Archive | January, 2012

Wang Yani: an amazing child artist

25 Jan

I am excited about sharing this idea for two reasons! One I discovered this little girl and her art all by myself (mind you probably lots of people out there may have said that!)and two rather than just having an idea I was able to implement this art project while I was   on my teaching prac. The joy of it all was that the  children loved it! I always think you can have seemingly great ideas, wonderful plans and resources but if the children don’t fall in love with it well…………!

1.  I will start with some information about Wang Yani with a link for you to get some background on this amazing little girl!

2. I guess I thought I would start with a map of the world, to give the children an idea of the country where Wang Yani was born and some cultural input.  Then  I noticed this huge globe hanging in church, when I was meant to be singing and the hunt was on!! Here is where you can purchase the globe it is massive!

3. I am off to photograph all of the components of the project…I will be back!

4. I am back…

Once we had looked at the globe, talked about whether anyone new  about China and how people live,  and came to terms with how big the globe was and no were not going to play catch with the globe (it was Kindy after all!)

I played a  chinese music CD with delicate peaceful music as I showed the children scenes from China. It was so peaceful sitting with the children as they listened and I stopped talking and let them just soak in the atmosphere .

Some of the children were swaying to the music, one little girl said, “Oh, those pictures are so beautiful I wished I lived there! Others said,  “Funny house!”

Here are some of the photos…

We looked at the traditional clothing of China and some of the food implements.  I found the clothing in thrift stores and all of the implements in Asian food stores.

We looked at all these aspects over a week and slowly moved on to Wang Yani and her art.

I played Youtube video ( ) for the children to see her painting and realize she was as young as they were when she started.  In the video clip there is a frame where the monkey her father bought for her is on a lead. Horror of horrors.  I watched it with them a few times and I was ready to talk about it with them. I think that as the monkey is in the branches of the tree it is a little difficult to discern. I would have definitely addressed it had even one of the children had noticed.

I played it over and over as the children were fascinated with her technique and they wanted to paint straight away. So paint they did! I showed the children how bamboo brushes could be used and the best way to hold them.( ) We talked about the way Wang Yani held the brush and applied the paint. The children started on small pieces of paper at tables, using black watercolour paint.  The children were so engrossed in the art, they were saying look at me,” I am holding the brush like Wang Yani!  I am 4 too, and I can do it! Can we do it on big paper like Wang Yani? So of course we got out the huge black paint and large brushes.  It was a big hit!!

Have fun!!


Here is a display I put up to show the children’s smaller paintings. If you wanted to make the little paper dolls you can find them here


Alphabet Jam Jars!

21 Jan

Today I feel  inspired to continue with recycling!  The boys are  adults now and I have this box that says ‘One Day I Will  Find A Use For That!’ It has all of those all important toys that came out of chocolate eggs or from those wonderful glass stands in shopping centres, where your children looked at you with those pleading eyes and how could you not pop in a few cents to make them happy! And  you knew at the time you would eventually find them down the back of the couch or strewn over their bedroom floor! Well, finally after much thought I found a way to not only use them but apply educational purpose to them as well!

I hunted around in my cupboard and found some glass jam jars, I started thinking as I had so many I could make an alphabet display for a young child’s bedroom or a classroom. (A friend made a valuable comment.  She said she felt nervous using glass jars around children. I absolutely understand this aspect of the project. I know in Reggio settings children are encouraged and trained to take care of glass objects. For me, I guess I would have the jars on a shelf as a display, and take them down to look at in a whole group or a small group setting.  Children could bring items for the jar and in this way the project would keep evolving. Thanks my friend!) So, as I was saying,  I set to work. I found some sticky alphabet labels from those cheap $2 dollar stores, my son’s pyjamas (he had grown out of ) and I was ready to go!

Equipment you will need:

a. Glass jars and lids (26)

b. Little toys

c. Material

d. A large lid to use as a stencil with the material

e. Craft glue

f. Sticky labels

1. Collect the bottles (26).

2. Cut a circle of material larger than the lid and glue the material on the lid. I found a tutorial that suggested you make little nicks around the edge of the material  to assist with the gluing process. If you are like me,  I would cover them all with the same material!


3. I then glued the sticky alphabet letters onto the jars and started sorting all of the toys.

These amazing puppets can be purchased from (

4. The finished product!

I used these in a Kindergarten with whole groups and small groups of children. We talked about all the toys inside and the initial sound of the first letter. In small groups I used the toys to develop memory skills by removing one item (while they were not looking!) and observing if they could remember which piece was missing. What I love about these jars is that  over the course of the year more toys can be added. I have used a literacy apron with them and the children have to figure out the clues i.e I have something in my pocket and it starts with an a, it is very big, people are able to ride in it, it has wings…..etc!

Have fun, I did!

P.S. I found a wonderful way of storing and displaying the jars on this website!

Van Gogh Kindergarten children

21 Jan

I have realized the time has just flown by over the holiday break and it is well and truly time to put some more posts on my blog! When I look at other people’s blogs I realize I have been seriously napping!!! This story bag has a special meaning to me. On my first ever prac at a school I was blessed to be placed with the  most amazing teacher. She allowed me to fly with my ideas and then she wrapped all of my ideas up and helped me present them in a great way! I will always be grateful to her!

The children in the class were Kindergarten age and they had been looking at different artists over the term. I decided to look at Vincent van Gogh as they had talked about this artist and his work. Okay I will be back in a minute!

I’m back! I found a large easel at Uni and pushed it into my Getz! Then I found a print of the painting ‘Bedroom at Arles’. My son did TEE art so he had paintbrushes, paint, a pallet and a canvas. I offered all sorts of bribes and he agreed to draw an outline of the painting onto the canvas! I was thinking how you could draw it yourself if you didn’t have someone who is talented in that area! After searching the net, I found that you can trace on to canvas using graphite paper! Sorry I am off again! I will be back shortly!!!

1. The all important story bag!

2. I took the easel into school, with some paints, a pallet, some brushes and the canvas with the drawing. We talked about why artists use easels and how this gives them the freedom to draw and paint inside and outside. We discussed the way the artists mixed their own colours, and sketched their plans and ideas onto the canvas. We then looked at the picture and talked about what was in the room and what their room looked like at home. We provided paper and pastels for the children to recreate their bedroom with all the different features that made their room special.

Thanks to the talents of my son! I did confess to the children that my son had sketched the drawing!

3. I found this book in a sale, but after some investigation I have finally found where you can buy it! It is produced in France and there are a few more in the series.

This book is lovely as it is written in a diary style through the eyes of the artist.I used this book as a guide, as it provided lots of ideas and thought provoking questions. When I was looking for the book, I noticed the publishers have added some wonderful activities and teaching resources that I must share with you as they are excellent.

4. I created a word document with the bedroom walls and the floor. I then applied colour, printed  and enlarged it to A3. I photocopied and enlarged a print of the room, cut out some of the objects in the room and laminated everything! I placed velco dots on the objects and on the layout, for children to recreate the room.

I also made a puzzle, just for fun!

I found this colouring book in a $2 store. I have to say I am not really into colouring in but just sometimes it is quite relaxing for children. The book is filled with colouring sheets from the old masters including 2 from The Bedroom at Arles.

Some websites that offer lessons and teaching resources:

Younger children—spaces-lesson-plan/

Older children

Catch you real soon! I hope to move this blog to Word Press in the near future. I will keep you posted!!

I found some examples of the children’s art. I loved them!

Pirate story bag

21 Jan

Here I am back again with my story bags! When I was on a prac at a primary school in my second year of Uni the Kindergarten children showed a great deal of interest in pirates. So I found the book ‘Tough Boris’ by my favourite author, Mem Fox and set to work to plan an outdoor  pirate activity, that would of course, incorporate math language(following the treasure map directions) and society and environment learning outcomes and themes (history and past times).

1. First of course the story bag! I have realized now, looking back, that I cannot remember where I found the image of the pirate map (apologies to the creator of the map, I will keep looking and add the info).

2. As I have young men in the house, their boots, which we had used on a trip to Europe, were taken out of the cupboard,  traced around onto black paper and laminated! ( I will explain!!)

3.This is the strange part I have to admit! I decided to do the whole dressing up and the talk like a pirate thing! I am not given to dressing up but I have found I do things out of my comfort zone when children are involved! I had a long black coat, a pirate hat from a toy store, a stripey black and white tshirt and a red scarf!

4 I had taken a photo of the outside play area and having an artistic son he drew all  the recognizable landmarks. He was keen to burn the edges of the map to make it look authentic! He was saying, “this is so cool I remember doing this with you years ago”. He got a bit carried away and burnt a rather large section, ah well! We did the whole coffee bag thing and voila our map!

5. I found an old wooden box and decorated it with pirate stickers. The $2 dollar stores are so handy for jewels! I found some chocolate gold coins (enough for everyone) this can be an issue (allergies) so I also had gold coin cut outs just in case.

6. I had paced out how many steps it would take to reach the treasure (bearing in mind they would be small steps!)The treasure  had been placed in an old rowing boat in the sandpit ! I lay  ’dress up clothes’ strategically around the boat and hid the treasure box out of sight! The scene was set!

I came inside and using my good old pirate voice I called the children outside to see if we could find the treasure before Captain Long John Silver came back!

We had a wonderful time, and as the Kindergarten had two groups we got to do it again the next day!


A treasure box made with felt with the poem:

‘Pirate Pirate on the ship’

‘How many pieces did you get?’

The children counted out the pieces as I lay them in the box. They then played  with them with a friend.

We played pirate tic tac toe with these wooden toys I found in Paddy’s markets in Sydney! ( Just start the virtual tour and turn a little to the right and there is the shop!

Books :

I wish I had a pirate suit (Pamela Allen)

The great pirate activity book (Deri Robins/George Buchanan)

Pirate things to make and do (Usborne Activites) This is where I found my stickers for the treasure box.

Websites: This blog has a wonderful array of creative ideas (you will need to use the translate option as it is in french!)

Recycled plastic bottles: life-like apples

21 Jan

I have made lots of literacy bags, so I will  do something different and then go back to them! Through the summer break from Uni I discovered The Crafty Crow ( ).

I poured over this site for weeks. It was wonderful hopping in and out of wonderful magical worlds of craft, sewing and  knitting so many people have created. Most of the blogs are from America and the weather there was so chilly, it made the summer days here bearable!

One of my favourite blogs is I am in awe at the projects this amazing woman creates. One of my favourites are the apples made from recycled drink bottles. I couldn’t see a tutorial so I created one of my own.

Equipment you will need:

a. Two one litre bottles (to make one apple)

b. A sharp craft knife

c. Good sharp craft scissors

d. A range of coloured tissue papers

e. Leaves, pipe cleaners and coloured card

f. Tape (to seal the sides)

1. First you take  your  2 one litre bottles. Lay the bottle down on a wooden board. Using a sharp craft knife make an incision about 5-6cms  from the base of the bottle (this will give you a little lip to join the 2 halves). Use the knife or scissors to cut around the bottle until you have 2 halves.

2. This is the adult only bit!! In one half pierce a hole in the middle of the plastic to provide  a place for the ‘apple stalk’. When you are attempting to make the hole I found that if you used a winding method you are able to control the size of the hole. As I was doing this I was thinking how hard plastic is to break down. I think my contribution (small that it is) will be to make an orchard of fruit to prevent at least some plastic going into our waste system! Now I just have to find a use for the rest of the bottle! I have seen people turn the bottle upside down,pierce small holes in the side  and grow herbs in them!

3. You could use a pipe cleaner for the stalk, card or for fun I put in a real leaf!

4. I purchased a range of tissue papers, red, dark green, light green. I am still on the lookout for any other shades of these colours.

5. I took a quarter of the sheet for each half and filled them to the top.

6. I then slotted one half into the other. After making a few I found some slotted in easier than others so I taped them just to make sure they stayed together.

Have fun but watch out they are addictive! I have already started making little apples. I found myself going through the water bottle aisle looking at different bases on bottles and wondering if I could make other fruit!!

I did find a tutorial on these apples! This tutorial shows a neat way of hanging the apples up to display them!

‘Rosie’s Walk’ story bag and puppet

21 Jan

So I thought I would keep going with the theme of story bags and add a few more that I have made and used in classrooms.

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins has been a big favourite for years.

I purchased two second hand books that were the same size. Now I am normally totally opposed to cutting any book for any reason! So when I decided to make a ‘moving story’ with the book, I thought about the  way the book  had been loved for years and how I could preserve the book  in  a different way whereby children could enjoy it in a different format.

1. I started with the story bag.

2. I then took the pages apart from the 2 books and attached them. I have to be honest this took a while. My older son can vouch for the time it took as I was in the middle of a teaching practicum and he  offered to help me!!! We attached the first page to the first roll and the last page to the second roll (paper towel rolls). I took it to school and  chose two children to move the story on as we read through the text, a few of them were trying to look around the roll to see what was going to happen! They were fascinated! I was thinking that an improved model of the format would be to give the children pens and paper to design their own ‘moving story’.

3. I remembered in a music unit I had enrolled in we had made chickens! As you do!

So please be patient with me as I attempt to show you how  they are created!

4. I chose the same colours of the chicken in the book! This is such a neat activity and has a very authentic chicken sound! When the chux is wet, you hold the chux between your thumb and pointer finger and wrap the chux around the string at the top. As you slowly move the chux along the string, (small  jerking movements) it makes the most amazing chicken sound!! You will be surprised, trust me!

5. So here we go………….

I used a see through plastic cup I guess because the children wanted to see what was happening with the string and the sponge, but any plastic cup would be fine. You will need:


Card strips


small piece of thick sponge


googly eyes

6. This is the tricky bit. I think for most early years groups putting holes in the top of the plastic cup requires an adults help. You make two holes in the top, then using a darning needle, thread the string up the cup into one hole and down back inside the cup through the second hole. You can loop it through itself and pull down or make a loop on the end after you have pulled the string through and thread the string through the loop.

7. Attach the chux, by tying the string,at the other end, around the middle of the sponge.

8. At this stage you can try out the chicken noise! Wet the sponge and squeeze out the excess water. Hold the chux between your thumb and pointer finger, wrap around the string at the top of the cup and pull down a little at time and DA DA! Your squawking chicken!

9. Now the decorating. I have used feathers and paper. I curled the paper for the top of the cup and cut a triangle for the beak, which I folded in half and attached. Don’t forget those googly eyes!

10. As the story has wonderful mathematical positional language, around, over, under/through I decided to extend the story to the outdoors! I printed the images and made A4 sized cards from the (curry virginia website) listed below.

I punched holes in the top and attached them to various climbing apparatus in the school yard and used a clam shell for the pond.

11. I then cut out and laminated chicken feet and attached them to the apparatus and lay them on the grass to show the children were Rosie went for her walk! I used the chicken cup to start them off! The teachers on the  practicum were very patient with me as the children could not get enough of the sound and begged for more!

I have added some websites that are great for extension ideas

This website offers an astounding array of different uses of the book through the different learning areas I used the pictures from this site and created an A4 page adding an orange border. This also is a very

comprehensive array of activities

Here is a Youtube version of Rosie’s walk

Have Fun!

Story bags

21 Jan

You might say strange name for a blog! I remember watching The Barchester Chronicles and in the story there was a man named Mr Quiver-full. He was so named as he had a great many children and was considered blessed to have been endowed with such a big family! I feel that as I have collected and stored away so many ideas, strategies and resources I should share my quiver-full with others!

So I decided to start a blog. I guess the thing that inspired me came from the movie Julie and Julia! I love the way Julie started her blog, just writing about what she loved. In her case cooking. In my case teaching ideas.

Having recently graduated from  Uni as a K-3 teacher I started thinking about the kind of blogs I visit and revisit. They are always ones where teachers have kindly put up great resource ideas, or lessons, or planning anything that can help the newbie teacher make sense of the teaching world.

I thought I would start with an idea I adapted from a resource I saw some years ago, namely story or literacy bags. I started with Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne.

1. First the bag

I purchased some linen bags (about $1.50) from linen and craft stores. Then I decided to put a label on either depicting a book or a theme.  I guess you could keep it all in a snazzy plastic tub, but there is something about a bag and the mystery you can create when you bring out the resources in a story session!

2. I know what you are thinking. Copyright. Well I thought about that and as the bags are for my personal use I figured I could photocopy one illustration from the book.

3. I decided to put both Eileen Browne’s books in, Handa’s Surprise and Handa’s Hen as they are both about the same two girls, Handa and Akeyo. I purchased the books from The Book Depository as their prices are excellent. I have since moved to for slightly cheaper products with free delivery (in Australia).

4. I found some amazing activities that were free to download to accompany the story. The most comprehensive activities were from Sparklebox. As this is a controversial website for educators, I have added other excellent websites that provide wonderful activities

I printed,cut and laminated these masks. I found the long wooden sticks at $2 stores.

These cards are great for a variety of language games. I printed 2 sets for memory and fish games. They are great for finding initial sounds of words and syllabification.

I adapted this resource to incorporate sequencing of the story, ie what fruit did the animals take first, second etc. I attached velcro to the board and the individual pictures. You could use this as a small group activity or enlarge the picture to A3 for a whole class group discussion.

Helpful websites:

I have recently been invited to submit a review of Handa’s Surprise to ‘The Book Chook’   When this has been posted I will attach the link for further resource ideas.