This week we began experimenting with painting without using a brush by approaching art making a la Eric Carle (Brown Bear, Brown Bear…What do you See?). We began by looking at images of Eric Carle’s artwork and discussing how he creates his animals by painting with lots of different tools on large sheets of paper and cutting out shapes to piece together into animals. We looked at the “red bird” and picked out certain shapes that we noticed… “a triangle….an oval…a circle!”
Our provocation invited children to explore mark making with a variety of both traditional and non-traditional art tools. Children were encouraged to explore with actions such as stamping, scraping, pressing, blending, or rolling on their individual pieces of paper as well as on the large paper covering the table. This open-ended activity allowed children to explore new possibilities with mark making. It was lovely to hear children sharing their discoveries with each other! S exclaimed, “look at what this tool does…it’s a CIRCLE!”
Several children enjoyed the sensory aspect of the paint as they squished and spread the paint around with their hand, delighting in handprints left behind on the paper. Our youngest artists experimented with the “Wee Can Too” paints that are made of fruits and veggies. Children helped to mix the paint powder with water on the large sheet of paper covering the table. Mixing and squishy the powder into the water was more fun for others as some toddlers enjoyed the feel of the paint on their hands and others opted for a tool for mixing. Children were invited to stamp the mixed paint with sponges in the shapes of triangles, circles, squares, and rectangles. Next week we will cut out shapes from the abstract painting experiments and piece together an animal or object of their choice.
On the light table we introduced a new way of constructing or piecing things together using Squigz! Suction cups and various sizes and shapes provided many possibilities! Children began constructing on the light table, but soon took their constructions around the studio as they experimented to find out what other surfaces the Squigz would stick. L and E were excited to find that they could stick them UNDER the table!
In our sensory bin this week children explored colorful mounds of soap foam! Our Little Artists classes were invited to aid in the experiment of making the soap foam! The children helped scoop and pour the water and soap into the bowl and watched wide-eyed as the mixture grew and grew while being blended together. Pure delight ensued in all classes as children swirled the colors together with a variety of tools. J and W noticed that they could make large bubbles with the squirt bottles and loved popping the bubbles their moms formed using their hands. What fun!
Young artists explored animals within “bubbles” on the light tables. Toddlers enjoyed playing games of peak-a-boo as they covered and uncovered the animals within the bubbles. Children also called upon cognitive skills and language develpment as they identified animals, matched like pairs, named the colors of the animals, and mimicked the sounds made by each animal. We delighted in hearing many “quack quacks” and “ribbit ribbits” among the studio!
Patterns are essential to making music. Without repeated patterns in sound, we wouldn’t have rhythm, melody, or harmony. Children are naturally drawn to patterns; as they are learning to make sense of the world around them, patterns offer logic and practice with repetition. To make this lesson accessible to young children, we explored patterns by talking about animals! All children are drawn to animals, so this provided the perfect way to start our discussion of rhythms and patterns in music. On the way into the studio, we all pretended to be different animals, roaring, squawking, or crawling our way to the rug! It was a "wild" time!
At circle time, we sang our “Hello Song” once the normal way, then we sang a few more verses as if we were lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! With the older kids, we talked about what a patterns is – something that repeats. We talked about patterns that we see in the world, then introduced the five notes of the pentatonic scale in D major on our xylophones, and played a simple pattern – Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La. We read the book “Five Little Monkeys” by Eileen Christelow, singing together the pentatonic scale for each of the five monkeys, counting down from five to one. Then we did some group singing, to well known animal songs such as “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Mary had a Little Lamb,” and “Alice the Camel.” Go, Alice, go! “The Ants go Marching in” gave us a chance to do some marching around the room.
Bringing out the guitar I played “Blackbird” by the Beatles (both song and band name are animals!) and “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Lipton and Yarrow, as the children joined in shaking eggs, playing xylophones, or just dancing around the room. We revisited our song about the big big frog and the little frog jumping over or going under the fence, called “The Frog Song,” making our frog guiro friends go through the motions and sounds of jumping HIGH or going LOW under the fence. The classic kids song “B-I-N-G-O” let us practice singing and clapping patterns. The animal puppets helped us sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” but I didn’t know that Old MacDonald also had a monkey, an elephant, or a robot on his farm in addition to chickens and cows!
Younger kids played a matching game using animal dominoes, and then we showed them how it can be turned into a pattern and a song! For instance, the kids first chose a cow, duck, and rooster, and then found the matches for each of these. We sang our new songs, for example: “Cow, Duck, Rooster… Cow, Duck, Rooster…” and then we sang what the animals would sing, “Moo, Quack, Cockadoodle doo… Moo, Quack, Cockadoodle doo… Ta, Ta, Tiki Tiki, Ta.” The older kids went a step further and composed their own rhythm patterns by gluing paper cut-outs of quarter notes (“ta”), eighth notes (“ti ti”), and rests, onto paper. Then, we took turns playing each song on the xylophones! The kids delighted in seeing and hearing their creations on paper turn into a real song! This exercise was great for strengthening all areas of musical development. The kids took great pride in presenting their first compositions, and that feeling of ownership led to some great performances!
Finally, we played along with an Atelier original song designed to teach the pentatonic scale called “One, two, three, four, five, (six, seven, eight)” alternating with the Solfege “Do Re Mi Sol La.” This simple rhythm repeated over and over got the children listening and playing along with the pentatonic scale, strengthening hand-eye coordination and cognitive development. Then, we danced like chickens, robots, monkeys, and whatever we felt like, to a recording of another Atelier song called “Dance!” Another great week! I was really proud of the students this week because I can see their musical vocabulary growing already!
Lines are everywhere! Our book, “Lines that Wiggle” helped children get acquainted with the different lines we may see in the world….curvy, wavy, zig-zag, or swirly lines, to name just a few. Children looked around the studio and found that lines really do exist everywhere as they excitedly found lines in the ceiling, in the art, in the bookshelves, or in the flooring. Children enjoyed singing and dancing to our line song (to the tune of Frère Jacques), which introduced the idea that some lines go side-to-side (horizontal), some lines go up-and-down (vertical), and some lines slide (diagonal). Putting ideas to song is a great way to introduce new concepts and the children love singing and acting out the actions of the song!
Dancing lines allowed children to explore lines in a whole body experience as they danced, twirled, and wiggled large bungee cords which they manipulated while listening to “Caravan” by Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie. Children squealed with delight as they used large movements to manipulate their own creative lines. This kinesthetic activity allowing movement and an innovative approach to discovering lines helps to bridge connections and ideas within the learning process all while having fun!
Children drew with markers as they transferred their new knowledge of lines into a work of art. Lines filled the pages in beautiful color. Children also experimented with rulers in drawing straight lines while strengthening hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Young artists noticed the numbers on the ruler, which lead to a conversation about numbers and measuring. What a lovely way to incorporate math concepts along side our art making!!
Yarn and glue provided a lovely sensory opportunity to creating with lines! Children dipped the yarn into bowls of glue and placed them onto the paper creating unique designs. C, A, and L loved squishing the yarn and glue into balls and manipulating materials before placing them into their paper. As C arranged the yarn lines onto her paper she exclaimed, “I’m making a rainbow!”
Our youngest artists enjoyed creating a variety of lines on large sheets of paper as they drove cars and trucks through paint “puddles”. Children began to notice the tracks they were creating of multiple colors, sizes, and textures as they pushed the cars through the paint,. Making car noises as they used large movements to move the cars from one end of the table to the other
Children explored lines through sculptural form with large wooden blocks and ramps. Using their imaginations they collaborated with each other building castles, waterslides, rollercoasters, or playgrounds. It was fascinating to see what each group of children created and what other materials within the studio they chose to incorporate. G and J imagined the colorful pegs (from the color matching game) to be the children playing on the playground they created. It was wonderful to watch the children work together and witness the relationships that have formed in class!
Magna-Tiles were on the light table again and stimulated wonderful conversations on how we put lines together to make shapes, “a triangle has THREE lines….a square has FOUR”
Little Artists had an opportunity to further explore the scientific properties of color mixing and water absorption through our experiment involving water, food coloring, and paper towels. Children were presented with 6 cups arranged in a circle and invited to pour water into 3 of the cups. I was beyond impressed when each class remembered the three colors that begin the color wheel and could even tell me that red, yellow, and blue are PRIMARY COLORS! Children dropped the primary colors into the individual cups of water and stirred them until we had a cup of each color. Next we folded 6 paper towels length-wise to create a “bridge” between all the cups. We discussed what the children thought would happen. They came up with many interesting hypothesis, but understood what would happen as they saw the color soaking up the paper towel. D noticed that, “the color is climbing up the paper towel to go into the next cup…..and mix a new color!” A wonderful exploration that revisited color mixing concepts and provided an authentic way to create a color wheel and witnessing two primary colors combining to make a new secondary color! What fun they had checking on the experiment throughout the 3 hour class. C proudly stated, “we’re not sure what’s going to happen. We have to try and wait to see what’s going to happen…..we will LEARN what will happen if we just wait and see!” Bravo, Little Artists!!
As part of our mission to educate the whole child, we talk about big ideas through music. Learning is more concrete when information is relevant and authentic to the lives of the child. This week our theme was energy, so we explored the different ways that we use energy to make sounds and music, and to dance! Many students came to class still interested in our theme from last week (opposites) so we talked about opposites in energy, and being fast and loud, or having no energy and being tired and slow and quiet. On the way in, we played "go, go, go Aaaand... STOP!!" At circle time, first we sang our Hello Song and then talked about how the sunlight helps our food grow, like apples, strawberries, and peanut butter waffles! And when we eat them we get the energy to run and play, so it's important to eat healthy food to help our bodies grow! Then we honored the sun with a sun salutation, and sang “Oh Mr. Sun.” We brought out the gathering drum, and sang “Early in the Morning” to the tune of “Alouette.”
Throwing the colored balls in the center of the gathering drum, we gave the drum a little bit of energy by making our fingers dance lightly on it. The little energy made the balls vibrate just a little bit… and when we gave the drum more energy, making our hands and then our arms dance, the balls bounced higher and higher and the sounds got louder and louder! Without explicitly stating so, we are teaching the kids about how energy can be transferred from one form to another, helping them to understand the science behind the music!
Ch-ch-ch-chicka! The sounds of shaker eggs rolling down ramps built upon large wooden blocks beckoned the children to explore the relationship between energy and sound further through a fun and exciting investigation. Children listened to the sounds of Mozart, Chopin, Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie as they built ramps, slides, or racetracks to send their shaker eggs rolling down. Children could hear the sounds of the shakers as they rolled at various speeds down both steep and shallow ramps.
At the end of class, we gathered on the rug and talked about some of the discoveries we had made. The connection with last weeks lesson about opposites was once again discussed. In the context of music, dynamics are very important; we can make loud sounds or fast rhythms using a lot of energy, or we can use quieter sounds and slow rhythms using less energy. Rather than playing at one volume or speed, we can use dynamics in music to open up whole new worlds of expression! As always, we played our Goodbye Song together, and by now the children know the song well, and some played along on the xylophones and shakers, while others simply danced freely. Another great week!
This week we explored the wonderful world of color! We read “White Rabbit’s Color Book” to introduce the concept of color mixing. White rabbit also began our discussion of the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue. Children learned that we always start with these 3 colors when mixing colors. This led to a wonderful discussion of the things from nature that we could use to create each color.…”blueberries, strawberries, dandelions!” We then experimented with color to “see what happens” when we mix two colors together. Children witnessed the blue and yellow swirl together to create “GREEN!” Little Artists continued to mix their own secondary colors and even discovered what happens when we add white to a color…. “we made pink!” Children were invited to use the colors they created while painting at the easels. Big, beautiful, expressive marks filled the large pieces of paper as children used both fine and gross motor skills with large and small paintbrushes.
Our sensory bin was full of pompom balls exploding with color. The soft, fuzzy sensory aspect of the material was very inviting to both the young and older artists. Children noticed the balls were different sizes…small, medium, and large. MM and G began collecting all the “baby” balls and created a home for them with the light table blocks and colorful scarves.
We used the light table to investigate the scientific properties of light and color as drops of liquid watercolor were added to different amounts of water within glass beakers. Children watched the drops of color slowly float and swirl within the water while exclaiming, “it looks like a tornado…..it looks like a jelly fish!” Magnify glasses were provided and J said, “let’s take a closer look at the colors”
Our exploration gave way to synthesizing all we had learned about color in creating a color wheel. Children mixed, painted, cut, glued and arranged the circles to form the color wheel!
Colorful mounds of homemade play dough and a variety of tools provided opportunities for children to sculpt with color! Rolling, flattening, poking, squishing, and stacking were just a few of the ways children manipulated the dough. O began poking popsicle sticks into his flattened dough and proudly exclaimed, “I made a candy forest!!” We also had quite a feast of cookies, cupcakes, spaghetti, muffins, and even quiche! How fascinating to see such vivid imaginations come to life!
In music class this week our theme was opposites! BIG and little, LOW and high… The connection between these two extremes was introduced in the context of music. This idea is important in music, for understanding how instruments make sound (big things make low sounds, small things make high sounds). Here at The Atelier, we teach to the whole child, and this includes supporting learning in all developmental areas. Therefore, we hope to introduce a little bit of the science behind music in developmentally appropriate contexts for each age group.
On the way into the studio, we pretended to be BIG and small animals, walking like big giraffes and elephants, or maybe like little mice or ants! Around the rug, the students investigated the sounds of xylophone and metallophone bars of different sizes, to connect the sound that each makes. Questions were asked, like “Which one is the biggest? Which one makes the lowest sound?” to encourage the children to experiment. With the older kids, I removed all of the bars from the xylophones … “OOPS!” and the students were tasked with reordering the bars, and putting them back on the instruments in the correct locations. Doing this kinesthetic activity allowed them to feel the size and weight of the lower bars vs. the higher bars, and fine and gross motor skills to reassemble the instruments. Then, we played our “Hello Song” on them!
We sang lots of songs about opposites, including some original takes on traditional tunes “I can sing my opposites” (to the tune of “Here we go round the mulberry bush”), or “If I were an elephant” (via “London Bridge”), which used the gathering drum for the big footsteps of the elephant, and “If I were a baby bird” in which we used tiny finger symbols to represent the sounds of the baby bird. We also played an original Atelier song called “The Big Big Frog (and the little little frog)”. This song included a little story about frogs jumping over or going under a fence – there are lots of ways to do things! Then, we made the frogs dance on the gathering drum by beating the drum!
With the younger students, caregivers picked the younger students way up high, and down low, singing high notes and low notes to emphasize the expression of pitch. With older students, we began to introduce simple musical notation, such as quarter notes and eighth notes, which are longer and shorter, respectively. We clapped and played these rhythms on the drum. We also introduced the Solfège hand symbols to the 3-5 year olds, to help connect each note of the Hello Song to its appropriate hand symbol… “Sol Mi, Fa Mi, Do Mi Re Do, Sol Mi”.
For our provocations this week, we investigated the sounds of different levels of water in glass cylinders by dinging them with popsicle sticks. The students observed that when the water level was higher, the pitch produced was lower, and when it was lower, the pitch was opposite; it was higher! We played the tune “Mary had a Little Lamb” on cylinders. Our sensory bin was filled with a multitude of colored pom poms, some were big and some were little. The students sorted and categorized the different sized and colors of poms, placing them into little buckets.
Back at the rug, we brought out our BIG BIG parachute, and little colorful scarves, drawing attention to yet another example of opposites. We sang “Open Shut Them” with many verses about different types of opposites, such as big and little, fast and slow, and loud and quiet. Then we put the colorful scarves and balls on the parachute and shook it to make them dance! For the end of class we got the Orff instruments (xylophones, drums, and shakers) and played our “Goodbye Song” together! Some students got a steady rhythm going by playing a quarter note bordun, while other students played freely on drums, cabasas, guiros and egg shakers to the sounds of the acoustic guitar! A fabulous time was had by all!!
Enjoy the slideshow below for a closer look into our week!
Spring is in full bloom and we’re continuing to learn about the beautiful changes it brings with it! Caterpillars and butterflies were our main focus for the week. Reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar during circle time lead to discussions about the lifecycle of a caterpillar and metamorphosis into a butterfly. Children were invited to create caterpillars using crayon and watercolor paint, taking note of what happens when the two media meet. They also learned how to use the watercolor paints by “waking them up” with water. It was a great way to establish color recognition. Children happily chimed, “wake up, green, waaaake up!”
Our youngest artists enjoyed exploring Crayon Rocks on a very large piece of paper on the floor. G and A began drawing circles and naming the colors. L enjoyed sorting the crayons into different containers. In the beginning of the week the light table was adorned with colorful bags of oil and water. The children delighted in this intriguing sensory experience. L liked the “squishy” texture and A enjoyed manipulating the layers of color. Sadly, despite being secured, the bags began to leak and had to be put away. We’re working on a solution to perfect this provocation, but in the meantime we brought out the Magna-Tiles on the light table for colorful, building fun. Children worked together as they built cubes, pyramids, castles, or rocket ships. O exclaimed, “I’m building a pirate ship!”
The sensory bin reminded us that with spring comes lots of rain! The children loved splashing, scooping, pouring, and dumping in the water sensory table. Many discoveries came about as children experimented with items from the shelves in the studio to see what would sink or float. A wonderful example of letting the children’s ideas shape the lesson! P exclaimed, “the cork FLOATS!” as she watched the large cork she placed in the water bob up and down.
The filter paper painted with pipettes and liquid watercolor by the children last week provided beautiful pieces to create a “stain glass window” using clear contact paper and their fine motor skills to select, pick up and place upon the sticky paper. Throughout the week I continued to see friendships form as children delighted in play, conversation, collaboration, exploration, and discovery. What a great second week!
Little Artists looked deeper into the characteristics of a caterpillar. Studying drawings and photos and looking closely at details. They chose among cut paper, scissors, glue, crayons, and watercolor paint to create a work of art about a caterpillar and their environment. We looked at butterfly wings discussing what it means to be symmetrical and the symmetry among our own bodies. After the caterpillar comes the butterfly! Children used a variety of squirt bottles to apply colorful designs of paint onto paper that they folded to create a unique symmetrical butterfly.
In our Let’s Create Music Together classes, our theme was water! First, we played a game called Jump in the Puddles! We jumped, hopped, skipped, and splashed in imaginary puddles on the way into the studio, practicing simple rhythm patterns, such as “Ta, Ta, ti ti Ta.” This was just our second week, but I was impressed to see the children singing along with, or engaging with our “Hello Song”, and L even practiced it at home!
As our theme this week was water, we talked about some of the different places we find water (puddles, rain, the ocean, or even in the kitchen!). Then, we sang some songs about the rain, such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” who climbs right back up that water spout after being washed out by the rain, and the classic “Rain, rain, go away.” Then, during “Stormy Day” (set to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus”), we played some of the sounds of thunderstorms on our gathering drum, including light finger tap-tap-tapping for the rain, thump-thump-thumping for hail, BOOM-BOOM-BOOMING of the thunder, and finally we played with colorful silk scarves, making our rainbows go “all around” on the stormy day! After it rained a LOT in our studio, the water got so high that we needed to get into a boat! So, we turned over the gathering drum to make our boat, and the children were invited to get inside and go for a ride, to the tune of “Row, row, row your boat.” Some students knew another verse to this song and shared it with the class “… if you see an alligator, don’t forget to SCREAM!!!” For our provocations, we investigated the sounds of water in the sensory bin, along with some things that float and sink. A piece of wood floating in the water made a “thunk” sound when hit with a mallet, whereas a metal pan floating upside down made some funny “doingy” sounds! Just hitting the water with a mallet or with hands made a splishy-splashy sound, and got water everywhere!
At the light table, the students investigated the Magna-Tiles, putting smaller shapes together to build bigger shapes – as when we make music, taking lots of little things like notes, beats, and sounds, and putting them together to make a larger composition. L took great care in constructing large buildings with pointed spires, fitting triangles together with square to make larger shapes. Orff instruments were placed around the circle rug, and MM and L had fun playing these along with the giant wall guitar, along to the sounds of jazz music playing over the speakers, including Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, or Duke Ellington.
At the end of class, we all came back together at the rug, and improvised a song! I got out the acoustic guitar for our “Goodbye Song,” inviting the children to play along on any instrument they chose, to sing, or just to dance. I loved seeing the kids express themselves – their creativity and their individuality! G and G played egg shakers, A and L played xylophones, and S danced and twirled in circles to the wonderful sounds filling the studio! We can’t wait to see what the kids come up with next week!