Integrating art projects into classroom themes.

April 08, 2021

4.8.2021 Crab Hats 

Room 7 has been learning about the ocean, and their art projects reflect it. Crab hats were made, decorated, and worn with crab pride last week, as the students learned about animals that live in the sea.


3.17.2021 St. Patrick’s Day

Holiday themes are always important because they give children opportunities to understand more about the customs we share as a community. All of our classrooms were using the St. Patrick’s Day holiday as a classroom theme at some level this month, and some of the art projects that classrooms created were as colorful and magical as the day itself. There were lots of other antics going on here at Crossroads for St. Patrick’s Day, too. Visit http://crossroadcenter.org/learning-in-groups/ to see!

 

 


2.1.2021 Submarines in Room 4

It may be chilly outside, but Room 4 is staying warm by thinking under the sea thoughts. They’ve been working within the theme of aquatics lately because students are interested and engaged in the creatures of the ocean. Recently they made submarines, incorporating skills of sponge painting, brush painting, cutting, and pasting. Some of their other artworks from the theme are pictured below.


1.27.2021 Kindness in Room 2

Room 2‘s toddlers are just 18 months to 2 years old. Yet the concept of kindness towards others isn’t above them. These kiddos are chock full of kindness and joy towards others!

Recently the class theme in Room 2 was Kindness. One of their beautiful art activities asked them to think of what they can do to help spread kindness to the world. Their sweet ideas were written by teachers on the hands which were traced and cut from their own hands. Reading and dancing are always good ideas, right?


1.25.21 Little Sweethearts in Room 8 

Give a child their own big surface to work on, and some markers, and watch the creativity flow! That’s what Room 8 did recently! Hear directly from Ms. Shannon, TA:

Last week in Room 8, we did a fun free art project. We named it the “Sweetheart Bulletin Board Boxes”. Each child got their own individual board and they were able to create a board however they wanted. They were able to practice writing their names, practice creating shapes, practice tracing their hands, practice fine motor grasp, they were able to be creative with different materials and they all used their imagination to create stories on their bulletin boards. One friend drew a picture of himself falling off a snowbank. Another friend traced their hand with different colors and created different faces. Once they completed the boards each child was given different hearts that said positive words such as smart, kind, sweetheart, and so on. Once they were complete, we hung the pictures out in the hallway at their eye level so, they can see the amazing artwork that they completed.

— Shannon Faulkner

1.21.21 Identifying Emotions in Room 7

Teaching young children about feelings is an important piece of what we do here at Crossroads. When children can start to identify what a certain emotion feels like, what experiences trigger it, what our bodies do when we are feeling that way, then they can start to say when they themselves are feeling that way, and that communication is crucial in coping with the ups and downs of life. Learning feelings usually starts with happy and sad, and then typically moves onto scared and mad. From those four basic emotions, the others flow.

Here are the kiddos in Room 7 making an adorable craft, with one side of the plate being happy and the other being sad. The students used bingo markers, glue, markers, and googly eyes to create their masterpieces and the use of language was encouraged throughout. We all feel super happy to see these youngsters learning about feelings. Not to mention the marvelous myriad of fine motor skills the children were able to practice, to boot!


12.9.2020 Melted Snowmen in Room 4

A mixture of glue and paint makes a sensory wonderland out of this art project. The students in Room 4 began with a sheet of construction paper, a pile of snowman body parts, and, best of all, a blob of “snow” to create and play with. The finished works of art are just as delightful as the boys are when making them!

Students worked on labeling body parts, placing parts on their snowman, and using their fingers to manipulate the pieces. All of this in addition to doing a wonderful job with mask-wearing!


11.1.2020 Keepsake handprints in Room 2

Our students love using their hands and being creative. Last week, a project in Room 2 involved making a type of playdoh that when baked in a slow oven, will harden and become a keepsake for these toddlers to bring home to their families.

In between hand-printing with teachers, the children created beautiful pictures with crayons and coloring sheets.


10.19.2020 Pumpkins and paintbrushes in Room 2

Painting on a flat surface such as paper is one thing, but using a brush to apply paint to a curvy, bumpy thing like a pumpkin is downright tricky!

This group in our toddler room, Room 2, starts at 18 months old. You can see that they are focusing very hard on their task at hand: decorating their own pumpkin their own way.

Mixing colors comes into play, as each child has his/her own palette, intentionally or not. Their masterpieces turned out adorably and were a blast for the children as well.

Thanks and photo credits to Danielle!


10.7.2020 RainbowFish with pincer grasp placement in Room 2

Rainbowfish can teach children about color identification, an animal group (fish), social skills (sharing), and emotions (loneliness, happiness). The youngsters in Room 2 recently got to make their own rainbow fish and in addition to the benefits just mentioned, they also practiced using a brush and using their pincers.

Here are some hacks from Room 2’s Rainbow Fish project:

  • Provide pre-cut scales and fish background. Yes, it’s also important to work on scissor skills, but with this project’s focus being on giving the fish his scales, it’s best to have these pieces ready so that the child sees the task at hand from the get go.
  • Rather than trying to get a young child to apply glue to a little piece of paper, have them paint the entire surface area with a brush dabbed in glue and then apply the small scales.
  • Provide modeling and even physical prompting to help children get started and then let them do the work of picking up the scales and placing them where they want.
  • If your glue is too thick to paint on easily, mix a tiny bit of water in to thin it. Careful though: too much water will curl your paper.
  • Encourage and admire your young artist at work!

10.2.2020 Apple Trees with mixed art-making tools in Room 1

Students in Room 1 got to make beautiful apple trees in their art group recently. Wearing big old tee shirts as smocks to protect their school clothing, everyone had a chance to paint a trunk with a brush. Teachers in the classroom painted the students’ palms green and leaves were hand-printed onto the tops of the trunks. Red finger prints created apples ripe enough to pick.

Room 1 has been working with an APPLES theme; this art project gave the students a chance to think about apple trees bearing apples, colors and seasons. It’s a project that will tie into others that Mrs. Kathy, classroom Special Education Teacher, and her team will introduce throughout the course of the theme.

By experimenting with the various tools – brushes, hands and fingers – these young artists not only learned more about the classroom theme of APPLES, but also that colorful paint can be applied to a paper background in different ways. Experimenting with different tools and mediums is a wonderful way for children to learn about their environment and how things work.

As well, social skills are developing as children wait for and take turns, model the adults and each other, and practice transitioning from one activity to another. Further, with COVID-processes in check, each student has his/her own brush, and each is assisted with hand-washing before and after art group, as well as assisted to progress with mask-wearing, not only for this activity but throughout the school day.

We’re very thankful for the support we receive from donations and grants that allows us to have nice art supplies for projects like this one. Donations can be made to help our students learn and grow here:

Help students learn and grow!


8.13.2020 Art and Opportunities

Participation in art projects presents opportunities. Opportunities to see things in new and exciting ways, to work with new mediums, to engage with others – or by ourselves – within the art process and most of all to create! Creating is one of the things that sets us (human beings) apart from the other creatures of this planet.

Our classrooms have had several wonderful themes this summer. Classroom themes bring together academic and content areas such as literacy, math, science, and social studies. Art is a way to bind these subjects and more together for better understanding and engagement.

Room 4‘s Ocean Theme has given children lots to do. They’ve been adding projects all summer long. Here, below, we have some glimpses for you from their Jellyfish project. For this, they applied tissue paper to contact paper to create a multiple-colors collage. Then a bit of scissory created a final product. The videos show the magic of the art process; during this session, children were captivated by the accidental spillage of tissue paper pieces, which floating once bore the need for repeating. The children made it happen again and again, loving the dancing sprinkling onto the floor.

By watching, or better, participating with the children, we all can learn more about the project at hand, the themes we’re exploring, and the way children learn. Art is a gift that we all can grow from.

CLICK TO WATCH A CUTE, 3 SECOND VIDEO


6.24.2020 This has been an unusual year to say the least, but some things have managed to stay on point, and one of those things is the social interaction that is formed through an art experience. During the school year, Ms. Melissa, one of the teaching assistants in Room 14 has doodled with her students all year long. When she had to move to an online interaction strategy, she started sharing her doodles with the kids each week on their classroom Dojo. Here’s her last doodle of the year,celebrating all of the beautiful people who make up this class. Happy end of the 2019-20 school year Crossroads. Thanks Melissa for sharing your talent with us!


5.5.2020 Today, thanks to Mrs. Rebecca, Room 5’s teacher for sending this project in!

Hi Everyone! Today’s art/science project is super fun. I made a video for the YouTube Channel for you to follow along if you’d like. I hope you have fun watching the water colors move across the paper. If you don’t have water colors but have food coloring, add a few drops to a small amount of water to create your own!

Video link: https://youtu.be/OXuhPe13gPo

Rebecca Oliver, Early Childhood Teacher


4.22.2020 A Coloring Book to download.

While school closure continues, Crossroads continues to deliver individualized and group instruction to students, remotely.  Look through our site and social media channels for some of the awesome resources our team members are finding and sharing.

Mrs. Kelly, Executive Director received this one from a colleague, and shared it this morning. It is a coloring book for wearing masks created by autismlittlelearners.com. It is like a social story and art project all in one.

Click to download it here: WearingaMaskColoringPages

The  Autism Little Learners site has lots of freebies and there are other coloring books that might also be useful!

4.9.2020 Make your own Art Supplies.

While children and parents are at home, our teachers and therapists are doubling down on efforts to provide learning activities that align with students’ individual and curricular goals. There are many art projects and sensory input activities that are being shared on our Facebook page.

This one comes from Ms. Jena, Room 4‘s teacher. She writes, ” I know we are sharing a lot of projects and (activities) that require paints or markers and some parents don’t have those things so I found this. It may be an alternative that all parents would like to see!”

They are pictured here, and also ganged up on the attachment below, which you can print out. Thanks, Jena, for thoughtfully sharing these wonderful ideas from MotherCould.com.

Home-made supplies from MotherCould.com.

PRINT IT OUT HERE


1.13.2020 An ARCTIC them is one that kids always love.

Can’t you just feel the icy breeze on your face, and hear the crunching of snow under your feet when you take in these chillastic projects created in classroom themes?

You’d think we were right in the Arctic!

Walking in the snow in your warm mittens, boots, hat and coat, meeting up with penguins and polar bears, and building snow people, along the way.

These are the types of images that come to mind for Winter for many people, and images the teachers in this classroom want their students to have in mind as well.

Looking at these masterpieces, you can see that the students got lots of practice of tactile and fine motor skills, opportunities for communication and interaction, and a reinforcing sensory experience too. Great job, everyone!

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12.31.19 A snowman craft gives students in room 7 an activity integrating art and language.

A theme of snow and winter gives students a host of activities to engage in to understand the uniqueness of the season as well as to learn about weather forms at a beginning level. Snowmen crafts are highly favored – children can translate the concept and teachers can integrate it with all subject areas as needed.

In Room 7 recently, a fun snowman project allowed students to build an ornament from a gathering of items, and to use words to talk about each step of the process.

One little boy is working on the language and conceptual understanding of hot vs. cold. Another has a goal of labeling parts of a body, so eyes, nose, arms, and mouth became part of the conversation. All of the students were engaged with feeling the sensory attributes of the items in the making, such as the hardness of the paint stick, the shininess of the buttons, and the softness of the scarf.

The class did a great job, not only with the project but also with sitting and working together in a group. Important for school-readiness, students in this room are young. Some have never before been in a daycare or school setting! The gains they’ve made since starting the school year is huge. Kudos to all!


10.17.19  Children learn in an endless number of ways.

At Crossroads Center for Children, teachers and therapists are skillful at using multiple modalities to give their students plentiful opportunities to learn and practice the skills and concepts they need. Integrating Art with other subjects works well with children of all ages because kids love being creative, just as much as teachers do.

Art projects are known to allow children of all abilities to access complex topics and concepts.

Engaging in art provides students with a connection to subjects and ideas, whether new or familiar. Art encourages attending, problem-solving and spatial understandings.

Projects are fun, simply by virtue of being opportunities for creative expression. They’re also experiences filled with chances to build social interaction and school readiness.

At Crossroads, students have a chance to do all of this and at the same time to practice fine motor skills.

For example, the students in Room 1 here are learning to use a glue stick. This requires learning to remove the sometimes sticky cap, twist the bottom just the right amount and direction, press it to paper with the appropriate amount of pressure, put the paper to the surface as desired, and return the cap with similar expertise.

Grasping small morsels of black construction paper, which have been cut out as apple seeds and placing them in the correct area of the apple shape, takes a bit of spatial attention and develops an understanding of size and space, too.

Picking up a paintbrush, wetting it, dipping it into the tiny spot of the desired color on the watercolor palette, and applying that same brush to a certain area on a paper, is a sequence of skills that sometimes need to be isolated for teaching, especially with young children.

 

It’s important that we appreciate the finer details of teaching art skills, as much as the art of using such projects to bring alive the awesome themes that have to do with other subjects, apples, pumpkins, water, and all of the themes being taught.

We’re so thankful for the grants and donations that we’ve been given to help with social skills development since art projects are one of the areas where teachers and therapists can target social skills with students. Some examples of goals that students might have been sharing materials, passing items to one another, attending to a speaker (the teacher), showing one’s project to peers in a group, or even sitting in a group for increasing durations of time. Considering that the overwhelming majority of our preschool students have never been in a school setting before, there are so many skills that their teachers will shape over the course of the school year.

If you love the art projects that the students make here, be sure to follow us on Facebook where we share frequently!


12.3.18 Science and Art Meet Again

Here are just a couple of recent examples of high-interest art projects that taught science concepts, too.

Here’s a finger paint and collage project that Room 7 did recently. As you can see, the children made snowmen – melted ones. They’ve been learning about snow, and their art wall is currently full of snowflakes, snow globes, and snowmen including melted snowmen. Learning about the water cycle, weather activities and the melting of snow are science concepts that are challenging in the abstract, yet graspable when introduced through a highly interesting art activity such as this.


Another clever activity was done in Room 4. Using wax crayons, the children colored their penguins. They then sprayed water on them. As they conducted this crayon resist art technique and experiment, they learned about the oily feathers that penguins have that helps keep them safe from cold and wind.  This serves as a basis for understanding how different animals are suited to live in different habitats.

A third example is found in Room 6’s recent pumpkin painting activity. Painting pumpkins is cool enough, but Room 6 took it a step further, and used mashed pumpkin to paint their trays with. The object was to describe the way the pumpkin feels to the touch, smells to the nose, and looks to the eye. Children were encouraged to paint with their hands if tolerated and to use a brush if that was preferred. Learning about the senses is an important area of science.

We hope you enjoy seeing what our classrooms are doing and how. Your comments are most welcome – we love seeing what others are doing.

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Learning in groupsThanks to The Woodstock Chimes Fund