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Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Beginnings

Well, our school year is off to a wonderful start. 
 We just finished up our second week of school and 
the children have been quickly adjusting to being back at school 
or starting school for the first time.
As they adjust, our job is to try and help them on their journey.  Each child is different and has their  own unique way of processing change and exploring the world.  For this reason we take things slow in the beginning and  do little things to help them feel a sense of belonging to the school.

Our first project is always a watercolor painting project.  All the children this year have shown a love of painting.  These early watercolor paintings become the background for their  school picture.

Every year we hang pictures of the children in the school.  They love seeing themselves, but also I feel it gives them a feeling of belonging and a sense of identity in the school, of being  a part of this new environment they are exploring.  They also like recognizing new and old friends.  

Here are a couple pictures of the children painting on their first day.

Another way they make their mark in the school is by having their hand prints in the hallway as they enter the school.  Sometimes it is seeing their picture or giving their hand a high five, that is the little thing they need to make that initial separation from their parents and help them move into the routine of the day.  These hands were also created after we read 
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, so they have an association of seeing those hands and the story of a raccoon who was hesitant about starting school, but received a kissing hand so he knew he was loved and that he would love school.

 We also try to create an environment that makes the children feel at home 
with pictures of their family at their cubby.

Other ways that we try to help the children in these first days is to have them create their helping hands, which give them a sense of responsibility in the school.  Each child puts their helping hand in a job they would like to do for the day.  This helps us with the routine, but also the importance of helping each other.

So, in essence our first couple weeks have been focused on having the children make their mark in the school, make their presence visible in some way.

Another fun project we just completed was their school art folders, these will be displayed in the hallway for parents and the children to look at.  A lot of their experimental artwork goes into these folders with little descriptions and stories about the artwork, they become a great keepsake at the end of the school year.

Over the last couple years the children have had a lot of fun spray painting their folders then gluing their pictures on the cover.  I always love how they turn out.

In addition to spray painting, some of the children used eye droppers to squirt out their colors on their paintings

The finished product is always wonderful!

The children then glued their pictures to the cover.

When I go down the hallway each morning it makes me so happy  to see all these faces smiling and I get excited to see what each day will bring.  My hope is that the children and parents feel the same way when they enter the school.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sun-Print Bags

I always love it when Science and Art come together in a project.
The children explored the power of the sun, plants, and water absorption this week, and the results were beautiful.

I was interested in the idea of doing sun-prints, but  wanted to explore a different process rather than the sun-print paper that we have used in the past. As I searched for an alternative idea I found a post about sun-printing on fabric.  Here is the link if you would like to check it out: Sun Print Tote.  This was a great post, but when I tried the process using watered down acrylic paint, it didn't quite work.  But if at first you don't succeed, try try again.

Here's the thing about the process that I looked up, it spoke about a solar print, which it is, but how is it a solar print?   The method I was using was to use watered down acrylics, and place plants on the fabric.  Typically sun printing (Cyanotype, which is the technical process)  is done on fabric treated with light sensitive chemicals, or they use a light sensitive fabric dye, both of which are expensive and not the direction I want to go with 3-5 year olds. For these reasons I really wanted to figure out how to make this process work.

In my first attempt the plants shriveled away, I realized they needed moisture, so I went back to looking up various methods and read something about wetting the fabric first, and using a watered down fabric paint.  That was the trick, and what I realized is that while these are sun prints, one of the ways the imprint of the plant or flower is being made is that as the sun dries the fabric, it is also drying out the flowers and plants and naturally they are trying to absorb what water they can get.  The water available is the wet dye on the fabric, and there you have it, a sun print on fabric is made!  From the suns heat and power and a plants ability to absorb water through plant cells, the image is left on the fabric.

So, now that I have explained my process of discovery, let's take a look at how the children explored this process.

We of course had to go out and gather the materials for our project. 

The field next to the school had lots to chose from.

Our little gathers hard at work.

Heading back to the school to see what's next.

For this project I cut up a cotton blend sheet we had at the school.  We were making bags, so each child had a piece of fabric that was folded in half at the bottom to make the sewing easier. They then took a spray bottle of water and wet the fabric.

After wetting the fabric they went to work painting the fabric with watered down Setacolor fabric paint.  Some also used spray fabric paint that you can find at a craft store, the combination of both worked well.

After they painted their fabric they picked the leaves and flowers they wanted to add to their artwork, and pressed them into the fabric.

The children weighted down their objects with stones.

Some used a little more stones than others.

The fabric was left out in the sun for almost two hours (or till the fabric was dry).

While small groups worked with me doing their sun-prints, others were with my assistant adding food coloring to water and placing Queen Anne's Lace in their colored water.  Both projects approached the study of plants absorbing water from different perspectives.  It did not take long for the flowers to begin their transformation, but it was really the next day that the children saw how the flowers absorbed the water and with it the color they placed in their cups.

Back to our sun-print project.  After the fabric was dry, the children went to check in on their project, and everyone succeeded in making a sun-print.

I love how you can see the details of the lily.

Even the Queen Anne's Lace project that I wasn't sure would work, turned out great.

Even the tiniest flowers worked for us!

The next step was to get out the sewing machine, and have the children finish their bags.

This little sewing machine was one of the best gifts given to the school by my mother.  It is a travel sewing machine that has a bobbin, so it does a great and satisfactory base stitch, plus it is so easy to use, that the children love it!

We discovered it was a little hard for some of the children to work the petal sitting down, so standing was a better option.

This was a cute story, this little one put "Kitty Man" in her bag as soon as she finished sewing it.  The sense of accomplishment and pride is evident in her twinkling eyes even though her smile is being hidden by Kitty Man's smile, he liked it too!
Showing off a completed bag.  They managed to sew a draw string strap.  This part was probably the trickiest because some of the children  accidentally sewed over the ribbon, so some of the bags don't exactly draw shut, but it was all so impressive what they we able to accomplish. 

Another cuddle finding a fine home.

I'll end the post with this picture.  When I asked this little guy to freeze for a picture before running off with his bag, this is the pose and face he gave me, and then he was a blur running off to show his friends his bag; got to love the face, the bag, and the excitement he had to show the others.