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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Joyful Conclusion to our Fall Semester

(Our fall nature table with gifts of bird's nests, feathers and leaves brought in by the children)

As the first snow falls outside and the year draws to an end, I am sitting here thinking back to our Fall Semester.
It was a wonderful start of our school year.  It is hard to believe that I have not done a post since November!  With that being said this is a rather long post showing little snippets of our adventures in learning, playing and creating during November and December. 

In November a Market was set up at school.  The children loved shopping, playing with money, mimicking both their families in the way they shop, and how cashiers and bank tellers handle money, and working on courtesy in the way they greet and address costumers.  However, I think their favorite thing about playing in the school store was to proclaim "Sorry, we are closed!"  especially when their teachers wanted to purchase their groceries.  

Is There a Doctor in the House

Another Dramatic Play that the children have really been enjoying is playing "Doctor."
This has always been a very popular play at school, but I have been noticing several children really wanting to discover more about being a Doctor or Nurse, so in the New Year, I plan on converting our Market into a full Doctors office to create more opportunities for learning during their play.

The Race is On!

Back when we made our Fire Truck, the box we received from Lowe's had these long pieces of thick cardboard with a ledge on the side.  I held onto them to see what the children could do with them.  One day when their car play needed some redirection I took them out.  They have been a favorite play in the school ever since.  Every time they set them up, they come up with new and interesting ways to engineer them into excellent race tracks and roads.  This along with their block play has really enhanced their building in school.  You can also sees them learning how to work together, both solving construction problems and finding ways to clearly communicate with each other, but beyond that, they are just really fun.

And on days when it gets a little too rowdy with the ramps and cars, we head into the studio and 
drive the cars through trays of paint and make the journey of the cars more visible.  These impromptu group car-track paintings later made excellent miniature pieces of art for our card sale. 

Race tracks were also made with blocks as well as some pretty amazing building and play setups.

Sensory Bins

Our Bean Bin is one we keep out in different locations almost all year long.  Often it is in the main play area where they use the beans for cooking or hiding in various treasure items.  Around Halloween the bean bin was mixed in with spiders the children had to find.  In November it was filled with corn and the children had a new play of removing the kernels from the cob, which entertained some children for over 40 minutes!  It is always a fun place to play wherever and however it is set up.

Filling clear tubes, and then later having them swoosh out.

 When December came around, the sensory bin was filled with cloud dough.  It looks like snow, but can be played with like sand.  It has a wonderful packing quality to it.  The ingredients are flour and baby oil, and it creates magic.  When the children are done with it, I can scoop it up into a bin and save it for another time.

Playing with Color and Light

The children have really been enjoying working at the light table with our Magna Tiles.  I love these tiles, and think they are one of the best toys for children.  They capture the imagination, are denominational and translucent thus giving them many different perspective of viewing their creations, and are very accessible.  On the light table they glow and enchant the children.  

When there are a lot of children who want to play with them at the same time, we move them onto a large platform on the floor or to a nearby table.  You can see in the picture how focused the children become when working with them.

Story Telling and Person of the Day

This year I have been doing more puppet shows during Circle Time.  The children seem to really enjoy them no matter how many times they hear the same story.  Because they keep requesting their favorites, they began to know the story quite well.  Below is a picture of a group of girls sharing the story of Owl Babies to the class at Circle Time.

Being read to also happens daily, whether it be something they chose during free-play, or the stories we read during morning meeting and circle time.  Though we do not emphasis literacy in a traditional sense at Art and Soul, one of the best ways to help a child when they are older and ready for literacy, is a lot of exposure and experiences of being read to at an early age.

Person of the Day
I have to say our best stories over the last months have been coming from the children themselves.  During our "Person of the Day", each child gets to share about themselves and special items they bring to school on "their day."  It's a wonderful way for the children to learn more about each other, but also helps children talk in public, wait patiently as an audience, and come up with their own questions to ask of each other.  I have been collecting their stories and when we go back to school in 2016, they will be hanging in the hallway.  I am looking forward to further conversations that I know the children will have regarding their time of being "Person of the Day."

Our Person of the Day sharing about Hermit Crabs.

Many children brought in special stories that we read later at Circle Time.

Some friends shared with everyone what they love to do, such as bake, and brought in a sample for everyone.

Others showed off things they were proud they could do, like special kicks (forgive the blurriness, he was fast!)

 Many brought in some of their favorite things

Proud children sharing about their favorite toys, and themselves as babies.

Some children gave demos of what their toys do, and others unveiled mysteries like baby conch shells hidden in a little sack found at the beach.

Unique instruments as well as underwater apparel really captivated the crowd and were fun to share with others. 

The sharing was a great success and I look forward to the children yet to share in the New Year.  What I find I like the most about this activity is the joy and honor the children felt when sharing about themselves.  It lifts their self esteem and helps them have the courage to express their thoughts and feelings, some children even made up a song about being person of the day!  

Studio Fun
It was an incredible fall!  The leaves were so vibrant and the weather could not be beat.
Trying to savor some of the beauty, back in November the children made Leaf Lanterns.
We saved and pressed leaves from many of our nature exertions, and then the children decoupaged them onto Mason Jars.

Later they made pine-cone turkeys that were mounted on top of their lanterns.  They made a nice Thanksgiving centerpiece to share with their families

Play dough is another one of those play creations that the children cannot get enough of.
To switch things up, they were given laminated shapes, wiggly eyes, and colored smaller shapes that they could create a funny face with or a monster.

Their creations were so much fun that we wanted to find a way to save them.  So, I would give them a piece of paper and pencil and encouraged them to try and draw the face they made in clay.  The results were wonderful and it was a new way to translate their creations, and to work on observation skills and hand eye coordination.

Play dough fun soon moved into working with real clay.  I always start the children off with pinch pots to get them use to the feeling of clay and at the same time the satisfaction of making something that could be fired in a kiln.  It was also a nice way to make something special as a holiday gift for their families.

Many conversations about the feel of the clay, and "will it be hard like rock?", and "how does it bake?", and of course "when can I take it home as a present?" came up as they worked.

After the clay pieces were fired, the children painted them with a metallic liquid watercolor paint.

Last was plating little succulents in them that were donated to the school by 
Greene Bee Greenhouse. 

As a final touch they picked out stones they wanted to arrange around their little plants.  In the end it was a very sweet little gift made by the sweetest of little hands.

We also had fun making snow people in December.  The children had the option to make them anyway they wanted, and the results were amusing and just fabulous. 

The table was laid out with scarps of paper and odds and ends they could chose from.

On one of our older kid days, the children had the opportunity to make hand dipped candles.  It is a very sweet process of circling around a table of ever-greens and lights, and dipping in the wax, then water, and so forth until they make their candle the width that they like.

When the time came to decorate for the holidays we had to do little, the children took charge and changed our fall nature table into a Holiday Delight.

It is incredible how fast the semester has gone by, and how much we do in that short period of time.  I know this has been a long post,but I wanted to end it with a series of pictures of the children engaged in one of their favorite activities throughout November and even into December, and that was playing outside in the leaves.  They could not get enough of this activity and the joy of being a kid is so evident in their play.  Enjoy and Happy New Year!



  1. Thank you for posting such wonderful pictures! I love seeing my grandson doing his 'projects' (Jackson) and learning!

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