Preschool: Concept of Half

Concept of Half


RightStart Mathematics has been everything I would hope for in a Kindergarten/Preschool math curriculum.  It introduces number concepts with the abacus so that even my two year old has been somewhat interested as well as many other math related concepts such as order, comparison, days of the week, half, reflection, etc.  It’s very hands on and although I didn’t buy all the manipulatives they have been very easy for the most part to make for myself or improvise.


This last week we learned about the concept of half.  One of the projects for the lesson was to cut a variety of shapes in half.  This was a great project and a great excuse for me to practice my Adobe Illustrator skills.  The templates are included in the RightStart Mathematics workbook, but since I have to make three copies I thought I might as well make up and print my own.

Preschool Shapes

Preschool Shapes

Here is my template.  This makes a great coloring sheet as well.  The kids cut their pieces in half and then we pretended that they were cookies and we were sharing the halves.  By the way, if you are curious as I was how to draw triangles in Illustrator here’s what you do.  First select the polygon tool and then click on your drawing once without actually drawing anything.  A window will pop up and then you can select how many sides you want your polygon to have.

These would also be fun templates to play with as stencils or for gelatin printing . . . maybe we’ll do that.

Stencil Hearts

Stencil Hearts


Recently we’ve been having some fun with stencil and stamps.  Stencils and stamps are two different techniques of printmaking so combining the two is just so much extra fun!  First cut out a template from a piece of construction paper and place another pice of construction paper beneath it.  Tape both sheets to the table tightly.  If the paper rips when you lift it up you will only be damaging the stencil and this way if you are doing this project with kids the paper below won’t slip around.  You can use just about anything to stamp with.  If you don’t have store bought stamps then try erasers, marshmallows or thumbprints.  Try combining different colors or placing one stencil on top of another.  The possibilities are endless!  If you don’t have stamp pads you could try using finger paint instead.  Happy printing!

Please include a link with your project in the comments if you try this.

Heart Stencil



The Giant with no Heart in His Body

The Giant without a Heart in his Body

The Barefoot Books podcast has a slew of fantastic stories to listen to.  We often listen to stories during breakfast and lunch to help keep the kids focused on eating rather than playing.  Before the meal while I am getting it ready or sometimes afterwards I give out coloring sheets that are linked with the story.  This has always worked out very well.  I’m thankful for my past experience as a third grade teacher as I now care for my four preschool children.  Many of the same tricks work!

Here is a coloring sheet that I sketched from this picture.  The picture is full of hidden creatures and strange intricacies.  It reminds me very much of a print in my mother’s house which you can see below.

Fear and Courage

Christmas Tree Preschool Art


Christmas Tree 1

As promised, here’s a craft using the masking technique with kids.  For this project you will need paper, watercolors and artist tape.  Artist tape is less tacky than the kind of masking tape you pick up at the grocery store.  It is less likely to rip the paper when you pull it up.  You can use watercolor paper for this project if you like.  I cut up old Trader Joe’s bags.  They are my go-to craft supply.

1. Cut out a christmas tree (this could be done by a preschooler if you want to make the project take longer though you should draw the template first)

2. Stick little bits of tape all over the tree (my kids ages 2-5 were getting frustrated by trying to rip the tape into small pieces themselves so I ripped the pieces up and handed them out for them to stick to their trees)

Masking Tape Tree

Masking tape and marker tree

3. Color the tree all over with green marker (this gives the impression of a pine needle texture and is an added step that increases the project time)

Watercolor Christmas tree

4. Paint the tree green with watercolor (My two and four year olds decided to paint their trees all different colors)

Remove Tape


5. WHEN DRY remove the tape and paint in different colors (or if you already painted the tree many colors just remove the tape)

Christmas Tree 2

6. For a finishing touch we pasted foil stars to the tops of the trees.  (The foil was very delicate and tears ensued when some ripped, so good thing I had cut out extras.  I think a star sticker would work just as well if not better!)

If you try this with your kids please include a link to your project in the notes or let me know how it turned out! 🙂

Masking Tape

Masking Tape

This is the masking tape I used to create “Exploration,” my entry this week for Illustration Friday.  I’m sure you’ve tried this method before.  You know, a child puts a sticker on the floor right after you mop and then a couple weeks go by before you are able to mop again.  You notice the sticker and peel it back and voila!  But really, who goes a couple weeks without mopping the floor? 🙂  Me!  Especially when all I seem to be doing is chasing down one small man who wants to crawl up anything he can get his hands on and one crazy girl who keeps taking her diaper off but won’t put anything in the potty!

Balancing Act

Anyway, the effect so disgusting and convicting on the kitchen floor can be striking and lovely in a watercolor.  Simply cut out a shape in tape and then place it on the white of the paper.  After playing with many layers of washes you can remove the tape and reveal the paper’s striking white.  You could also do this with children.  Watercolor medium is so cheap and of all the painting options for kids virtually mess free.  Hmm . . . that gives me an idea – I might post about that next

Aesop’s Fables


I’m a little obsessed with British programming.  When my son’s Sunday school teacher mentioned that he was answering questions in a British accent I thought we had better cut back on listening to Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows, Paddington Bear, etc.  But besides all these great audiobooks there are also fantastic school radio podcasts that the BBC puts out.  It’s just too hard to resist recordings of stories like Aesop’s fables.  Did I mention they are free?  While they are still available that is . . .

Home Made Tempera Paint for Kids

Image     Image     Image

Sure you can buy it in bulbous bottles from Michaels Craft store but in the spirit of the “make your own” trend why not try your hand at painting with egg yolks?  Of course true tempera paint would require fresh eggs, a steady hand and proper pigments but a messy version can be made for children without the fuss.  The emphasis is on MESS!  This is a good recipe for thanksgiving week since the kitchen is a mess anyway and you may have a few spare egg yolks laying about.

Mix one yolk with one drop of food coloring for a sticky finger paint that will dry shiny.  If you have some crumbly chalk left over from summer you could also try to mix the yolk with that.  I must emphasise that this in no way properly represents the sort of medium that Giotto used to capture the subtleties of his Ognissanti Madonna.  Like most projects for young children it is a sensory rich dip into creative expression that perhaps will open the way for a future interest in art.  The idea is to introduce the concept of using a binder to paint with a pigment.  If you want to know how to properly prepare egg tempera looking here would be a good place to start.

To preserve some semblance of sanity I highly recommend enacting the entire project on the floor atop a goodish spread of newspaper.  Once the activity begins to reach the “unfun” point simply scoop up the whole mess and toss it in the trash or fireplace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Look Up


Feathery Waves

Today all four kids were going crazy and my husband was late coming home from work.  I took the kids outside hoping a bit of space between them would prevent a few arguments.  As I mechanically pushed the baby in the swing the eldest cried, “Mommy!  Look up!”  Suddenly I was filled with hope and ran inside to grab my camera.  Of course this glimpse doesn’t do the feathery waves justice and it was all gone in a moment.  How thankful I am for little voices that remind me to look up!

My mother and I used to play a game where we would say which artist painted the day’s clouds.  The skies present a canvas that is ever changing.  One man can spend a decade on a painting, hundreds of men can spend years on an animated picture.  God presents an epic show at no cost daily.  He is pleased to share it with us but He doesn’t do it just for us.  There are spectacular views of sunsets and thunderstorms in lonely deserts and atop fierce mountain ranges.  The poetry of the book of Job powerfully describes His artistic majesty:

Job 38:22-30

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow

or seen the storehouses of the hail,

which I reserve for times of trouble,

for days of war and battle?

What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,

or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?

Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,

and a path for the thunderstorm,

to water a land where no man lives,

a desert with no one in it,

to satisfy a desolate wasteland

and make it sprout with grass?

Does the rain have a father?

Who fathers the drops of dew?

From whose womb comes the ice?

Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens

when the waters become hard as stone,

when the surface of the deep is frozen?

Classical Conversations: Art Lessons for Weeks 4 and 5

These lessons could be modified for any age but I designed them with 4-5 year olds in mind.  Week 4’s topic is abstract art and week 5 is perspective.  These are some really broad topics for little ones to grasp.  In my experience children this age are eager to explore and can be easily frustrated when they are trying to draw a certain thing, like a correct “m” for example.  These lessons focus the broad topics suggested in the Classical Conversations program and make them more fun and more accessible for little hands.  I definitely must give credit for my inspiration to both Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Mona Brookes’ Drawing with Children.

For the abstract art lesson, for instance, I suggest hanging up pictures of each of these characters and asking the kids to tell about them:

Abstract ArtAbstract Art

Here is the PDF of the lessons:

Classical Conversations Art week 4&5