Discover the Pedagogical Institute in Santa Monica!

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“I love this!” exclaimed Gwen Dophna, a professor of Child Development, as we learned and played together last week. I was having fun too, learning Monoprint Techniques at the exciting new facility for early childhood educators called The Pedagogical Institute in Santa Monica, California.

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Have you heard about this place?  It’s a true THINK TANK environment – and if you’re an early childhood professional, you owe it to yourself to check them out. Let me give you a taste of my experience….

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Last week’s Monoprint class was skillfully taught by Alexis Afaghi, a full time Atelerista at the nearby Evergreen School. We were a small but eager group of ECE professionals, learning open-ended art techniques and experiencing the unique combination of stimulation and camaraderie that is a part of every event or gathering at the Pedagogical Institute.

Alexis began the class with a brief introduction to Monoprinting, the art of printing a singular piece of art from one printing plate. Alexis taught us using small plastic printing plates which she had acquired for free from a nearby plastics shop (yay, teacher donations.)

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We rolled paint with brayers onto plastic printing plates, and then removed some of the paint with cotton balls, Q-Tips, and small makeup sponges to create lines and shapes in the wet paint. Then we pressed paper onto the top and pulled it off to reveal our MONOPRINT – a fresh and original work of art.  Tah dah…..

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Marsha seemed pleased with her artwork, which was gratifying since she had driven two hours to get to the Institute workshop! We traded stories about our careers in Child Development as we worked on our art, and I felt connected in a very satisfying way. It was truly an exercise in self-care to be there that evening. Teachers and directors and professors often work in isolation, and this place is a sanctuary to relieve stress.

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The Pedagogical Institute had its Grand Opening about a year ago, on Sept 21, 2014. Their calendar is full of exciting, thought provoking events. They offer many fascinating workshops besides art – as well as Book Study and Discussion Groups on topics such as Boys & The Media, Building Democratic Schools & Communities, and Talking about Death with Children. They also offer museum quality installations and Documentation labs, as well as mentoring opportunities, an annual conference, and renowned guest speakers.  How can you NOT take advantage of this resource? It is in a class of it’s own.

Join them on Facebook and explore their website to learn more:

https://www.facebook.com/PIofLA

www.thinkwithus.org

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A Thousand Cranes & Other Collaborative Art

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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!

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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.

My Top 10 Activities for Creative Family Fun

Paint BottlesWinter time feels like the perfect time for families to gather around the kitchen table to make things together by hand. This will encourage creativity and family fun as well as form a great bonding experience, and fosters giggles and smiles and all sorts of good feelings. And it’s high-touch, not high-tech, for that much needed life balance.

Many adults have forgotten the wonderful smell of a new pack of crayons, or the fresh feeling of new clay dough. Don’t miss out on the fun, work and play along WITH your children as you make things together this season.

AR Washi Tape 3My passion for all things handmade started in my own family decades ago, when we made things together for the holidays. So check out my list of FAVORITE art materials for families and get ready for some FUN.

10 Fun Things to Make:

  1. Make Your Own Tambourine – kit for 12 {JINGLEKIT}
  2. Mini Canvases and Easel – set of 6 {POLLOCK}
  3. White Canvas Backpacks – set of 12 {BACKPACK}
  4. Decorate Your Own Puppy – set of 12 {DOXIE}
  5. Decorate Your Own Vehicles – set of 12 {TRAVEL}
  6. Wooden Model Airplanes – set of 12 {JETSET}
  7. Wooden Flower Pot Frames – set of 12 {FLFRM}
  8. Whimsical Trinket Boxes – set of 12 {TRINKBOX}
  9. Super Sand Art Set {SASET}
  10. Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty – colors {CPUTTY }

Unique Paints & Decorations for the Above Crafts:

Colorations® Shimmery Washable Watercolors – set of 5 {ROXY}
Colorations® Glitter Glue – set of 6 {GGST}
Fantastic Foam Stickers – set of 24 {FFOAMS}
Realistic Wiggly Eyes – 300 pieces {EYESONME}
Glittering Craft Rhinestones – 570 pieces {STONES}
Printed Craft Tape – set of 10 rolls {PRINTED}
Colorations® Super Washable Classic Markers – set of 16 {LWMSET}
Colorations® Color Permanent Markers – set of 12 {PERMCLR}
Colorations® Washable Chubbie Primary Markers – set of 8 {SPONGE}
Colorations® Fabric Paint – set of 6 4-oz bottles {FABPAINT}
Colorations® Cup and Tray Tempera Cakes {CUPNTRAY}
Neon Tempera Cakes in a Tray {NEONCAKE}
Original and Flourescent BioColor® Painters – set of 18 {BIOMAR}
Three Sets of Colorations® Chubbie Markers – set of 24 {CHUBBERS}
Colorations® Jumbo Washable Classroom Stamp Pad {BIGSTAMP}
Easy-Grip Seasonal Stampers – set of 14 {EGSS}

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

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

Vision Boards & the Art of Collage

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Have you heard about vision boards? A vision board is a visualization tool that you can use as inspiration toward your ideal life. Some people refer to it as a “dream board” or an “inspiration board.”

Vision boards are a great way to have fun with simple art supplies and set your sights on positive goals. January is a perfect month to set positive intentions for your work and your life. Would you like to explore the simple art of collage and consider making a vision board yourself?

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This weekend I invited a few girlfriends over to create 2015 vision boards. We had so much fun! Everyone brought a few magazines and with basic art supplies and poster board, we created “mandala” style vision boards. Classic vision boards are created on standard sized poster board, but I prefer the finished look of a circle – it’s much more visually pleasing. You can take any standard-sized poster board and make a circle out of it by tracing a large circle onto it (we used a trash can lid here) and cutting it out before you begin your collage.

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Lately I’ve been delivering “Renew Your Passion” workshops at conferences to help teachers de-stress and reconnect with their sense of joy and purpose. Collage is a great way to revitalize your spirit because it’s easy and fun and lends itself to a focus on personal values and goals. In these examples from a recent workshop, we collaged quotes, pictures and value words onto papier-maché secret boxes. Then we added tissue paper squares, Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint, and spotted feathers. They are inspirational and so EASY to make.

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Children love to collage with tissue paper and magazine cut outs, and you can adapt these same ideas for your classroom. Here’s a good classroom collage set up from the education department of a children’s museum, where children have cut out and sorted magazine photos by color. Then they created individual color wheels from the assortment. How clever is that?

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Here’s a Vocabulary Collage lesson plan that you can download {just click here!}.

Scribbles, the new Colorations® parrot, introduces this and other creative art lessons on our website for 2015. Welcome, Scribbles! We do agree with Scribbles, “Art really is a colorful way to learn!”

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Materials used:

Economy Weight White Poster Board – 50 sheets

EWB

Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint – set of 11

GLPA

Spotted Feathers – 1 ounce

SPOT

Secret Boxes – set of 12

PMSEC

Colorations® Washable Premium Glue Sticks – set of 30

PRESML

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

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

Fall Art Ideas for Young Children

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

STEM to STEAM: Shrink Art Sculpture, Dale Chihuly Style

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art LeadHow do you encourage and preserve children’s natural creativity and belief in their own capacity?

This week I had an “Artist Play Date” with 7 year old Nora, who taught me the shrink art techniques she learned at summer camp. Nora knows I am a big fan of Shrink-It-Sheets, so she was eager to show me her innovative and truly unique creations.

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Nora had learned how to use clear shrink art plastic to make 3-D art abstractions in the style of glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. Here’s Nora in my garage studio with some of the clear shrink-it sheets that she decorated with permanent markers and rubber stamps.

I love the combination of art, math and science that shrink art projects provide. It engages scientific inquiry, physical science and geometry, and includes active explorations of cause and effect, change of state, and mathematical reasoning. Not to mention that it’s colorful, creative and fun.

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 4Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 5Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 6The artist we were emulating is Dale Chihuly, a glass art sculptor known for his stunning and colorful organic shapes. Unlike the majority of glass artists whose work is functional and focuses on vessels and bowls, Chihuly’s glass work is pure abstract art. Children typically relate very well to his use of bright colors and shapes, and can easily be inspired by his style. People traveling to Las Vegas can see this stunning example of his work in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel.

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 7Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 8A close look at Nora’s shrink art sculpture shows off the same brilliant colors and organic shapes of Chihuly’s style, and this close up blue “pod” created from opaque shrink art plastic also reveals rich semi-transparent colors.

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Here’s another example of opaque Shrink It Sheet cutouts, which we decorated with markers and rubber stamp impressions. They’re shown here in the oven, where we baked them for 3 minutes at 310 degrees. When they came out, Nora attached them together into this small sculpture using Twist and Bend Craft Ties. You can also a hot glue gun to attach baked pieces together, but twist ties add color and eliminate the stress of using hot glue.

Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 11Anna Chihuly Shrink Art 12While the oven was warm, we also experimented with permanent markers and stamps on plastic cups. Here are the cups before and after baking. Again, Nora used Twist and Bend Craft Ties to connect baked parts together into one composition.

Just like with the Shrink-It-Sheets, we baked the colored plastic cups for 3 minutes in a 310-degree oven. Various brands of plastic cups have different properties, and oven temperatures also vary, so this part calls for experimentation (aka the scientific method at work). You can use a toaster oven in the classroom too, just keep the windows open for ventilation. It’s so dramatic to see how oven heat distorts, shrinks and flattens various thin plastics, causing designs to shrink and colors to intensify.

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Thanks, Nora! I learned a lot from you and admire your curiosity. And while I’m kind of sad that summer break is coming to an end, I know a new school year of growth and discovery lies ahead for YOU and other children nationwide.

With the nationwide emphasis on STEM in education, there is no better time to combine art and science in creative ways like these to “fan the flame” of their natural curiosity. STEAM adds the ART to STEM and stands for science, technology, engineering, art and Mathematics. The goal of integrating STEAM practices into the classroom is to empower students to be problem-solvers and innovators, unafraid of failure and committed to figuring out open-ended challenges that mirror real world situations.

Nora probably didn’t think of her artist play date as a STEAM exercise, but she was smiling when she left and beaming with creative confidence in her discoveries and abilities.

As teachers and parents, we know children are born curious and creative, but too often the forced structure of formal schooling erodes their sense of wonder. I hope you consider incorporating more STEAM ideas into your classroom this year, and use them to facilitate wonder, curiosity and creative confidence.

Materials Used:
Clear Shrink-It-Sheets – 24 quantity (CSHRINK)

Opaque Shrink-It-Sheets – 24 quantity (SHRINKIE)

Sharpie® Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers – set of 12 (ULTCLR)
Sharpie® Multi-Colored Permanent Fine-Tip Markers – set of 12 (SHARPCLR)
Colorations® Color Permanent Markers – set of 12 (PERMCLR)

Fun & Friendly Rubber Stamps – set of 25 (ADORABLE)

Twist and Bend Craft Ties Super Pack (TWISTY)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

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

 

Exciting Colored Craft Tape – Catch the Trend!

AR Washi Tape Lead Colored craft tapes are exploding with bright colors, patterns and FUN this year, so it’s the perfect time to discover this newly expanded arts and crafts material. Catch onto this trend, and you’ll be amazed at some of the easy applications you’ll discover. AR Washi Tape 2 Check out these colored tape paintings from Pierce College’s Child Development Center, aren’t they beautiful? As simple paintings they would have looked good – but with the added texture of the craft tapes, they look GREAT and really capture your attention. The addition of colored tape turns a painting into rich media artwork that looks like “gallery art,” but is easy enough for a preschool child to create. Amazing, huh? AR Washi Tape 3 AR Washi Tape 4 AR Washi Tape 5 AR Washi Tape 6 Thin craft tapes like these originated in Japan where they are called “Washi” tape. Washi comes from wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper. Here are close-ups of washi-style patterned tapes. Both the bright solids colors and the patterned tapes are easy for young hands to tear and stick down on paper. AR Washi Tape 7 AR Washi Tape 8 Children can design with both solids and patterns on a large piece of butcher paper, placed on the floor. You can also apply tape directly onto the floor or wall since these are “low tack” tapes that do not harm surfaces, and are easy to remove. AR Washi Tape 9 Grown ups will enjoy using craft tapes too! This child’s room wall shows one of the many ways parents and teachers can use colored tapes to create wall décor that is easy to change and adapt over time. AR Washi Tape 10 AR Washi Tape 11 AR Washi Tape 12 But best of all, you don’t have to be a grown up to make colored tape art – from simple to sublime applications. They are so bright and inspiring, people of all ages will want to dive in and discover their own creative ways to play. I’ve been including craft tapes in my conference workshops this year, and teachers quickly fall in love with them. Recently we added them to paper mache tambourines and “secret books” to everyone’s delight. Here’s a great offer on beautifully colored and patterned craft tapes. Try some soon and see what YOU come up with! And check back next month for another special offer on my recommended arts & crafts products from Discount School Supply®!

Receive 15% OFF the below products!

Use code ANNAJULY at checkout.

Offer valid on below products only. Offer expires 8/31/14.

Material’s Used: Glittery Craft Tape – Set of 10 (SNAZZY) Printed Craft Tape – Set of 10 (PRINTED) Fabulous Printed Craft Tape – Set of 15 (FABULOUS) Craft Tape Super Pack – Set of 20 (VIVID) * Brought to you by Discount School Supply® * For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education