Monday, December 24, 2012

Wood Sculptures and Scientific Drawing

Here is a great resource for your classroom:

We have often made wood sculptures in our art center, but the idea for drawing the sculptures when completed came from this wonderful book.  Drawing real items is important for children to learn, as scientific drawing is an important piece of project work when young children engage in fieldwork.  Learning to draw what you see is just as valuable as learning to draw creatively.  Both are important activities, and opportunities to do both should be provided in the learning environments of our young children.

Discount School Supply sells a great box of wood bits and pieces for around $18.  It is always different and the children LOVE to explore the various shapes and sizes.  I gathered the large bases from wood I had around my house, but often parents are happy to run to the local hardware store or lumber yard to ask for free scraps of wood.  That is how we stock our workbench.    (and FYI to my class parents...we are out of wood :-)

We put out bowls of wood glue and paint brushes.

 The children then created their unique and clever sculptures.

When the glue was dry, on another day, we put our liquid watercolor paint and they painted them.  This water color paint gives the wood a stained look, so you can still see the details of the wood.

On yet another day, the children took their dry sculptures and drew them.  First we did have a group lesson and talked about drawing what we really see, the various shapes of the wood pieces, how what we see changes depending on how we look at it, how to get started, etc.  

It was really interesting to see how each child approached the task and the various perspectives of the sculptures.

We gave them plain white paper and a black marker.  We did use markers for this one activity as the fine point lent itself well to the fine lines of their drawings.  (See post on crayons vs. markers)

We displayed the drawings behind the sculptures.  When I went to hang them, I could tell which way to face the sculptures based on the details the children were able to capture.

I encourage you to give it a try with your students and to get your hands on that book!! Perhaps a holiday gift to your classroom.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Joyful Noise! Tempo Lessons

We have been doing several music lesson on tempo in class and learning to move our hands, our bodies and even drawing to pieces of music with different styles and tempos.  We discuss if a piece is fast or slow and the feelings that it invokes.  We try and match our body movements to the tempo of the music.

The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky works very well as an extension of these lessons as it has several pieces with very different paces.

For this lesson we gave the children each two scarves and we moved around the classroom to the tempos of the different selections from The Nutcracker.

  For a piece such as the Arabian Dance, the children had to move their bodies, but not their feet.

For the Waltz of the Flowers we did a group dance in the circle,

and of course, for the Russian number, there was a lot of jumping and lunging!

As another extension, we brought the music outside and gave each child ribbons to move around the entire playspace to the different selections of music.
Enjoy some joyful noise with your students or your children at home!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread Play dough and Creative Ending

To make our gingerbread play dough, we simply used our regular play-dough recipe, colored it brown and added ground ginger and cinnamon-LOTS of it!  and we always, always make a LOT of play dough- at least three batches.

This has been the favorite place to play for two weeks now!  We placed it in our dramatic play center, added gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters, rolling pins, cookie sheets, parchment paper and spatulas....

and oh yeah...candy:-)   (pom poms, buttons, pipe cleaners, and by the end of week two the glitter had been found and moved there as well.)

In this one area the children have been experiencing a great deal of problem solving, compromising, retelling literature experiences, creating role play scenarios and being creative.

Just before leaving for vacation, we gave each child a big lump of this beloved gingerbread play dough to take home.

And one other idea I did not get to photograph...

we acted out the story of the gingerbread man, much the way you would act out, "We're going on a Bear Hunt" until we got to the river.  We imagined being at the river..the people coming closer, the fox what?  What would you do Gingerbread Man?
The children then went to the tables and drew a picture of and told us their idea to solve their problem.  They each drew and wrote their own endings.

Most of them were much different than the book.  I loved, "I swam across the river as I was really thick dough ", and "a whale came and I rode across his back to the other side and then he used his water and squirted the people while I got away."

The movement activity was a great precursor to the seat action of drawing and immersed the children more in the role of the character before trying to come up with an idea.


Sewing Gingerbread Men

"My mom doesn't let me use real needles" said one of my students.

Well, in class, she was allowed to.  We used large regular needles to sew objects on to felt gingerbread shapes.  The children sewed on pom poms, ribbons, buttons and small flower shapes to create their own characters.

We used embroidery thread and taught them the pattern of sewing.  " up from the bottom, down through the top, up from the bottom, down through the top", repeated and repeated.

They were all so different..some had one pompom and nothing else, while others had a sewn smile.  This activity lent itself well to differentiating it to each child's level of ability and interest and gave them confidence as they experienced using a real needle.

I wish I had gotten a picture of the various gingerbread boys and girls.  We even used them to sing a song one of my coworkers, Adele, taught us.  

Five gingerbread men all in a row
I'm not going to eat one!
No, no, no
oooooohhh, but he look so good,
from his head to his toe...

crunch, munch, "gobble" sound

Four gingerbread men all in a row.....  you get the idea!

Have fun sewing and singing.  

Dress the Gingerbread Man Game

I love to use dice with children.  We have a collection of large foam dice.  There is so much action in the rolling and counting process, not to mention the excitement and anticipation that comes with watching your roll evolve.  

Place out bowls of small art materials near some large gingerbread shapes.  Mine are simply construction paper and aren't even laminated (the materials tend to roll off the laminated ones).  We used pom poms, ribbon, yarn, jewels, mosaic squares and buttons.  

The children take turns rolling the die, counting the dots and then counting out that many pieces of "candy" decorations.  They then placed them on their cookies where ever they chose to.

This is a great activity to do on the floor where they children can get into the gross motor action of rolling a large die and move more freely.  When young children can move more they tend to stay engaged for a longer period of time.

This is a fun way to experience counting, one-one correspondence, getting acclimated to visually remember representations of numbers, turn taking and excellent fine motor practice as well.

All this while playing a fun game.  We play as long as we want as there is no ending.  There is not a "right" way to decorate your Gingerbread Man and it can have as much candy as you can load on it, so it is an extremely flexible game that does not cause competition issues.

This concept could also be applied to any shape or character.  Let me know what you come up with!