A Thousand Cranes & Other Collaborative Art

anna crane 1

This week I had the good fortune to visit Anna Bing Arnold Children’s Center at Cal State L.A., where creative ideas are thriving. Curriculum Coordinator Alexandra Walsh and Director Patricia Ulloa have decades of combined experience and a particularly innovative staff. Like Dominic, who facilitated this brilliant collaborative puzzle piece painting with three- and four-year-olds, which immediately caught my eye. Isn’t it brilliant?

anna crane 2 anna crane 3Dominic explained how this experimental project began by cutting 12 x 18” Real Watercolor Paper into puzzle shapes, then prompting children to select a shape and paint it using Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera. The puzzle pieces were placed in a basket in the art area for use at any time. The intense color you see here resulted from distinct 3 variables:  (1) using fluorescent paint,  (2) mounting each puzzle piece painting onto black construction paper, then trimming a close border, and (3) by using watercolor paper instead of white construction paper. The added thickness (and spongy quality) of watercolor paper absorbs more pigment than regular paper, giving the finished paintings a visual “pop.”   Nice!

anna crane 4 anna crane 5 anna crane 6 anna crane 7

I fell in love with this Thousand Cranes Origami project, facilitated by Jasmine Cruz and Raul Delgado, which creates a unique environment that children, parents and teachers all participated in!  This delightful classroom activity, which combines open-ended art with math foundations and collaborative teamwork, embodies the “Four C’s” which children will later address in Kindergarten and elementary school.  These “Four C’s” are the four specific skills deemed by the US Dept of Education to be the most important for preparing students to succeed in the 21st century: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  Kudos to Jasmine and Raul for initiating an important learning experience while adding beauty and innovation to their school.

anna crane 8A Thousand Origami Cranes is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures that is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1,000 cranes are made, one for each year. Here children decorated papers over the course of two months, while parents and staff folded them into a thousand origami cranes. Thanks to patience and motivation, the children’s parents, grandparents and teachers strung all thousand of their hand-colored paper cranes onto cord and even added pony beads for charm.

Creative art programs like this one develop over time as the result of intention and practice on the part of administration and teachers. Lots of little tips that facilitate art set-ups are learned from experience. Writing the paint color of each bottle on the top of the white lid makes identifying each bottle a breeze.  Glue doesn’t just stick things together. It can be used in unique ways and one way is to pour a thick layer of clear glue onto a smooth surface and add seed pods, ferns and natural collage elements. When the thick layer of glue eventually dries, it creates a unique semi-clear glaze which holds the collage elements together. This second collage also uses clear glue, but in this one the glue is first infused with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, then is painted and drizzled onto butcher paper.

anna crane 9 anna crane 10 anna crane 11anna crane 12Last but not least I re-discovered one of my favorite art techniques at Anna Bing Arnold that day:  the wonderful effect of colored chalk on black paper. This black butcher paper mural has so much energy, and I love how the door handle was cut out!  It also beautifully illustrates the constructionist idea on the poster in the center’s lobby: “Inviting children to fully engage in the use of messy, unstructured materials allows them to explore freely with infinite possibilities.”anna crane 13Thank you, Alex and staff for a LOT of inspiration.  Which one do YOU want to try?  

Materials Used Here:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor Paints, 8 oz. – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Washable Clear Glue (P4GL)

Butcher Paper Rolls (P4018)

36″ x 1000′ Dual Surface Rolls, 40 lb., black (PDSBK)

Colorations® Colored Dustless Chalk – 100 pieces (CNODUST)

12 x 18″ Real Watercolor Paper – 50 sheets (BIGMONET)

9×12″ Heavyweight Construction Paper – 50 sheets (9CPBK)

Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera – set of 7 (FSWTSET)

Pony Beads – 1 lb. (PONY)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education.

Advertisements

Fall Art Ideas for Young Children

Anna Fall Art 2014 1

Fall is here, the leaves are starting to turn and the air is becoming crisper. Hooray! It’s time for the scents and smells of autumn. Here are some fun ways to bring autumn themes into YOUR home or classroom.

Small gourds and Indian corn make great additions to your sensory bin and inspire children to observe, compare and explore nature and its many attributes. This sensory bin promotes STEM learning foundations, as does the observational painting that you can introduce with the same gourds.

Anna Fall Art 2014 2

This 3-year-old is painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ as she observes and documents a gourd. Observational drawing and painting is an important way to facilitate critical thinking and brain development in early childhood. Drawing and painting from nature can also slow children down, reduce stress and promote self- regulation. These are important skills for children to learn that go way beyond the more obvious benefits of art-making.

Anna Fall Art 2014 3

Anna Fall Art 2014 4

Anna Fall Art 2014 5

Leaf Punching is a great way to incorporate nature into your fall art activities. Use large hole punches that are easy for young hands to manipulate and punch shapes out of leaves that are at various stages of drying out. You can also let colored leaves dry out completely and crunch them into “leaf glitter” to use in collage work.

Anna Fall Art 2014 6

Anna Fall Art 2014 7

Anna Fall Art 2014 8

Tree bark makes a good natural painting surface. Look for fallen bark pieces on a nature walk this time of year. These chunks of eucalyptus bark made for wonderful paintings by 2- and 3-year-olds. Painting on bark calls for an opaque paint, like acrylic paint.

Anna Fall Art 2014 9 Anna Fall Art 2014 10 Anna Fall Art 2014 11

Don’t forget how much fun it can be to add Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ to soil and paint with it. This Writing Center incorporates color-tinted soils to Twig Books, a variation of the Paper Bag Book lesson plan from Smart Art Ideas.

Thanks for checking in and have a wonderful autumn.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™, 8 oz – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Acrylic Paints, 8 oz – Set of 8 (CACRYLIC)

Giant Paper Punches – Set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

Favorite Art Ideas from 2013

Anna Fave Art 2013 1December is here so I’d like to reflect back on 2013 and share some innovative art ideas that came from YOU and never made it into a blog post.  The above photo is Printmaking with BioColor® on painted spaghetti, and other innovations follow. I hope you are inspired to try some of these soon.

Anna Fave Art 2013 2

Leaf Punching with Giant Paper Punches

Anna Fave Art 2013 3

Mud Painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paint added into the mud with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Cooperative Mural Art Material.

Anna Fave Art 2013 5

Anna Fave Art 2013 6

Color Spray Mural Team Building (click here for lesson plan) Staff Development Team Building at Pressman Academy.

Anna Fave Art 2013 7

Toddler Messy Art with Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera.

Anna Fave Art 2013 8

Community Paint Run by Ugly Dog Events using Colorations® Powdered Tempera.

Anna Fave Art 2013 9

Leaf Mobile on branches using Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Liquid Watercolor™ Lovely Paper Leaves and beads

Anna Fave Art 2013 10

Fabric Flower Mobile on branches with beads

Anna Fave Art 2013 11

Painted Pinecone Mobile with Stringing Straw Beads on a branch.

Anna Fave Art 2013 12

Pipe Cleaner Sequencing with assorted buttons

Anna Fave Art 2013 13

3-Dimensional Pot with Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty

Anna Fave Art 2013 15

Air-Dry Clay Impressions with fresh flowers

Anna Fave Art 2013 14

Collaborative Quilt from the recent NAEYC Conference in Washington, D.C., using Classroom Canvas Quilt squares

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write this blog, it’s always fun to be on the lookout for innovative art ideas. My thanks go out to Discount School Supply® for having the vision to start this blog five years ago. Their intention was to have me collect and share ideas on how to use Colorations® products with continuous innovation, and I work hard to live up to the task. More importantly, my thanks go out to you, the parents, teachers and early childhood program directors who read my monthly posts. Without you there would be no Arts & Creativity community. I love that you join me in sharing your own ideas and spreading the word about the value of art in education. Thank you.

PS – Special thanks to Monica Marshall and Kathy Walker from College of the Canyons CDC, the always innovative Danielle Monroy of Creative Care for Children and the awesome Mona and other ECE staff of Pressman Academy.

Materials Used:
BioColor® Paint, 16 oz – set of 13 (BIOSET)
Giant Paper Punches – set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paints, 8 oz – set of 18 (LW18)
E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz – set of 6 (TSBOT)
Cooperative Mural Art Material – 4′ x 10′ (LWMAT)
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera, 16 oz – set of 11 (SWT16)
Colorations® Powder Tempera Paint, 16 oz – set of 10 (CPTSET)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™Lovely Paper Leaves – set of 72 (LEAFSET)
Best Value Bead Bucket (BDBKT)
Fabulous Fabric Flowers – 200 pieces (VIOLET)
Stringing Straw Beads – 1 lb (STRS)
Pipe Cleaner Classroom Pack – 250 pieces (PCPACK)
Assorted Grandma’s Buttons (PTBTN)
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty (CPUTTY)
Air-Dry Clay – 25 lbs (AIRDRY)
Classroom Canvas Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASQLT)
Classroom Picture Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASPIC)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

Gazebo Park School at Esalen Institute

Photo courtesy of Esalen Institute.

Photo courtesy of Esalen Institute.

The month of May is beautiful in most parts of the US, and California is no exception.  These photos are from a recent trip up the California coast where I took an art class at Esalen Institute. A place my cousin refers to as “that famous meditation retreat.”  Followed by, “You are so lucky to be going there!”  Indeed, I did feel lucky to be going there, especially because I was going for ME – for pure, personal replenishment.  And replenishment was something I sorely needed. Have you heard the term “compassion burnout” at conferences lately? I was beginning to relate a bit too much to that expression, and I longed for relief.

anna esalen 2

The Esalen grounds were bursting with color, and the Gazebo Park School was there to accommodate parents attending classes. Every day I walked by the nursery school on my way to class and marveled at children playing in this unique, natural environment.  There is no cell service at the retreat, and that helped me stay present. My iPhone stayed packed in my suitcase for all 5 days, imagine. That factor alone helped my eyes re-focus outward.

anna esalen 3

anna esalen 4

After a particularly good day of painting, I stopped to take pictures of the Gazebo Park School. The children had gone home for the day. I was first taken with the overall beauty and simple aesthetics of this outdoor school. Then my eye picked up several recycling ideas that I fell in love with and thought I’d share here. Like these planters made from plastic milk jugs, hanging from nylon ropes. How can I have been in so many schools over the years, and not seen this before? My eyes must have missed it, this is such an obvious and simple idea…and it’s free!

anna esalen 5

Or how about this empty picture frame set up in front of the garden? At first I thought this frame was abandoned or waiting to be trashed. Then I realized it was intentionally positioned in front of the garden, as a “view finder” so that children could position themselves and look through the frame from different angles, creating different garden “paintings” in their imaginations. How clever is that? It’s also free, and a good way to repurpose old picture frames.

anna esalen 6

anna esalen 7

The music area was created from a combination of bells and kitchen pots and pans.   Are you inspired yet? I read and agreed with the school’s mission statement about the natural environment.

anna esalen 8

anna esalen 9

Simple, cheerful artwork covered the walls of the schoolhouse buildings. Don’t think you’re not artistic enough to pull something like this off, because it’s children’s work combined with some adult organization skills. Your own outdoor playhouse could look just as nice, even if you live and work in the city.

anna esalen 10

Last of all, how’s this for a clever recycling idea?  It’s an old rubber tire, turned inside out and used to contain a garden hose. Who thinks of these things? Ahh….creativity.  It’s so exciting to see it in action.

anna esalen 11

anna esalen 13

I do love my iPhone, my laptop, and my other tech gadgets. They make my life easier in many ways. But the more time I spend looking at a screen, the more time I need to balance my psyche with things that inspire me on a deeper human level. I feel incredibly fortunate to have taken time for myself at Esalen this spring. Are you planning something for yourself soon?

anna esalen 12

Graphic courtesy of Tutorials for Inky Hands.

PS – Three months internships are available at the Gazebo Park School, see website here for more information.

Resources:
The Painting Experience

Materials Used:
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera Paint, set of 15 (SWTALL)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

I just got back from a much needed summer vacation and was reminded that I need more NATURE in my life! Since I’ve attended numerous “Outdoor Classroom” workshops, and learned about the negative effects of “nature deficit” on today’s children, it was good to be reminded that I too find nature incredibly inspiring. On my vacation, I renewed my love affair with the sensory world of the forest. I fell in love with colored rocks, birch trees and waterfalls. It was all so simple, yet profoundly restorative.

As an educator, I was inspired by what I might bring back from my nature vacation to include in the classroom. There were so many things to choose from! Moreover, having this “take home task” on my mind helped me engage all the more in my natural surroundings.

Trees were just beginning to show off their Fall colors, and the white birch trees were especially lovely.

Imagine how excited I was to find this abandoned bird’s nest, all intact and perfectly formed! The woven strips of birch bark in the nest gave me an idea, and I picked up fallen strips of bark to take home and use as collage.

When I got home I tore strips of white bark and used Tacky Glue to mount it onto wooden picture frames, adding colored rocks as accents. How fun! I was amazed to find that birch bark tears along a seam just like fabric does, so you don’t need scissors to cut it. Such are the discoveries that excite me, and I bet you as well.

We also visited several lakes and found an abundance of beautiful colored rocks around the larger lakes.

Many local artisans made creative use of these naturally colored rocks that were a signature of the local geology. Here’s a large rock and driftwood mirror that I couldn’t resist purchasing. I hoped it would remind me to make nature a regular part of my life once I returned home to the city.

Later, I tried duplicating this idea of rocks as collage material on top of wooden picture frames. The rocks I brought were a little too large so I used them as accents and made a mental note to check out the Home Depot garden department for smaller pebbles. Or better yet, find a local hike where I could collect smaller rocks on my own home turf.

I was eager to make “Leaf Glitter” for a second collage project and had collected just a few Sugar Maple Leaves with tinges of red and yellow. Once they had dried, I made Leaf Glitter by simply crunching up the dried leaves, which were then glued onto the picture frame. When I do this in a classroom, I’ll ask children to sort the dried leaves by colors first, then crunch them into separate bowls so they’ll have yellow, red, brown and orange Leaf Glitter to work with.

Together these two experiments in nature collage make a nice pair, don’t you think? I realized I could extend the activity by first “staining” the wooden base frames with wet tea bags or another natural colorant before gluing items on top.

How fortunate I feel to have been able to replenish myself before the beginning of a busy school year. I hope you were also able to restore yourself, and will continue to do so on your weekend time. It’s so important.

Maybe we will run into each other at an Education Conference soon or at NAEYC where I’m presenting “Art as a Language with Children.” Please attend if you can! Most importantly, I want to thank you for reading my Blog and being a part of the Art and Creativity community. I hope you have a wonderful new school year full of passion and promise. To life!

Materials Used Here:
Colorations® Tacky Glue, set of 12 – (TCGJAR)

Colorations® Wooden Stand Up Frames – (WDFRM)