Creative beginnings for tiny tots

Posts tagged ‘fine motor development’

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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!

We made today a “Market Day”

Once again, children’s author and illustrator extraordinaire, Lois Ehlert, provided the inspiration for our classes this week.  The colorful folk art images and farmers market theme was a great springboard for lots of engaging imaginative play, role playing and
art-making with mass appeal (with built in cognitive and fine motor skill-building)!

As you can see, we prepared for our market day by making our own shopping bags and decorating a bit of spending money.  The kiddos reveled in the simple task of drawing on brown paper bags and blank paper money.  It’s always good to remember how a commonplace activity like drawing takes on a whole new level of interest when we introduce a bit of variation (paper bags instead of plain paper, for example).  Then I threw in a few basic stickers from the office supply store, and they could have “stuck” with this task for hours.  Anything that gives them the chance to use “real” supplies (office labels, money) and skills (pretending to write) that they associate with grown-ups is sure to be a hit, because we all know that at this age, they are little immitators, highly motivated by tasks that allow them to pretend to be like their parents or other admired adult figures in their world.  Plus, all this “practice” writing and sticking and unsticking of stickers is a great workout for those little fingers that will be doing “real” writing just down the road.

After we had our supplies ready (and believe me, we could have spent the whole class time just on this), the kids went shopping at our makeshift market.  They each counted (with help, as needed) three items to place in their bags.  Then they could use their play money to make their purchases, although I wasn’t too strict about this, since some became very attached to their money which had become works of art in their own right.

Before (most of the kiddos) settled in to start snacking on their “purchases”, I showed them how their fruits and veggies made excellent painting tools.  In the past, I have always used large stamp pads soaked with washable liquid watercolors for this activity.  The results are beautifully detailed prints.  This week, however, I mistakenly misplaced my stamp pads, so in a moment of semi-panic, decided to try an alternate version of this activity, simply dipping the cut produce directly into shallow pans filled with washable temperas.  The kids responded so well, I decided to stick with this version in the rest of my classes.

They caught on quickly…

For many, the tactile experience of paint on fruit and paint on hands was a wide open invitation to dive right in to a full blown finger painting extravaganza.

The colors, shapes, and textures that emerged in their paintings were often messy, sometimes beautiful, and truly unique.  Those are three of my favorite ingredients for what I would deem a successful art experience!

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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Awakenings

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

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.

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