LAST WEEK’s LEARNING
PUMPKINS + PRESCHOOLERS = LEARNING
“PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN, ORANGE and FAT
TURN INTO A JACK-O-LANTERN JUST LIKE THAT!”
Scholars experiment with Float/Sink and Full/Empty concepts as they TRANSFORM
TRANSPARENT containers into JACK-O-Lanterns!
“TAP, TAP, TAP
TURN, TWIST AND PULL!”
PRESCHOOLERS USE THEIR STRONG, FINE MOTOR MUSCLES TO TAP A GOLF TEE INTO A PUMPKIN. THEN WITH A SIMPLE TURN, TWIST AND PULL THE TEE COMES OUT AND LEAVES A GLOW HOLE!
Scientists observe a floating pumpkin after making predictions
(Do pumpkins float or sink)?
Heavy pumpkins float BECAUSE THEY HAVE AIR INSIDE OF THEM!
CREATIVITY and WRITING
MORE THAN JUST a PRETTY PICTURE
This week Preschoolers made cinnamon beads and revisited the concept of EVAPORATION!
Scholars were curious when they arrived to school and found the wet beads they had made the day before were a lighter color and were DRY! The water in the glue and applesauce that were used in our recipe was gone! When scholars were asked, “Where did the water go?” Responses included: “It went down the drain, It went into the ground, and It’s just all gone!”
OUR DEFINITION OF EVAPORATION IS; WATER DISAPPEARS!
Scholars learned that water drops travel up high in the sky and gather in clouds. When the clouds get HEAVY with water it RAINS!
Children’s writing and creativity are connected and progress over time. Creativity is a bridge to learning. When your child is creative and curious, she can come up with answers to the problems she encounters—like how to keep the block tower from falling. Creativity helps your child become a thoughtful, inquisitive, and confident learner!
One of the most important ways that your preschooler is tuning in to her creativity is by experimenting with art materials. As she grabs that chunky crayon or a paintbrush and gets to work, you will see her art and writing change and become more controlled and complex as she grows.
For young children, art and early writing skills are one and the same. At first, it’s all about just figuring out what these cool things called crayons can do. Then your child discovers the link between her hand holding the crayon and the line she made on the page: Presto! She experiences the power of cause-and-effect. Imagine how exciting this must be for her! She can now make a real “mark” on the world. This leap in thinking skills is helped along by her ability to hold things in her hands and fingers. The growing control your child has over the muscles in her hands lets her move a marker or paintbrush with purpose and with a goal in mind.
For young children, there are many stages of drawing and writing. Progression and growth doesn’t happen at the same speed for every child, but by offering repeated fine motor experiences with a variety of art and writing materials, you will see forward progress over time.
- Pictures of Objects or People
Many adults think of “pictures” as a picture of something. This ability to hold an image in your mind and then represent it on the page is a thinking skill that takes some time to develop. At first, children name their unplanned creations. This means that they finish the picture and then label their masterpiece with the names of people, animals, or objects they are familiar with. This changes over time.
Soon you will see your child clearly planning prior to drawing what he will create. You will also see more detail in the pictures, more control in the way your child handles the crayon or marker, and the use of more colors. What else to be on the lookout for? Children’s first pictures often build off circles. So, you may see a sun—an irregular circle, with lots of stick “rays” shooting out—or a person (usually a circle with roughly recognizable human features).
Once your child has begun to purposefully draw images, she has mastered symbolic thinking. This important milestone in thinking skills means that your child understands that lines on paper can be a symbol of something else, like a house, a cat or a person. At this stage, your child also begins to understand the difference between pictures and writing. So you may see him draw a picture and then scribble some "words" underneath to describe what he has drawn or to tell a story. When your child is able to share his story with you, he will be motivated to "author" more and more work as he grows.
- Letter and Word Practice
Children have had experience with letters and print for several years now and are beginning to use letters in their own writing. Usually children start by experimenting with the letters in their own names, as these are most familiar to them. They also make “pretend letters” by copying familiar letter shapes, and will often assume that their created letter must be real because it looks like other letters they have seen (Robertson, 2007). During this time, children also begin to understand that some words are made of symbols that are shorter and some words are made of symbols that are longer. As a result, their scribbles change. Rather than one long string of letters or letter-like shapes, your child's writing now has short and long patterns that look like words or sentences. While these letters and words are probably not technically correct, it does not matter. This exciting milestone means that your child is beginning to understand that text and print have meaning.
What Can You Do to Encourage Art and Writing Skills?
- Make art a regular part of playtime. Offer chunky, easy-to-grip crayons, thick pencils, and washable markers. Cut paper bags up to draw on. Sometimes it helps young children out if you tape the paper down on the table so it doesn’t move as they draw. As your child grows, you can include washable paints, child-safe scissors and glue, and homemade salt-dough as part of your child’s creative time. Let your child wear an old shirt of yours (with sleeves cut off) as a smock and lay newspaper or an old shower curtain over the table to keep it clean.
- No need for instructions. Let your child experiment and explore. Creativity means having the power to express yourself in your own way (Lagoni, et al., 1989). This independence is just what a growing child is looking for to feel confident, competent, and clever. By sitting nearby, observing and taking pleasure in your child’s creation, you are providing all the guidance he needs.
- Notice the process, not just the product. As parents, we often tend to compliment children on their successes: What’s that a picture of? A house? That’s great! And sometimes we get hung up on the fact that trees should be green, not purple. Sometimes we quiz: What’s the name of that color? But children learn more when we don’t focus so much on what they are drawing, but on what they are thinking about their drawing. Take a few moments to observe your child’s work: Look at the lines you are making—there are so many of them! Or, That picture is really interesting. Those colors make me feel happy. Or, I see you are working really hard on your drawing. Or just: Tell me about your picture. Then see if your child is interested in sharing more.
- Experiment with a variety of art materials. Let children paint with cotton balls, q-tips, sponges, string—you name it. Give your child crayons and rub over a textured surface (like a coin or a screen). Draw with chalk outside on a sidewalk; see how water changes the color of the chalk. Add powdered paint or glitter to your child’s sand play. Or add a new dimension to water play by adding drops of washable food coloring to the water. What happens when you mix two different colors of water together?
- Use art to help your child express strong feelings. Is your child having a tantrum? Offer some play-dough or set out the markers and paper and suggest she make a very, very angry picture. Creative activities can sometimes help children express and make sense of feelings that are too intense for them to share in words.
- Encourage your child’s attempts to write. If your child scribbles something and then tells you what he “wrote,” take it seriously. Let him take his “shopping list” to the supermarket or mail his (scribbled) letter to grandma. This is how children learn that words are powerful and have meaning.
- Display your child’s art and writing. This is how your child knows her work is valued and important.
PRESCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS FOR the NEXT TWO WEEKS
Over the next two weeks scholars will continue to discuss FAMILIES and HARVEST activities while being ENGAGED IN PURPOSEFUL
FOUNDATIONAL WRITING ACTIVITIES!
Fine Motor activities will include:
- Designing pumpkin name cards for family’s Thanksgiving table
- Pushing 1000 colored toothpicks into cardboard! Young mathematicians will count, sort and create patterns using eight colors!
- Plucking kernels from a corn cob and soaking kernels in water to see what happens!
- Creating colorful corn cobs by adding kernels to three cobs!
- Searching for first name initials hiding amongst 100 letters on a pumpkin!
- Grasping pegs and placing them into holes on a Lite-Brite board!
- Sorting colored toothpicks into the holes on top of a transparent saltshaker!
- Cutting straws to create short and long lines to make squares, triangles and rectangles. The lines can stick to a white board (transparent contact paper sticky side up) and can be repositioned to make letters too!
- Sorting, counting and creating patterns as we place colored pasta onto wooden skewers! The result…TURKEYS!