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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mirror Play

Our world is reflected to us in many different ways, and when children, and adults for that matter, begin to look at the world through different perspectives, their minds are opened up to many possibilities.  What better way to begin reflecting about the world and self, than playing with mirrors. Children can see themselves from different points of view, it helps build a positive self image, they can experience emotion through dramatic play in front of a mirror, there is also an awareness of light and reflected light scattering in many different directions.  There are so many   opportunities for discovery with mirrors and even the possibility of making the impossible a reality as we will see later in this post.
I was very excited to find a supplier that has a reasonable price on acrylic mirrors so that all the children would have one to play with.  You can find them at for hours of playtime with the kids, and I also have to add a link to the blog that recommended this supplier, Caution! twins at play, a great blog for more ideas of play with mirrors.

Many of the children gravitated to the mirrors right away, especially placing a couple together and seeing multiple images of themselves and their play toys.
I have to add in here that my assistant and myself were equally excited to play with the mirrors, so we were all having a ball.

 When I was a child, I would walk around the house with a mirror in front of me and "walk on the ceiling," a game we have enjoyed at school as well.  When outside playtime came around, it was time to take a walk, this time not on the ceiling, but on the sky!  Here is when the impossible became possible.  As the children walked around, they saw themselves walking on the sky, on tree branches, and as they pointed out to me, they were walking on wires as well.

He is walking on a tight rope in the sky.

These walkers observed that "their feet are walking above their heads!" 
 This student began pressing the mirror in the snow and looking at the marks and how they changed  direction in the mirror.

The raindrops on the mirrors added another element of discovery.
I can't wait to do this when there are blue skies and clouds so they can jump on the clouds!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oh, A-Sailing We Will GO

My backyard is a very muddy place these days and so there are many play areas that are not accessible at the moment.  Today I wanted to do a project that the children could play with outside to take the place of some beloved play areas.  Since we have a large digging pit, turned mud lake, my husband suggested making boats.

My mom is the ultimate donator of materials that she reclaims from everyday life.
If you need corks, egg cartons, glass jars, trays, ect., my mom is the one who will get it for you!
So, with the corks she had saved up for us, I hot glued three of them together, and then the children painted them with acrylic paint.
Next the children were given a piece of craft foam to make their sails.
The sail being drawn above is for a "Princess Ship."
And Below is the "Kitty Boat" in the making.

This sail is; "bugs, and the other side is kitty heads that are going to eat the bugs."

 I stuck a skewer through the sail and into the cork raft.
I  placed one of our sensory bins on the light table and added water, so we started our sailing fun inside. 

Looks like the "Princess Ship" is in peril as the "Fittle Bom-Fo" boat is quickly

As fun as the bin was, the prospect of taking them outside was more enticing.
The children placed their boats in the "mud lake" or "mud soup" area, but had to stir the water a bit with our hockey sticks to create a current.

They found another boat launch in the water filled sand box.

They worked surprising well and will make great bath toys.

Monday, February 25, 2013

An Invitation to Make Paint

For several months now we have been exploring color mixing.
I think it has officially become our school "project."  I am inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, and one of the things that this approach to Early Childhood emphasizes is project work.  This is a broad concept, but one of the key components that I understand is that it is something that the children have a deep interest in, and that the teacher facilitates their learning by giving many provocations in which they can explore the topic from different perspectives and modalities of learning.  It is through this exploration and experimentation that children learn to love research and discovery because they are the initiators in the process.  To view previous posts on our Color Mixing Project, look it up in the Projects and Fun column.

With the hope to continue with our color mixing project, today the children were offer  a provocation to mix their own paints from scratch.
Each child received a tray with three empty clear jars with a stir stick in them, a small cup of cornstarch, a cup of water, a container each of the three primary colors in powdered tempera paint, a spoon and a pipette for their water and mixing.
Many of the kids watched as I set up the project, and some lent a helping hand, their excitement to start was hard for them to contain, always a good sign!

After a brief talk about using the cornstarch to thicken their paint and water to help mix it all together, they were off and creating.

One of the things to keep in mind when the children do this project is that when they get a color they love, cap it and have them name it, because they will keep mixing and the colors inevitably all come out brown.  However this is also part of the learning process, so I tried to cap two of their colors before they over mixed, but watched them as they mixed all the colors and the rest of their materials and waited till I heard names like "brown-a licious", "brown-brown," and "mud" and knew they were reaching the final stages of their experiments because all their materials were used up.

Here are the names I documented on their jars:
E.P.B.- "Pink-a-licious, Purple-licious, Mud."
H.S.-"Henry-licious, Yellowish, Brown-a-licious."
E.P.H.-"Redish-Pink, Feather Green, Little Green."
K.S.-"Cherry Jam, Purple!, and Purple!"
E.M.-"Blueberry, Cherry, Brown-a-licious (a popular color)"
J.D.-"Purple, Brown-Brown, and White (she took the simple approach, and the white was green, I love it)"
M.N.- "Feather Green, Fatter Green, Potter Green." ( He liked his greens!)

They of course painted with their paints afterwards.  More to come...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chinese New Year 2013

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Chinese New Year is upon us, and we have been learning about it all week.  Chinese New Year is a time when family and friends get together and focus on bringing in a new year of health, prosperity,  good fortune, and longevity.  There are many different stories as to how Chinese New Year came about, but one of the most popular is the story of a monster named Nien who terrorized the people, and was kept away by loud noises (thus firecrackers and drums) the color red, and light (thus the lanterns.)  When I talk to the children about the holiday I explain Nien as a nightmare that goes away because of the examples given above, and that new good dreams are one of the good fortunes that come with the New Year.  Nightmares really concern the children at this time in their life, and I think the idea of something they can do to make them go away helps them.  

One of the highlights of Chinese New Year, is the Dragon Dance.
The dragon represents wisdom, power,wealth, and is a very important aspect of Chinese Culture. It is also said that the Dragon Dance performed on New Year's Day is another thing that scares away the evil spirits and all the bad luck with them.

What would Chinese New Year be at Art and Soul without our own version of a Dragon Dance.  While they danced around they sang "Gong Hay Fat Choy." a New Year song we have been learning at school.  For the words and music take a look at last years post:

Right before Chinese New Year we received a package with a long strip of bubble wrap.
I saved it because I thought it would be perfect for a dragon.  
I cut slits along the side and the children pulled streamers through the holes.
I wish we had red streamers, but yellow is just as significant for the New Year.
Both red and gold are symbols of prosperity and luck.

 I already have ideas for next year, I can just see a group paper mache dragon head project in our future!

The celebration days of Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day fell on the same day this year, so as part of our Valentine's treat, we made fortune cookies.

The recipe we use for our fortune cookies is also in last years post, so click on the Valentine's 2012 link above to get to that page.  We had a little bit of a harder time with them this year, and I discovered the trick is to take of them off the cookie sheet as soon as they get out of the oven and work FAST!!!!

Chinese New Year's arrival is based on the Lunar Calendar, so each year it falls on a different day and is symbolized by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.  This year we are celebrating the year of the snake.

 We made puppets out of this great snake skin paper that was donated to the school.
They simply made an accordion fold, I say simply, but really at this age it was a skill we worked on learning that day.  I had the song "fold it, then flip it." going through my head all day.  The kids stapled straws to the front and back and by holding onto them they were able to make the snakes slither.

We were lucky and had some snow to play with this week, so as a team we made a snake in honor of the new year.

Packing the snow in.
I love the hockey sticks as the tongue.
Their favorite part, painting the snake.

The finished product.  

Chinese Hand Drums
A popular musical instrument for Chinese New Year are Chinese hand drums.
As part of the celebrations, making noise and playing festive music help bad fortune leave and good fortune arrive.  

As a project with my littlest ones I thought making hand drums similar to these traditional one would be fun.
This is not the best quality picture, but it shows how the drums were made.
Tie a long string or cord around a chop stick, then hot glue the stick to an old CD, pull the string to the edges and add a little hot glue to keep them in place.  Then add more hot glue to the stick and place a second Cd on top. 

the children first started their project by beading a couple beads to each side of the string.

I put a thin coat of white acrylic paint on one side, and the children used red acrylic paint to design how they wanted their drums to look.


Unfortunately they finished them, and then they went out the door so I missed getting a picture of the final project, but they looked and sounded great, 
and were a big success for these 2 1/2-3 year olds.
Lucky Money

Another New Year's tradition is Luck Money.  Red envelops are given out with money in them to 
represent more good fortune to come.   

The children decorated their own red envelopes and then I gave each of them 8 fake dollars for their envelopes.
The number eight is a sign of good luck and prosperity and often for celebrations people will give 8 dollars or a number value that ends in 8.

May Good Luck and Health be with you during this year of the snake.
Gong Hay Fat Choy!