Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Heat Is On: Melted Crayon Art

I know I said I was taking a blogging break.... and really, believe me.. I am...... BUT we did this yesterday and I have been flooded with so many questions and comments about it, it will seriously take me much less time to blog about it than answer everyone individually.... So here goes... and then, I'm back to my break ;).

I was inspired by a lot of posts on pinterest and even some videos out there for this. I love the idea of crayon melting down on a canvas, but what I didn't like about it was how structured the process was. It was way to product orientated, and you know me.... I like a good product, but the process for children is SO much more important! 

During a recent training, I shared this idea with some other early childhood professionals, where you could glue the crayons anywhere you wanted before starting the blow dryer. Yesterday, we took the step of gluing the crayons away.....
The only reason you need the crayons to be held in place is to allow the heat from the blow dryer to concentrate enough in one spot to get the crayons to melt. So, instead of gluing them down we used a screwdriver to hold it in place. You could use all sorts of different things, but we have a lot of screwdrivers, and they were handy, so that's what we chose to use. We only had the screwdriver there until the crayon started to melt.  Here is a video- a couple minutes long, but so worth the watch! Be careful, the giggles are contagious:
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As you can see, providing the children with the opportunity to add colors where they want and to allow the melting crayons to roll make this a much more child centered activity, the process is so much fun! One of my little ones spent 1 1/2 hours perfecting this process yesterday!!!! AND we are going to try some more this afternoon by adding more blow dryers to the mix!

We also tried this on a spinner....
We had to adapt our spinner to hold a larger canvas. So, we took an industrial sized toilet paper tube and taped it to our spinner with duct tape. Then, we set the canvas on top.
It was hard to keep the crayon in place, even with a screwdriver.... Perhaps if you use this method, the glue would be best. However, know that you will have a glue spot remaining when all of the wax crayon melts and moves!  In this experiment, the children decided to add some markers and some colored water to the mix. (Again, let them explore, add different medias.... remove as many limits as you can!)
Some of the most common questions I have had in regard to this process:

1) How hot does the wax get? Well, hot enough to melt. It is the combination of the heat and the force that cause the wax to move. It does not get hot enough to burn you.

2) What kind of crayons did you use?  We used all kinds of odds and ends of crayons, no particular brand. You will notice that different brands of crayons melt differently. That is all part of the fun and exploration!

3) Is it a regular blow dryer? Yes! I only own a blow dryer because there are so many cool projects you can do with them ;).

4) What kind of paper did you use? We used canvas. I bought them in a 3-pack from Walmart for about $9.00. We initially did this as a group project, so it wasn't too expensive to do. You could also use a hard card stock, or recycle cardboard.

5) Will regular paper work? I don't know. We didn't try it. The only way to know is to try. My guess is no. The reason behind it is that children will want to keep adding color and I don't think regular paper is strong enough to stand up to the weight of the crayon and the force of the blow dryer. Our canvas has spots where the melted crayon is somewhere between 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

This is the one that I played with, and because the wax will resist water based paints.... when I was done, I added a variety of yellow paints to the edges and wiped down the wax!  There are so many possibilities with mixed medias!

I can almost guarantee you that the blow dryers are going to be one of our favorite tools of choice when it comes to art! I bet different kinds of paint would be really fun to blow around too!!!!

Stop by our Facebook page to check out more of our photos!

Happy painting.... and now, I'm going back to my break! I have some research to catch up on!

I shared this post at:
Classified: Mom

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blogging Break

We interrupt this online blogging world for a seriously busy real life! 
Blogging will commence again when life has settled, and I'm caught up with all of those other real life things!
Please feel free to visit the archives, or any of the wonderful blogs in my blog roll!
I'm doing my best to keep up with emails, and I have so many wonderful fun ideas and activities to share with you, but...... there are other things that need to be done, like research papers, workshops, and family time. 
Don't worry, I'll be back.... I'm just not sure how long it is going to be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Water Bead/Gems: What's All the BUZZ About?

There has been a HUGE BUZZ around the web in regard to water gems/water beads. After seeing them on so many different blogs, I figured I had better check them out. Obviously, if so many people are going nuts over them, I had to see if the hype/buzz was really something to talk about.......

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's Not Rocket Science, or Is It? Simple Straw Bottle Rockets

If you've been following the training page, or my Facebook, you know I've been on the road a lot! Last week, I had the opportunity to present here in Marquette. We had a fabulous time playing with science.

One of the things I like to do with all of my training sessions is to provide participants with something to take home that they can use IMMEDIATELY with the children they work with.  Throughout the summer,  we have been making air powered bottle rockets!
These rockets are quite simple to make, and with the bottle version are great for improving fine motor skills. Each time a child squeezes the bottle, they are working on strengthening those muscles! Another adaptation of this rocket is just to use the straws. This form often produces a lot of "spit", BUT is fantastic for children who need some extra help developing muscles around their mouth that help with speech :).  (Leeanne has a great tutorial for the plain straw ones over at Kreative Resources)

What you need:
 Empty Plastic Bottle With Lid
 2 Straws of varying diameter
 Paper/Cardboard/Plastic (optional for decorating)

 Glue Gun
 Drill and Drill Bit (size of the narrow straw)

Step 1: Drill a hole in the center of the bottle cap
Step 2: Put the narrow straw through the hole. (You will want to place the straw mostly in the bottle. If you have a bendy straw, cut the bendy part off before you put the straw in place OR place that part down in the bottle)

Step 3: Secure the straw to the bottle top with a rim of hot glue around the edge. This serves two purposes. First, it secures the straw, secondly it keeps the air from escaping through the gap.
Step 4: Take the broader straw and fold the end over a couple of times and secure with tape. This prevents the air from escaping out the end of the straw which allows the air pressure to send the rocket flying.
Step 5: Decorate the broader straw as a rocket if you choose. You could try different shapes to test what shapes are most aerodynamic!
Step 6: Place the broad straw over the narrow straw

Ta Da! Your Rocket is Complete!

Now, all you have to do is squeeze the bottle to blast your rocket off!

(I learned how to make these rockets back in March when I attended the MiAEYC Conference in Grand Rapids. One of the workshops had oodles and oodles of great ideas for math and  science, including this great one to make rockets out of bottles and straws. (I've referred to this workshop once before when I mentioned "Our Tree" - For those of you interested in the workshop, it was entitled: "Trees, Penguins, Seed, Recycling, Space and More: Innovative Ideas for Teaching Math and Science" it was presented by Sharon Grala, Darlene Pranion, Jenny Kluza, and Lisa Barker from the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools in Harrison Township, Michigan).

Dane and Allan put together a couple of other rockets this week.... In fact, this air powered rocket has flown 143 feet!
I found this idea over at Family Fun Magazine. Allan and Dane adapted the pattern a bit, and our rocket explorations and tutorials will be coming soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WWYDIW: Trash to Treasure Art

I am SUPER delighted to share with you another guest post for our What Would You Do With It? Wednesday linky party!  This week, Laura Eldredge from the SEEDS Network shares an amazing trash to treasure art idea that focuses on collecting and combining a wide array of items in your art work!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our Classroom

I'm a firm believer that the world is our classroom, but here is our main space that is confined by walls:

It has been awhile since I took photos of our main play/classroom.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Training and Art, Oh My!

I have a busy week coming up, and I'm not sure how much I'll be touching base here on the blog. I will presenting three different training sessions in three different counties this week!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Upcycled Crib and Finally Finished Painted Tires!

Look what I did this afternoon......  I was inspired by  A Little Learning for Two to upcycle one of the cribs from my friend into a chalkboard desk. I didn't take a lot of photos along the way, but you can click here for tutorial I was inspired by. I tweaked the design to add a shelf on the bottom for extra supplies. The paint is drying and I have a house warming party to get to.... So the rest of the accessories will have to wait for now.

I finally finished painting the final tower for my outdoor tire planters! Life has been busy and some of my "projects" have been on the back burner for quite some time. See the top one on the left.... That was the final tire! Please ignore all of the weeds growing through the rocks. (another thing on the list that I just haven't tackled yet!)  Check out the sunflowers that the birds planted! How cool is that!

Well, off to enjoy the rest of my weekend. Chances are it is one the of last really nice ones we will have before we start to talk about that white fluffy stuff again!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Clothespin Sensory Play for Young Children: What Would You Do With It?

Can you believe it is the first Wednesday in September??? I know, right? I can't believe it either! This summer sure flew by!  I am SUPER excited to be bringing back What Would You Do With It? Wednesdays!  This week, I have a VERY special guest blogger, Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool. Did you know that in addition to being an educational consultant, singer/songwriter, and running her own preschool, Deborah runs the Teach Preschool page on Facebook? She scours the web for amazing blogs and inspiration to share with over 21,000 followers! She is truly amazing. I am so excited to share with you my very first guest blogger!

Clothespin sensory play for young children

by Deborah J. Stewart of Teach Preschool

Clothespins are excellent tools for young children to play with. They come in all colors and sizes, can be used in all sorts of games, and promote fine motor skills. I like to keep a supply of clothespins in my classroom all the time for the children to explore...

Recently, I decided it would be fun to add a new dimension of play and exploration to the clothespins. To do this, I collected a variety of items with different textures and glued them to the clothespins...

I included textures that were soft (pom-poms and cotton balls); rough (sand paper); squishy (sponges and bubble wrap); and bumpy (buttons, rice, and googly eyes)...

I tried to leave the ends of the clothespins clear of objects but I didn't think to do this until I had many of them already done. The goal is to promote descriptive language and sensory as the children manipulate the clothespins through their play...

I put together a basket of various textured clothespins for the children to explore but I have already discovered that the rice falls off when the children play with the rice covered clothespins. And the first thing my two-and-a-half year old nephew did is pull off the bubble wrap I had on one of the clothespins. I had to tell him that the bubble wrap was supposed to stay on the clothespin so we could feel it. Oh well, it is still fun while it lasts and it only takes a minute to add a few new textures to my textured clothespin collection as needed...

The possible ways children can play with these clothes pins include simple activities like making patterns, sorting textures that are alike or different, and offering them up for open ended play such as hanging them on a clothesline...

Or clipping them to a board - in this photo the clips are on a Plexiglass sign holder...

I am sure there are many great ideas for how to add interesting textures to clothespins - I would love to hear what you come up with!

Now, it is your turn! What would you do with clothespins/pegs? (I know that in other parts of the English speaking world, clothespins are clothes pegs ;). )  Here are the guidelines of the link up:

Here are the rules:

1) The post MUST use clothespins/clothes pegs

2) The post MUST be family friendly.

There are no other requirements. If you would like, I would love if you linked back to his linky party, but it is not required. I would hope that you will investigate the links shared and visit some of the  other blogs, but I'm not imposing any "blog hop/linky" rules.  Please, if  you do find great ideas and photos... Give credit where  credit is due  :).

If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please pop on over to this post. 

What Would You Do with Clothespins/Clothes pegs? 

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...