COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

December 12, 2017
by countryfun
0 comments

Adapting a Tree Activity

For multiple reasons, I do not go all Santa for activities in Dec. A main reason is not everyone I’ve had in care over the years celebrated Santa. So in years past, I started looking for alternative lesson options. There are many out there. With this current group where abilities and developmental levels are very diverse, I figured that my evergreen tree lessons would work well. All families here this year have Christmas trees, so that also ties in well.

Evergreens are present in our yard, so it’s easy to get natural lessons in from a point of reference. You’ll see posts of some of our activities on Facebook, or specific to each child in their Seesaw portfolios. I’ve chosen to post on this activity here, because I wanted to explain how I adapt one lesson to meet a range of needs.

This lesson started with a large square sheet of paper that I purposely cut to make a large solid triangle. With a square find the mid-point on one side. Cut from that point to a corner on the opposite side. Cut from the mid-point to the other opposite corner.

You can fold, trace a line or I use my paper cutter.

The 2 cut off sections when glued together also make a large triangle.

It’s appropriate for the preschool age here to be working on scissor and tracing skills. Using the largest triangle and a wide ruler they can trace straight lines across the triangle. The initial direction was given about how to trace the lines and then to cut as close to the lines as possible. They will follow these lines for cutting practice.

While doing that the toddler was busy gluing the back of the 2 cut sections. I glued them in place. Then I provided a sheet of colorful dots (circles) for working fine motor and eye-hand coordination. We also had some crossing the midline because of working on the floor and reaching over to place the dots.

Once the oldest completed cutting along the lines, it was time to step into the next part of the lesson – size sequencing. Directions: lay out the cut sections largest to smallest. Once that was done the gluing began. Glue the pieces onto a larger sheet of paper to reform the triangle. Some children have to glue up tight, others will leave space. Here you can see the cut lines because a bit of space was left between each section.  Also got the colored dots.

When the intended lesson was done, as the interest was still present, I provided some additional star stickers. Always looking for ways to extend an activity as directed by the children.

All working in the same space with the same basic supplies. Each ended up with a decorated triangle tree that worked skills appropriate to their developmental level and needs.

 

 

November 7, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on A New Painting Tool

A New Painting Tool

It’s fun to paint with lots of different tools. It opens up the creative process for young children. One of my favorite painting tools is recycled oatmeal containers. Today, these came out for the first time with my current group of young learners.

Oatmeal containers are the perfect size to fit a regular 8×12 paper, with a large enough opening to be able to easily add items of different shapes and sizes of items to paint with. They are also the perfect size for young children to handle – shaking, rolling, or tipping.

Today’s creative activity started with the primary colors: red and yellow. I asked what color we would get when we mixed them together – not comfortable or immediate knowledge for everyone. As I began to mix however, the answer came strongly – “Orange.” We have a pretty good handle on colors, but not how the primary colors combine to form other colors – that’s where the lesson comes in.

We used our recycled salad servers for handling the movement of our collection of acorns from our orange paint to the oatmeal container. Great for fine motor, eye-hand coordination, and problem solving. This group also saw a good bit of crossing the midline the way they were using the tools. Then it was time to get the covers on and make their container move.

It was discovered that by adding more acorns at a time the paper had a lot more paint on it.

Now our paintings could go home as is, but thinking it will be more fun to use as a background for another creative project…………

February 3, 2017
by countryfun
Comments Off on Butterflies in February!

Butterflies in February!

Having a good collection of materials that reflects common interests of young children means I can quickly gather items to be used to expand the creative play of the young children here.

As part of our kitchen gear, I have small plastic spice jars with lids that snap open/close or twist off. The twist is a bit too hard for the motor skills just yet and the snap open/close while a challenge is interesting for the children. Yesterday afternoon found the jars being played with as normal – open/close, open/close. Then there was a change……

…….”my butterfly flied away.”

I watched to see where this would lead wondering how I might encourage an expansion of the play. Another child asked where the butterfly was and an answer was provided. I asked what color it was. “Blue”. I then asked if they could see any other butterflies fluttering around the room? Immediately started to look around and jump up to catch them with the jars. The play keep building. I thought of the butterfly nets I have in storage (usually used in the summer – fall). I got them out and some interesting butterflies managed to be caught….. fork, wrench, stuffed turtle, book……. Parents began to pick-up, so play ended. I left the nets on the shelf wondering if might get used another day…….

Morning play found the nets in use, so I decided to expand the learning some more – What supplies were readily at hand?

Water color paints, coffee filters = circle, primary color and color blending to secondary colors,

divided bead storage containers and pipettes = fine motor and some science, counting, language

pipe cleaners and jumbo craft sticks = Butterfly Stick Puppets

We have reached an age where developing skills and interest is allowing for some fun creative projects, so I asked if they wanted to make butterflies this morning. “YES!!!”

Aprons on, materials ready,  demonstration of pipette done, so it’s time to explore………

Two coffee filters wasn’t enough for “B”, so some scrap paper to use up the rest of the paint. All about the mixing colors now.

Off to play while drying. Once dried comes the harder part, definitely needing more adult hands-on.

  1. Gather (“smash”) the coffee filter so it makes a long, not ball shape.
  2. “Kiss” the 2 ends of a pipe cleaner and “smash” together so you bend it in half.
  3. Place the gathered coffee filter into the folded pipe cleaner. Twist it about halfway up.
  4. Now open up the filter – “It makes wings!”  (I did not show a finished product, so here was the first true view of their butterfly.)
  5. Bend ends of pipe cleaners for the antenna. You’re done. Or not………

I thought the children would have more fun if the butterflies were made into stick puppets. (Also thought they might last a bit longer.)

Hot glue on one end of the craft stick,  turn it over and push it down onto the pipe cleaner = a butterfly puppet.

Butterflies in Feburary from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

July 9, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Can We Paint?

Can We Paint?

Part of the fun of having my school-age children for the full day in the summer is their desire for doing art projects. The challenge for me is to continue to find ways to teach techniques, expanding learning while considering current interests.

This activity met the requirements of wanting to paint and wanting something finished to take home. I wanted to reinforce the importance of not over painting until it was a mud color/ or knowing when to stop. We have been having lots of play involving rainbow colors and patterns. For storytime I’ve been reading Eric Carle books. Putting this all together and pulling from my Pinterest boards I pulled together the materials for spinning chameleons. I was inspired by a colorful chameleons project on Tippytoe Crafts.

2016_06_27_img_0231_28010489992_oWe started with finding a coloring page that provided the size and position the children wanted for their chameleons.

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I traced the page from Hedgie’s Desk and made a stencil for our spinner cut-out while the children got started painting paper plates using tempera paints.

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I couldn’t waste all the tempera paint spread over the paint tray, so I showed them how to do a print by placing paper down on the tray. I them went for a lesson on symmetry by folding that paper in half, pressing and opening. 2016_06_27_img_0240_27832351880_oDid this twice rotating 180 degrees between each print/fold and press. We’ll use this texture paper later for another project.  

Once the back plate was painted the children chose to switch to watercolor for the top plate. 2016_06_27_img_0234_28035291981_oThey all went with blue for a sky look. Some will add a construction paper branch for the chameleon to be climbing along.  2016_06_27_img_0238_27498158304_o2016_06_27_img_0239_28078934946_o 2016_06_27_img_0241_28010318802_o

I loved how they used every paint brush from the brush box. 🙂    2016_06_27_img_0237_27832412740_o

To finish we traced the chameleon shape onto the top plate, cut it out (remember to place an eye) and glued the branch into place. We used a colored googly eye. Notice the branch helped with providing a tail for our chameleon. Last was push the brad through and we had our finished spinning chameleon.

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The children enjoyed the changing chameleon that occurred as the top plate was spun.

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(For those wondering about the punched holes. We recycled some left-over plates from a prior project. The holes didn’t affect this project.)

 

January 6, 2016
by countryfun
Comments Off on Oh, Elmer’s Special Day!

Oh, Elmer’s Special Day!

We have our hands on books all day long here.

We also like retelling using our flannel board.

Then we have our interactive ebooks both borrowed and owned.

A favorite ebook that always loaded on the iPad is Elmer’s Special Day by Oceanhouse Media. (I have found Oceanhouse Media is a great first source for interactive book apps.).

With 2 children here today that love to paint it was no surprise child directed learning lead to a painting activity. This one came about after enjoying the interactive Elmer’s Special Day book app multiple times. Elmer’s Special Day allows for a variety of extension activities about color, being unique, and friendship just to start.

You can use one of the available patterns online (find some on my Elmer’s Pinterest board), but I just drew out the simple Elmer elephant shape to fit the larger paper we were using. With small paint pots of multiple colors and cotton swabs gathered, the children provided the fine motor and creative imagination needed for this activity.

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They asked for the elephants to be cut out to take home. Which I did as cutting skills are still about learning to work the scissors right now.

October 28, 2015
by countryfun
Comments Off on Homemade Finger Paint Fun!

Homemade Finger Paint Fun!

Providing fun opportunities for creative exploration for children does not have to be expensive or time consuming. It does often get messy, but that’s an important part of the experience. 🙂

Today we got a little messy with a sensory experience using homemade finger paint.

Materials:

  • large sheets of white paper
  • homemade finger paint
  • food coloring to make super dark blue or black (think night)
  • lots of little hands

Put it all together with some Halloween stories and talking about night and how its getting darker while we are out playing now. Perfect time to explore making a dark colored finger paint. What you have is a sensory experience that includes color theory, science, math and language.

We started by exploring the feel of cornstarch and the feel then taste of sugar. We followed the written recipe, counting out parts, exploring what happened when water added to solids and then set the timer for 5 minutes.

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This finger paint will pull together in 5 to 10 minutes depending on heat level and recipe size. It didn’t make sense to have the children just standing around while I stirred over the heat source. With the timer they get to play until set time has past, learning about the timer as a tool and building on idea of time.

Once finger paint formed we did a visual exploration of the change in texture and watched the steam, as I continued to whip to speed cooling. Then it was time to add the color.

We worked to a deep blue than in went yellow and red. We have been learning that all 3 primary colors give us a black/brown color. Today we learned that with more blue we went to the blacker side. (Be prepared – heavy food coloring will definitely color hands.) 

Then it was time to suit up with paint shirts, find a place to work, and start exploring this finger paint.

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This hands-on exploration of our “night paint” went on for over 20 minutes. Lots of excited talking and exploration around how movement of hands and fingers changed the paint on the paper, besides just the sensory of it on our hands and a taste or two.

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I’ve included 2 simple homemade finger paint recipes here which I have used many times over my years of teaching. Both work, but I usually go to the cooked version. An extra benefit with the cooked is that it is gluten-free, so all children can be involved without concern.

Homemade Finger Paint:

1) How easy is this! Take 2 cups of any kind of flour you have, add COLD water until it forms a fairly smooth paste free of any big lumps. Now slowly add BOILING water, stirring constantly until it forms the right consistency. Add food coloring for an edible finger paint, or tempera paint.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

2) A Cooked Finger Paint (This size batch usually has little left to store.)

  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch OR 1 cup of flour (I like using cornstarch – seems smoother.)
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • Food coloring
  • Pinch of Salt

Mix all of the ingredients, except the food coloring, together in a medium pan. Cook over a med/low heat, stirring the mixture until it is smooth and thick. Takes 10 minutes or so. It thickens quickly at the end. Once it has thickened turn the burner off and let it cool. After cooling divide the finger paint into separate storage containers and add food coloring. Make sure the lids are on tight while storing so it doesn’t dry out.

I like to keep it uncolored to start adding coloring as needed for use. It’s easy to mix a few drops of food coloring into a small amount just before using.

November 25, 2014
by countryfun
Comments Off on Turkey Time

Turkey Time

With Thanksgiving this week it was time to connect the books we’ve been reading and discussions about why our families are celebrating Thanksgiving. What better than a turkey made with hand and foot prints.

In this activity the feathers will be formed by 3 handprints on a half paper plate (quick lesson point on whole and half). Easy to do with the 3 colors of red/orange/yellow (another quick lesson on 2 primary colors and the color you get when they blend). The body will be a traced foot. The legs accordion folding (good for directions and fine motor).

I started with 3 recycled cookie tin covers that each had 1 color. One color in front of each child and their paper plate half.

Directions- Gently place your hand into the paint, moving around to get paint on all your fingers. On the count of 3 lift your hand out and place on your plate wherever you want that color.

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Nice project for working on following directions, counting sequence, and tactile comfort.

Time to wash up those hands, as we will rotate the color tins for the next handprint.

As we are heading to the sink the power cuts off. On a private well that means limited water in the lines, so how are we going to wash up after each color?

Solution: 1 bowl with a little water to swish in and then towel remaining color off. Nothing wrong with having to adapt and flex in a project – just another lesson point for the children.IMG_1905

We proceeded to rotate the color tins and print our hands.

IMG_1903 IMG_1906Interesting that this time the children kept using the same hand. Not sure if this was because we washed after each color or if they figured out how to keep 1 hand clean.

Set aside plate to dry and time to move, so we can trace a foot.

IMG_1907 Option to cut themselves or have me cut.

Discussion on what a turkey face looked like from stories read.

IMG_1908 Almost done.

Time for more direction following practice with accordion folding 2 orange paper strips. Needed to remind them to flip back and forth, not wrap around. As they got comfortable they hurried and that’s when I’d see a wrap around.

Opening an accordion fold always brings smiles, sense of accomplishment/success. IMG_1910

Last step to glue our turkey bodies in place.

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Successful project from the process/learning side and a fun product the children were excited to take home.

Power still off, so time for a final hand cleaning with liquid hand sanitizer before head off to play.

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