8 more days!

That’s right! Only 8 more days to enter the 2017 Honor The Child, Honor the Process Challenge!

For a chance to win First Art, simply do the following:

  1. Try out ANY open ended art idea or an idea from the book.  I take pictures of some pages and post them on the blog.
  2. Take a photo of your experience and use the hashtag #processnotproductchallenge2017 on Instagram.
  3. Most important, HAVE FUN!

Winner will be drawn on June 1st!

This week we tried Texture Scrap Painting

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Everleigh kept putting her hands out and saying, “More paint?” I’d put some paint on one hand, but she continued to hold both hands out and said, “other side paint?” insisting I squeeze paint on both hands.  I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of that, unfortunately, but it was super cute.  When I do this again, I will leave puddles of paint out in trays like the book suggests for them to use at their leisure. However, anytime Everleigh asks for paint to be squirted on her hands, I will gladly do so! We hung up their collaborative art piece in the dining room per Penelope’s request.

Were you able to try out any process oriented art this month? Did you want to, but had some challenges come up? What was successful or not successful? I’d love to hear your thoughts! There’s still time to enter the contest so give it a try or let me help you! Hope you have a fun creative week full of color and joy!

Process Oriented Art Creates Wonder in the Experience

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Last week it rained a lot. It was also unseasonably cold.  I wish we had used rain puddle water to paint with paintbrushes.  Do you ever have an idea of how your day or week will be and then it turns out nothing like you imagined? Ha, that happens a lot.

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Last week I shared the idea of using water to paint outside.  Instead I poured water down the chalkboard.  The chalkboard was full of chalk and not being used for a couple weeks. As soon as I poured water down it, it came alive again! The girls loved the interaction between the water and chalk and interweaving it with paint brushes. “How is it doing that!? Look! Look what’s happening! Watch when I do this!” This dialogue sparks  the wonder in the experience!

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This week I share some more ideas from the book,

First Art

May they inspire you, but remember, any open ended art experience will do for the chance to win this book!

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For a chance to win this book, simply do the following:

  1. Try out any open ended art idea or an idea from the book.  I take pictures of some pages and post them on the blog.
  2. Take a photo of your experience and use the hashtag #processnotproductchallenge2017 on Instagram.
  3. Most important, HAVE FUN!

Winner will be drawn on June 1st!

Week 2 of Honor the Child, Honor the Process Challenge!

In honor of Everleigh turning 2 this beautiful month of May I am giving away this book:

First Art

Children older than two can also participate in the challenge! My five year old is getting a lot of out of these open-ended art experiences as well. To win this book please do the following:

  1. Try out any idea or recipe from this book.  I take pictures of some pages and post them on the blog.  Last week we tried mixing liquid starch and tempera paint one day and another day we mixed cornstarch, water and food coloring.  This week there are more ideas posted below!
  2. Take a photo of your experience and use the hashtag #processnotproductchallenge2017 on Instagram.
  3. Most important, HAVE FUN!

That’s it! ANY effort is acceptable!  As long as the experience is open-ended and focuses on the process, you’re good! You can also do last week’s examples instead of this week’s! It really doesn’t matter. I just want to give away this book to anyone who is willing to try any open-ended art experience with their child(ren).  Let me know what you try by posting on Instagram with the #processnotproductchallenge2017 hashtag.  Here’s this week’s suggestions:

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I did this one when Penelope was younger.  If the sun pops out this week and it warms up a bit, I’m hoping to try it again.  I wonder how my older daughter with her vivid imagination and robust language would respond to painting water outside now?  I wonder how my almost two year old with her developing language, phrases and short sentences will respond? Will she follow her older sister’s lead or marvel at the individual path she creates? 
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I’ve never made a paint bag with either girls yet. So this looks like a fun indoor process art experience to try! Will you try it too? Or a different one?
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On Friday we used air dry clay, some clay tools and tiles to create.

Best of luck!

Honor The Process Honor The Child Challenge! #processnotproductchallenge2017

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In honor of my baby girl turning TWO years old this month, I’m having a GIVEAWAY! I’m going to give away a copy of MaryAnn F. Kohl’s book, First Art for Toddlers and Twos: Open-Ended Art Experiences. 

First Art

Here’s the CHALLENGE: Each week I will post an open-ended art experience(s) from pages of the book to try out with your little one(s). (I also have a five year old and these are also very appropriate experiences for her as well). Every time you join me in trying out an art experience, please do the following: (Please note: You don’t have to do exactly what we do, just try a recipe or suggestion from the book pages I share for the week).

  1. Take a photograph of the experience.
  2. Post your photo in Instagram with #processnotproductchallenge2017
  3. Have fun!

That’s it! The more you post, the more times you’ll be entered in a Random Name Generator online.  This challenge is for the month of May so on June 1st, I will be drawing a name for the winner!

It’s the Process, Not the Product

Toddlers and twos explore art as a learning experience or an experiment, discovering what is stimulating and interesting.  They are more interested in doing art rather than making a finished product.  During the process, toddlers and twos discover their own independence as well as the mystery of combinations, the joy of exploration, the delight of creating, and the frustration of challenges– all important pieces in the puzzle of learning.  Whatever the resulting artwork–whatever it is a bright, sticky glob or a gallery-worthy masterpiece–to a toddler or two-year-old, it is only the result of “doing art,” not the reason for doing art. -p.10

Challenge for Week of May 1st-6th 2017:

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We chose the “Easiest Fingerpaint” and decided to do it outside on a gorgeous sunny day using a plexiglass screen.

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“Yellow!”

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Penelope loved swirling the paint all over the place
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Everleigh was much more cautious and slowly eased into glopping the paint on the board.

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Penelope realized the paint could splatter on the driveway next! She loved the designs she could make just by dripping it all around!
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Then she wanted to use a stick to “draw” with the paint.

After this, the girls started to paint on the other side of the plexiglass.  Penelope originally thought she was covering up a painting, but then was surprised to find it still on the other side! We talked about why that might have happened and how it caused an illusion.

After all our painting fun, I put soap and water in our water table for the girls to rinse off in.  We changed our clothes and all the paint washed out of their clothes too!

When you participate in the challenge, you don’t need to document as much as I am! Just the simple photo and hashtag will do! Good luck!

“Good morning Birds!”

“Mama, please remind me to say, ‘Good Morning’ to the birds tomorrow.” – Penelope, age 5

Our Window Bird Feeder was one of the best $6 spent last year.  When the first signs of Spring arrived in our neck of the woods in upstate NY, Penelope started inquiring about The Burgess Bird Book for Children.  I love that she associated seeing the birds come back for Spring with the stories of Peter Rabbit and Jenny Wren. Burgess eloquently introduces the birds returning from their migration in captivating dialogue between curious Peter Rabbit and his feathered folk friends in the Old Orchard. The chapters are only a couple pages long and the humor and story grab your attention so much that you don’t realize you’re learning interesting facts about different birds!  It’s the perfect read aloud while my girls are eating a meal.

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Our Bird Watching Window
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Our Bird Basket: Bird Watching Tally and Diagram from #TangleWoodHallow, camera, binoculars and books!
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Window Bird Feeder- never a dull moment!
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Our Bird Books for this year!

What’s different about this year is I added Birds, Nests and Eggs Take Along Guide (thanks to Aunt Mary– very excited birthday gifts received this March)! This book has vibrant illustrations that is a great companion to the Burgess Bird Book.  Birds Build Nests is another beautifully illustrated book that’s more poetic than informational and includes birds from all parts of the world. Feathers for Lunch is one of our favorite stories that not only has labeled eye-catching illustrations, but a bird checklist in the back!

What I’m really excited about is the Backyard Birdsong Guide! If you purchase this amazing bird book directly from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, part of the proceeds support their mission of research and bird conservation.  When we are introduced to a new “feathered folk” in the Burgess Bird Book, we can listen to the bird from our interactive birdsong guide.  We even brought it in the backyard to compare with the bird calls we heard around us!

How does all of this relate to the Reggio Emilia Approach? The Environment is the Third Teacher.  Not only has our environment outdoors naturally evoked interest in the coming of Spring, but indoors I created this bird watching space because it was a huge hit last year.

This year, my youngest is 22 months and she is showing a whole other side to the bird watching experience.  Her interactions with the birds up close and far away are interesting to document.  At first she was “spooked” by how close the bird came to the window, but now she’s very comfortable with them.  Some of her first words were “cardinal,” and “blue jay.”

We also joined Cornell’s Project Feeder Watch this year! In 3 easy steps you 1. Install a Feeder 2. Count the birds that visit and 3. Share the data with Scientists! We’re already doing 2 out of the 3 steps so I figured why not add the third step and help a worthy cause!? Now is the time to Sign Up so check it out! 🙂

Researchers in the fields of ecology and conservation frequently conduct studies aimed at answering two questions: Where does a given species live? and How abundant is it? Knowing where species live, what habitats they use, and how abundant they are is the most basic information needed to protect a species. Knowing whether these patterns are changing with time is perhaps even more critical, since changes in bird occurrence can often be one of the first signal of more widespread environmental changes. (help.ebird.org)

As you prepare your environments for learning this Spring, don’t forget about the birds! May the birds teach us new ways of living and learning as we welcome them back.

A Flower Puzzle

With Spring here (and around the corner because we live in upstate NY), spring related topics naturally pop up in conversation and in play.  Penelope has been asking questions like, “When will the tulips bloom?” “Is Spring here yet or not?”

The Reggio Emilia Approach values these questions and observes children as they play, as well as how children interact with materials.  The child is seen as the expert and the parent or teacher is seen as the facilitator and partner in the learning process with children.

As a homeschooling mom doing the Reggio Approach, I obviously cannot scribe and intently observe the entire day.  If the same toys are being played with and the same scenarios keep coming up within their play, I start to pay closer attention.  If an interesting question is raised, I jot it down.  I try to practice 20 minute chunks of focused observation with the girls, but it usually ends up with me playing alongside them. I’m still able to reflect a little bit afterwards.  On weekends is when I really try to reflect on the previous week. What stood out? How can I provoke their interests deeper in the week coming up? What provocations can I set out?

Once I prepare a few provocations based on my reflections, I try to document their time interacting with the provocation.  It doesn’t always happen, but I think the effort is very important.  Here’s an example I did last week:

The girls noticed the spring flower bouquet was starting to wilt.  I left the flowers out on the light table with a little life still in them for them to explore.  Here’s what happened:

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Here’s what Penelope (age 5) said while interacting with the flower petals:

I’m sun lighting them. 

Moving them with my fingers

I’m reflecting them with the sunlight.

(Petals on the floor)

Maybe the sunlight will move over here and reflect off them

We put the petals onto the mirror.

Using a stick to move the petals, we’re doing a flower puzzle! Using the stick to connect them!

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I liked all the language Penelope used comparing the petals to light and observing the light’s relationship with the flowers. I’m not sure how the stick connected the “puzzle pieces,” but the idea of the petals transforming into a puzzle was brilliant and a great example of “the Hundred Languages.”  Everleigh enjoyed picking up the petals, piling them up and pulling them apart (she’s 22 months old).

Reflect. Revisit. Reflect.  After reflecting on the experience, I realized I left too many light-related options out at once.  If I were to do this provocation again, I would just leave the flowers on the light table and omit the microscope and projector.  Next time I’ll make the microscope the focus, and then the projector the focus.  Having all three out made it so the other two were never considered.  I may re-introduce these items with the microscope next time so the girls can see the same material in a new way.  I may also explore this idea of the puzzle more…

Reflect. Revisit. Reflect. I’ll continue along with this process. It may change and evolve into something new.  So might the natural world around us.  So stay tuned!

The Mystery of the Red Balloon

On our way home from an errand, Penelope looks out the back carseat window and yells, “MAMA THERE’S A RED BALLOON IN THE SKY!”

The girls talk about the balloon all the way home.

“Whose balloon was it?”

“How did it get in the sky?”

When we get home I ask them, “Do you want to write a story about this balloon?”

A resounding “YES!” is the response.

We wrote it together and Penelope did her own illustrations and words.

The Mystery of the Red Balloon

One day I saw a red balloon flying in the blue sky. “Whose balloon is that?” I wondered. 

Maybe it could be our balloon… 

I wonder if it could be Papa’s, Mama’s or Everleigh’s from their last birthday?

The balloon kept floating gracefully away.  Higher and higher it flew.

It never came back down.

Was it a “Welcome Home To The World Baby Balloon?” 

Yes, it must be that kind of balloon because baby Nova was just born.

Baby Nova is our girl’s first cousin born this month.  My heart melted when Penelope came up with the ending of this story.  Everleigh confirmed by saying, “Baby Nova” with a big smile. So there you have it, someone’s lost balloon became our story and reminded us of the love we have for our new baby cousin.