Exuberant Exploration

“The drive to protect our children is profound and easily can lead to cleansing their lives of challenge and depth. Early childhood is a time when children begin to live in the world and hopefully learn to love the world. They can’t do this when fenced off from the messy richness of life to live in a world of fluorescent lights and plastic toys, two dimensional glowing screens, and narrow teaching instruction. Scrubbing and polishing raw experience in the name of health and safety scrapes away the natural luster and meaning of childhood. Many of the wonders and joys of childhood that fuel the best in our adult selves are birthed in the unavoidable messes, bumps, bruises, and tears that come with exuberant exploration.” (Greenman, 2005b, p. 7)


A Gorgeous Variation

My post Like Oil and Water(colors) is by far my most popular post. After being featured on Teach Preschool’s Facebook page my blog blew up! I actually thought it was a virus I had so many visits to my blog. 🙂 The version of oil and watercolors that we did in that post was beautiful and a very fun way to make abstract watercolors. But once the finished product was dry it was a little disappointing. Those brilliant colors, and vibrant bubbles looked kind of dark green and a little greasy :/ . Not to mention my kiddos wanted to put WAY more color on the paper than it could hold. With all of that being said I still loved the scientific exploration behind the project that resulted in art. I needed to find a new way to make this oil and watercolor plan work out. And Viola! A new oil and watercolor that provides gorgeous, frame able art and holds attention for oh so long! I do love a good engaging project!

We started with:

  • Four cups with a little bit of oil in each
  • A pan with a small amount of water in the bottom – not too much or your colors will sink to the bottom
  • Some liquid watercolors and some watercolor paper (or any thicker paper)
  • Eye Droppers

After a few squirts of liquid watercolors into the oil cups we mixed and mixed and mixed until the color was incorporated into the oil. This took a bit of mixing.

Image 15 Image 21 Then we got started, using the eye droppers to place the colored oil in the pan of water. The kids put the oil anywhere and everywhere  in the pan.Image 25 Image 22

Image 14 When they were satisfied with the color placement we plopped a piece of paper on top and let it sit for about 45seconds, the oil bled through the paper & was fun to watch.

Image 12 We peeled the paper up and were presented with these works of art!Image 29

Car Wash and Bubble Mountains

We have been busy busy since my last post and I am finding that I am piling up pictures of some great things that we have been doing but never getting around to posting about them! Time slips away from me and then I forget all about the pictures that sit in my iPhoto waiting to be shared. So I think I will try to do a purge and post about some of my favorite things that have been happening in my little home over the last month all at once! 🙂

Due to the mass amount of boys who frequent my home we tend to base a majority of our projects around hot wheels cars. Even activities that initially had no intention of involving cars end up with a car or two slipping their way into the mix. Our sensory table often has something and cars, i.e. rice and cars, water beads and cars, flour and cars. I have a minimum of three cars in our stroller, probably more in my diaper bag.They are everywhere!

Last week we started a painting project at the table, working on painting rocks. This lasted for about 3.5minutes before someone pulled a red car out of there pocket and asked if they could paint it… I let them and of course I needed to find about 15 more cars so everyone could paint one, or two or three. Once all of the cars were covered in a good layer of “preschool grey” (this is the resulting color once all colors available are mixed) we needed to wash them. I pulled out pans and soap and sponges. The cars got clean quick, so we painted them again! We painted and washed and painted and washed to our hearts content.
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Once the cars wash scene had fizzled out I pulled out straws for the older kids to make bubble mountains! I was introduced to this activity years ago from a former employer of mine and love to do this with big kids (I say big kids because often little kids want to suck with the straw and end up with a belly full of bubbles, my boys are 3 and they did just fine). We used our soapy water from the car wash stuck straws into the mix and blew and blew and blew! Then the excitement built and the giggles were nearly as plentiful as the bubbles! The boys would smash them down and then blow them up taller and taller. Literally 45minutes of fun!!!

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Pom-Pom, Clothespin, Dot Dot Dot!

We had fun painting with pom-poms this week! We are kid of obsessed with these little fluffy balls! A few months back I purchased a lot of pom-poms at the dollar tree. They had a whole variety of colors and are so multi-purposed! We use them for counting, color sorting, circle-time songs, matching games and sometimes just tossing all around the house. We have been using the clothespins with and without the pom-poms for awhile now to strengthen those little fingers and to improve fine motor skills. The next step, naturally, is to add paint! We had a great discussion about colors when adding the paint to the egg carton. We tried to match the paint to the pom-pom color and worked on mixing white or black to change the shade of the color. Image 29 Then we got to dotting.Image 35 Image 8We did a little smearing.Image 4 Image 27 Image 17 Image 10 The results were nothing short of Magnificent!Image 11

The Best Canvas!

This past week we got a real preview of summer here in our normally chilly little part of the world. The thermometer topped out at 70 degrees and after a long winter that was enough for us to break out the sunscreen and the sprinkler! We played all day in the sunshine. With only a couple little guys left to be picked up we needed something fun to do. The boys were shirtless still from all of the water fun and we had a tray of paint out from a project earlier in the day. What could be better than to turn those little bare-bellies into works of art! I let them have at it. I don’t know if my son has ever had so much fun painting as he did this day! They painted stripes on their arms and they were tigers, they painted their ears and their toes! We had a blast and it made for a pretty colorful bath when we were finished.
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What Should We Paint Today? A little recycled art for Earth Day!

We started our painting adventure with a very cutesy handprint project. The kids sat patiently while I painted each child’s hand and instructed them where to place there hand on the paper and then quickly helped them pull their painty little fingers off of the paper so we had these very perfect little handprints. I then whisked these perfect little handprints to a safe place to dry, leaving the kids waiting and wanting more! I had promised painting and that certainly was not painting. I knew that I would soon have a mutiny if I didn’t do something. And the last thing I wanted was a mutiny from a group of toddlers  with painted hands! We dug in the recycle bin and what luck! We had tons of perfect paintables!DSCN1248 Painting on recycled materials provides new textures and dimensions. Not to mention that literacy, “Mom, I painted the L!”DSCN1249 DSCN1250 DSCN1251 We even had some sticks and rocks laying around to paint.DSCN1252 What a beautiful mess!DSCN1253

Plunger Process Painting!

Spring has finally hit our part of the country! It was 60 degrees the other day!!!! Now this may not seem warm to some but you would have thought it was mid July the way these kid were ripping their jackets and shoes off! I have been dreaming about turning our narrow little side yard into somewhat of an outdoor classroom for the past few months, impatiently waiting for the snow to melt off so I could really get to work. We have added a dirt pit and a mini sandbox and for the first time this year we got outside to do some big process art!

We have done some big process art inside, and it’s totally doable but even the most laid-back parent/teacher must cringe a little when those paint covered fingers and toes make their trail down the hallway to the bathroom, on the walls, and the carpet, and the couch…eeek! So for the most part inside I try to stick to a smaller version of process painting. What is process art some may ask? Well it is exactly that, art where the end product of art and craft is not the principal focus. Children are given the opportunity to truly explore materials with no judgement or predetermined outcome. And if you ask me the product generally turns out pretty cool too!

I have had a big piece of plywood laying around for years. We have used it for a ramp and a wall and a table and so many other things. Today our plywood was a canvas. I dug out all of our almost-gone-paints that I never use because I got new full bottles of paint that don’t take as much convincing and shaking and banging to actually get paint out of them. The kids started by squeezing and shaking those paint bottles onto the plywood.DSCN1224DSCN1225I set out clean plungers (they sell plungers at the dollar tree 😀 E was just as excited as I was) and a few other circular items for them to experiment with. We have done circle painting inside, small scale, this was kind of an amped up version.DSCN1226The plungers were by far the most fun! Sometimes I had to help un-suction the plungers so the board didn’t get moved all over the place. DSCN1229DSCN1236 DSCN1232 They smeared and swirled and stamped.DSCN1237DSCN1238 DSCN1233We of course got our toes involved in the process a bit too. DSCN1240

Salt Dough Easter Egg Garland

One thing that has changed about the way that I teach since I have become a family childcare facility as opposed to working in a center is the type of project that we do. Previously we focused a lot on the take home, proof that the kids were doing something each day while in our care. We also didn’t do much in terms of holiday decor. It’s a lot of work for something that stays up for a short amount of time. Now that I’m at home I love to engage the kiddos in some great holiday decorating projects, we get to make our house festive and it helps my kids make a connection with the holidays that are up and coming.

This month we’ve been in the spring spirit! Lots of flowers, seeds, mud, bright colors and of course Easter eggs! Our home needed a bit of springing up too! So we set out on an adventure to make our own decor. I don’t have a lot of experience with salt dough but the kids love play dough and are getting pretty skilled with a rolling pin so I thought that we would give it a try. I looked up a recipe for salt dough and this is what we used:

Salt Dough:

1/2 Cup of Salt

1/2 Cup Water

1 Cup of Flour

We mixed it all together… DSCN1162and rolled it out.
DSCN1170 Then we cut out our egg shapes and poked holes in the top so we would be able to string them up.DSCN1169 DSCN1168 And of course we drove a few monster trucks over the eggs for good measure and a little texture.DSCN1171 After we got the eggs all ready to go on the pan I popped them into the oven on 200 degrees Farenheit, and we let them cook for a few hours. They were ready right when the kiddos woke from nap and they got straight to painting!DSCN1178 He’s being so careful!DSCN1180 Beautiful Easter Eggs! I could have used Modge Podge to give them a nice glaze but we didn’t have any, so oh well!DSCN1179 We had so much salt dough that we tried another way to make pretty eggs. We added liquid watercolors to the white dough and mixed it in with our hands.DSCN1173 We chose 5 pretty pastel colors and then ripped the balls into pieces and smashed them together.DSCN1175 They were very pretty when we rolled them out! We cut them and put them in the oven with our white eggs. These didn’t need any paint afterwords and turned out very Eastery.DSCN1176Viola! A perfect touch of spring. DSCN1217

Like Oil and Water…..(colors)

As I have mentioned before we love, like really love our liquid watercolors! We use them weekly, maybe even daily. The colors are just so vibrant and they are really versatile. We use them for everything from coloring play dough to painting snow or tie-dying paper towels. Another one of my true loves is abstract children’s art. Give me a messy mix of colors any day over an inside-the-lines coloring page. So you can understand my excitement when I stumbled across this post: Art & Science for Kids: Watercolors & Oil from Babble Dabble Do.

The kids were anxious to get started. They had a hard time waiting for me to get everything ready so we played simon says while I busily set the table. Sometimes I just have to keep those little hands busy! I used watercolor paper, and ran it under the facet to get the paper wet, next time I will have the kids use paintbrushes to wet the paper but that was just one step too many for this day! We put the paper in cooking sheets to contain the mess. I had slightly diluted liquid watercolors in small jars on the table for the kids to use on the paper as well as a few jars of oil. I set out eyedroppers and then let them at it! Some were more careful with their colors, not wanting too much mixing. Others were a bit more cavalier and ended up with a mixed up mess. Both versions were great! When the kids felt satisfied with the amount of oil and colors on their page I carefully moved the whole pan to the counter to dry.I let them dry for a couple of days, It was fun to watch the art change over time as it dried. DSCN1777 DSCN1780 DSCN1781 DSCN1782 DSCN1783 DSCN1784


<div align="center"><a href="http://www.readingconfetti.com" title="Reading Confetti"><img src="http://i1097.photobucket.com/albums/g350/loriekaeh/buttonfeatured_zpsed798fdf.jpg" alt="Reading Confetti" /></a></div>


Sensory Table Print Making!

We had so much fun with our table top printmaking last week. So I decided to build on that interest. Where else could we paint and make gorgeous prints? The sensory table of course! We emptied out the green, pastel speckled sugar that was once our vibrant rainbow sand and got straight to work painting that table! Side note: I always have the kids help me empty, clean and refill the sensory table. They feel more invested in what we are doing when they take part in the setup as well as the cleanup. Plus its pretty fun scooping old materials out and prepping it for something new and exciting. Not to mention the fact that sometimes I just don’t have time to do it all by myself!!

To get started I simply squirted a few blobs of paint into the table and added paintbrushes. The kids knew what to do from there. Painting in the table added a whole new spin to our printmaking. We had new dimensions to work with and fun ridges to paint on. When the table looked  good and colorful we added paper and the artwork was flowing! Just like real printmaking, these pictures are really easy to mass produce. We have enough for each child to go home with a stack plus a few leftover to decorate my walls.  🙂

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