As part of my Master of Education, I had to create a terrain model. That is a hands-on model of a mountain range that gently flows into the plains and finally a coastline. I made it out of Plasticine clay and it weighs about 25lbs (that’s a lot of clay!), but it has made learning geography a blast for my students.
I have used this with kids as young as two years old up to 2nd grade so far. Obviously, I adjust the lessons for the different age groups. Since it is made out of a special oil-based clay, I can actually set the model in a bin (I use an old clear sweater box) and have the kids flood the box. They can pour water over it to mimic rain and wait the river system in action! It is also great for helping with geographical location. This could be a fun lesson for map-making too.
During our recycling unit, the kids each brought in a bottle from home so they could make their own glitter bottles. The project was fun, simple and the kids loved their end products.
They counted out 5 pom-poms for each bottle and used their fine-motor strength to push them into the bottles. Then they pinched up confetti and poured it through a funnel into the bottles. The next step involved their carrying their bottles to the sink and filling them with water. A few squirts of food color, and they were almost finished! Finally, they poured glitter through the funnel to complete the project!
This was a great project that touched on math, honed fine motor skills and definitely encouraged a lot of conversation!
My class was selected to participate in this year’s NAEYC’s “Week of the Young Child” for my current program. The theme this year was “celebrating our youngest learners”. The requirements stated that it must be an art project as it would be hanging in the main site’s art gallery through the beginning of May. I had so many ideas, but I knew ultimately, I both wanted and needed this to be completely the children’s creation.
Paint was the best medium as my kids LOVE painting, but I wanted it to be more than just paint on a canvas. Who better than to help come up with creative ideas than the kids themselves! Sitting on the rug, we had a discussion about how to manipulate the medium. I asked questions like, “What could we do to change the paint?” and “Is there anything in the classroom we could add to the paint so it looks or feels different?” The responses were amazing, and I ended up having the class vote because we did not have a canvas large enough for all their ideas.
One little girl said, “We could put sand in it!” To which I asked, “Oh, I wonder how that would feel? Do you think it would be smooth?” She happily said, “No, rough!”
Another child had the idea to paint with string! One very energetic young boy motioned flinging the paint as he said, “We could paint like this”. Other ideas were spray bottle painting, which was happened upon when a kid noticed an empty spray bottle near the easel; foil painting, and tissue painting.
We needed 6 sections so kids volunteered to help “tape off” the canvas. Then the painting began. Every aspect of this project was done by the kids. They selected the colors they wanted, they poured the paint into the spray bottles, they mixed the sand and glitter into the paint. It was 100% a child-centered project created by young learners! Perfect for the gallery.