Friday, July 8, 2011

Experience is the Best Way to Know

Young children learn through experiences. It is hard for them to learn through pictures and being "told about it". That's why we are still celebrating the Fourth of July this week. The week prior to the Fourth we can talk about it, we can make silly hats to wear on the Fourth, but to truly understand, the children needed to experience the Fourth of July.

Tuesday morning (the 5th of July) I was greeted with stories of Fourth of July thrills.  The excitment spilled into their play as they were lighting firecrackers (aka:  bark) and running away and setting up parades.  There were stories of horses and boat rides. They now had concrete experiences to reference.  I heard about the loud sounds and smells of firecrackers, the sight and sounds of parades and other fun associated with the Fourth of July. 

Feeding off of their excitment, I used an idea I learned from "my Jenn". She is near the end of sorting out her "stuff"; saving the quality play ideas, and throwing out the teacher led, carbon copy mumble jumble. Somewhere in that process she came upon this process art activity. I like to call it "firecracker painting" -- it could easily be called many other names and used for many other moments besides the Fourth of July.

All it takes is a large chunk of paper, plastic lids, hammers and paint.

Ella is making the first "explosions" on the paper.
Place just a bit of paint in the center of the lid. I used old tupperware lids that
I no longer have bowls for, but margarine lids work great.
I tried Ziplock container lids too, but they cracked.
Place the lid paint side down on the paper and
hit the paint covered lid with a hammer.

I could have done the firecracker painting before the Fourth of July. Doing it after, however, when the children could relate to what fireworks in the sky looked like was filled with so much more meaning. The stories and sound effects that were accompanying the painting were all signs of the wonderful experiences they had. They also were proud to tell me what they now knew about the Fourth of July.

Knowing about something does great things for one's self esteem and experience is the best way to know!