Wednesday, August 20, 2014

making twirly art {using what you have}

I think it is safe to say that I am not the only preschool teacher who holds onto odd bits of scrap paper and other flotsam and jetsam I come across.  In my classroom one of the children's favorite activities to use the salad spinner to make art. Sometimes we use coffee filters in our spinner but with some prep time, I find that the centers of paper plates work best for durability. After I cut out all those circles I am left with a pile of paper plate rims that have just enough curl and twirl in them that I came up with this project that the children call twirlies.
All you need is a paper plate rim, any size, paint, and glitter. When the art is going to be super messy, I will lay put a sheet of wax paper for the children to use as an art mat. Wax paper is great for sticky gooey art projects because you can move the whole shebang to a safe place for drying and the art (mostly) won't stick to the paper. The wax paper also keeps any glue or paint from drip dropping all over your tabletops or, in our case, windowsills.
My kiddos absolutely adore glitter...and paint...and sweeping up with the dustpan. I keep the dustpan on our counter between the refrigerator and microwave and each kiddo in my class knows where it is stored and freely uses it to clean up the riff-raff that falls on our floor. They also return it to its spot when they finish. I think this young lady spent more time engaged in sweeping up than she did sprinkling glitter all over her twirlie. The finished twirlies were hung on our art wire across our room and/or under our windowsills, the children chose where they wished for them to be hung and were quite proud of their creations.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

diy patchwork pots {and planting in the classroom)

 I don't know about you but my class really likes to dig in the dirt. They so enjoyed planting out their sunflower sprouts that when the opportunity presented itself for another garden project I jumped right in. We ended our school year with a Shakespeare celebration that involved the entire student body. From my wee threess to our graduation class, our students got up on our outdoor stage and performed  their interpretations of Shakespeare...Julius Ceasar to be exact (also a smidge of Sophocles' Antigone). Wanting our youngsters to be able to take part, we decided to teach the preschool, Jr. K, and Kindergarteners a verse from A Midsummer Night's Dream. To assist the youngsters in understanding the verse, we brought in the plants from our verse for the children to touch and explore. One of our plants was wild thyme and after our program, we planted it out into our own pots to take home but first we had to decorate those pots!
The first thing we did was paint the outside (and for some, the inside) of our pots white.  This was done over the course of two days. The pots sat for awhile on our windowsill while we explored others areas of interest for awhile. When the kiddos were ready, we brushed on precut tissue paper squares using a bit of liquid starch. This too was done over the course of two days. On our last day of school the children each got to plant their wild thyme into their pots. We reviewed the concepts of sequence, order, and steps and the children talked a lot about when they planted out their sunflower sprouts.
I did not get a chance to seal their tissue covered pots so when the tissue gets wet, it gets a little sticky but they sure do look nifty, don't ya think?

Monday, August 18, 2014

making smoothies in the classroom

One of our activities for our week of the Very Hungry Caterpillar we to make fruit smoothies. The children were very excited at the idea and talked a lot about when we were going to do it.
On smoothie day, each kiddo brought a piece/type of fruit to class. I notified parents ahead of time and asked them to not bring bananas as I worried that each kiddo would bring a banana, I would supply those.  I also brought along a few other types of fruit that I thought would be fun to explore. We did not stick with the fruit from the book as I wanted the children to decide which fruit they brought to class. We had strawberries, blackberries, apples, peaches, plums, oranges, apricots, and kiwis. A cornucopia! The children were very excited to get started as they were going to cut their own fruit with real  (butter) knives! Each piece of fruit was introduced and we talked about the visual characteristics. I talk a lot about us being detectives of the world and how we use our five senses to mete out clues. We used our eyes to give us visual clues to determine what kind of fruit we had. We see an orange is round and of course orange. We then use our nose to smell the fruit before we cut it, we use our hands to touch and then we use our mouth to taste, etc. Some of the fruit was new to the children and we would guess what color the inside was and write down our predictions. There was a lot of excitement, vocabulary, community, etc.
I found this really awesome blender at Target for $15. It makes a 16oz drink and you can drink from the base if ya like.IT is not a very loud blender but still loud enough to unsettle my sound sensitive student so before using it we talked about the sound a blender makes and she took some time to decide if she wanted to be in the kitchen with ears covered our out, etc. We put in our fruit wit ha few ice cubes, a smidge of pineapple juice to help get things going and the children took turns blending away. It was thrilling! When the smoothie was deemed finished, the children took turns pouring their drink into their own cups.  Making a smaller smoothie is crucial as all that fruit in those little know.
Here is this photo again showing the scale of the blender. I love it and the children were so serious when they were blending their smoothies. It was a delicious smoothie made more than enough for our small group. If you have room in your class to store a small blender I would highly recommend it. Though, I do have to admit I take my blender home to store and use as I find it makes much better smoothie than our large Oster!

Friday, August 15, 2014

dot marker butterflies {a lesson in symmetry}

I thought it would be fun, during our week of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to use dot markers to create symmetrical patterns on butterflies.
 I drew the butterflies freehand onto our large white paper (still haven't picked up a code for the copy machine but I'm too busy too get into the office to make copies anyway) with pencil for the first one then used Sharpie over it. I used our window as a lightbox to make copies the old fashioned way but he children were going through them so fast I just drew them when we needed more. Talk about muscle memory, I can probably draw these in my sleep!
As with the magnetic butterflies we talked about symmetry. Some of the children wanted to match what I did so instead, I asked them to make a pattern so I could match theirs. After a few trial runs, the a-ha! moments kicked in and they were having a blast. Now, if only I could figure out how to preserve those sponge tips on the dot markers. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

chalkboard butterflies in the classroom

 When I was shopping for butterflies the first time around, I spied these already-made chalkboard butterflies at Michaels for three dollars and scooped one up for the children to draw and color on.
The chalkboard came with a twine hanger threaded and knotted through the holes at the top. I cute the twine off so we could use the butterfly at our art table. The set up was really pretty. Just the chalkboard and the chalk in on of my insect trays from Cost Plus World market. I mean really, look how pretty the chalk looks...all those happy colors. The children had a damp sponge and/or a piece of flannel to wipe the board clean. One of my industrious kiddos got a hold of a wet wipe to wash the chalk dust off his hands and continued to use it as an eraser. While a lot of fun, this board did not work as well when wet. You know how vibrant chalk looks on a wet board, or wet chalk looks on a board? It didn't work on this board...I have no idea why but that did not deter the kiddos at all.
Sorry about the blurry photo. This is the only one I managed to get of the set up. Even though I wiped it down you can still see evidence of the chalk all over the surface. For some reason, the children also preferred the brown chalk above all the other colors. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

diy magnetic butterfly {that is also a chalkboard and a felt board}

This project is a favorite of mine and the children's! There are three ways the children can interact with them. They are a both a magnet board and a chalkboard and the backs are covered in felt to use as a felt board. I came up with is on the spot at Michaels whilst shopping for butterflies for our week of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I love it when ideas work!
These wooden butterflies were a great size, not too small, not too large. They were thick and sturdy and while I wish they were flat, the details were not too cumbersome. At two dollars a pop, I snatched two up and ran to the paint section to search for magnetic paint. The only magnetic paint they had was from Martha Stewart. It was a bit on the pricey side but I really wanted to make this project and was very happy I had a coupon to use so I justified the purchase and popped it into my basket. I gave the butterflies two coats of magnet paint and one coat of black chalkboard paint that I had previously purchased from Michaels as well. It was a small bottle, 2 oz, from CraftSmart. While the paint was drying, I glued magnets to happy colored shape buttons purchased from Oriental Trading, and cut out tiny shapes from colored scraps of felt I had from another project. To finish it off, I glued orange felt to the back of one butterfly, and yellow felt to the back of the other.
We covered our  butterflies in buttons, colored them with chalk, pretended they were sandwiches and practiced our symmetry (for some of the children I designed one side of the butterfly while they matched the other and vice versa). We also sorted out our magnetic buttons into cool and warm colors (which was an impromptu project when one of the children asked me if purple was a cool color, how awesome is that?) We never got out the felt pieces for the back as the task of covering the entire surface with brown chalk (and only brown chalk) was much too enticing for ALL of the children.
 I am really really pleased with how this project turned out and how the children engaged with it. Now I have to think of some other projects for y magnetic paint. Any suggestions?