New on my art shelf this week is this simple jack-o-lantern project. On a tray I have placed a box of orange construction paper squares, a basket with a pencil, black marker, scissors, glue stick and small gluing mat, a tiny basket of brown "stems", and a small silver bowl.
To do this work the child places the silver bowl on the orange paper and traces its circumference with a pencil. At this point they can choose to cut it with the scissors or to pin-punch it using our pin-punching materials which are found on my art shelf.
Then they use the black marker to draw features on the "face" and the glue stick to add a brown stem. Done!
This week I decided to put out a little sweeping activity. Prior to this my students haven't had sweeping out as an activity. Below you can see how I ended up arranging it on the tray. I marked off a rectangle on top of the tray with tape, then added a broom and dustpan and a bowl of navy beans.
When setting up this activity it is important to consider the relative size of the vessel used to hold the sweeping material and the width of the dustpan. I first wanted to put the beans into this cute little pan I found at a thrift store. Kind of like a little pot of beans.
However, when I tested the activity I realized that since the dustpan is much wider than the pan the children would have a hard time sliding the swept beans back into the pan without spilling. (If a 40 year old can't do it without spilling, chances are a 4 year old couldn't do it either!) This is why it's so important to "test drive" each activity before putting it out.
Below you can see that the width of the dustpan is just about right for the wooden bowl I ended up using.
To do this work the child removes the broom and dustpan and bowl of beans from the tray. They pour the beans all over the tray as shown. It's important to have a tray with a somewhat deep rim to prevent the beans from scooting off.
Next, the child uses the broom to sweep the beans into the taped rectangle.
Once the beans are in the rectangle, they are easier to sweep into the dustpan. The tape provides a built-in control of error for the child.
The final step is to slide the swept beans into the bowl, repeating all the steps until the beans are all in the bowl.
I chose navy beans because they are larger than rice and are therefore better for a beginning sweeping activity. As the children become more adept at sweeping, I can change the sweeping material by gradually making it smaller and more challenging to sweep up.
This is an activity that I had out last year as well that I'm reposting. I have a little clear plastic jack-o-lantern container. It originally held a bunch of Halloween beads (I think) and was hinged. I decided it would be perfect for transferring colored water. So.........I set it up on my stationary work table as shown below. I placed a Halloween votive holder filled with orange colored water on the left, an eye dropper on a tray, and a sponge on a soap holder.
To do this work the child uses the eye dropper to fill the "face" areas with colored water as shown below. One of my 2nd year students did this. When they are finished they use the eye dropper to transfer the water back into the Halloween votive holder and use the sponge to wipe up any spills. I love this activity because it really challenges a child's focus and concentration as it takes quite a bit of time as well as motor control to achieve success. Many students have enjoyed choosing this work.
One new project I've put out on my art shelf this past week is cookie cutter tracing. It is kind of a variation of the metal inset work. I didn't put this out last year so I wasn't sure how well-received it would be. Nor did I know whether or not the children would be successful with it. I am pleased to report that they have LOVED this work and are choosing it every day. On a tray I set up a basket with small pieces of brown paper, a plastic container of crayons, a basket with two cookie cutters (a maple leaf and a pumpkin) and a pencil.
To do this work the child chooses a cookie cutter and traces it onto the paper. Then they use the crayons to fill in the shape. I have been so pleased with the concentration they are demonstrating with this work as well as the attention to detail. Below is a pumpkin that one child made. He is 4 1/2 years old. This work reinforces correct pencil grasp, fine motor control, and concentration. I am definitely going to put out more seasonal variations of this work throughout the year.
Last week I put out a pumpkin for the children to draw faces on with washable markers. I thought I had set it up just the same as last year, but just now I found last year's post so I could link to it since I didn't take any photos last week. I was surprised to see that last year I had the children use a paintbrush and water to brush off the face for the next person. I had completely forgotten I did that!! When I set it up last week I used a spray bottle of water and had the children give the pumpkin a few squirts before wiping it off with a washcloth. I actually think I like last year's version better! Too bad I don't usually go back and read my own blog. ha! Anyway.......here's a link to what I did last year (and last week).
This week I've used the same pumpkin for pumpkin hammering work. I drew a face on it with a black Sharpie marker and the children will pound nails onto the lines to form the features of the jack-o-lantern. I am limiting them to two nails per child so that one child doesn't fill in the whole pumpkin all by themself! Click over here to read last year's post about this work.
During October I like to introduce the children to the concept of life cycles using the book It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall. This book is a great one for introducing children to the various stages of pumpkin growth. My assistant, Miss Michelle, brought in some pumpkins in various stages for the children to see. Most of them were very surprised to see the green pumpkin since they've only ever seen the orange ones.
As a follow-up project I have set up a Pumpkin Life Cycle activity in the classroom. It is set up on top of a shelf just inside my classroom door. The children sit at the two white tables to do this work.
On the far right is a basket with paper plates on which I've written "Pumpkin Life Cycle" with a Sharpie marker. Next is a basket of life cycle sequence pictures and a basket of the colored pencils needed for this work. I used pictures that I downloaded and printed from here. I just reduced them on the copy machine and cut and pasted them out of order in a vertical row (I omitted the pumpkin pie picture). I was able to get 4 vertical rows on a standard-sized sheet of copy paper which really reduced the amount of paper I had to copy.
Next is a basket with scissors for cutting the pictures, a pencil for writing names on the paper plate, a bowl with glue sticks and a tray with gluing mats.
When I presented this work I told the children to color their pictures first before cutting them out. The pictures are pretty tiny when cut. After cutting the pictures, they lay them out on the plate and have a teacher check their work before gluing the pictures down. They can refer to my sample as a reference.
When finished they are able to take their "wheel" home and talk to their families about the seed, sprout, vine, flower, green pumpkin, orange pumpkin, and jack-o-lantern........which is filled with seeds which can be planted starting the whole cycle all over again.
I set up this activity using the leaf rubbing plates I purchased last year from Let's Explore. I cut up some small pieces of natural recycled drawing paper from Discount School Supply and placed them in a basket. Then I chose 6 leaf rubbing plates and put those into another small basket. Finally, I added a little basket of crayon rocks (also from Let's Explore) and a pencil. The crayon rocks are perfect for this type of activity as they have a lot of surface area for rubbing. Additionally they help refine and strengthen a child's pincer grasp.
To do this work the child places the brown paper on top of a leaf plate and rubs the crayon rock over the top until the leaf image is revealed. I love how this looks on the brown paper.
Ideally it would be perfect to do this with real leaves. However, with 60 children (over the course of a week) handling the leaves I haven't yet figured out how to make the leaves hold up. If you have any great suggestions for how you've done this in a classroom setting, please let me know!