Friday, June 11, 2010

Painting with Spaghetti: Oh, the Pastabilities!

This is a fabulous outdoor activity and a wonderful sensory experience for both children and playful adults.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
After you drain it, put it in a large bowl and add tempera paint to really coat the spaghetti plus extra.

Make several batches each a different color.

Cover a large wall with paper.  Its great if you cover the floor space as well, so you can reuse the spaghetti several times during the activity.

Put the bowls several feet away from the paper hanging on the wall.

Let the children reach in, grab a handful and fling it at the paper on the wall.  Some will stick and some will fall.  Its great to start while the spaghetti is still warm because it feels so good.

The spaghetti that falls can be reused.

Be prepared for spaghetti to really go flying-and by prepared I mean, relax and let it fly, it comes off and cleans up.  Just have fun with the children.

This activity is another great example of "a dirty kid is a happy kid" and the art work is actually quite stunning!

Having fun playing with your food. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stepping Stones Museum for Children

I wanted to publicly thank Stepping Stones Museum for Children for creating the Playful Practices in Teaching Award.  The people that run the wonderful museum in Norwalk understand how young children learn and know that play is critical to their development.  They are putting a great deal of effort into outreach programs to try and embrace and educate teachers, administrators and legislators as to importance of not letting this vital approach to learning be shoved aside for seat work.  Children need to build, create, dress up, sing, dance, make music, touch, feel and taste their surroundings to make it meaningful.  Stop by Stepping Stones and talk to their docents.  Plan a trip there with your family or your class.  Be inspired to play again!

Liquid Layers-Rainbow in Tube

As part of our weather study, we had been learning about rainbows and discussing the layers of light.
We had also been doing some color mixing with colored water mixing.

A way to extend this activity was to mix various liquids with different densities that reacted in various ways to one another.

To make it even more exciting we used test tubes in trays so the center actually looked like a laboratory-and the discoveries were just as exciting.  I wouldn't be surprised if some of these children discover the cure for a rare disease some day!

Eye Droppers
Test Tubes or small cups
Cups for Liquids
Rubbing Alcohol
Dish Liquid
Karo Syrup
Cooking Oil
Food coloring or liquid water color

Color each liquid a color of the rainbow.  Our dish liquid happened to be orange.  The oil was yellow and we skipped purple, the rest is your choice.
Put the liquids in cups in the middle of the table with large eye droppers and let the children drop them into tubes.  The liquids will layer.  A rainbow will form in the tube.  If the child shakes the tube the liquids will mix and then after time will relayer.
If you do not have tubes, small clear plastic cups would also work.

It is a good idea to do a lesson on how to use eye droppers and how not to mix the liquids as best they can.  Buy a lot of liquids as they will get mixed up and they will need ALOT.  You do not want them worried about mixing them up, just replace them often.

Watch and listen.
Ask, "what do you notice?"
Do not be worried about them all doing it in rainbow order or using all the colors or all of the liquids each time.

This is experimentation in its truest form.  Put this out for several days.  Let them come back to it.  Let them ponder on what they did one day and come back and try it another day to see if it works the same way if they repeat it.  That is what real scientists do.  Think of it as a lab, not a project.  An area of discovery, not a single science experiment.

Write down what the children are saying as they notice things.  These are great comments to share with parents as you won't have any concrete paper to send home to document learning.
A poster board with photos and comments children have made can document amazing learning so much better than a project in a cubby.
Give it a try and have fun!!

Boom Art!

This post is dedicated to a great teacher at my school, Clara, as she is famous for this activity!  She does is with three year olds.  It takes more supervision but they love it.  I did it with the fours and they were able to be pretty independent-quite creatively in fact!
Plan on getting splattered with paint!  It is a wonderful outdoor activity, but can be done inside.

You'll need:
a large box
a pair of stockings or nylons
tempera paint
large paper
bowls for the paint
A chair

1.Cut the top off the nylons so you have the long legs portions.
2.Fill the feet with sand and tie them off so you have the tops to hold.  The bottom forms a tear drop shape(this is the boom).
3.Fill the bowls with paint
4. Put a piece of paper in the box.
5. A child stands on a chair above the box, dips the "boom" in the paint holding the stocking handle and then drops it into the box.  The "boom" should splatter the paint and of course, making a "boom" noise causing a great deal of excitement!
6. Continue with other booms and colors until the child is happy with his boom art!

The booms can be rinsed and saved for several days use.
As can be seen by the photos, my class experimented with multiple boom dropping.
And remember....
A dirty kid is a happy kid!!!
Have fun!