Necessary Pumpkin

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Sometimes I wonder how Starbucks makes their pumpkin spice latte. If you’ve seen the videos, you might be concerned. However, ignorance is bliss and I’ll still intake my fair share of pumpkin flavored coffees, scones, and other unnecessarily flavor injected foods.

I mean, c’mon…

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enhanced-30027-1410290043-15 enhanced-2655-1410213672-8Although I know the chips are Photoshop, I’m sure Doritos has considered the possibility.

Throughout the fall cornucopia of spicy orange bombardments, there are some traditional things that everyone can enjoy – especially young children. When teaching in the classroom, I did institute a pumpkin – sans spice – activity: pumpkin painting.

Around areas I’ve lived, there have been a pumpkin patch. Not the one you see in a grocery store. That’s called a pumpkin display. I’m talking about being outside, scarecrows, hay bails, cashier’s with cash boxes, cash only, and inflatable jump houses and slides.

On a field trip, the kiddos get to choose a pumpkin, which they’ll take back and paint. Although there are a lot of big pumpkins, I guide the children’s pumpkin choice to the tiny ones. The runt bunch that cost a dollar. Teacher Gilbert has a Starbucks budget.

Yummy.

Yummy.

When we get back to class, I prepare the classroom. I tape butcher paper to the table, place tiny cups of paint on top, then place one small pumpkin in front of each chair. Children are instructed to put on smocks, then sit at their chair. The children know that this is a big event. Only during special events do all children do the same individual activity at the same time.

Prep time, prep time, prep time!

Here are some of pumpkin painted creations that I find really neat…

In lieu of all the scientifically pushed pumpkin creations we see today, pumpkin painting is unaltered fun. There is nothing new or improved about it; a fall tradition preschool teachers can look forward to.

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Bag of Tricks: Shaving Cream

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Add variety to the day. Change it up. Throw in some shaving cream.

Shaving cream. It is a great art medium. Shaving cream has the right consistency for smearing and drawing (and I’m not talking about that stuff that starts as a gel and turns into a white puff). And the stuff is fairly cheap and you get a lot out of one can. Highly recommend Barbosal for classroom activities.

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Spray some shaving cream in a bag. You won’t need that much. Seal the bag (double-checking that it is sealed). Try to draw something, then decide if you need to squeeze out some shaving cream and/or air. Once done with that, press flat on a table.

The baggies will want to move around when children start “drawing” on them. Use tape to secure the baggy to the table. This is especially useful for children who are still learning to use two hands for two different tasks.

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I would explain to the kiddos about what it means to press gently, with a finger and hand, warning about too much pressure causing the bag to burst. Demonstrate during large group or shortly before having children sit at the table. Have the children show you how they press gently by showing their hand and fingers pressing on the baggy.

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After that, it’s up to you where you want to go. Demonstrate letters or numbers. Draw shapes. Make faces. Whatever the children make, I’d have a camera nearby for documentation purposes. Print and post pictures to the wall.

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When all the children have done the activity, you can toss the bags (or do something eco-friendly if you can think of something). Easy-peasy.

Natural Art Like Andy Goldsworthy

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Andy Goldsworthy is a name you should know. Seriously. You’ll want to know him more after reading this. Andy Goldsworthy land art is not only beautiful contemporary art, but it’s tailor made for early childhood education.

While reading the article Preschoolers as Eco-Artist by Triada Samaras and Janis Strasser, I read about how children used rocks, sticks, and other nature objects to make artwork. Perhaps this not a new idea for a preschool teacher. I mean, I see children play with dirt and they call it “art.” We tell the children “yes,” so as not to break their fledgling emotional development.

But along comes Goldsworthy, who is mentioned in the article, but who I was first introduced to in my graduate program. His work is not only mesmerizing and a visual feast, but you’ll be inspired to teach your children about natural artwork. Andy Goldsworthy art utilizes using sticks, rocks, branches, leaves, water and ice looks to make unbelievable and captivating.

Here is some eye candy for you

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71NK2CtNhkLYou probably never knew that ice, rocks, leaves and wood had so much artistic potential. Absolutely stunning composition and art. Preschool teachers have destinations for children’s learning domains, but now there are pinnacle examples of natural artwork.

In creating this artwork, children can learn new words, describe textures, and even bring in other materials to create original artwork. Of course, all of Goldsworthy’s work took large amounts of time, patience, and work. Still, our kiddos can attempt some level of this creative expression in our classroom?

And, yes, although Goldsworthy admits that most of his artwork is temporary, there is a teaching and technology opportunity for children. Snapping a picture not only ensures that the child’s art piece will last forever, but imagine the children’s joy when they share their work with their family.

I’m sure there are some adults out there that want to try this out on their own! If I’m at the beach, I’m going to forget about the sand castle and try out one of these art pieces.

If you’re interested in learning (and seeing) more of work, checkout out some Andy Goldsworthy books.