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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paper Weaving

A nice quick project to do with old paintings is paper weaving. 
Fold an old painting in half lengthwise.
Cut slits along the crease leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border, and about an inch between each slit going down your paper.

Next you can either cut up another painting for your strips or use solid construction paper.
We used construction paper the same length as the paper and about inch wide.
Then teach the children how to weave over and under, making sure to alternate between each room.
Again, this is another one of those hand eye-coordination projects that is great to do with preschoolers.
It is also a fun way to re-visit a finished piece of artwork.

Our Little Carpenters

About a month ago we really got into hammering with real nails and drilling into our well loved pumpkin.

Shortly after that, one of our students brought in a piece of Styrofoam for his friends to hammer on.

Now we are onto the real things and we all are loving it!
I have some wood that has been through all sorts of weather so it is a bit softer for the children to push their nails into the wood, and then start hammering.
A parent also donated a stump, which has little cracks in it that also makes for easy nail positioning.
They have been having a ball.

What I love is that after they hammer, they also take the nails out, so they are working both ends of the hammer and taking responsibility for all the tools.

We also have two hand crank drills that the children thoroughly enjoy as well.
My plan is to have them start drilling two pieces of wood and then screwing them together after the break.

gem window sun catcher


"Gemmies" as the children call them, are a well loved item at our school.
We have played with them on the light box and in our marble runs, and now thanks to the blog Play at Home Mom, we got the idea to use them in our artwork.

These window sun catchers are very beautiful, but also very simple to create.  It also kept everyone's interests the duration of the project.

We started our project by painting plain wood picture frames.

Next have the children add a thick layer of glue and then push it all around the frame with a paint brush.

Have them position the gems wherever they like on the frame.

Finally, let dry for a couple days.

Our Tasty Garland

Popcorn and Cranberry Garland

I always seem to get my post out after the Holidays, however it is always nice to have
these in the archives for next year.

This was a great activity for the kids, as well as a yummy one, because who doesn't love eating the popcorn.  The cranberries, however, had a mixed response.'

In addition to this being a pretty garland for the tree, it is a great way for the little ones to work on hand-eye coordination.  Even my littlest one, a little over 2 1/2 was very successful at stringing cranberries and popcorn.  The trick I found was a sizable metal needle.  The plastic ones tend to bend and actually make the project harder one the kids.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Card Mobile

What to Do With All Those Birthday Cards?
September 5th, 2011

Elianna's birthday recently passed and as is our tradition, we hang all the birthday cards up in the house.

When I was a little girl I use to save all my cards, years later when I had to clean my room out at home, I had stacks of cards that I finally recycled. Over the years I have found other ways to re-use cards. I have taken past years Christmas and Chanukah cards and cut them apart to make new collaged Holiday cards. I use cards and envelops in my collaged mixed media jewelry as accents. When teaching high school I would cut them up for students to use in collages, and I still do for the preschool. My Mother-in-Marriage ( I don't like the word in-law), cuts old cards up and uses them as gift tags, and my friend Sarah had a lovely idea when her son was born to make a mobile with the baby shower cards.

This last idea was in my head when I expressed to Elianna that it was time to take down the cards. She was very upset with the proposal and a tantrum ensued, but just beyond the surface the tears came and she said "Mama, I don't want to take them down." Our solution was to make an art project with them. While Sarah's wonderful mobiles are patterned cut outs of the cards in beautiful assemblage, Elianna and I took an easier route that had her doing a lot of the work.

Elianna first picked out the cards she liked best.

Elianna first picked out the cards she liked best.

For large cards that Elianna did not want to cut up, she glued them together so there was a different image on the front and back

After our cards were cut and glued, Elianna wrapped yarn around a metal hoop we had in the house.
It worked best when I held the hoop and we sang a little chant
"Loop it in, pull it under, loop it in, pull it under"
Not much of a chant, but it held the rhythm of the action.

As Elianna held the hoop, I tied the cards she had prepared.
After this, we picked some pictures from the party to add to the mobile.
One was the party invitation, another the thank you card picture, and a couple of highlight pictures.

What I loved the most about the mobile is that Elianna was so happy with it. Her feelings were honored as well as these cards which were so special to her. I also think it really imbibes the Spirit of a 3 year old, it may not have been how I would have made

this for her, but because we did it together, it captures her aesthetic, and I love it.
One last thought that Elianna and I talked about was that every year, we can replace old cards with new ones, holding onto the absolute favorite from the year before. I am actually really excited to see how this mobile changes from year to year as her creative ability and taste changes as she grows.
Reggio Emilia Influences

In keeping with some of the ideas of the Reggio Emilia Approach, I have been trying to take a lot of photographs as part of the documentation process. My husband has been encouraging this, and as he was home over the summer, he was excited to join in the fun. During our last week he went around recording and interviewing the children at Art and Soul. He then surprised us by projecting the interviews on the wall as well as a slide show of the photographs from the summer. It was a real delight, especially watching the kids run up to the photos and try to touch the images. The experience showed me how they love to respond to images of themselves and their families, but also how they delight in seeing themselves talk and be in a video. There is a sense of connection that is beyond their inner space of who they are, for they are beginning to see how they are part of the bigger world. It is interesting to observe them learning that their actions, reactions, and voices have a place in this world.

Experimenting with Ink

Working with Ink

One of the things the children love to do at school is work with ink.  I love it too because it is so
experimental.  We usually just wet the paper and then giving the children an
eyedropper, they squirt and watch the magic happen on their paper.
It is fun to see shapes and designs emerge before your eyes.

(Note: if you see a picture you really love, switch out the paper and have them start a new one.  Most times this project is just for experimenting with the materials rather then ended up with a final project.  It often gets messy so keep rages our paper towels near by.)

Sometimes we add drawings after they dry using pens


Gardening at School

The Garden Project

Since April we have been exploring gardening and now that the warm weather has been with us for some time, we are getting ready to take our seedlings and put them into the new Art and Soul Garden in the back yard. In addition to this garden, we have planted some of our seedlings at the base of our new fort. This will be a magical living play structure that we can graze on while we enjoy the shade and mystery of this charming play hide out.

The kids have been excited about this process from the beginning. We have been reading books about gardening, making paper to plant in the garden, have been observing our seeds growing into seedlings and soon big beautiful plants. They have also been creating sketches of their plants and making garden stones. I believe pictures are the best way to document this process so enjoy the journey below.
Planting morning glory seeds, sunflowers and nasturtiums
The egg cartons have been wonderful!
The plants germinated in one week!
These are our plants at two weeks, big and beautiful

Our new fort that I made using tree branches and weaving grapevine
The excitement of planting our new plants at the base of the fort.
(Later in the season this is what our fort started to look like)

Our little fort in which we grew morning glories and runner beans

Art and Gardening
Sketching the plants that we haven't planted yet
Ellie is telling me about the stem and plant leaves.

We cut some iris from the garden and sketched them on another day.
Here Jasper is talking about his artwork and comparing it to the real flowers.
Garden Stones
Next we began to paint some garden stones to place in the path of our garden
Elianna adding glitter to make the stones Shine!
Art and Soul Preschool Garden
Our next Garden project was to turn the soil in the place in the yard that was chosen to be the

Even little butterflies came to help out.
Myles planting our first tomato plant.
More to come as our garden grows.....

And grow it has
August 22, 2011
So the garden is thriving and I had to share these pictures of our first cucumber!

This is our backyard play place.
To the immediate left is the children's garden.
The Garden Plot!

Harvest Time
October 17th, 2011
The garden is beginning to change from lush green to shades of brown, however our morning glories are a magical blue traveling along our fence.
the pictures below show how the garden continues to change and be a part of our little school.