This month we “rowed” The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Because of the illustrative properties of the book, I chose to do a unit study on art to accompany and supplement and obvious/direct relation lessons, with a focus on shape and color. I check out books that go with the theme from the library. We read the target book 4-5 times a week, and they can choose from any of the “go-with” books to read whenever they want. I also built our reference library with really sturdy illustrated dictionaries and encyclopedias, so we spend significant time looking things up when they want to know more about an animal or sport, etc. The Booklist for this month lists all the references and accompanying storybooks we used and includes those in our home library. They’re also good to open to a page for inspiration while an activity is in progress (especially for art projects).
These are the lessons for the month, most can be adapted for younger siblings to participate too. Or, have a stack of dollar store workbooks so they can “do school” while we work (they can just scribbles, but whatever). The links for instructions and printables are there. I spent a lot of time in January laminating and printing and cutting. My library also has teacher guides from major curriculum publishers for Kindergarten, so I pull a few lessons from those for core objectives. We also slowly work the the 100 lessons book and the McGuffey primer as my daughter is interested. Every artwork must be signed by the artist to practice writing her name.
- Shape game: use painters tape on the hardwood floor to outline large basic shapes (I did star, circle, square, plus, crescent, triangle) then use beanbags to toss to shape as its called out (I made quick flashcards with a sharpie on construction paper that I’d just hold up and they’d throw the beanbag onto that shape). Then we would jump, trace with toes/fingers, tiptoe, use the tape shape as a road for cars, etc on each shape. [we did this last week and the shapes are still used daily] **we used the shape game to talk about the shapes artists used in paintings and other art form- great to relate to Kandinsky and Matisse!
- Shape Clip cards (I print, laminate, and cut, then keep in a zipper pencil case for storage)
- Counting snowballs: Sandpaper Numerals and cotton balls
- Sorting Chart: sort objects by color and shape [I set this up differently every other week]
- Letter tangrams: A favorite from ABC Bunny’s unit, I had gotten Melissa & Doug tangram blocks and found these free printables to use the tangrams blocks in alphabet learning. They were still a big hit!
- Shape sticks: Use popsicle sticks to make shapes on cards; Montessori based, self-directed.
- Magformers: We used these to talk more about shapes and what shapes can be used to build houses, buildings, cars, etc.
- Snowflake clip cards
- Marble chute: A gift from my parents, we have a wonderful wooden marble chute and about a dozen glass marbles. After we did marble painting, I thought it would be a good time to debut this simple and glorious toy, and I’m so glad I did. While I certainly wouldn’t leave two three year olds unsupervised with marbles, it was great fun to do all together. We talked about why things move faster on an incline and set up the marbles at the curves to create a domino effect. Marble chutes are so classic, I had one as a child at my grandparents house and my cousins and I would spend hours playing with it. I’m glad we have one too, because the girls weren’t the only ones having fun…
- Ker Plunk Game: another marble game! Classic game that I used as a lesson in weight and strategy.
- Snowball races: a movement game, all you need is small pompoms and straws. We started by reading a poem about wind from Weather and The Windy Day. Gather supplies, then designate a start and finish line (I used painters tape on the floor). Upon “go!” use the straw to blow the snowball down the racetrack the the finish line. Talk about how your breath was the wind that blew the snowball and how wind outside blows leaves, snow, etc.
- Play in the snow: we used toy bulldozers like Katy and the Big Snow, then we built snowmen like in The Snowy Day and Snowmen at Night
- Matching snowflakes: We introduced a magnifying glass for this lesson, and it was a big hit. We laid out the big snowflakes and then used the glass to help us identify the tiny details of the small snowflakes to match them. We read the book The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story before this game and it linked as a quick science lesson really well.
- What makes Ice Melt: Ice cubes in 4 bowls (helpful to freeze some with food coloring in them for better visualization), pour cold water on one, warm water on the next, hot on 3rd and use salt on 4th. Talk about what makes ice melt. Relate to Peter’s pocket snowball in The Snowy Day.
- Henri’s Scissors: read the book, then use the iPad/reference books to look at art by Matisse and talk about the colors and shapes. Then we used scissors to cut our own shapes out and paste as a collage. We also got our felt board and felt shapes and created our own art, looking at the Matisse cutouts in our art references for inspiration. [A note: this felt board gets used all the time, it is one of the best random purchases I’ve made and now is a favorite gift to give because it is contained well and can be used for so many different lessons.] These lessons were the most popular and memorable for my little students, they loved the abstract nature of Matisse’s work and how everyone saw different things in works like La Perruche et la Sirene (The Parakeet and The Mermaid) and La Gerbe (The Sheaf) http://playgroundparkbench.com/painting-with-scissors-exploring-matisse-cutouts/
- Marble Painting: I used painter’s tape to secure a piece of yellow construction paper in a rimmed baking sheet, then put a few dime-sized dots of washable poster paint beside the paper directly onto the pan. We used three marbles and reviewed how to roll the marbles around the pan by tilting the pan without tipping the marbles out. Then we watched how the marbles made tracks across our paper and learned how to make straight lines vs. curved lines. A big hit! http://www.messforless.net/marvelous-marble-painting/
- Flower painting: read about Georgia O’Keefe using reference books and “My Name Is Georgia” then use oil pastels or paint to draw “up-close” and big flowers.
- DIY paintbrushes: To go with Georgia O’Keefe, we used fake flowers from the dollar store as paint brushes; we also continued the paintbrush exploration using this lesson: http://parentingchaos.com/diy-paintbrushes/#_a5y_p=2980887
- Snowflake Stencils and foam brushes: We learned how stencils worked and used white paint with foam brushes to create snowy scenes like in The Snowy Day.
- Color wheel lesson: I had to modify this a bit for preschool http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/education/teachers/lessons-activities/elements-of-art/color.html
- Ice painting: We did this last month during ABC Bunny too! It was a big hit, so we did it again.
- Qtip painting: Lesson on Seurat (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Bathers at Asnieres, specifically. These paintings play large parts in the “Katie and the…” series, which have been a huge hit) and pointillism http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/2015/02/rainbow-q-tip-painting-printables/ and http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.com/Alphabet_Q_Tip_Painting_Cards.pdf
- Felt play, using shapes like Matisse (I had one of our reference books open to a Matisse work for inspiration) and building scenes from The Snowy Day, then creative play. We have this felt kit and use it all the time. I also use the board for when I have a feltboard story to accompany the month’s theme
- Window markers to sketch on glass (vertical handwriting practice)
- Rolling pin painting: This was also a big hit, but a little tedious to set up and clean up. http://www.kidsplaybox.com/art-activities-kids-rolling-pin-yarn-prints/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=art-activities-kids-rolling-pin-yarn-prints
- Air-dry clay sculpture (lesson on Sculptors)
- Paper sculpture: http://artcuratorforkids.com/madi-art-project/
- Edgar Degas and ballet movements: This one was a personal fave of mine for the month. I love to incorporate movement into lessons. Using this lesson from The Getty, I incorporated some movement into our lessons and we learned two ballet moves like the ones seen in works by Degas. This was tough at first, as the girls were tired at the point we started, but when I tried again on another day it was a huge hit with all ages!
Phonics & Writing
- Tracing lines with snow paint: to help with grip and eye-hand coordination. We related these lines to how the mountains of snow looked to Peter in The Snowy Day
- Snowflake stamps/stickers on the letter S: this activity was quick, and my littlest enjoyed it, too. I simply drew a big letter S on a sheet of white paper and the girls used snowflake stampers to trace it. We ended up doing other letters too on other sheets of paper because they liked the stamper so much!
- White playdoh play: making letter shapes using our DwellStudio letter cards as guides, making snow mountains and snow balls like in The Snowy Day
- Snowflake windows: Press’n’Seal, cotton balls, Qtips. Go. Great for fine motor skills and we left it up to use over several days, sometimes reading books from the booklist shelf as the girls worked.
- Alphabet recognition game: Use DwellStudio cards in speed game to match to Alphabet floor mat using letter name and then phonetic sound
- Alphabeasties book and cards/puzzle: This book was a huge hit. It has foldouts and all the animals are made with typeface letters. Very cool and interesting to look at. We also have the alphabeasties cards, which have individual letters on one side and can be grouped with other letters as a puzzle on the reverse side to make a picture. This held attention for about an hour and it was a fun was to reinforce beginning letter sounds when the entire animal is made from its own letter! There’s also a workbook to complete the set, which we don’t have, but it looks interesting too.
This month we spent a lot of time on field trips. The Science Center and The National Gallery are on the list. We also managed a spontaneous field trip to our local Marine Museum.
I was lucky to happen across a series of classes at an art museum in a nearby city that allowed students to study works in the galleries. We attended our first this month and looked at paintings in the galleries for clues as to the seasons in which they were set. The class was fabulous- the teacher had prepared a bag containing pouches of sensory materials to enhance the lesson (fake leaves for autumn, ice packs and a scarf for winter, a little stuffed bird finger puppet for spring, etc) and the girls & I had so much fun. At one point my daughter asked if she could climb into the frame like Katie does and my heart about burst that she had remembered and aligned one of the stories we read at home to the experience she was having in the class. I did have to explain that we can only go into paintings with our imagination, but agreed that the frame of the picture we were looking at did look very much like those around paintings in the Katie books (see the booklist post for more details about our favorite series this month!). After spending time looking at some of the gallery works, we went to the museum classroom and created our own seasonal art using pastels and stickers. We can’t wait to go back for next month’s class!
Other Random Notes
Once we complete the list of target lessons, we’ll go back and repeat some of the favorites. I try to do 2-3 lessons a day, and we also try to bake 1-2x a week for math skills. We really like the Kumon and Roger Priddy workbooks and sometimes that is all we will get to. We also love the Learning Palette and its different cards (we have math and phonics sets) because my daughter can do it herself and they are self-correcting. My oldest daughter has access to Starfall and ABCmouse on the iPad, but only plays 1-2x a week. My youngest does not have iPad access, but watches the YouTube videos. But some weeks are busy, and we only get to read… and that is just fine. These ladies are still little, and the main focus is playing and cuddling with books. Directed and intentional play with the end goal of fun is all I’m aiming to achieve with these lessons.