Monday, October 10, 2011

A Small Thanksgiving Art Project, and some thoughts on Room Design

We celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, here in Canada. This year I found myself continuing to work on routines, and comfort for my children. I have a few children with some  challenging needs, so find myself wanting to simplify, and  create a day that will be low key, and comforting. This generally means outdoors play, and allowing the children to play fluidly without introducing too many new things. Perhaps some of this is also for my own comfort level, to assess the abilities of my group slowly.

Generally by this time in the year, my group would be painting at the easel daily; playing in several sensory stations at once (such as shaving cream, play dough, sand, etc ); as well as other interesting activities, but this is not the case this year. I have one or two children that will throw objects, and hurt others, or possibly tantrum at an inopportune time, and this seems to have a snowballing effect on my very young group.

So, we are gradually exploring the medium of paint, and I limit the time I can have my sensory areas open.

I do sometimes enjoy creating art projects of something the children can take home to their parents as a keepsake, along with all the creative art.

So this week we made handprint turkeys for Thanksgiving. The children enjoyed having their hands painted on an individual basis, and after taping the finished project to toilet paper rolls, were quite proud and satisfied with the result. The finished project could be a finger puppet or a table centerpiece.

The next day, I introduced painting egg cartons in yellow, and brown shades (to be made into corncobs eventually), and the group explored using the paintbrushes, and naturally they also enjoyed painting their hands! :) Well, I hope to post some pictures of our finished project, after we get to glueing streamers for the husks, if we do indeed get to it!

I do plan on getting to easel painting, fingerpainting, and all the other wonderful creative ways of painting possible!

I've been looking through an interesting book, this past week, Inspiring Spaces for Young Children, by Jessica Deviney, S. Duncan, et al., (2010). The book features beautiful photos, that are quite inspiring, along with thoughtful quotes, and short easy to understand written suggestions for creating early childhood environments that are comforting, and authentic.The authors tend towards the Reggio influence, and I enjoyed this aspect. At times I felt some of the ideas were abit too staged, and more for the adult eye. I feel that the Reggio ideas are about light, spaciousness, and child friendly environments, but felt that sometimes the book veered away from this - to a concern with interior decorating.

I liked one particular window hanging, of dried oranges, (p. 76);  so this week I borrowed a co-worker's dehydrator, and my children watched as I sliced oranges and lemons, (and they tasted both), and we placed the slices in the dehydrator. When dry, I strung them on fishing line, and attached them to a tree branch.

I like the effect on the room, the children gaze at it now and then, and it creates a focus.

  I have cleaned my room of most clutter, with a new year, and am slowly adding what makes the room feel creative. And the following quote by Loris Malaguzzi, speaks to me of why we want to work on the environment - "We value space because of its power to organize...and it's potential for sparking all kinds of social, affective, and cognitive learning." (p. 8)

I think for me, this is the reason for care in my room design, the learning and comfort of the children, and of me the teacher, as well.

I had purchased these "door stars". two years ago, from Ten Thousand Villages, a store run by the Mennonite church, and had them hanging in my doorway. The door stars come from India, and it is a Hindu tradition, that when someone passes through your doorway, they leave any disturbing thoughts outside.When I returned to work this fall, from summer vacation, I found that somehow they'd fallen and become tangled, and it took me some time to untangle. I have them now hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room, and they are "twinkle stars".


Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree said...

I love your turkeys----they are adorable! THe orange and lemon hanging is very cool too! How FUN! Glad to see your ideas again!

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Thanks Melissa!
It's fun to be posting again, and it's just such a good way to learn new ideas and meet great people like you.

Kierna C said...

I love the dried fruit - so effective. It is interesting to discover that other people find that children are easier to settle/manage outdoors - I thought it was only me! I am having the reverse experience to you - this year my class are all very settled compared to this time last year! good luck

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Hi, Kierna,
Thanks for reading here, and commenting. I am finding that my children totoally relax outside, and they have such a great time. Nature is so much softer, and rejuvenating I think; and the children can run and climb, and these activities are really important for their development.
It's nice to hear that things are going smoothly in your class!!
Every day, things seem to be coming together abit more in my little group.I always enjoy seeing the progress!
Thanks again,