It took us a few weeks but we managed to create some fantastic process art collages. First, each child picked one watercolor to use to paint his or her paper. It was interesting to observe how each child painted in his/her own way. Some told stories about their paintings while others just spent some quiet time filling up the paper with the watercolors. It seemed to be quite therapeutic.
After the watercolors dried, we gave the children corks, toilet paper rolls, and bubble wrap to use as stamps. Once again, each child approached this learning experience differently. Some were meticulous about how and where each stamp was placed while others smeared the paint all over the top of the watercolors.
The last step was to use glue to add tissue paper squares to the collage. Two of the children nearly covered all of their previous art work with tissue paper, but most of the children lost interest quickly and only did a few squares.
This week we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and played, painted, and even ate snack outside. We also made some interesting nature observations. Even in the middle of the city, we are surrounded by nature. Every day we watch the squirrels chase each other up and down the pine trees, across power lines, and along the top of the fence. We hear the thud of pinecones falling onto the shed, the songs of blue jays, cardinals, and robins, and the tap-tap-tap of a nearby woodpecker. Some children love to move stones and look for earthworms to pick up and show to the other kids. Today we even saw a hawk take flight from a neighbor's tree! Below are some observations
Drew saw something from across the yard and ran over and squatted down to investigate. "What's this about? I like it. It smells good."
"Watch this!" Drew picked the mushroom out of the ground. "Pretty."
Some other children became interested and ran over to see what Drew had found.
One afternoon last week, the woodpecker that we often hear made an appearance, very low on one of the pine trees.
Miles ran over to get a closer look but scared it away. His attention shifted to a squirrel eating a pinecone in the tree.
Parker and Virginia came over to see why Miles was looking up in the tree. They watched the squirrel nibble on the pinecone and throw some pieces onto the ground.
Virginia found a pinecone on the ground that a squirrel hadn't chewed up yet and wondered if one would come down from the tree to have it for a snack later.
The past two weeks we have had new friends join us and old friends are getting to know each other, showing their personalities and playing together more than ever before. Despite some seriously hot days, we have continued to spend most of our time outdoors. The kids keep cool by playing in the shade, splashing in the water table, and running around in the sprinkler.
This week during an afternoon session, the children tried to use the PVC pipes to create a "fountain." They had to experiment with the many theories and ideas they had to find the perfect way to fill up the bucket at the bottom.
The initial design worked very well but the water soon filled up the bowl. The kids chose a larger container for the water to flow into but the size changed the angle of the pipes so more problem solving had to be done! They decided to put an upside down pot under the curve in the pipes and the water flowed again!
Rhythm and Routine
This week was our first week with morning and afternoon sessions as well as full day students. We knew how important it would be for the children to set up our rhythm of the day. It is through rhythm that children begin to understand there is order and security in the world.
Once we all take our shoes off and wash our hands, we have story time. The children have enjoyed the simple songs and movements as well as the books we have been reading.
Depending on the needs of the children, we either stay indoors or move outside for the remainder of the morning session.
We say "goodbye" to our mornings friends, eat lunch, and rest our bodies and minds before our afternoon session friends arrive. Then we repeat the cycle. The children seem to feel comforted by the knowledge of what is to come next.
The color mixing lab is one of the children's favorite outdoor activities. We fill several different types of containers with primary colored water (red, blue, and yellow) and set out empty containers, spoons, scoops, cups, and medicine dispensers. The nature of the activity allows for many possibilities and levels of play depending on developmental abilities and interests.
A few of the older girls stayed at the table for much longer than the younger children, testing out different color mixtures. They also noticed there were numbers on the medicine dispensers. "Mine goes to 5." "Mine goes to 10!" A teacher-facilitated discussion began about measurement and soon the girls were comparing amounts of liquid and using a new word, "milliliters."
So much can be learned through play, as shown beautifully through this activity. Sensory exploration, fine motor practice, color identification, prediction, experimentation, and measurement to only name a few!
We set up an invitation to experiment mixing different textures into paint to see the effect each one creates. We mixed in glue, oats, salt, and flour. And then we created on pieces of cardboard.
One of the children put the big blue ball into a tire and then climbed on top. Someone mentioned that it looked like the child was driving. This prompted all the children to work together to create a train, complete with side cars.
Finally, some of the tomatoes are ready to be eaten! Addison was wondering how the greens one tasted, but decided the orange ones were delicious!
One way that we keep things interesting at Wonderings is by setting up what are called invitations to play, provocations, or play prompts. While it may sound complicated, the idea is quite simple: set out a few different basic materials in an inviting way and step back and let the children explore and play how they choose. Often we use materials that are available during free play but may not be commonly used together. By arranging them in a new way, the children often come up with new and creative uses they hadn't thought of before.
A recent invitation to play we set up consisted of uncooked spaghetti, playdough, and beads. All of these materials have been used before but we had never put them out together. The children who chose to explore the table all played with the materials in different ways. A teacher was nearby observing and facilitating the play but trying not to interfere too much.
Check back regularly as we share more invitations to play, create, and build!
Mallory picked up some free tires to add to our collection of "loose parts." Loose parts encourage free play and exploration.
We agreed that one of the coolest aspects of this free play was that children were able to play and explore regardless of their ages.
We set out a tray with paint, droppers, and straws to see what kind of art the children would create.
On the really hot days, we put out ice, sprinklers, and colored water for the children to explore.