art · teaching thoughts

What is that??

Often times our children draw pictures that are not recognizable. This is a stage in the development, but adults you have a role to play in this… think about the wording of what you say to your child. Instead of asking what is that? Which implies you can’t tell what they are drawing instead state “Can you tell me about your art work?” This way your child can explain what they made in their own terms.

Often times when children are working on art, they are working through the process of art and not working to create a product. This is totally normal, acceptable and important! Children enjoy the process of art. They enjoy combining colors, working with textures, and the process of putting the materials together. While some children will always create something specific, it is important to understand that it is not always the reason they are creating.

When adults put on the child the need to have something specific they are creating or designing then the child may loose the process in creating an adult determined product. Now do not get me wrong, there are times when you want a child to create a product or specific image and that is ok too. But, when given the freedom to create anything they want, do not assume that it is something specific.

So.. to avoid the ummm what did they make problem… ask them about their process. Can you describe what you are creating? I love that you combined these two colors together, what are you going to try next? I see that you are collaging papers together in your project can I get you any other materials? Can you tell me about your project?

art · STEAM · story

Corn

Today let’s learn about another tasty summer crop… corn! Do you like to eat corn on the cob? Here is a story about some squirrels who really like corn on the cob, but their friend the rabbit does not. Let’s listen to Bob & Rob & Corn on the Cob by Todd McQueen.

Have you ever seen a corn field? This video show what it looks like to watch the field grow up from planting the seeds to picking the corn off the stalk.

What is your favorite way to eat corn? Corn the cob, popcorn, corn chowder, corn tortilla, corn chips? Ask your family and friends and make a graph to show the results of your poll.

Draw, paint or tear paper to make a corn cob.

Here are a few fun option for painting corn:

  • paint yellow paint onto bubble wrap and then place the bubble wrap onto your sheet of paper. the bubbles will paint the dots onto your paper
  • put yellow paint into a bowl or shallow dish and paint with your finger or with a q-tip
  • use a Lego Duplo block with yellow paint. put the paint on a paper plate and dip the Duplo’s nubs into the paint and use that to paint.

Cut green or brown paper to be the husk. You could even trace your hands and cut them out as the husk.

art · math · STEAM · story

Watermelon Wishes

Today’s story is Watermelon Wishes by Lisa Moser. Charlie and his grandfather plant some watermelon seeds in the spring. Charlie hopes they grow a wishing watermelon. Grandpap wonders what a wishing watermelon is and what wish Charlie will make. Charlie and Grandpap enjoy summer as they watch the watermelon vine grow and grow. Listen and find out if Charlie and his Grandpap find the wishing watermelon and if Charlie’s wish comes true.

What would you wish for if you had a wishing watermelon? Create a watermelon slice out of paper or draw a watermelon with crayons. Maybe you want to make a playdough watermelon or even one out of Lego bricks. Get creative! Don’t forget to put in the black seeds. Those are the seeds you need to plant a watermelon plant.

For my example, I cut a piece of red paper into a quarter-circle, but you could choose to do a whole circle, oval or a semi-circle… depends on what you want your slice to look like!. Then I cut a green sheet of paper slightly bigger to represent the skin, you could add a white layer too for the watermelon rind. I glued the two together at the top so that I could open them up and write in my wish. Then I drew on the seeds. You could cut pieces of black paper to glue on as the seeds.

If you want to add a bit more science… you could label the parts of the watermelon. Draw the life cycle of a watermelon. Or even plant your own!

Want to add some math? Count the seeds in a slice of watermelon. Estimate how many seeds in all the slices you have or in the whole watermelon. Create a watermelon graph: Do you like to eat watermelon? You could create a chart or graph collecting data to find out who in your family and/or friends likes to eat watermelon. Do more people like watermelon or not?

art · story

August 2nd- Crayons

August 2nd is National Coloring Book Day. Today is a great day to learn about crayons. First, let’s listen to the story The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow, who reads the story on this youtube link. This is the story of Edwin Binney who invented Crayola Crayons.

Ever wonder what you can do with your broken crayons? Here is one option… recycled crayons that are donated to children’s hospitals. Watch here for the video or check out the Crayon Initiative for more information.

Now get out your crayons and have fun! Color in a coloring book. Color on a sheet of paper. Melt your crayons into new crayons. Draw a card. Draw a picture.

Just enjoy the colors of life.

art · story

Strawberries

This weekend, my son and I went to pick strawberries. Have you ever gone and picked strawberries? There is nothing sweeter than strawberries picked fresh off the plant.

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Let’s start by listening the Cherokee story The First Strawberries retold by Joseph Bruchac. In the story, the man went out to hunt for food and the woman stayed home and picked flowers. The man returned tired, hungry and upset, so the wife left. The sun offered to help the man and tried to catch the woman’s attention. Many berries were created by the sun, but it was the strawberry that caught her attention. The story ends by saying that the Cherokee people believe that the sweetness of the strawberry is a reminder that respect and friendship are as sweet and ripe as strawberries.

Watch this time lapse of strawberries growing . Draw out a part of the time lapse, or draw out a time line of the growth.

The watch Art for Kids Hub to draw a strawberry.

Create a list of favorite strawberry items.

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art · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Rainbows

When looking for rainbow stories to share I came across The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of our world shutting down. On March 13, 2020 my world was shaken. That was the last day my sons went to school in the building, the last day my husband went into work, the last day I was teaching in person. It was the first day of major change. One year is a long time in everyone’s life but a really long time in the life of young children. But, we make the best of it. We learn. We grow. We have fun. We can hope that one day really soon life will begin to look a bit more like normal. We can search for the rainbow of hope and know that it is coming….

Let’s learn a bit about the science of rainbows. Listen to the story All the Colors of the Rainbow by Allen Fowler. Then watch SciShow Kids How to Make a Rainbow.

While in the science of rainbows we learn that the colors in light are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, there are so many other beautiful colors in our world. They are the colors of nature. The colors of our skin tones. The colors in my crayon box. Listen to the story Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy. This is a great conversation piece about the rainbows of our world. Color a rainbow with skin tone crayons. Color a rainbow with only your favorite colors, or least favorite colors. Color a rainbow based on yourself.

While we want children to learn about the science behind rainbows and understand that the light is broken down into the colors we can see, we also want them to understand that rainbows are a sight of beauty … and all colors are beautiful.

art · family activity · STEAM · story · teaching thoughts · topic

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Today I want to share one of my favorite books to read in my classes Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. Grandpa tells the best stories… Travel to the Land of Chewandswallow where it rains food three times a day. (In my opinion this book is WAY better than the movie!). There are two more books in this series Pickles to Pittsburgh and Planet of the Pies.

Each of these fun books easily lends themselves to lots of fun and creative activities! Write a weather report for the Land of Chewandswallow to go with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. What would you like to see it rain for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Have your child help you plan and cook a meal of their choosing and pretend the ingredients fell from the sky.

Design a machine that the Falling Food Company can use to help move and package the food for delivery, after reading Pickles to Pittsburgh. This machine can be drawn, built, or even just explained from your imagination.

After reading Planet of the Pies, design a box to deliver the Martian pies to Earth. Create a machine to safely catch the pies before the hit Mars. Bake a pie!

Using literature as a jumping off spot for lessons is a great way to expand upon the learning. When children begin to make connections between the story and real life they are more connected to the learning. It will also help with working on comprehension skills as you can ask them to share pieces of the story that connect to the activity you are choosing to do at home.

art · story

Hats!

Today is Read Across America Day! March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and today is a day to celebrate how much his literature has helped children develop a love of learning.

I decided to focus on the Cat in the Hat’s hat! First, let’s read the story Who’s Hat is This? by Sharon Katz Cooper. This story shares many hats that are worn for different careers.

Now… let’s draw a hat that is easy to recognize… the Cat in the Hat’s hat! Follow along with Art for Kids Hub as they draw this famous hat! Or, make your own out of paper or markers or whatever creative materials you want! I made mine out of Lego.

Today is a great day to read. The best way to help your child to learn to read… is to read to your child!

art · story · topic

Jazz on a Saturday Night

Today we will read the story Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon. I have to say that I not only enjoyed this story, but the teacher who is sharing this book extends the learning to explain a bit about the musicians in the story.

The first activity today is to listen to Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Mood. While you listen to this song, draw. Drawing to music is a great way to express feelings. There is no right or wrong way to draw to music and just as Thelonious Monk believed in adding dissonance to his music, encourage your child to add things that look a bit “off” to their art. When I draw to music, I tend to just like to draw in the abstract, but many children find inspiration to more true to life drawings.

Next, listen to Eboni Ramm and the band explore the various types of jazz combining the story Kayla and Eli Discover Jazz by Steven Earl and samples of the types of music. (click here for the link to SC Jazz Festival’s exploration of this story and music). While listening to this story and music, do not sit and watch the video, get up and move! Listen to the different styles of jazz. How can you move your body to match the different jazz styles? Some music types might make you want to move your whole body and others just your head, toes or fingers. There is not a right way… the goal is to move. Which type of jazz did you like best? Did you like the jazz that gets you moving a lot or the ones that make you just want to sway?

art · STEAM · teaching thoughts · topic

Playdough

Did you ever wonder why teachers in the early years allow, encourage children to play with playdough? Often times parents see playdough as messy. It sticks to things, it gets on the rug and won’t come off. It gets under your nails and often times it smells strange. So why oh why do teachers want my child to play with it?

I’ll tell you why… it’s good for your child. Click here to read NAEYC’s (National Association for the Education of Young Children) article Playdough Power.

Benefits of playdough:

  • fine motor development
  • independent play
  • creativity
  • vocabulary
  • peer interactions
  • sensory play
  • dramatic (imaginative) play
  • science (cause and effect, textures etc)
  • math (size, thickness, number etc)

Ways to encourage and extend playdough play:

  • add tools (plastic knife, dowel for a rolling pin, cookie cutters)
  • read a story before playdough play to encourage play based on story topic
  • add toys (cars, construction vehicles, dolls/plastic toys)
  • provide kid size kitchen tools (pans, fork, knife etc)
  • natural products (rocks, sticks, leaves)
  • provide items to make textures (combs, strainers, buttons etc)

Ways to save your sanity

  • teach your child to clean up the playdough! use the playdough ball to pick up the smaller pieces
  • provide a mat, table cloth or cookie sheet for the playdough to be played on to contain the “mess”
  • provide bins for playdough toys to be collect into at the end of play
  • have your child think of the items to put into the playdough

Make your own playdough and you control the smell!

Basic no cook playdough recipe

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 Tbps of oil (cooking, baby oil, coconut oil etc)
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1- 1.5 cups of boiling water
  • color
  • scent (optional)
  1. Combine flour, salt and cream of tartar in a bowl
  2. add in oil
  3. Put color and/or scent into 1 cup of boiling water
  4. stir to bring together into a sticky ball. if it is too dry and won’t combine add up to 1/2 additional cup of boiling water, but add it slowly or you will put in too much
  5. when it is a sticky ball, let it cool for a bit
  6. roll it out onto the counter and then kneed the dough for a few minutes until the stickiness is gone. This is an important part in pulling the dough together. after a few minutes if it is still really sticky, add more flour
  7. store in an air tight container when not in use and it should last about a month

Colors and scents:

  • kool aid packets is a great way to add both color and scent to dough 2 packets added to the dry ingredients should give the color and smell you are looking for
  • food coloring (gels add more color than liquid)
  • extracts- vanilla, mint, orange, lemon
  • spices- cinnamon, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice