Archive for March, 2011

Early Writing Skills: Child Development in Artistic Development

When your child scribbles, he or she is not just trying to provide you with something fabulous to frame – they are actually developing what will eventually be their writing skills…

Around 9-12 months of age, a preference for left or right hand begins to emerge in children.  They begin picking up objects with the “Palmar grasp,” or whole hand. After they master the Palmar, toddlers transition to the “pincer grasp,” which is holding objects with the thumb and index finger.  Soon, a child in this stage will be able to hold an artistic instrument (marker or paintbrush etc.).

It’s important to allow for practice with these fine motor skills.  Creating art with your toddler will lead to healthier development in building writing skills later in life.

The Circular Squiggler: Beginning around 14 months old,  the picture shown (above left), illustrates light and dark squiggles and swirls all in a circular motion.  A child in this stage is gaining control over his or her hand movements. It was once believed that children learned to read before they learned to write.  However, did you know that literacy is emergent and detected in even the youngest child’s scribbles?

The Symbol Stage: Around 3 or 4 years old, drawings progress from circular squiggles to objects, which have representational form.  Allow your child to describe what the objects are, if he or she chooses to tell you.  Try not to guess what the picture is yourself.  In this stage, your child may begin to tell a story about his or her picture.   Your child is now a verbal story teller!

The Labeler: Around 4 and 5, some children begin writing their names and incorporate letters, which are sounded out to represent the picture, which has been drawn.  He or she will use beginning consonants and final consonants and will begin reading the words and verbally tells a story using them!
It’s important to allow your child to be creative with his or her art to make way for learning choices and responsibility as well as working on those emergent literacy skills.

*Images courts of PBS.org

Join us for Summer Toddler Art!
I lead a toddler art class here at the Georgia State Railroad Museum, and have tons of fun socializing with parents and their little ones.  It’s incredible to see the creative juices flowing as toddlers work on early writing skills.
The next toddler art 8-week session begin July 15, and is held in the Georgia State Railroad Museum kids’ car on Friday mornings at 10am (with the exception of July 29, which will be held at 2pm).
Join us with your wee one in this creative discovery time.
Call or email us to register now for summer classes—space is limited!
$100 for all eight classes or $12.50 per class.

Advanced registration required:
Call 912-651-6823 x3 or email us at info@chsgeorgia.org

Home Connections
With stormy weather predicted most of this week, I’m including a second art project for your caged little lions, in lieu of a book recommendation. Enjoy and don’t forget to come back and post your comments here!

Painting with Ice Cubes

You will need:

  • Ice cube tray
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Wax paper or aluminum foil
  • Liquid water color, food coloring, or paint (if using thick tempura paint, add some water)
  • Paper

Steps to follow:

  1. Pour paint or food coloring and water in ice cube trays.
  2. Cover tray with wax paper or aluminum foil.
  3. Insert popsicle sticks in each cube section.
  4. Freeze completely.
  5. Pop the cubes out and have your child create a masterpiece using the cubes as brushes.

Allow for expression and keep your mind open to new ideas and new uses of artistic instruments.  It may get messy, but after a few baby wipes, you won’t be disappointed.

Marble Painting  

You will need:

  • Any cylinder container with a lid
  • Marbles (jingle bells & ping pong balls work well too)
  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Spoon

Steps to follow:

  1. Roll a piece of paper to fit the container.
  2. Spoon in a small amount of different colored paint.
  3. Drop in the marbles or round objects.
  4. Put the lid on and have your child shake the container and roll it on the floor.

Parents of young children, take heed of this artistic creed:

Open-Ended Art Promise

  • Emphasize the process of creating, rather than the product.
  • Give your child ample time to create.
  • Talk about textures, colors, and squiggles.
  • Provide a variety of media, different types of brushes and painting instruments (i.e. use a small squeeze ball, toy car wheels, shower squeegee, the list goes on!)
  • Model the proper use of materials, but allow your child to create and open your mind to the idea that some materials may have different uses.
  • Make clean-up time a part of the artistic process and routine.
  • Say, “Will you tell me about that?” rather than “What is that?”
  • Display art on your child’s level.
  • Share in your child’s pride of the artistic creation’s final product.
  • Never underestimate the value of open-ended art.

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Happy Spring!

It’s beautiful outside and a great time to get gardening with your little ones.  Gardening is an excellent project for working a child’s  scientific thinking skills, maximizing cognitive functioning using all  of the senses, and building  upon early mathematics. Not to mention, gardening is, of course, a great way to get out in the sunshine, cooperating with one another, socializing and making fond springtime memories.  Plant some seeds of love in your family garden today!

Some great starter plants for young ones are sweet basil, Italian parsley, and oregano.  These sometimes come in biodegradable pots (or you can purchase your own biodegradable pots from websites such as:  discountschoolsupply.com and orientaltrading.com). 

Biodegradable pots are great for planting directly into the ground.  Make a few cuts down the sides of the pot to ensure maximum root growth.  Allow your child to use a small shovel, plant the pot, and pat it down by hand.  Enrich soil with Black Kow and Miracle Gro for optimal success!

Even the smallest toddlers can help water their plants by using a plastic water bottle with holes punched in the lid.  This recycled watering container is great for little hands as it works motor skills when they squeeze!

Home Connections

And The Green Grass Grew All Around

Try this experiment with your kids!  Allow them to predict which one will sprout grass first and fullest.

1) Plant grass seed in the toe of knee-high hose.  Fill with soil.  Tie off in a knot so that you essentially have a grass seed and soil ball.  Place in an empty, clean yogurt cup.  Your child can even draw on a face and glue on wiggly eyes for a fun touch “Grass Seed Guy.”  Don’t forget to feed him and water periodically.

2) Hollow out the top of a potato.  Stand upright in a cup and sprinkle grass seed inside the potato (no soil needed).  Water periodically.

3) Sprinkle grass seed on a clean, non used kitchen sponge.  Moisten periodically.

All will sprout grass if watered and kept in slight sunshine.  Keep track of which one sprouts first.

Pounded Flowers
A great sensory activity:  Take one or two colorful flowers from your garden and place on a cutting board.  Cover with white paper or thin white cloth and assist your child in hammering or using a rolling pin to smash the petals.  A copy of the flower and an array of beautiful colors should result on the paper or cloth.  Which brought out the colors the best and most vibrant—paper or cloth?

Miss Rebecca Recommends
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

I love how this book promotes healthy eating and living as it teaches the process of how small plants grow to be vegetables, which we eat and enjoy.  It teaches cause and effect and helps children grasp that delicious vegetables don’t just come from the store, end of story—they first started as a plant.  This is a process book, starting the reader from gathering gardening tools, to working in the garden, to actually having a finished product of vegetable soup.  Yum!
Recommended for ages 3 to 2nd grade.

Special Note: Exploration Station @ Savannah Children’s Museum

Last week, while all of Savannah was planning for, and experiencing St. Patrick’s Day festivities, the New York Times printed a thoughtful and interesting article about Children’s Museums.

One major point reporter John Schwartz pointed out, is that according to the Association of Children’s Museums, “…35 percent of children’s museums have outdoor exhibitions and gardens, and are reintroducing children and families to the notion of exploring the world beyond the den and countering what Richard Louv, an author who has written about connecting children with nature, has called “nature deficit disorder.”

Coastal Heritage Society is excited to be in that 35% group. Savannah Children’s Museum will be opening in several phases, with Phase I being Exploration Station, an outdoor interactive learning and play area.  We encourage you to read the full article and  post  your comments and thoughts, here.

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Save These Dates!

Thank You

Greetings, and thank you for coming to our Annual Spring Family Campover at Old Fort Jackson!  Here are a few moments we’d like to share:

Night Falls…

Morning Calls…

To view more pictures, log on to Facebook/OldFortJackson

I hope you and your children had a delightful time in Georgia’s beautiful, and oldest brick fortification (still standing)!

As director of young children’s programming for Coastal Heritage Society, I want to personally invite you and  your friends to attend our  Annual Fall Campover on Friday, November 4, 2011 (event begins at 6pm and ends Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8:30am). But even before then, we have so much in store for you! Below you’ll find a list of dates to mark on your calendar now…

Save These Dates

Storytimes at Georgia State Railroad Museum
10am:  March 16, April 13, May 18
2pm:  June 15, July 6, July 13, July 20, July 27
Reservations appreciated, but not required.

Steam Days
Ride a real steam-powered train!
March 19 – April 17
July 2 – 23
Everyday except Mondays.

Easter Egg-stravaganza
Saturday, April 23 10:00-11:30am
Have a hopping-good time hunting for eggs at Georgia State Railroad Museum!

Reservations required.  Call for details and pricing.

Reading Express
Saturday, May 28 10:00-11:30am
All aboard the Reading Express at the Georgia State Railroad Museum!
Reservations required.  Call for details and pricing.

Savannah Night at the Museum II
Saturday, July 23 6pm – Sunday, July 24 8:30am
Experience history as it comes alive in Savannah History Museum!
Call for details and pricing.

Savannah Summer Camps

3-year-olds to rising 5th graders
For details and information on how to register your child, visit:

Have a safe and luck-filled Savannah St. Patrick’s Day! See you soon…

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E.Q. versus I.Q.
Emotional intelligence (aka E.Q.), which can be described as intrapersonal skills and “knowing one’s self,” is as important for children to develop as academic knowledge.  It’s vital that parents, caregivers, and teachers assist children in understanding how to interpret their feelings.

Newfound emotional intelligence has an immediate payoff  in the way your child interacts with his or her peers,  but also adults such as yourself, their teachers and doctors or grandparents.

In addition, a child’s emotional awareness and ability to handle themselves in a variety of social scenarios early on, has a direct relationship with how they interact socially as adults.  Collaboration and compromise play a large role in our adult relationships, in our jobs and in society in general.

How to begin this lifelong journey of helping develop your child’s E.Q.:

  • Allow your child to have feelings and give them the words to describe them.  “It sounds like you’re feeling sad.  Is that right?  What else are you feeling?”
  • In corrective situations, stay positive, keep a calm voice and talk to your child about what could have been done differently to handle the situation better.
  • During a neutral situation, when no problems are occurring, have a feelings discussion, read a book, or play with a mirror.  “When I feel surprised, I look like this!  When I feel mad, I look like this!”  Take turns making feeling faces and talking about the emotions we have in different situations.
  • Give specific feedback: “I really like the way you stayed calm and used your words when Johnny took your toy.  You really worked it out!” rather than “Good job.”
  • Lastly, model this behavior.  You are your child’s teacher and are looked upon as a hero with all the answers.

Here are some examples of what everyone gains from helping develop a child’s E.Q.:

  • Parents, caregivers, and teachers will be more aware of your child’s feelings.
  • Parents, caregivers, and teachers can make sound decisions around discipline and praise, which suit the child’s personality.
  • Children will learn how to “use their words,” and react with less frustration in describing their feelings.
  • Children and adults alike will listen more empathetically.
  • Children will get along better with others, learning how to cooperate and understanding what their peers need.
  • Children will consider what they need, and will have a better understanding of how to ask for it.

Home Connections

Here’s an easy, and fun way to brush up on your child’s social and emotional skills.  As you read aloud some pre-made, feeling-evoking situations, assist your child to determine how their face would look (i.e. how they would feel in that scenario).

You will need:

  1. Paper plates
  2. Markers or crayons, other media if desired
  3. Mirror

For younger children, draw expressive faces ahead of time.  Older children may enjoy drawing their own faces as the scenarios are read.  Playtime Scenarios (put in a question format for younger children to better understand):

  • Show me how you feel if someone snatches a toy from you.
  • Show me how you feel if your toy breaks.
  • Show me how you feel when you’re eating ice cream.
  • Show me how you feel if you fall down.
  • Show me how you feel to get a hug from someone you love.

Your child may need a little help describing these feelings—that’s how we learn!  Help label by saying how you would feel in that particular situation – or sing this classic children’s song to liven up the excercise!

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands
(Clap Clap)
Repeat as usual
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands

If you’re sad and you know it, go “boo hoo hoo”
(“Boo Hoo Hoo”) *appear as if crying*
Repeat as usual
If you’re sad and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re sad and you know it go “boo hoo hoo”

If you’re mad and you know it, say “I’m mad.”
(“I’m mad”) *arms crossed*
Repeat as usual
If you’re mad and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re mad and you know it, say “I’m mad.”

If you’re surprised and you know it, say “Oh my!”
(“Oh my!”) *hands on cheeks as if really surprised*
Repeat as usual
If you’re surprised and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re surprised and you know it, say “Oh my!”

Have fun with this song—come up with your own feelings and reactions:

If You’re ( scared, excited, bored) and You Know It

Miss Rebecca Recommends
To tie in emotions and help teach them at an early age, I could recommend many, many books (I love social/emotional literacy!), however I’ll save my bag of tricks for another day and tell you about just one of my favorites:

The Way I Feel
by Janan Cain

This beautifully illustrated book is filled with bright colors and emotions of all types.  When I read this book aloud, I like to ask the children before even reading the page, “What do you think this kid is feeling?”  The kids can usually describe the emotion before I’ve even read about it!  That’s great in my mind—that means they’re learning empathy, and how to distinguish each other’s feelings.  You and your child will enjoy the rhymes and colorful pictures.
I recommend this book for ages 3 to 8.  It’s a great tool for teaching emotional intelligence!

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