Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Swear the Paint is Washable...I Think!

Bubble Paper Mitten Print
 Famous last words of the early childhood's washable paint.  You usually say this in response to a parent's statement of, "She's wearing a new Gymboree outfit...don't let her get messy today."  When I hear those things from a parent I want to run straight to that child's cubby and immediately put them in their extra set of clothes so as not to soil the "good" clothes.  Yeah, yeah...we have aprons and smocks to protect the kids from paint and other messes...but truthfully we forget to pass them out until the kids are elbow deep in fingerpaint.  And the aprons...well kids tend to get messes under them for some reason and the apron kind of seals in the mess.  I have added liquid soap to my tempera paint in an effort to make it more washable but let's face it...there are certain colors of tempera that stick more than and purple are the worst.  I remember being in a classroom where a teacher was using wet wipes trying to remove the color from a little blonde boys buzz cut...he decided to explore the paint as if it were shampoo...probably felt pretty cool.

Today in my curriculum class we had our "Art Exploration Day".  For the entire session they were able to take their time exploring different art materials.  They were reminded that it was all about the process and that there was not a set "picture" to produce...I must say it was a relaxing and enjoyable hour...we even streamed in children's music while we "worked". 

As I would with little kids I gave a few instructions that helped keep them safe...from burns and cross contamination of germs (you'll understand this later).  They were told that they could use as much of the materials as they needed or wanted...I even had to make a run to our preschool classroom to get more butcher paper.  I had supplies in place in case of a mess...which is what scares some people about working with young children...and paint...and glue...and that dreaded STD of the art world...glitter!

Here are the stations that were set up:
    Pop Art in Action
  1. Pop Art--for this you need cups of soapy water with different liquid watercolor (or any thinned paint--food coloring stains and should be avoided)...a package of straws...white construction paper...and a trash can.  The object of this is to blow through your own clean straw (germ cross contamination alert) into the soapy colored water mixture until your bubbles come up over the rim of the cup.  At this point you remove the straw and place your paper over the bubbles...popping the bubbles which leave splattered bubble prints on the paper...pretty nifty!  Some cool science concepts here--force of air, color mixing, bubble chemistry, and so on.  If you have a child like my little Elizabeth who confused sucking with can poke a few pin holes in the straw near the blowing end to prevent sucking it up and drinking soapy colored water.
    Hard at work sculpting!
  3. Model Magic Sculpting--this isn't overly messy but super fun.  I used to make all kinds of doughs and clays for my kiddos to sculpt things out of...but when Model Magic came out it just added a new dimension to preschool sculptures.  And no I am not a paid spokesperson for Crayola's Model Magic.  Today the girls were given real sculpting tools and allowed to create any 3 dimensional piece that struck their mind...the pieces are now drying in my office.  If you are not familiar with Model Magic it hardens to the consistency of a dried marshmallow.
    Working on warming tray.
  5. Crayons on the Warming Tray--What a cool way to see the effects of heat on wax!  For this I use a warming tray, paper, hot pads, and a remnant box of crayons--preferably naked know with the paper peeled off.  When I do this with kids adult supervision is necessary the whole time...but with my big girls they were on their own.  It is such a cool feeling to draw and feel the wax melt into the paper.  This is usually the most popular station during Art Exploration Day.  Glitter and metallic crayons are the crayons melt really will get a slight burning smell but nothing too horrible.  These can be hung in windows because they almost become transparent.
    Ice cube painting
  7. Ice Cube Painting--Another favorite...simply freeze colored water (again, thinned paint or watercolor is less scary than food coloring) in an ice cube tray with popsicle a popsicle...just don't eat them!  The kids simply choose a "pop" and paint on their paper with it.  Absorbent paper works the best for this...we used newsprint and the water pooled a little today.  Great science concepts with the properties of water here!
    Bubble Paper Mitten finished paper.
  9. Bubble Paper Mitten Painting--For this one you have to get some bubble paper and make mittens...just a rectangle piece folded over big enough to slide your hand in...tape it shut so that there is only one opening and turn it so the "bubbles" are on the outside.  Plates with tempera paint are provided and the artists simply choose a color, dip their mitt, and basically pat large sheets of butcher paper.  The color combinations are always interesting especially when the colors start blending and are layered.  The finished sheets can be cut into different shapes kind of in the style of Eric Carle's creations.
    Working on Tissue Paper Suncatchers.
  11. Tissue Paper Suncatchers--this is the easiest and less messy of all the activities.  Cut contact paper in a workable size and provide a variety of tissue paper, sequins, or any other collage "junk".  This is great practice for kids in tearing or cutting when they choose their different colors of tissue.  The kids just add their colored tissue and items to the sticky side of the contact paper...these can be stuck directly to a window when they are finished or another piece of contact paper or colored paper can be added to seal off the piece of art. 

Finished warming tray product

The activities were shared with my class because they are a little different but not too scary messy.  These activities can be done by an individual or small groups of kids.  The materials needed are not hard to come by...the warming tray is the trickiest...I borrow my sister's each time I plan this activity.  I hope that my students see the possibilities that await in these different activities.  I hope it sparks them to try something a little messy...I remembered to bring up wipes, paper towels, and we had newspapers under the drippy items to model the teacher's role.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There is a time to dawdle...


Cause to feel completely exhausted; wear out.
The state of being completely exhausted or worn out: "I'm tired, worn to a frazzle".
verb.  fray
noun.  exhaustion - weariness

It has been a fast paced few weeks with lots of pockets full of stress that unfortunately brought me to an ugly adult tantrum.  Now I didn't kick and scream and throw myself on the floor but I did sulk and blow through some kleenex.  This week has been much better in many areas...better in part through reflection of my life.  Before you quit reading because you think I am simply venting I will change to my topic of dawdling.

I often tell my students that we, Americans, tend to try to hurry children up...we cannot wait for them to walk, to talk, to potty on the potty, to recite their ABCs, the list goes on.  Listen to parents or teachers talk to children...we often hear "don't dawdle", "hurry up", "come on", "we're late", and so on.  What is the rush?  Are we in a race?  Maybe I, or we, can learn a few things from children's lolly gagging.

If we think like kids and stop to pet a caterpillar every now and then I think our sanity would be better preserved.  Here are some things that we might "see" if we took the time to slow down and smell the dandelions:

  1. We might notice the holes that the very hungry caterpillar ate in a leaf on a tree.
  2. We might be able to find enough change in little hidey holes to buy a grande vanilla frappa mochachino.
  3. If we unlace and relace our tennis shoes we may find that they actually fit better using every other lace hole.
  4. What if while digging a hole in the sandbox I did end up in China... discover a dinosaur...or realize how relaxing sensory play is?
  5. If I slow down I can walk with my shadow.
  6. I can talk into my office fan in my coolest Darth Vader voice.
  7. I can out build catapults with a 4 year old.
  8. I can beat a 5 year old at Pokemon memory.
  9. When I don't scurry through life I notice the tile floor, in a fence, in the grooves on my pen.
  10. When I slow down and take a breath I can sort out what is bothering me and decide if it is really worth all the stress...and chances are we have created the stress and the short breather helps us work past the stress.
I am not ashamed to say that I have decided to follow through on my declaration of stating there is a time to dawdle...I have already cancelled my class for Friday and turned in my absence report.  It was tempting to write in my reason as, "personal dawdling day" but I may want to do it again and I'll need a fresh new reason for that day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NAEYC Conference Update!

I hate to brag...but part of my job does include going to the NAEYC Annual Conference with the preschool teacher and students from our Early Childhood Student Organization.  Conferences serve many purposes--to stay in touch with new information in the field, network with other like minded people, and to inspire or re-inspire. 

This year we took 5 students and one graduate to Orlando, Florida.  When people asked where we were going I usually told them under my breath because when you mention the city of the big mouse everyone tends to think you are going on a vacation rather than a professional trip.

I spent a lot of time in workshops but all I learned did not happen while in sessions.  Many things can be learned simply from the environment.  Here are some things that I learned:

  1. Early childhood teachers love Vera Bradley bags...I have never seen so many patterns in all my life!
  2. Early childhood teachers will sit anywhere at anytime.  I bet if you attended a banking conference you wouldn't find bank presidents sitting in the concourses eating lunch on the floor.
  3. The freebies in the exhibit hall are like gold...much like the swag bags given away at the award shows for presenters.
  4. Preschool teachers will throw elbows for a free pen, piece of chocolate, or post it note pad.
  5. A bar full of preschool teachers is an interesting sight.
  6. Give a child care provider a free frisbee and she will try to get 9 more to give to her kiddos or make a cool game.
  7. Early childhood people are not afraid to stand up and sing and dance in a session or again to get more free stuff.
  8. Although we tell our children not to talk to strangers, early childhood teachers make new friends quite quickly.
  9. Early childhood people will talk about poop, pee, and boogers to anyone.
  10. Only preschool teachers would be concerned about people with peanut allergies when the nuts are passed out on the airplane.
  11. Early childhood people are still amazed at Mentos and Diet Coke...thank you Steve Spangler!
  12. It is possible to obtain over 10 pounds of freebies in the exhibit hall...and preschool teachers know how to do the math to insure that their bag still doesn't weigh over 50 pounds for the return flight home.