B Is For Birds

His bill an auger is,
His head, a cap and frill,
He laboreth at every tree,–
A worm his utmost goal
~Emily Dickinson

Usually I have some sort of an “invitation to play or create” on the table in the preschool room.  The children are free to explore if they choose.  This week however, on Monday and Tuesday the littles, the littlest littles, and I made recycled bird feeders out of toilet paper tubes.  I placed bowls of peanut butter on the table and butter knives.  It was really good small motor practice for the littles to practice spreading the peanut butter onto the tubes.  (Quite a lot went into their mouths too!) Then, they rolled the tubes in birdseed.  I strung a loop of twine through the tube so that the children could hang them up for the birds when they got home.  I heard oodles of gleeful glad tidings of great joy over the course of the next few days about how the birds had indeed enjoyed their treats.

Circle Time

This month for each circle time I am reading the children different books about what it means to be thankful.  After we discuss what we read in the book I ask each child what they are thankful for, and what blessings has God given to them.  Sometimes I will give them a theme.  For example, I will talk to them about the earth and all of the beautiful wonders there are–splendid pink sunsets; golden and crimson autumn leaves; shimmery, shivery, silvery water; little brown acorns for squirrel nutkin.  And then I will ask them what about the earth they are grateful for.  Usually they will say that they are thankful for their moms!  And then I will remind them that we are thinking about the earth this morning and what that means, and usually they can come up with some sort of suitable answer 🙂  The plan is that for our preschool days just prior to Thanksgiving we will be making blessing jars and filling them up with strips of paper that list our blessings.

Books we will be using this month:

This week for circle time I told the littles the lovely story of “Mother Earth and the Leaves” from the book Tell Me A Story: Stories From the Waldorf Early Childhood Association.  The gist of the story is that all of the autumn leaves have fallen from the trees making a beautiful patchwork quilt upon the ground.  Mother Earth is delighted with her patchwork quilt for she knows that this will keep her children–the insects and leaves–warm during the cold winter months.  However,  Mother Earth feels sorry for Father Sky since he is now so bare.  The trees had once reached so high to the Father Sky with their beautiful branches full of colorful leaves.  But now the branches stand stark against Father Sky.  Mother Earth has an idea and breathes on some of the leaves which whirl up into the arms of Father Sky becoming birds–red cardinals, orange orioles, brown sparrows and yellow finches!

I think that it is important to tell stories to children, not just read to them from a picture book.  When one tells a story, the child is left free to imagine their own pictures.  I think that it is also important to repeat the story.  This gives the child the opportunity to internalize the story and make it their own.  So, I will tell the little ones the same story for several circle times.  Sometimes, I will use puppets that I have made to help me to tell a story.  Sometimes little peg people.  But usually it is just me, my voice and my gesturing hands.

Art Projects

Suncatchers.  Suncatchers are some of my favorite things to make with the littles.  I love how happy they look twisting and twirling in the window.  We made these suncatchers out of old CDs.  (As a side note, somewhere I have a stack of old CDs that I have saved for just this very wonderful and somewhat self-righteous intent of creating art with them.  But I have put them in a very smart and sensible place and unfortunately my woolly and  muddled mind cannot remember where that smart and sensible place is!  Luckily we have a stack of unused CDs that have been sitting unused and unloved for a couple of years now and so I used those.) Anyway! We examined the CDs together and took especial note of the lovely rainbows that the back of the CD made.  And after a very solemn talk with the littles about the permanent staining power of acrylic paint, I gave them each a dollop of yellow acrylic paint and had them paint the front side of the CD leaving the rainbow side bare so that as our suncatcher hangs in the window it can catch the sunlight and send a most scrumptious kaleidoscope of luminous rainbows across the room. The littles each were given two googly eyes, a pile of feathers and some orange paper to cut a beakish shape.  And then they created the most lovely little fat finches.

Painting with Feathers.  This is one of those easy-peasy projects that bears such wonderfully whimsical fruit.  It is a great process art project.  The how to: First, I googled a bird silhouette, pasted it onto a pages document and enlarged it so that it took up most of the page.  Then, I printed this on white cardstock and then cutout the shape.  To each of my littles was given a stiff and fairly firm feather and a dollop of apple green, violet, and a turquoisy blue paint.  And they painted the most delightful and winsome little fellows.  We gave them orange button eyes.  Loved, loved, loved the outcome.

Make a nest.  The idea for this art project came from Julie at One Time Through.  I know what you are thinking.  When we made the papier mache lanterns I completely swore off doing any sort of papier mache project with a group of preschoolers again.  However, it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind and when I saw the idea for this project I did!  And once again, doing a papier mache project with seven preschoolers and one of you is not always the most successful plan.  But because of the inherently messy and mussed-up nature of a bird’s nest this was a bit more successful.  And I blew up smaller diameter balloons for the bird’s nest than I did for the lanterns, so there was a lot less space to cover!

The how to:  Blow up a balloon…but do not use too much breath and blow the balloon to its full capacity.  Instead, control yourself, dear reader, and blow it up just a smidge.  Give each child a container of slightly watered-down white school glue.  And then give them a variety of nestish materials–pieces of nappy twine and baker’s twine, feathers, raffia, bits of dried moss, and snippets of woolly yarn.  Show the littles how to dip the twine and yarn into the glue and then pull it through their thumbs and forefingers to remove some of the glue.  When applying the moss, raffia and feathers stress the virtue of using lots and lots of glue.  Then set them loose.  Some will love the messy stickiness of it all.  Others will make multiple trips to the bathroom to wash their hands and use copious amounts of soap in the process.  When the littles have finished covering their balloons, their creations will need to dry overnight.  Pop the balloons and you will have a loverly nest

And if you are extremely lucky a deer will appear in the backyard.  I love our deer — until they start eating my roses, of which I am particularly fond and more than a smidgen proud.

Painting a tree, stamping birds, and gluing felt leaves.  Finally, our last project that we did this week was inspired by an art idea that I found on Cutting Tiny Bites.  I gave each child a piece of drawing paper.  I use The Ultimate Art Paper from Discount School Supply.  I gave each of the littles a dollop of brown paint, showed them how to paint a simple bare tree and then asked them to paint one.  Then I gave each child a sponge that I had cut into the shape of a bird, and dollops of red, yellow and orange tempera paint.  They stamped away!  Finally they glued autumn colored felt leaves onto their trees.  I thought the final products were quite charming.

Favorite Bird Books:

 

Unfettered, Unstructured Outdoor Play:

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