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Self portraits are a time honoured way to assess development and growth in kindergarten. 

They are also a wonderful tool to exercise observation skills, a vehicle of self expression, and way to develop the artist self.

They also transform a bulletin board into a gallery.

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night has captured countless imaginations.

It captures ours.

We learn about Mr Van Gogh, his work, and how he painted with his feelings as well as his eyes,  in kindergarten.

James Mayhew's book Katie and the Starry Night helps introduce children to Starry Night, and some of Van Gogh's other work. We read it, and then picked up our paint q-tips.

Katie and the Starry Night
written and illustrated by James Mayhew
published by Orchard Books, 2012

Christmas is full of amazing sights, sounds and scents.  

One of the best ways that we remember things is through the sense of smell. 

A brilliant friend of mine created an interactive Scents of Christmas centre in her classroom last year and shared her trade secrets with me this year. 

a growing collection of play dough and loose parts invitations

ocean playdough invitation 
play dough: blue Wilton's food dye
small aquarium rocks
assortment of Toob sea creatures
ocean coloured gems
laminated ocean pictures from Nurture Store

fall playdough invitation
play dough: copper food dye, nutmeg and cinnamon, gold glitter
plastic leaves from the Thrift Shop
gold and copper garland
small sticks
fall coloured buttons
fall coloured gems 
fall table scatter/vase filler from Michaels

spider playdough invitation

play dough: purple food dye, purple and fushsia  glitter, lavender essential oil
googly eyes
black, orange and purple pipe cleaners
cut up straws
laminated paper spiders
plastic spiders
next time will add small sticks and cut up bead garland

dinosaur play dough invitation

play dough: purple food dye, purple and fuchsia  glitter, lavender essential oil
big dinosaurs
little dinosaurs
little rocks
bigger rocks
glass gems

galaxy play dough invitation

play dough: black liquid watercolour and food dye, blue and gold glitter, tiny stars
space printables from Picklebums
plastic astronaut figures
cut up garland
glass gems, beach glass, plastic disks from Christmas tree garland
star cookie cutters

gingerbread play dough invitation
play dough: recipe from Mama.Papa.Bubba. with the addition of copper and gold glitter
cut up garland
mini cookie cutters
gingerbread friends cookie cutters
extra plates and trays for cooking and serving cookies

Christmas tree play dough invitation

play dough: kelly green Wilton food dye, green and blue glitter
I did not have vegetable oil in the house, so found a recipe using coconut oil at come on ilene 
cut up garland
gold and silver decorations
mini cookie cutters
tree cookie cutters (many available at Bulk Barn)

snowman play dough invitation
play dough: bleached flour play dough, iridescent glitter
cut up bead garland
big bead garland cut into individual beads
small rocks
googly eyes
cut up orange pipe cleaners

Chinese New Year play dough invitation


Spiders make the most amazing fall decorations. Their webs just fascinate me.  So intricate and delicate - get strong. And beautiful in the morning dew.

The kindergarten kids and I decided to make like spiders and create webs.

• coffee filters
• black jiffy marker
• eye droppers
• liquid water colour paints

1. Watch spiders create webs. It is amazing.

2. Draw a web on a coffee filter.

We chatted about how the spider makes the radial threads first, and then creates the spiral threads. Not all the kindergarten spiders followed the traditional spider web formula.

The kids drew on the coffee filter with pencil, and I traced over their lines with a jiffy marker.

2. Add colour.

I absolutely love liquid water colour paints. They are easy for the kids to use, and produce such beautiful, vibrant results.

We put a bit of slightly diluted red, yellow, orange, blue and purple liquid water colours in plastic cups (recycled snack size apple sauce containers are perfect).  We did not put too much in the cups, since the kids did not need a dropper full of paint - just drops. A little goes a long way on a coffee filter.

The kids were delightfully thoughtful about where they wanted different colours.

They dripped the colour until their spider webs met their artistic approval. 

3. Admire the spider web artistry.


You can sing about the Itsy Bitsy (Eensy Weensy) Spider.

You can make play dough spiders, handprint spiders, toilet roll spiders, egg carton spiders, even display supercuts printables.

We like to do all those things - aaaaand we like to add some waterspouts, and some science exploration to our spider fun.

Since we are in the northern hemisphere, and spider time is in the fall, and the weather is getting a bit chillier, our spiders encounter sand rather than water in the water spout.

Luckily for us, the exploration and learning works as well with sand as water. And we stay a lot warmer and drier.

For the spider to go adventuring in the waterspout - you need a waterspout. I use PVC piping from my local hardware store. (Yes, I know about the danger of PVC piping; I tell the children that kindergarten kids do NOT lick PVC pipes.) The fun part is all the connectors.

While I was at the hardware store checking out all the 3" connectors, the nice hardware store man asked me if I needed any help.  I explained the project as he gradually stepped backwards and let me know that I was probably doing fine without his assistance.  Poor man. No scope for the imagination.

We have a variety of spiders. Big, little and in between. Common variety dollar store spiders.

A few extra bits and pieces rounds out the exploration equipment. The funnels and the plastic tube part of a turkey baster are standard equipment in the sand table. If I take them out, the kids let me hear their displeasure.

The PVC pipes and connectors are excellent tools for exploring the physics of angles and velocity. 

What angles are necessary for the spiders to come out of the spout?
What happens when the PVC pipe turns 90 degrees.
What happens when the PVC pipe has a 45 degree angle.

Does the kind of spider make a difference in going down the water spout? 
Does it change if it is a hard plastic spider or a hairy rubber spider?  Learning about friction ...

The dollar store spider bowls provide spider "homes" that seem to be the necessary item to instigate spider stories. Spider homes. Spider families. Big spiders. Little spiders. Lots of fodder for spider stories. 

This year, the kids have been fascinated by spider silk. Sand makes an excellent substitute for spider silk. Fill up a spider, 

and then let the "silk" stream out.

Itsy bitsy, eensy weensy, and great big spiders - and a variety of water spouts - a great way to extend the traditional nursery rhyme.

wishing you days of sunshine that dry up all the rain :)

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