Saturday, February 25, 2017

Creative Table - Week 2

Week two of our creative table adventures was a real success! Last week we did some activities with a Valentine's Day theme; however, this week we were free to do anything that looked like fun! Take a peek!

MONDAY INVITATION - DRAWING or WRITING PROMPT

I've had my eye on these books by Ed Emberley for a long while. By chance I spotted them at our local library, so I snatched them up for this week's drawing prompt! Here is the invitation (books for inspiration, assorted colors of fingerprint ink pads, pencils, half sheets of printer paper and WIPES):


We opened up to a random page to begin with, and I was so surprised at how even Little M&M became so involved. Honey Pot has always been a drawer, but this guy usually loses interest quickly. He chose a bunny to begin with, and copied the picture in the book so well!


The two of them started off copying images, and then used their fingerprints to create more elaborate pictures on their own!


Here are the finished drawings. I think we'll need to return to this activity in the future. The book has various themes within it including holidays, seasons, animals, garden, etc. So perhaps I can prop open a particular page to get them started, and see what evolves from there! So fun!


WEDNESDAY INVITATION - ART or CRAFT

For today's art project we used assorted items and did some printmaking! I grabbed some wooden blocks, bristle blocks, Squigz and other shapes, and left them out beside three colors of paint.


They approached the table saying that it looked like it would be fun, which is always a good sign! I had left out a sample that I had made the night before, so they could understand the difference between painting and printmaking. They got right to work!



Here are their first pieces. This is process art at its finest: tons of fun to create, without worry of the finished product. I do love how those bristle block prints look though!


I gave them each a second sheet of cardstock to extend their play, and although it began with the usual printmaking technique...they ended up painting with their whole hands. Each of their pages became completely filled. I was happy to see that they had mixed the pink and blue to create purple! And just when I thought the printmaking portion of their messy play was over, Honey Pot grabbed a bristle block and made this great design on her page!


Super cool! And I imagine they'd have even more fun if we use dinosaurs or other character toys for printmaking in the future!

FRIDAY INVITATION - SENSORY or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

I discovered a super fun invitation idea from Teach Beside Me, that I knew I wanted to try right away. For Little M&M, I created this page of circles in various sizes. I laminated it, so that he may use the droppers to fill the circles with water.


I tested it out to make sure that it worked well. It really did! What a sweet and relaxing activity, where the water doesn't get absorbed or flow outward. And I was able to create green, which helped assure me that Honey Pot's invitation would be a success as well!


For Honey Pot I created a color wheel template. I know she has discussed this in her art class at school, and I thought she may enjoy mixing the colors herself to recreate one.



In addition, other items at the table included paper towels, extra cups and a large measuring cup full of clear water. From start to finish, the kids enjoyed this activity for an hour and a half. That is no exaggeration!

Little M&M began by filling in his circles carefully, even mixing colors right away like his big sister.


Honey Pot mixed all her colors, and kept the water pretty well in their circles!



Next, Little M&M made one giant puddle of green, which he then collected back into his pipette, so he could fill extra cups with his new color.



Honey Pot meanwhile had abandoned her laminated sheet, to "make art" on her empty tray!




Little M&M soon followed suit, and by the end of their playtime, only brown water remained. In addition to piping, there was also a lot of scooping and pouring.



Honey Pot even used the cups as characters...creating an elaborate story about pirates on a boat and mermaids. She cracked herself up as they started losing their hair and their bathing suits somewhere along the way.


I loved this activity. The setup was quick and simple, yet the play that followed was long and inventive! And, I was able to enjoy an entire cup of tea while supervising. Now I am already thinking of new ways to set out this activity, for expanded play in the future!



*updated* Little M&M requested this activity again the following week, so I pulled it out for him while big sister was at school. He used all of the cups, and did a whole lot of color mixing! First filling the trays, then using the laminated sheets and filling up the circles. Great fine motor practice! And I love having these activities at the ready, and in my arsenal for when Sweet E arrives!

And cleaning up the color wheel with a paper towel was really pretty!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Creative Table - Week 1 {Valentine's Day}

Happy Valentine's Day! It's been a long time since I've posted. We moved to a new house in the fall, and we are currently expecting our third child. For these reasons, plus with Honey Pot in first grade full-time and Little M&M going to preschool 3-days per week, we have let our activities slow down. Sure, we have done occasional crafts and learning together; however, I really feel it's time to resume weekly and intentional projects.

It is my goal to establish a fun routine in these next three months, so that when Sweet E arrives, the big kids and I can continue enjoying this focused time together. Here is where the Creative Table comes into play. A creative table is a space where I could leave out specific items as an invitation to create, to explore, or to play. I will offer guidance but the kids will have free reign to use the items in whichever way their imaginations lead them (excluding certain STEM projects, which often require parent involvement). The idea for this comes from Tinker Lab, and it seems like the perfect way for us to get back into our groove!

The dining room table will be our creative table, and a few days per week I will leave out an invitation to spark their imaginations and engage them. Here is what we did our first week, with a Valentine's Day theme:

MONDAY INVITATION - DRAWING or WRITING PROMPT

We are starting simple! I printed off a couple of Valentine's Day bookmarks onto cardstock from here, and provided the kids with my gel pens to color them in with. As they completed their bookmarks, I punched a hole into the tops, and tied some yarn through them. Both Honey Pot and Little M&M are super excited to begin their newest chapter books tonight (The Nevergirls 3 and The Magic Tree House 5 respectively), so this was a perfect activity to accompany their anticipation!





WEDNESDAY INVITATION - ART or CRAFT

Today's invitation: yarn hearts, two ways. I made an example of each in the morning for them. For the first, I cut strands of various colors of yarn, and glued them in a heart shape onto cardboard. For the other, I simply wrapped a cardboard heart with yarn. When the kids came home from school, they were excited to happen upon this setup!


First they made a heart with glue.


Then they covered it with a piece of yarn.



And finally, they filled the middle with glue, and pressed pieces of yarn into it. They loved choosing their own colors and cutting the pieces out.



Next they chose a ball of yarn to wrap their hearts with. Both chose this purple/white/blue multicolored one, so they had to take turns!



Here are the finished creations. They even each glued their wrapped heart onto their glue heart, and were very proud of their creations. It was a sweet craft!



FRIDAY INVITATION - SENSORY or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

Today I made up a double batch of homemade playdoh. This has been a favorite activity for the kids, but it has been a while since we've done it! Today on our creative table, I set out a light and dark pink ball of playdoh along with assorted pink and red loose parts, cutters and tools. Then I let the kids play with them however they wished.


First Little M&M started cutting up some straws. He loves using scissors, and has gotten quite good at it. Then he formed his ball of playdoh into a cup and made himself a nice drink!


Then he did something really interesting! He grabbed the lid from the tupperware meant for storing the playdoh, and used it as a cookie sheet! Then he made and decorated some "cookies" and put them in an "oven" to bake. What an imagination!


Honey Pot grabbed the silicone cupcake liner and started decorating a cupcake! She used scissors not just on the straws, but also to shave off very fine fluffs from the sides of the chenille stems! Then she sliced the cupcake up for all of us to taste.


The little pink and red hearts (which I found at the Dollar Tree) were squished into all different shapes of playdoh.


I arranged Friday as our sensory day so that the kids could return to it multiple times throughout the weekend if they wanted. So here they are again, still in their pajamas, for more imaginative fun. As usual, Honey Pot created clever stories with the playdoh she was manipulating!




And Little M&M made a volcano! He's been so interested in the story of Pompeii recently.



The play continued for a while, until both pinks were mixed up together into one.

WEEKEND - Additional Holiday Activities

The weekend is a great time for us to do a real hands-on activity. So today we extended our Valentine's Day theme, by completing the classic growing crystal experiment. It had been a long time since we'd done it! First we shaped chenille stems into hearts, and attached them to a ruler with string.


Then we brought water to a boil, and added 2.5 cups of Borax to it in a glass bowl.


We stirred it up carefully.


And placed our ruler atop the bowl to sit overnight.


We checked on it before going to bed that night, and were happy to see some crystals beginning to form around the bowl! (My Borax is several years old, only being used for growing crystals or making slime, so I wasn't sure it would still work!)


The next morning I pulled each of the hearts out of the bowl, and briefly laid them on a paper towel to dry. Once they were dry, I hung them up. They were just beautiful!




If you enjoyed this, take a look at our previous Valentine's Day themes!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Units - Jungle

Previous Summer Units:
Week 1: Ice Cream
Week 2: Monsters
Week 3: Camping
Week 4: Fish

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This week's theme was the jungle! We had never done this before specifically, but do take a look back at our zoo themes and activities from 2014 and 2015.

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Monday - Math and Craft

Today we did a simple math activity, which turned into an exciting craft for Honey Pot! First I printed out images of common jungle animals, their sizes dropped down from feet to inches, in scale. To save money on colored ink, I printed the large ones as coloring pages. We began by coloring them in!


Then I asked Little M&M and Honey Pot to place them in order from smallest to largest, and glue them to the paper.


Using the handy tape measurer from Little M&M's tool set, we measured each animal and wrote that number above them.




This was meant to be the extent of today's math project, but Honey Pot took it upon herself to extend the activity! She drew the jungle around these animals! First she put the parrot and monkey into a tree, and drew a berry and banana for them to eat. She also put a rabbit in the grass for the tiger. She drew a pond and a peanut for our dear elephant. And she also drew a great big tree for the giraffe to munch on. She did all of this by herself while I was in the next room. I was so impressed, because it shows she really has a good grasp of what a jungle is, and the animals in it!


Tuesday - Literacy and Sensory

We borrowed a few great books from the library this week in our theme. By far the favorites were Zoe's Jungle, in which two sisters at the playground pretend they are an explorer and a beast in the jungle, and Jumanji, which I didn't realize was a Chris Van Allsburg book! We read these books in particular over and over this week. Though Elmer was the runner up because it's just so cute!


I combined our sensory and literacy days together this week for this fun activity. We hadn't pulled our 3-bean bucket out in a long while. I decided to use it in conjunction with our new easel and magnetic letters. Though not in theme, I began our activity for Little M&M to review all of his letters. He was to find the letters in the beans and place them up on the easel where they belonged.


He loved using the scoopers!


If ever he had any trouble determining what a letter was, he'd sing his alphabet song to figure it out. He went through this whole activity two times in a row before we moved on!


And it included quite a lot of scooping and pouring. So much fun!


Later to pull it into theme, I placed some animal magnets up there, with a line beside each of them. Little M&M had to find a letter in the beans (this time I only included the few letters we needed) and figure out where to place it. We talked about what sound the letter makes, then worked together to find which animal's name began with that letter.  He did such a good job with this! The only one that was tricky for him was the L because, understandably, at first he thought it was the first letter in the word elephant.



Here is what it looked like when he finished.


Later, it was Honey Pot's turn. I set it up a little bit differently, to include handwriting practice.



And when she was finished, this is what her's looked like.


And the play continued beyond this. The two kids played with the beans and the letters on their own for a long time. Thankfully, the beans didn't get too out of hand!

Wednesday - Craft

Today we did a craft mainly for process, not product. We used our terrific plastic stencils to trace an image onto construction paper. Then we used liquid glue to trace over that image, and sprinkled salt over it. And finally, we painted the images with watercolors. The kids really love working with interesting materials like salt, so this was a fun one!



Here are the final products, but the picture was taken before they were dry. 


Thursday - Gross Motor Skills and Imaginative Play

This week instead of doing science on Thursday, we created a jungle for some gross motor development and imaginative play. I found the idea for this from Cutting Tiny Bites. I had a ton of leftover green streamers from a birthday party, so I used that to create jungle vines for the kids to climb through. We grabbed their safari hats and they became great explorers!



And remembering one of their favorite books from this week, they decided to act out Zoe's Jungle. One of them was the explorer, and the other was a rare beast to be captured. Looks like Little M&M captured the HoneyBeast!




The play went on for over an hour like this, until all the crepe paper had fallen to the floor in pieces. And well, even then the play continued. I'm not sure why pieces of crumpled crepe paper is fun, but it occupied them for even longer! A successful activity to end our week, for sure!




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