Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Watercolor Butterflies

Watercolors may seem kind of scary for preschoolers to work wtih, especially if you're anything like me.  I had visions of the yellow being covered in brown, green and purple.  Even now I cringe at the thought!!  But once I finally got up the courage to try it with E, things went okay!  (Of course, I did have to buy my OWN watercolors, just in case the above tragedy actually occurred!)  The one thing I will say is to make sure you buy watercolor paper.  Construction paper just doesn't cut it, and will leave both of you frustrated with a soggy mess!  And yes, the yellow will get some other colors of paint on it.  I let it dry just a bit and wiped it off with a rag when we were done.

I showed E how to wash her brush out after each color, and how to mix the color with water to make the paint.  I did have to remind her several times to "paint then rinse."  She loved painting her butterfly, and the free form watercolors we did were a favorite as well.  Using a larger brush also helped.

These butterflies are from  I saw this balancing butterflies project over at Childhood Magic.  E and K were so excited when they came into the kitchen this morning to find the butterflies they had painted would rest on their hand or shoulder!!

I am also interested in trying wet on wet watercolor painting with E.  Sounds like fun, especially since she loves to "do art" so much!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Play: Playsilks

E has been playing a lot of dress-up lately!  We don't really have a dress-up wardrobe, though.  I'm working on it, gathering hats and accessories on my garage sale and thrift store days.  We do have several playsilks that I dyed for E for her birthday last year.  Honestly, I think I like these better than dress-up.  Every morning, E brings me a silk and asks for a swimming suit, underwear, a skirt, a dress, a hat, whatever.  I tie it on for her in the appropriate place, and she's off for the morning, happy as a clam!
This outfit consisted of a red dress, purple shawl, and yellow head kerchief
She loves these so much, I am considering dying several more to play with, and maybe even some really long ones to cover the unfinished ceiling in our basement playroom.  I'd love to learn how to tie dye them!  *hint, hint, Missy!*

July Sensory Bin

We loved our birdseed sensory bin from May so much that I did not make another one for June.  I was pondering ideas for a new tub and decided to go really girly and sparkly!  So here is our box for July, just a little bit early!

It's so sparkly!!  Three types of pony beads, large opaque, large translucent, and small opaque, plus craft jewels and scoops and a neat Japanese style spoon.  Obviously, this is not a box for smaller children who still put things in their mouth, and I only let E use it when I am watching.  She's pretty good about that kind of thing, but you never know . . . 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tot School: Plus One

Tot School
E is 29 months, K is 3 1/2 years

I had intended to take the summer off from "school time," but my neighbor approached me about teaching her little boy a couple of days a week.  I couldn't pass up that opportunity, so we are doing school for the summer now!  I gave E a couple week break this month, and we go on vacation the end of July, so she'll get another break then.  Other than that, it's going to be business as usual, but with and extra child (or two) around!  E is almost 2 1/2 now, and we're really starting to get into the Montessori materials.  I'm trying to follow her as best as I can, having K around should help her get more interested in some of the materials she's been unwilling to try.  It's always more fun to try something after you've seen another kid do it.  K is 3 1/2, and attends a regular preschool during the school year.  He has taken to things very well, I've only had him for two days so far, and it's interesting to see what work he chooses and how long he works with things.  E is still in a toddler mindframe much of the time, and will often pull something out, work for 2 minutes, announce she's done, and put it away.

This week, I had E work with the knobbed cylinders.  I had her do #1 and #2, and then I showed her how to do both at once.  She did pretty well  with it!

I also introduced the yellow box of knobless cylinders to E this week.  I showed her how to line them up like stairs, and how to stack them into a tower.  I think she likes them because they are bright.

We worked on the pink tower with only 5 cubes.  She still builds it wrong!  I usually help her once, asking "which cube is the biggest?" and then letting her work on her own.  At some point, she'll have to start seeing her mistakes, right??

Other work E chose this week included the sound jars (she LOVES these!), and writing numbers in the sand tray, using the sandpaper numbers as a reference.  She doesn't do very well at all with this, but she loves to "write" in the sand.  I allow it as long as she is actually trying to write.  When she starts putting her whole hand into the tray, I remove it and tell her we can try again tomorrow.

E also chose to work with the geometric cabinet this week, after watching K with it.  I did finally get all my knobs glued back on, so I am hoping to introduce some of the drawers next week to both K and E.

K flitted around a bit at first, which is normal, I would say, for being in a new environment!  He really enjoyed our sorting works, he did the fruit sorting and the butterfly tonging exercises I had set up for quite a while.

I also showed him the yellow knobless cylinders, after I had presented them to E.  He thought stacking and unstacking them was pretty cool.  It amazes me how different his thought process seems to be, only a year older than E.  He really thought about where to put each cylinder so that they were all arranged correctly.

But his favorite work of the week was the sandpaper letters and sand tray.  He traced the letters after me, then worked on tracing them in the sand.  His "letters" looked absolutely nothing like what they were supposed to, but he was concentrating on them so hard!

To wrap up our week, both E and K worked on pin-punching a butterfly.  Neither one was very interested.  K gave up after a few pokes, and E ended up coloring hers, although she did come back to it this weekend to do some more punching.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fruit and Veggie Printing

I love my mom's group.  The moms are awesome, the kids are so much fun, and we are always having really cool playdates!  This week, we met up at a local park for some fruit and veggie painting.  Each mom brought one type of fruit or vegetable to paint with.  There were oranges, bell peppers, apples, strawberries, potatoes, and corn.  We loaded up some plates with a little bit of paint and let the kiddos have at it - outside, no messy paint all over someone's house!  And when they were done, they went to play in a cooler full of water and got all clean.  What a great time!

Strawberries made cute heart-shaped prints.

Rolling corn was fun - and messy!

Bell peppers made neat outlines like flowers.

The finished masterpiece!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Butterfly Poems

Before becoming a mother, I was an elementary music teacher.  I enjoyed my job a lot, but I like being a mom even better!  It may sound silly, but I feel teaching music to a classroom full of kindergarteners was easier than trying to "teach" music to my daughter!  I'm not sure why, exactly.  After reading this post about a weekly and daily rhythm from Childhood Magic, I decided that we need to focus on music one day a week.  So Wednesdays have become "Music and Movement Day!"  E loves it.  Today I brought out my guitar to play a few songs, and let her pluck around as well.  Since we are beginning to study butterflies, I grabbed some of our playsilks and taught her these fun caterpillar/butterfly poems I used with my preschoolers way back when.

Caterpillar, Butterfly
One will crawl, one will fly
Which moves low? Which moves high?
Caterpillar, Butterfly

This poem is fun to wiggle on the ground when speaking about the caterpillars, and to walk on tip-toes when speaking about the butterflies.  And of course, playsilk wings are a MUST.

Way up in the skies, a butterfly flies,
When way down below, a caterpillar goes slow.
He munches and munches on jungle leaf lunches.
"I'm so full and fat!" he says with a pat.
"I'll spin a cocoon by the light of the moon,
Curl up in my bed, and sleep," he said.
Not a sound did we hear, 'till the special moment was near.
The weeks soon passed by, and out flew a butterfly!

We act out the poem one line at a time.  Playsilks can become butterfly wings, jungle leaves, and the caterpillar's cocoon.  If you have some small percussion instruments laying around, it's really fun to add "sound effects" to the poem as well!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We Play: Blocks!

E loves to play with two things: blocks and her little animal figurines.  She loves stacking and lining up all the blocks, and then putting her little animals in just the right places.  She lines everything up and puts all the "baby" animals with their "mamas."  I recently came across a set of cardboard bricks - the same kind I had when I was growing up - at a garage sale.  E has been building and building with them.  I love how big they are, we can build animal apartments, walls, and towers.  I remember building the walls to houses with them when I was little.  The possibilities are endless!

These pictures remind me so much of my brother, sister, and myself when we were kids!

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Materials

I've been working on a few new materials while we are on a short break from school.  Next week we'll start up again for a month or so, and then we'll really get into things in August.  E's friend, our neighbor across the street, will be joining us a couple of days a week, starting next Thursday!  E is excited to have a friend for school time, and I'm excited to work with two children, instead of just one.

E loves butterflies.  And since she got over her fear of ants, she pretty much likes all kinds of bugs.  She is fascinated by them, as are most children.  I put together this felt board to teach the different parts of a butterfly.  The only thing missing are the legs, I thought she'd just loose 6 tiny felt legs. 

Even though E can't read, I have labels for each part.  She enjoys placing the labels on the picture.  She usually says the right body part, but doesn't have the correct label.

The other new material I have made recently is the sound cylinders.  I made these out of baby food jars.  I gave them a good spray painting, and filled them with different items from my pantry.  I have 6 different pairs.  Inside are things like cornmeal, dried beans, oats, and rice.  I measured them so the amount in each is the same.  E loves this work, and gets so excited when she finds a matching pair.

Next up on my list of things to make are the metal insets.  I'm planning on tracing our geometric cabinet shapes and making the insets out of cardboard.  E has been interested in tracing things recently, so I think it's time to start!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Craft Corner: Plant Markers

My dad loves to work in the yard.  His mom, my grandma, grew up on a farm, and she still has a giant garden.  My dad has been yearning for a garden ever since I can remember.  When I was little we had a small garden, with tomato and cucumber plants.  Now, he's trying out square foot gardening, in some fancy garden boxes he built this spring.

What does every dad who gardens need for Father's Day?  Some fancy plant markers so everyone knows what plant is what out there in the garden!

I made my plant markers out of oven bake clay (I used Sculpey), aluminum foil, and an old coathanger.  If you have older kids, this would be a really fun project to do together!  You can find the clay and all the tools for it at the craft store.  Honestly, the only tool I use is a long blade (like a razor blade), and you could probably use a knife for that.  Oven bake clay is used a lot to make beads and such, so bead templates and things to poke the holes through the clay were included in my tool set.

First, take aluminum foil and crunch it up into the shape you want your plant markers to be.

Then take out your clay.  Each brick is scored into four sections.  I used 3 sections for each plant marker.  I cut up one section each of two different colors into slices:

And stacked the slices together, alternating colors.

Next I squashed them all together into a big roll.  How you do this will make a difference in how your final product looks, so think about it before you squash.  I didn't think before I did this one, but you can see some prettier patterns in the last couple of pictures.

Roll the clay out to the desired size, and cover one side of the aluminum foil.

See, only one side is covered.

Take the last section of clay (either color, it doesn't matter) and roll it out for the back side of the plant marker.

Take your coathanger, and some wire cutters and cut off one corner.  Sandwich this between the foil on the back side of the plant marker and the plain clay.  Cover the back side with the clay.

Now - to make it pretty!  Roll out a long, thin snake of black clay and use this to edge the whole plant marker.

Then, out of the same black clay, roll out another long, thin snake to make the letters.

Bake according to your package directions.  Mine was 15 minutes at 275 degrees.

Let cool, and show off in your garden.  Or, give to your dad or husband for Father's Day!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Please Stand By

I've been having internet issues the last several days.  I think they are finally resolved, so be ready for some new posts coming soon!