Sunday, December 26, 2010

Loose Parts

As an educator, I consider it a privilege to foster and help cultivate creativity in all my children. I love to encourage their individual strengths that are results of their unique personalities. It is my belief that each child has talent hidden within them which is waiting to be discovered and developed.

I would like... to instill in the children that there is NO goal they cannot achieve, NO problem they cannot overcome if they learn how to apply the creative powers of their mind. Giving the children freedom to learn from their mistakes and finding ways to go around obstacles is a great way to foster Creativity. Let's not forget to keep things open-ended and leave room for individual touches.

We are now on day two of this calming and never ending project. The possibilities are endless! The children have gotten more creative, meticulous and complex with their work. We added some recycled caps to our array of loose parts. It is truly fascinating to watch the children stack and balance different small objects to create the right piece.

It is undoubtedly a great way to teach sorting, classifying and counting objects.

The children have also agreed among themselves that the art piece is only done when I get to take a picture of it, only then, can the next child take over the square white cake holder. Talk about problem solving skills and respecting!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Stripe Lights

"A school needs to be a place for all children, not based on the idea that they are all the same, but that they are all different."

-Loris Malaguzzi (founder of the first Reggio Emilia School)

Reflective light has been the subject of discovery and object of fascination for the children for quite sometime. A few days ago we decided to experiment and play with sand on top of the light table. The children begun to explore the sand, perhaps attracted by the light that shined through the plexi glass… The explorations involved their entire body moving it up and down from left to right in rhythm with the sands movement. They used their palms, finger tips, elbows and different objects to move it around. The light created some dark and light shadows that altered the appearance of the sand.

I had prepared baskets with glass prisms, agate slices and natural shells to be used with the sand if the children chose too. The first child used the natural seashells and discovered that when rolled on top of the sand it left beautiful soft stripes of light. His attention is fully captured; he notices the stripes of light peaking through the sand and yells out, “GUYS come here! Have you ever seen a beautiful design like this before?” The emotional reaction to the discovery of the “stripe lights” spreads across the room. Everyone loved his amazing discovery and asked him for a live demonstration. He gladly gave one with a big proud smile on his face while his admirers looked and learned.

Let us not forget that children are clever and capable. Yesterday, I was reminded that I should change the color of sand in order to make it more fun. “You never know Ms. Maria; it might make the light shine more,we should experiment. Let’s use purple today and maybe green tomorrow.”

It is probably one of the most powerful memories that the children and I will forever treasure. Why not simply, let go of a set curriculum and things that make us comfortable, it diminishes the excitement and wonder from each child. They have to make those discoveries in order for learning to take place.



Friday, May 14, 2010

















Would you, could you, try it?
It’s much fun, fun, you will see.
I like clay!
I would play with it any day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Natures Collage

"Evidence suggests that children and adults benefit so much from contact with nature that land conservation can now be viewed as a public health strategy." -Howard Frumkin, MD, and Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.
If you haven't read it yet, check out Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods .

According to Louv, Nature not only teaches children science and nurtures their creativity, but Nature needs the children to become her future stewards.

Sadly, because children no longer play freely outdoors, schools and child care providers must give them the opportunity to play and learn in nature. Isn’t experiencing life through personal discovery, and self-directed learning more enjoyable and exciting than listening to a recitation of facts? Facts, that may or may not be remembered after a day or two, no matter how interesting they can be.
CHILDREN LEARN BY DOING!! If we all slow down and look closely, we will find many inspirations from nature. It surrounds us with beauty and bountiful gifts.
It’s wonderful to take a walk, and look at the world around us, exploring pattern, color, texture and shape. There are different ways to create a work of art using found objects from nature, my personal favorite is a three dimensional collage.

I have found that using natural objects is inspiring for children, and cost effective for my preschool. Lasting memories of how, where and when they found certain objects are imbedded in their minds. What a special art piece!
Collage collection should be of fairly small items, such as:
Nuts, twigs, shells, sand, pinecones, pods, small stones, wood shavings and pine needles.
Dried flowers or fresh ones and leaves.

Each child worked with their hands to create a mixed media collage with a combination of liquid watercolors and items that we collected from the backyard. The children had total choice of color and items which they glued on recycled cardboard.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Salad Spinner Art

Want to share some fun and giggles with your children? This engaging idea will captivate and stimulate the children’s senses and they will thirst for more. Children love being part of the entire process when it comes to art.
A variety of developmentally appropriate materials for art does not necessarily have to cost a lot of money. Is your salad spinner just collecting cobwebs and maybe taking up too much space in your cupboard? Re- purpose and use it to create a kaleidoscope of colors that will fascinate the children. Sometime back, I attended a workshop done by Lisa Murphy and my whole outlook on the salad spinner changed. I remember just wanting to get back and test it myself. Well, I was hooked from the first time that I spun the salad spinner. It has been about 7 years now and it still amazes me. Every single art piece is unique. I am the proud owner of five salad spinners!!!

Salad spinner
Washable tempera paints
Paper plates (dollar store)
Hair gel (dollar store)
A smock or apron to cover clothes

The Process:

1. Trim paper plates so that it fits inside the bottom of a salad spinner.
2. Encourage your child to drop a teaspoon of paint onto the plate.
3. Do the same with two or more colors. (We rather squirt paint)
4. Squirt some hair gel onto the plate, about one teaspoon full.
5. Put the lid onto the salad spinner and spin it!
6. When satisfied with the spinning take off lid and a magnificent work of art is done.
7. You may sprinkle some glitters onto the wet masterpiece if desired.
8. Set out to dry.

WARNING: Be sure to have enough paper plates for the children to use. One or two will not be enough.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three Dimensional Styrofoam Sculptures

At times it’s easy to think that you might not have the “right” art materials at school for the children to do some art work. But, that shouldn't stop you from allowing the children in experimenting with different materials. All you have to do is look inside your recycling bin. You will see a whole world of materials just waiting to be discovered and played with. As a strong believer of open–ended play it is imperative that children have the opportunities to let their minds wonder and have no specific plan to follow. Art experiences are not about: "Follow the directions, stick this on the circle and that on down there, now color it in with yellow only, and now doesn't that look nice?" Children should be encouraged to be thinkers and risk takers, not merely learn to follow directions

More than a week ago, for some strange reason my dad’s 20 year old television decided to stop talking. Yes, the picture was still clear but no sound could be heard not even a whisper. We decided to recycle the poor old bulky and super heavy television for a much slimmer model (lucky guy!). Of course we kept the box and Styrofoam cubes inside. Yahoo!!! A big box…. Yesterday, the children decided to work on more 3 dimensional Styrofoam sculptures, a project that they really enjoyed doing a few months ago. Styrofoam or scratch foam sheets may be expensive when purchased at craft or art supply stores, recycling and re- purposing them is the most economical way of using them.

When children represent their artwork into a three dimensional form, they invite us into their world and tell us a great deal about themselves. There are emotional meanings to the placements of each object. They respond to their space in a personal way, which naturally comes with creative & dramatic stories. By engaging in simple construction, children learn relationships and differences of various materials and are usually kept in their minds for future problem solving skills. Interesting effects can be made when interlocking materials. My children absolutely love it!