Hi Everyone, and welcome to our latest blog post 🙂 So over the last two weeks I had the pleasure of working with the children and educators of the 4 Dublin based pre-school settings of Chestnut Day Care & Montessori. I visited each group for 1 hour to explore, invent and create with our materials.
In advance, the children attending the Rathfarnham centre choose ‘Robots’ as their theme. This gave me time to prepare our activity, using process as the key element. Selecting our large sheets of cardboard, I cut these into 4 different robot shapes, big enough for 5 or 6 children to work on together. I covered this in white contact paper, so they had a sticky surface to work on. I then gathered a range of different materials or loose parts for the children to add to their robot. While the cardboard had a pre-determined use, the loose parts allowed the children to invent and make exciting decisions about how their robot would look and what it could do.
Stretching the imaginations of each child, the loose parts were played with and combined. Robots with fingers and multiple eyes were created. They were given names and tasks they could achieve.
For the next group we decided to explore role play, again with loose parts. Preparing another large sheet of our cardboard beforehand, I made a cardboard house that was transformed numerous times by the children. We began by decorating the inside and outside with chalk. The children decided what was needed and drew flowers, the sun, a kitchen and letterbox. We then introduced some plastic trays, cones, lids, wool and foam. Immediately these were made into cars for what was now a cardboard garage!
As it was time for some outdoor play we brought the cardboard outside. It then became a rocket, with all the children inside. Counting down from 10 to blast-off, we flew into space, repeating the process several times until it was time to go back inside. I left the cardboard behind so I’m sure it has been reinvented again and again.
My third session was in Crumlin where we explored color, color mixing, print and drawing. In large plastic bags we mixed red and yellow to make orange, blue and red to make purple, yellow and blue to make green. We even used a green apple, an orange and purple onion I had brought to make sure we got the colors right!
Once we had the desired color we put on our aprons for some messy color fun. On large sheets of blackout blind (that is perfect for this process as it is plastic backed) we looked at red, yellow and blue paint blocks and discussed again what colors they make when mixed. Using spray bottles and water we wet the paint blocks and began painting with our hands. This sensory play was a great contrast to the plastic bag mixing and the children were very excited to feel the paint in their hands. ‘It’s a rainbow City’ announced one child as I introduced some loose parts such as small tubing and plastic objects for printing. We explored circles and line, adding more detail and shapes with chalk on our wet surface.
While stepping back I noticed that the children at both tables had unconsciously created paintings with the color they had played with in the plastic bags. One table focusing on blue and green and the other on yellow, red and orange.
For the last session I visited Chestnut Day Care, Inchicore where we became astronauts and flew to the moon. When I arrived many of the children told me they had been to the moon before so they could tell us what was there including Lego!
To begin I rolled out a large black blind on the floor and we discussed the night sky. We agreed there were lots of stars in the sky so I gave the children some sticky dots (stars) to add to the black sheet. This pealing and placing action allowed them to practice their fine motor skills as they created a night sky together.
Once the sky was full we used white chalk to join the dots. The children drew many patterns that became locomotives, trees and clouds. We decided we needed rockets to get to the moon. We made these from cardboard cones and tissue paper. We then practiced our count down, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and blasted into space, back to earth and into space again over and over. As we were finishing up 1 child said that she needed people in her rocket to fly it, and she was right. I suggested they make people the next day but as we reflected on what we had made and done, we placed our cones to our ear and we could hear the people inside. So, there were people in the rockets, flying them all along!
I would like to thank all the children and staff that I worked with in these 4 sessions and we hope to see them again soon. We might even meet on the moon!