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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Being Inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe and Nature

Time seems to get away from me.  We do so much each week that sometimes I forget to write about something until I see the pictures on my computer.
A couple weeks ago when all the trees and flower bushes were in bloom we went for a nature walk and gathered a bunch of their blossoms.

We found a wonderful assortment of Dogwood Tree flowers, Japanese Maple leaves, Forsythia, Quince, and Crabapple tree blossoms.
They made for a beautiful arrangement on the table.

When it was art time we looked at the flowers and I told the children what kind of flower they were, and each child collected the ones they wanted to observe for our drawings that day.

After they picked their flowers, I took out my book on Georgia O'Keeffe and showed  the children her paintings of flowers.  Many of the flowers the children liked, while some they found to be scary.  When I asked why, one of the little girls said "the colors,"  They were a deep blue and black, sort of stormy colors, so I could see her point.  We ended up talking about how colors can make us feel certain things; as well as pictures.

I love the way they are looking at the book in this picture.  I forget what happened, I think we were seeing different kinds of faces in the flowers, but something was obviously entertaining us all.

After looking at and talking about the book, the children went right to work.
For months we have been doing observational drawings, and the children are truly focused and engaged during this time.  We often have wonderful results, but really the point I always emphasize to the children is the process of looking closely at something and observing what is there.  I often ask them what shapes do they see, what color, what are some things they didn't notice before, how many petals or leaves, and then of course, do you think you can draw those things?

The children drew their pictures with pen, and then painted them with watercolor.  Next time I think I would chose one or the other because many of the fine details they drew were filled in with the paint.  Although the images may have been covered up, I know they enjoyed the process.

Tile Printmaking

I love tiles, I am not exactly sure why, perhaps because I love puzzles and putting tiles together is similar to creating a puzzle.  The children seem to have a similar feeling about tiles because when presented with the invitation to create a pattern or picture with the tiles, they all dove in without hesitation.  The trays were a nice backdrop to their exploration because it created contrast as well as a sense of personal space.

After they explored with the tiles, they were then given tempera paint to apply on top of the tiles.  The tiles moved around a little bit as they painted, but for the most part they were able to keep their designs.

So what was next?

The children were given a piece of paper to press and smooth out on top of their tiles...

 ...The final product was a surprise, they pulled up their paper to see their prints magically appearing on the other side.  I love how you can see the brush strokes as well.  


In a frame, these would make great little cubist paintings to hang on a wall.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Wonderful World of Blocks and Building

Block play is a significant part of an early childhood education experience.  Many skills are developed during block and building play such as creative, imaginative, and cognitive thinking skills.  Children also work on problem solving skills, spatial relationships, social skills because they are often creating with a friend, and fundamental math skills.  Block play, like the stages of development, have a sequence.  It starts out with tote and carry, Then building begins, as they build they move into further problem solving  and creative thinking skills when they start developing bridges and tunnels. By 4 and 5 they are typically making enclosed and representational buildings, such as houses, towns, schools, ect.  
Within each of these experiences they are engaging in fun and play, yet gaining a wealth of hands on skills, that in fact continue with them as they grow.

And as the children grow in skill level, so do their buildings and the creative way they put them together.  I wanted to feature some of these ways in this blog post.

This building is a wonderful example of working cognitive and problem solving skills.  If you look at the pictures, you will see how the boys managed to balance a whole struck on one cylinder block. As they worked together as a team, they made sure to balance the weight so that it would not topple over.

I have a bunch a jewelry displays I don't use anymore.  
When I was getting ready to donate them someplace, my husband pointed out that they would make great stackers in the block area.  He was right, they are a unique addition to the building area.

They are not only fun for stacking, but also wonderful for roads and tunnels.

Some even used them to measure themselves and practice patterns,
While others use them regularly to build apartment buildings.

I love the days when there are a lot of children working together to build something and every kind of building material and block we have is a part of the fun.