Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Play-Based Preschool Invitations

It was our turn again to host for our play-based preschool co-op this week, and, despite the sunshine, we decided to get chilly.

gift bows, glitter glue tubes, stickers, paper strips, old Christmas picture books, toy catalogues, white glue, curly ribbon, spangles, gems, and pony beads

We started by making holiday cards for our families, using similar materials to our Freeform Festive Art Explorations from last week. I don't like to tell the children what to make when we're creating. I generally offer up new and interesting art materials and let them interpret them how they desire. However, these just-started cards were sent along by last week's hosting parent, and it's in the nature of a co-op that no single parent teacher rules the roost. It ends up being really beneficial to the kids, because they're exposed to so many different things than they would be with just one teacher. Making these cards was the highlight of the kids' day, so I was so glad I was gently nudged outside my comfort zone.

The kids worked on these cards for a good 45 minutes.

1. "a scary spider web for spiders to sit on" 2. "a rainbow" 3. (Meg's) "the Christmas baby"

We spent our outdoor time:

Painting with gift bows (inspired by Teach Preschool)

One of the boys found a bunch of craft sticks stashed inside an outdoor toy, and the kids decided to incorporate them in their painting.

Drying in our holiday canopy

Mixing up a batch of "fluffy stuff" (inspired by many preschool blogs currently playing with this fun stuff - I wish I knew who to credit it to). We mixed one box of corn starch with half a can of shaving foam. Once mixed, the fluff could be formed into "snowballs" and "snowmen," and then crumbled in our hands to start over.

Playing in our "junk toys pool" (inspired by Teacher Tom). This is always a favorite.

Practicing scissor skills at the cutting table with holiday kids' clothing catalogues. We had a tub of confetti by the time the kids were finished.

During circle time, we read The Snowy Day, sang "Once There Was a Snowman"* and "Snow is Falling,"+ and danced to classical music, pretending to be snowflakes. On Thursday, we will repeat all the activities we did today and also make some cookies to share at snack time. We will also read The Snowman.

*Once There Was a Snowman
Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman
Once there was a snowman - tall, tall, tall [stand up on tippy toes]
In the sun he melted, melted, melted
In the sun he melted - small, small, small [scrunch down to ground]

+Snow is Falling
Snow is falling all around
On the housetops, on the ground
Snow is falling on my nose
On my head and hands and toes


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Freeform Festive Art Explorations - A Way to Reset a Rough Day

I had a hard day with my kids today. We've spent the past couple weeks taking turns passing around a bad stomach virus, the kids have been having a number of sleep regressions, and just general the responsibilities of managing a household during the holidays all ended up piling together and made for a very trying Tuesday. I lost my temper. Multiple times. Both kids went down for naps with tears, and I dropped a few of my own on the couch while I caught my breath. And then I decided, you know what? I'm the only one here who really has the power to turn this day around.

So I set the scene for a calm and pleasant afternoon to greet the kids when they got up from their naps (hopefully) rested and cheerier. I tidied up the kitchen - 'cause Mama doesn't function well in chaos, set a pot of good smelling things to simmer on the stove, turned on some Christmas music, put out some snacks, and then went hunting in my craft room.

My only direction in mind for this afternoon activity was "festive." I gathered some baskets, raided the gift wrap center, then finished up with a few supplies from Meg's craft shelves. (Please forgive the poor lighting. It's that time of year where the days are shorter, nights are cooler, and lighting is artificial.)

The spread.

Papers - dollar store holiday cards that have been languishing in my closet for years, pages from a ruined holiday picture book, construction paper halves, toy catalogue

gift bows and ribbons

white glue, glitter glues, and scissors

"Strings 'n Things" bin - bits of yarn, ribbon, elastic, etc.

As with most art explorations in this house, Meg decided to take things her own direction when she awoke. She pulled out a number of papers and asked to use my scrapbooking paper cutter. I pulled it out, reminded her which part was sharp and how to use it safely, and she went to town, cutting everything in her path into strips. She even attempted cutting one of the gift bows and found out on her own what was and wasn't possible to cut with the tool.

Her first try.

So proud!

I'd like to say this turned the whole day around and there were no more tears and tantrums and sharp words. But that isn't true. We're all human and this has been an exhausting and trying time. But those 3 happy, giggly, singing, creating, wonderful hours were enough to get us through the rest of the day. And tomorrow we'll all try to do better.