Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Burlap Banners-Sewing in Preschool

I found these rolls of thin burlap at Michael's craft store.  This class really enjoys sewing and burlap is a very easy fabric to manipulate with both plastic and metal needles for young children because the holes are so big. It is very easy to fix major sewing errors when the children sew around the embroidery hoops we were using to hold the fabric.


For this experience we moved on from earlier free form sewing to following a line/design.  We drew each child's first initial on the top of the burlap with a Sharpie marker.  The children chose their yarn color and followed the line with their stitches. Once that was done they were encouraged to add decorations from a variety of embellishments that were available; feathers, beads and buttons. 

Once the sewing was done, which for some children was done over several days, the children searched outside for a thin, short stick.  Then we showed them how to sew the top of the burlap over the stick.  We tied a string on to the stick on either end in order to hang the banners.  

This activity fostered fine motor development as well as eye-hand coordination from following the path of the letter, letter recognition, and required sustained attention.  The children were very proud of their work.  They were also exposed to embroidery hoops which most of them had never used before for sewing (we use them a lot for sorting in our classroom).

If you like the idea of sewing with burlap, check out an earlier post about a cooperative sewing experience here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Water Table Physics

Kudos to my husband in this post for making these stands for our water table.  They were a work in progress.  I had a vision of some stands to hold tubes and funnels for the children to manipulate and experiment with moving water.  The children helped me measure the height and width of our water table.
The first day the children played with them, we realized that the children had to stand on benches to reach the tops of the tubes. Each day we modified them according to the way the children played with them.  Now one has a board with holes facing vertical and one we turned to be horizontal.  We also made one shorter. (and by "we" of course, I mean my husband :-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Using Hammers to Create Art

We had a fantastic donation from one of our families who cut some great wood into squares for us. We decided to use them to create yarn art.

The children chose how many nails to use and the design of the placement of the nails. They wore safety goggles from our workbench when  hammering, but they did use real hammers.

We helped them learn the technique of holding the nail in place with the non hammering hand, hammering lightly to get the nail started and then moving it away before hitting much harder.

I know the question will be asked about children hurting themselves while using real tools. We do use tools fairly frequently in our class and have a workbench in the room at all times.  There were just a few banged fingers and thumbs, but that is part of the learning involved in using a real hammer.  These resilient children were more focused on finishing the job of getting the nails in the wood, so they would shake it off and start again, much the way I do when I still occasionally miss:-)

 Once they has their nails placed the way they wanted them to be, they wound cut pieces of colorful yarn around and around the nails in their chosen arrangement.  We did not tie any of the yarn.  We wanted this to be a fairly self-sufficient activity.  The act of tying would have caused more frustration than was necessary for this activity.  We showed them how wrapped several times around one nail head and tucking it under, pretty much held the yarn in place and allowed them to move on to the next color of yarn.

We had very different styles of accomplishing this project.  Some children used a lot of nails and a lot of yarn, other had much more of a sparse approach.

This activity was left out for the week and several children chose to go back to their pieces and add more yarn or more nails as the week went on.  This is one of the main reasons we leave centers for the week. Children need time to process an activity and try it again, add more, and deepen their experience.  Some will only visit a center once, others will visit the same center each day for the week.  Knowing they have the ability to return lets them feel relaxed as they are exploring it and not rushed to try everything in one day.

I love how individual these pieces of art ended up.  They actual tell a great deal of each child's personality.