Friday, July 22, 2011

Imagination and Make Believe Week

How did the Preschool Summer Camp find room for a movie theater, a pet store and a car wash that young motorists could drive through? No, the studio did not get larger to accommodate all of these features, but imaginations did grow each day. During this special week, counselors brought in the most powerful tools of imaginary play – cardboard boxes.


Stacking them up just right created a counter area. On Monday, a sign designated it as a movie theater and the children determined what was needed to finish the scene. Looking carefully at their freshly made tickets, they anxiously took on the role of ushers. Counselors heard, “You have a two on your ticket; this is your seat.” Foam peanuts became popcorn and sitting down to watch footage of the previous week’s camp got thumbs up from the critical crew.

A few days later children arrived to a new sign on the structure. It was now a pet store! Smaller boxes with strings over an open end made convincible cages. Staff provided stuffed animals rather than asking children to bring in their own toys. This helped the children focus the pretend play on buying, selling and animal care rather than playing with their own personal toys.

Using the sides of large boxes, staff cut out car silhouettes. The children carrying these around had no problem imagining that they were driving complete cars! Attaching long strips of shiny Mylar to the box structure changed it from a pet store to a car wash. As campers “drove” through the silvery strips, they connected with the drive-thru car washes they experience with the family. It was so much fun to get “dried off” after emerging from the imaginary wash that they drove through again and again.

Thinking of how bored her child would be without camp over the July 4th break, one parent was inspired to see how the boxes changed throughout the week. She declared, “Why, I could do that!” Imaginary play connects with all ages.

Submitted by Marcia Z. MacRae, Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist and Sue Kessler, Play Coordinator

Friday, July 15, 2011

Science and Art: A Firecracker of a Combination

Paint exploded, balloons burst and learning took place last Thursday as children ages 7-9 practiced the scientific method while experimenting with velocity and trajectory in the Fireworks class. Three hundred (300!) water balloons filled with water or paint were thrown using comparative techniques, including overhand, underhand or with a slingshot. Children observed which technique made the biggest splat! When all the balloons had finally burst, we asked the group, “Why do you think the balloon from the slingshot did not make a bigger splat?” Answers varied between one boy’s, “Because it was cheap from the dollar store,” and a girl’s thought, “We could not pull it back as far as we could pull our arm back, so it did not get as much force.” Other children hypothesized about throwing techniques and examined ideas about force, angle, energy, trajectory and motion.

Science experimentation continued inside the Museum, adding art into the mix. One of the favorite activities combined paint with centrifugal force to fashion a Jackson Pollock-like creation. Children used the force of their hands to spin a brush that caused paint to spin “firework” images across a page. They also experimented with light and color using fluorescent oil pastels. After drawing a picture of fireworks in the classroom light, the children took their work into the Museum to watch it glow under a UV light. Once they observed which colors glowed the brightest, they raced back into the Studio to craft more pictures of fireworks.

Playing with the beauty of fireworks was a perfect merge of science and art. This group of older children really dug deep into the scientific method while still having a blast!

Submitted by Amelia Blake, Programs Intern and Marcia MacRae, Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Art of Summer Camp

Preschool Summer Camp started with Art Explorers week but the development sparked in the studio went far beyond art processes. Certainly children practiced skills, but DCM counselors kept fun and creativity at the heart of these serious explorations.

Big discoveries happen when children apply dozens of types of paint in hundreds of ways to myriad surfaces. Each process provides new understanding of how materials behave. Blending explorations about color theory with artistic genres, the campers took magnified looks at Pointillism through the works of Seurat and Signac. Using oil pastels and dot bottles filled with watercolors, they could examine spot filled works from near and far. Bundling together primary colored markers, children could see from a distance that yellow and blue dots visually mixed to appear as green. Light boxes drove home the impact of light on color and added new dimensions to art making. Highlighting literacy, numerous books on the creative process were introduced at group time and kept in the room for independent looking. Children hypothesized about new colors while mixing paint and listening to Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Other books included:

Art by Patrick McDonnell
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle
A Day with No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Chad Cameron

The dynamics of Museum playtime switched from routines established with family members to the fun of playing with 20 peers. While counselors are not the same as parents or other caregivers, they are still strong and caring adults. Additionally, their experience with Museum exhibits allowed them to open the children’s eyes to new ways of playing.

Take a look at the video of Art Explorers week. Upcoming blogs will highlight Camps on Pretend Play, Water and Bubbles, Color, Light and Shadow and much, much more. It’s a busy and creative summer at DCM.

Submitted by Marcia Z. MacRae, Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist and Sue Kessler, Play Coordinator and Lead Counselor

Friday, July 1, 2011

Safely Explore the Dazzling World of Fireworks!

Exciting new ways of exploring science and art are exploding onto the scene this July. Fireworks provide fantastic connections to these important areas of development. The Museum is offering a Creativity Class for 7-9 year-olds that will investigate velocity, gravity, symmetry, centrifugal force, light and more; and the beginning of July is the perfect time to do it. Concentrating on the visual aspects of fireworks, rather than the truly explosive, images seen at July fourth celebrations will be fresh in all of the children’s minds.

Fireworks are great introductions to the principles of light and color. Students will design their own fireworks scenes on black paper using fluorescent oil pastels that appear to glow out of a night sky under UV light. Employing the scientific method (identify the question, make an observation and formulate a hypothesis, test, analyze and make a conclusion), children will experiment with forces to discover what provides the largest circular splat of colors – a water balloon hurled by hand, dropped off a balcony or launched with a slingshot. Watercolors dripped in front of a fan will spatter on paper, suggesting how wind would affect the outcome of the children’s art. Paint whirling through salad spinners brings centrifugal force into the art process.

These are just a few of the spectacular experiments planned for this group of 7-9 year old children. Check back in two weeks to see how creativity exploded in this scientific exploration of fireworks!!

Submitted by Amelia Blake, Programs Intern and Marcia MacRae, Interdisciplinary Arts Specialist