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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Leaf Rubbings

This was a great project that we did a couple weeks ago.  I actually never had much luck doing leaf rubbings with my preschoolers, the paper would often rip and the students would get frustrated with the process.  These rubbings were another story, the children enjoyed the process and experienced the reveal of the leaf several times.

Before starting we went for a little nature walk to collect our materials.  We are so fortunate to have many varieties of beautiful trees on the property.

After the leaves were gathered, they were taped down on thin card board backing.

They then began to wrap their boards with aluminum foil.
As they rubbed their hands over the surface the first reveal of the leaves below started to make their impression.  One of the things I loved about this project is that the children experienced the texture and impression of the leaves with their hands first, and then they began to see it appear on the foil.  I found it to be an interesting way to really look at all the veins and shape of the leaves.

After their leaf rubbing was all set on the foil, they painted over the whole board with India Ink or as one of my students called it "That Stinky Paint!"  

Here is when they had their leaf appear again in a different version of itself.  The India Ink pulls away from the raised areas, so their leaves become very vivid.

"Miss Danielle, I see my leaf, it's right there!  Do you see it, do you see it!"

We let the ink dry, and as soon as the ink set, the children rubbed away the ink from the leaves, and the third reveal happened.  It is almost like they were polishing the leaves and a  shinny silver image of itself emerged.

I loved how the children connected with the process, but also how they had so many experiences with their leaves.  They learned about the veins and the stem, that the leaf receives nourishment from them.   They looked at their own veins and we talked about how blood flows through our veins and also nourishes our bodies.   We talked about the different types of leaves they found and what trees they came from.   They felt the texture of the leaves with their hands and experienced looking at the leaf through many dimensions, the first its natural form, then just the impressions, and then a skeletal image.  It was a wonderful start to our leaf exploration.  As this was two weeks ago, we have continued to examine and discuss leaves, more on that soon!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"Red is like spicy sauce."

"Red is like spicy sauce" is what I titled this post, a wonderful description by  one of the children during a discussion about the color red.

This post gives examples of the different ways we explore a concept at school, in this case studying about the color red.

Conversations with the children are an important part of exploring and discovering what children already know and how they think about the world.  I try not to correct them, but honor their ideas and help them to learn on their own through self discovery.  Here is an example of one of our conversations:

A Conversation about Red with 2 ½-3 1/2
September 22, 2014
A.C., E.K., R.F., S.G.,V.C.
Danielle: “Do you all know anything that is the color red?”
RF: “I do, I do”
Danielle:  “you do, what do you know that is the color red?”
RF:“Um, nothing.”
Danielle: “What about vegetables, do we know any vegetables that are red?  Do you have a red vegetable that grows in your garden?”
AC: “Smocks grow in the garden!” lots of laughter.
Danielle: “Smocks!  You think smocks grow in the garden?!  Would it grow in a painter’s garden?
RF: “Apples, apples are red!”
Danielle: “Yes!  What about tomatoes?”
AC and RF: “NO!” followed by more laughter
Danielle: “Do you think the color red has a feeling, what would red feel like?  Is it a happy color or sad color…”
VC: “A happy color!”
Danielle:  “A happy color, what makes it a happy color?”
VC: “It’s like a heart.”
AC: “It’s like a smile.”
RF:  “Red is like spicy sauce!”
Danielle:  “Would that make red hot?”
RF: “Yes”
Danielle: “If red had a smell what do you think it would smell like?”
RF: “It smells like pie. It smells like  muffins”
Danielle: “EK, do you think red smells like anything?”
EK: “It smells like strawberries.”
Danielle: “If you were to touch red, what would it feel like?”
RF: “It would feel like burnt.”
Danielle: “Do you mean hot?”
RF: “yeah, like a camp fire.”
AC: “yeah that would hurt really bad.  I can’t touch it, I can just look at it.”
EK: “you can’t put it in the fire, you can eat it.”
Danielle:  “EK said you can eat red, could anyone else eat red?  If I was to eat red I think it would taste like cherries.”
RF: “Cherries and blueberries!  Like blueberry pie, blue would taste yum, yum.”
I guess we will have to explore blue next!
The children also looked at paint swatches and saw that red comes in many different hues, and has many different names.  With this in mind, they were given red, black, and white on a palette and set to work mixing their various colors of red.  

"Mine is a dark cloud."-K.K.
"It's Dark Red.  It's a rain cloud red"- L.P.
"What color rain does it rain out?"-D
"What color red are you making?" L.P. to E.G.
"I made stormy red." -E.G.

 More painters exploring the color red.

We also made "apple pie" play-dough.  It is scented with cinnamon and clove oil, and the whole room smells wonderful when they play with it.
We have been enjoying apple muffins and pie!

The children have also gone on red hunts with Ms. Tricia and our red exploration was also tied into our apple tasting and apple prints.

We have also been working on basic fine motor skills such as gluing and cutting.  Sometimes as adults it is easy to take for granted the ability to use scissors and to glue, they are skills we learned so long ago, but these little ones are our once upon a time, and so these skills are essential, and need to be practiced.  We also talk about scissor safety and all the children have to walk to get their scissor and learn how to be safe and walk correctly with sharp utensils.  

 And of course the children were cutting red paint swatches.  These are great because they have that white line separating each color, which is a wonderful guide for the children to work toward trying to cut along.  

 The children also set to work sorting out red items from our light table area, and then projecting the items on the projecting curtain.

At this age the concepts are simple and some learning sticks and some can just be an experience that is fun for the children.   However, what we are really trying to accomplish is to create a learning environment that looks at concepts from many different and creative perspectives.  This emphasizes that there is not just one way to learn about something, and that their ideas and expressions are important.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An Apple A Day...

It is apple season and we are thoroughly enjoying this time of year at school.
We literally have an apple each day at school for the whole year, so it is wonderful that we spend some time getting to know this wonderful fruit.

During small group time, the children experienced an apple tasting.
I gathered 6 varieties from Story Farms.  They also had a wonderful brochure on the different NY grown apples that the children looked at to see  the many varieties of apples here in NY.

Ms. Tricia cut up the apples and the children spent some time tasting and expressing which were their favorites.

Here are some of their answers when asked which apple was their favorite?

M.A.: "The orange one, Honey Crisp."
S.S.  "It's gold, star gold, that one tastes really good."
R.B.: "Red Delicious."
Z.M.: "Ginger Gold"

Danielle: Did you have a favorite apple?
L.S.:  “I liked all of them.”
G.C. : “Honey Crisp.”
Danielle: “Did you have a favorite one R.H.?”
R.H.: “Uh, Golden Delicious.”
Danielle: “Why was that your favorite?”
R.H.: “Because it was golden.”
Danielle:  “N.G.F did you have a favorite?”
N.G.F.:  “It was Golden Delicious because I love yellow!”
Danielle: “K.K. what was your favorite.”
K.K.: “It was red.”
K.M.: “I liked all of them?”

 One of my favorite little rhythms that we tell the children at school is
"Take an apple round and red, don't cut it down, cut it through instead
Right inside it you will see, a star as pretty as can be."

Ms. Tricia then talked about the parts of an apple and the children took a little time passing around magnifying glasses and looking at the apples and the star in the middle.

 During Art Time the children did apple prints.
The children pumped their paint onto their trays and and rolled out the colors with a brayer.  They then set to printing.

I love when the star prints out on the paper, it's a little surprise for the kids when they pick up the apple.