Friday, September 28, 2012

Painting with Frozen Water

We added food colouring to our ice cube trays and froze colourful ice cubes in order to encourage some scientific art making outside in the warm sun. Using a long piece of white paper and the ice cubes, I encouraged my children to spend time 'painting' with the ice. 

They noticed as the warm air melted the ice, the colour was left on the paper. By moving the ice in different ways, the markings on the paper were like those left by a paintbrush or other art making tool.

My children wanted to know why the ice was melting and this lead to a great discussion about the properties of matter and how water can be a solid, liquid, or gas.


I was amazed at just how beautiful this artwork was when the kids were finished. The colours bled into one another and created new colours. Coloured ice cubes are fun to paint with, but also great when incorporated into water table play or used for fun in the bath tub!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Exploring Sunflowers

Over the summer we grew a large striped sunflower plant in our garden. After the seeds had developed and the flower wilted, we dried out the head of the plant in our house. This week I thought it would be fun to let the kids explore the seeds a little further.

Using tweezers I encouraged them to dissect the plant, one seed at a time. While they did this we discussed how plants have a life cycle (seed to plant to seed) and how our food comes from plants.

Using the tweezers also helped my children develop good fine motor control - a great skill especially for Caleb as he practices his pincher grasp, which is essential for writing skills later on.

It was interesting to see what the sunflower looked like as the seeds were removed. Lots of conversation occurred as we described the way the sunflower looked!

Once we were done picking seeds we added them (along with the sunflower head and remaining seeds) to our platform bird feeder.

It didn't take long for some hungry visitors to discover the new treats awaiting them!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumn Stamping

Mini cookie cutters are such an easy way to encourage children to explore print making! We used some small leaf cutters that I picked up at a local craft store over the weekend. Because print making doesn't use a lot of paint, we separated small amounts by placing it in a muffin tin.

Cookie cutters are easy for little fingers to grasp and make beautiful prints on paper.

We're going to use our finished art to make autumn cards to send to our relatives. You can also stamp plain paper gift bags in order to encourage your child to gift his/her art making to others!

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough

Play dough is such a wonderful learning material - I've blogged many times about its importance for developing children's imaginations and fine motor strength. We decided to celebrate Autumn's arrival with some pumpkin pie play dough. It was so easy to make!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
food colouring
1/2 container of pumpkin pie spice

Mix all ingredients well.

Add additional amounts of flour while kneading dough until desired consistency is reached.

My son had a great time experimenting with the dough. We've been spending time doing lots of baking together and he was eager to role-play this baking in his play with the dough.  He rolled, cut, and baked lots of pumpkin 'cookies'.

Often onlookers don't realize the fine motor control it takes to cut out shapes using tiny cookie cutters. The art of rolling, cutting, and lifting without breaking the design is quite complicated, especially for little fingers. It takes much concentration!

What we loved best about this play dough however was the wonderful autumn smell the pumpkin pie spice gave it! It was delicious and inspired many hours of exploration in our kitchen!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Updating a Fall Favourite

Stamping with apples is a fall time favourite activity. It's interesting to cut an apple in half and discuss the star design that the seeds make. 

Stamping with the apple halves is an easy way to discuss how we can make prints using different colours and movements.

Many action words can be used to describe the stamping - jabbing, pressing, gliding, smearing, printing, and dabbing were a few of the ones we used in conversation while making our art.

We decided to use our light table to enhance the apple print experience. After covering the surface with a clear garbage bag, the kids used the same apples and paint and explored on the table.

They noticed that the light shone through the prints because of the transparency of the clear bag.

The result was a beautiful collection of apple prints that were easily cleaned up once we were finished exploring!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Building on the Light Table

Light tables are a great surface for exploring many materials, including clear plastic cups in various sizes. We spent some time today building with cups we found around the house. It was interesting to see the natural math language emerge in our conversation.

"How many are you going to use?"

"Lots! I'm going to fill the whole table!"

"How many to fill the whole table?"

"1, 2, 3...." (counting and pointing to the cups)

"What are you doing now?"

"I'm building a tower. It's taller than me!"

"How tall is it?"

"Nine!" (counts each cup)

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