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Friday, February 17, 2017

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STEAM / STEM Challenge to go with Giraffes Can't Dance

It's time to tell the world: giraffes CAN dance, and this musical giraffe-y STEAM challenge is perfect for all ages!

Actually, the book Giraffes Can't Dance is full of wonderful lessons, including treating others with kindness, overcoming fears, trying more than once, embracing your own uniqueness, and doing things you love. The pictures are fantastic and the story is adorable...plus, the kids love it and are always happy to point out things that the animals are doing right...and wrong.

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As we read it this time, I emphasized every time the story talked about music--we even saw a violin made from a peanut! When we finished I presented the "Challenge for the Day." I thought it was a particularly clever challenge since I didn't have to prepare anything for them.  

STEAM / STEM Challenge:

Create your own musical instrument! It can be an instrument you've seen before, or one you invent yourself. You can use any craft, art, or building supplies you want (that are reasonable). I have to throw the "reasonable" clause in because otherwise they will try things like "I want to disassemble my dresser and use all the drawers" or "I want to go to the store and buy 327 pieces of wood..." or all sorts of other things! I need to have a "reasonable clause" for things that I'm really not okay with!

The kids did an amazing job...I always love watching them design and create new projects. 

My 4-year old used duct tape, beads, rubber bands, and sparkly "gem" stickers to make a handle and colored craft sticks, hot glue, egg carton covers, and dry beans to make a maraca-type of musical instrument. The actual maraca-style part of it was so unique and brilliant that I might make a separate post just about it!

I cut duct tape and helped her with the hot glue gun, carefully following any instructions she gave me!

My 6-ear old used boxes, a huge paper bag, and duct tape to make a drum. He also used (and I totally thought this was brilliant and deserved its own post too!) duct tape to wrap pine cones and a stick to create drumsticks!

I also cut tape for him...even though he's got great dexterity, duct tape is a little tricky!

My 9-year old cut cardboard to make a guitar-inspired body for a string instrument. She added a maraca-type instrument made from beans and paper plates AND a stringed instrument made from rubberbands and paper plates. The stringed instrument actually took two attempts because the rubberbands crushed the first paper plates. She discovered that if she used hot glue to secure the paper plates to her "guitar" body they would not collapse under the rubberbands.

I didn't help her at all.

So, how is this a "STEAM Project?" It integrates science, technology, engineering, art, and math!

SCIENCE: problem solving, hypothesizing, testing, analyzing, music, wavelengths
TECHNOLOGY: hot glue gun, duct tape
ENGINEERING: designing and building their own instruments
ART: designing, decorating, and creating their instruments
MATH: music, wavelengths, measuring cardboard and tape, qualitative and quantitative measurements, counting beads, analyzing the strength of different boxes and cardboards and bags

Everyone was very excited to finish and play their instruments and, you know what? They sounded awesome!! We even took turns dancing like giraffes while the other kids played! My favorite part might be when they play together in their "band," but I sure loved watching them create their instruments.

I'm sharing this STEAM / STEM Challenge as part of the 28 Days of STEAM hosted by Left Brain Craft Brain! Be sure to hop over there to see more great STEAM ideas to do with your kiddos!

And if you love STEM activities for kids, you will totally want to check out this collection:

Happy Educating,

Disclosure: The colored craft sticks and gem stickers were provided by Craft Project Ideas for use by Preschool Powol Packets. No additional compensation was provided.

I may share at any of these parties!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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Process Art Craft Stick Rainbow Collaborative Art Project & Mondrian

Totally serious here: this art project is the coolest thing we have done in weeks. It combines the great artist Mondrian, process art, rainbows, and individual creations into a collaborative art masterpiece!! We talked about famous paintings, science, and so much more while we worked, and when we finished we had a fantastic group project to display.

We began by talking about Piet Mondrian and looking at some of his "squares" paintings. I told the kids that we would be each painting our own "lines" in any way we wanted. They would be free to experiment with any painting method they wanted on their own craft sticks. Then we would combine them into blocks inspired by Mondrian's squares. 

Everyone was very excited and got right to work. I **love** how they were each able to create and experiment on their own level. Everyone, from my 4th grader to my toddler, decorated the craft sticks in brilliant and creative ways.

While we painted we talked about ways to make different colors, ranging from basic secondary colors to a huge variety of browns. We also talked about wavelengths, light, and how a red color absorbs all the colors except red (which bounces back to your eye). We also talked about how the color spectrum, how the colors in the rainbow appear in order of wavelength length, and how reds are the longest wavelengths and purples are the shortest. This all came about as my son asked questions while he worked on his "rainbow stick:"

He was also very pleased with this shade of green he made:

There were simple patterns, abstract designs, complicated patterns, detailed scenes, and so much more. Some of my favorites included a universe, a family, the nature sticks, and some awesome designs. Here are a few close-ups I took:

A nature stick (tree):

Cool designs:

Supplies for Your Own Mondrian-Inspired Process Art Craft Stick Rainbow Collaborative Project:

* craft sticks (we used rainbow craft sticks provided by Craft Project Ideas)
* paint (we used acrylic paints in red, yellow, blue, white, & black colors)
* large cardboard
* hot glue gun & glue

I took a package of 75 craft sticks and cut 9 of them in half. I also cut 1/4 off of four of the whole sticks at the end because I liked how it fit better. Besides those, we left the rest of them whole.

I let the kids (and myself) experiment with any methods or processes they wanted to while they painted. Having lots of little "canvasses" to work with was liberating and stress relieving: if we made a mistake, we just started over! There were more than 90 little sticks, so I told everyone they could paint as many or as few as they wanted. Most of us did about 10. There were a few that were not painted, and that was okay...we worked them into the "squares" just fine!

The kids used paintbrushes, fingerpainting, scratching, toothpicks, and even a plastic fork! The effects were varied and wonderful!

When everyone was done, we assembled our Mondrian-inspired "squares." I used hot glue to secure them to a piece of cardboard we cut to be the right size.

We put most of the "cool" colors in the top left and most of the "warm" colors in the bottom right. There was a pretty good mixture/combination throughout the middle. I am SO in love with this!! The rainbow effect is fantastic, and I really, really love how you can see a "big" quilt-like picture from a distance AND individual, unique, amazing "miniature" artworks on each craft stick when you get up close. The kids worked really hard to make interesting designs and pictures and I think they totally succeeded!

It is definitely the coolest thing we have done in weeks. AND, I love displaying a cool looking project that everyone contributed to. The collaborative aspect of it gives them each ownership and identity individually and as part of a group. I want to help them develop a group identity that will encourage them to make good choices and feel loved.

If you're interested in other collaborative group- or team-building projects, you should check out our Sparkly Button Rainbow, Blanket Service Project, and Kindness Tree!

And if you're interested in more process art projects, you should take a peek at our rainstorm yarn painting, crayon process art (on a wall!), and sparkly eggs!

AND, if you love process art projects and craft sticks, check out this month's process art party!

The cohosts are all sharing a way you can use craft sticks and do process art with your kiddos! Here are all the links:

Happy Educating,

Disclosure: The craft sticks in this post were provided by Craft Project Ideas for any purpose deemed appropriate by Preschool Powol Packets. No additional compensation was provided.

I may share at any of these parties!

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Monday, February 13, 2017

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Lightning Leap Weather Alphabet Activity (with free printable)

My kids love to sit on our porch during a thunderstorm and watch for lightning! Eventually, though, they get tired of it and we have to go inside. Since everyone here loves lightning so much, I'm putting together some lightning and other weather themed activities this week to go with the Virtual Book Club for Kids' Weather Theme...starting with this "Lightning Leap" alphabet activity!

Lightning Fun Fact: Did you know that lightning can travel from a cloud to the ground, from the ground to a cloud, and from a cloud to another cloud? 

In this letter learning (and/or review!) activity, we pretend to be lightning that leaps from one cloud to another, based on the letter or sound a leader calls out.

To set it up, just print the {FREE} cloud letters in the link below. Cut each page in half. If you are in a classroom or have a lot of kiddos, you may want to laminate each cloud or glue them on paper plates. If you have a lot of kids, you may want to print more than one set so that all your kiddos are not crowded on one little letter. Scatter the letter clouds around the room and let your preschoolers stand on a letter cloud.

To play, just call out a letter and let your little "lightning bolts" leap to it! Here are a few more variations:

* Call out a sound and let your preschoolers leap to it!

* Call out a word and let your preschoolers leap to the first letter in it!

* Call out a word and let your kiddos leap to any letter in it! This works great for spelling words for older kids too! **This was our favorite version! After a second or two I started spelling it slowly for the younger kiddos.**

* Call out a letter and a motion the kids must use to get to the letter! For example, "Crawl like an ant to an 'm.'" Or, "Walk backwards to an 'o.'"

* Let your kidstake turns callingout words or letters!

* Tape the letters on the wall and let the kids run around the room and touch the right letter with their hands!

* Hit the correct letters with hands, fly-swatters, a cup, or a stick!

After you play, you can use the letter clouds in tracing activities or letter art--try filling in the letters with something different (like buttons or fingerprint "raindrops") or putting them at the bottom of a rice or sand writing tray! You can always use them to practice spelling words or names too!

Combining gross motor movement with alphabet learning helps your preschoolers remember the letters better while using their muscles and energy in a positive way! And it's loads of fun to leap like a lightning bolt while you review letters!

Are you working on a cloud or weather theme? If so, you will want to check out our warm & cold front model, our hurricane model, and our super easy thunder science!

You'll also want to check out this week's Virtual Book Club for Kids book: Little Cloud by Eric Carle:
(Amazon Affiliate Link:)

As you know, we are one of the cohosts for the awesome Virtual Book Club for Kids, and this week everyone's sharing weather activities for preschoolers! 

Join us on Facebook for all the fun and be sure to check out these other weather themed activities from cohosts:

Lightning Leap Weather Alphabet Activity (with free printable)  ** YOU ARE HERE!! **

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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