Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Party Favors - Miniature Art Cart

I often laugh at myself for labeling my children. "Labels" seemed to be pigeon toeing them into some predestined childhood. Little did I know that using labels helped me name the most interesting, the most challenging and the most wonderful aspects of parenting these two little munchkins. My son is the original Preschool Engineer and my daughter, who also does her fair share of engineering, is decidedly a Preschool Artist. Like her engineer brother she is very creative but her materials of choice are different from his. Where he chooses to explore mechanical puzzles and contraptions first, she chooses color and bonding. So I have an Artist and an Engineer.

For my little niche of early childhood education, it is a very very small stretch to see the STEM learning in her work and I find myself embracing the Art in STEAM. Where I have always believed in the beauty of patterns and the artfulness required to understand STEMy problems (and solutions), I am now seeing STEM learning that comes from early childhood art. So it is understandable that the learning materials in the house are expanding to include more art supplies.

At Christmas, my gift to my Artist and Engineer was a Tinkerlab-inspired Art Cart. On the day it was presented, my Artist sat for HOURS outside painting. She skipped meals and I marveled at how she was so intent on her work. (This echoed comments from the teacher and administrator at her school.) "No wonder so many artists are thin," I thought. They must really immerse themselves in their work. Anyways, on that first day with the Art Cart, I let her cut, color, paint, tape and glue to her heart's content. 
The 1st afternoon with the Art Cart.
As Anna's third birthday was approaching I was having fun making plans. We would have cake and friends and gifts. Nothing outrageous but entirely fun. And, since I'm a giver, I knew I wanted her to be able to offer party favors like her brother did. (Both of these kids love to give presents to people.) But where Mikey's favors were miniature engineering stashes, Anna's had to be miniature Art Carts. 

Give-away "Art Cart"

I picked up supplies over the course of some weeks whenever I was in a local craft store. However, for your conveneince, I have made an Amazon List where you can scroll to the bottom and buy the entire set for making 12 of your own Party Favors - Miniature Art Cart. (You will need to order TWO sets of the paint on the list.)

So there you have it - party favors for your Preschool Engineer, your Preschool Artist, your Preschool STEAMer.

[Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I receive a small referral fee at no cost to you. To see how I spend the money see my "Philanthropy" page. ]

Valentine's Day Binoculars

There is nothing more validating than someone you love saying, "I see you."

Valentine's Day Binoculars

This is a simple toilet paper roll creation. I just taped two rolls together with some packing tape. Then I squeezed a little to make one end of each eye piece look like a heart. Good enough and the kids loved 'em.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Binary Logic

For the last few weeks, my three year old daughter has been offering similar thoughts to me. It has taken me a while to put my finger on exactly what she's exploring. But the other day when we were on our way to the ice cream shop I finally figured it out. As we drove down the neighborhood street, we passed historical-looking houses. She said, "Look at all those houses. We don't live in those houses." And when we turned into the parking lot and then a parking space adjacent to the neighborhood ice cream store she offered, "We parked in this spot. Now no one else can park here."

If I didn't write Preschool Engineering I probably would have just shook it off. She is, after all, a three year old who talks incessantly about all sorts of things. But my training is as an electrical engineer and something was resonating with memories of some ancient coursework...she was exploring logic.

Logic Gates

This and that, that or this, not the other thing. I guess learning logic begins at a very early age. Mom and Dad being at home together means something different from Mom or Dad being around. Mom and Dad but not brother means something else. No doubt, each social scenario has different emotional connotations to it for a young child. So I suppose it makes sense that young children spend some time making sense of permutations of how stuff combines or doesn't.

And as I write this I am thinking about how logic underlies so much preschool learning. Color learning, cooking, bathtub play all have AND, OR, or NOT aspects to them. Red AND blue make purple. Water OR milk loosen the pancake batter. Baby doll NOT rock floats. Truly, it is unbelievable the capacity and rate at which a playful child can learn!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blow Me Away

Doh! I knew Valentine's day was coming up but I completely forgot what comes along with it when you have children in school. I'm not going to debate the merits of giving Valentines to a couple dozen people. Frankly, I like to give gifts when I feel inspired to do so. Luckily, I got a little inspiration just in the knick of time this year. 

When I dropped my kid off at preschool I checked our "school mailbox" and found a note with all of the children's names on it and instructions to provide something for each child. I suspect it was just an invitation...certainly not a mandate. Knowing that Michaels had a 50% entire purchase event last Sunday I suspected that the Valentine's day stuff would be in small supply today. I was right but I was also looking for something mechanically interesting to give (in lieu of candy). What I found delighted me. 

In the party favors section of the store I found 18 bubble wands and tubes by Creatology. Somehow "You Blow Me Away" occurred to me as a cheesy-enough Valentine wish and our Preschool Engineering Valentines were born. The are mechanically interesting, not candy, and easy enough to put together.

My child can barely write his name so I knew mass production would be the way to go. And since all the mass produced cards were gone, we'll have to mass produce ourselves. I printed labels saying "You Blow Me Away!" and adhered them to some red construction paper. (Sticking stickers is something a child could help with but I wanted to get a picture of one for you ASAP.) I punched a hole in the paper, embellished with a sparkly heart sticker, and strung it up together with a bubble tube using gift ribbon. Voila! A bubble tube/You Blow Me Away/Preschool Engineering necklace Valentine...
You Block Me Away Valentine
...Eighteen necklaces for the low price of $5 plus some elbow grease.

p.s. Slinkys were also on my list but there weren't any affordable choices in the store. Maybe next year I'll order ahead...