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!