Monday, March 31, 2014

Kickin' it old school

Over the weekend I had the good fortune of coming across this magnificent thing in my grandmother's basement, it's a tiny slide viewer with about 50 slides. My grandmother must have picked it up on one of her many adventures. It has a collection of slides with castles labeled "1st visit" and "3rd visit". I imagine theres a second visit floating around somewhere in the boxes and boxes of photos - I was pretty thrilled to get it. The castle slides are obviously taken by a professional, probably sold in mass quantity at some little souvenir shop. I thought the kids might enjoy looking at the images of real castles inside the viewfinder.

C - "Where are all the princesses? Maybe they're all sleeping." 

The kids asked where I got the slide viewer from so I told them it was my grandmother's and that she probably went to see some of the castles in the slides because that's just the sort of thing she enjoyed doing. They thought it was pretty cool that I have a grandma who goes to visit castles.

While waiting for a turn with the slide viewer the other children took turns looking at slides on the light table with magnifying glasses.

As we were going through the slides I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the boxes of slides contained vacation slides from a canoe trip to the mountains. There in the collection, was a picture of my grandmother just hanging out right smack dab in the center of the frame. The kids all hurried over to see what the woman who traveled to all these castles and mountains looks like.

J- "It's kinda like a movie camera!" A - "Wow! I can see the mountains in there."

I was hoping we would use the slides to spin tales of castles and mountain adventures but the kids were so enamered with the process of loading and unloading the slides then marveling at the brilliant colors on the tiny images that we spent all of our time making sure each child had as long of a turn as s/he wanted. After all it isn't every day that we come across something this cool!

"Look  inside of here Ms. Geraldine! It SO beautiful! If I lived inside of this castle I would have a lotta gold."

As they worked I noticed some of the children looking in the crack where the slides go in as if they were trying to figure out how it all worked. We took the lid off of the projector and took a peek inside. The innards were very simple - the standard battery mechanical pieces, a tiny flashlight and a magnifying glass attached to the inside of the housing. I showed them how the slides pushed a tiny lever that turned the flashlight on so we could see the image through the magnifying glass. 

After looking at some of the slides A and J decided to draw some pictures of mountains while they waited for a second turn with the machine.

Simple machines are so much fun to explore!
C- "Look Ms. Geraldine! This is COOL! I can see a castle."


Friday, March 28, 2014

Easter Bunny Land

Lately the preschoolers have been into drawing, storytelling and small world play. These kinds of activities are a great way to build literacy skills, creative thinking AND develop all the fine motor skills needed for writing - plus it's just plain fun!

This project was actually a spin off of one of the other projects I had in mind for the kids.

I thought it would be fun to make bottle cap flowers and incorporate drawing / painting on foam to create a spring picture.

The kids had a couple different ideas such as angry monster faces (part of our Jack and The Beanstalk project) and ideas for mixed media collages so we decided that maybe we would use the materials in a couple of different ways.

As they worked these lovely little garden patches just sort of evolved. They were so much fun to create that everyone decided they wanted to make the same thing.

Materials: iridescent paint, foam blocks, pipe cleaners, tiny sparkly Easter eggs and flowers from a floral necklace that had fallen apart long ago. 

The process was simple. Each child chose the colors s/he liked to cover the surface of the foam then they made pipe cleaner flower stems and egg holders then pushed them into the foam.

When they were finished I placed them up on a display shelf to dry.

As I was fishing around for projects this morning I thought it might be fun to incorporate the garden patches into an Easter storytelling scene….

I added lots of little extras - some glass gemstones, battery operated twinkle lights and our fall trees brought to life by adding some spring flowers. When the children came in this morning they all admired the set up and looked to see if they could identify each child's flower patch around the bunny house. 

We discussed the importance of being careful with the art pieces as we worked so that nobody's artwork would be destroyed.

The children hid "magic gems" in the garden patches, made blankets for the bunnies from scraps of fabric and wove fanciful stories about the bunnies of bunny land.

Even though some of the stories were very animated, the children were thoughtful and respectful of the delicate foam pieces. As they worked they decided certain patches needed extra flowers or eggs to  fit the storyline they had conjured up so they took their own piece to the creative table where they made the necessary adjustments before continuing on in their storytelling.

What a perfectly lovely way to welcome spring!