Sunflowers and Weekend Reading

IMG_3344A sunflower painting provocation provided to the children this week during small groups.



The NY Times has had some interesting articles on early childhood education over the past couple of weeks. Have you seen these?

The Building Blocks of a High Quality Pre-K — Love that this opinion piece gives concrete examples of what high-quality play-based early childhood looks like.

Quality of Words, Not Quantity, is Crucial to Language Skills 

And, from NPR, on children and screen time.


fine motor development

eye dropper art | via provocations and play

I get so much inspiration from other programs’ walls! When I went to the training by Julianne Wurm last weekend, I noticed so much great documentation on the hosting school’s walls, including one display focusing on finger strength, showing different opportunities for the children to develop these muscles. I loved this not only to make children’s learning visible for them, and to acknowledge the persistence that is often necessary for these tasks, but also to showcase the importance of fine motor development to our community.


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I also loved this excerpt from Developmentally Appropriate Practice: “Teachers and parents sometimes push preschoolers in the technical skills of handwriting (e.g. forming letters with precision) before the children have sufficient fine motor development for such exactness. At this age, the focus should be not on children’s handwriting, but on their emergent writing – that is, their learning to express themselves; to use writing for various purposes; and to become familiar with letters and words, print conventions, and other aspects of written language (p. 164).”

color mixing



Our hardware store is open for color matching and mixing.

20130528_100153We are also mixing paint in our art center to match the beautiful colors we see in this rose.

We read Mouse Paint and talked about how adding white makes colors lighter. We compared colors against paint chips and talked about the same and different. We experimented and tested theories, and we made beautiful art work.





self portraits


I have been doing self portraits with my students since the beginning of the school year, and I like to keep each child’s most recent self portrait in an acrylic document holder over their cubbies. I got these amazing acrylic self-standing mirrors through a grant for art supplies, and I started the self-portrait process earlier in the year by having the students trace their reflections directly on the mirrors themselves.

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For our last round of portraits, we talked a lot about what made us the same and different — which I think is so important to do at this age. I love the book Bein’ With You This Way and Todd Parr’s It’s Okay to Be Different. We talked about how all of our skin colors were different, and we matched them to different “people colors” colored pencils. The kids had so much fun drawing their portraits, that I set up a provocation (seen in the first picture) for a couple of days afterwards.

off roading


I read this article recently about emergent curricula, and my mind instantly went to my group of kids who race every day to our train tracks. Don’t get me wrong; they make some incredibly intricate tracks with bridges and ramps, and some days even draw the town around the tracks, but I wanted to help them bridge out into another center. Luckily, there was a suggestion I took right from the post:



We used Discount School Supply’s insanely bright flourescent Biocolors (love), and talked a lot about the different tracks. The sensory experience of just rolling the car back and forth, back and forth, watching the paint tracks emerge also seemed to be incredibly soothing. Since my art and block areas are on opposite sides of the room, I’m happy to report each of my train lovers tried another new activity after painting. And we have this huge, bright, happy print!


Teacher friends, how do you reflect your kids’ interests in your rooms?

cherry blossoms provocation


I brought a branch of cherry blossoms in yesterday for a provocation. We used markers and tempera paint (pink mixed with white) and painted with cotton balls to duplicate the branch.  I also brought in some photos of the blossoms at the Tidal Basin, with the intent of getting into how the trees were a gift from Japan, but we did not even get there.  We did have a lot of fun duplicating the shades of pink, though.




hyacinth provocation


Hyacinths from the garden in a bud vase (it was all I had at school!) on a round mirror and oil pastels. I wish I had taken a photo of the finished products.