Thursday, 18 September 2014

INTRODUCING MICHAELMAS!

Dragon Bread for Michaelmas.



I have heard of Michaelmas in the past but never really known anything about it or realised what fun I have been missing! After reading lots of Waldorf Steiner books and Blogs from families who were looking forward to their Michaelmas celebrations, I thought I would give it a go!
Michaelmas is celebrated on the 29th September and is the feast of St Michael the Archangel. It falls nicely with the start of Autumn, the end of Harvest and the day’s becoming shorter. We tell the story of how Lucifer was banished from Heaven and thrown out by Michael. Lucifer fell to earth and landed in a blackberry bush. Because of this we should not pick Blackberries after this date, as it is said that he cursed the brambles he fell in. Even if you are not very religious, the story is one of good winning over evil and all children seem to love stories like this!
So on the week of Michaelmas, we colour and paint pictures of St Michael slaying a Dragon (the image portrays good defeating evil), Look at the Bible story of Michael throwing Lucifer out of Heaven and also read about St George and the Dragon. Being English, this is a nice reminder of our patron saint! We have Dragon dressing up out and the children enjoy much Dragon slaying! 


The children all look forward to the highlight of our week…. Baking the Dragon bread!
 It is wonderful for strengthening the muscles in the children’s little fingers as they kneed the bread dough and shape it in to a dragon. Fine motor skills are improved as they add the delicate fine details to their Dragons, using raisins for the eyes and sunflower seeds for the spikes and claws!


You can make fresh bread dough from scratch with the children and use it as an opportunity for mathematical language and investigation as you follow the recipe and measure out the ingredients! Using language such as more and less. Lighter and heavier.  We also talk about why we must wash our hands before we cook and touch on good food hygiene and how germs can make us poorly.
Once the dough has been worked and left to rise you can break it up in to separate balls for each child to work with. The dough is stretchy and fun to use. We often have many creations before the final Dragons are created. The children talk about how their dragons are going to look. Sharing their ideas and talking about the size of his wings or claws. No two Dragons are ever the same!

This activity can be altered to accommodate children with wheat allergies by using a bread mix that is gluten free.

Once the Dragons have all been made, place them on a greased baking tray in a pre-heated oven at 220C/425F/Gas 7 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

This activity covers the following Prime and Specific areas of the EYFS:
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Creative Art and Design
  • Understanding the World.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

EYR PLAYCOLOR SOLID PAINTS- PRODUCT REVIEW


Early Years Resources asked me to try out some new solid paints that they now stock. We very much looked forward to them arriving as painting is something that all the children in my setting enjoy. These were particularly appealing as they would not take long to set up and use so could be brought out at times that I would have normally said no to  painting due to time restrains. The set available to buy at EYR can be found here for £8.50.

The product description on the site describes them as "Waterbased, solid poster paint with high covering power. Can be used on paper, card and wood. Clean and easy to apply - no water or brushes required. Does not wrinkle paper and dries quickly to a give a silky, smooth finish. Age; 3 years+ (small parts)."

We introduced the paints to the toddlers. The description does say not suitable for under 3 year but that is true of most paints on the market. With supervision I find that the babies enjoy painting or at least exploring the paints as much as the older children. The toddlers do enjoy picking at the paints with their nails and trying to eat them. Once you get past this fascination and spend some time modeling how to use them, they very quickly pick up the idea of pushing them across the paper.



The older children found them easy to twist and make the paint pop up. They are used to using glue sticks so this is a familiar and well practiced skill for them. 

 

The paints work well and feel a lot like drawing with a Lipstick! Creamy and smooth. The skill is actually very different to painting so although these are marketed as paints, I would say that they are somewhere between paints and pastels.
The different sets I received to test all had their own merits. The Metallic set are our favorites. They worked especially well on black paper and we look forward to using them for Fireworks paintings around November 5th.
The fluorescent set worked better on white paper. The colour is not as strong but they make a nice change to the primary colours that we often paint with.
The 2 sets of Primary colours that we received were fantastic on white paper and the two sizes were fun to have. Like using a thinner brush and a thicker one!
The thicker size worked especially well with the younger children. They seemed a bit more robust!


They washed well off of our clothes, the oil cloth on my table and the children's hands. I even tested the purple on my kitchen wall and after an hour it wiped off with no trouble and did not leave a stain.





These would be ideal for taking on holiday as they make very little mess and can be used as easily as pens or crayons. The paper is not wrinkled by them as it often does with standard paints.


These would be great to set up with a easel as the paints do not drip or run down the paper and they dry within minutes. These would be a nice place to start when introducing paint to children with sensory issues or who dislike getting messy.

We got a little carried away in our testing and thought we would see how good they are on glass. My sister painted this lovely Rainbow on the window in the playroom using them. It dried quickly, the children can not smudge it but it will wipe off easily and could be scratched off with finger nails.


My only negative point for these is that children do not experience the mixing of colours that you get with standard paints. They do not mix together to make new colours which I think is a shame. Painting is always a very natural way for children to experiment with colours and the mixing of new colours.

Another good point to these is that they can be left with their lids off, outside and in the sun for quite some time and they still work. They will get a rubbery skin over the top after several hours but if you rub it along the paper this will come off and the paint beneath is fresh and usable!

I would like to make it clear that I am not being paid to write this review and I want to be completely honest in reviewing them

I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to test these out and I would highly recommend them to anyone working with or caring for children. They were enjoyed by our 1 year olds as well as my 12 year old! To be very honest.... the adults had a lot of fun with them too!

EYR currently have a "Try before you buy" offer on these if you would like to give them a go for yourselves. they also have a Bulk saver offer on to buy 4 packs of 12 sticks for £30.00!

So a big thumbs up for these, from all the children at Worms Eye View!
(And the adults too!)




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