Art falls under the umbrella of creative expression in early childhood education. It is viewed as a way children communicate with their caregivers, peers, and the world around them. In the Reggio Emilia philosophy, art is considered one of the many "languages of children" for self expression as described by Loris Malaguzzi. At Giving Tree Early Learning, we strive to incorporate art into everyday activities in the classroom while introducing children to new materials and mediums in our Art Atelier.
Every classroom has an easel for gross motor art and an art center. A toddler art center looks different than a preschool art center because each classroom's art area is developmentally appropriate for their age group. Teachers plan invitations that allow children to explore different materials with various mediums like bubble wrap with paint, clay with collage materials, and tissue paper with glue.
The Art Atelier is a space that is specifically focused on exploring, manipulating, and creating art through self expression. This space contains a plethora of art materials that engage children and promote curiosity and creativity. Teachers set up different invitations in the Art Atelier for children to participate in or allow for free exploration of the materials. Materials that are not commonly found in classrooms are stored in the Art Atelier. Children have the unique opportunity to manipulate various fabrics, clay slabs, ceramic tiles, or large cardboard and styrofoam panels in our Art Atelier. The art activities are child-led and are supported by the teachers through the introduction of additional materials or questions directed towards furthering a child's natural thought process. Children have freedom to create whatever they wish to create as authentically as possible.
Art, not only allows children to express themselves creatively, it also aligns with many early learning foundations. Early learning foundations are a framework for teachers to reference when creating developmentally appropriate activities. The experiences children participate in allow them creative freedom while reinforcing important skills in their learning journey like language, fine and gross motor skills, sensory input, and cognitive processing skills.
On Purim, we retell the story of Queen Esther and Mordechai who saved the Jewish people from an evil plot by a man named, Haman in ancient Persia. This day is a celebration to commemorate the salvation of the Jewish people. We explore the story in various ways as well as Purim themes that include kings and queens, topsy-turvy and more!
One tradition is to create a jelly filled triangle shaped cookie called a Hamentashen. Each class had the opportunity to make chocolate chip and strawberry hamentashen to share with their families!
Retelling the Purim story is explored through role playing, dramatic play, puppetry, felt boards and through a dynamic interactive megillah reading with Rabbi Schusterman!
In the Purim story, Queen Esther resides in a palace. So of course we must explore castle building both inside of the classroom and in our Art Atelier! Sand castles using kinetic sand, shaving cream mortar and foam blocks, and 2 dimensional renderings are just a few of the ways we construct our castles.
Other explorations include an obstacle course, carnival style games and pool noodle horse races! Let's not forget the creation of mishloach manot baskets, masks, crowns and groggers!
Lastly, we visited the Light Studio to explore bedazzled crowns with loose parts, shadow puppets, black light art in the castle, Purim story puppetry and a noise-tastic megillah reading with instruments!
One of our favorite creative play spaces is the Light Studio which was inspired by one of our family Reggio- inspired events, the Light Expo in 2018.
(read about it here: https://hhaireggiojourney.blogspot.com/2018/04/upcoming-family-reggio-event.html)
The Light Studio is home to various explorations of light, color and sound. Throughout the school year, a committee of innovative educators come together to routinely rotate and shift the Light Studio environment to support the children's current interests.
Various themes are explored each year including color, seasons, ocean, winter, artic animals, Jewish holidays, weather, insects and more!
The Light Studio is set up as what we call a "yes environment." Every item is meant to be controlled by your child. They are allowed to turn switches on and off, move and manipulate light sources, construct and deconstruct invitations and transport material from one center to the next to support their play.
Materials include projector and computer, overhead projectors, various lamps, rope lights, strings of lights, battery powered lights, light tables, black lights, mirrors, light curtains, "party lights" like disco balls, various translucent materials and manipulatives such as magnatiles, dramatic play items such as umbrellas, flashlights, clamp lights, tap lights, icicle lights, blocks, window blocks, various height platforms/surfaces, and recycled materials.
In the Light Studio aesthetics, accessibility, intention and creativity shine to provide your child with a world of wonder and discovery.
Passover is a busy time in the Early Childhood. As the holiday is based around the retelling of the exodus from Egypt, you will find many explorations that are centered around story telling, dramatic play and interactive play opportunities. Common themes include Baby Moses, frogs, 10 plagues, matzah, construction/pyramids, music and puppetry. The children explored Passover activities both inside and outside of the classroom with a plethora of activities available in the Light Studio.
In the Light Studio, children could swim in the River Nile and save Baby Moshe or bake their own matzah at the Matzah Factory. Or they could take a frog for a dip in the frog pond or recreate Monet’s Waterlilies using loose parts on the light table! If that wasn't enough... they could experience engineering as they recreate 2d and 3d replicas of the Great Pyramids or even host their own Passover seder in the Light Studio cottage.
We continued the fun with various food experiences throughout the week. Children tasted hard boiled eggs, recreated one of the 10 plagues using raisins, soy nut butter and celery (Bugs on a Log), made charoset- a sweet mixture of apples, cinnamon and grape juice and baked matzah from scratch with Rabbi Schusterman and the Matzah Factory!
Each class also offered various activities within their classroom. Take a look at the pictures below to view more or visit our classroom blogs located under the CLASSROOMS tab at the top of the page.
Mrs. Alethia Minlaff, Director: you can reach her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org