Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Evolution of a Costume.....

One of my favorite quotes (I use this along with my signature in email correspondence) comes from the Bee Movie:

"According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Bee's wings are too short and their bodies are too round to make getting airborne very likely..... Bees, ofcourse, fly anyway, because... BEES DON'T CARE WHAT HUMANS THINK IS IMPOSSIBLE." ~ Bee Movie

I'd like to consider myself a "bee" most of the time. Much of my continued inspiration for believing in impossible things comes from the children I work with. Young children view the world as limitless, anything is possible. As my blogger friend Scott recently posted, children don't make the assumptions that some of us grown ups do. They stretch and test the limits, their creativity and ingenuity is not confined by a set of rules "true or not." (Scott really has a great post about questioning your assumptions over at Brick by Brick right now, take some time to check it out.)

I love that the children continue to learn and explore to be creative and to face the world without constraints and those nasty assumptions. I work hard every day to try to be more like they are, and to remove as many of the limits as possible. In my world, I'd like to think that nothing is truly impossible. There may be roadblocks to overcome, and different approaches to take, but one way or another with hard work, determination, and a little bit of "buzz!" anything can happen........

So, when my soon to be 8-year-old son decided that he was going to be a Frankenstein-squid-scoobadiver- and three other things mixed together for Halloween, I thought, well... okay. Then I asked him "How are we going to do that?" He had a pretty good plan, but the next day he had a new vision. This continued for days...... Combining his favorite attributes of a ton of different people/creatures/animals, etc. (By the way, he has his costumes planned for the next 15-20 years..... ) There are just too many great choices and ideas to come up with one!

Finally, on Monday, a decision was made.... He was going to be an "alligator cowboy." Our first mission was to try to find an alligator costume. I was not surprised when the local stores or Halloween outlet did not have one. I didn't think that I really had time to make a costume, but that was where I had to let go of my assumptions.....

I had some foam left over from the wonderful fish costumes I had made last year and a few squares that were used for packaging the clipboards for the UPECC Conference last year.
(I love it when my "bag lady tendencies" (as labeled by Teacher Tom) come in handy!)

I knew that I would not be able to spend much time at the sewing machine, but I could easily work on a hand sewing project and even encourage my younger friends to do the same.

I didn't have to buy any fabric, as I had quite a stash of options available. Dane chose the colors, and bit by bit.... We started to have an alligator.

A styrofoam ball cut in half for the eyes, accented with a little foam....

The start of a tail.....

And a finished costume! Dane did talk about having some "feet," but time did play a HUGE factor in finishing this project. We didn't have the opportunity to make them... YET. If he still wants them after all of the Halloween festivities, we will definitely make sure to make some!

The children are very excited to have a new creature for the dress-up area as well. They have already been taking turns trying out the gator costume!

Of course, we took the interest and opportunity to learn more about alligators in our process....

Did you know?????

Raccoons, skunks, river otters, snakes, big birds, and bobcats eat baby alligators.

Gators also eat rocks and pieces of garbage to help with their digestion. Their teeth are only for tearing, so they need rocks and other hard things in their stomach to help mash the food up.

I anticipate we will be learning about alligators for quite some time. I'm sure I'll be posting more soon! Until then, know that you are protected by an Alligator Cowboy- He will be keeping all of the bad guys away.

Be safe and have fun this weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Postcard Exchanges

This fall, we have been participating in a post card exchange that was organized by Teach Preschool on Facebook. In order to participate, we needed to send postcards about our hometown/state to a number of other preschools/daycares/homeschools around the country and in some cases around the world. We spent some time learning about where we live, and now we are having a great time learning about all of the places where our new postcard friends live.

We opted not to post a map and mark it on the wall, as this is an ongoing project that will last at least 6 weeks. Instead, we are using our large U.S.A. Map floor puzzle when we read our postcards. This way, the children have the opportunity to start learning the shapes of the states and where they belong.
This puzzle has been a favorite for quite some time and our older 3s and 4s have no trouble getting started with it. They can even recognize places they are familiar with.

I love to sit and watch as the younger children's learning is often scaffolded by the the older ones. Look at the box, see where it goes. "Yup!, That's where to put it."

Each of the children chose their favorite post card today:

A big THANK YOU to Deborah at Teach Preschool for organizing this wonderful educational opportunity and to all of the other participating places.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Paintings (Balloon Prints)

I have never been a fan of "cookie cutter" projects. I do understand value in children understanding how to follow directions, but I also try to make sure that even with the craft projects we do, children have lots of choices in order to use their own creativity.

I always think more about this concept when it is nearing Halloween. One of my undergraduate professor's at Northern Michigan University always used the example of Halloween pumpkins/Jack-o-lanterns as a very common cookie cutter project. I even remember one year a group of students covering the door to her office with identical looking paper cut-outs. I don't think a year has gone by where I have not thought about her and the cookie cutter pumpkins this time of year.

Art of course, it about the process, it is an opportunity to learn through exploration of materials and to find your own personal way to express yourself. There are no rules, no limits..... in art, anything is possible.
In art, pumpkins can be any shape.

They can be any color.
Your pumpkin patch can be green, or pink, or white.... or any color you choose.

Today, we painted pumpkin patches. We did not make "cookie cutter" jack-o-lanterns. We made a mess, mixed colors and even popped a few balloons.

Balloons make funny paintbrushes.

If you plop them down just right, you can make a circle.

If you swirl them in enough colors, you get very colorful pumpkins.

When you squeeze them too hard, they pop! It makes a loud noise and the pieces and paint go flying! This post was linked up at:
PreK + K Sharing

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Puffy Paint (Shaving Cream!) Ghosts!

We started with a table top covered in shaving cream!!!

(I found a nice raspberry scented cream this time, so instead of smelling like a "truck stop" our hands smell nice and fruity!)

We played and sculpted until we didn't want to play anymore, and then.....

We added school glue.

We mixed the glue and the shaving cream together to make puffy paint.

Each child made their own paint and added it to black paper.

Making wonderful Halloween Ghosts! We decided our ghosts needed eyes and opted for googly ones this time!

This post was linked up to:
PreK + K Sharing

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Too Busy to Blog About It :).

Life has been good, but very busy. We've been doing great things, but often, we have been just to busy for me to blog about it!

Today, Dane and I decided to work on some Lego Science. He is all about school work when it involves Legos.

Here is the chart we used. First he made 4 different LEGO vehicles, all of his own creations. He named them and I printed a blank chart with the photos of each creation. Then as we worked, he filled in the chart with pencil. (Later, I had him transfer his findings to the computer. This also gave him the opportunity to work on his typing.)

We made lot of predictions/estimations. We used a digital postage scale to weigh the creations in grams. We used an online stopwatch to time our racers. Each racer went down the ramp independently. We noticed right away that our ramp was too steep and we lowered it considerably. We did decide that it could be much better if our ramp was much longer. (We will be picking up a longer board when we are out and about this afternoon!)

For some reason, I have a sneaking suspicion that I will need a much larger chart for our continued explorations. I wonder how many wheels he has in his LEGO stash ????

I shared this post over on Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom. Hop on over and see all of the great science links!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sewing "Pumpkins" with 2s, 3s, and 4s+

Today, we decided to sew some "pumpkins." If you haven't already noticed, I'm a collector of "stuff." Things that other folks might throw out, I find a use for one way or another. One of the things I have been collecting for quite some time are embroidery hoops. We use the big ones when we make homemade paper. The little ones are put to use in a variety of different ways, today we used them to help us make "pumpkins."

I found some remnant of a rubbery shelf liner that we used as our canvas. We put it into the hoops and cut off the excess. (This part was kind of tricky for most of our little friends. It required quite a bit of extra help. You could potentially do this part prior to working with the children.) The only reason we used shelf liner is because I saw some remnants sitting on a shelf in our craft closet. You could use different types of fabric or canvas. I do recommend using something with holes until your little ones have mastered the skill. It is much easier to pull the string/yarn through when there are already holes for them.

The children worked with plastic needles, they worked alright, although I personally prefer the metal ones. Each child chose which color yard to use and attempted to thread their own needles. If after their own attempts were not successful, I jumped in to help them out upon request. Most of the children were successful on at least one attempt.

I love to watch the level of concentration as they sew up their creations. This is a process, and there are no "rules" as they explore how to move the needle and thread through the canvas.

Sometimes around the front looping around the edge, and sometimes from front to back and back to front.

Tying ends and adding new colors....

Until.... ta, da! I'm done. Finished off with a curly pipe cleaner stem on top! Happy Pumpkin Making!

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...