Tag Archives: seasons

Let the Seasons Move You

Fall is certainly creeping in!  Celebrate the changing seasons with this music and movement activity using Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  (I originally posted this back in December.)

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has always been one of my favorite musical works.  This program music is so beautiful and powerful, but also so descriptive, you can literally see in your mind and feel in your bones what Vivaldi is trying to describe with his music.  (And if you aren’t sure what he’s trying to describe, check out these sonnets Vivaldi wrote to correspond with his music.)  Because the music is so suggestive of movement, it’s perfect for a music and movement activity with children!

I usually start out with the children by mentioning that this music was written by a man named Antonio Vivaldi a long, long time ago, and that he wanted to write music that sounded like the different seasons.  Then I announce each season as the music begins and we move to the music, calling out new movements to go with the music.  For example, in the Spring segment, we start out marching, then as the music quiets we tiptoe, as it has quick runs we jump and talk about flowers blooming up out of the ground or birds jumping into flight.  For Summer, we usually pant and fan, or slowly walk or crawl looking for water, because the music is slow and hot.  Fall involves some hands as falling leaves, of course, and Winter is freezing and shivering, or perhaps a snowstorm, dancing with white scarves.  (Here’s a great YouTube clip of Winter.  You can find other clips online as well.)

Create the movements together, listening carefully to what you hear and considering what you and the children know about each season the music is representing.  Should you be moving quickly or slowly?  Will your body be down low or up high?  How could you show leaves falling/birds singing/sun shining?  You may even want to listen to the music without any dancing first, and talk about what you hear and the types of movements you might use before you begin the movement portion of the activity.  I’m not suggesting that everyone should be doing the same choreographed movements, but some discussion time to consider movement will make them more intentional. 

I don’t usually use Vivaldi’s entire movement, but enough to keep the children involved.  I may just use the Winter movements if we’re talking about that season in particular.  If I’m doing all four seasons, I may transition by saying something like, “Oh this is just way too hot here in the summer, let’s look for someplace cooler!”

This type of music and movement activity is great for exposing children to famous works of music and increasing their understanding and appreciation of it.  More importantly, it builds in them the ability to create as they internalize the music and express it again through their unique movements.  The movements also increase muscle strength and control as well as an awareness of personal space and boundaries (something you may want to address at the beginning of this endeavor).  The activity also builds active listening skills, which are important not just to music appreciation, but to learning in general.  For more information about the importance of music activities for preschoolers read here.

For more favorite fall activities, click here!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by Kerbi.
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Snow Scene Collage

If you’ve already done a few snowstorm paintings, switch things up a bit and get three-dimensional!  Collect a sampling of random white items to glue onto a snow collage.  Have your children help if you can!  Here are some ideas:  cotton balls, batting, tissue paper, packing peanuts, styrofoam (break it into the tiny balls for realistic snow), white buttons, white tulle, plain old white paper (have the children rip it into pieces for more texture and increased small motor skills), paper with white prints (white on white-ish plaids, stripes, etc.), glitter, salt, white scraps of ribbon or fabric – you notice the theme here, right?  White stuff!  If it can be glued onto paper and it’s white, (and suitable for children of course) it’s perfect!

Prepare the paper as you did in the snowstorm paintings (using colored paper and perhaps a background scene) and then provide an assortment of “whiteness” to be glued on for snow!  (For collage gluing, try this method.)

This process enhances creativity as the children find new uses for “beautiful junk”, and create and express their concept of “snow” through visual media.  The collage aspect increases small motor skills and adds a sensory element with the texture, creating something both visually and tangibly interesting.  So clean out your craft drawers and get all your white “beautiful junk” out on the table!  It’s time for another snowstorm!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by stocker.

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A Brainstorm of Snowstorm Painting Projects

There are so many fun ways to paint a snowstorm, I couldn’t settle on just one!  So instead, you get my rambling brainstorm of the many ways to paint a snowstorm!  With each method, I like to start them out with a background picture, the scene behind the storm.  I may have them color something with crayons or provide geometric shapes cut out of construction paper for them to glue on to create houses (square+triangle), trees (triangles), or even snowmen (circles).  You could also cut out scenery pictures from travel magazines.  Of course, you can also just paint the snow, particularly with younger children.  For many children, the fun is just in controlling the storm, so the background doesn’t really matter much.  Just be sure to use colored construction paper for each of these methods, so that the snow will show up!  Darker colors like blue, gray, and black show the snow even more dramatically!

Epsom Salt!  Here’s a fantastically scientific way to paint a snowstorm: Make a solution by mixing equal parts boiling water and Epsom salt (found in the pharmacy section of places like Wal-Mart, used for soaking sore tootsies) and stir well.  You want to make sure the salts dissolve into the water.  Use the solution to paint over your paper.  As it dries, the dissolved salt will crystallize again, creating a frosty, snowy look!  If you want a thicker snow paint, create your solution with more salt than water, dissolving as much as possible.  The more salt you add, the thicker and more opaque your dried crystals will be! (As a warning here, make sure the kiddos don’t drink the solution as Epsom salt can also be used as a laxative……..You don’t want that.)

Stipple Paint! Use a stipple brush and white paint to “bounce” snow onto the pictures.  You could also use snowflake or snowman stencils and stipple in the design.

Paint & Glitter! Paint with white paint and then shake iridescent glitter into the wet paint so that it dries with that fabulous sparkly snow look!  (I’ve also tried mixing the glitter into the tempera paint, but the paint was too opaque and you couldn’t see much of the glitter, though it did create a more realistic snowy texture.)

Splatter Paint! First off, you know if the words “splatter” and “paint” are in the title of a preschool activity, you need to get ready with smocks, rags, drop cloths, and perhaps some goggles and rain gear if you have any of those really enthusiastic painters!  Use white paint and toothbrushes to flick or splatter the snowy paint onto the picture.  For a little more splatter control, place the pictures inside a plastic bin and have the children flick with the brush inside the bin.  The edges should cut down on the stray splats.  You can also cover the bin with window screening and have the children brush it with a toothbrush and white paint to create the splatters.  This is a little easier than flicking with fingers for younger children.

Bubble Wrap!  Use that bubble packing wrap leftover from your Christmas treasures and use it to make snow prints.  Cut the wrap in smaller square sections.  You may want to kind of create a handle to hold on to by pulling the corners together and wrapping with a rubber band.  Dip the bubble wrap into white paint and press it onto the paper to print.  The round bubbles creates huge snowflakes or snowballs! 

Add Music!  While creating snowstorm paintings, you may want to add a little music, like Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  You can listen to the music before your painting project.  Talk about what the music sounds like  and have the children describe the kind of snowstorm they envision.  Challenge them to create the snowstorm they’re picturing in their minds when they hear the music.  Play the music again as they paint!  This type of activity not only enhances music awareness and creativity, but also language skills!

Snowstorm painting is a great way to explore and celebrate the winter season!  It enhances creativity, small motor skills, as well as language and science skills as you talk about their creations and the properties of snow!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by jasonlemay.

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Filed under Create, Learning through Play and Experience, science activity

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons- Don’t Just Listen, Get Up and Move!

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has always been one of my favorite musical works.  This program music is so beautiful and powerful, but also so descriptive, you can literally see in your mind and feel in your bones what Vivaldi is trying to describe with his music.  (And if you aren’t sure what he’s trying to describe, check out these sonnets Vivaldi wrote to correspond with his music.)  Because the music is so suggestive of movement, it’s perfect for a music and movement activity with children!

I usually start out with the children by mentioning that this music was written by a man named Antonio Vivaldi a long, long time ago, and that he wanted to write music that sounded like the different seasons.  Then I announce each season as the music begins and we move to the music, calling out new movements to go with the music.  For example, in the Spring segment, we start out marching, then as the music quiets we tiptoe, as it has quick runs we jump and talk about flowers blooming up out of the ground or birds jumping into flight.  For Summer, we usually pant and fan, or slowly walk or crawl looking for water, because the music is slow and hot.  Fall involves some hands as falling leaves, of course, and Winter is freezing and shivering, or perhaps a snowstorm, dancing with white scarves.  (Here’s a great YouTube clip of Winter.  You can find other clips online as well.)

Create the movements together, listening carefully to what you hear and considering what you and the children know about each season the music is representing.  Should you be moving quickly or slowly?  Will your body be down low or up high?  How could you show leaves falling/birds singing/sun shining?  You may even want to listen to the music without any dancing first, and talk about what you hear and the types of movements you might use before you begin the movement portion of the activity.  I’m not suggesting that everyone should be doing the same choreographed movements, but some discussion time to consider movement will make them more intentional.  I don’t usually use Vivaldi’s entire movement, but enough to keep the children involved.  I may just use the Winter movements if we’re talking about that season in particular.  If I’m doing all four seasons, I may transition by saying something like, “Oh this is just way too hot here in the summer, let’s look for someplace cooler!”

This type of music and movement activity is great for exposing children to famous works of music and increasing their understanding and appreciation of it.  More importantly, it builds in them the ability to create as they internalize the music and express it again through their unique movements.  The movements also increase muscle strength and control as well as an awareness of personal space and boundaries (something you may want to address at the beginning of this endeavor).  The activity also builds active listening skills, which are important not just to music appreciation, but to learning in general.  For more information about the importance of music activities for preschoolers read here.

For more favorite fall activities, click here!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by Kerbi.

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Filed under Large Motor Skills, Learning through Play and Experience, music and movement activity

Bring in the Snow!

Next time you’re out shovelling the walk, shovel a bit into a bucket and bring it inside!  Fill your sensory table with snow and try one of these fun activities for exploring the enchanting powder with your little ones!

*Place cookie cutters in the sensory table for the children to press into packed snow.  Using geometric shapes gives you an opportunity to talk about these shapes during the activity and at group time as well, when you pull the cutters out again as you discuss the day’s activities.

*Set out small containers of colored water and droppers for the children to add color to the snow.  You could also use hairspray-type pump bottles with colored water.  These activities promote small motor strength and control, while also providing color-mixing experiences.

*Place colored salt in shakers and see what happens as the children shake the different colors into the snow! 

*Provide containers of various sizes and shapes for the children to pack the snow into and create snowy castles.

*Have the children explore the snow with and without gloves or mittens, and talk about how they keep us warm and why we need them.

*Bring out your magnifiers and look at the snow up close!  Take pictures and/or have the children draw pictures of it.  Spend the day exploring and talking about the snow!  Once the snow has melted, examine it with the magnifiers again, and take/draw pictures again.  Talk about the change and what the children have discovered in the process.  A fantastic science exploration activity that can include the entire process of scientific inquiry!

If you happen to live in one of the corners of the globe where the white stuff rarely makes an appearance, try Steve Spangler’s Insta-Snow for a similar experience, as Vanessa suggested!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Photo by Mattox.

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Book Activity: Under My Hood I Have a Hat

 

Under My Hood I Have a HatIf you’re looking for a simple book about bundling up for winter weather, written with captivating rhymes,  Under My Hood I Have a Hat, by Karla Kuskin and illustrated by Fumi Kosaka, is your book!  The nameless heroine of this story goes through her layers of winter wear as she and her dog come inside for hot chocolate.  Then she names more as she piles them back on to head outside again! 

The lines in this story are at the same time simple and fun.  Here are a few favorites: “Under my hood, I have a hat, and under that, my hair is flat.  Under my coat, my sweater’s blue.  My sweater’s red.  I’m wearing two.”

At the end of the story, the little girl falls in the snow, and says she can’t get up with all those clothes on.  The last picture has no words, but shows the little girl’s snow angel imprint in the snow, and little footprints from her boots and her dog’s feet.  I like to ask the children what they think happened, and they often decide that the dog helped pull her up.   I also like to follow up the story by inviting the children to make a snow angel on the floor, a fun movement activity.

For a more formal follow-up activity, I like to have the children make a winter hat craft that gives them an opportunity to work on some patterning skills.  Here’s what you need: paper plates cut in halves (or hat-shaped construction paper-I think I used plates mostly because I had halves left over from this activity), self-adhesive foam cut in squares in at least two colors, and self-adhesive foam cut into “puffy-balls” for the top (I usually cut a quick circle and then cut small triangles into it, though a roughly cut circle does the trick as well.  You could also use large pom-poms if your foam-cutting fingers are fatigued.)

I point out the page with the hat and explain we’re making paper hats.  I call their attention to the stripe pattern in the hat and we talk about patterning a bit there.  Then I show them the hat we’re going to be making and explain that our pattern is going to go across the bottom, to make the hat band.  Just like the stripe pattern in the picture, we want a pattern across the bottom band.  Then I use a few different colors to make a few sample patterns by laying the pieces across the bottom, hesitating so that the children can suggest the next color in the pattern. 

Once the children have a pretty good grasp of the task (and I have a pretty good grasp of which children will need extra support in creating a pattern) I instruct them to lay the pieces across in a pattern, and then peel off the backs to adhere them.  Then, they pick any “puff-ball” they like for the top, and lastly, they can color the rest of the hat if they would like.  Some continue with their pattern, creating stripes up the hat, others make heart designs or simply scribble.  Anything goes!

Now, you did read right, this activity falls more under the “craft” category than the arts category.  That’s because the main objective of this activity is the math concept of patterning.  Though creativity certainly comes into play, as well as small motor skills, the patterning is the primary learning objective.  As I mentioned when I wrote about the Spectrum of Preschool Arts and Crafts, a child’s art experiences should be primarily open-ended creative art experiences.  There is a place for crafts however, and that is largely for addressing other learning objectives, such as following directions, or in this example, getting some patterning practice in a fun way.  Now, if a child exhibits that she can indeed create a pattern, but she just doesn’t want one on her hat, that’s OK, it’s still her hat. I just have her show me a pattern first, so that I can note the skill, then let her go at it.  Likewise, some children just aren’t ready for patterning, and if, after working at the task, they still aren’t making a pattern, I let that go too.  Just be sure to note their understanding of the concept as they work, not just by looking at their final projects!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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Filed under book activity, Building Readers, Create, fine motor skills, Learning through Play and Experience, math activity

Stuff the Snow Clouds!

Here’s a quick activity to do as part of your music and movement time, after reading a great wintry book, or any time you just need to work some wiggles out!  You don’t even need any supplies, so it’s ready to go whenever you need it!

Have the children help you make a snowstorm by first, reaching up high, as high as they can, to fill the clouds with snow.  Reach with alternating arms and really get into the action, stuffing those clouds full of flakes!  Then, once they’re “full”, the snow begins to fall!  Wiggle your fingers and sway slowly from side to side, all the way down to your toes for a gentle snow storm.  Reach up again and repeat several times.  If a bigger storm is in the forecast, speed it up and wiggle wildly to make a blizzard!  Change up the speeds to keep it fun and to teach the concepts of “fast” and “slow”, as well as giving opportunities for children to develop motor control and impulse control.  

Have fun, and let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! 

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top graphic by Kriss Szkurlatowski.

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Filed under Large Motor Skills, Learning through Play and Experience, music and movement activity, Transitions