Creative beginnings for tiny tots

Posts tagged ‘early childhood’

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Big Shoes to Fill

Today was the first meeting of our fall class for preschoolers. It was wonderful to have a small group of kids who have been coming to the same class together for about a year now. When I realized this was a “seasoned” group, I decided to change the plan for the class at the last minute from free-form painting and a simple shoe tracing (we read a rollicking version of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes just to get everyone warmed up), to a more focused exercise in observational drawing.

I think the children and their grown-ups were pleased with what they accomplished today!

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Barefoot in December Week – Part One

First we warmed up with our hands (and faces, as the case may be).

SAMSUNG

Then, taking our cues from the adventuresome mice in Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Mouse Paint, we danced and splashed in puddles of red, yellow, and blue, and watched orange, green, and purple magically emerge beneath our feet, and between our toes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We survived Sandy and so did “Leaf Man”!

The wind and rain swept through, but we were pretty lucky here in Northern Virginia, near Washington, DC.  No significant damage, and we were able to resume our regularly scheduled activities today.  Best of all, there were still plenty of colorful autumn leaves to be found, so my little friends were able to do some collecting on their way to class in anticipation of our Leaf Man inspired projects.

And inspired, they were.

I just love when our real life experiences, our stories, and our art all intersect.  This happens naturally, when we focus on the natural world around us!

See for yourself…

Getting to know the materials is a good portion of the fun, and an important part of the “work” to be done:

And there is great satisfaction to be had from squeezing and pouring one’s own glue (while building those hand muscles to be used for fine motor skills down the road):

With nature providing the materials, an artful adventure is inevitable ~

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“A leaf man’s got to go where the wind blows…”

Truer words were never spoken here on the east coast today, as we brace for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, yet to come.  The rain has been coming down steadily, the wind is picking up, and all the schools and government offices are closed.  So much for our autumn project planned for the first half of this week, collages made from real leaves, inspired by Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man.

Since I may not have the opportunity to blog about this project after all (the leaf piles and the leaf men hidden therein may all have blown away by the time all is said and done), I’m going to link you to an interview I did with one of my favorite bloggers, Jean Van’t Hul of The Artful Parent, so you can get to know a bit more about my background, the origins and philosophy of the ART IN HAND program, and art therapy in general.  Here’s hoping we all get to keep our power on!  (realistically speaking, that’s fairly unlikely in these parts in the next day or so…)

Happy reading!

Julie Liddle:  An Art Therapist’s Perspective

A Leaf Can Be…

First we explored real leaves, which are all around us this time of year, and talked about some of the things a leaf can be…

Red, yellow, orange, brown, green, speckled, multi-colored, pointy, round, heart-shaped, crunchy, floppy…the list goes on.  What a great opportunity for reinforcing concepts of color and shape and for vocabulary-building in general.

Then we read this lovely new book I discovered by Laura Purdie Salas, which desribes with gentle rhymes and watercolor illustrations by Violeta Dabija, some of the more obscure things that leaves can be…

“A tree topper, a rain stopper…A shade spiller, a mouth filler…a skin welter, a bat shelter…”

Then, with markers and oil pastels in hand, the kiddos had a go at designing their own leaves.  They marked their  various leaf-shaped papers (pre-cut by me out of coffee filters) with spots, scribbles and lines of all kinds and colors, and then witnessed the magic when liquid watercolors were painted on top of their marks.  The marker designs, being water-based, spread and bled and changed, while the oil pastel designs remained intact as they resisted the water-based paint.  In some classes, we even sprinkled salt on our painted leaves, a fun sensory experience which added another stunning element to the visual outcome of the paintings (note the speckling that occurs on these paintings).  I especially love the independent mindedness of two year olds given the opportunity to control their own outcomes with materials, as illustrated by the artists who chose to add additional drawings and real leaves to their final collage, and the young man who proved that a  leaf can even be…BLUE!

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Awakenings

The most powerful tactic…to awaken the curiosity of a child…is simply to head for the hands.
– Frank Wilson (1998)

Little Kids and Big Ideas in 3-D

In his whimsical tale of an ambitiously imaginative boy who invents a car with all the trimmings (including built in swimming pool, snack bar, and the capacity for sailing the seas and soaring through the skies, to name a few), Chris Van Dusen speaks to the wild imaginations of boys and girls everywhere, who dare to dream big.

Inspired by this engaging book, our toddlers and preschoolers expanded their visual vocabularies by tinkering with 3-D materials to come up with inventions of their own.

The range of experiences, lessons, skills, and designs were broad and delightful to watch unfold.

Each child received a brown bag filled with a variety of wood pieces and a rectangular cardboard panel as a work surface.  They were given ample time to simply interact with their pieces, without the notion of creating a permanent arrangement.

We witnessed:

SORTING…

STACKING…

BALANCING…

AND FINALLY….GLUING!!!

The end result was this veritable visual wonderland.  From chaos to order to symmetry and back, these creations conjure images of vehicles, contraptions, buildings, cityscapes and random fun. Our sculptors ranged in age from 20 months to 5 years old.

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And this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the fact that the book also features a very spunky pup, who is the spittin’ image of my wonderdog, Chessie, in every aspect of appearance and winning personality!