Friday, August 1, 2014

Light and Shadow Week

Lights and shadows! (and silhouettes)
How mysterious and magical to a preschooler... to anybody really.

We had a lot of activities available to try out this week. The most popular was our Shadow Theater, a last minute throw together sort of idea. The local children's festival this past winter featured a shadow puppet screen. It was a huge hit and I've been wanting to create something like it since then. I knew I needed some sort of frame and a screen. I thought about our doll bed that was in the basement. The bottom had been broken out and it had been set aside until it could get repaired. 
From there I just used some thin white paper and packing tape. 

The children and I had to do a lot of trial and error experimenting to figure out where to put the light and how close the objects had to be. We used a box to hold the flashlight steady, but the next day was so sunny that window worked just fine!

The preschoolers really enjoyed trying out different scenes.

We found quite a few books on our shelf that were related to dark, light and silhouettes (our new favorite word). 

Some of the older kids created clay sculptures and 
then traced the shadows.

Our Light Table
A couple years ago I purchased a pieces of clear Plexiglas (I left the white protective film on) and occasionally I turn our train table into a light table. I use blocks around the inside edges as a lip to hold the surface up. This year I bought a rope light after seeing some beautiful pictures of transient art from "Stimulating Learning with Rachel". The lighting worked much better and we were able to experiment with different materials throughout the week. 

At some point I hope to purchase a Light Table from Reflections Light Boxes. They have beautiful quality tables and the couple who owns the company and builds them are so sweet! I returned to their booth many times at the NAEYC conference last year and still regret not taking one home with me without the shipping costs. :) 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bug Camp 2014

Bug camp was a huge success. The little scientists got to do all sorts of bug play and investigating. The playground was wild with grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, "dragonflies," and spiders too. We had lots of conversations about "how many legs?" and "what is that buzzing sound?"

My favorite quote of the week was, "LOOK Jessica, I caught a bee!"

And so she had.... quite securely between two cups. Those who dared, came and had a peak and then it was released. Of course I had to be the one to release it, which resulted in me sneaking behind the school and flinging the top and bottom cup and their contents as hard as I could without the children seeing me. 

"A lovely little home for bugs."

There were lots of bugs inside as well.

It is not very often that I prepare a craft for the preschoolers. They always love it when I do. The materials were laid out on the table during free play as an option. 
I pre-cut the circles and the heads and also put out black paint with corks, glue, markers and googly eyes. They chose how they wanted to make their ladybugs. There was quite a bit of variation. A couple older kids even asked for additional supplies to create their own baby ladybugs or to add details to their bug that I hadn't thought of. One child stapled two white wings to a fan and then attached it to the underside of the ladybug so the wings could open and shut. 

I think it is important that IF you are offering a craft that results in a product, that children are always allowed to create it with their own ideas and in their own ways. I cringe at the thought of a parent or teacher rearranging art work or suggesting to a child where to put certain pieces. I always leave similar supplies on the art shelf for a week or so after, to see what they come up with on their own. 

Tinkering Camp 2014

We started off the week (July 14-18) with just a bunch of "junk." The children enjoyed dumping it out, scavenging around and... well... tinkering. 

A pirate ship complete with ladder and cannons

Lock-picking 101?

On Tuesday (July 15), we created "controllers." First we brainstormed all the things at home that have controllers: toys, tv, dvd player, mom's car, fans, and more. They even came up with some things that I hadn't thought of. 

Then we thought about some things we wished we had controllers for: dogs, weather, anything we wanted to appear and baking.  They were then able to use collage materials and boxes to create their own controllers. 

Some of the finished products. 

For the last days of Tinkering Camp we worked together to create an imaginary robot.

Using a real hot glue gun was part of the appeal of this activity.

Most tinkering projects require you to return to them over and over again. It seems that will be the case with our robot. His limbs keep falling off and we have yet to give him a face, but "we'll get to it."