Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Perfect Square-Manipulating Paper

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We read the book,  Perfect Square by Michael Hall about the transformation of a simple square in to several creative possibilities.

Following reading the story each child was given a 4 x 4 square of construction paper of a variety of colors. NO two students had the same color.  This was important because the task given to the children was to create something with this square using all of the pieces of it.  They were given scissors, textured scissors, hole punchers and glue.  They could also rip, crumble, bend, etc. the paper.  They could create anything they wanted to but they had to use every scrap of the original square-just like in the book.


They used a piece of black construction paper to mount their pieces.  Then they had to write what it was on the paper using their sound/symbol knowledge.

Following the activity we shared our creations with each other paying special attention to the various ways the children manipulated the paper.

For a follow up activity to this we created a large class mural.  We tried to focus on making the paper 3D giving the piece a lot of texture using the same techniques, ripping, bending, folding, crumbling, cutting, and so on.

Studying Artist's Techniques-Creating an Art Gallery

We have an open easel in our classroom where children choose the paper and materials with which they want to create.  We have several students who spend time there everyday and others who rarely venture to the easel in favor of building or other centers.  However, we feel this is an important time to be exposed to a variety of experiences and materials, so we do encourage everyone to give activities such as painting a try once in awhile.

We had been looking at some artists who used mixed media in their work a few weeks ago, so this week we focused on how artists name their pieces.  We looked at several prints, talked about what we saw when we looked at the piece and then what the artist named his/her work.  We talked about why they might have chosen that name.  We also read a book about Vincent Van Gogh called Camille and the Sunflowers.

Following reading the story, our art center was set up with a variety of fresh flowers in vases and several colors of liquid water colors.  We used water color paper as well.  We talked about the process of the still life.  How an artist looks at what he/she sees and tries to capture the image in his mind.


When the children were painting we asked about what they were noticing.  Our comments about the children's work focused on what we saw, not non-specific praise such as, 'beautiful"  or "good job".  Rather, we would point out features of the piece, "I see you noticed the petals around a center here", or "you painted a close up of one flower", or "I can see you noticed the stems and leaves of the flowers."  

When the paintings were dry, we had the children look at their own work carefully and come up with a name for their work.

We then cut out frames from black construction paper to create our classroom art gallery.  We shared the pieces and their titles with the class.  

As the week went on, some children revisited the center several times.  Some decided to add tempera paint to their work for a different effect.  We also made sure that every child spent some time in this center during the course of the week.  

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.