Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ba ba black sheep

Last week kicked off pre-school's summer program. A friend of mine was a little surprised to find out that pre-school ran for the summer. As the parent of four kids under 7, I asked if their preschool ran a summer program; he said no, but now he was rather wishing it did, because neither he nor his wife have summers off, and they are scrambling for childcare. Let me clarify that while it is structured time similar to the regular preschool day, there is significantly less instructional time.

We do two activities a day. Most of my kiddos are going to be gearing up for preschool in the fall, but some of them are entering kindergarten. Last week, I had a full class of 18 kids. The children made a mobile collage about themselves and hearts. I didn't have a full roster until I got to school, so for the 4-5 set, the mobile wasn't the best plan without more set up; it would have worked if there were less kids.There were half as many children in the afternoon; we tackled the hearts then, and I made the project as simple as I could, since we had an hour to complete it. I'm not sure how, but this one was left behind. We used wax paper, tissue paper precut into one inch wide strips and glue sticks. I pre cut the wax paper into squares, and we had the children put the glue down on the wax paper, then lay the strips down. After they were done, the adults in the room cut out the hearts. 

This week, the lesson focused on farming. We have a community garden on site, but it rained all day, so I couldn't take the kids out to have a look at what a garden looks like, not that there's much to look at right now. So we drew pictures of what we'd like to grow if we had gardens. And we made sheep. They require a bit of prep work - unless you feel like buying black poster board, but chances are you've got a cardboard box laying around. 

All you need is yarn, springy clothes-pins, cardboard, and a bit of paint! If you feel like going crazy, you can paint the clothespins by dipping them into water thinned paint, but if you're pressed for time, they'll still come out super cute with plain colored legs. 

I cut out a sheep-y looking shape from cardboard that the clothespins seemed to match size wise. Using black acrylic paint, I pre-painted the sheep faces - again, if I wanted to go wild, the sheep could have had legs that were all over the rainbow, but that might have ended up with a preschool riot over who got what color. Know your audience. And your personal time constraints and level of concern. If I do this again with a group this big, I'm not painting those legs. Smaller group, I'll reconsider.

For the yarn, I pulled from my stash Lion Brand Homespun in a bunch of random colors that I don't know the names of [one of them is obviously green though : ) ]. It's acrylic, so there were no concerns about allergic reactions, and it's got a great natural, wooly sort of look. Also, it's slightly variegated, so the colors change just a bit, depending on what color you've got.

I made a test sheep to figure out how much yarn I needed; 4 lengths of yarn from the skein with my arms stretched out straight, plus a little extra seemed to be enough for an older child/adult, but 5 or 6 would have been better for the preschool set unless we were sitting right there helping them pull it taut. Winding the cut length of yarn into a ball should go without saying, as, with a large group of children, should just handing them a ball of yarn without giving them a choice of color. They were total troopers : )

Above is the test sheep ...

To get this started, clip the clothespins to the cardboard, and use the clothespins to hold down one end of the yarn. Now, start wrapping yarn around the cardboard! When you get to the end of the yarn, tuck it in somewhere! Ta da, you've got a sheep!

I probably could have brought along black felt or foam or something and cut little tabs for ears and glued them on, but I had already reached my limit on this project. It also looks enough like a sheep that we all know that's what it is, and the kids were super enthusiastic and wanted to play with them immediately. I will note that by painting the legs brown, I was able to use one of those black Sharpie super fine pens to write the children's names on one of the legs; aesthetically, we can still see the child's name but it's not jumping out across the room at us.  The sheep were a huge hit. 

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