Blending science and art in winter

My boys and I used to have a lot of time to do fun learning activities together that were based on their interests.  Now that one is in Kindergarten and the other is in second grade, I really feel the time limitations of the school schedule.  This week, they both had fevers so I ended up home with all three children for several days in a row.  There was lots of board game playing, movie watching and snuggling.

One night while reading the 101 temperature on the thermometer and anticipating another day at  home, I asked my five year old what he would like to do the next day.  He suggested painting every object in our house.  (Ambitious little guy)  We had cleaned out the closet earlier that day and he found an old  toy and really wanted to paint a picture of it.  I said it sounded like a great idea and the plan was set for the next day, just like the old days when my boys were home with me most of the time.

The next day was unseasonably warm for January, but still gray as could be.  I decided to extend the painting idea and get the kids outside.  I asked them to look at the trees and we talked about the differences between summer and winter.  We made note of the colors we saw–gray, brown, black–blah.

tree in winter

tree in our backyard

I challenged the kids to look at the trees and try to paint some of the colors and shapes they saw.   (As a side note, I often do paint projects in the morning before the kids get dressed.  Less of an issue, if we stain pj’s with paint than clothes!)

painting outdoors in winter DSC03372Though I love taking the kids outside to paint in warm weather when the yard is bursting with life and color, this made for an interesting project as well.  It got us outside and forced us to observe our surroundings and to use science and art skills at the same time.

Art inspired by winter

Art inspired by winter

We then moved indoors to work on the project my son had proposed.  He got the object he wanted to paint and encouraged his brother and sister to each pick an object as well.  I asked each child which colors they would need to paint their object.  We rolled paper out in the kitchen, creating a space for each child and they went to work.

indoor painting for kidsThey had fun and each did it at their own level.  While the 8 and 3 year old moved on quickly, the 5 year old spent a long time looking at the object and trying to recreate it on paper.

20130130_111024[1]By following my son’s lead, I was able show him that his ideas have value.  He was excited about the project and got his siblings excited as well.  I was able to add to the idea in order to bring in some outside time and some science observation and recording skills.

Try to create learning opportunities based on your child’s interests.  Encourage observation both indoors and out.  Paint outside in different seasons and make comparisons about the colors you need.  Paint indoors when the weather is cold.  Make it exciting by painting on the floor or cover a table with paper to give them a larger workspace.  Follow your child’s lead and let the learning happen naturally!

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