Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Preschool Science Curriculum: Solar System Oil Pastel

Lately, my son has been showing an interest in the planets, so I decided to create an interdisciplinary learning activity to introduce him to our solar system.

We started by looking through a Solar System book I have from when I taught 5th grade


The pictures are breathtakingly colorful and detailed, so there was a lot to discuss.

We talked about colors, and how some of the planets had more than one...


I also had my son count how many planets, bringing a little math practice into the activity...


I also had him take apart a solar system mobile he had hanging in his room to give him a tactile sensory experience with the shape and sizes of each planet...


Then came the project. I have had these black poster-sized card stock sheets for some time now, and they were perfect for an outer space background. It also gave us the opportunity to use our oil pastels, which are so decadent and fun...


We began with the sun and, as he colored his in, I explained how the planets rotate around the sun because they are smaller and the sun's gravitational force is stronger. This prompted a discussion on gravity and how it works, so we conducted a few experiments on items falling!


Once we had the sun drawn and colored in, we methodically moved from one planet to the next, discussing and agreeing on color choice, scale, and shape...



I also asked my son to compare the five inner planets to the three outer ones. He discovered that the three farthest from the sun, unless you count Pluto but I can never keep up with whether or not this little plum is considered a planet, have rings.

He was so proud of his finished product...


Our lesson didn't end there, though! I took this opportunity to have my son practice writing his name, an exercise he doesn't often enjoy, so I have to find meaningful, fun ways to incorporate this practice.

I told him all great artists sign their work, so I had him first find all the letters in his name with our bottle-top alphabet, arrange them in the correct order, and them use an oil pastel to "sign" his work...


Finally, I had my son identify which planet only had four letters in its name, to which he discovered was Mars. I wrote MARS on a note card and had my son find each letter in our clothespin alphabet to clip on the corresponding letter. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to have to sift through the entire alphabet, so I chose just a few letters for him to look through...




For fun, he discovered that the clothespins were able to stand on their own, so he created an alien life form...



Overall, it was a fun activity that incorporated a variety of mini-lessons across subjects, making this a truly interstellar, or disciplinary, project :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Revisiting the Fine Art of Re-purposing

Last year, I wrote a Slice of Life post about re-purposing students. This morning, my son showed me his fine art of re-purposing...

After breakfast, my son and I found ourselves immersed in drawing flowers. With trees and plants budding all around us, we felt inspired...





I finished my own drawing, complete with stem and leaves (I've never been much of a realistic artist, more of an impressionist :-)...


You'll notice my son added a couple of his own leaves to my masterpiece!

He then continued on with his...






As I watched him draw his sunflower, I realized his petals resembled something very familiar...


...so I asked him what they were. Here's what he said...


My son had taken a seemingly simple art project and turned it into a lesson on literacy.


What I learned was the moment we allow our children and students the freedom to explore their own learning, we learn right along with them. Not only had my son re-purposed art into literacy, he re-purposed the teaching-learning paradigm ... suddenly, I had become the student :-)

I instantly knew this was a Slice of Life!

On a silly note, he also re-purposed my boots into Sai holders...