children in motion

Children MOVING is such a lovely sight...
Have you ever tried to RACE AND CATCH a parachute??!
Get your MOVE ON with your students!
Hoop ROLLING and a student trying to CATCH it to DIVE through!
This student is about to dive THROUGH the hoop IN MOTION! Very impressive!
We always have to TEST RUN our self-made kites right outside of our classroom to make sure that FLIGHT works!
Do you think this SHOT went THROUGH THE HOOP? ... Swish!
A favorite photo of a student TWISTING and SWIRLING with DOUBLE HOOPS!
And, sometimes, being on THE MOVE
means taking some quiet time with friends...
Taking a NATURE WALK with friends can be a wonderful ADVENTURE!
Get MOVING with colorful parachutes, hula hoops, kites, basketballs, nature and friends! 
 Get YOUR move on!

"I am beautiful"

I was looking for these two photos for my  "Mirror That!" post from a few days ago.
I discovered them and had to share...

This student had been one to love to dress up and create scenarios for herself. At the beginning of the school year, she didn't play much yet with other students, preferring to play her own games on her own time.
She did, however, use a lot of private speech - sometimes an actual conversation with herself, sometimes just commentary on her own actions.

Here she is admiring herself in the MIRROR after having put on a pink flowy dress, a purple star-studded cape (handmade by my mother, by the way!) and a sparkly necklace.

"I wonder IF I am beautiful..."
"Oh, yes, I AM beautiful...!"
Private Speech in the classroom is not always as 'private' as the word implies - it is a different kind of speech for an independent child and a different kind of listening by the teacher.
So lovely to overhear such an amazing sense of self.
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

mirror that!

math area with wall of MIRRORS, pillows and low work table.

 The idea of MIRRORS in the early childhood classroom is wondrous on a number of levels:

New thinking.
Looking closer.
Game playing.

geo boards, sorting bears, and dominoes in the "MIRROR cubby"

can be used in small cubby spaces to open up the area.
In one of my classrooms, I had an inset area about 4 feet high under some attached upper cabiinets - I mirrored the whole space, added pillows and a low "toddler" table for kneeling use by preschool age children.
We used the space as part of our math and science center, game invention space and large puzzle building space.

We actually called the space "the mirror cubby".

this boy put together 6 large scenic puzzles BY HIMSELF in the "MIRROR cubby'!

self portrait with a TRI-fold MIRROR.
using a leaning MIRROR as a reference for his completed self portrait.
large inside MIRRORED play space for gross motor and movement
MIRRORS above a light table  - Wow!

MIRRORS as table mats for flowers and science explorations.
MIRRORS as part of drama spaces.
Here's the thing, though.
Actual MIRRORS are not the only thing to consider when using the term "MIRROR".
We can think of mimicking, matching, and reflecting back with peers and objects:
this boy's attempt at MIRRORING his watercolor art with his paper towel.
these two friends MIRROR each others' hats and cameras (and smiles that you cannot see!).
this pencil drawing is a MIRROR of the child's Geo Board design
a group of children MIRROR their hands in this sensory tablet.
both girls are trying to MIRROR the other - walking with hula-hoops!
this student is trying to MIRROR the phrase "ONCE UPON A TIME"

AND, perhaps my favorite kind of MIRROR:
this student always came to school in clothes that were seemingly NOT play clothes, yet her PLAY never was interrupted.
The most important MIRRORING that occurred was clearly her family's support of her PLAY PLAY PLAY. 

They will dramatically change your environment, the materials, the relationships.
Think about mirroring part of a wall, or adding leaning small mirrors in a display area, or including hand held mirrors as props. 
Think outside the box to add light and reflection to your daily life with young children.

sandbox treasure hunting

ahhh, the feeling of cool sand on your feet...
I can hide my feet under the sand!
Besides their bare feet  - children love to HIDE things in the sandbox - treasure, shovels, rocks!
If you add a few "unusual" sandbox items for your children, they WILL FIND THEM because children are fabulous discoverers!
I have added sequins, shells and small sparkly bits and it sure doesn't take long til you hear a child come up to you and say..."LOOK WHAT I FOUND IN THE SANDBOX!!"  Games of HIDE & SEEK or I SPY are soon happening with groups of friends!

**Check out "It's Playtime!"  for amazing Play Ideas, hosted by Anna : The Imagination Tree, Rachel : Quirky Momma, Jamie : hands on : as we grow, Rachele : Messy Kids, Jenny : Let the Children Play

the big art show!

Parents and guardians. Invaluable in the success of a school year on so many levels : support, communication, volunteer work.
parent/artist showing an abstract art piece & using the view finder
This particular year, we had an amazing opportunity to work with a parent in our 4s/5s class who was a professional artist!

step 1: watercolor!

The parent and teaching staff collaborated about the concept of this project.

We discussed the process, the materials, the timeline, and the storage during the process.
step 2: scraping tempura paint!
We discussed:
"WHY are we doing this?" 
"What do we do with the art?" 
and the specific goals of how children should be the creative forces as they gain unique skill from working with a professional artist. 

step 2: spreading tempura paint!

The first component was to have the children work with large art paper to engage in Abstract Art. The process was going to have three visits to their work to add layers : 1. Watercolors with brushes 2. Tempura type paint with scrapers and rollers and 3. Pen details and symbols with rulers as an option.

step 3: pen work for lines and symbols!

Each week the children would "revisit" their dried work and make decisions as to how much of the next process they would add. There was a reflective component where the children were examine their own work and that of their peers to admire and "discover" color or lines or swirls: Art Appreciation at its best.

Looking closer at our Abstract Art with the Viewfinder!

The second component of the process was for the children to examine close-up sections of their work with their "view finder" like an I SPY game.

They would search amid their own painting to find a section that caught their eye, we would take a photo of that section, and then they would describe it or name it. For example, one boy's overall painting was called "Rollercoaster" and one of his viewfinder sections was called "Upside Down!"

artist discusses with student.
student describes action of his art!

students wrote signs to guide our visitors to our exhibits.

The final component: The Big Art Show! We welcomed our entire school community to our classroom to admire and celebrate our work. This celebration was part of our All-School celebration when all classes are inviting parents and the school community to appreciate their work, as well. As a side note, we also had three other exhibits in our classroom at that time to uplift other work we had been doing all year - incredible work by this class group!

giant display boards with the student photo, their Abstract work and their 3 viewfinder frames!
parents sit on the center bench of the art rotunda to appreciate all the children's work!
a student describes her work to a visiting teacher!
The Art Show. Incredible. Our visitors were so impressed. 
Many were wanting to have the the art show displayed in our local town, in a real art studio! [we couldn't because of some other factors, yet the idea was fabulous!].
Because we were a project based classroom, we were so fortunate to have a parent who was "an art expert" that could share with students in a process oriented way AND offered the students an experience that allowed us to create our own museum. The riches of this journey - to have a parent take on a three month commitment to our class - was priceless. 

frog & toad on stage!

"TOAD" worries that the Ice Cream is melting!

Books that come to life.

There is nothing like YOUNG CHILDREN bringing a book to life with costumes and performing on stage.  
It is joyful and unpredictable and oh-so-memorable.

F & T has excellent stories for stage!

Guiding students to bring books to life is  - ideally -  a process by which children take hold of each step of the creation and performance.

 My teacher uplift the group effort of drama performing with 4s and 5s:

1. I offer students a short list of books (from the very very long list of books that we have read all year) to vote for 1 or 2 to perform a play. (In order to do 2 plays at once, it would have to be shorter stories like Frog & Toad, or one year we did a "double play" of both Click-Clack-Moo: Cows that Type AND Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin).

2. I support all students to be THE character THEY want to be - it doesn't matter if there are 7 main characters or if there are invented characters. Students MUST be allowed to follow their choice - THAT is how the performance overall will be the most spirited and the most cohesive.

3. Costume design: I help students brainstorm key features of the character they chose - wings? ears? snout? big eye balls? They explore materials we have in class and/or bring other items from home to create their costume.

Frog and "Froggy" in "Dragons & Giants"!
Two Butterflies in "Ice Cream"!
Hawks practicing their form for "Dragons & Giants"!
Toad in the "Ice Cream" story.
Frog in the "Ice Cream" story.
4. I walk students thru the book pages to discover existing scenery or places (beach, forest, ice cream shop, Toad's house) that we might create to make our book come to life. Use cardboard, donations, large easel paper...paper, paint and creativity. Less is more.

Program designed and written by the children.

5. I ensure our time line from start to finish is about 2.5 weeks.

Week One: for choosing our book and making our scenery.

Week Two: for making our costumes and starting to practice bringing the book to life.

The Final Half Week: is creating our program and performing for visitors.

Scenery, costumes, roles and dialogue - all choices made by the children.
6. I am usually the narrator, off to the side of the show, the voice that helps the students stay within the story. Yet, I leave great room for the unexpected and rely on the improvisations of the students to guide me. One year, we had an advanced reader in our class who voted himself to be the narrator!

The beginning of Dragons & Giants from Arnold Lobel's Frog & Toad - with 2 Frogs and 1 Toad!!
We welcomed our audience by telling them WHY and HOW these particular books came to life. We shared how we voted, made our own costumes, and made our scenery. We shared about having FUN with our friends to climb into the book and really become our characters in voice and action!
Take a Bow! All the characters from "Dragons & Giants".
We answered questions from the audience and bowed after all the applause.
Afterward, we had a Cast Party with all our family and school friends. And, yes, of course there was ice cream!

Other amazing, fabulous, favorite books to make come to life on stage:

1. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.
Doreen Cronin.
(the demands of cows on Farmer Brown!)

2. Caramba
Marie-Louise Gay
(poor Caramba...the only cat that cannot fly! ? !)

3. Wow! It's Great Being a Duck
Joan Rankin
(duck named Lily, an eggshell hat and a hungry wolf!)