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Monday, January 30, 2012

Learning about Molecules and making GAK

Today we had a great time discussing molecules, yup, that's right molecules!
I know they are preschoolers, but since we were doing a science project where we would be transforming a liquid into an organic compound (semi-solid form)
I was inspired by a website that went into details about molecules, so I thought it would be fun to talk about them with the kids.
Molecules are small particles that make up all living and non-living things, and as I told the children this, I asked them to picture the smallest thing they could imagine and that molecules in our bodies were probably smaller than that.  I talked about how we were going to make gak or slime as some call it, and that it would change from water to a rubbery material we could play with.
I also bartered with my daughter to let us use her molecule looking blocks at school today (this is one of her "non-school toys".)  I pointed out that molecules look a lot like these blocks and let them play around with them for a while.  Then we took all the forms they made and made one big one.  I pointed out that we just changed the molecular structure by taking their structures and adding them together to make a new one. I then let them know we were about to do the same thing when we make the gak.  Sounds a bit heady, but really it was just a bunch of play and fun with some big words thrown in now and then.
Recipe for Gak
8 oz. glue (I have a big jug, but an 8 oz. bottle poured out will do)
warm water
1 tsp borax soap added into 1/2 cup warm water
a large bowl and mixing spoon
Ziploc bag for when you are done.

1.  Empty the 8 oz. of glue into your bowl
then empty 8 oz. of warm water into the bowl.  If you are using a bottle of glue, add the water to the bottle and shake it around and then pour it in to get more of the glue out of the bottle.

Stir your glue and water mixture and then add your food coloring and continue to mix

I added the teaspoon of borax into the 1/2 cup of warm water before starting the project, I do not have the children handle the borax soap, and if you use this recipe please only allow adults to.  It is only a laundry booster, but it should not be handled by children.

after the glue mixture is mixed thoroughly, then add the diluted borax and begin stirring.
Almost immediately it starts to change. 

Eventually you have to get you hands in it to stir it, but this crazy stuff can just be peeled off as it starts to solidify.
(photo courtesy of Elianna)

We had a ball playing with it and included some sea life in our play.
One student (J.P.) decided the seals needed scarves, nice touch I thought.

Here are some of the children's observations:

T.M.- "It bounces like rubber."
E.P.B- "It bounces like Scooby Snacks, it's chewy and gooey like scooby snacks."
J.P- "it feels like rubber, isn't it funny."
E.G.H- "It feels gookie."
M.K- "It feels like rubber, beany-bopily rubber."

Snow Fun

It's hard to believe that a week ago we had snow on the ground, but I have proof in
these picture that we did have enough snow (at least once this year) to make a snowman!

 Team work always helps to make the best snowmen

They danced around singing "frosty the snowman"

and finished their time with a hug

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Celebrating Chinese New Year at Art and Soul Preschool

This Monday, January 23rd, started the first day of Chinese New Year, the year of the dragon.
Celebrations for Chinese New Year typically last for two weeks, so we will be studying and celebrating for many days to come.
As it is the year of the dragon, we talked about what that means.  We talked about how in Chinese culture the dragon is a sign of good luck, power and prosperity, all very good things for people.
They seemed to have mix feelings about the Chinese paintings of dragons that I showed them, saying they look "mean."  This led us into a discussion of why Chinese New Year is celebrated.  One story says that a monster named Nien terrorized the people, and so they lit firecrackers and hung red banners to scare Nien away.  It worked, and to this day, this is a time of celebration. 
We said perhaps the dragons look mean to scare Nien away.
We started off the celebrations by making fortune cookies and cherry blossom tree ink paintings.
We have also been learning a Chinese New Year song and made firecrackers with chime bells so that our firecrackers made some kind of noise.  This was nice because one of the boys (MK) pointed out that when he is in his room sometimes he gets scared, so we talked about him clapping of shaking his firecracker to make noise and scare the feeling away, just like Nien. 

Play this link if you would like to hear the song we have been learning this week as you browse this post. " Gung Hay Fat Choy" -wishing you good fortune and happiness, by Nancy Stewart

Here is our journey into making fortune cookies

I found this recipe on the Internet and don't remember the site to give credit
(sorry to someone out there)

One of the fun things about this project is that I asked the children what they wanted to say on their fortunes.  I received comments like "I love you," "I love Baba," "Sheep walk on their legs." (this last one seemed to be a secret metaphor:)
Fortune cookies can be tricky to make - it's important to make sure that the cookie batter is spread out evenly on the baking sheet. Instead of using the back of a wooden spoon to spread the batter, it's better to gently tilt the baking sheet back and forth as needed. Wearing cotton gloves makes it easier to handle and shape the hot cookies. This fortune cookie recipe makes about 10 cookies.
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 15 minutes
·  2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
     1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons water
1. Write fortunes on pieces of paper that are 3 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 9-X-13 inch baking sheets.

2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg white, vanilla extract, almond extract and vegetable oil until frothy, but not stiff.

3. Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar into a separate bowl. Stir the water into the flour mixture.

4. Add the flour into the egg white mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter. The batter should not be runny, but should drop easily off a wooden spoon.
5. Place level tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Gently tilt the baking sheet back and forth and from side to side so that each tablespoon of batter forms into a circle 4 inches in diameter.

6. Bake until the outer 1/2-inch of each cookie turns golden brown and they are easy to remove from the baking sheet with a spatula (14 - 15 minutes).

7. Working quickly, remove the cookie with a spatula and flip it over in your hand. Place a fortune in the middle of a cookie. To form the fortune cookie shape, fold the cookie in half, then gently pull the edges downward over the rim of a glass, wooden spoon or the edge of a muffin tin. Place the finished cookie in the cup of the muffin tin so that it keeps its shape. Continue with the rest of the cookies.

 placing the fortune in.
After this we folded it quickly and then pinched it into shape.  This required more of me and less of the children because it was hot.  If you let it cool too much it will just break. 
Also, the direction say to use cotton gloves, but we just scooped it onto a cloth napkin
 After you shape them place them in a muffin tin so that it holds the shape as it cools and hardens


Cheery Blossom Sumi-e' Ink Paintings

We have been experimenting with ink for a while now at school, and one of our favorite things is to make the ink ourselves using the grinding stone and an ink stick.  If you look at past projects under "working with ink" you can see some of our earlier explorations.

Many of our paintings from our ink experiments have been very abstract, but after showing the kids some Sumi-e' cheery blossom paintings, we attempted making them.  The results were charming.  Sumi-e' is actually a Japanese ink painting style, however it originated from China, so I thought it would be nice to have it a part of our celebration.

We used the ink the children made, and then had the cherry blossoms painted on using pink tempera and popcorn as our utensil, it worked great!

Cherry Blossoms are a symbol of Good Luck
Preparing the ink
A beautiful start

Using the popcorn to paint cherry blossoms

Chinese Firecracker-Chime

 Here is a picture of a couple of them grouped together, but they are actually individual fire crackers.
In some ways they do not look very much like a firecracker (these are 3 and 4 year olds after all), but we wanted to make ours so that they made a noise, maybe not a loud noise, but I much prefer the soft chime of these.

Here is a picture of a more traditional celebration firecracker

we started by cutting up paper towel rolls and painting them red

As the tubes dried, the kids began their beading

They also painted Popsicle sticks gold, which we first placed through one hole
after that we threaded the bead work through the bottom of the tube and then tied it to the center of the stick before pushing it through the second opening in the tube.

This is the finished project

Here is the sweet little song we have been learning
This is from Nancy Stewart's website

Gung Hay Fat Choy
(wishing you good fortune and happiness)

Nancy Stewart

Friday, January 20, 2012

Play at School

This post is for the parents.  Pick up is such a brief and hectic time of day that I am often unable to give a full description of what the children did that day.  Here are some pictures of them at play that I thought would give an idea of what their play is like at school.

This is a video of the "Robot Dance" the kids were doing one day at school.
I loved it!

Doing marble runs together
More Marble exploration

Making play dough (please excuse our large compost pile!)
The play dough with sparkles and food coloring

The finished product

Ella playing with a black light in the bathroom (our only totally dark place)

Building towers and block roads for their "wheelie" animals to travel on

Doing construction

Playing doctor and nurse

Cars and trucks are always a highlight for the kids.

playing with static

tumbling and dancing on the mat

Painting the snow with popcorn!

giggles and scribbles during free draw time