art

Here is another group art project we did with a salad spinner. There was only one spinner and it was hard for them because they all wanted to go first. I reminded them that we had to alternate turns.

I set the salad spinner out with some primary colors and instructed the children to use the spoons to drizzle paint onto the paper plates (not glob it on).

The results were gorgeous:

Of course we made gobs!

That is, until we broke the spinner and had to stop :(

Oh well. Even if we only had it one day, it was intensely loved!

The end!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

preschoolers can pour in our snack center!

I set up our snack as a monitored center. The the main reason I monitor it is for state record keeping reasons. Children choose whether to eat snack or not. I do this because I feel children are capable, and it builds self confidence. I trust them to know if they are hungry or not.

The first time I tried snack as a center it failed, mainly because I set it out too late and everyone was hungry at once. I ended up cleaning off all the tables anyway. After rethinking, I set up about a half an hour after arrival and left it out until everyone has eaten or has told me they don't want snack. The first couple of days it stayed open for about an hour. Now it stays open for about a half hour as children figure out what works for them.

This way I have less transitions, more choices, and fewer self-created discipline issues.

To set up snack as a center, I set out cups, napkins, and bowls. After they wash their hands, children are instructed to take one of each and bring them to the table. They then use a small milk pitcher (it handles about 10oz) to pour themselves a drink. If they are new to pouring, I instruct them to use two hands, one on the handle and one on the spout. I tell them to pour slowly and stop when they think have enough (not necessarily when they get near the top). They can always pour more if they want more. An adult is nearby to refill the pitcher as needed.

We had one spill the first day because the child was very excited and not concentrating (a skill unto itself!). I asked the child to get some more napkins to clean up her mess and she did by herself and then tried again. The second time was a success! :)

The end! 

Friday, September 10, 2010

the ball machine, part I

E and Em were working collaboratively in the block when I came to see what they were building. I asked if they would like me to take a photograph of their structure and they agreed it was a good idea. Then I asked them what it was called and E said it was a Ball Machine.

I brought them paper and markers and asked if they would like to draw a picture of their structure, pointing out some basic shapes.

This was very quickly done with little attention given to details. I wasn't sure if this was due to a lack of interest in the subject, the medium, or something else altogether.

The next day I showed them the photo of their Ball Machine and asked them individually to tell me more about what the machine does.

Em: "It takes the ball out and put it back in. The ball do tricks. The ball can do kickball. You turn on the ball machine and put the ball in it. It makes it purple and green and black."

Ms. Erin: Can you tell me about the different parts of the Ball Machine?

Em: "The ball goes in here [points to the right side]. Then it gets paint [points to the middle, right]. This is where it comes out [points to the left]."

E was engaged elsewhere after that so I asked him about the machine the next day showing him the photograph of the ball machine. Here is what he had to say:

E: "The balls go in the holes so you can win. That’s the sixteen [points to the right side]. You get a present if it goes in there. If it goes over the holes you lose. Sometimes you shoot the balls then you win. That’s the flat [points to the middle]. If you land on the flat everyone loses. That’s where the ball comes out [points to the left side]. The one that loses gets a present too."

Ms. Erin: What kind of present?

E: "A big thing; a bike with no wheels. It goes. It’s a game."

Ms. Erin: Do you think you could build this structure again?

E: "No. The balls will be mad at us. We have to build another machine that’s not the same."


The following day I decided to see if E and Em would be interested in painting their drawing with watercolors. Em was interested. E was absent.

Hoping to bring more details of their work to their attention, I printed out the image of their final structure onto transparency paper and placed it in the light studio on the overhead projector. E was absent again but Em was interested.

When she got to her image, I find it interesting that Em decided to draw her face from memory instead of tracing the image projected with arms protruding from her head. 

Em's final drawing:


I would love to hear comments and observations about where to go from here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

record player art

I've seen this done before and I've loved the results.

During the summer I dug around our center to find 'treasures.' A working record player was on my list. I encountered several broken ones, and when I found one that worked I literally squealed out loud. I could barely wait to try it out with the kids.

My assistant and I decided to set it up on a little round table which worked out great since several children wanted to participate at once and I really dig when the children work collaboratively. I showed the first group of children how to turn the record player on and off by pointing out the knob next to the words 'on' and 'off'.  I also demonstrated how to pop the plate on the turn table (this was challenging as it took two hands and they were reluctant to let go of their markers) Once it was on I encouraged them to pick a marker and place it on the plate.

When the plate 'filled up' with color, I reminded them that they could put a new plate on and choose a different marker if they liked. They quickly got the hang of it making dozens and dozens of designs, the more experienced children helping the less experienced children.

Here are some of their words:

"I'm making a song!"
"You have to color while it's spinning. I see yellow and orange."
"It's spinning around."
"I'm going to bring this one and this one and this one home to my family and they will be happy."
"I'm making this one for my daddy."
"It makes swirlies."

As they were finishing their plates, I set them on the art table. Grouped together, they make a striking installation:

And finally, their work displayed in the hall:

The end!
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