Sunday, June 17, 2012

Think Smart with Weekly Themes (Ages 3 through 6)

There is a lot of flexibility at the Summer program I work at, and there's lots of room for creativity.  I get to collaborate with a team of creative teachers who love to do crafty activities with the children.  From arts and crafts, movement and dance, and other fun activities and lessons, we have a blast with the kids.

We find at our school that weekly themes work great for Summer Camps.  For me, I find that themes can be successful and productive as long as you step up the education from what might be offered some typical day cares and preschools.  I only say that because I have worked at one before, and there really wasn't much to the curriculum, at least to me.  I had to take it upon myself to make the most of it, which I think many good teachers do.  I know there is good reasoning for keeping things very simple and standard with lesson plans, but I find that the more we teach the children using creative approaches, the more opportunity we are giving them to explore, learn and think for themselves.  Many modern educators agree that children don't always have to understand everything you are teaching them, as long as they are having a positive experience in the process.  For example, if the theme is "Outer Space," you might explain to the children what a star is actually made of, followed by real imagery of stars, instead of simply showing them the most popular 5 pointed icon.  Maybe a giant ball of gas won't make much sense to a 3 year old, but when they see that stars come in all different sizes and colors, this can seem really magical.  And who knows, this positive experience might spark a real interest in later years when studying the galaxy in a science class.  So before you follow a very standard curriculum for weekly or monthy themes, think about how you can step up your themes by introducing more information in a fun and exciting way.  I find that teaching more topics on real facts is beneficial to me to.  It helps me to brush up on old subjects I learned way back and often times, I am learning something new, too.

Some references that may help you to "step up" the education are right at your fingertips with the internet.  Here is a fun website that will start giving you ideas about topics to start looking up:  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Save the Cardboard Lids from Your Pizza Boxes for Art Activities

As you know, typically pizza boxes cannot be recycled, because of all of the grease left behind, but more often than not I find that the lid is usually clear of any grease.  So whenever we have a pizza day at our school, I started cutting the lids off and collecting the cardboard for art projects.

The lids can be good for the kids to paint on, use as a base for clay models, etc.  So the next time you have pizza, cut the lid off before tossing the entire box in the trash.

If you are concerned there still might be some hidden grease, you could always paint a gesso base over top of the lid (the white paint that is painted on fresh artist canvases) and let it dry before handing it over to the kids to paint on.