Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wearing SPD Lenses: “Snow” Sculptures with Pets

So, we had a nor-easter yesterday, which meant plenty of nature-based sensory input awaited us out the front door in the form of shoveling, building snow men, scaling snow banks and attempting to sled in the too-deep snow.  But, what about indoors?  The wind-blown, icy snow was just a bit too piercing to drag Jack out into, so we needed to come up with some activities to entertain an eager-to-go-outside Luke and little sis between Jack’s snoozing.  When I thought about Carl’s Snowy Afternoon, a random library pick Luke had made, inspiration struck:  “Snow” Sculptures with Pets.

We took out one of the kids’ favorite gifts from Santa – 
their Animal Planet Dog and Cat play sets and set them up.

Then, the kids made it snow.

 Finally, they built snow sculptures in, around and on all the pets, narrating stories as they went.

Furgal, fun and engaging for the kids.  Better still, as Mama knows the theory behind the play, lots of sensory diet nourishment, a bit of art and a whole lot of literacy going on…

Wearing SPD Lenses: 
Setting up the pet play areas, using figurines, large  play pieces and tiny props (like the dog bone and pet grooming tools) requires fine motor control and motor planning.

Spraying the shaving cream requires finger pressure – strengthening the hands while giving some tactile input.

And, of course, playing with the pets in the “snow” provides a large does of tactile input!

The Art Take:
At this stage, I think the process of any artwork we approach with the kids is far more important than the product.  Exploring art media, enjoying creating sculptures – however temporary—and simply getting their hands literally into art are what I like to focus on.

A wonderful book that I hope to use a basis for our art explorations soon is the Reggio-inspired The Language of Art.  In its opening activities, exploring textures and movement are focused on.  Though “Snow” Sculptures with Pets is not in the book, I think it is very much in line with its philosophy.

The Literacy Take:
The Public Library Association (PLA) recommends focusing on six early literacy skills in children, which serve as the foundation for learning to read and write. These are vocabulary, print motivation, print awareness, narrative skills, letter knowledge and phonological awareness.  Researchers have determined that children who enter school with these skills are better able to benefit from the reading instruction they receive when they arrive at school.

This activity focuses mainly on two of these skills:  vocabulary and narration.  In reading  and talking through the illustrations of the book Carl’s Snowy Afternoon and connecting it to art/sensory explorations, the kids did a lot of naming of objects, actions and emotions – i.e. vocabulary work!

In discussing the story depicted in the almost wordless book, as well as in making up their own stories while doing “Snow” Sculptures with Pets, the children worked on story telling, description and sequencing of events – i.e. narration!  (Such as, "The dogs friends want to come play.  I have to shovel the walk."  Thus, the spoon in the photo.)

A Bit About Carl’s Snowy Afternoon:
Carl’s Snowy Afternoon by Alexandra Day is not one I would have chosen for the kids to read, but it is one that Luke was enthused to find at the library since the cover gloriously depicts two of his current favorite things: a dog and snow! 

Why wouldn’t I have selected it?  Well, because the premise that this otherwise delightful story of little Madeline’s Rottweiler taking her on a joyous escapade through town on a snowy day disturbs me.  The girl and her dog are only able to go adventuring because an inattentive babysitter does not see them slip out.  And, in the end, no one is any the wiser about them having been out and about.  Cute?  Yes!  Something I want my kids to model after?  No.  I really don’t understand why the book could not have been framed with a less (in my humble opinion) inappropriate exposition.

That said, most of the book is absolutely darling.  Realistic illustrations, rich in charm, humor and warmth make the book an exquisitely fun book for pre-readers to page through, developing their own pre-literacy skills of storytelling.  And, the simple, occasional text (minus the aforementioned start and close) gives just enough detail to this otherwise wordless picture book.  Plus, my children loved discovering the times that Madeline just missed being seen by her parents – a fun feature in the illustrations, even if it can reinforce the theme of wandering off that I am not too keen the book has.

So, thumbs way up for illustrations and adventure in the book and thumbs part-way down for the beginning and end of the plot.

This post is being shared at Living Life Intentionally's TGIF Linky Party,  Sunrise Learning Lab's Reggio-Inspired posts link-up and at A Mommy's Adventure's stART.


The Sunshine Crew said...

Great snowy foamy fun! Thanks for linking up and for sharing your cool project. Hope that all is well with you and yours.

Unknown said...

Fantastic!! Nice posts. Thank you sharing.

Michelle said...

What a great activity, it incorporated so many different skills and was so much fun for the kids. I know Emily loved playing with our Snow Paint this week to make her snowman picture.

Thank you for linking up to stART and sharing your ideas!!

Brimful Curiosities said...

My son would love squirting all that shaving cream all over to make a snowy scene. Actually, I think he love using canned whipping cream even better. Then he could eat his creation! Cute idea.

Unknown said...

My son would love digging in the foam. What a great way to tie in many skills!

maggy, red ted art said...

Looks like someone had LOADS of fun. What a fun mum you are!!!

Kids Get Crafty

Elle Belles Bows said...

Great idea! Looks like fun and the use of the spoon as a shovel made me smile. Kerri

Beth ( said...

This is sooooooooooooo cute!! What a fun activity! My kids will love this! I am totally doing this - maybe in January to go with the snow we get outside =-) Thanks so much for linking up to TGIF Linky Party!! I can't wait to see what else you come up with!!
Beth =-)

Mariann said...

My son would love it ;) Thanks!

Vicky @ Mess For Less said...

This looks like a great winter idea. Makes me almost wish we got snow here. I am a new follower from the TGIF Linky Party. Vicky from Mess For Less

Martianne said...

Thx all for the comments. It was loads of fun. And, Vicky, be careful what you wish for. we get plenty of snow and my son wishes for it all year. This year, our first snow came very early! In October!


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