Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cake-Making with Clay

After last week, when our paper mache project quickly turned into an afternoon of cake-making, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to explore the use of an emergent curriculum in my art classes. For this group, I reflected on the children's interest in cake-making and decided to steer the curriculum in that direction for the following week.
So rather than making suncatchers, as the other groups did, I chose to offer this group a clay medium to expand on the idea of cake-making.
I gave each child a lump of clay (and a few smaller pieces that were easier to work with) and set out a tray of various clay tools on the table. I also offered each child a bowl of water and a sponge to use for moistening their clay. We initially talked about their previous cakes that they made and how that inspired me to collect new cake-making items for this class. I showed the kids a few techniques, but they mostly experimented on their own, learning about the tools and the different properties of the clay.

After I gave the kids a chance to get to know the clay, I brought out some more cake-making items: paper baking cups, glue, glitter, sand, and little "treasures" (rhinestones, buttons and sequins).

Towards the end of class the kids began to move around the studio, working on some new easel projects. For this easel, I cut up a variety of colored tape and placed them onto the tray under a piece of paper to make a tape collage.
Another sticky collage, this easel is set up with clear contact paper and collage materials. Just press and stick- A fun way to end the day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tissue Paper Suncatchers and Emergent Curriculum

To celebrate spring and the sunny days ahead, we have been working on "stained glass" tissue collages. Each child was given a canvas of waxed paper, a brush, and a cup of watered-down glue (tinted with color so the kids could see it better). Spread out on the table was a variety of tissue paper. I encouraged the children to first paint the paper, then stick the tissue onto the glue- this helps the tissue stay down rather than getting stuck to their fingers.
Rogan experiments with putting the tissue paper directly into the cup of glue.

This week we also welcomed our new friend, Addicus, to class!
After discovering the scissors last week, Richie asked for them again- determined to learn how to use them.
When the kids began asking for more glue mixture, I offered them squeeze bottles of tinted water so they could add it to the glue themselves.
Pretty soon the glitter came out as well!

The kids were interested in working with the water and glue so I brought out some eye droppers for them to try. The eye droppers help kids develop the "pincer grasp" which is an important pre-writing skill.

For the easel projects this week I set up two types of sticky collages. For the first one, I cut a variety of colored tape and placed it on the edges of the tray for the kids to stick onto the paper.
Some of the kids showed more interest in painting the collage, so I offered them watercolors to use as well.
On the second easel I taped a piece of clear contact paper (sticky side out) for the base of the collage. Then I filled the tray with materials such as paper, cotton balls, and feathers and showed the children how they stick to the paper.
Towards the end of class, the children began to choose different activities to work on. This group wanted to use the spray watercolors, so I set them up outside to create a spray mural.
In this group, Lucia took a break to hang out in the garden with her mom during class. She found a small lizard and a "roly poly" bug that she brought back to the class to show her friends. They all immediately wanted to go outside to find more bugs.
As a believer of emergent curriculum, I want to honor the children's interests and shape the lesson plans to allow them to explore these interests. With half of the class left to go, I dragged out a tarp, paints and brushes and offered them the opportunity to paint some rocks for the bugs. We collected rocks from the ground and everyone took part in the rock painting. I also moved one of the easels outside in case anyone was interested in continuing the collage work.

As we happily looked for bugs and painted rocks, it suddenly began to rain. We all moved back inside where I quickly got out some powdered tempera paint for a rain project. I offered each child a tray of paper and powdered paint to bring out to the rain. The idea is that when the rain falls onto the powder, it suddenly turns to liquid paint.
But when we walked outside, it was sunny again! So I went back to the studio to collect the spray bottles for each child to make their own rain.

Although the spontaneous curriculum adjustments were a little exhausting, it helped me to realize how I can bring more of the Reggio Emilia approach (especially the concepts of emergent curriculum and project work) into my art classes. Which got me thinking about my oldest class... (stay tuned for more about them)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Squeeze Painting

Have you ever done a gluing project with toddlers and wondered why they continue to squeeze glue from the bottle until they've just about emptied it out? Young children need to squeeze! Squeezing is an important fine motor skill that is also very entertaining. One way to offer this activity to kids is through squeeze painting.
I purchased empty squeeze bottles at an art supply store, but you can also use empty bottles from glue, soap, ketchup, etc.
To make the paint, I mixed flour, water, salt, and a little tempera paint to get a consistency like thick batter. I covered the table with cardboard so they could use the entire surface to squeeze out their design.

I realized that this paste would work great for paper mache- so for the older class, I offered them bowls and newspaper and showed them how they could cover the bowls with the strips of paper to make a sculpture.
My original squeeze bottles were a little tough for the children to use, so I brought out various glue bottles to add to the squeeze painting.
Jacob tries to squeeze the glitter glue into the larger bottle.

Rogan offers Liam the glitter glue.
By the third class, I had found some squeeze bottles from the Container Store that were much easier to use. Richie squeezes the paint onto the truck wheel to see what kind of tracks it makes.
Lucia begins to work on making a cupcake.
As the older kids work on their paper mache sculptures, Jason decides to squeeze all of his paint into the bowl to make a cake.
Of course, the other children realize that making a cake sounds much more fun than a paper mache sculpture!
After a while of squeezing, I offered the children bowls of colored sand to sprinkle on their paintings. Kirsten decides to squeeze the glue into the bowl of sand.
The children loved scooping the sand onto the table and mixing it around.

Anna, Jordan, and Jessica add the sand to their cakes.
Jason uses glitter glue to make a cake decoration.
Eventually, everything made it to the table- paper strips, paints, brushes, cars, horses...
As the children began to move around the studio, they explored various activities. Kirsten makes a print on the acrylic easel.
Kate creates a crayon drawing.
Rogan checks out the materials on the shelf.
Our new student, Mariana, discovers the easel.
Richie and Lucia found the toddler scissors (which cut only paper) and practiced their scissor skills.
Mariana decided to glue a collage, so I brought out the bin of collage materials- which was exciting for everyone!
The mound of materials in front of Lucia is her finished cupcake :)
Jason, Michael, and Karuna gather more materials for their cakes.
At the end of class, the cakes were finished... just in time for Jessica's Birthday. Happy Birthday Jessica!