Creative beginnings for tiny tots

Archive for April, 2012

This idea is just too good not to share, and so in keeping with our penchant for incorporating nature and intriguing sensory elements in our creative process. It’s one of those ideas that make me want to smack myself upside the head and say “doh!”, as in, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Instead, I’ll just say “Play-doh!” and thank you to Small Potatoes for the inspiration.

Small Potatoes

“Earth laughs in flowers.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

With Spring approaching, and Earth Day this weekend, I wanted to create an activity that celebrated both occasions.  One of my toddlers hand-delivered a bouquet of flowers for me on my birthday about 10 days ago, and they had long since started to wilt. I couldn’t bare to throw them out yet. Surely there was SOME way I could re-use them or prolong their life? That IS what we’ve been talking about all week, after all!

Then I thought, if we can put coffee in the playdough, why can’t we put blossoms in the playdough? It would smell just as good, and you KNOW it would be soooo pretty! And so that’s exactly what I did.

First, I pulled off all the flower petals that were not yet dry and crunchy…this is the prettiest part of the whole process. Look at that colourful…

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Have You Seen Trees?

This lovely book written by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng

inspired life-sized art, as we posed like trees and got to stretch our limbs as we drew and painted on large paper posted on the wall.  Working large, on a vertical surface, makes the act of drawing and painting very much a gross motor (rather than fine motor) activity.  The arms move from the shoulder down to the hand, and the entire trunk is engaged for balance as children paint in a standing or squatting position.

Have you seen trees?  High trees, wide trees, reaching-to-the-sky trees….

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These nests are THE BEST!!!

Here’s a little photo gallery of some of our busy nesters and some of the many delightful nests they created in our classes recently.


Nature AND Nurture

Nothing like baby animals to bring out the nurturing side in us humans, and toddlers and preschoolers are no exception.  The essence of that nurturing spirit is captured literally and symbolically in the concept of the nest.   And the act of nesting itself, creating a warm, protective environment in which a new life can grow and emerge enveloped by its parents and the safe haven they so carefully crafted, is truly captivating for young children, as they identify with the babies in the scenario and also get to try the parental role on for size.

Toddlers and preschoolers are natural collectors…

… and gluers…

And as you can see, highly invested in creating their own unique nests.

An ambitious five year old got busy with scissors to create his own chipmunk from construction paper and flower petals (for eyes) to live in his nest.

I just love these nests, and look forward to seeing them emerge each spring!

The Art of Springtime

As we kick off another spring session, I wanted to share with you all an article I wrote for Washington Parent magazine a few years back.  I hope it inspires you to make the most of the creative possibilities that surround your wherever you are.

Washington Parent: The Art of Springtime

Spring Session, Coming Right Up!

Spring just may be my favorite time of year for collecting stories and unique materials to share with my little students.  I guess the spirit of growth and possibility and new discoveries that accompanies springtime is the perfect context for exploring the possibilities of creating with materials.


There is still time to register for Spring classes that start NEXT WEEK in Alexandria and Falls Church.  Space is limited!  Registration for Summer classes is also currently underway in the City of Alexandria and those are filling very quickly as well.

Herndon friends, remember that a second Spring Session at the Herndon Community Center will begin at the end of April, and regitsration for these classes is currently underway as well.  Hope you’ll join us.