On Saturday the whole staff participated in an all day meeting and materials workshop. It was a great day of team building and professional learning!
After the business portion of the meeting, our Atelierista, Brandi Kaepplinger, gave a presentation about provocations and materials. It included information about how to present the materials we make available to children in such a way as to make possible a variety of different outcomes. When many children share their ideas very interesting things can happen. That is why open-ended materials are such a valuable tool in our work with children.
Open-ended materials lend themselves to an abundance of creativity, which inspires children to greater levels of play and learning. In thinking of what we will offer to children we consider everything from toys like legos, blocks and baby dolls to found and repurposed objects, natural materials and art and expressive materials. Since we are offering these materials to children we thought that it would be beneficial for the teachers to have a chance to openly explore them as well. In order for us to be confident with our ideas as we create lesson plans and provocations, we must have a woking knowledge of the materials that we are offering. Therefore, on Saturday afternoon the whole staff went back to preschool where there were, of course, many invitations to play…
Young children use all of their senses to explore, which is a vital part of learning. We provided several sensory experiences including paper-making, finger painting with pudding paints, a color study with noodles and balls, and milk prints for the budding scientists.
Collage and Print Making
Collage and print making are offerings with a multitude of possibilities. Just about anything can be used in collaging. Print making brings drawings and illustrations to life and makes them reproducible. Among the materials available were glue, paper, ink, glitter, pastels, rollers, scissors and small foam squares for making stamps. Some of the staff made very intricate designs for print making while some make designs and embellished them after inking.
There are so many types of paint and they all have different properties. On this day we explored water color, tempera, and acryllic paint. We had different mediums such as paper, mirrors and canvas available to experience each type of paint. The staff collaborated on a large canvas to create a Willow School masterpiece and created personal works of art with water color paper. Much silliness and fun was had by all creating self portraits on mirrors using tempera paint. From serious to whimsical, paint is perfect!
The wonders of clay are endless! There are so many ways to explore this material with children. We began by learning a few basic hand building skills – molding simple pots, how to score and slip to connect pieces together, how to use basic clay tools and drawing and designing into clay with various materials. As you can see, everyone rose to the challenge!
Sewing and hand crafting may seem like unusual skills to introduce to very young children. However, they bring an immense sense of purpose and focus, a stillness of mind and sharp focus. The tools require special care and the skills cross a wide breadth of learning domains. It also happens to be fun and very satisfying. During our materials workshop, everyone had the chance to learn to use the sewing machine and also basic hand sewing stitches. The end result was a basket full of sensory bags for the infants and toddlers!
We had a wonderful time and it was the first time that we’ve been all together in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. It was a day of learning and discussion and sharing. It was a day for team building and a day to come together and share our passion for our work and our advocacy for young children.
With a fresh perspective and a lot of new ideas, we can’t wait to see all those smiling faces on Monday!