Monday, April 22, 2013

Be Careful What You Say

Every so often, I have a child who spends lots of time at the art table, but throws everything they make in the trash. I have never really understand why. I have always assumed that maybe it was their way of claiming complete ownership over their art, but that was just a guess. I have never questioned a child on their reasons.

Awhile back, we had a child doing this. Again, I figured this was serving some need the child had, so I left it alone. One morning, I watched as some pretty impressive creations and drawings were ending up in the trash. I finally had to ask him why. He said he was throwing them away because they weren't right.


I then said, "Really? I thought you had made some pretty cool things today!" He grinned, and since then I have not seen him throw away a single creation. They have all ended up in the art box.

I have no idea why this particular child decided that his art wasn't good enough. I don't know if someone suggested it to him, or he came up with this on his own. I am most certainly not putting any blame on anyone, because I have never seen anything that would suggest anyone in this child's life would be to blame.

However, as I reflected on this exchange, it occurred to me that maybe some of the issues we have had in the past  could have led to some kids feeling their art wasn't good enough, leading them to throw it away. Not all of them, but maybe a few.

I'm not telling this story to make anyone feel guilty or to place any blame anywhere. I'm using it to serve as a reminder that we need to be careful about what we say in front of our kids. They are always listening, and sometimes they misinterpret us. And sometimes they interpret our conversations correctly, leading them to a behavior we didn't intend.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Learning About Our Five Senses

A lot of baking soda. A few cups of colored vinegar.

There was no instruction whatsoever, just me saying it was baking soda and vinegar.

So how were we learning about our five senses?  We talked about what we saw, what we heard, and what we smelled. As you can see below, there was a lot of touching as they got their hands right in there. They did that on their own, I did not suggest it.

And at some child licked something off their hand, so taste was involved. And he was very descriptive about that taste!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I got this game with my Scholastic bonus points. Big thanks to those that have ordered so that we can earn these points!

We set out one foam mat per child. That day, we were just one color short of each child getting their own color. So I had Fletcher, a 2-year-old, use the same color as another child so he could copy them.

These are the dice. They were a pain to blow up. One dice showed the color, one the movement, and one the number of repetitions. In this photo, the child on the red mat would run in place two times. 

Sometimes, as in the photos below, there was an all-play.

I thought maybe the game was a little boring, as most of the time only one child at a time was doing the action. When I asked the kids what they thought of the game, they said they it was really fun. Shows what I know! Interestingly enough, this group does not get upset if they do not win a game or if it's not their turn. They get excited for whoever's turn it is or whoever wins. It sure does make games a lot more fun!

This has turned out to be a really good addition to our rainy day (or in this case, icky winter weather) activities!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Tips

I got this for Christmas. Really, it's ok, I asked for it!

This was lunch one day. I was able to throw everything in the crocks in the morning, and not have to think about lunch again until lunchtime! I prefer to cook everything in advance, as I don't like to take time away from the kids to do it later in the morning. But more on that later. 

These crocks are 2.5 quarts each. A lot of the triple crockpots are appetizer sized. I love the cover holders. Those spoons came with it. And there is a notch in the crocks so you can leave the spoons in it if you want to use it as a buffet server. I did just that at Christmas with soups...worked great!

By the way, I have discovered that you can throw those little frozen corn on the cobs in a crock right out of the package. Still frozen, no water, good to go at lunchtime! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dot, Dot, I Think Not

One day recently, two kids were working at the art table. One child was using the glue. Suddenly, he said "Dot, dot, not a lot".

 Miss Bev's head almost exploded.

I can with 100 percent certainty guarantee that no child has ever heard me say this phrase. Ever. I can almost guarantee that this phrase has never been uttered in my daycare by anyone before. I can't say for sure where this child learned this phrase.

And then this child said to the other child who was starting to use a lot of glue "You should do dot, dot, not a lot!"

Yeah. A few deep breaths were taken.

I reminded Child A that Child B was free to use the materials however he chose, just like Child A was free to do. I then informed Child A that there was no reason to ever say "dot, dot..." at my house, as every child is free to use as much or as little glue as they feel necessary.

Oh wait...did you hear that? I think someone's head actually did just explode out there. Probably one of those "dot, dot" people...

I teach kid's how to use a glue bottle. I show them how to turn the orange top to open and close it if they just can't figure it out on their own. And to close it when they are done so that it doesn't end up filled with that hard chunk of glue that frustrates the next person.

End. Of. Lesson.

Did I hear another explosion??

I tried to do a google search to help me with some facts in this post. I found pretty much nothing. I found lots of posts on how to teach kids the dreaded Dot Dot method. Aaarrrggghhh!!!!

I mentioned in a previous post some of our very gluey creations. So what if a child uses half a bottle of glue on half a sheet of paper? Glue is cheap...I buy it by the gallon and refill our regular sized bottles. Buy why would I allow them waste it? It may look like it's waste, but it's not. As my hero, the Ooey Gooey Lady, would say "someone in your room needs to squeeze!" If you must have a reason...they are learning to write. Excuse me? No, I have not totally lost it. Yet.

 All that squeezing is developing those little hand muscles that they will need when they are ready to start holding a pencil and start writing letters and numbers. 

But what's going to happen when they get to school and they try using a whole bottle of glue? Trust me...I have watched a lot of kids work through this process. After they have been allowed to freely empty a few glue bottles, they will move on. They will totally on their own have figured out the so-called "proper" way to use a glue bottle. Because they have been given the time, and the glue, to experiment.

Come on...admit kind of want to go empty a glue bottle right now, don't you??  ;)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Art Bags

Art bags are coming home today. For those reading this that aren't actually enrolled here, every so often, when we have a pretty good accumulation of art, we bag it all up and send it home. The kids all sit down with a plastic bag, and I pass it out to them. By sending it home once a month or so, rather than daily, we have plenty to display and parents don't have to deal with wet artwork, or that accumulation of papers that seem to always get left in the backseat of the car. The kids know this is the plan, so we avoid a lot off whining at pickup time about them wanting to take something home that I wanted to display. I tie these bags shut to help avoid paper all over the car before they can get home...but I'm guessing this has still happened plenty of times!

Our art box was overflowing, and the walls were covered. I wish I would have thought to take photos earlier. While it has been awhile, some of the kids have been very busy, like the child who has two bags to take home. Some don't have much, but don't think that those kids haven't been creative! There have been some pretty impressive things going on in the block and music areas, and at the light table. I really need to take more photos of those things.

Here's a few things that really kind of drive me nuts, though, in no particular order:

1. If your child only has two items in their art bag, don't ask them why they aren't doing art. The answer, which they probably won't tell you, is that they just don't want to. That's ok! I have a child today who took home two bags. A year ago, he barely had anything in his bag. I have one child right now who has hardly left the block corner in a month. That bag isn't full. When they are ready, they will move on to something else. No matter what area of the room they are playing in, they are learning. One of my favorite Ooey Gooey Lady quotes: "Art is not a receipt for child care."

2. Their art is not about you. It's theirs. It's about their creativity. It's about them working through whatever developmental stage they are in. I understand that moms like the cutesy crafts. I have had moms make requests for it. Actually, those were more like complaints that we don't do enough of those. But your child learns nothing from those. Ok, maybe they will learn something about following directions. But there are a kazillion better ways that we can do that without killing their creativity and stressing everyone out. Those cut-and-paste crafts demand too much perfection that they just aren't ready for.

3. When a child first figures out how to work a pair of scissors, they will spend a lot of time making itty bitty tiny snips off a piece of paper. This can go on for days. There are some kids who are perfectly content  to just throw these in the trash. Some kids, however, are very proud of this new skill, and will want to bring them home. In which case, I will give them a baggie to do just that. Eventually, they will figure out that they can glue all these little snippets to another piece of piece...using a ridiculous amount of glue. Because a lot of these will probably never fully dry until sometime after this child graduates from high school, these may also be put in plastic for the child to bring home. I have had parents ask to me to just throw these away rather than send them home. Please, please, please do not ever ask me to do this, especially in front of your child, unless you really want to see my mama bear personality come out. And as entertaining as that may sound, you don't want to see that. Because, trust me...I can make you feel really, really bad. Those clippings and glue are so precious to your child that they wanted to bring them home to share them with you.

4. I have also had parents say I only need to send the cute crafty stuff home, not the scribbly free art stuff. I know of providers who keep only a few samples and throw the rest away. I send everything home. It is their creation. It is not my decision as to whether it is worthy enough to send it home. I will never do that to a child. Now, I do understand that you can't keep every single scrap that comes home. I most certainly don't expect you to keep any of it! Unless, of course, you would like to star in an episode of Hoarders. But I do hope that you take a few minutes and look through the bag with your child. Maybe even decide with your child what will be kept and what can be thrown. Of course, we all know that doesn't work with some kids. It's really ok to get rid of what you don't want without them knowing. It's just probably best to wait a few days until they have forgotten about it, and then be sure to so discreetly!

5. Should you lavish praise onto each and every item in that bag? Absolutely not! Because for a lot of it, you are really going to be faking it. And we don't want them becoming overly dependent on that praise. Discuss what they did, rather than how they did. Talk about the colors they used, or the numbers or letters they tried writing, or the shapes they drew. Rather than saying what is it, ask them to tell you about it. If it was a group activity ( you will know this because those have the date, their name, and possibly what process we were doing, written on the back), ask them about the process. If they ask you if you like it, turn it back to them...ask them what they like about it. And there is nothing wrong with displaying some of your favorite pieces (isn't that what fridges are for??), but it's even better when also display some of their free art pieces.

Ok, this is getting really long. I have a couple more things to say on this, but those are important enough to get their own posts. And Parents...don't start pointing fingers at each other, this is aimed at no one in particular right now.  Most of this is stuff that has happened in the past, and stuff I would love to avoid in the future.

Have fun going through those art bags...I saw some cool things going into them!