23 January, 2012

A Happy Marriage: Driftwood Bead Chain Hanger

Hello dear readers,

As you know if you have been perusing my blog, I use and love many ideas from various philosophies of teaching.  I use whatever seems to work best for me and my class each year, although of course I have some "tried and true" favorites to which I return, time and time again.

I think I have recently created a new soon-to-be "tried and true" favorite, a driftwood (for me this is a Waldorf education-inspired, natural material) hanger for my Montessori bead chains!

In the past, I have always hung these "square" bead chains with cup hooks, from a wooden chalk board ledge.  It was practical and it worked, but it wasn't especially inviting. This year however, I find myself in a new classroom space with a new classroom layout. Plus my math materials shelf is not against a wall.  I thought about attaching the old cup hooks to the side of the shelf, but somehow I just hadn't gotten around to it.  I think I was simply uninspired.

Then I found this beautiful piece of driftwood over the Winter holidays, and I knew just what I should do with it!  I sanded, smoothed, and polished it, and added my old cup hooks.  I attached a piece of picture wire to the back, and hung the whole thing on the side of the math shelf.  It looks lovely if I do say so myself, and it seems every child who comes into the room cannot help but run his or her fingers along the chains.  Toddler siblings seem especially enchanted by it.

Now, if only my bead chains were made from glass beads through which sunlight could shine and sparkle!

How have you "married" two or more philosophies of teaching?


22 January, 2012

Art Pieces in our Classroom Art Museum

Our class, once again, has been learning about the beauty of Art and the artists who create it.

We have looked at art collages, specifically the work of Lois Ehlert . . .

and created collages of our own.

And now we are learning about the beautiful Impressionist works of Claude Monet . . .

These are not quite finished yet, but here are a few pictures of the beginning of the process. The children chose colors they wanted to use in their paintings, considering if they wanted their Impressionist painting to represent Fall or Spring.  (We looked earlier in the week at different works of Claude Monet, noting the feelings and seasons his colors seemed to represent.  For example, the children thought this work looked distinctly Fall-ish . . .

The Rose-Way in Giverny
especially in comparison to something like this

which seemed to them to look much more Spring-ish.)

After selecting colors, they squirted away . . .

and then rolled the paint in all directions!

After the paint dries, the children will be adding their own Japanese bridge and a small photo of themselves standing upon it.  I will post some photos of these lovely works, when they are completed. 

Update:  Here are a few of the children's finished works!  

We have also been creating art with "ice" crystals, using salt painting . . .

and drawing a plethora of penguins.

All these pieces have been installed in our classroom children's art museum!

To build our museum we first used a box of laminate flooring I had lying around in my attic.  The children slid the pieces together like a giant puzzle, and I used tiny pieces of duct tape to ensure the pieces stayed connected.  This is clearly not a permanent solution for a laminate floor, but it worked perfectly for this "temporary installation."

Next we turned our house area kitchen around, and mounted art pieces on the back of it.  It made a great display space.  I also used the house area mirror as a freestanding display stand (which can be viewed from either the front or the back.)  It looks fabulous with all the crystal art pieces!

After hanging the children's art museum sign, we were ready to go!  Siblings and parents were invited, tickets were created and punched, and a wonderful visit was had by all!  

Coming soon to our museum and this blog:  

Completed Monet Impressionist Art Pieces!

06 January, 2012

My latest felting projects

Over the Winter vacation I took a little time out to work on some felting projects.  Here are the results:

Inspired by Brother Acorn from A Donsy of Gnomes by Sieglinde De Francesca

Inspired by a trip to The Lake District, England

and inspired my own imagination . . .

Finding Snowdrops

and . . .

A fairy ring around the moon

I have had lots of fun making these, and I hung Brother Acorn up in my classroom.  Now, I just need to figure out what to do with the rest!

Learning to Knit: A Knitting Rhyme

I learned to knit with my oldest daughter, when she was in Kindergarten.  Her teacher was offering a class after school, to children who were ready to learn.  Her readiness criteria was, "If you can tie your shoes, you can knit!"

I sat in with the Kindergarteners once a week, for about 6 weeks, knitting and re-knitting.  Learning with children was the perfect way for me to learn.  My daughter's teacher, Sarah, broke the process into clear steps and made it as simple as possible.  And she taught us a wonderful rhyme that made the knit stitch as easy to remember as "Little Miss Muffet."

Under the fence
Grab the sheep
Back under the fence
And off we leap!

My youngest daughter recently learned to tie her shoes so yesterday we embarked upon the "learning to knit" journey.  I taught her the rhyme, and we worked together for about half an hour.  It was a lovely bonding time, and a great first lesson! 

And we even got in some sweet puppy snuggling whilst we knit.  : )

If you are learning to knit, consider using this rhyme!  It worked for Kindergarteners and for me, and it will work for you too.  Good luck!