Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Art with Children


I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))
I was working on a painting the other day, and my daughters, as usual, wanted to paint, too.  Out came more brushes, another little jar of water, their own special watercolors and some paper.  Things were going along so smoothly...even for the one year old.  And then I turned my back.  When I came back from the kitchen my four year old had both arms painted up to her elbow, and the baby's chin was dripping black paint (a little mid-morning snack anyone?).  Of course the water had spilled and paint was everywhere.  Art with little ones is not for the faint of heart.

But this is how it should be. 

Art with children is not about the product.  Art with children is about the process.  It is about exploration.  It is an adventure!  Children are learning how paint and pencils, and even paper, work.  They are learning how their hand feels when it holds a brush, and how fingers feels when they are covered in paint.  They are learning that these tools are not scary, and that they are not burdened with rules and instructions and user manuals.  Messes be damned...let them have art (and not just crayons and coloring books).  Growing up, I was never denied access to art supplies, and so I was never intimated by them.  It never occured to me that I couldn't draw a cat, or paint a castle.  It was just a matter of figuring out how....

Encourage your children to figure out how to create things on their own.  I abhor crafts and "how-to-draw" books.  As if there is "right" and a "wrong" way to draw a cat or create a birthday card.  Great art is not about what is "right."  It is about what is unique. So forget the instructions and let your children experiment, venture, investigate, and find their own absolutely unique process.  And whatever they come up with, let it be absolutely perfect!  And definitely enjoy Karen Beaumont's "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School...Getting My Preschooler Ready

The first day of school is right around the corner for most children--if they haven't started already.  I'm not too worried about my 4 year-old's seperation anxiety, but preschool will be a different experience than daycare, babysitters, or summer camps.  I know that she will feel a lot more comfortable walking into her new school if we've talked about and anticipated preschool together.  She has a whole stack of her favorite school books piled up and ready for bedtime.

Program for Preschoolers:

Off to School We Go
(Tune: A-hunting We Will Go)
Off to school we go,
Oh, it's off to school we go,
We'll take our lunch and ride the bus,
With everyone we know.
Off to school we go,
Oh, it's off to school we go,
We'll learn our ABC's and more,
With everyone we know.
Courtesy of http://www.kinderkorner.com/back.html#first


Two little bluebirds sitting on a cloud.  One named soft and one named LOUD!
Fly away soft.  Fly away LOUD!
Come back soft.  Come back LOUD!

Time for School Mouse by Laura Numeroff
 Time for School, Mouse! (If You Give...)


This is the way we go to school (to Round the Mulberry Bush):

This is the way we clap our hands, clap our hands, clap our hands.  
This is the way we clap our hands so early in the morning.
This is the way we wave hello, wave hello, wave hello.
This is the way we wave hello so early in the morning.
This is the way we go to school, go to school, go to school.
This is the way we go to school so early in the morning.

Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School? by Barney Saltzberg
Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School?

Llama, Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
Llama Llama Misses Mama

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Home From Camping and Keeping the Adventure Alive

We're home again from our last big camping trip of the year.  No more camping adventures to look forward to this year, but we do like to curl up and talk about all of the fun that we have had (while we can still remember it).  It's time to order our favorite camping and outdoor books.  Not that there are many--and thus, the reason why I had to go and write my own (due out next spring from Kane/Miller).  In the meantime we love "Stella and Roy Go Camping," by Ashley Wolff.

Stella and Roy Go Camping
Originally published in 1989, by Dutton Publishing, this picture book describes Stella and Roy's day (and night) backpacking in Yosemite National Park.  The siblings are looking for animal tracks and the animals who made them...especially bear tracks.  Wolff's book is well-told and rolls right along.   Her illustrations are especially marvelous.  Each spread not only shows a different animal track, but also depicts a special place in Yosemite, and has wonderful animals hidden here and there.  For a one-on-one storytime with a child 3 and up, this is such a fun book to keep us talking about our summer, and looking forward to next year.

Keep an eye out for anything Crinkleroot.  Jim Arnosky's now largely out-of-print series of nature guides for young children are funny, smart, and relevant.  Arnosky must have been a true outdoorsman to write so honestly and warmly about the wonderful birds, animals, plants, and places around us.
Crinkleroot's Guide to Walking in Wild PlacesCrinkleroot's Guide to Animal Tracking   Curious George Goes Camping

Keeping the Adventure Alive....Journals and Albums

Journaling is one of my family's favorite ways to help us remember our adventures.  You can easily make a child's journal out of any kind of paper.  It can be sewn, tied, even stapled together.  Brown paper bags are economical, durable, look great, and provide very useful pockets to keep some of those leaves, flowers, seeds, feathers, and other wonderful treasures.  Plastic sandwich bags also make great treasure-holders.  Trim paper bags to the size you like best, add pieces of paper for drawing and writing, punch holes, and tie everything together.  Open ends can be sealed with string, yarn, etc.  The possibilites are endless.

Leave it to my good friend in DC to know that the thing now for children's parties is to provide digital cameras for each child so that they can record the good time on their own.  And leave it to her to bring much-more-practical-and-just-as-much-fun instamatic cameras for all of the kids on our last camping trip.  Most of the photos may be of dirt and foreheads, but that makes the shot of a smiling Dad fishing or a sister eating breakfast that much more wonderful.  I can't wait to see the albums (dirt photos and all)... Thanks Evie!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bad Guys at the Beach

Like I said, there is a whole summer's worth of great beach stories out there!  So here is another fun ocean-themed story time that will appeal to your preschooler or kindergartner.


Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Will Grace and Ken Geist 
Three Little Fish And The Big Bad Shark

Print out these figures for a felt board or paper puppets.  Have fun with the rhyme:

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry  OR  I'm a Shark by Bob Shea

I'm The Biggest Thing in the OceanI'm a Shark

Shark vs Train by Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld  Not exactly an ocean book, but it is one of the most fun books you'll read about the biggest, baddest shark ever.  Definitely a boy's kind of book, but girls love it, too.  It's a perfect "bad guy" wrap up.
Shark vs. Train

Treasur Hunting Tales

It seems like everyone we know is heading to the beach one last time before the summer ends.  Everyone loves to talk about the beach, think about the beach, or paint/draw the beach.  There are so many great books out there about the beach/seashore/ocean it's hard to pick two or three for a story time.  Librarians could spend the entire summer doing nothing but beach-themed programs!  Below is one story time theme that you and your preschooler or kindergartener will enjoy.

No matter what "theme" you choose for your beach story times,  I hope you'll use Serafini's "Looking Closely Along the Shore."  A 2011 follow up to his "Looking Closely Around the Pond," Serafini's informational texts are awesome for any age, and any kind of program.  The images are big, bold, succinct, but still beautiful.  They are bold enough to use with a one-year old, or a room full of 5-year olds.  Text is simple without talking down to young (or not so young readers), and the guessing game aspect automatically generates a good dialogue and reader participation.  Enjoy your treasure hunt!


Pig KahunaPig Kahuna by Jennifer Sattler 


Down Under The Sea (Tune: Home on the Range)

Down under the sea, 

Where the dolphins swim free, 
And the sand and the sea grasses sway, 
Where the starfish shine bright, 
And the dog fish don't bite, 
I ride my seahorse all day.

Down under the sea, 
Where the whales sing and dive deep, 
We chase and rope sharks, 
Until it gets dark, 
When the waves gently rock us to sleep.

Down under the sea, 
My seahorse takes me, 
On a ride through coral and caves. 
We round up fish there, 
Rescue mermaids so fair, 
My seahorse and I are quite brave!

(repeat chorus)
Courtesy of http://www.angelfire.com/la/kinderthemes/ofingerplays.html  There are a number of fun and fishy finger plays and rhymes here.  Enjoy!

Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea

OR.... Hush Little Beachcomber by Dianne Moritz Hush Little Beachcomber

Looking Closely Along the Shore by Frank Serafini...Looking Closely along the Shore
Enjoy this wonderful non-fiction book and learn about the real treasurers waiting to be discovered along the shore.