Learning at Home: Fine Motor Fun with Creative Expression

Learning at Home: Fine Motor Fun with Creative Expression

Last week, we discussed avoiding worksheets and instead, engage our children in fine motor activities that will prepare them for writing the letters of the alphabet and numbers – which they will be ready for later- not now.

Earlier is not always better when it comes to handwriting and children. Parents can help provide a strong foundation for later writing by having lots of fine motor fun now.

Here are some ideas that also allow children to express their creativity…

  1. Spray non-menthol shaving cream on a cookie pan and draw shapes and designs (add in some vocabulary words such “I noticed you just drew a line that is … horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curved, straight, wavy, etc.)  Note: If you want your child to practice writing the letters in his/her name- this is a great developmentally appropriate learning tool. Ask your child to write his/her name in the shaving cream.
  2. Allow your child to tear apart pieces of paper (old magazines, junk mail, etc.) and
    journeyintoearlychildhood.com
    Tearing paper for fine motor fun and creating yourself

    make a picture of him/herself. (note: tearing is a GREAT fine motor activity since your child has to use both hands and use them in opposite directions)

 

3. Make a “chandelier” by weaving or tying ribbon onto an old bike wheel, an old tennis racket, chicken wire or empty picture frame.

journeyintoearlychildhood.com
Designing a Woven Creation

 

 

4. Make a cotton ball picture. Pinch the cotton balls and tear them apart to make wispy clouds or designs. Read the book, It Looks Like Spilt Milk by Charles B. Shaw and make your own cloud pictures.

 

5. Tear tissue paper or magazines into small squares. Roll them in your fingers and glue them on paper to make a picture.

 

journeyintoearlychildhood.com
Cutting and designing with paint samples

 

6. Cut apart paint samples and then use the pieces to design a greeting card.

7. Finger-paint or paint with a small square of a sponge (pinching the sponge between your index finger and thumb).

fm8

 

  1. Using an eyedropper, squeeze one drop of colored water at a time on to a coffee filter – watch the colors mix.
    journeyintoearlychildhood.com
    Colored water dropped onto coffee filters

     

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Learning at Home Fine Motor Fun and Creative Expression journeyintoearlychildhood

Teacher Guided Open-Ended Art

THE BENEFITS OF OPEN-ENDED ART…
Children learn so many more skills than they would in the same amount of time completing a template art activity designed by the teacher that often holds no interest for the child.

Sometimes, we provide provocations to incorporate our learning objectives while still providing the students freedom to express their own creativity and personality.

IMG_0772 (1)A very reflective teacher chose a different way to create pumpkins this year. The students practiced cutting on a straight line on paint chips. They also then drew and cut their own pumpkin shapes instead of cutting on a teacher developed template. Students were learning fine motor cutting skills along with math skills of shapes and counting, critical thinking, problem-solving, and proportions.

EXPLORING THE COLORS OF AUTUMN:

This is also a great time to explore the beautiful colors of autumn.

 

CLASSROOM PROJECTS:

Autumn is also a great time for classroom art projects in which students can choose to work on a project together- building collaborative skills along with creativity and fine motor.

More information on the benefits of open-ended art, see blog post: Honoring the Process

https://journeyintoearlychildhood.com/2018/12/19/open-ended-art/

Beautiful Art Centers to Encourage Creativity

A beautifully designed art space encourages creativity and     inventiveness in thinking.

 

  • Children draw, paint, design, build and sculpt using their creativity.

  • art center
    Beautifully designed art center to encourage creativity journeyintoearlychildhood.com

    They use thinking skills to plan, organize, make decisions, and represent their ideas as they express their ideas through a variety of media.

  • Children grow cognitive, problem-solving, and decision-making skills while experimenting with color, line, shape, size, proportions, and dimensions. 

 

Intentionally Designed Environments: Pictures of Classrooms

journeyintoearlychildhood.com Intentionally Designed EnvironmentsWOW! Teachers in the Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK are incredible. I recently had the opportunity to visit some of their classrooms. They so graciously allowed me to take pictures to share with you the intentionality of their classroom design.

The environment in which children spend their day at school needs to support developmentally appropriate practices that allow children to freely move, to explore with hands-on opportunities, to engage in dramatic play experiences, to build social/emotional skills, and to develop their symbolic thinking and cognitive flexibility among others.

Learning theories from constructivism to social learningintentional design of environments journeyintoearlychildhood.com
to experiential learning underscore the importance of
active and inquiry-based learning, knowledge construction
through interaction with the environment, social contexts
and meaningful experiences.

-“Most Influential Theories of Learning,” Unesco Education

 

Intentional Design for hands-on exploration while encouraging symbolic thinking, problem solving, and cognitive flexibility.

 

Intentionally Designed Art Centers that encourage the process of art instead of the product,  and free exploration of creative ideas instead of template art.

 

Intentional Design of the Classroom Aesthetics so that the students can live and breathe in a beautiful space. Use of natural colors as we use in our homes for a calming effect.

Intentional Design of Student Contributions, the classroom belongs to the students. It should be a reflection of the students instead of the teachers passions or “cutesy/pinteresty” type themes.

Intentional Design to Include Dramatic Play. Students require dramatic play experiences to build executive functioning skills.

American Symbols

As President’s Day draws near, we expose young children to the role of the president as well as two of our most honored presidents, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. At this time of the year, we also think about exposing our children to the American Symbols. Our youngest learners are introduced to many universal symbols such as a STOP sign, logos for gender on bathroom doors, a handicap parking only sign, etc. that are required for good citizenship. Some symbols children learn through daily routines and experiences and some require more time along with intentional planning on the part of the teacher, such as the American symbols.

American Symbols Provocations and Challenges journeyintoearlychildhood.comIt is important for young children to begin to explore the American symbols to build patriotism and pride in their country, to provide a sense of belonging to a bigger place, and to communicate the ideals of the United States.

The American Symbols document provides pictures of the American symbols, USA flag, liberty bell, the statue of liberty, and bald eagle as well as other famous USA governmental buildings and memorials to be posted in the block/construction center and/or the art/creation center to encourage children to recreate them. Ideas of materials to include in the construction center, as well as extensions for literacy including two poems and math,  are included.

 

note: Send an email to journeyintoearlychildhood.com letting me know that you have signed up to receive my bi-weekly to weekly blog post and I will send you the American Symbols document for free.

Incorporating Intentional Teaching of SEL throughout the Day

Intentional Teaching of SEL journeyintoearlychildhood.com

To be intentional means to act purposefully with a goal in mind and to have a plan for accomplishing it.

Intentional teachers set up experiences where they present information, model skills, and guide the learning toward a specific developmental standard or learning target.

BELLY BREATHING art:                                                               (teaching how to take deep breaths during a small group art project)

Straw Painting

  • Place a piece of paper in a tin cake pan.
  • Squirt some paint on the paper.
  • The student takes a deep breath in through their nose (pretending to smell a flower).
  • The students blows out through their mouth and the straw blowing around the paint.

Social Studies:                                                                                                                            Sounds Around Us/ RULES FOR LISTENING

  • After completing a lesson on how to sit at circle time- body calm by having a quiet voice, listening ears and eyes that are watching:
    • Take children on a listening walk
    • During the walk, cue children by saying, “Body Calm.”
    • Students stop and hug their bodies.
    • Point to your lips, the corner of your eye and cup your ears.
    • Students remain quiet to listen.
    • Call on a student to tell you what he/she hears.
    • Ask, “Is it a noise made by people? A machine? Or an animal?”

Moving to the music/beat during gross motor/ HOW OUR BODIES FEEL with DIFFERENT EMOTIONS:

Following a lesson on how our bodies feel when we are feeling:

  1. Brainstorm ways our bodies would move to music that is sad (slow, 60bpm music such as Baroque), excited or worried (fast temp, lively), angry (hard beat) and ready to learn (classical, New Age or alphabet or number song)
  2. Play the different types of music in the gross motor room and move to the beat.

Nurture a Community of Kindness

KINDNESS CLASS PROJECT

When children give each other a compliment or perform an act of kindness, they can tie a ribbon, bead, or other objects on a heart, a dream catcher, or a big piece of cross fencing.

KINDNESS CHECK-OUT TICKET

At the end of the day have each student write or draw on a sticky note a compliment to another student. You can have the students give any compliment or have them focus on the specific social skill being taught that week.

gif_120The students can also share the compliment of another student during an end-of-the-day class meeting.

Honoring the Process: Open-Ended Art

 

 

When we provide children with open-ended art experiences, children are…

  • learning initiative
  • taking risks by showing originality
  • expressing her/himself through representation
  • formulating unexpected connections
  • building confidence and self- worth
  • engaging in play with art materials that have no “correct” end product
  • exploring in their own way with their choice of materials
  • constructing independent decisions and/or rethinking their decisions based on ideas shared by peers 
  • building theories
  • making decisions
  • developing fine motor skills
  • problem-solving
  • persisting through challenges and staying engaged since it is creation of his/her choice

For example, one child may be painting on the easel, another stringing necklaces of noodles at the sensory table, another creating cookies from play dough, another is creating a dinosaur from collage materials, while yet another is drawing with crayons the illustrations on a self- created picture book- all children do not need to be experiencing art in the same way at the same time.

NO MORE TEACHER DIRECTED TEMPLATE ART…
Children learn so many more skills than they would in the same amount of time completing a template art activity designed by the teacher that often holds no interest for the child.

Provocations can be provided for children to encourage exploration of a specific skill (ie. color blending, making of lines, shapes, 2D representation to 3D representation) while still allowing students to explore and design based on what is meaningful to them.

Example:  One project was cut by teacher and all students made the penguin at the same time, waiting to move to the next step until all children were completed step by step.

One art work was completed by the teacher setting out pictures of penguins, black, white and yellow paper. Teacher joined the center to discuss the design process, ask open-ended questions and provide choices to help students make thoughtful decisions.

process art

open ended art featured image

 

Safe Risk- important for students

Risk is an important part of children’s play. Allowing children to take risks develops their self-confidence, to plan, to solve problems, to engage their creativity, to be challenged and to use judgment. All of these skills are critical for children’s growth in social – emotional, executive functioning and cognitive skills.
Risk can include gross motor activities such as climbing on a jungle gym, using shovels in a dirt pile, building with large tree stumps or sensory activities such as touching the gooey insides of a pumpkin, walking in paint, or playing in the mud. It also includes allowing children to create using real tools such a hammer and nails, maybe even building a bridge to cross the creek to explore the other side!
The teacher is the guide who provides an environment in which safe risk can occur, monitors children’s efforts and allows the child to do the work instead of stepping with a “That’s not safe.” Yes, we need to manage the risk; we stay close but we allow the child to experience that joy of accomplishment or be able to determine how to do it differently the next time. “Risk-taking is an essential part of children’s play. Managing that risk is the key to providing opportunities that support growth and development and keep children safe from unreasonable risk and injury. The balancing of these two is vital for our children’s health and development. (Allen and Rapee, 2005 cited in Sanseter, E. and Kennair, L. 2011) We need to remember that clothes, hands and feet can be washed, bumps and bruises are a part of growing and risk taking allows children to build resiliency, persistence, proprioceptive skills, confidence, independence, wonder and curiosity.
In what ways do you encourage children to take risks to become problem-solvers, inventors, and resourceful individuals in your classroom?

Great resource for further information on the benefits of risk:
http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/Adventure_-_The_Value_of_Risk_in_Children_s_Play.pdf