T Is For (Christmas) Tree

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My intention this month was to focus on the artist Brian Kershisnik, but “the best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray”.   Although one of the art projects was in part inspired by  a Kershisnik painting, “Pruners”,  have I talked about Brian Kershisnik, or showed the children any of his artwork? No. Sigh… Luckily, there is always next week!  And I think that is the wonderful thing about life, there is always a new day and a new opportunity to be just a little bit better.

Outdoor Play:

It snowed this week, which is fabulously joyful for the children.  We go outside every day, appropriating the Scandinavian maxim as our own: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”.  We went sledding and boogie boarding.

We painted rainbows in the snow. (Liquid watercolors and water in a spray bottle)

And we built teeny-tiny snowmen because the snow was so powdery that it would not hold together and form a proper ball.  They were actually more like a lumpish column than a snowman, but don’t tell them that!  The Littles liberally sprayed our lumpish column snowmen with color and life was good.

Invitation To Play:

This week’s invitation was making salt dough ornaments.  The recipe that I used for making the salt dough was one from The Artful Parent.  It makes a lot of dough!  I rolled out bits of dough ahead of time so that the children could jump right into cutting and decorating.  I gave the children the option of either pressing designs into their ornaments or pressing seed beads into their ornaments.  I had bits of plastic evergreen set out for them to press into the salt dough to make their designs.  I baked the ornaments and during the following class period the children painted Mod-Podge on the seed bead ornaments, and painted the ornaments with the evergreen designs.

Salt Dough:

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups cold water

Stir together the flour and the salt.  Add the cold water and mix until the dough forms a ball.  You may need to add up to 1/4 cup more water if the dough does not come together.  Store this in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper 1/8-1/4 inch thick.  Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.  Use a drinking straw to poke a hole at the top of each ornament for hanging.  Decorate the ornaments.  Bake in a 250° oven for 2-3 hours. ( In the Artful Parent, Jean Van’t Hul gives a 275° temperature but I found that to be too hot).  Add a coat of Mod Podge or paint.  Add a ribbon through the hole and hang in a window or on the tree.

Circle Time:

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It is winter and which means that we are leaving our accustomed autumn verses behind and beginning to learn winter verses.

The first new one is simple, but it reinforces the order that winter follows autumn:

Autumn Goodbye
Autumn Goodbye (wave goodbye)
Autumn Goodbye (wave goodbye)
You may no longer stay. (move forefinger back and forth saying “no”)
Autumn Goodbye (wave goodbye)
Autumn Goodbye (wave goodbye)
Winter is on its way! (hug yourself and pretend to shiver)

We are also learning an Advent song.  This week we have been working on the first verse and the chorus.  Here is a link to a youtube video of a darling girl singing the song.

Light the Advent Candle one
Now the waiting has begun
We are starting on our way
Time to think of Christmas day.

Chorus:
Candle, candle burning bright
Shining in the cold winter’s night
Candle, candle burning bright
Fill our hearts with Christmas light

Light the Advent Candle two
Think of humble shepherds who
Filled with wonder at the sight
Of the child on Christmas night

Chorus

Light the Advent Candle three
Think of heavenly harmony
Angels singing “Peace On Earth”
At the Blessed Saviour’s birth

Chorus

Light the Advent Candle four
Think of joy forever more
Christ child in the stable born
Gift of love that Christmas morn.

Chorus

Finally, I am teaching the children a sweet, gentle nativity poem:

Mary rocks her baby,
Joseph holds a light,
Donkey and Ox are standing
In the stable bright.

Shepherds in the doorway
Come to greet the child,
Now they kneel before Him
And his mother mild.

One holds out a lambskin
Soft and white as snow,
All shall give their presents
Ere they homeward go.

The children and I do little impromptu actions with the poem.

Art Projects:

Hanging a star atop the Christmas Tree: 

I saw this idea on the blog,  Mrs. Karen’s Preschool Ideas

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And, my little brain started cogitating about Kershisnik’s painting “Pruners”, Christmas trees and my Littles helping to decorate a Christmas tree.  What if, I let them paint a picture of a Christmas tree, took photos of them reaching up, and then we glued those photos onto a popsicle stick ladder leaning against their Christmas tree?   It turned out great!  The Littles look like they are climbing up a ladder and ssttrreettcchhing up to put a star on top of the tree….or the semblance of a tree that they painted 🙂  We are going for process, not product here!

Decorating a Christmas Tree:

I printed large triangles on 8.5″ x 11″ white cardstock.  Then i gave each child a bowl with some Elmer’s glue tinted green with tempera paint.  I also gave them an assortment of “ornaments” to decorate their tree–buttons, geometric foam pieces, small, sparkly pom-poms, sequins, and small lengths of red yarn.  The Littles painted their trees and could then just stick on their decorations.

Painting with pine branches:

Well, not really branches, more like the tips of a pine tree, but it was a fun process oriented project.  I stripped the bottom part of the pine tip free of needles and then taped it to a popsicle stick to act as a handle.  I gave the Littles dollops of blue, purple and green, tempera paint because those look half-way decent if they get all mixed up together!

Pine Forest Scene:

I have seen variations on this idea floating around the internet.  I gave each child a piece of watercolor paper.  I had previously drawn a light pencil line about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the paper.  I gave each child a glass of water and a paint brush and instructed them to paint the top two thirds of the paper with the water.  Then I gave them each a small amount of blue, turquoise and magenta liquid watercolor paint in a palette.  I told them to dip their brush in the liquid watercolor and then touch their brush to the part of the paper that they had already painted with water.  The liquid water color swirls and bleeds onto the paper making a very arty nighttime sky.  Some of the children really wanted to scrub away with their paintbrush and watercolors and that worked just fine and dandy too, except that the paintbrushes looked a little bit wilted.

I gave each child three pine trees that I designed on the computer using the very complicated shapes of a triangle for the tree and a square for the trunk!  Beforehand, I had cut out little squares of forest green, lime green and a turquoisey blue tissue paper.  And I gave the children glue in little silicone baking cups and paintbrushes that I reserve for painting glue.  I much prefer to give the children glue to paint onto their pictures rather than glue that squirts from a bottle.  When I give them glue to squirt from a bottle they usually make rather splendidly large puddles of glue on their art projects rather than just the smallish dab that they need to affix an item.  But, I digress… After the Littles glued the tissue squares onto their tree shapes, we glued the trees onto their painted backgrounds.

Feed the Birds:

We have a bird feeder that hangs on one of the windows in our schoolroom and we make sure that the birds have their snack when we have ours.  Now that it is winter, we have also started to throw peanuts out for the Scrub Jays and the Magpies. It is a never-ending source of wonder for the children to watch the birds.

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