Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Painting at the Preschool

Using tempra paint is always a loved activity for most children.  We have been finding more and more ways to offer the opportunity to paint, especially while outside!  The children have been mixing their own colors, telling stories as they paint, make observations about the colors changing and enjoying being together while working at the same piece of large paper or box. 
Art is offered in an experiential way at the Preschool House.  We focus on the process of sensorally engaging with the qualities of an art medium, then follow the children in their interests.  Sometimes this means a painting project quickly becomes hands on as the children feel the paint with their fingers and then experiment with what happens when their hands are art tools.  Over time we refine their explorations by talking about how artists use different mediums and tools, how to care for these things, and drawing attention to noticing different ways to use it.  This process of experiencing, then refining allows the child to practice that important combination of hand, finger and eye refinement while having a creative outlet.
Where shall our paint explorations lead us?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Painting 3-D Objects

We started an interest in painting 3-D objects about a month ago when we had the chance to paint on gourds in the outside studio.

After seeing such an interest in painting an object that could be picked-up, held, and moved, we brought painting objects inside.  We found a sturdy box and started with blue paint.


During that first experience, we discovered painting could happen with hands and/or paintbrushes and in lots of different ways.  Our hands could scoop the paint out of the bowl and put it on the box.  The paintbrush can be used to paint the box or our hands.  The paintbrush can tap the box, make long blue strokes or be used to make small dots.  And, not painting at all, our hands can squish the paint.


Then came green with more exploration of using hands and paintbrushes to paint the box (and a bit on our own bodies and friend's bodies).  This time around, we first talked about the plan to paint and AK helped pick out the color we would use ("Green").


Then yellow.  By now, we are comfortable with the activity and excited to get started.  Everyone grabbed a paintbrush right away and jumped right in.  We were able to set up the limit of not painting on someone else's body, but painting on your own hands was okay.

We also experimented more with painting with our hands and how that looked on the box.  G and AK also discovered that the yellow paint can go over the blue, watching as it turned a bit green when the two mixed.

We will continue working on our painted box, adding more color and trying new ways of painting it.

Transforming Outdoor Spaces

Over a recent long weekend, the Infant House teachers came to the school and worked on reimagining our back yard.  We are lucky enough to have a large and diverse outdoor space- our front yard is bordered by many different plants, a rosebush, and a front porch that is great for climbing up and jumping off.  The space to the side of the house includes our vegetable and flower garden, our sand box, a large paved area perfect for biking and running, and our climbing dome.  The biggest feature in the backyard is our big, beautiful maple tree.

The children have found many different ways to play in the open space behind the house, and the teachers saw an opportunity to create more defined spaces that could inspire even more play.  For practical purposes, we also wanted to cover some of the ground with something that could absorb some of the Oregon rain when it inevitably begins to fall this autumn and winter!  When we heard that there used to be bark chip paths through the back yard and around the maple tree, the teachers got inspired and were eager to get to work.

We defined paths with river rock and spread bark chips.  We moved stumps into the paths to serve as benches, and did some new plantings on the corners. We ended up with a path that circles around the maple, and defined two smaller spaces on either side of the path.  We couldn't wait to come to school on Tuesday morning and see how the children interacted with these new additions to their yard.

The path was immediately used as a road, a track, a river, and more.  The running and biking that had largely been confined to the paved area of the side yard before expanded and took on new imaginative life on the path.  The stone borders of the path were seen as a challenge - can I climb those?  Can I jump off the rocks?  Can I balance and walk on them?

The children also got right to work coming up with new possibilities for the spaces on either side of the path.  We moved a platform to the furthest-back space in the yard and it has become a dining room table, the edge of a swimming pool, and a nap mat where the children pretend to be Mary and the babies of Cohort 10.  A table, which had not gotten much notice in its old home, has quickly become a center for building and knocking down, and especially for tiny animal toys to meet and interact when we moved it to the little "room" created in the center of our circular path.

The yellow birdbath has long been a feature in the yard, but when we made it part of the path's border, it sparked more interest.  This week it was used as a carwash and as a pretend bathtub where kids got "nice and clean."

These examples are just a tiny slice of the amazing, energized play that the children have brought to the backyard this week.  The only new materials in the yard are rocks and bark chips, and yet we were able to bring a feeling of transformation to the area. It's a great reminder that simplicity can be inspiring, that creating limits and borders can spark creativity, and that being outdoors is one of the greatest pleasures for kids (and adults).  I can't wait to see how the children continue to interact with the new spaces in the yard!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Learning from the Preschoolers

B waits for O to hand him his ball.
For the past month the toddlers in Cohort 11 have been spending more time with the Preschoolers. This has been a great opportunity for the toddlers to observe new ways of doing things and participating in different activities.

B and O gather wood for building.

Since we have become more blended, the preschoolers involve the toddlers in their play outside so much more and the toddlers love getting a chance to participate. The preschoolers treat the toddlers more like part of the group instead of just thinking of them as "babies."

J holds hands with I as they transition to lunch.

Having the preschoolers around more allows for the toddlers to learn by watching them. They follow the preschoolers during transition times and sit with them at circle time. Even watching during diaper changes has made both the toddlers and the preschoolers more interested in potty training.

I checks in with J after noticing that he is upset.

The preschoolers can be a big help when it comes to consoling the toddlers. If they notice that someone is upset they will often check in to see if they're okay. This has caused even the toddlers to say "are you okay?" if they see someone crying or hurt.

The toddlers wait patiently to serve themselves morning snack.

One of the biggest challenges for the toddlers is being patient at meal times. Now that they eat with the preschoolers they have to wait until everyone is seated with a plate and cup and then we sing our song. After that, they know it is time to eat. Sometimes it is very hard to wait, and they will often grab at the food in front of them, but B has caught on and says "wait" every time we sit down.

The toddlers are really enjoying spending more time with the preschoolers and in turn getting more chances to explore their independence.