Monday, May 31, 2010

Shaving Cream Canvas

Inside or outside...
Tub or table...
Shaving cream has many benefits other than the obvious.  It offers a wonderful sensory experience that encourages a variety of skills to be practiced.  The younger child can explore lines and shapes.  Letter formation can be introduced and practiced before adding the use of a writing instrument.  Older children can practice cursive and spelling words.  While most children enjoy the sensory experience along with the fine motor skill practice, for me there is an added benefit.  Every now and then I'll come across a child who is very aware of making their picture/writing look "just right".  There is a permanence that comes with crayons, markers, paints,... etc.  For some children this lessens the risk they are willing to take to do something new.  Shaving cream allows for a quick change of all or part of their work.  This encourages more risk and builds confidence.  Not to mention its fun and relaxing.

Apply a small amount of shaving cream to a baking sheet or the side of the bathtub.  If desired, add a few drops of food coloring.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dough for more than "playing"

Most of us take a quick trip back to our childhood as soon as we sink our fingers into a new batch of play dough.  The scent, texture and perfect color is appreciated by adults and children alike.  But there is more "learning" to be found behind the "play" in the dough.  In my house and classroom homemade dough ranks above the store bought variety.

I won't go into the benefits of preparing the dough with your children (measuring, sequence of events, recipe reading,...) but trust me it's worthwhile!  Here's all that you need to do:

Mix -
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 Tablespoons oil
food coloring (I prefer the gel type in the small pots for baking)

Combine in a large, cool pot.  This allows the little ones to help without fear of getting burned.

Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat once the dough has formed into a large ball and easily pulls away from the side of the pan and spoon.  Turn dough onto waxed paper and knead.

Instead of cookie cutters, which do almost nothing to support fine motor development, give them rolling pins and child sized scissors.  Demonstrate how to roll "snakes".  Encourage them to use their fingers to roll small balls for added fine motor development.  This is also a beneficial activity to pull out if your child needs a little calming and "time away".  It's a great stress reliever!

The dough stores well in a sealed container or bag.  Don't be surprised if you catch yourself enjoying the therapeutic benefits of play dough too!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Painting Without Paint

Painting Without Paint

The first thing I learned about children's art experiences is that the process is more important than the product. As a parent, though, I love the product as it is a glimpse into the mind of my children. The reality is there are more creations made at school and home than I have room to store. But still, my children love to paint and they could empty my printer of paper in one sitting. So, the answer in my house and on the playground when its just not the best time to pull out the paints – paint with water.

Give your child any size/type of brush or the extra sponge under your sink (cut into long strips) along with a plastic cup of water and your sidewalk will become an instant canvas. Extend the experience into a scientific discussion on evaporation. The processes of large arm movement, creative thinking, and “observing with scientist's eyes” will far out live the product.