Thursday, 11 February 2016

Chinese New Year of the Monkey 2016

We welcomed the Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey last Monday, February 9th.  We had our traditional reunion dinner on Sunday evening, with a home-cooked 8-course meal.  The kids wore their new clothes and we put out the Chinese New Year decorations, lucky fruits and sweets.

The first day of the Chinese New Year sees me celebrating it with Kai's preschool class.  We talked about the 15-day celebration, found out about the Great Race of the 12 animals, sang & listened to Chinese New Year songs, paraded around the school with the lion dance (and making lots of loud noises along the way!), ate Chinese food (with chopsticks!) and treats.  I gave each child a lucky envelope with a pair of chocolate coins inside and a Chinese zodiac animal charm.

The children made the crafts over a few days leading up to Chinese New Year.  They coloured in their zodiac animal, made a Chinese dragon mask, learnt the Chinese art of paper-cutting by cutting out the Chinese word for "spring" and made two types of lantern (a fat lantern & a flat lantern).  The children also learnt how to write the Chinese character "fu" (good luck) on their lanterns.

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Friday, 29 January 2016

Exploring the Arts ~ Week Two

Here's to our second week of making art!

Bunny Paper Weaving Art

Kai wove (he called it “sewed”) red strips of paper through the slots of a pre-cut blue rabbit with up/over and down/under motion. After weaving, the ends of the strips were glued down at the back, and details on the rabbit’s face and feet were added. It was a good activity to practice fine motor skills, as well as to reinforce patterns (to achieve the checkerboard effect).

Monet-Inspired Water Lilies

We watched Linnea in Monet’s Garden which tells the story of a little girl who travels to Monet’s gardens. Kai then created his Monet-inspired water lilies art (using the pattern found here). Following Monet’s style, blue paint was dabbed onto a white paper over and over.  The lily pads were painted with dabs of green and yellow, and the lilies were painted with dabs of yellow, orange and purple.  We layered the water lilies so that they look like layered lilies. Kai was amused by Monet's name and how he had lots of beard!

Aboriginal Handprint Art

Kai's class celebrated Australia Day on Wednesday so I thought of making an aboriginal art with him after school.  I traced Kai’s right hand onto a kraft paper. Using Q-tips, Kai started applying paint to the outline of the hand by dotting, then working inwards using ‘nature’ colours (traditional aboriginal colours).  Belle helped him with the background, as he got tired after painting so many dots!

Sushi Food Art

In Japan, food models (called sampuru) can be found displayed in front of restaurants. Making plastic food is an art in itself in Japan and has existed for almost a century. They have even been exhibited at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum!  

To make paper sushi rolls, Kai rolled rectangular strips of black paper (to represent nori) and rolled them into a circle. Cotton balls (to represent rice) were then inserted and condiments were added on top (green for cucumber, orange for salmon). The tamago (egg omelette) sushi was made in a similar way.  Keefe saw us making sushi art and wanted to make his own.  This was my favourite art project for the week!

Baby Beluga in the Deep Blue Sea Art

Kai has been singing Baby Beluga lately which inspired this art.  Kai glued down the ends of pre-cut blue and white rectangular paper strips to make water waves.  We used the tutorial from this site to create the whale.

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Friday, 22 January 2016

Exploring the Arts ~ Week One

As part of Kai's "Exploring the Arts" theme, we have been making art all week!

Puffy Paint Snowy Day Art

Snow started falling in Basel on Sunday so reading The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the perfect start of our week!  We made snow paint by mixing equal parts of white glue and shaving cream.  Kai used the puffy paint to paint a snow scene and Q-tips to make the snow.  We let the paint sit overnight to dry and then added a cut-out of Peter playing in the snow.

The Dot Art

We read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  I placed a circle in the middle of a white paper and Kai painted dots all around using different coloured dot markers.  I peeled away the centre circle to reveal the centre "dot by NOT painting a dot."  Kai then signed his name to "make his mark."

Mouse Paint Torn Paper Art

We read Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh to learn about colour mixing.  Kai practiced tearing paper, which was difficult for him!  So for the background, I helped him tear red, yellow and blue paper.  Kai mixed primary colours to make new colours, which he painted onto the bottom body of each mouse (made using torn white paper).  Kai added pink tails, pink ears and black eyes to finish off the artwork.

Colourful Clown Art

Kai's class was talking about the Basler Fasnacht (Basel's famous carnival) in school so we decided to do a colourful clown art.

Flat Art vs Fat Art

Kai's class got a visit from a Basel author who talked about the Festival of the Griffin (Vogel Gryff).  Kai suggested that we make a lion art.  To integrate math and the arts, we made a flat art (2D) and fat art (3D).  Kai made the 2D lion art by dipping a plastic fork in orange paint and painted it around the circle that I drew.  When the paint dried, he added in the details for the lion's face.  (This art idea came from Crafty Morning.)  The 3D lion art, inspired by Art Project for Kids, turned out to be more complicated so I ended up making it (except the lion's face!).

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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Pinterest Pick 3 ~ November Edition

I've been scouring Pinterest lately planning for Kai's preschool Thanksgiving feast, even though it's three weeks away!  Here are my top three picks:

This adorable paper bag turkey filled with popcorn would be a great centrepiece for the table.  I will probably need to make two since there are 17 preschoolers.  Maybe I'll even ask our new Junior School principal to do the honours of "carving" the turkey!

How cute are these paper pilgrim hats and bonnets? A must-do!

I remember Keefe doing this thankful turkey handprint two years ago.  Can't believe it's time to do it again!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Preschool Halloween Fun

Americans are usually dismayed when they discover that Halloween is not celebrated in Switzerland.  In our neighbourhood, none of the houses are decorated and I did not have kids knocking at my door on Halloween.  Fortunately enough, the international school that my kids go to have a high number of American expats so my kids celebrated Halloween in school (although the 1st graders celebrated autumn instead of Halloween).

Kai’s class talked about Halloween all week, from reading Halloween picture books, playing Halloween games to singing Halloween songs (Kai's favourites were “Did You Ever See a Pumpkin” and “Five Little Pumpkins”).  Crafts abound this week where the children made a paper plate ghost, a hanging bat, a pumpkin craft with yarn and pumpkin seeds, making jack-o-lanterns out of oranges and ghosts out of lollipops.  The children made spiders and jack-o-lanterns in German class.  

One of the preschool classes made lift-the-flap pumpkins, which I thought was very creative!
On Monday, I brought in a pumpkin to Kai’s class where the children measured the circumference and height of the pumpkin, and guessed how many seeds were in the pumpkin.  Kai guessed 100 seeds.  The pumpkin had 437 seeds!  Afterwards, the teacher assistant carved the pumpkin into a happy and angry jack-o-lantern.

Today, I went to Kai’s class to bake Halloween hotdog mummies with the children.  Each child made a mommy/daddy mummy and a baby mummy.  The children had fun wrapping their hotdogs with dough and ate them for snack after they baked in the oven.  Kai’s teachers decorated the classroom with everything Halloween-y.  Isn’t it boo-tiful?

I organized a trick-or-treat for the children in the afternoon.  Kai was so excited that he was the first one to run onto the soccer field when the trick-or-treat started.  I dressed up as a witch, and handed out Halloween juice boxes (which I covered with ghosts and Frankensteins – lots of work!) and mini gummy bear packs wrapped in Halloween labels.  Kai dressed up as his favourite superhero (Spiderman) while his best buddy dressed up as Superman.  I expected to see lots of princesses but most of the girls dressed up as witches! 

In the evening, I brought the children for trunk-or-treat in one of the school campuses. There were about 50 cars and the kids had collected a stash of candies in less than an hour! Whew, what a busy Halloween week!

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Monday, 19 October 2015

A Peek into Preschool 2 ~ Families Unit

Kai started full-day schooling at the international school in August.  Although he missed his fun teachers, friends and days at Gymboree, he has slowly adjusted to his new school and has been good buddies with two boys in his class, an Estonian and a Dutch.  He didn’t have tears on his first day of school and came home with a handprint poem after reading The Kissing Hand.

Families Theme

For the past six weeks, his class has been inquiring into families – what a family is, where the children’s families come from & how the families are the same and different.  Here are some of Kai’s works:

(Top left) Kai's first day of school self-portrait; (top right) Kai's self-portrait drawn in the interactive whiteboard; (bottom left) Painting self-portrait with watercolours; (bottom right) End of unit self-portrait ~ what an improvement from his first day self-portrait!
(Leftmost) Graphing the number of members in the family using paint, googly eyes & confetti; (middle) Family in a house; family members made using popsicle sticks, cloth & yarn; (right) Kai's drawing of his family; (bottom) 3D family puppets using recycled materials
Kai had his "special child day" in early September so that his friends can get to know him better.  He had his Families unit portfolio sharing session at the end of September where he reflected and shared his work with me:

Kai has started the Jolly Phonics program in school where the teacher takes them through one letter sound a week with crafts, stories, games and handwriting.  So far, they have covered /s/, /a/ and /t/.


The five preschool classes had a “Teddy Bear Day” in September where each child brought his/her favourite teddy bear to school.  Unfortunately, Kai’s teacher fell sick that day.  Some classes made teddy bear prints with a real teddy bear, made split pin bears, did patterning with gummy bears and had a teddy bear's picnic!

I celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with Kai’s class in September.  We read Mooncakes by Loretta Seto, made a craft, ate mooncakes, played the mooncake dice game and even danced around the moon!


Now that Kai goes to "big kid" school, I don't do "mommy school" with him anymore.  But every now and then, we'll do some crafts together at home to go along with the theme in school.  These were the crafts we did in August and September:

We read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and made a name craft.
5 senses craft ~ the idea came from here
Popsicle stick family craft ~ the idea came from here but I modified it by dressing up the family members with washi tape. Kai drew the faces, hands and feet & labeled each family member.
We read The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree and did a craft to go along with it.