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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Felted Acorn Necklaces

Well, It is official, we are in love with Autumn and the projects that emerged as a result.  Nothing beats jumping and running through leaf piles and the feeling of all those colors around us. 
Here is another gem of a project we did this week.  I found this one in The Rhythm of the Day on line magazine.  Ours is a bit more colorful then their example, which I have to say, I love!

 Start by drilling two holes in the top of your acorn. I then threaded waxed linen through the holes, and tied a slip knot on the end.

 Have a bowl of soapy very warm water.

We used a variety of colored wool in an assortment of Fall colors.

 Have the children shape their wool into a ball using slightly wet hands, they should do this before they dip it in the water
 Ooh the colors!

Once they have established a ball, they should then dip it in the water and then roll it in their hands.

Keep this up until it forms a nice dense ball.
Then hot glue it into your acorn top (felt glue also works for this.)

Autumn modeling her necklace.

This Was a Hoot!

One of the mom's at Art and Soul Preschool sent me this project idea.  I loved it and thought it would be a wonderful project for the kids.  Today, I wore my owl shirt and we read the story The Littlest Owl, by Caroline Pitcher.  We then had art time where we created these little guys.  I can't help it, they just make feel good, there is something about them that has so much personalty.

 We started by wrapping wool around the top of the pine cone

 Next, we added ears, which we made out of sticky sided felt

 We then glued on a nose, which was just a triangle cut from construction paper.

 With assistance and a brief talk on how to use a hot glue gun and cautions about how not to burn yourself, they applied glue to the inside of the acorn caps and then pressed them onto the face of their owls.

We then hot glued the owls to the top of our leaf candle holders from a previous post.  It was a nice way to put both projects together and it gave the owls a perch to sit on.

Leaf Candle Holder

A nice project we recently completed was taking pressed leaves and gluing them on recycled glass jars to make candle holders for the season

After we glued the leaves on, and then applied a coat of watered down glue on top of those leaves,
we added glitter while the glue coat was wet.  This gave the candle holders an extra little shine, and what kid does not love playing with glitter!

Just a sweet little project to take home and share with someone.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Camping Play

 When school started up in September, the children started a spontaneous game of playing "camping."
They would pack up the play kitchen food and go into a play hut and say they were camping.  This evolved into making campfires out of blocks and placing the food on the fire. 

Each day there was a little more they would add to their play.  They started to go fishing with the felted fish and frying them up on their little campfires.  I loved this child driven play, and to add new elements to it I made the felted fire in the above picture.  This took on a whole new kind of play because of course we had to roast marshmallow blocks on sticks!  Around that time my mom asked if I wanted a play hut tent that she was getting rid of, perfect timing!  And so, the camping game continued to be a love of ours. 

Then to surprise the children, I asked them if they wanted to make a real campfire. This brought the game outside and added a tasty element because they roasted real marshmallows and made smores.
It was fun having them make the fire pit, stack the wood, and sing campfire songs as we roasted the marshmallows.  I love this about having a school at home, the fact that we are able to be outside making real campfires is a wonderful thing.  I also loved the authenticity of this play and going along with what the children were guiding with their imagination and spontaneity.

For an art project, the next day we took the charcoal from the fire and made drawings with them.  We also did one of my favorite activities with rocks, which is to rub them together with a little water and make rock paint.  The kids loved creating art with natural materials, it is always a thrill, this one in particular because since this project they use the rock paint as face paint during outdoor free play.

A little crayon for the eyes make this charcoal, rock paint, crayon picture complete.

Making Stars With Milk

This is just a little experiment we did at school.  While I was doing a search on the internet I saw this on You Tube and loved it.  All it takes is a little milk in a shallow bowl or plate that has an inset.  Add several drops of food coloring to the milk right in the center, and then place a q-tip with dish soap on the tip in the center of the food coloring.  The result is that the colors push out in a star like design. 

Unfortunalty my video camera gave out so this is a brief snip of our experiment.  It is a shame because some to the reactions were priceless.

Monday, October 3, 2011

September Fun with Apples

It is amazing how quickly September came and went.  During this time we had  been busy getting use to the rhythm of the day as we started a new semester of school, as well as exploring apples. 

Some activities that the students were excited about was making apple cake and apple crisp.  We also made some really beautiful apple prints and learned about the star inside an apple.  This wonderful fruit held our focus for several days, and here are some of the things we loved most.

Apple Prints

Children love using food for print making, I think it is because they are excited about finding multiple uses for an item such as food.  For these prints we used paintings that the children made at our easels.  This gave the prints a nice layered look and made the prints stand out more.

One of the kids placced this down on top of their paper and I loved how it looked as a composition

I just love the look of the white on top of all those colors and paint strokes below.
We often do this with paintings that were created in free paint time.  We have used them as the background for printmaking, collages, ink drawings, ect.
It is a nice way to revisit a piece of art work and to cut down on the use of paper.

Apple Tasting

Another fun activity we did was to have an apple tasting.  The children tried five different apples and we discussed the difference in the taste, color, shape of each apple, and which one was everybodies favorite.  The apples we tasted were: Honey Crisp, Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious and Macintosh.  The Red Delicious won hands down, though mine was Honey Crisp.

Making Apple Cake

The thing I love about making this recipe is that it is simple, fast and tasty, but it also involves using a lot of baking tools that help with fine motor skills.  We use a manual beater, sifter, apple peeler and masher, which makes it a fun project as well as it keeps the children involved and active the whole time.

Apple Cake
(This is an adaptation of my cousin, Mona's, apple cake recipe that she brought over from her mother in Finland.)

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar ( her recipe calls for 1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 mashed banana (Mona's calls for 1 cup of melted butter)
1 sliced apple
I add 1 tsp cinnamon
A sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar for the top of the cake

Before beginning the recipe, grease a 9"X9" baking pan.
Preheat your oven to 360 degrees

Have the children crack the three eggs, add the sugar and vanilla together and beat until it is frothy.  This is great because it gives everyone a turn with the beater.

Next:  Mash your banana.  Again, great for all the kids to get a chance because you need it mashed up real good.  Add the banana to your cake mixture.

Following this give all the children a turn with the sifter as you slowly add the flour and baking powder to the cake, and then mix your cake mixture with 1 tsp of cinnamon.

Your last step is to peel one large apple or two small.  we use the apple peeler and then layer the top of the cake with the apples.

Your final step is to sprinkle the cake with a little cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake for 20-25 minute.
* the banana makes it so that this cake does not last as long as it does with butter, so if you think you will be eating it over several days, add a little butter, or use the butter instead of banana

Discovering the Star in the Middle of the Apple

The Apple Star

Take an apple round and red.
Don't slice it down
Slice through instead.
Right inside it you will see
A star as pretty as can be!

This was a wonderful activity because I love seeing children discover something new, their reactions are so joyful.  we read two different stories during this time.  The first was, The Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows and a Star Inside.  The second story was How the Apple got a Star.

I have posted them below:


After reading this story we went and cut an apple in half to show the star that was inside the house.

There was once upon a time a little boy who was tired of playing with his toys and tired of his books and puzzles.
"What shall I do? He asked his mother. And his mother, who always knew fun things for little boys to do, said "Why not go and find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside."
This really made the little boy wonder. Usually his mother had good ideas, but he thought that this one was very strange.
"Which way shall I go?" He asked his mother. "I don't know where to find a little red house with no doors and no windows".
"Go down the lane past the farmer's house and over the hill," said his mother, "and then hurry back as soon as you can and tell me all about your journey."
So the little boy put on his hat and his jacket and started out. He had not gone very far down the lane when he came to a merry little girl dancing along in the sunshine. Her cheeks were like pink blossom petals and she was singing like a robin.
"Do you know where I shall find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?" asked the little boy. The little girl laughed. "Ask my father the farmer," she said. "Perhaps he knows."
So the little boy went on until he came to the great brown barn where the farmer kept barrels of fat potatoes and baskets of yellow squashed and golden pumpkins. The farmer himself stood in the doorway looking out over the green pastures and yellow grain fields.
"Do you know where I shall find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?" asked the little boy of the farmer. The farmer laughed too. "I've lived a great many years and I never saw one," he chuckled, "but ask Granny who lives at the foot of the hill . . . She knows how to make homemade cookies, taffy, and popcorn balls . . . and red mittens! Perhaps she can tell you."
So the little boy went on farther still, until he came to the Granny sitting in her rocker on her front porch. She had lots of wrinkles and a big smile on her sweet face.
"Please, dear Granny, said the little boy, "where shall I find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?"
The granny was knitting a red mitten and when she heard the little boy's question, she laughed so cheerily that the wool ball rolled out of her lap and down to the little stone path.
"I should like to find that little house myself," she chuckled. "It would be warm when the frosty night comes and the starlight would be much prettier than a candle. But ask the wind who blows about so much and listens at all the chimneys. Perhaps the wind can tell you."
So the little boy took off his cap politely to the granny and went on up the hill rather sadly. He wondered if his mother, who usually knew almost everything, had perhaps made a mistake. The wind was coming down the hill as the little boy climbed up. As they met, the wind turned about and went along, singing beside the little boy. It whistled in his ear, and pushed him along and dropped a pretty leaf into his hands. "I wonder," thought the little boy, after they had gone along together for awhile, "if the wind could help me find a little red house with no doors, and no windows and a star inside." The wind cannot speak in our words, but it went singing ahead of the little boy until it came to an orchard. There it climbed up in the apple tree and shook the branches.
When the little boy caught up, there, at his feet, lay a big red apple. The little boy picked up the apple. It was as much as his two hands could hold. It was as red as the sun had been able to paint it, and it had no doors and no windows. Was there a star inside?
The little boy called to the wind, "Thank you", and the wind whistled back, "You're welcome." The little boy hurried back down the lane with the big, red apple in his hand. When he reached his house the little boy gave the apple to his mother. His mother said, "You have found a house with no doors and no windows but where is the star?" His mother took a knife and cut the apple through the center. Oh, how wonderful! There inside the apple, lay a star holding five brown seeds.
"It is too wonderful to eat without looking at the star, isn't it?" the little boy said to this mother.
"Yes, indeed," answered his mother.
Adopted from a story by Carolina Sherwin Bailey
This story was read on the day after we discovered the star inside the apple

Apple StoryHow the apple got a star (author, uncertain)Once long ago, long long ago, the very first apple tree started to grow in the earth. The roots went
down into the earth, and the sprout started to grow up into the air. All day long the little sprout
stretched in the warm sun. Then night came and it started to get dark, and the little apple sprout
looked up into the sky and saw all the little stars twinkling in the sky. The little apple tree thought
they were so very pretty, and the little sprout really wanted to touch one. So the little sprout stretched
and grew and reached and stretched more, but try as it might, the little sprout could not reach the stars.
And then the little sprout started to cry. Suddenly out of the sky a little fairy flew down, a beautiful
little fairy with a crown of stars as beautiful as the stars up in the heavens. The little apple fairy
landed on the apple sprout and asked what was wrong, why the sprout was crying. The sprout answered "oh beautiful fairy, I so want to touch the stars up in the sky, they are so beautiful and twinkle so
brightly, but no matter how hard I reach and stretch, I can't grow tall enough to touch them". The fairy
said "I am sorry little apple tree, I will go up and get a star, and bring it down to you, so that you may
touch a star!" And with that the fairy flew away.
Well time passed, with long days in the sun and cool nights with the stars. One day the apple tree woke up and was covered with beautiful pink flowers! The apple tree was so happy and proud of the flowers!
Then it became summer and the flowers slowly turned into tiny apples. Then it was fall and the apples
were all beautiful and golden red! The tree was so very proud of all her apple babies, and the tree was
very very happy.

Suddenly the fairy came back to the tree and said "tree! I have brought you a basket of
stars to keep!" The tree said to the fairy "Oh thank you fairy! But I am so proud of my beautiful apple
babies that I no longer need a star!" so the fairy said "I have an idea! I will give each of your apple
babies a star then! I will hide it deep inside each apple, so that the earthly children can see them, and
then each time an earth child eats an apple they can see a star as beautiful as the stars in heaven and
remember their time there!" The apple tree thought that would be a great idea, so the fairy flew to each
apple and touched it lightly with her wand and hid a beautiful star in each apple! And in the star's are
apple pips, and in each pip is a dream, that one day that apple pip will grow into an apple tree someday

Experimental Apple Peel Painting.

This is a project I will try again.  We didn't want to compost the apple peels, so we tried to do a painting project with them.  We took them and made designs with them on the paper, and then taped them down.  I showed them the technique of stipple painting by simply dabbing their paint brushes on the paper. 
After the paint dried, we peeled the apple peels off to see the negative space left by them.

Next time I think we will try to use the apple peels as the paint brush and drag them across the paper.  These are great ways to explore the different materials and ways there are to paint.  I believe in giving many different alternatives so that everything becomes a possibility in life.

Apple Songs and Finger plays

This is the tree with leaves so green
(make leaves with fingers stretched out)
Here are the apple that hang in between.
(make fist)
When the wind blows
The Apples will fall,
(falling motion with hands)
Here is the basket to gather them all.
(use arms to form basket)

"Little Apples" (song to the tune of ten little Indians)
One little, two little, three little apples,
Four little, five little, six little apples,
Seven little, eight little, nine little apples,
All fell to the ground.

"If I had an Apple" ( song to the tune of If I Had a Hammer)
If I had an apple
I'd eat it in the morning
I'd eat in the evening,
all over this land.
I'd eat it for breakfast
I'd eat is for supper,
I'd eat it with all my friends, and sisters, and brothers
All, all over this land.

Apple Tree

Way up high in the apple tree
(stretch arm up high)
Two little apples smile at me
(hold up two fingers)
I shook that tree as hard as I could
(make a shaking motion)
Down came the apples.
(make a downward motion)
Mmmmm-they were good.
(smile and rub stomach)