Creative beginnings for tiny tots

Archive for February, 2012


The Beauty of Black and White

Always a crowd pleaser, Kevin Henkes’ “Kitten’s First Full Moon” inspired monochromatic studies in black and white this week.

We introduced found objects as painting tools (cotton swabs, lids of various sizes, tubes, and round pieces of foam) to expand notions (for the tots and their adult partners) of ways to make marks on paper, as well as to reinforce connections to the repeating circle images in the story.

Magnificent modern art!


The Power of Playdough

From beginning to end, the process of making your own playdough and playing with the finished product is full of satisfying and stimulating moments for your toddlers and preschoolers (and even for the bigger brothers and sisters and cousins who visited our groups this week)!

Following a recipe hones cognitive skills such as following step by step instructions, counting, and measuring; watching the recipe evolve illustrates cause and effect; touching and manipulating the ingredients from start to finish, is of course, a rich tactile experience; and squeezing, poking, pulling, and kneading the dough builds the muscles in little hands that will help with fine motor skills such as writing later on.  In our groups, tots were teamed up with a friend or two to make their batches, so turn-taking, sharing, and impulse control were other valuable skills that were added into the mix.

It was very timely, that one of my favorite bloggers, The Artful Parent, posted this comprehensive overview 39 Ways to Play and Learn with Playdough earlier this week, so I thought I would share it with you here.  In addition to the compilation of ideas on things to do with playdough, she also includes two recipes, a cooked version and a no-cook version, which is so similar to the version we use in class, that I won’t bother reprinting mine here.

Important points to remember:

  • Especially with your littlest ones who are just starting out with playdough:  don’t be in too much of a rush to inundate them with props and tools.  Let them “get to know” the playdough with the simplest of tools first, their very own hands.  Practice pinching, poking, prodding, squeezing, pulling, patting, etc.
  • If your child has sensory issues or is timid about touching the playdough at first, put some in a small ziploc bag and let them manipulate it in the bag first.

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Beautiful surprises happen when art and science collide — or more specifically, when ice, salt, and little hands with droppers full of liquid watercolors collide.  Magical!


Let it snow!

Not much has been happening winter weather-wise around the DC area this year, but winter-a-plenty has been happening in our classes.  See for yourself.  The kids readily grasp the connections between our stories, such as Lois Ehlert’s Snowballs and Jane Simmons’ Little Fern’s First Winter, to their experiences with the art materials.  Hopefully, in the weeks to come, they’ll have some real world experiences with snow before we welcome spring.

Spring and Summer Class News

GREAT NEWS for our Herndon, Reston and Loudoun County friends!!!  We have secured the art room at the Herndon Community Center so that we can hold our classes there this summer too!  Thank you town of Herndon!  We are really enjoying the momentum of our growing classes in this great community (which also happens to be my home).  🙂

Website under construction

The ART IN HAND program is alive and well, but our website is currently out of commission.  Please check back soon to see our new and improved site, full of new photos and up-to-date announcements about program offerings and happenings.