our {growing} collaborative mural

growing mural - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

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and, so it grows. {and grows and grows and grows!}

we all have been working on the pieces and parts that make up this mural. slowly, methodically and in all different art “styles”. pointillism was explored for the sunflower petals. we took a stab at using mosaic style for the sun and clouds. hanging art from a line allowed us to explore kinetic art and how we can use our bodies interact with this art form. we explore collage, we dive deep into our sensory bin as we engage collaboratively — some have fingers sticky with glue while others cut shapes from brown-paper sacks for the creation.

making a mural is big work here and it is deliberately not a rushed process. the mural is on a prominent wall in our discovery room and often the art is done in our art studio. but often art is also done at a table close to the mural, using the space and maybe even the proximity to the {growing} mural as inspiration for our creations. the art is done not with the intention of creating a mural, but rather done as part of our day with exploration on the top of the list.

our art is done when we need to create, not at some preset time and in some preset fashion. our art is often done where it is comfortable for the individual — on floors, on easels, on tables … even under tables sometimes and is one reason why we don’t have formal chairs around our art studio table. we have no preset start and stop time for “art” as art is an activity that can be chosen when the need to create hits.

and why the nod to van gogh’s ‘sunflowers‘, yet again? this is the full circle piece of our learning: in the exploration in our art studio around ‘perspective‘, and the many artists whose sunflower art has graced our art wall, we’ve continually been weaving this into conversations as we move through our days. how we see things, how we feel things, how we understand things, how something looks to us — all through our unique eyes and senses and ideas. the conversation that started as a base for art exploration has naturally and beautifully moved to almost every part of our day and in so many interactions … exploring how one sees something, being open to how another sees something, understanding our differences and yet embracing our connections. this has been so powerful and incredibly humbling seeing this happen by allowing it to happen naturally.

:: how can you weave perspective into your day?

:: won’t you come join us to create when the need hits? {our art studio, like every other space in our school, always has room for one more}

if you are local {and even if you are not} we welcome you to join us for slowly and deliberately made creations, of any kind, allowing you to embrace the journey. stop by in person or on this blog, we are so glad to have you.

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sensory explorations … messy play

we explore our world in countless ways over here. our school motto could fittingly be “there is no one ‘right or wrong‘ way to play … just play“. the encouragement to explore using your whole self is very evident and wholeheartedly embraced in our school. we learn from each other, with each other and through the trust afforded that it is in the discovery of our world that we are learning, not pursuing an end result.

kate at ‘peaceful parents, confident kids‘ has a wonderfully written blog post on this, titled ‘allowing children to play for their age and stage‘. kate beautifully details how we also function in our school, the practice magda gerber founded many years ago with RIE. kate writes:

One of my most favourite and rewarding RIE practises centres around the notion that, in play, children are entirely capable of achieving their own goals at their own pace often without the need for demonstration or guidance.

sensory play - ourschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

and so it was today in the art studio with a set of tempera paints, some rocks and a piece of paper. what was painted is secondary to the exploration of the paint and painting. and exploring and experiencing were top of the list today! painting rocks isn’t really a mess-free feat to begin with, and paint on fingers and hands just lent itself so naturally to actually just painting fingers and hands.

we sat with each other for a long while, just exploring without explaining, and allowing this time together to just sink in. today, like every day, was about the process, and not any product. there was no need to interrupt this process to explain or detail – even to describe the sensory feeling or learned discovery. the simplicity of sharing space together, sharing some gentle smiles and sharing this process together, was enough.

messy play and exploratory play are so vital for all ages — not just the very young! angie voss details it well over on ‘a sensory life(the new home for understandingSPD) with a whole page dedicated to ‘messy play‘. she wisely writes:

Messy play is a crucial sensory stage of development for the tactile system and the nervous system for gross and fine motor development, body awareness, bilateral integration, left/right discrimination, and self regulation…just to name a few.
Encouraging messy play on a DAILY basis will “do the body good”.

– Angie Voss, OTR, author “The Essential Guide to Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder” and “Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals”

just because a child might be five, or seven or nine, {or a child at heart} and not ‘just’ a toddler, does not mean that painting hands and feet in the art studio is off limits. or that we don’t still pull out shaving cream or make cornstarch ‘goop’ or fill bins with rice or beans or other materials for other forms of tactile sensory exploration. each of us, at every age and stage of development throughout a lifetime, need messy play and sensory explorations.

next time you visit, kick off your shoes and join us in some messy play and some play without expectation — and the laughs and smiles that typically fill the space, too. we’d love to have you explore some with us.

:: where will your play take you today? 

make a craft: nature tic-tac-toe

nature tic tac toe outschoolathomeblog-wordpress-com

many of the items we have in our discovery areas are ones we make, or have been made for us, and our nature tic-tac-toe board is no exception. the materials were very simple to source (all from our local craft store) and the painting was enthusiastically done by the children in our art studio.

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the “pieces” are wooden craft wheels, but lend themselves in both shape and size to our needs. the paints are  a water-based acrylic making them easy to both apply and wash off fingers (and hands and the occasional elbow!). the base of the game is a round piece of simple balsa-wood that was painted and the tic-tac-toe board was drawn with the help of an adult. for ease, we used stickers for the two sets of game pieces (sunflower and bumble bee) but the possibilities are truly endless.

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total cost for all the materials was under $10. but the cost isn’t the main factor in creating materials like this to discover and use. it is the working together, creating something for us all, together … and the process — not always the product — of tasks and creations and time together that is our focus.

the pieces are now often used to create patterns, or they might find their way to the block area to add to a building, or a castle or a creation that needs something just a little extra. the games played are sometimes tic-tac-toe … and sometimes we see how far the pieces can roll along with a simple push or a million other variations that fit the place and space we’re in at the moment.

enjoy your own creations – and the journey of embracing the act of creating, not always just the final product. 
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for more ideas on creating tic-tac-toe games, visit these blogs for inspiration:
:: Travel Tic Tac Toe Game from dandee-designs
:: Refrigerator Tic Tac Toe from Artzy Creations
:: Spring Time Tic Tac Toe from Chicken Scratch
:: Yard Tic Tac Toe from Holly’s Arts and Crafts Corner

clay butterfly crafts

as we dive deeper into our theme of ‘things that grow’, and we continue to journal and observe the life-cycle of our painted lady caterpillars, we opted to make some special butterflies we could keep. {there is some sadness mixed into the joy of  having a butterfly release celebration}

the folks over at nurturestore just happen to also be celebrating the raising of their own painted lady caterpillars, as we are. wonderful to share experiences and crafts — and likely these clay butterflies, as they’re too beautiful not to share with friends!

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as a gluten-free home, here’s two clay recipes we use {versus using a wheat-based-flour dough recipe}
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::: cornstarch clay {cooked} 
{porcelain type, requires cooking}

2 cups cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1 1/4 cups cold water

:: in a saucepan, combine cornstarch and baking soda
:: gradually add water until the mixture is smooth
:: heat over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a moist ‘mashed-potato’ consistency

:: turn onto a plate, cover with a damp towel {careful for little fingers and hands – it will be hot!}
:: knead clay when cool enough to handle – clay is now ready to create with!

:: roll out the dough into a little under 1/2 inch thick and use your choice of cutters for shapes and designs
::  this dough will take some time to air dry or you can speed the process and dry in a warm oven (200*F)
:: {{ clay may crack if items too thick or bulky }}

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::: cornstarch clay {our favorite}

1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup white glue
:: mix both ingredients completely
:: add extra corn starch or glue to get a workable consistency

:: store in plastic wrap/bag – this mixture should last for months
:: projects can be air dried – try rolling out thinly and using cookie cutters for your desired shape (using a straw to put a small hole for hanging, if desired)
:: leave overnight to dry – can be painted and decorated once dry

the evolution of the art studio

one place we’re passionate about here is the creation of a dedicated art studio. not an art center — but a true studio where creation and exploration into art in many shapes and forms can happen. we’re also passionate about having it be a place where many folks can come create (we adults need a space to create now, too!).

so, welcome art studio … we’re so happy you’re growing and developing!

this month’s theme is “things that grow” and we’re exploring plants and seeds as well as lifecycles (catepillar to butterfly) and working through what makes things grow (food, water, sunshine, rest, love). with that, the art studio has become a space where we’re exploring … sunflowers!

we’re taking the visual cues of many artists and their rendition of sunflowers — from van gogh to diego rivera to monet and others — we’re exploring how we all view similar things yet interpret them differently. this month, we’ll be using our art wall to display art from us all — from van gogh to my six year old, from monet to visiting friends. the discovery is in the exploration and the journey.

the beginning stages of the art wall -- looking forward to seeing it grow this month

the beginning stages of the art wall — looking forward to seeing it grow this month