24 October, 2011

Autumn Onomatopoeia

Our class has been enjoying this poem, October by Elsa Beskow.  You can find it in her collection, Around the Year.

Golden, you are,

Golden soverigns on your trees.
Golden guineas on your floor,
golden coins of leaves
that fall
for us to scuffle through
and rustle
and rattle
and hustle
and scrabble
and dabble
and paddle
as they fall
into an October carpet
which hides
our shoes.

The children seemed interested in the words that I pointed out in the poem that seem to make the sound they represent, words that are onomatopoeic.  (I highlighted those words so you could easily see which I meant.)  We discussed what onomatopoeia meant, and then went on our own Autumn Onomatopoeia walk, to see if we heard any sounds we could describe with such words.

Here is the book our class made, based on our walk.  Enjoy!  


The End

If you take a Fall walk, what onomatopoeic words will you "hear?"

20 October, 2011

Halloween fun: Pumpkin Surgery

This activity started as a "decorate your pumpkin with hardware" exploration.

However as work commenced, one child said he was a doctor, performing surgery on his pumpkin! The other children quickly picked up on this idea and soon the work table became a "trauma center", and poor injured pumpkins everywhere came running to be worked upon.

Our doctors worked very hard, and performed lots of operations!

This child used a screw driver to remove pulp and seeds.  
It took a lot of work, but she was very persistent!

How cute and funny is this guy?

Wooden mallet in action

Push pin and tiny spoon work

Wow!  That is a busy work table!

This was a fun exploratory activity, and a bit different than the usual pumpkin carving.  If you would like a little change in your pumpkin activities, I recommend this activity.  Who knows, maybe your pumpkin decorating will turn into pumpkin surgery too!

Tall Fall Painting

A few weeks ago, I came upon a Youtube video, Tall Painting.  

I thought it looked like an excellent project to tie into our learning about Fall and gravity.  (Here is my post about how we started this investigation.)

I prepared for this group project by gluing a tall and thing cardboard box to a flat piece of cardboard, and filling 10 cups (one for each child) about half full of different colors of paint. I used washable tempera paint.  Some of the colors were a little goopy so I added a bit of water to those to ensure they poured relatively easily.

Our class ventured out of doors into the lovely Fall weather noting how many leaves had fallen.  "Wow!  The trees are almost naked," one little girl commented.

All the children sat in a wide circle, and we discussed what we were going to make and why.  The children formed hypotheses about what would happen to each of the different colors of paint as other colors were poured on top of them.  (All the children thought the colors would mix and make brown or grey. )

With all these thoughts in our minds, we began our work.  Each child came into the center of the circle and poured his or her paint onto the top center of the box.

Please note: When planning for this project I debated and debated with myself about whether to let the children pour the paint without any assistance.  In the end I decided since a key part of the project was about watching the paint fall in layers I should help them - to ensure it actually worked the way it was supposed to.  With more paint, boxes, and time it would be wonderful to let each child make his or her own tall fall painting and experiment with pouring.  I thought this worked out pretty well though - for a first try.

The children really enjoyed pouring the paint, but they also seemed to love watching it fall!  They oohed and aahed over the colors and were very interested when the layers of colors did not mix, but instead stayed quite distinct.  Our only difficulty was keeping everyone from investigating the finished product and smearing it about before it dried.  Well, that would be a different project!

If you are interested in exploring how objects fall, and how gravity works, try this out!  You might just fall head over heels for this project!  : )

10 October, 2011

Fairy Tale Tree Blocks Castle

Since I am so happy with these recently made swap items, I thought I would share some pictures of them before I send them away next week.

These items are for a fairy tale swap. I thought and thought about what story to represent when making my items, and finally decided to make a fairy tale castle complete with a prince and princess and of course, a mother and baby dragon.  I hope these can serve as props for numerous stories and other imaginings.

You can make a castle like this too! Here's how I made mine.

My tree blocks are made of birch wood.  My neighbor had the bad luck of losing the top half of his birch tree, a few weeks ago.  But his loss was my gain as he kindly gave me the branches!  Thanks, Ted!  My DH kindly cut the branch into small and medium sized slices, and I put them on a wire shelf in a sunny window for about 5 weeks, turning them over once a day.

I removed most of the bark from each slice using a belt sander, and then hand sanded each block.  This took a while, but it was worth it!

I worked for about half an hour stacking the blocks this way and that, deciding how to make them look sort of castle-ish.  I chose 10 blocks of varying sizes.  I thought they could all be stacked together as one tall tower or stacked in pieces like more of a village.

Then I pondered the problem of how to paint them without entirely covering the wood grain.  I finally decided to make the biggest block the base with large wooden doors with lion door handles.  I also added some greenery "growing along the castle walls." Then I chose a few other blocks to have minor details.  Two have windows and some stones with moss.  One has a coat of arms (with a tree - to represent a little bit of me), and one has just stones and moss.  The other blocks just have a hint of greenery to represent the covered walls, and to show they are part of the set.

I wood burned the designs into each block, and then painted them all with non toxic watercolors.

I used steel wool to smooth out the blocks one more time, sealed them with a natural beeswax polish, and added the fairy tale characters to the scene.  Magical!

And my swap partner played happily ever after.

The End

01 October, 2011

Leaf Art circa 1975

Picture yourself in 1976 . . .

If your life was anything like mine was, you greatly enjoyed the fashion of the day, and showed up to Kindergarten in groovy corduroy bell bottom pants that perfectly matched your swinging Dorothy Hamill haircut.  Oh yes, this was a good year.

It was such a good year in fact, that I remember a really fun art project we did - even now that I am (according to my children) as old as the dinosaurs. Well, I may be old, but I can still be groovy!

Here is the groovy art project I recreated this week, from my amazing-even-though-old memory:

Wax Paper-Melty Crayons-Leaf Art

First go on a lovely Fall walk to gather leaves.  You can press them (in a book with paper towels - for about a week) afterwards if you like, and honestly this project works a little better with dry, pressed leaves.  We didn't dry ours and it worked fine, but the water from the leaves repelled the wax paper a bit.

Next peel the paper from Fall colored old crayons, then peel or scrape the crayons to get small bits (we used a peeler and a fork.  I thought the fork was actually easier to use.)

Then arrange your leaves on a piece of folded wax paper.  Be sure to only arrange them on one side of the fold.  (The other side will be folded over to make the top of your project.)  Sprinkle bits of crayon onto and next to the leaves.  The more crayon you use, the more exciting the project!  At least that is what we found!

Fold the blank half of the wax paper over the side with the leaves and crayons, and iron gently on low heat.  Make sure your child watches as you iron.  The colors melt and ooze and become very intense!  It is so much fun to watch!  

Ironing advice:  I ironed these projects with and without a towel on the top, and I honestly think it worked better without the towel.  The melting crayons and the wax paper were a little smelly though so be sure to open a window for this step.  

My daughter's 1976 leaf art . . .

Mine (all that's missing is a lava lamp, right?)

and my students!  Look how gorgeous they look with the sun shining through them!  

Pretty groovy, right?