Friday, August 9, 2013

Primary Class~ Volcanoes

Thursday's theme for Primary Class was all about Volcanoes! We did a picture walk through the book Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin. The children were intrigued with the many animals that live on the Galapagos Islands, and of course they wanted to know more about volcanoes.

After doing the picture walk in the book we talked about the earth being made up of land, water, and air.

I also gave them a lesson using our land forms on how we can tell the difference from an island vs isthmus. 

We then learned more about volcanoes, using our demonstration model.

Volcanoes were made with air dry clay.


 Rocks were explored.

Another activity that they enjoyed was looking at different photos of volcanoes that I downloaded for free from the The Helpful Garden.    


 The morning was filled with three hours of fun and the kids made it very clear that they were interested in learning about turtles. Of course you can't talk about the Galapagos Islands without learning more about turtles, stay tuned because next week that is exactly what is on our agenda.

If you would like to read more about how an independent lesson went on Thursday too, please visit The Work Plan.                               

Monday, August 5, 2013

Open Studio Time: Make Your Own Board Game

Today our featured activity was "Make Your Own Board Game". It is a open ended activity in which I set out just enough materials to inspire, but leave the rest to the child and the environment to allow creativity and  the tools for the child to admire and gain full ownership of their work.

Authentic Project Based Learning is led by the child it is not a theme or adult driven way of learning. The interest should always be the child's for it to be truly Project Based Learning. I offer featured activities to help guide the child who may have never been introduced to this type of learning. They may already know exactly what it is that they want to explore, but being gently introduced helps them learn the process, and possibly spark a new interest. Also they quickly learn where things are, how to replace the items, how to refill a supply that needs to replaced,  and clean up their work area in a way that is ready for someone else to use. After a few visits the child will feel comfortable and feel independent enough to come to the Studio to do what it is intended to do, which is to promote Project Based Learning in it's truest form. I share the same view for the reasons I offer classes, visioning those who share the same interest developing collaborations on projects. You have to start somewhere! For some it may be the Forensic Science class that they find passion in, others it could be visiting the Studio during Open Studio time making a board game and finding out how much they enjoy making up their own rules.
It was a fun event and they started out by choosing one their favorite games to play from the selection that was available.


And then one by one they asked if they could begin making their own board game.

I placed the following materials on one shelf so that the children would have at least a basic supply to go to, in hopes to encourage their imaginations.

It wasn't too long into doing their work that they discovered that they may use other resources in the Studio too.

 One child used the " How To Play This Game" manual from PayDay as a help to create her own rules to her board game (research in action).
Another child used the Montessori  Small Movable Alphabet to trace letters onto her board (this is not this materials  intended purpose).

 My 15 year old daughter grabbed a Logic Puzzle book from the library shelf and decided to make a Logic Puzzle of her own.

She also used a work that she had completed in Art Journaling class and then made changes to the faces to go along with the Logic Puzzle she was writing so she could cut it out as a manipulative to help solve the puzzle.

 All and all it was a successful Open Studio time. Many didn't finish their board games in the three hours that were allotted, they say they will be back tomorrow. Tomorrow they may finish, or they may move on to something else. What counts is that they are becoming self learners one project at a time, and having major fun while doing so. 

Please know that other children were present today and I would have loved to share their work in this post, but I need parent permission to do so. Parents if I could get your photo permissions it would be appreciated!

Do you have a favorite board game? Please share in the comments, I would love to know!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sewing School with Ms. Rosemary

 I would like to take the time to introduce to you all our Sewing Instructor, Ms. Rosemary. Ms. Rosemary has years of experience sewing. Since the age of seven when she cut up her mother's apron to make clothes for her barbies. Ms. Rosemary is also a master hair braider, a lover of wood burning, a historian, and an artist. Ms. Rosemary is currently enrolled as a fashion design student, a goal of hers is to own and operate a Sewing School for children. I have known this funny lady all of my life. I watched her sew many suits, and admired her wood burning work while as a little girl getting my hair braided. It is a pleasure and a honor to work alongside Ms. Rosemary, her passion is contagious and I do see Ms. Rosemary's Sewing School opening up in the near future. If I were you guys I wouldn't miss the opportunity of taking sewing classes here at the Studio while Ms. Rosemary is on board.

Ms. Rosemary had a three day project sewing class one on one with the student. On Day 1 she assessed the child by observing her making a bobbin, threading the needle, sewing a button while making a tote. Before I knew it the two of them had made a sewing connection and mutual respect was shown from both the student and the instructor. It wasn't long before I witnessed Ms. Rosemary throwing those lesson plans out the window and begin following the child. They made a skirt together with fabric brought in by the student.

Isn't that skirt gorgeous? Handmade by an rising fashion designer with Ms.Rosemary's guidance. She was so proud of her work! In fact her voice went from quiet to quite loud as she screamed "I did it."

At the end of Day 1 Ms. Rosemary also introduced her student to patterns. 

Ms. Rosemary gave her student a lesson in how to pick out patterns and where to find and locate them in a craft store. I love how hands on Ms. Rosemary was!
Day 2 was spent cutting out the pattern and the fabric that Sarah chose at Jo Ann's Fabrics.

On Day 3, these two made the the outfit that came from the pattern choosen at Jo Ann's Fabric.

Job well done ladies! I appreciated so much how Ms. Rosemary guided, and allowed her student to have complete ownership of her work, project based learning in it's truest form.                                                                       

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Musical Theme Birthday Party

We hosted our first birthday party this past Sunday and had a blast.

It was Music themed. The main attraction was the background set up to accommodate the Music Video that would take place. The kids had so much fun with the drums, and the other musical instruments that were provided by us. Also these instruments are available in the Studio for daily use.
In another area there was a dance floor set up for those who just love to dance.

The tables in the main area had record albums and musical notes table cloths for decorations. I got this idea from Pinterest.


The door decorations and the water xylophone work were a big hit too. They really loved dancing with the ribbon wands.            


 The decorations in the craft area.

 For this party there were two craft activities. They painted drumsticks, and made drums with beads as fillers and used markers, crayons, and color pencils to decorate the drums. 


The last activity was making a Music Video. The picture above is the Birthday Boy practicing at the drums before "video shooting". We had time to watch the video on the projection screen, needless to say the Birthday Boy can't wait to receive his own Music Video starring him and his guest to arrive in his mailbox.

The party lasted for 2.5 hrs. There were 18 children and 23 adults and everything went smoothly and the time seemed to go by so fast.

This party was booked just a week in advance it was our basic package with two add ons. It is my goal to work with the child to create their best party ever within the budget and guidelines set by the parent. In this case it was the parents and I making the party arrangements. 

This party was so much fun to put together and be a part of. The children were so well mannered and just a joy to be around. 

Please look out for more details as we reveal our Monthly Mystery Parties for elementary and teens.




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wood Burning

Wood burning is a wonderful craft hobby. I remember when I was a child and would use the heat from the sun and carve words into wood. The other day I had the opportunity to share this beloved past time with my son, although it was raining outside we were still able to do this craft using a wood burning tool. You can find this tool at most crafts stores, I saw one the other day at Jo Ann Fabrics. The wood burning tool that is available in the Studio was purchased at Imagine Childhood.

I have this activity set up on the shelf in the Wood Working area. I set it up so that the child would choose a piece of wood and then ask me for assistance. As I assist and observe and the child performs the work diligently and safely they can begin to work with this activity on their own. In the event that the child has had previous wood burning experience we would review the safety precautions necessary to complete this work independently and they would demonstrate their knowledge for me using a "test" piece of wood. When my son, DJ worked with this activity we did it together, but after a few days he was independently working. DJ is nine years old, I also made sure that younger children were not in the same area as he was while working with the wood burning tool.

This is a picture of the test wood. I have it as part of the activity so children can become confident while beginning to learn wood burning, and to practice on before beginning their "real" work.

After a couple days DJ was making gifts for Father's Day.

As each child begins to be a master of their work they will learn to make carbon copies of drawings to use to trace onto wood using the wood burning tool. The examples above came with our wood burning tool. 

This is also a great practical life activity as well as language activity. It wasn't too long after DJ was wood  burning names in wood that he followed up practicing his cursive handwriting. He has plans to make more wood burning gifts and thinks cursive writing would look really cool.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clay as an Independent Activity

There is no doubt about it Clay is a favorite art medium among children and to many adults too. The benefits of using clay are huge! For young children working with clay their fingers and hands get an awesome work out. As the child develops they use clay as a medium to create, destroy and recreate over and over. Finally when the child has worked with clay often they create masterpieces, first as flat art work that they love to paint, as mastery of working with clay in such a way that the hands are massaging the material they began to make three dimensional structures. Those who truly enjoy this art material go on to learn the art of pottery.

 When I was exploring a way to make clay an accessible activity to the children here at the Studio I thought about what things I have observed children make while using clay. I observed plates, rocks, mask, and vases. I was amazed one time when I saw a child make a person. She free handed everything! The concentration was amazing and the focus attention couldn't be broken, even when she heard that it was time to play outdoors. This child's work is the inspiration behind this Clay activity.


 The tray contains all of the necessary materials for the child to complete this work
  1. The clay is in the jar.
  2. A cup to fill with water and pour in the butterfly designed dish to moisten the clay if need be.
  3. Molds can be used to design a person/fairy, etc.
  4. Wire to help join the clay body parts together.
  5. Pliers to cut the wire with ease.

At the Studio we use Das as our go to for clay when producing our masterpieces. For pure clay fun we use Crayola Air Dry Clay. Our hands and our work deserve the very best!                                                             

When is the last time you and your child(ren) played with clay? It is so relaxing!

Linking up to Friday's Nature Table.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Microscope: Investigate and Explore

When introducing activities to children it is important that the child has a concrete understanding of what is being introduced. I love scaffolding it allows the child to dig deeper at their own pace, and it allows for self exploration which leads to meaningful work. There are many concepts that can be explored or introduced at various levels, one being the microscope.

When I first introduced the microscope to my children I stated what the purpose of the microscope was and why I like to use it. After they were hooked by the fascination of seeing something so small  magnified, I went on to introduce the parts of the microscope. This step by step method allowed them to build confidence with this science tool and take ownership of  their own knowledge. After observing them closely and seeing that they were properly using and caring for it we went on to making microscope slides. The next step is learning the proper names of the tools used to make the slides and the solutions involved. Again I observed and when these skills were mastered they were able to make microscope slides without assistance or waiting on my permission. All three of the children were so called to this work that we eventually ran out of slides as often as we ran out of bread. They were looking at dog hairs, mud, each other's germs, etc.  Fun Stuff!


In the Studio we have the "Make Your Own Microscope Slide" work available. For the child who has yet to be introduced to the microscope this is a nice introductory lesson that will need some assistance and perhaps just using the microscope to view the prepared slides may be enough. I am positive that which ever direction you take it would lead to nice follow up work at home/school or by spending more time at the Studio. For others who are familiar with the microscope I see new discoveries being made, extensions created to this work leading to great child led projects.