Creative beginnings for tiny tots

Posts tagged ‘science-art connection’

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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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

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!