Friday, October 7, 2011

sidewalk paint

We mixed equal parts corn starch and water to create this paint. The children helped stir in food coloring to make the paint come alive. 
We took advantage of the gorgeous weather and painted the sidewalk:
The result was a beautiful mess of what the children called butterflies, rainbows, houses and letters. I love how the cornstarch gives the paint a smooth texture when it dries. 
The end!

sorting bottle caps

We have TONS of bottle caps thanks to our cook and donations from parents. Since we were running out of places to store them I figured it was time for a sorting activity. I set out different colored paper onto which the children could match the caps. That was all that was needed as the children intuitively 'got' the intended invitation. 

The children pointed out that I was missing a few colors so I added black, tan and purple paper as well...
There were only a few 'tricky' colors that did not quite match (like a cap that was an orangish-yellow). But they indeed drove us all nuts because they didn't quite fit in either category. 

The end! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Paint rollers and deck shade

My parents were getting rid of one of their broken, faux bamboo deck shades and offered it to me before throwing it out. Of course I took it and squirreled it away in our recycle room. It HUGE and it made a great canvas for using our paint rollers. I set it up in our atrium which is a great place to do large, messy work. 
So far we've painted it blue, yellow (which turned it green) and red. I figure we will just keep painting it different colors until the children lose interest or come up with a different plan. 

I know when adults walk by and let out excited squeals it's a good activity. Anything that brings out a grown-ups an inner child is A-OK with me! 

Post-it note patterns

This idea came from the Bakers and Astronaut Reggio-inspired blog. I started the children off with an AB pattern and encouraged them to continue it. It began left to right but the children gravitated to a vertical flow because it was easier for them to understand that yellow goes under blue and blue goes under yellow. 

Once they understood that, the post it notes flew! 
They filled the bottom half of the door:

Since they ran out of space on this door we moved to the other door and I offered the children their choice of colors:
Three colors was much more challenging, and they worked together to correct mistakes noticing when the pattern was off. 

Hopefully they will get the concepts of patterns soon and I can stand back and let them design their own creations out of color and shape. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3D Robots

A little while ago H expressed his interest in robots. Today I asked him if he would like to create another robot using recyclable materials. Indeed he did. We worked with wood glue and duct tape to create this masterpiece:
After he drew a representation in his journal and told me about it:
"It has a weapon. It can go to a planet."

While H was creating his robot M decided to make one too:
M had this to say:

First the white thing's under the robot. Then the arms are over here so he can wave. The circles are so in case the robot falls. And he can talk a lot and he has a helmet too. And then it has two eyes. And there is  the part of his body. And that's his neck. And this is his head and this is his chin. And that's all. 

C wanted to create a robot too, but she chose to add objects to paper, perhaps because she created her journal first, then created her robot or because we glued to paper previously:

C said hers was a robot girl with hair and buttons. 

The end! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

a store for monster food- a construction & journal

This summer our campus has been under a lot of construction. One day on the way into work I saw some electricians sitting on empty spools of wire. I convinced my coworker Taryn to ask them if they were going to throw them away and if we could please have them if so (I'm too chicken to talk to strangers- I desperately want to ask the laborers for some tidbits as well but I'm too scared!). 

Anyway, the next day the following showed up on our doorstep:
Recently we added them to our atrium. The children stacked them and added empty raisin, cottage cheese and other empty containers to the ledges. This is the result:
T had this to say about her structure:

Mine is big. A monster built it for another monster. It's a store for monster food. It costs 60 or 70 or 80 dollars. Monsters like to eat bugs. Monster bugs. 
C said this is what the monsters look like:
To be continued! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Magnets, metal & black beans?

This week our sensory table features black beans. I love the black color of the beans and how they make the colors of the other objects inside pop. After an initial period of just exploring the beans with spoons and bowls, I decided to change out the pouring materials for some metal and non metal objects.
 I added metallic materials like washers, clips, screws and other miscellaneous objects. Also added were nonmetallic items like plastic and wood.
As the children played we discussed what kinds of materials stuck to the magnets. The metal did, the plastic and wood did not. 

The end! 

colored rice on contact paper

The other day the children colored some plain rice. Today we sprinkled some on contact paper.

Unfortunately, I left the role of contact paper near the sink and it of course got wet so it wasn't very sticky. But we had a good time, regardless. 

The children really had to resist the impulse to dump the entire bowl onto the contact paper. (Here is an article from the Illinois Early Learning Project on the importance of teaching young children impulse control, a life-long needed skill ( ). 

They were instructed to pinch the rice ( a strong pinch grip- also needed for holding a pen or pencil) and sprinkle it over the paper. 
It's just too bad the paper wasn't sticky or we could have hung this in the window:
The end! 

In the block area today

The children made some thoughtful structures today and I just had to share. 

One child made a ramp using a piece of gutter and a card board tube. He said, "The ball goes on the top of the ramp. Then it rolls down through the tube. 

Another child used blocks to create a channel. Then he lined up several balls in a row and used a cylinder to hit the balls down the channel. He said, "The balls go over there."

Marvelous, children! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

pattern matching on the light table

Many children come into my program not knowing what a pattern is or how to create one out of loose materials. I noticed that after a few days of being offered a tray of glass florist gems, starfish, and sea glass the children worked really hard manipulating the items but without a real sense of purpose. 

Since I can't be in every area all the time (I wish I could clone myself) I decided the activity could use a little structure. My solution was to trace a few starfish and gems into a simple pattern on a piece of transparency paper and leave it on the table for the children to work with. 

I wish I could have been there to document the finished pattern, but alas, it is what it is. 

storytelling with three dimensional illustrations

For this activity, I asked the children to begin by drawing a picture with a black marker.

We looked at their drawings and discussed the shapes they made. Then we checked our "Beautiful Stuff" collection for objects that were similar in shape and glued them on poster board remnants (another shout out to my coworker Heather and her dad who procured these superbly sturdy cast offs from his work). 

Meanwhile, I asked them to tell me a story about their drawing. I purposefully asked them to tell me a story at the end instead of first because sometimes the children find it difficult to illustrate their ideas after the story because the image in their minds is so complex they shut down. I feel I will have plenty of time to challenge them again later. 

Here are several examples of the children's work:

V's illustration and story:
"It's a house. Claire lives there, in Manteno. It's my cousin. Claire's my best friend and she plays with me the most."

H's illustration and story:
"It's a robot monster. Once the monster was going to blast off into space. Then the monster took a girl that was in space and took her to jail."

Some new children to the program did not grasp many of the concepts I was asking them for but they worked diligently and described their picture to me, which is fine, too

T's work and description:
"Mine had a flower on it and buttons on it."

C's work and description:
"I'm making a beach party. I decorate it."

E's work and description: 
"My Mommy."

The end! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Can I put a lot of color in this?" -Coloring rice

We were fortunate enough to be able to order a huge sack of rice for the center so I added some to the sensory table. For the first two weeks of class the children poured and stirred. Today, though I thought it was time to jazz it up a little bit by adding some color. 
To begin, I set a bunch of bowls on the table each with a corresponding color. The children added rice and water color as they saw fit and stirred and stirred. 

The more color they added the deeper and richer the color got. 
Who could blame them for wanting to add the whole bottle? I did have them stop when the color started to puddle because I want the rice to dry so I can put it back in the table or use it for another project.

Honestly, I've never met a child who didn't love to make something colorful. They are so enthralled by the instantaneous effects of swirling around some paint. The action is soothing and the results are always interesting. Some children even chose to view the colors through a magnifying glass: 
 After we colored the rice the children begged to mix the rice, so we did that next. 
I can't wait to use this rice in some collage work. 

The end! 

Crayon and blow dryer experiemnt

I learned about this project from my colleague Heather who said she saw it on Lisa Murphy's (the Ooey Gooey LadyFacebook page. Heather had the children's product hanging in the hallway and several of us teachers and staff were standing around it and admiring the beautiful result. I had to try this in our room too! 

I decided before hand to separate the colors into a rainbow pattern. I had a lovely assistant volunteer to help me sort the crayons. Each board had one or two colors. 

I think I used every crayon we had and glue gunned them to a canvas board. Then I showed the children the boards and told them we were going to be applying heat using a blow dryer. I asked them what they thought would happen to the crayons. They were convinced the crayons were going to blow up.
As cool as that may have been, the crayons did not explode. They did however create beautiful drips that the children agreed seemed like blood. 
And finally, the results! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Row Your Boat in Pairs

I like this more physical version Row Row Row Your Boat, because it allows children to partner up for a whole body experience. 

I just have them sit crisscross (or anyway really) and they rock each other back and forth while we sing away until we are tired. It's pretty soothing and as a bonus the children's natural desire to move is being channeled.

The end!   

Monday, August 29, 2011

New year, new journals!

One of my goals this year is to inspire the children to draw and write in the journals on a daily basis. I don't really want it to be "ok everyone sit down and journal what I tell you" kind of thing although sometimes I may do this.

Mostly, I'm hoping to use them as the children build or create or tell stories in as a natural part of their day. To do this I'm trying to find a special location for their journals that they can have quick easy access to on a moments notice. They do have cubbies but as winter approaches cubbies are stuffed with backpacks, coats, hats mittens and other miscellaneous items that I'm afraid they will be damaged. I was hoping to find paper trays at the thrift store this summer because at several dollars a piece, the price adds up quickly.

In the mean time while I sort out this problem, I have taken the children's photos and had them printed and laminated to serve as the cover of their journals. To begin I asked them to draw a picture of themselves to serve as a base for other self portraits later this year. Here is a sample:

When I asked M, who is four, to tell me about her drawing she said, "My hair, my fingers, my feet, my hands, my teeth, my eyelashes, my tummy, my arms, and my legs, and that's it!"

The end! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

patterns on the light projector

I filled up this clear Ikea container with an assortment of colorful transparent objects and worked with the children to make patterns. 
First though, I let them explore on their own and they dumped objects on the projector in their haste to touch and see everything at once:

Then I explained how we had to place the objects with purpose and notice the effect it made on the wall projection, and how we could organize the materials to make patterns:
These were the results: 

Images from the projector are a lot more colorful:

Some dialog from the children:
K: If you put this one on top of this one the reflection is orange.
K: No, don't put that one there it doesn't look nice. 
D: Sprinkle it all over the place! Oh, it's getting more black. 
K:Can you hand me those squares?
D: Those aren't squares, those are angles. 
Ms. Erin: Rectangles?
D: Yeah. Rectangles.

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