Tag Archives: Cardboard

Free Art in the Park – School-Age

The experiment: Bring pails of recycled materials to the park after school to see if we could make any new friends and provoke some creative art-making.

The reason: The launch of our school-age Atelier this July for summer camp and before- and after-school care (A few spaces remain! Go to www.charlesonkids.com for more info and to sign up)

The results: Dozens of incredibly imaginative short projects and open discussions about art, animals, construction, design, and life.

The mini-studio was a magnet for children passing by. Even in that one short hour we were blown away by the ingenuity and experimental approach of the young artists. There are several techniques, including folding paper tabs to attach separate parts, and poking holes in cardboard to attach pipe cleaners, that were invented by the children due to the limitation of materials. One child said: “Will you be back again tomorrow, because I have another idea!”

Ms. Ali: “When you do art in school, do they tell you what you have to do?”

Child 1: “Yeah, and I don’t like it because then we all have to do the same thing.”

Child 2: “I wish we could just use the materials they have and do whatever we want.”

Thank you to all the artists for allowing us to share your work. Click on the above images to see them closer.


Preschool Triple-Post: Plants, City-Planning, AirPlane

Hummingbirds are speedy creatures. They hover near a flower, sip nectar, move on quick to the next…. It’s hard to keep up with the Preschoolers and Teachers in our Hummingbirds Preschool, hence this triple-sized post!

Row by row:

1. The children’s Mother’s Day gift was a potted flower along with a book documenting the flower’s growth through the child’s own drawings, week by week. A major learning experience and a heartfelt gift!

The third photo is of the finished scribble map – This was a few days of free drawing. Click on it to take a closer look – you can feel the movement of the children through the overlapping lines, and see evidence of their visual processing of rivers, coast-line, roads, and even the text boxes.

The learning process can be mysterious. We love, though, when something spins out into a new way of looking at an old project, which takes us to the next row:

2. Mixed-media map-making on cellophane. This is a new stage, combining the levels of learning so far:

– First, years of exposure to real roads, cars, city-scapes, etc.

– Second, play with toy cars

– Third, marker drawings of roads and train tracks on paper for toy cars to drive on, plus collage on top

– Fourth, 3-D construction of a city-scape out of card and paper, including tape roads

– Fifth, interaction with a real map on cellophane with markers

– And now, combining all the above elements: markers, tape roads, 3D construction, cellophane, PLUS a new thing: Road signs! One of our brilliant teachers found a source of realistic, small cardboard traffic signs that were included here. Amazing.

3. One child brought an interest in airplanes to the classroom a long time ago. During the sculpting process with salt dough, he developed a couple different techniques to make an airplane, exploring many of the different parts. Other children were tickled by the idea and we saw other airplanes emerge from the dough – some only briefly.

This week, a cardboard box was brought in because a different child wanted to make a house out of it. But the “stickiness” of the airplane idea was evident – the box got wings, windows, and a tail added, along with a great number of cryptic, creative other bits and pieces.

To provoke deeper exploration of the plane, the children were asked if they wanted some photos printed from the internet. The pics above show them using the photos cooperatively to plan out the airplane parts.

“We forgot the propeller!” one child said. The engines were added underneath the wing following discussion of the different places that an engine could go: behind the nose of certain planes, or under the wing of others.

That’s all for today. Next week might be another double or triple post…

We are starting to see a synergy of idea-sharing happening in our centre, as the children’s and teachers’ interests and competencies blossom. Considering we just opened 6 months ago – Triple cheer for CPCC!

Mailbox construction

“I’m going to mail a letter!”

Kids in Finches have been referring to good old snail mail in their everyday play for quite some time. Teachers were quick to note this make-believe play as an activity that is rich in pre-literacy preparation, bringing excitement and wonder to the acts of reading and writing.

A few weeks ago, Finches children began studying a mail box that they found on a walk. Photos were taken of them examining it, and then printed.

Since then, a box has been prepared to become their very own Canada Post mailbox for use in the classroom.

Pictures above show the box being painted, as well as wooden letter-forms being used to spell out CANADA POST, using the logo in the photograph as a reference.

Although the final use of the mailbox in the classroom will be very educational (pretend letter writing, “mailing” letters to friends, etc.), the process of making it is just as important. Kids (and teachers!) are learning to plan, collaborate, think creatively, use visual reference materials, and be patient with the slow process of making something big.

Here comes the sun

It is almost summer! Sunshine is streaming in the windows of our east-facing classrooms in the mornings. Also, we recently got a hold of some old overhead projectors, for use in shadow play, projections of drawings and paintings, etc. All this is provoking explorations of light.

The Hummingbird Preschoolers have been using their sunlight to grow carrots, with drawing studies along the way to show the process. (Pics coming soon!) But in both Finches and Robins daycares, sunlight is being harnessed for artistic and imaginative purposes…

The photographs show various applications of coloured cellophane, cardboard, paint, clear cellophane, aluminum foil, permanent markers, and plastic wrap.

Light could be an entry point to many types of learning:

  • Artistic – colour, transparency, hue, contrast
  • Scientific – properties of colour, properties of shadows, colour mixing
  • Imaginative – projecting coloured light on ourselves and our surroundings can set a mood or spark an idea
  • Emotional – warmth, comfort, energy, love

It’s worth wondering what questions to ask children to get them thinking about and appreciating all this copious sunlight and the things that it can do.

Dinosaurs, Boats, Dinosaur boat?

It is hard to limit myself to 3 photos a week! These are from last week when Robins daycare set up painting on recycled materials on a tarp outside.

Something early childhood educators must consider are the healthy quantities of space and time that it takes for kids to absorb, process, and learn. Ideas or interests can circulate under the surface of play for months, with splashing moments of realization, reinterpretation, or production that seem like they come from nowhere. Quiet, free art-making outside provides a wonderful dose of space and time – and a breath of fresh air to boot!

We were excited to see a boat reemerge from these new materials. The Robins daycare kids, for those of you who don’t know, are also currently Major Dinosaur Enthusiasts. In the photo above the two interests are combined!

Gotta love the imaginative strangeness of a dinosaur boat. Why, how, when, and where is the dinosaur sailing?

The middle picture is of a creative display that one of the Robins teachers made to showcase the outdoor painting experiments. This is a clever way to deal with extra pieces of art, reminding children of the “process” rather than worrying about each individual “product”.

Documentation process: Map-making, aquarium continued

Here are two examples of documentation panels being used to provoke thought about on-going projects.

The first project is a continuation of the map-making in the preschool. We took it into 3 dimensions using glue, tape, card, etc. Here are some of the children’s words spoken during the construction process:

(Using small toys to walk around the model) “Now she’s going to Granville Island with her puppy dog.”

“I’m going to cut so the goose can go on some stairs.”

(Putting on a roof) “When for people get their hair blown (by the wind)”

“I’m putting this so the wind could go nicely from the tape.”

“This is a water pipe.”

“I’m going to add houses.”

The documentation display has a chart for teachers and parents to add any questions that the children ask about cities. We hope to encourage wonder about how they are built, what parts they have, and what infrastructure is required.


The aquarium project was continued in the Robins room – asking the children what could be put into the aquarium (other than the boats that we made). Many ideas were drawn and discussed before being displayed on a large photo of the aquarium: octopuses, starfish, whales, rocks, fish, water snake, etc.

We will look into getting one of these animals for real! Probably not a whale, though.

Boat-making (with recycled materials)

The children frequently admire the various boats on False Creek as they walk through Charleson Park. This may have contributed to their desire to make boats when presented with a tank full of water and some materials to experiment with.

The idea spread, and three boats were complete within an hour with more children requesting to make them too!

After the boats were made, a circle was gathered where the artists got to share their ideas with the whole group and answer questions. We were impressed by the children’s advanced boat vocabulary (engines, sails, port-holes, etc.) along with imaginative descriptions of parts and how they would be used (slides, holes, flags).

One child took emergency safety into consideration: “When a person can’t come out through the hole they go on the slide”. (The slide is represented with yellow mesh in the last photo above).