Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Collaborating on Art Projects with Little Kids

Detail of Our Ode to Spring

Collaborating on a project isn't easy. Collaborating on an art project with a 4yr old... You might think that it is impossible, but it is not. Here are 8 pointers to help you along.

1) Plan Ahead With Your Team - (Yes, I just referred to you and your child(ren) as a team. If you are going to make something together that is what you need to be.) Come up with a basic idea of what you are making, the materials you will need, the steps involved, where you will work, when you will do it, etc. This will help to get everyone invested in the project and give you a chance to organize in advance.

2) Identify Steps and Tasks - There are some things that you youngest team mates can't do but there are a whole lot of things they can. Identifying those things in advance makes redirection easy without letting it turn into a power struggle. For example: I need to be the one to use the X-Acto knife to cut here because it is very sharp, but we also need some triangles. Can you cut them with your scissors?

3) Give Them the Right Tools - If you want  small flowers don't hand them a big paint brush. If you are hoping for a garden of pink and purple, pull out those colors and leave the yellow and orange crayons in the box.

4) Let Go -  Yes, I know you have a vision of how this project is going to turn out, but so does every other member of your team. Ask open ended questions. Share your ideas. Communicate. Compromise. Create. This goes for kids and adults!

5) Plan Breaks - Not all attentions spans are created equally. Thankfully paint and glue take time to dry, creating convenient times for a break. Stretch. Have a snack. Change the music (or the baby). Take a nap. You don't need to finish in just one sitting. Remember - everything takes longer with kids, even art.

6) Check In - Every once in a while step back and look at your project. Share a complement. Ask a question (I noticed you used a different color on the belly of the bird. Why did you choose red?).

7) Resist the Impulse to 'Fix It'- Yes, it is crooked. No, it doesn't look like the one you saw on Pinterest. It was made by Your Team. It isn't 'wrong' and it doesn't need to be 'fixed'!

8) Be Proud -  Put your work on display. Encourage your child to talk about the art and the process with you and when showing others. What did they contributed and what did other team members add? What was challenging? What was new or fun? What do you want to make next?

The Latest Neighborhood Beautification Project on Display

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Simple Science - Plant Maze

We have been planting and tending seedlings for a few months now, and the Figlet has been making all sorts of observations. 
One observation she had made was the way that the plants would 'reach' for the sunlight, so when I saw this experiment I knew 
we had to try it. 

First we soaked and sprouted some pea seeds.

Then we constructed a maze in a shoe box 
using pieces of cardboard, a TP tube and masking tape. 
When the maze was ready, we planted the sprouted seeds 
in a container and put it at the 'start' of the maze.

We set it up in a window, checking every few days to be sure that the soil stayed damp. It took longer than we thought it would for the peas to make their way to the light - about 10 days.
But they made it!

In case you are wondering, the technical term for the way that a plant orients itself to the light is phototropism.