art, collaboration, fine motor, peer communication, preschool, sensory play

When We Go With the Flow

I’m sitting for circle time, it’s going well. We’re doing our bell ringing and our greeting. We sing some songs and read a book. And then the children let me know they are ready to do something else. Before I can tell them what I had brought for them, they requested to use the playdough and asked for the little animals we’ve been using.

sensory play with preschoolers

Dr. Kitty uses a napkin ring to create a house for her rabbit and frog toys.

So we got out the playdough and had a fabulous time sitting together and building houses. Foreman cut pretend pizza pieces and offered them to all of his friends. Many stories were told and myriad conflicts navigated. Was this what I thought we’d do today? Nope. Was it valuable and full of great learning? Yep.

Sensory play with preschoolers

Totto makes footprints in purple playdough with a plastic hedgehog.

Even our toddler sibling friend was into it: he smashed dough and copied what the older children were doing. He spent longer at this activity than any of our other friends, in fact!

painting with preschoolers

Georgia works on her refrigerator painting.

I also had provided a big canvas board for us to paint on together, which is something we’ve been practicing for a few weeks. I thought this would last a short time and that then we’d move on to something else. Instead, what happened was that Georgia and Dr. Kitty decided to do their own paintings on separate paper after they worked on the collaborative piece. They explored the new watercolor pans that I brought and did some problem solving about how to fit both papers at the same table.

What I thought we would be doing today didn’t really happen. And what did happen was beautiful and full of wonderful wonderings, excellent fine motor control development, and great peer-to-peer conversations. This is something I’ve been toying with the last few months, and I am still finding my way to how best to follow some semblance of a plan and also go with the flow and provide materials that are engaging for the children. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

art, building, collaboration, fine motor, gross motor, painting, problem solving

A Day of Togetherness and Joy

We’ve been making paintings together at circle time as a way to practice collaborating, get some color identification work in and build strong muscles in our hands. As we do this work together each week, we develop familiarity with the tempera cakes and how to use them and we build social and vocabulary skills.

painting with preschoolers

Lightening adds her signature mark to the collaborative painting.

The magnet tiles continue to prove interesting. Today Rocket says as he arrives, “wow, there are so many interesting things to do today!” Later, he begins the painting below as a way to explore the construction we built together and then he notices that he can take a turn on the trampoline and hurries off. I am tempted to draw him back in and then I decide that today is probably one of the last days it will be warm enough to spend a long time outside together so I decide we’ll try again next week.

painting and building with preschoolers

We’ve started drawing and painting our magnet tile buildings to practice making shapes, planning and making our ideas visible.

As a teacher, I say it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of the moment and forget to notice the accomplishments and sweet snippets of our days together. I got lucky this afternoon and got to watch this monkey swing like a pro across these bars and I couldn’t resist sharing his joy with you.

gross motor play with preschoolers

Mr. Conductor Monkey bravely works his way across the tricky monkey bars.

When we work together with our peers to make something happen as part of a dramatic play game (Anna and Elsa visit Rapunzel in her tower), we develop problem solving skills, practice engaging our friends in imaginary games, and work on peer communication skills.

gross motor play and problem solving with preschoolers

Dr. Kitty and Rocket work problem solve ways to get the hula hoops into the play house.

Today was full of excellent learning, funny dancing, hula hoop chasing and skill building. These are just a few examples of what we’ve been up to and in observing this group today, I am reminded to not take myself so seriously, to take some deep breaths when I feel slighted by someone, to sit and eat with people that I love and that sometimes (usually?) it’s best to go with the flow instead of resisting what is happening.

art, collaboration, painting, preschool

Painting Progress: Pinterest Inspiration and Circle Time Collaboration

If you’ve ever tried to make something you found on Pinterest, I’m sure you can identify with the idea that sometimes those ideas just don’t pan out the way “they” said. Today was an example of a successful experiment when we used the salad spinner to make spin art. The idea was to make monster faces (it’s almost Halloween) and the children chose not to do that, though they did have some good laughs at the few monster faces I made to show them what was possible.

salad spinner art with preschoolers

Everyone’s spin art on the drying rack.

This activity turned into a great opportunity to practice squeezing and to use our knowledge of how to make hypotheses during an experiment.

salad spinner art with preschoolers

“I can do it MYSELF”

We had tempera paint sticks to draw on the plates first and then there were four color choices to drip onto our plates before spinning them. We experimented with what would happen with a few droplets of paint versus big globs of paint and explored concepts of cause and effect as well as problem solving as we tested out fast and slow pushing of the spinner handle.

salad spinner art with preschoolers

Drawing with tempera paint sticks first, then dripping paint to spin on top.

We also did some practice using the tempera cake paints. During circle time, we talked about how to use them successfully. The children described the way to get the most colorful paint by dipping the brush in the water, swishing it on the dry cake and then applying the brush to the paper.

collaborative painting with preschoolers

Our collaborative painting made during circle time.

First, I made some red lines on one side of the paper that was taped to the white board. Then we took turns each adding a set of marks to the page.

collaborative painting with preschoolers

Georgia takes a turn working on the collaborative painting.

It was good practice in waiting our turn and gripping the brush and making creative choices. And we even got a chance to do some social conflict resolution when one friend made marks that covered another friend’s marks. This was an awesome chance to work on negotiation skills as we talked together as a group about whether we all wanted a second turn to return to the painting and make another set of marks.

collaborative painting with preschoolers

Collaboration is tricky for preschoolers, we got to practice taking turns and problem solving as we worked on our piece.

In the end, we had a beautiful painting full of interesting marks: some dry, some wet. And we even got to experiment with color mixing when one friend showed the others that if she swirled her brush on the red cake and then on the blue cake it would leave purple paint on the paper.

Doing collaborative work can be very hard for people of any age. And particularly difficult for children that have a strong sense of how they would like their work to look. It is an excellent opportunity to practice communication skills however, and the end result is often stunning and unique.