26 December, 2010

Tiptoes Lightly

"Tiptoes Lightly" by Reg Down

Hello readers!  I hope you have all had a lovely holiday break.  Now that our family's celebration of Christmas is over, it is time for me to get back to work!  I have been busily preparing some activities about Antarctica which I will post about early next week, but until then, I wanted to share something else with you.  I would like to show you my favorite gift of Christmas, Tiptoes Lightly.

Who is Tiptoes Lightly, you ask?  

Well, she is a little fairy who lives inside some lovely books written by Reg Down.  My youngest daughter and I have been reading about her in The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly.  We have both enjoyed the stories so much, I thought it would be wonderful for my daughter to have a way to act them out, using little Tiptoes characters dolls and a dollhouse. 

I began work on this project about a month ago.  Using my new needle felting skills (which are still a bit rough, but improving) I made a Tiptoes Lightly felt doll.  She looked alright, but after a week or so had gone by, I decided to give making her another try.  This time I was very happy with the results.  Here are a couple of pictures of her, from the front . . .

and the back.

For a little extra fun, I painted a wooden dowel and attached a piece of jute twine with a loop, to the end of it.  Then I sewed a medium sized pink button to the back of Tiptoes' wings.  Now my little girl can button Tiptoes to the twine and make her fly about or unbutton her, and carry her around or snuggle up with her in bed.


Next I got to work creating Tiptoes' acorn house.  I started with a medium sized oval shaped cardboard box with a lid.  I painted it with acrylic paints, using 3 different colors of brown and black.  I used a utility knife to cut out a small arched shaped door and a window.  I needle felted a front door with a sunny yellow flower overhanging it, and some pink curtains for the window.

Then I got to work on the inside of the house.  I painted it a warm pink, keeping in line with Waldorf Kindergarten room colors and to match the colors on the front of the Tiptoes book.  With Reg Down's kind permission, I also printed miniature copies of some of his lovely watercolor paintings of the Tiptoes characters.  I thought Tiptoes would enjoy having some pictures of herself and her friends in her house!  Here is a peek into the house, through the front door,

and with the lid off the box, you can see all the way into Tiptoes' home.  Aren't the paintings wonderful?

I also made a couple of pieces of furniture.  These include a morning glory blossom bed and a morning glory leaf blanket.  There is a sweet ink drawing in The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly, of Tiptoes stretched out on a morning glory.  She looks so comfortable that I thought surely she would like a morning glory blossom bed!  The bed also serves as a boat and the leaf blanket, a sail.

And last, but not least I made one of Tiptoes' friends, a gnome named Pepper Pot.  A few more characters are still in the works, but Pepper Pot is the only one I finished for this holiday.  
If you would like to know more about Tiptoes Lightly, see photos of other fans' creations, or learn where to get a copies of books about Tiptoes Lightly, please visit the Tiptoes Lightly web page, here.

So, thanks for visiting and checking out my favorite gift of Christmas, and I hope you'll come back soon to see all our class activities about Antarctica!

16 December, 2010

Nature Table Friday

I'm hoping to link up to The Magic Onions again tomorrow for her lovely "Nature Table Friday" inspirations.  I hope you like my latest felt person for our nature table.  She is inspired by The Snow Queen from The Nutcracker.

Today, our back porch railing looked like this

So, of course I thought of The Snow Queen.  Come to think of it, I'm sure she could be The Queen of Winter as well.  (My children thought she looked like an angel, but that is actually supposed to be her crown.)

She has pipe cleaner "bones" so she is posable.  She can do all sorts of ballet positions as she sits on the tree or on our classroom or home nature table.  I hope you like her as much as I do.

Happy almost Winter Solstice!

15 December, 2010

I'm a solid, I'm a liquid, I'm a solid, I'm a liquid . . .

Cried of, "Ewwww" rung throughout the land (or at least the school) today as our class continued our learning about the differences between solids and liquids!  

We began discussing this concept last week when we made an ice wreath.  (Here is my original post about that project.)  The wreath began as natural items (leaves, sticks, and berries) mixed with a liquid, water.  It turned to the natural items and a solid, ice.  Then, it turned to the natural items and a liquid, water again!  Amazing!

Sadly, I don't have a picture of the bundt pan with water only, so you'll just have to imagine it.  
It would have the caption, "I'm a liquid."

 I'm a solid!

I'm becoming a liquid again!

Our new substance is called oobleck!  It changes from a liquid to a solid and back again so fast I'm not even sure my camera caught the change.  See if you can spot it!  

To work with oobleck, scoop out a handful,
and hold it tightly in your fist.

Open your hand to reveal a solid,

but don't blink because before you know it, it will begin "melting" before you eyes, and will soon be a liquid again!

Try it again!  I'm a solid, I'm a liquid, I'm a solid, I'm a liquid!  How fun!

Even if it is a little messy!

To make your own oobleck:

Mix 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch
1 cup of water

Add food coloring or glitter for extra fun if you like.


14 December, 2010

Colors, textures, sounds, and . . . soup!

Caution:  Here is one more post that, should you be a current parent of a student in my class, you should not read!  Shhhhh!  We are preparing this as a surprise for you!

Today our class worked on the second part of our Christmas gifts for parents.  This is a project I learned from the most amazing teacher I have ever met, Deanna.

I began the process of making this gift by giving each of our 12 present children, one bag of beans.  We had 18 bags of beans, 2 of each kind:

  • red beans
  • lentils
  • split peas
  • Great Northern beans
  • baby lima beans
  • pinto beans
  • navy beans
  • black eyed peas
  • black beans

Because our basket wasn't big enough to hold all the bags, we just used 12 to begin.

Each child was invited to examine his or her bag of beans.  Some immediately noticed their bag "matched" a bag of another child! 

 Hey!  We have a match!

Next, I asked the children to notice the color of their beans.  They were not surprised to learn the names of red and black beans, but wondered why navy beans aren't navy blue.  Hmmm.

Each child poured his or her bag of beans into a large basket.  They made a lovely sound as they were poured.  I asked the children if the sound reminded them of anything in the classroom like . . . our rainstick!

Lentils were added . . .

and black beans . . .

and the lovely green colored split peas.

The mixture looked very inviting, ready for little fingers to mix!

Each child took 3 turns running his or her hands (carefully!) through the beautiful mixture.  I asked them how the beans felt on their fingers.  Their answers were


(And of course, as the children mixed, the "rainstick" noise continued.)

After being mixed, the bean mixture looked even more lovely!

Each child then scooped out 2 cups of bean mixture 

which we then bagged up with the child's name.

Tomorrow we will wrap up the children's other gifts, beautiful wreath ornaments, the baggies of bean mixture, and a recipe for 9 bean soup.  

So, families will have the beginnings of a yummy warm meal, a sparkly tree ornament, and children who have experienced a wonderful activity which included . . .

and . . . soup!

Cue the Gershwin music please, Who could ask for anything more?!

What gifts have you helped prepare for your children's parents or for your spouse from your children?  I always need more ideas so as always, I welcome your comments!  Thank you!

11 December, 2010

An icy week

This week has been a bit chilly in our area, and I am delighted to report that despite the nip in the air, our class spent some time outdoors, every day.

The children have really embraced the onset of Winter and have enjoyed a variety of cold activities, around the classroom.

We read The Story of the Snow Children by Sibylle von Olfers.  This is a sweet story and nicely simple for my children, who are so excited about Christmas they are a wee bit bonkers!  : )

and a few snow children even came to visit our nature table!

The children also enjoyed some time finding penguin "twins," in our "Find It" table.  (You can read about how I obtained the materials for this table, here.)
I have 2 Safari penguin toobs, so I put all the penguins from both of these into our icy ocean.  The children have so enjoyed finding the matches.  They also love fleeing the orca and her babies, and making the penguins toboggan down the iceberg into the ocean!

We have a few icy practical life activities too:
grasping "ice pieces",

sorting more "ice pieces",

sewing snowman cards,

parts of a penguin puzzle,

snowflake matching cards (in a hand knitted snowy themed pouch),

Christmas transfer with chopsticks,

and our old water works (which have been in the cupboard for a few weeks) including . . .

medium pipette water transfer (which my students call the middle squeezer work)

and a cute Nativity puzzle (given to me by my lovely friend Kara)

Our nature table also has a really nifty Wintery colored (white) skull which I got in a nature table exchange (Thanks, Honey!)

Our little stick fairy is now holding some snowflake dancing scarves which we use when we dance to Waltz of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky.

And to go along with our Nutcracker theme, we have some really cute nesting nutcrackers.  The children love these!
  • My favorite icy activity this week was one I would never have thought of on my own, so I am especially grateful for Jean at The Artful Parent, surely an astonishing artist and a wonderful blogger.  She recently had an inspiring post on making ice wreaths.  After reading it I decided to give it a try and also tie it to our science studies including . . . 
  • outside v. inside temperatures
  • temperatures in shady v. sunny locations
  • solids v. liquids
  • local plants during Winter (which have leaves and /or flowers and what they look like now)
On Thursday our class grabbed a bundt pan and headed outside to collect materials.  When I asked the children later to recall what items they had gathered, they listed
  • red berries
  • leaves
  • brown leaves
  • seeds
  • orange berries
  • flowers (the children noticed they were a bit brown and shriveled as it is Winter)
  • green leaves
We placed all of these items into the pan, along with one pitcher of water.  We then found a shady place on the playground and left the pan overnight.  We knew how cold it gets outside, and how at night the temperature gets even lower because the sun isn’t shining.  We hoped the water would freeze and become a solid substance, ice!  (Note:  In order to ensure this experiments success, I did give the wreath a little freezing help, in the freezer.)
Friday, before heading outside, we took a vote about what we thought the results of our wreath experiment would be.  11 children and my assistant thought the wreath would be frozen into ice and 2 children and I thought it might still be water.  

The children bounded out to the shady playground spot to check!  It was a little crowded in those bushes, but even in the crowd, the results could be seen clearly.    The wreath was definitely frozen!

We popped it out of the pan, and hung it on a tree in the front of the school.  Here it is!  Isn't it pretty?

The children also checked out the ice wreath made by the class across the hall.  They hung theirs outside their classroom window, a few hours earlier than we hung ours in the tree.  Sunlight streams into their classroom all day long, so my students noticed right away their wreath was dripping!

By the end of the day, ours was dripping a bit too!

And here was what they looked like this morning!
Ours . . .

And the other class' (notice the ribbon now has nothing on it!)

I sent my students an e-mail update with these photos, but next year I will be sure to do this project on a day when we will be in school the next day!  : )

Next week we will continue talking more about temperatures and the differences between solids and liquids.  As a part of this lesson we will be making and using oobleck!  I will post about this fun and very cool project early next week!

Here's hoping all you readers are keeping warm and snug during this "icy" weekend!