Shapes filled our studio this week as we investigated the properties of different shapes…. circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, ovals, hexagons, octagons….oh my! Understanding shapes and numbers helps children categorize and make sense out of a chaotic world. This week in music class, we used shapes to introduce and practice concepts of counting and numbers in music. On the way into the studio, we marched, clapped and hopped while counting in rhythm to the sounds of an Atelier original song designed to help counting and audiation of the pentatonic scale, called “Five.”
At the rug, the students were invited to grab a xylophone mallet and play along with the song, the five notes of the pentatonic scale in order. We read the book “123s” by Charlie Harper, and “Five Little Monkeys” by Eileen Christfellow, but instead of speaking the books, we sang them, further emphasizing the notes of the pentatonic scale.
Introducing some simple shapes, such as triangles, squares, hexagons and octagons, we counted the sides of each shape together, but instead of using our talking voices, we used our singing voices! We sang several original Atelier songs about the shapes, such as triangles, squares, circles and octagons; “triangle, triangle, 123 sides, 123 angles, what a surprise!” or the “Octagon Stop”! Our bright little musicians picked up the songs quickly, and we joined together in a line, stomping, stopping, and clapping to the beat.
In Little Artists class, we began our discussion about shapes by connecting our previous investigation into lines. Children were given chenille straws to demonstrate how lines are used to create shapes. Children eagerly created their own shapes on the rug by piecing together the chenille straw lines.
Our young artists discovered shapes through song and dance during circle time. Finger cymbals, large wooden circles, the musical triangle, and a marching parade allowed for children to explore shapes while squealing with delight at the “ting” of the finger cymbals and laughing with each other as they marched around the rug singing “1, 2, 3, 4. A square has four sides. 1, 2, 3, 4 all the same size!”
Colorful wooden shapes gave way to identifying the name of each shape and the number of sides. As the children played with the shapes, they began to notice how shapes can fit together to make new shapes. After noticing that two squares could fit together to make a rectangle G said, “I have an idea….shapes can make shapes!” Children manipulated the shapes into new creations….a fox, a rocket ship, a flower, a fish, a bird and were invited to draw their shape sculptures onto paper with colored pencils. Children decomposed their sculptures shape by shape as they translated the whole onto paper. Older children were encouraged to draw their shapes free hand concentrating on the outline of the shape, number of sides, and number of points. Younger children moved their pencil around the edges of the wooden shape, feeling the contour of the line as they traced the shape onto paper. Throughout this provocation children called upon fine motor skills and hand eye-coordination, counting and elements of geometry while playing, discovering, and drawing!
Children chose to paint either a circle or square wooden canvas a color (sometimes colors!) of their choice. Little Artists continued by adding a square mosaic tile design to the painted wooden shape. They first sorted the tiles by color into small dishes and then began to lay out their design onto the shape. I exclaimed, “I made a pattern!” and L happily discovered, “I used 4 squares to make a bigger square!” Children were able to call upon fine motor skills and counting again as they squeezed the liquid glue onto the square tile and pressed it down with their finger counting to 10 each time as they stuck the tiles to the large shape.
Painting 3-dimensional shapes provided our youngest artists novel approaches to painting with a brush. Many children enjoyed painting the paper around their shape as well as the shape itself….often times turning the shape over in an attempt to paint “all of it!” Children enjoyed identifying their color choices and mixing the colors around to create swirls of color or an entirely new color of their own!
In Little Artists classes we continued our Eric Carle inspired provocation by revisiting his artwork within his books, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear..” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Does a Kangaroo have a Mother too?” While looking through the books, children once again noticed shapes within the animals. C pointed and happily stated, ”he used a circle, an oval, and triangles to make that bird!” Children were invited to cut shapes out of their painting experiments from last week. Children approached this in a variety of ways. Some cut and were inspired by their work. C exclaimed, “it looks like a giraffe….I’m going to make a baby giraffe too!” Other children had a plan in mind before cutting their work. V stated, “I’m going to make a bear. I need to cut a square.” Their ability to synthesize, to see part of a whole, is a higher order thinking skill that promotes cognitive development. It was outstanding to see what our Little Artists were capable of!
Clear contact paper taped to easels provided a surface for our youngest artists to create a work of art from their own paint experiments from last week. Pre-cut shapes were laid out on the tables inviting children to identify the names of the shapes as they chose where to place them within the sticky frame. Some children experimented with where the shapes would stick and where they would not as they navigated their materials and the concept of sticky. As N concentrated on placing the shapes onto the sticky surface, he picked up a circle and exclaimed, “circle!”, identifying and saying the word “circle” for the first time! What a special moment!
Enjoy the slideshow below for a closer look into our week!