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When the winter dark sets in, I like to to "twinkle up" our classroom with stars.

We read about the darkest dark with Commander Chris Hadfield, learned how Franklin the turtle turned on his nightlight (when no one was looking) because he was afraid of small dark places - and then we learned how to draw a star with Eric Carle.

Draw Me a Star is one of Eric Carle's lesser knows books.

Summary: "Draw me a star. And the artist drew a star. It was a good star. Draw me a sun, said the star. And the artist drew a sun." And on the artist draws, bringing the world to life picture by beautiful picture until he is spirited across the night sky by a star that shines on all he has made. In "Draw Me a Star," Eric Carle celebrates the imagination in all of us with a beguiling story about a young artist who creates a world of light and possibility. A remarkable, quintessentially simple book encompassing Creation, creativity, and the cycle of life within the eternal. -- "Kirkus Reviews,"  GoodReads

full disclosure - Draw Me a Star is on a list of books contested and banned in schools and library; there are biblical themes  (although, I would be surprised if my students picked up on it) and a Eric Carle style depiction of a naked man and woman. Not graphic, but enough to know it was a man and a woman. We have "know the names of body parts including private parts" on our curriculum - so it would not have posed a problem for us - but the copy of the book that I borrowed from the school library had already been censored!!

Back to the creating.

I wanted Eric Carle style art - painted paper collage -- and sparkle.

Painting on tin foil was the sparkle solution.

The kids used paint brushes to make random dots on their tin foil. Finger prints would have also worked, but I want not into that much hand washing. Sometimes a paintbrush can save sanity. 

When the painted tin foil was dry, I cut it into strips. 

The kids each chose a star, pre-cut and made of poster board. (If we had a longer timeline, or the children were older, they would have drawn and cut out their own stars). 

The children cut their tinfoil strips into little pieces, and glued them onto their star. 

When the glue was dry, I cut off the excess tin foil.

The last step was to add some beads before hanging them up. (I could not find the string that I bought to hang up the stars, so we improvised and used unbent paper clips. Worked like a charm.)

Eric Carle inspired stars - bringing colour, sparkle and the joy of creativity into our classroom. 

related star activities


The beginning of a new year is a good time to take stock, reflect on the past 
and make goals for the future.
In kindergarten that seems to mean drawing a portrait for the portfolio, so that the adults can see the change, growth and development since the last self portrait. 

Salmon are amazing creatures. 

Any creature who jumps up waterfalls in order to get back to their birthplace is worth learning about. 

Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones is an ideal picture book to help young children learn about the life cycle of the salmon. 

Salmon Stream
author: Carol Reed-Jones
illustrator: Michael S. Maydak
publisher: Dawn Publications, 2001

Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award
CBC/NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book

summary   Fast-paced prose and brilliant illustrations follow the salmon from their form as eggs in a stream to the wide ocean, eventually making a hazardous journey home to their stream of origin. As in her earlier best-selling book, The Tree in the Ancient Forest, author Carol Reed-Jones uses cumulative verse--a literary technique that is not only enjoyable but suggests how interconnected salmon are with their habitat. At the back is a section on salmon facts and what makes a good habitat for them, teaching the basics of ecology and why clean streams and waters are so important.   -- Dawn Publications

from Dawn Publications: https://dawnpub.com/activity/salmon-stream-activities/

After reading the book, we got ready to code our friendly salmon from the ocean back to the stream where she was born, so that she could lay her eggs (and die).

We got our our coding grid.

 I made it out of a heavy piece of paper and marked the squares with electrical tape.

Before we could code our fish "home", we had to create the journey.

What would be in between the ocean and her gravel bed -- the kids really wanted a waterfall, fish ladders, a tunnel/culvert.

How could we represent a waterfall, or fish ladders?  Loose parts to the rescue. The kids made a lego fish ladder, and a blue scarf and tin cans became a waterfall.  Driftwood and building blocks completed the "obstacles".

Then we started talking predators. Kindergarten kids can be pretty blood thirsty! But it made for more interesting coding, so ... we had a mama bear and 2 cubs, an eagle, a couple orca, a seal and a shark. The kids were a bit frustrated that the ocean animals had to stay in the ocean.  But we had to think like scientists.

Once the grid was all set up, we were ready to get our salmon to her spawning grounds.

We code with arrows.  Click [here] to print the set that I made to go with the grid.

Each child had a turn to put an arrow on the grid to help our mama salmon get upstream.

There was lots of discussion how to best make the journey.

Sometimes a wrong turn was made, and we had to "debug" the code. 

Just before our salmon was about to be coded to her spawning ground there was a shout - "eggs, we need red eggs". There was a bit of a scurry around the classroom as a gaggle of children looked around to see what could be salmon eggs. Red beads. Then we needed gravel. And still water. 

Then we could finish our code. 

We loved listening to Bobs and Lolo sing Run Salmon Run.  There's also an app.  Full disclosure - the song can get stuck in your head ... for days.


place based art

Reading The Six Cedar Trees by Margot Sandahl and Celeste Aleck, made us think about cedar trees.

They are all around us, but we hadn't really stopped to look at them with curiosity and creativity. 

As we looked carefully at the cedars in our school yard, we saw their beauty -- and wanted to make some art.

The 6 Core Competencies are at the heart of the redesigned BC curriculum.

They are designed to underpin and arch over all learning K - 12.

The Six Cedar Trees  is a book built on the Core Competencies.

The Six Cedar Trees
by: Margot Landahl and Celestine Aleck
publisher: Strong Nations Publishing, 2017

summary: Eagle perches himself in a grove of cedar trees high above a school playground. He explores the characteristics of 6 different Pacific Northwest animals and connects them with strengths  we grow in ourselves  (the core competencies).

Who would have guessed that the common garden snail would inspire great art.

As part of our snail inquiry/investigation/curiosity/learning, we wondered about how we could be snail inspired artists.

When we did some research, we discovered that we were not the first to be inspired to creation by the garden snail.

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