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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Alphabet Songs

I just discovered Have Fun Teaching's alphabet songs and videos from Finally in First. I'm so glad I found them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summarizing the Year with Our Pre-K ABCs

      This is yet another idea that I got from Dr. Jean.  During the last week or two of each year, I work on an ABC book with my kiddos.  For each letter of the alphabet be try to think of several people or Pre-K activities that start with that letter.  This year I did the book a little differently.  I decided to only include things that we had photos of (other years we've included favorite books and songs).    Because I wanted to print the book in color, I printed 2 pages per page and then cut and folded the pages so the fold was on the outside which made for a very study little book.  The kids loved reading their ABC book and can't wait to share it with their families tonight. 
I went back and added captions to each picture by hand before copying the book. I was having too many problems typing the captions on the crowded pages.

Today the kids brought home their pre-K portfolios.  Very exciting!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Van Gogh Inspired Still Lifes

      I wish I did more easel painting this year...there was simply not enough time for everything!  Next year I am going to try to have the easel up during free play at least once a week. 
      After looking at different Van Gogh paintings, including some of his sunflower paintings, we painted a still life of sunflowers in a blue vase. 

As with all of the kids projects, I especially love seeing them all together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Painting "en plein air" like Monet

         One of the last activities that we did as part of our Art Unit was to go to the beautiful rose garden that is on Swarthmore College campus to paint en plein air.  We learned that Monet was one of the leaders of the Impressionist painting movement.  He painted en plein air which means that he brought his materials outside to paint the natural light and shadow.  After our brief moment of silence and reflection, I gave each child a canvas and a box of water colors.  I had also bought 2 sets of "real" water color tubes.  Each child found a spot to set up.  The kids loved painting on a real canvas and they always love being outside.

After painting, the artists ran around (of course:)

...and played Duck, Duck, Goose

The paintings were beautiful!

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Quilting is Like a Big Puzzle"

         As part of our Art Unit, I asked two quilters to share their quilts with us.  The kids really enjoyed seeing (and touching) the quilts and asking questions about how they were made.

       After seeing "real" quilts, we made our own using paper.  We started by painting paper. I love how beautiful the paper was. We put drops of liquid watercolor on wet paper and then added lots of salt. It just gets prettier as it dries. I cut the paper into squares (and strips for the rolled paper collage).

           I also made a template that had 9 squares and five different quilt patterns.  I copied these onto bright paper.  After picking a color to go with their colored paper and writing their name the child circled the pattern they wanted to make.  They then told me what shapes they needed (squares or triangles) and how many of each. They then laid out the pattern.  As one of my kiddos noted, "quilting is just like doing a big puzzle."

         I then cut off the pattern part of the paper.  We hung them with the quilt so that our families could use the clues of color and pattern to figure out which one their child did.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rolled Paper Collaborative Collage

We created this beautiful rolled paper collage in several steps. First we painted the paper.  We mixed color and added texture to some of the pieces by running combs through the paint. On other pieces, we used drops of liquid water colors and salt to create the beautiful color combinations and texture.  

I used a paper cutter to cut the paper into strips which we then rolled around pencils. 

After re-rolling quite a few of the rolls, I hot glued the paper curls to foam board.  

We like the color and texture in this piece of art (once again my iphone doesn't begin to do justice to the colors in this cool piece of art).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Art Show Was Today!

         My kiddo's were so excited to finally share all the art we have been doing with their families at our art show.  Here is a quick tour of the exhibits:
Our Portrait Studies with a line self-portrait of the whole body, a painted self-portrait  and a portrait poem (in the hallway outside our classroom).

Our Still-Lifes that were inspired by Van Gogh.  The Sunflowers we painted are on the table we used for our fruit and cheese (no wine but I am enjoying a well-earned glass now :)

Each child made a square of this quilt with paper we had painted with liquid watercolor s and salt.  The patterns are to the right so that parents could figure out which one their child did by the pattern and color they chose.

Our Calder Stabile Sculptures (coming out of grass) and wire mobiles hanging from the ceiling.

Our Kandinsky inspired circles (still my favorite!) and our Purple Crayon inspired line drawings.

We listened to music and then drew what the music made us think of.  

A collaborative mosaic made out of plastic bottle caps we collected.

We illustrated Pattern, Shape, and Color (elements of art) on our windows. I put out big sheets of contact paper and the kids covered them with appropriate examples (patterned paper, fun foam shapes and tissue paper colors).

Our Mouse Paint inspired palettes that show primary and secondary colors.

Our Jackson Pollack inspired splatter paintings (in the hallway leading to our classroom).

Our Monet inspired landscapes that we painted en plein air like Monet and our collaborative rolled paper collage.

Our families enjoying the show.

Whew, I'm tired.  Just one more week to get all the end of the year stuff I want to do finished!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Silence and Reflection


          I teach at a Quaker preschool.  A few weeks ago I attended a conference for Educators New to Quakerism.  I was really inspired by the people I met and the idea that I could be more deliberate in making sure that the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Spirituality are modeled and explored in my classroom.  I believe that our class truly is a community and that within that safe community, children should be nurtured both academically and spiritually.  I am using the word "spiritually" to encompass what I think is most important in everyday life: presence, gratitude, kindness, respect, wonder, and inspiration.
        Although I have always loved  the moment of silence that we have before snack (and the gratitude that is routinely blurted out as soon as the children can stop “thinking inside their own heads”), I decided that next year I would like to add a weekly Meeting For Worship to our class schedule.  Very briefly, a Quaker Meeting For Worship is a silent gathering during which participants have the time and space for reflection and focus on their own “inner light.” Our staff has traditionally been concerned about the time (including transition time) that such a meeting would take up in our very packed and short day, as well as the appropriateness for such small children. Our day is only 2 1/2 hours long (1 hour of that time is spent outside every day) and our kids come either 2, 3, or 5 days. I teach the only class where all of the kids come all five days and my kids are the oldest (they were all 5 by the end of March). At the conference, I learned that the Meeting for Worship can be very flexible and short and I decided that it was appropriate to try it in my class. Although we only had 3 weeks left of school, I decided to at least see how the children responded to extended silence while we were outside.

           This week was our 2nd try at maintaining an extended period of silence. Last week we tried to be silent on a Worship Walk but were interrupted when one little girl tripped over a friend's foot. (they were noticing lots of things...just not where they were going :)  This week we walked to the beautiful rose garden where we were going to paint landscape pictures.  As soon as we got there, we sat together in a circle.  We talked about being silent and I told the kids that during the time we were silent I wanted them to notice things either with their senses or they could notice what was "inside their brain...what they were thinking about."  After 2 minutes, we went around and each shared one thing that we noticed.  I was really pleased that everyone was able to remain quiet and they were all excited to share what  they had noticed (including flowers, birds, planes, breeze, wet ground). 
           I love the idea of the children learning to be comfortable with silence and reflection and I am sure that the practice of a short weekly Meeting for Worship will foster those skills.

UPDATE 5/23/12:
            This is our last week of school so we went on a final walk.  As soon as I mentioned the walk, several children asked if we could "do the silent thing again."  It made my heart very happy that they were so eager to "do the silent thing."  It went really well and I am looking forward to adding a weekly period of silent reflection to my classroom next year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spectacular Self Portraits

         We are having an Art Show in our class this Friday and I LOVE how our self-portrait studies came out.  The children did 3 different types of "portraits."  
         First we looked at lots of portraits.   I told the children that their first portrait would be of their whole body. We then read the book Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin.  We moved our various body parts and talked about how they were connected and how big they are.  For example, we touched our toes and realized our waist was about the mid point of our body.  We noticed how wide our necks are (almost as wide as our heads) and that our arms come out of our shoulders.  The kids did a great job with these observations but I knew it would be hard for Pre-Kers to remember these things when they started to draw.  They did a great job.  I gave them a permanent marker and had them draw a "whole body picture" of themselves.  Next they covered their portrait with little pieces of tissue paper.  We then sprayed the paper with water so that the colors bled on their portraits. I saw the idea for this portrait at Princess Artypants.

      Our next portrait was done in a style similar to what is described in Deep Space Sparkle.  I traced a head outline on each child's paper.  On the first day, the children painted their skin, clothes and the background.
On the second day, the children added their facial features and hair.

          The final part of their portrait study was a "portrait poem."  I have done these before but I got the idea of mounting them with the other self portraits at Princess Artypants.
            The poems all came out a little different because I had trouble getting the kids to answer the same questions. For example, some couldn't think of 3 words to describe themselves so I asked about what they wanted to be when they grew up or what they are good at.  I then mounted all 3 pieces on 1/2 sheet of poster board.  I love them and I'm sure the parents will too.