My friend Wendy and I ran an art club for kindergarten kids at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School last year. Since art is a passion for both of us and we both have young children, it made sense for us to combine the two. We created a curriculum inspired by the book The Art of Teaching Art to Children: In School and at Home by Nancy Beal and Gloria Bley Miller. For two six-week sessions, we gathered twelve kids each week for just over an hour to explore a variety of mediums such as clay, collage, and weaving.
Oftentimes young kids (age 5-6) enjoy the creative process itself or become more fascinated with the materials themselves than the finished piece, so we planned a different project each week that introduced the kids to a variety of materials and techniques (many recycled) – all based around a central theme. We created a space and format that is familiar to them yet also exposed them to new things and time to explore their creativity.
The theme of our program was Creatures and their Habitat (animals, bugs, and spiders are a popular subject with kids), and each week we read a story related to the project or material of the day to set the mood. We focused on using recycled materials and thanks to the Recycling Center for Rhode Island Education (a fabulous source for discarded supplies, parts, and odds ’n ends from local businesses), we were able to purchase most of our materials at bargain prices and keep unused stuff out of our landfills. Many schools and nonprofits may already be a member of the RRIE, but individuals can also purchase individual memberships for only $60–well worth it if you like to make projects, like our planet, and want to help keep this place in business. We purchased other supplies like glue and scissors at Michaels Craft Store.
Many of the following projects can be easily done at home.
Me and My Pet: Getting to know ourselves and learning to collage
Materials: Cardboard and scraps of fabric, tacky glue
Books: The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle and I Want a Pet by Lauren Child
Crazy Creatures in the Jungle: Exploring Pattern and Textures
Materials: Handmade stamps made from wood and sticky back foam, tempera paint, and textured fabrics collaged for animals.
Books: The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry and Jungle Drums by Graeme Base
Bugs: Make a mini sculpture
Materials: Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, sequins, and construction paper.
Book: I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges and illustrated by Shari Halpern
Spiders and their web: Learning to weave
Materials: Foam board (sticks can also be used) secured at center (where they intersect) with wire. Use yarn or rope to weave a web. Cut magazine strips for spiders. (I wish the photo was better.)
Book: The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle and Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss
More about the Recycling for RI Education (RRIE):
Location: Spooner Street at 95 Hathaway Center – Suite 3, Providence, RI. South of Roger Williams Park Zoo.
– Memberships are available for individuals and groups
– Businesses can donate unused products, scraps, and materials
– Find more great project ideas on their website