Simple flowers, caterpillars, and rainbows in preschool

I keep this product in my kitchen cabinet all the time and love it because of its special kind of adhesive ability to wrap up foods with an easy seal. I buy Glad Press’n Seal wrap from the local grocery store or Walmart.

Pull out a length of the sealing wrap and set it out (adhesive side up) on the table.
Decorate the sheet of sealing wrap with tissue paper squares, construction paper squares, or fabric squares.
We used the left over designer paper towel squares we made the other day! We discovered that we can reposition the paper shapes on the sealing wrap as many times as we want until we are happy with our finished shape.
We then folded the edges of the sealing wrap around our shapes to seal in the shape.
Then we smoothed out the sealed shapes and put them in the window.
The press’n seal wrapped artwork easily clinged to the windows without any tape. I am not sure how long they will stay there but it was okay for the kids to move them to any window they wanted.
I am just holding this one up!
And this one is just clinging to the window!

The kids wanted to enter the Caterpillar too!

The paper towel squares were laid out in a row on the Glad Press’n Seal wrap.
We used a permanent marker to draw legs, antennae, and a face.
We folded the sealing wrap over the caterpillar.
We cut off the extra sealing wrap from each end then we smoothed out the sealing wrap and pushed out all the air bubbles.
We set the caterpillar on the window.
The light shows through!
The end!

Sweet glue for creative art in preschool

Add some food coloring to corn syrup and you have a very sweet glue mixture!
I took these photos at a local school I visited and noticed the blue bottle of corn syrup (made by adding food coloring).
The children painted a little fish bowl cut out with the blue corn syrup.
Then they added little construction paper fish on top of the corn syrup.
Next they sprinkled on a few little beans to make the gravel in the bottom of the fish tank.
Then set it aside to dry!  The blue corn syrup will dry like glue and stay blue!
It takes a little more time for the corn syrup to dry so be prepared to set the finished projects aside overnight.
By | March 13th, 2010|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: , |2 Comments

Simple, creative, and colorful tye dye for preschoolers

I have seen others make this type of activity on their blogs so when my nieces came over, I thought we should try it all out. What we discovered is that this activity (which we now call designer paper towels) is an idea that just keeps on keeping on. So here it goes:)

Setting up
I set out…

  • Newspaper (to keep from ruining my table)
  • Paper towels (the bounty rectangles/half sheets)
  • Paper plates (to put under the paper towels while wet)
  • Washable markers (bright colors work best)
  • Black permanent markers
  • Spray bottle with clean water

The girls use the black permanent marker to draw items like their name or a work that they didn’t want to wash out and the colored washable markers for adding color. I had a heck of a time scrounging up markers around the house! Who would have thought a preschool teacher doesn’t have markers at home!

Now the girls just started to color on the paper towels. Some are more advanced drawings and others are just colorful scribbles and designs.

Then we sprayed all the designs with water. We found out that at first the colors didn’t look like they will spread out that much so the girls added a lot of water. But actually, it just takes a bit for the water to soak in and then the colors will begin to bleed out. No need to over soak it!

The girls love this and they made a ton of them. After each paper towel was sprayed then we set them out to dry overnight. This is when I discovered all the wonderful things you could do with these….

Hang on to all the extra designer paper towels and see what you can do next!

A name plate: tape was added around the edges!
A name scroll with tape and a straw!
Tye Dye Quilt: Several sheets of designer paper towels taped together on the back with name in the center.
The left over designer paper towels were then cut into little squares to try a few more activities!
We thought they would make cool looking rainbows!
Just glue the designer paper towel squares on a sheet of construction paper!
Or add it to a sheet of writing paper then have the children print out a sentence or dictate to you a descriptive sentence.

For more Creative Art Ideas….

Gather the following items…

  • Your designer paper towel squares (or what ever shapes you cut them up in)
  • Green construction paper
  • glue
  • scissors
  • marker
  • stapler

Get three sheets of green construction paper and then stack them up so they are all nice and neat:)

Put one staple right in the center of all three sheets so they stay together.
Set a stencil (I chose a shamrock) on the paper and draw the shape.  Or you can just let the kids free cut a shape. The key is to keep the paper together with the staple so all three shapes are the same size.
Now cut out the shape then remove the staple from the center. If the children are going to cut through three sheets of paper at once, they will need a good pair of scissors or a little help from an adult!
Now fold the three shapes in half like a book.
Separate the three sheets and add glue to the backside of each one. You will then glue the backs of all three shapes together to make a three dimensional shape or shamrock.
All three shapes are now glued together.
Glue on the designer squares to add some rainbow colors to each shape.
And there you have it! Really, the three dimensional construction paper shapes are good for any object you can cut out! I usually make one for each shape we are learning about to hang up in the room! They look great because all three sides are nice to look at.
Oh, and remember those paper plates we used when making our designer paper towels?
Well we folded some in half.
And made butterflies.
And cut the other ones in half to make umbrellas!
And remember all that newspaper we used?
After it dried, I stacked it up to use again.
No need to waste a thing!
By | March 11th, 2010|Categories: Around the Classroom, Creative Art|Tags: |2 Comments

Let your child take his turn

I want to welcome my guest Colin Wee today! Since I do not have a background in Montessori, I invited Colin to share his experiences with us. Colin is going to provide those of you, like me, who are curious about the Montessori approach a brief snapshot of the Montessori learning process.

Let your child take his turn
Snapshot of the Montessori Learning Process for Parents and Young Children
By Colin Wee

I found a wonderful parent-run Montessori playgroup when my son was 18 mo. As a first time parent and house husband, I didn’t feel I would fit in with just any tea-and-biscuits mother’s group. This Montessori playgroup had structure, challenged me, helped me learn about parenting and made me feel like I belonged.

When it was my daughter’s turn a few years later, and with my wife back working full time, I assumed the role of Coordinator for the very same playgroup. The playgroup then was set in a beautiful heritage building in one of Perth’s leafy suburbs in Western Australia. My role was to manage the welfare of 60 family members and ensure the effective usage of thousands of dollars worth of educational equipment. Despite the four session leaders and a fantastic team of volunteers, it quickly proved to be a full-time job.

The core premise of the Montessori Method and its systematic use of learning tools or what we call ‘jobs,’ is to build independence and a love of learning within a child. New parents providing direction in the use of a Montessori jobs are told to…
a) sit down with their child
b) ask the child to wait by ‘putting their hands on their laps’
c) demonstrate the job
d) allow their child to explore the job until they are totally satisfied
e) return the job to the shelf

Often, this part of the orientation session is met with extreme scepticism. Parents with young children quickly betray the assumption their children are incapable of understanding and following such ‘mature’ instructions. I remember how dubious I myself felt, sitting at that orientation session, being first told of what was expected of me.

Yet every term, as Coordinator, I not only have to face down new parents and their doubts, but I have maybe a minute or so to sell our basic formula. With few tricks up my sleeve, I have to bring each consecutive parent and child member under the Montessori spell.

There is of course no real secret to what I do. Parent and child come to us with their own unwritten and constantly developing ‘rules of play’. These rules guide how they relate to familiar environment stimuli. When they come to the playgroup however, they find themselves in a foreign situation. The parent is probably expecting to slowly understand how we do things and perhaps may consider adopting our system in time. Children however are surprisingly more ready to absorb new rules and our processes as we share them.

I believe this natural receptiveness in the child is augmented by Montessori’s child-centric approach. The Montessori Method treats children as individuals bestowed the greatest respect. This respect puts the child in control of his environment, and allows the child to make decisions in response to what is observed.

In our playgroup:

  • Parent and child are equal members; I address each politely and differentially. I try to have the same ‘eye-contact’ time for both. I also attempt to bring myself down to the child’s eye level.
  • I speak clearly, softly, and confidently. I use minimal hand gestures to help emphasize my instructions. I state simply what needs to be done.
  • I let the child know when I am demonstrating a job, it is ‘my turn.’ After my turn, theirs will follow.
  • When it is the child member’s ‘turn’ to explore the facets of the job, I do not provide distraction by verbal or ‘side-line’ commentary.
  • The child’s satisfaction exploring the job will not be overshadowed by praise. Praise is kept to a minimum, preferable not provided at all, or else is focused on the job processes rather than as a running commentary of ‘how good’ the child is.
  • Ensuring all parties stick to the respective this ‘your turn’ and ‘my turn’ arrangement creates a level of trust. This formula can then hold true when attempting to replicate such a learning environment elsewhere.

As a parent, it is natural to feel the need to do ‘something’ for one’s child. To guide, to provide feedback, to chastise, to control the child’s every transaction with his environment. When I was sitting there silently, merely watching my son without providing the parental verbage, it felt quite unnatural. Yet, I soon realised this wasn’t about me. It was an opportunity for him to explore, to fit in. I have taken my turn, and now it is his.

This is the shelf containing ‘Mathematics’ jobs for our 18mo to 3yo members. Some of the jobs (for e.g. those dealing with fractions) are similar to Montessori equipment used by older kids in middle and upper primary classes.

Parents volunteer to help rotate jobs on the shelves before term starts. Jobs on the bottom shelf are the easiest and are appropriate for our youngest members. As the child member progresses, they would in turn reach for jobs on higher shelves.

There are a wide range of jobs that cater for various subjects. This is an example of a Practical Life job that helps a child develop hand eye coordination by scooping balls from a tray to another dish

Colin’s son William aged 3 posing with teacher on the first day at school. Notice the same three level shelf system we also use at the playgroup. Despite being quite a shy young toddler, Will had no problem fitting in and was comfortable from the get go.

Colin and son William aged 2yo taken in 2003 on William’s first trip to Margaret River. Notice the nappy bag and the house husband attire.

Related Links from SuperParents:
No Smacking Discipline by Colin Wee

About Colin Wee
Colin has spent the last six years at the board or committee-level of child-care and educational institutions in Perth Western Australia. Constantly motivated to care for his young family of two children, he has looked into alternative educational choices and constantly tries to expose his children to varied interesting and worldly experiences.

SuperParents is a natural progression of the various roles he has taken on in the past, and Colin finds himself excited with building a community supporting parents and caregivers in Western Australia.

Colin with wife Emmeline and his two children

Please feel free to leave Colin your comments or questions!
By | March 6th, 2010|Categories: Messages from Deborah|Tags: |0 Comments

Creating a stick puppet stage for your preschool classroom

A week or so ago, I blogged about the use of puppets in the preschool classroom. At that time, I showed you a very plain puppet stage – all white with no bells and whistles. Now I want to illustrate the potential use of a display board once you get it all fixed up!

I am a big user of stick puppets in preschool. For every song or fingerplay that uses a character, I make a stick puppet. To go with my stick puppets, I have made this stick puppet stage.

I bought a yellow science display board from the local school supply store and added bulletin board borders around the edge. I also glued little pockets along the bottom and sides to hold the stick puppets.

Everything has a purpose
You will notice along the bottom of the stage are apples in the pockets and number stickers placed below the pockets. The apples are in an AB pattern – yellow/red.   The numbers help with counting when we are singing a song or fingerplay where numbers are involved. Everything on the board has a purpose!

Keeping organized
The top pockets are holding little frogs and fish that I will also be singing about. I can rotate the puppets as often as I rotate songs. When I am ready to sing thefrog songor the fish song, I just have a few children come up, get a puppet and jump in behind the stage to sing along.

Making a big opening
You will notice that the opening in the stage above is large and low enough for Wy to see through. What I find, is that the younger children are happier when they can see the action or their friends on the other side. They rather look through the window and hold the puppet. The older children may duck down low to only show the puppet, but they like to take a peak too just to see everyone laughing and singing along.

Choosing a board
The thing you need to know about the yellow stage is the back of it is brown cardboard. So the sides have to face out towards the audience. The white board is white on both side so I can pick which side to decorate and which way I want the edges to point. So just keep that in mind when you are choosing a board for yourself.

The other thing to think about is which way the board opens and which side to decorate so the board stands up while the children are playing.  I find that if you let the board open out rather than in – it doesn’t fall over so easily when the children lean on it a bit for play.  But yes, every once in awhile, it comes tumbling down but no worries – it is very light weight and we just set it back up and play some more…

Really, there is no limits as to how a board like this can be used or decorated – you can go simple or more elaborate but either way you will find the children enjoy it…

Now, go and check out all the ways you can make puppets from this NAEYC Teaching Young Children article!

By | March 5th, 2010|Categories: Dramatic Play, Teaching Tools and Resources|Tags: , |6 Comments