Teaching Twos and Threes DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET A Comprehensive Curriculum COPYRIGHTED Deborah Fal asco MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Praise for Teaching Twos and Threes “Although this book is full of wonderful activities for twos and threes, it goes far beyond a typical activity book by allowing teachers to follow the child’s lead and design a curriculum based on the natural behaviors and curiosities of this unique age group. This is the type of book that will support teachers who want to grow along with twos and threes. It’s a fresh resource that encourages a reflective creative practice.” Carol Garboden Murray, director of the Bard College Nursery School, NYSAEYC-​credentialed early learning trainer, and author of Simple Signing with Young Children “Teaching Twos and Threes goes above and beyond providing a curriculum. Deborah offers specific and authentic—and, most of all, respectful—advice that fully captures the delight in experiencing this extraordinary age group. Her cre- ative strategies present inspired, individualized ideas for helping nurture chil- dren as they grow into confident problem solvers. As a caregiver of two-year-olds, I immediately began applying the ideas found in this book to my own classroom on the very same day that I read it! Deborah is truly an expert in her field, and Teaching Twos and Threes would make a perfect textbook or refresher course for new and veteran educators alike.” Kelly Zechmeister-Smith, MEd, North Campus Children’s Center, University of Michigan “Deborah Falasco’s to-the-point, easy-reading curriculum planning book for twos and threes will be very helpful to educators and child care providers who may wonder or have been struggling with how to create a comprehensive curriculum for young children. It promotes a variety of ways to support children’s learning while they are playing. Unlike other curriculum books, Falasco supports her curriculum ideas with information on child development as well as the benefits of the curriculum and learning areas. It is a must-have book for educators and child care providers of young children.” Ayuko Uezu Boomer, MSEd, early childhood specialist, Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School, University of Minnesota COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Teaching Twos and Threes COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Teaching Twos and Threes A COMPREhENSiVE CURRiCUlUM Deborah Falasco COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Published by Redleaf Press 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117 www.redleafpress.org © 2014 by Deborah Falasco All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. First edition 2014 Cover design by Jim Handrigan Cover photograph by Deborah Falasco Interior design by Percolator Typeset in Apex and Cassia Interior photographs by Deborah Falasco Printed in the United States of America 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Falasco, Deborah.   Teaching twos and threes : a comprehensive curriculum / Deborah Falasco.        pages cm    Includes index.    Summary: “With a focus on the special joys of working with two- and three-year-olds, this comprehensive curriculum meets the unique developmental needs of this age group and supports critical early learning. Teaching Twos and Threes includes a wide range of activity ideas and learning experiences, as well as strategies to help you plan a thoughtful program, build positive relationships with young children, and support learning in all areas” — Provided by publisher.    ISBN 978-1-60554-132-7 (pbk.)    ISBN 978-1-60554-257-7 (e-book) 1. Early childhood education—Curricula—United States. 2. Early childhood education—   Activity programs—United States. 3. Child development—United States.   I. Title.   LB1139.4.F35 2013   372.71—dc23                                                             2013004538 Printed on acid-free paper COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET To Jennifer, Brian, and Katrina— my forever inspiration COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET contents Acknowledgments . . . ix Introduction . . . 1 ChAPTER : Curriculum Planning, Observation, Recording, and Evaluation . . . 5 ChAPTER : Strategies for Common Challenges . . . 19 ChAPTER : Creative and Authentic Art . . . 35 ChAPTER : Writing Exploration . . . 71 ChAPTER : Science and Nature . . . 79 ChAPTER : Sensory Table . . . 103 ChAPTER : Circle Time . . . 111 ChAPTER : Dramatic Play . . . 131 ChAPTER : The Block and Building Area . . . 137 ChAPTER : Cooking Experiences and Mealtime Success . . . 145 ChAPTER : Field Trips and Special Events . . . 153 Final Thoughts . . . 157 Appendix A: Weekly Curriculum Planning Sheet (Template and Examples) . . . 169 Appendix B: Art and Other Recipes . . . 185 Appendix C: Songs and Chants . . . 189 Index . . . 197 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Acknowledgments I would like to thank the following people: my parents (who gave me my foundation), my chil- dren (who taught me the most about children), my husband (who dealt with my many hours of col- lege studies and book writing), my siblings, and the friends who supported and encouraged me to aspire to be more and step further—believing in me. To the many children who have shared the journeys and adventures with me (from my family child care days to my current nook at Vassar) and all of my amazing models who brought this book to life—thank you! May all children feel the love and respect of their adults, and spend their days with a smile and a warm heart! COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ix DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET introduction I began my career in family child care. I loved the small group, the cozy environment, and the inti- mate relationships I developed with families. I will forever cherish those memories. Toward the end of my family child care days, I began to pursue my formal training as an educa- tor. I felt that I had a great deal of experience, but I needed to combine my practical skills with a better understanding of education to best serve children and their families. Eventually I closed my family child care and went to work at a preschool for children with spe- cial needs. I loved that experience as well, and I en- joyed learning from the master teachers there. I then found my way to the laboratory nurs- ery school on the campus of Vassar College. This school was very different from my first two early childhood environments. A laboratory school is a teaching and learning environment for both children and adults. Each classroom has an obser- vation booth to help student educators and their professors discreetly observe the children, teachers, and classroom environment. I remember my first day in the booth, watching the two-year-olds and feeling at home. I had a passion for this age group. I earned my bachelor’s degree in early edu- cation. I then decided to get my master’s degree, focusing on the zero-to-three age group. I felt this was a special age in children’s development, and I valued the integral role families play in the lives of children three and younger. I searched for very particular degree programs. I earned a graduate certification as an infant-toddler specialist. After that, I pursued my master’s degree in human devel- opment, specializing in infants, toddlers, and their families. By this time, I was teaching in a classroom of two- and three-year-olds. My day job helped me practice what I was learning, and my master’s pro- gram helped me question and reflect on my teach- ing practice. Eleven-plus years later, I’ve loved every moment I’ve spent with two- and three-year-olds. Becoming an infant-toddler specialist and mentoring others has been very gratifying for me. I delight in working closely with children’s families while teaching and loving their children. Two- and three-year-olds are very busy, curious, lovable, and fun. I cannot imag- ine an age I would rather work with! My profession is my passion. I want to share my experiences in and ideas on teaching twos and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 1 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 2  introduction threes with as many teachers as I can. I’ve written this book to help you become mindful of this age group’s needs in planning your curriculum. I also want to help you become reflective about your teaching practice. Creating a balanced program for twos and threes is no easy task. Society places many aca- demic expectations on preschoolers and prekinder- garteners, and these expectations often reach down to even younger children. Children between two and three years old are no longer babies or young toddlers—and yet they are not preschoolers either. I have taught this age group for many years, and the growth between the second and third year still amazes me. This book is intended to help teach- ers see two- and three-year-olds as they are, devel- opmentally speaking, and to help teachers create developmentally appropriate programs that are stimulating and authentic for all twos and threes. In the past, I have offered workshops geared toward teachers and caregivers of older toddlers (eighteen months and older) and two-year-olds. I began by asking the participants where they saw their biggest challenges and their best delights. Al- most all the educators mentioned difficulty with young children’s impulse control, short attention spans, toileting, varying ability levels, pushing, hit- ting, biting, and testing limits. The participants en- joyed the wonder in working with the under-three population. The activities they noted as enjoyable were singing and dancing, hands-on art, and watch- ing new experiences. We all have felt the occasional struggle and exhaustion of working with this age group. Fortu- nately, even more often we feel the delight of work- ing with twos and threes. We get the honor and pleasure of being an important helper at a crucial moment in a child’s life—the developmental leap into independence. How we touch the lives of our students and families in this moment leaves per- manent footprints. All about This Marvelous Age Group Working with two- and three-year-olds is a lively experience. Twos and threes are sweet and feisty all at once. They are tender, warm, and loving. They are bursting with giggles and mischief. Everything is new and exciting to them. They look at the world with wonder and anticipation. Throughout their days, they are constantly finding out how things work and what happens next. Twos and threes are in a delicate state. They are not babies or young toddlers. At twenty-four through forty-two months old, they are leaving toddlerhood and becoming preschoolers. They are gaining independence and learning about them- selves and their place in the world around them. Their egocentrism is transforming into awareness. They are developing important relationship skills, such as empathy and the give-and-take of rela- tionships, often through trial and error. Twos and threes have different emotional, intellectual, and physical needs than preschoolers have. Why Do Twos and Threes Need an Environment Different from a Preschool? Twos and threes are finding their way through the world as people separate from their families— among other children navigating similar develop- mental challenges. Achieving autonomy is hard work! Twos and threes need adult support and a warm and nurturing environment to help them do this work. In addition, they may be at different stages in their development. For example, many twos and threes may still mouth materials. They need materials thoughtfully designed for children ages twenty-four to forty-two months. Finally, two- and three-year-olds have much shorter attention spans than preschoolers have. Teachers must con- sider this reality when planning all aspects of the curriculum. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET introduction  3 Why Do Twos and Threes Need a Stimulating Curriculum? For twos and threes, a stimulating curriculum is the doorway to a lifelong love of learning. A stimulat- ing environment keeps their hands and bodies busy while their brains are making magnificent connec- tions. And on the flip side: a program that is not stimulating leads to boredom, aggression, and tears! What Constitutes a Stimulating Curriculum for Twos and Threes? Twos and threes need you to be a facilitator, a loving caretaker, and a partner in learning. They need you to plan a curriculum that balances safety and free exploration. Offer many opportunities for children to really experience and experiment with materi- als. Twos and threes need hands-on, sensory expe- riences to help them clearly understand new ideas and skills. They also need repetition, repetition, repetition! That is how they learn. Coming back to previous learning and then building onto it is key to mastery for this age group. You must introduce new concepts and skills in concrete ways that show value in their world in order to catch their interest. How Can We Help Twos and Threes Become Independent? We want young children to be inquisitive about their world. When we pique their curiosity and give them some freedom, we help them become motivated learners and keen problem solvers for a lifetime. The layout of your environment is key to fostering independence. First, make sure the classroom equipment is safe and appropriate for children of this age range (twenty-four to forty-two months). Twos and threes tend to run and climb more than preschoolers do, so you must plan for this. Second, when you design the environment and curriculum, create opportunities for success and independence. See that tasks and activities are developmentally appropriate so children can mas- ter them over time. Observe what works and what does not. How to Get Started How do we begin to develop, or add more depth to, our teaching practice as we work with two- and three-year-olds? As we recognize the importance of this amazing year in children’s lives, how do we tailor our programs to suit the unique needs of this age group? First we need to get to know the children within the group. We need to begin developing relation- ships with them—and with their families. We need to observe the children carefully and then begin to lay the foundation for the year by building a cur- riculum fit just to them. Teaching Twos and Threes carefully addresses program curriculum areas ap- propriate to children in this age group. When I was a new teacher, I found myself focus- ing on improving one curriculum area at a time, beginning with those I felt were weakest in my teaching practice. All along, I sought to find new ideas, and I tried various techniques to see what worked well and what did not. And as I recorded my ideas and suggestions in this book, I kept in mind that what works well differs for each of us, as does what works best for each program, as well as for each child. It is my hope that this book will be helpful and inspiring to teachers and caregivers of all experience levels. Chapters 1 and 2 of Teaching Twos and Threes aim to offer you a starting point for developing the ideas presented—or for developing new ideas. They offer a place to begin reflecting on—or to continue reflecting on—your teaching practice. They are de- signed to inspire you to think deeply about obser- vation and about getting to know the children, as well as to understand and define the how, the what, and the why of curriculum planning for this age group. They suggest ideas for brainstorming and a different perspective on how to understand and tackle challenging behaviors and situations not uncommon to a twos-and-threes classroom. When teachers and caregivers strive to find positive solu- tions to challenges, as you know, they create their own learning moments and personal development opportunities. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 4  introduction The rest of the chapters in the book offer ideas and activities organized by areas that are familiar to all twos-and-threes classrooms—for example, art, circle time, and dramatic play. (There are chapters on science and nature, cooking, and writing explo- ration too!) These chapters can be read in any order you desire. The appendixes offer a variety of help- ful planning information (you’ll find a curriculum planning template in appendix A), as well as recipes and song lyrics. Each early childhood educator who has the pleasure and honor to work with children in this spectacular age group has a truly important job to do, one that will impact children in the earliest stages of their learning. I hope you are able to take great delight in your work with twos and threes. I want to thank you for all that you do. Now let’s begin! COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET ChAPTER  creative and Authentic Art Art for younger children should focus on the pro- cess, not the product. Process over product is a phrase you’ve probably heard often as a teacher. Take a few minutes to really think about what it means: that we should encourage children to explore art materials and enjoy the process of exploration. For a two- or three-year-old, exploration means asking and an- swering questions about art materials, such as “Can I touch it? What does it feel like? What happens if I use more?” It is more important for children to have meaningful, exciting, and developmentally appropriate art experiences than it is to produce a product at the end. For this age group, art is a very sensory experi- ence. Young children seek input from art materials, and getting input often involves using their hands. Twos and threes really enjoy touching, feeling, and squeezing art materials. They may also be curious about the taste of art materials. It is typical for twos and young threes to put items in their mouths. That’s why safety and adult supervision are very important. Careful observation and knowledge about each individual child will help you deter- mine what materials are safe for your group of children to explore. Young children need many opportunities for experimentation with different kinds of art and different kinds of media. Art projects should be open-ended, with as little teacher direction as possible. Accept that art exploration will be quite messy. Remember that hands-on exploration is the most meaningful and productive way for children to learn. Embrace the adventure and excitement, the fun and the challenge! reflecting on Your role As you plan art experiences for young children, you must understand not only the children in your group, but also yourself. You need to learn about different art media, styles, approaches, and pro- cesses. You need to try new things and step back and observe what happens. Then you need to examine your comfort level. You need to be comfortable with what you offer and decide what—if any—boundar- ies you will place on the children’s art experiences. It takes time and patience to let children freely experience and create art at their own pace and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 35 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 36  chapter 3 under their own direction. Sometimes the sensory experience is all a child may be interested in—not a finished product. Such situations may challenge your personal comfort or your beliefs about art education. Just as we teachers offer children new learning experiences, we ourselves face new chal- lenges, learning opportunities, and experiences alongside the children. Art exploration is a great way to understand your own ideas and limitations. Try to be open-​ minded, reflective, and thoughtful about your teaching practice as you experience art with your students. Different teachers have widely varying comfort zones. Sharing your thoughts with coteach- ers may be helpful in defining or broadening your art boundaries. Child-Directed versus Cookie-Cutter Art Independent decision making and free use of art materials can be difficult for adults to adapt to. But they are vitally important for young learners! Early on, try to impress upon your children that they are in charge of their art explorations. Ask them, “What will you do?” Remind them, “You are the artist!” Although you may set out the materials, and you may have a general idea of what children will do with them, ultimately you should leave it up to the children. They may try out the project as pre- sented, or they may come up with their own ideas. Children often choose the latter when they have the freedom to do so. It doesn’t take long for children to understand that they really are artists and that their creativity lies within their own hands. The central question I always ask children is “What is your plan?” If they can answer that ques- tion, then I say, “Go for it!” Some children don’t un- derstand that question right away. So I ask, “Well, what will you do with that paint? What is the plan?” Then they get it! Soon they develop a goal and de- cide how to get to it. The goal may be simply to explore, and the plan may change several times. I ask them about their plan just to get them thinking consciously about what they are doing. I stretch my questions as far as I can to help children develop creativity and confidence. If you let them, children will come up with goals and develop plans to achieve them. (They will mas- ter execution of an idea.) Enjoy the process of chil- dren’s art. Enjoy the way they experiment, question, plan, and develop understanding. Without jump- ing in to answer, listen to their questions and mus- ings: “Hmm, what color paint do I want?” “What color will it make if I mix these together?” “Let’s mix this and this and see what happens!” Cookie-cutter art is the opposite of child-di- rected art. It involves shapes that teachers design and provide for children to decorate. But decora- tion is all this is. It is neither art nor education. A classroom festooned with twelve cute, nearly identical teddy bears is a reflection of the teacher, not the children. The same is true of coloring sheets, coloring books, and all adult-designed materials in- dicating exactly what children should do. A child cannot exercise creativity or learn anything mean- ingful from such projects. In fact, cookie-cutter art leads young children to believe that all art should look the same and that it should look how the teacher wants it to look. It limits children’s learn- ing and stifles their creativity. Cookie-cutter art is not developmentally appropriate for preschoolers or younger children. Art should give children the opportunity to be creative and to produce original work. It should employ authentic materials and inspire trial and error. True art develops confidence, a love of art, and critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. As teachers and caregivers, we have a responsibility to foster these important skills every time we invite children to the art area. One student of mine rarely came to the art cen- ter at the beginning of the year. I suspected that his interest simply lay in other areas. Art wasn’t COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  37 exciting enough. He was a very busy boy! He loved moving his body around. Art seemed too quiet and confining to him. That changed when I offered him the power to choose his materials and what to do with them. From that day forward, he often came to the art center independently. He came be- cause my squirt bottles of paint intrigued him. He had never experienced such freedom with paint and artistic endeavors. He squirted and blobbed paint with curiosity and excitement! He kept waiting for me to say, “Okay, stop!” When I didn’t, he was even more exhilarated. As the year progressed, he became interested in mixing colors and continued to explore how much he could possibly do with the materials. • Be aware of the developmental stages children are going through. • Appreciate every moment—including the umpteenth time children want to paint with their hands! • Try not to worry about the mess. • Let the children make decisions and let them be the ones completing each step of the process. • Be creative and foster creativity in the chil- dren. Offer choices and allow full exploration of materials. Making Art Inviting How do we keep children coming to the art center? How do we keep the art center fresh, exciting, and full of age-appropriate art activities that build a love for creativity and artistic exploration? First we must observe children carefully to see what their abilities and interests are. A thoughtful teacher or caregiver can address these factors, pro- viding repetition to increase confidence and skill while introducing new materials and techniques. Following are some tips to make your art center inviting: Watching the paint drip down • Use children’s favorite colors or colors that attract them. • Add materials that you know children enjoy, such as trucks. • Arrange materials in an aesthetically pleasing and inviting way. • Be attentive, enthusiastic, and interested in the children’s art. Make everything sound exciting! • Be flexible and willing to adapt to the chil- dren’s needs and desires. Outdoor fingerpainting—with sand from the sandbox unexpectedly mixed in COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 38  chapter 3 Whether your art center is in its infancy or is the product of years of experience, you can always learn more about early art education. I recommend exploring other ways to invite children to explore and create beyond what you currently do. You can get new ideas through books, colleagues, work- shops, or the Internet. Art can be a simple planned activity that goes according to our finest expectation. Examples of fun experiences include two types of ice cube paint- ing, one with liquid watercolor and the second with thicker tempera paint. This activity can lead to won- derful discoveries and differences detected in the consistency of melting paint cubes. Art can be unexpected too. “Ooh, I did not think of that—but wow, look what he is doing!” As a child painted on a canvas with rubber brayers, the bray- ers reminded him of one of our previous art activi- ties, monoprinting. He then began scraping designs and making prints. I thought it was great he had recalled the project and turned this project into his own idea. So I went with it! And then there are those art moments that make many grown-ups cringe! Splatter painting! Covering the whole sheet of paper—and hands too! How can we present art materials to young chil- dren in an age-appropriate and explorative man- ner? It can be difficult to find the balance between letting children experiment and worrying about creating a giant mess or wasting materials. It is true that the early stages of art exploration are often messy and indulgent. But what the children learn through mess and indulgence is priceless. This project evolved in a completely unintended way. And that was half the fun! I had planned to have the children wear backward smocks with lamb’s tails attached to represent the lamb in their daily nursery rhyme, “Little Bo Peep.” But wearing the smocks did not appeal to the children in this particular group. So we ripped off the tails and used them as paintbrushes. Most of the children dipped the tails in their choice of paint and gently painted with them. But one child had his own ideas. He said, “I have a plan! I need to put the paper on the floor like this.” Then he began dipping his lamb’s tail in paint, lifting it up, and whipping it to the ground! The tail left colorful splatters of vibrant colors on the large sheet of paper. It also decorated the walls, the furniture, and the hair and clothing of those nearby. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  39 When he looked a bit nervous about the splattering, I simply moved the other children out of the way and asked the splattering child, “Well, who is the artist?” He replied with a smile, “Me!” the children can learn strategies for sharing space. The teacher could remind the children that this is a group project, and all the classmates are working together. Perhaps the child who wants more space could move to a less crowded space near a teacher. If working together is too difficult that day for the child who wants more space, the teacher could offer the child a small sheet of paper for solo painting. Through collaborative art, children develop un- derstanding of space and proximity. They develop a plan together and work together to carry out the plan. The artwork hangs on the wall for all to see and take pride in. To Smock or Not to Smock Painting with a lamb tail Collaborative Art Children can learn many things through collabo- rating on art projects. They get a chance to exercise their large muscles when they produce big artworks together. They build community in the classroom. They learn how to work together in a confined area, sharing space and materials. They get many oppor- tunities to practice problem solving. If two children want to use the same paintbrush or the same paint color, they can learn strategies for sharing materials. The teacher could scaffold this learning by steering the conversation. For example: “Linnea, when you are all done with the pink paint, will you pass it to Maddie, please? She would like a turn when you are finished. Maddie, would you like to use purple while you are waiting?” If a child paints on top of another child’s work, Is this a crazy question to ask? Even if it seems ri- diculous, it’s still a worthwhile question if it helps us reflect on our teaching practice. Many teachers require children to wear smocks if they wish to engage in art. And indeed, insist- ing that children wear smocks for messy work seems practical and logical. So what’s the prob- lem? Younger children and children with sensory issues often do not want to wear smocks. Many children will avoid art altogether if the smock is nonnegotiable. If you notice this happening in your classroom, you might want to offer the children a choice about wearing smocks. Be aware, though, that optional smocking makes some adults uncomfortable. Ex- plain your philosophy clearly to families as soon as possible. It’s better to let a child get messy and have an artistic experience than to let a child miss out on the experience because he won’t wear a smock. Remind families to dress their children in clothing that can get messy. You may still want to encourage the children to wear smocks or aim toward the goal of wearing smocks if mess is likely. You can also make the chil- dren aware of their clothing as they begin to get COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 40  chapter 3 messy. You may choose to change them—or simply let them go home “colorful.” But one thing is cer- tain: the children will enjoy their artistic endeavors! Don’t be surprised to see an increase in art center attendance if you relax your smock-wearing rules. • ice cubes frozen in ice cube trays • ice pops frozen in molds • pine needles Keep wet sponges, baby wipes, or paper towels at the ready for quickly cleaning the children’s hands or work areas. Having a soapy bucket of water on hand is also quite useful while messy projects are happening! Painting When you invite young children to paint, offer a variety of implements, paints, paint additives, and painting surfaces. A wide variety of painting ma- terials exist, and each has a different feel and pro- duces a different effect. Don’t forget that everyday items can double as painting materials, offering new and fun ways to paint! Use trial and error to find out what works well for your children and what does not. Implements What can we paint with? • paintbrushes in dif- ferent sizes, textures, and thicknesses • rollers for edges or trim (from a hardware store) • foam brushes • spools • sponges in various sizes and shapes • fingers • cotton swabs • cotton balls • foam rollers • brayers or rubber rollers • eyedroppers • toothbrushes • containers with shaker tops for powdered paint • spray bottles • squirt bottles • balloons • carpet squares • large marbles • golf balls • turkey basters • flyswatters • potato mashers • spatulas • berry baskets (from produce department) • paint scrapers, flat and designed or textured (from an art supply store) • feather dusters • toy cars and trucks • corks • toy trains and train tracks • containers and lids • plastic toy animal feet • Koosh balls • keys • tea bags • kitchen scrubbers • shoes or boots • mittens • string or yarn • hands and feet When painting with cotton balls, use clothespins to hold the cotton balls if chil- dren are sensitive to messy paint on their hands. Clothespins work well for small sponges too. Assemble a recycled items donation wish list to give to families. Items may include sturdy containers, lids, small trays, empty paper towel tubes, small boxes, large boxes, flat card- board, craft materials, fabric, towels, sheets, or tablecloths. Choose donations carefully. Taking too much will just build clutter. Storage You can store painting implements in a variety of ways, such as on shelves or in boxes, bins, or sil- verware sorters. If your classroom is cluttered and crowded, you may need a storage space that’s out of COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  41 the way. Try a clear plastic shoe holder that hangs from the top of a door. You can find this type of shoe organizer at a department store or home improve- ment store. Each shoe pocket can hold a different type of painting implement. The implements are not only neatly organized but also easily visible through the plastic. And best of all, young children can’t dump this kind of storage container! A hanging shoe holder used for brushes and rollers Painting Containers If you’re using different kinds of painting imple- ments, you’ll also need different kinds of contain- ers to hold paint and water. When the children are painting with brushes, good containers might be baby food jars, baby food plastic containers and lids, yogurt cups and lids, and inexpensive plastic storage containers. When the children are painting with rollers or brayers, good paint containers might be plastic trays from microwave or takeout food. To make containers for when the children are painting with cotton swabs, cut clear egg cartons into sections of four compartments each. Put a dif- ferent color of paint into each compartment. You might also use a divided plate to hold paint. Types of Paint Explore art with a variety of paints! Try tempera paint, puffy paint (foam paint), fingerpaint, water- color cakes, liquid watercolors, corn syrup paint (created by adding a small amount of corn syrup to food coloring), powder paint (be cautious about allergies), and more. (See appendix B for several paint recipes.) Tempera paints work especially well for two- and three-year-olds. Early on, just offer two or three colors, preferably the primary colors red, yel- low, and blue. The children may choose to use pri- mary colors alone or mix them to create secondary colors. A bit later, add white for tinting. Next, add black for shading. This strategy offers children the opportunity to explore art with an array of colors, shades, and tints. Mixing colors is a great learning experience for young children. Through experimentation, they in- crease their understanding of colors. As time passes and children have more experiences with paint and with blending colors, they become more comfort- able and confident. To facilitate learning, help children keep the base colors separate by providing small contain- ers or paper plates for mixing. It is too difficult for young children to mix paint right on their paper. And many children will not be interested in paint- ing if you mix the colors for them. Mixing is half the fun for most children! Paint Additives Adding other ingredients to paint can have dra- matic results. Here are some additive ideas: salt, glitter, sand, dirt, mud, vegetable oil, baby oil, wa- ter, dishwashing detergent, condensed milk, saw- dust, and coffee grounds. Painting Surfaces Children can paint on a variety of surfaces. Here are just a few: large butcher paper, canvas, watercolor paper, drawing paper, fingerpainting paper, alumi- num foil, waxed paper, poster board, newspapers, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 42  chapter 3 brown paper grocery bags, computer paper, card- board, boxes, empty paper towel tubes, sculptures, and so on. Wrap aluminum foil, white tissue paper, or waxed paper around pieces of poster board. The poster board makes a sturdy painting surface for delicate materials. The Easel The classroom easel is a crucial part of a twos-and- threes classroom. It should be available every day for use in a variety of ways with a variety of materi- als. Here are some items to keep handy at your easel: • two or three paint cups with one brush in each • watercolor or tempera cakes A freshly covered easel • water in a small container next to the paint cakes (or a small squirt bottle for moistening the paint cakes) • writing implements, such as crayons, markers, pencils, and oil pastels • chalk, dry or wet • liquid watercolors (in heavy glass baby food jars to prevent spills) • bingo stampers or other liquid stampers • paper, foil, and canvas of assorted sizes and types Foil-covered papers and glitter paint • a variety of painting implements And here are some tips for a successful easel: • Arrange the easel in an attractive manner. • Limit easel work to one or two children per side. • Have a camera, pencil, and notepad readily available. • Have towels or cleanup material handy, partic- ularly for the floor. Painting at the classroom easel COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  43 Using individual easels at the table Painting at the table as a group To ease cleanup and to preserve your easel, wrap the easel in newspaper covered with waxed paper. Secure the paper with masking tape. The waxed paper speeds cleanup and short- ens the time needed to change newspaper. If you like, wrap the easel tray in foil for easy cleanup. Marble Painting Using individual trays at the table Marble painting creates amazing artwork. It’s a fa- vorite among twos and threes, and you can adapt this project in various ways. First, you will need containers to hold paint and marbles. The containers should be wide enough for a child to scoop out marbles easily. A plastic spoon works well for scooping. Provide one spoon per paint container. Do not use typical glass mar- bles with younger children; they are too small and present a choking hazard. Instead, use very large marbles, golf balls, cat toy balls, small Wiffle balls, or rubber bouncy balls. Next, choose a tray to hold the paper. The tray can be any shallow container with sides, such as a cafeteria tray, a box lid, a food storage container, or a cake pan. For a group marble-painting project, use a large box or a textured table insert. Have the child put a marble or ball in the paint of choice, then scoop out the ball and drop it into the tray. Then have the child tip the tray to make the ball roll back and forth, creating colored lines COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 44  chapter 3 across the paper. The child can decide how much paint to use, how many balls to use, and how long to shake, tilt, and roll the tray. In an oatmeal can using a cat toy ball Golf ball painting in a box lid Use a closed box or container to prevent marbles from flying around the room, for a change of pace, or when you want children to shake the boxes and hear the marbles inside. Oat- meal containers, pizza boxes, and food storage containers can be closed easily. Tape paper to the inside of the box. Canvas Painting In a pizza box! Painting on canvas is often a new and wonderful experience for young children. It gives them a foun- dation for using authentic art materials. Use small canvases for individual work or a large framed canvas for group projects. Either way, you can paint several different layers on the same canvas over several days. If you use typical school tempera paint, you can wash the paint off the canvas with warm running water and a small brush. You can then bring out new paint for the children and begin again! An- other way to start anew is to paint black paint over an old painting or freshly washed canvas to create a blank space for a new painting. (Let the black paint dry before painting.) Acrylic black paint will resist blending with new colors painted over it. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  45 Crayon Resist Crayon resist is similar to tape resist. Use white crayons for a surprise effect, or use oil pastels for a more obvious effect. Give children the crayons or oil pastels and let them color their pictures. When they’re finished coloring, have them use small or medium-size paintbrushes to paint liquid paint over the drawing. The waxy or oily drawing will re- pel the paint, creating a striking artwork. Splatter Paint Splatter painting is an exciting classroom project. This style of painting is carefree, fun, and creative. It does, however, become very messy! It involves dip- ping long paintbrushes into the paint and whip- ping the paint freely toward the painting surface. You can do splatter painting using a few different techniques. Canvas painting Tape Resist Tape resist is a fun project that you can adapt to make a new activity every time. Have children ar- range tape on canvas or poster board to make lines and designs. (The best kinds of tape to use are col- ored tape from a school supply store or carpenter tape from a hardware store.) Then give the children rollers, brayers, or brushes to paint over the whole surface with a variety of colors. When the paint is dry, carefully lift off the tape to reveal the white lines and designs within the painting. The first time you do this project, the children will be amazed! Splatter painting Tape resist Paper within a box works especially well. Use a medium-size or large box with sides up to twenty-​ four inches tall (no higher than children’s under- arms). The sides keep the paint inside the box and help prevent a huge mess. Line the bottom of the box with paper and tape it down. Invite the chil- dren to come over one or two at a time to paint. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 46  chapter 3 You will need at least three colors of paint, slightly watered down, and three to five long-handled, slim paintbrushes. The paint containers should be heavy so they won’t tip over. The children can dip the brushes in the paint and fling the paint into the box. They can fling free style or tap the handle of the paintbrush on the side of the box or on the backs of their hands. This is a standing art activity. And it’s really fun to photograph! Following are a few additional tips for splatter painting: After painting on canvas, I decided to reuse the canvas for another painting. I felt a bit sad to cover the children’s artwork, but I knew it was worth it to have another painting experience. During a nursery rhyme unit, we painted the can- vas all black to make a night sky background. Then we splatter-painted the canvas to represent the song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” The re- sults were stunning! • Canvas works well for splatter painting, too, and it creates a lasting piece of art. Canvas can be costly, though, which limits the use of this option in most classrooms. • Poster board is a great alternative to canvas. It is not as expensive, but it is very durable. Also, with poster board, you can turn it over after it dries and use the reverse side for new work. • You can do splatter painting as a second-day effect. On the first day of the project, for example, have the children paint with rollers. On the second day, after the base paint is dry, add the splatter painting. Splatter painting on a black canvas • For very big splatter paintings, use large butcher paper. Try this outdoors, hanging the paper on a fence or laying it on the ground. • Large twelve-by-eighteen-inch paper taped together works well too. Splatter painting with both hands Splatter painting in a big box COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  47 Always be on the lookout for items you can use in your art center. One day my mom offered her beloved Tupperware to anyone who could possibly use it. I saw these little plates that held matching cups and immediately thought, “Art!” Mom was delighted that I could use her Tupperware—until she heard I was going to use it for paint! I explained that her plates would be well loved and well used in this unconventional manner. And indeed they have been! They are perfect paint palettes! Plastic microwave food containers, takeout food containers, or any other containers that are shal- low and wide enough to accommodate the rollers work well to hold the paint for rolling. (Discount School Supply sells a four-paint roller tray that lasts for years.) Be sure to use a container that has a lip so the roller doesn’t push out the paint. If you like, you can also use squirt bottles to squirt the paint directly onto the paper, canvas, or tray. Spray Painting Tupperware plates used as paint palettes Rollers and Rubber Brayers Painting with rollers is a favorite with twos and threes. Rollers are fun to use, and there are so many choices available these days! Purchase as many dif- ferent types as possible. If you rinse them after each use and store them carefully, they can last quite a long time. Rollers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures. Foam rollers are typical in early child- hood classrooms, and they are inexpensive, but my personal favorites are small trim rollers (from the hardware store) and rubber brayers. Each type of roller produces a different textured effect, and you can feel the difference as you paint with them. Sample a variety of rollers to see what you like, and observe the children carefully to see where their in- terests lie. To spray paint with twos and threes, use small spray bottles from your local dollar store, hardware store, or garden store. Any small-handled spray bottle will do. Spray painting works best with water and liq- uid color. To make this type of spray paint, fill the bottle with water to one inch from the top. Next, add the desired amount of liquid watercolor paint or food coloring. Put the lid on and shake the bot- tle lightly. Alternatively, you could use water and a few tablespoons of tempera paint. With this type of paint, close the lid tightly and shake the bottle hard to blend the mixture thoroughly. This type of spray paint produces artwork that is more textured. Spray painting is a big hit with young children! Following are a few tips for spray painting with young children: • You can use spray paint indoors at the easel or on very large pieces of cardboard. • Because it can be quite messy, most teachers prefer to do spray painting projects outdoors. Clip large paper (butcher paper or large easel paper) to a fence with clothespins, and then spray the paint. When the children are not using the spray bottles, turn the handles back- ward and hang them on the fence. • Keep children a safe distance (at least three feet) apart, and make sure children don’t spray one another, especially in the face. This is particularly a concern during warmer weather, when they may be tempted to use the paint to COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 48  chapter 3 cool off. Use language that lets children know this is paint—not water—and must be used only where you designate. • If you live in a cold climate, spray painting is a great incentive for getting outdoors in the winter. Spray paint in the snow! • Store the paint bottles upright. If a bottle stops working, its nozzle is probably clogged. Try holding your finger over the nozzle for a few seconds while pumping the trigger to build pressure. When you remove your finger from the nozzle, it will release the extra pressure and clear the nozzle. • For tempera spray paint, give the bottle a small shake periodically to keep the mixture well blended and flowing smoothly. Watching the colors run • Be aware that the children’s hands will probably get paint on them. Liquid watercolor and food coloring may be difficult to clean off at first. Spray painting outside Painting with intention COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  49 Tire Painting Tire painting is a favorite painting activity among young children too. Many twos and threes love to play with toy vehicles, and they are doubly at- tracted to the idea of driving the little cars and trucks through puddles of paint. Use shallow trays filled with thin layers of paint. Choose plastic toy cars and trucks. (Plastic ones are easier to wash than the metal ones.) Choose toy ve- hicles that have tires with a bit of tread on them so they make distinct tire marks. Offer different vehicle sizes and tire treads so children can explore the differences. • Have three or four paint colors available for the children. • Water down the paint slightly. • Be aware that spin art can get messy. Tape a plastic grocery bag around the outside of the salad spinner’s bowl to keep paint mess to a minimum. Spin Art In the old days, children could use a record player to spin a circle of paper while dripping paint onto it, creating an amazing, swirly artwork. Record players have gone the way of the dinosaur, but you can still make spin art in the classroom! Using an ordinary salad spinner, children can produce the same effect. First take the lid off the salad spinner. Then lay a circle of paper in the bot- tom of the spinner. Next, have the child spoon or squirt paint onto the paper. You may want to limit the amount of paint; a few squirts or spoonfuls should do. If children overdo it, you can show them the excess paint pooling in the bottom of the spin- ner. Close the lid and let the child turn the crank or push the button to spin the salad spinner. As the spinner turns, it distributes the paint in beautiful patterns across the paper. After a minute or two of spinning, take the lid off and reveal the wonderful and colorful spin art! Here are a few tips for doing spin art with twos and threes: • Have only one child at a time doing this activity. • Have several paper circles cut and ready in advance. Write each child’s name on the back of a circle before creating the spin art. Salad spinner art Eyedropper Painting Children can create eyedropper art on small paper, large paper, coffee filters, thick watercolor paper, or poster board. To paint with eyedroppers, use either liquid watercolor paint in bright colors or tempera paint diluted with water. Learning to squeeze the eyedroppers takes some practice. Have the children get used to eyedroppers with water only, or with colored water and corn- starch at the sensory table. After a few successes, move the eyedroppers over to the art center and fill them with paint instead. • Try different-colored papers for different effects. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 50  chapter 3 Use pieces of bubble wrap to do bubble print- ing. If possible, find bubble wrap with bubbles in varying sizes. Tape the wrap to a table or a tray. Give the children rollers or brushes with assorted paints and let them paint directly onto the bubble wrap. Then have them lay a large sheet of paper on top of the painted bubble wrap and lift the paper to see the print. If you like, repeat the process the next day using the same paper to create a layered print. Ice Cube Painting Eyedropper art Bubble Painting and Bubble Printing To do bubble painting, add food coloring or liquid watercolor paint to a bubble solution. You can use store-bought bubble solution or make your own. (For a recipe, see appendix B.) Use a bubble wand to blow colored bubbles onto a large sheet of paper. As they land and pop, they will leave bubble-shaped marks in a variety of sizes and colors! Ice cube painting offers a fun and entertaining proj- ect well suited for midyear or wintertime. It teaches some important science concepts as well! The ice cubes start out in solid form and begin melting during use, turning into liquid form, which pro- vides an opportunity for simple conversation about the states of matter. As colors blend, children can learn about color mixing. Ice cube painting Bubble printing Fill a standard ice cube tray with water, and then add food coloring or liquid watercolor paints. The more color you add, the more vibrant the ice cube paints will be. Put the tray in the freezer for about sixty minutes or longer. Take the tray out and in- sert wooden craft sticks into the semifrozen cubes. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET creative and authentic art  51 Finish freezing the cubes overnight. When you’re ready to begin painting, take the ice cube paints out of the freezer and let them stand a few minutes. Place heavyweight paper in trays, and let the chil- dren paint! Alternatively, you can freeze the paints in small paper cups. Simply peel off the paper cup to reveal the “paint pop.” You can also use plastic molds to create Popsicle-shaped paint pops. Remind the chil- dren that these pops are not for eating! Instead of using the water mixture, you could fill the ice cube trays, paper cups, or plastic molds with regular tempera paint. The resulting paint pops have a thick and creamy texture. Let the children explore and experiment with different textures and results. Be sure to have a camera and notepad ready to document the fun! dren lay their paper on the paint and pat the paper gently. Finally, have them lift the paper to expose a magnificent work of art! The first time children see their work, they are amazed! When you’re using liquid watercolor paint, put newspaper under the paper to absorb excess liquid. Trays are also helpful. Monoprinting This is a multisensory project that young children absolutely love! To begin this process, the children squirt the paint on a tray. They love to squeeze the bottle as hard as they can and exercise their muscles. Next, they roll out the paint with rubber brayers. Let the children explore and play in the paint and enjoy the sensory experience. They can scrape or draw in the paint however they like, using fingers, scrapers, craft sticks, and so on. When they are finished playing with the paint, help the chil- Squirting paint onto trays Rolling out the paint Lifting the paper COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 52  chapter 3 Drip Art The children can create drip art by using several squirt bottles filled with various colors of paint. They hold the bottles at the top of a piece of card- board or poster board. They squeeze the bottles to let the colors drip down the cardboard, one color over another. They do not touch the paint. The out- come is long drips of layered colors that puddle at the bottom. Adults look at the finished product and think, “Wow! That’s really cool!” But the excitement for children lies in the process of squeezing the paint and watching it ooze and pool. You can do this activity using an easel or a large cardboard box placed on the floor or using tented cardboard on a table. Cover the floor or table with newspaper to catch the inevitable drips. Enjoy watching the process, hearing the giggles, and ad- miring the beautiful, colorful layered artwork! Many people think two- and three-year-olds cannot paint still lifes. I have done it with older children, and one year I decided to try it with younger children. I gathered the plastic fruit from the dramatic play area (so children would know it was not being offered to eat) and placed the fruit on the art table. I invited the children to paint a picture of the fruit. Several chil- dren came over to paint right away. One child painted each fruit one by one. After she painted the fruits individually, she looked once more at the plate of fruit. She then painted a picture of the plate with all the fruit on it. I was fascinated by this process of observation and synthesis. A dish full of plastic fruits Drip art, standing The finished products An amazing two-year-old artist paints a still life. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Early Childhood Education / Teaching Methods A comprehensive curriculum for two- and three-year-olds Working with two- and three-year-olds is an important job, one that will influence children’s lifelong learning. With strategies for planning a developmentally appropriate program, building positive relationships with young children, and supporting young children’s learning in all areas, Teaching Twos and Threes is a classroom essential. What’s more, it’s packed with creative activity ideas! “Deborah Falasco’s joy in working with twos and threes spills over into her clear, practical advice to teachers. Whether you’re new on the job or a long-time veteran in early childhood education who wants to reflect on your practice through observing and recording, problem solving, and brainstorming for action, this book is directed to you. It provides endless ideas embedded in reflective stories from the author’s own experience. But it’s not just a grab bag; it provides a systematic process of responsive curriculum building. There’s enough in here to inspire you for the rest of your teaching career.” “This book is filled with an abundance of useful information about working with this remarkable age group. The colorful photos and vivid descriptions of real children involved in an actual classroom make the ideas and experiences engaging and accessible for any teacher!” —Deb Curtis, toddler teacher and coauthor of Designs for Living and Learning and Learning Together with Young Children —Elizabeth Jones, PhD, faculty emerita, School of Human Development, Pacific Oaks College “A must-have book for educators and child care providers for young children.” —Ayuko Uezu Boomer, MSEd, early childhood specialist, Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School, University of Minnesota Deborah Falasco is the lead teacher for the two- and three-year-old program at Wimpfheimer Nursery School, the laboratory school at Vassar College. She holds a graduate certificate as an infant/toddler specialist and a master’s degree in human development with a specialization in infants, toddlers, and their families. ISBN 978-1-60554-132-7 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL $34.95