Children will explore their creativity as they observe the world outside the classroom.
- Grades: PreK–K
- cardboard clipboards (a cardboard sheets and a large metal clip for each child)
- drawing materials, including paper, pencils, crayons, markers, watercolors, chalk pastels, or Cray-Pas
- pictures of different types of buildings
- creative thinking
- language and literacy
Make cardboard clipboards in advance so that all of the children will have a sturdy drawing surface to draw or write on outdoors.
Building Facades. Explain to the class that a building’s facade is its outside. Show children several pictures of buildings and ask them to describe what they see. Encourage them to notice decorative patterns, geometric shapes, or the placement of doors and windows. Take the class outdoors and ask them to make a pencil drawing of the front of a building. If possible, choose an area close by that has a few different types of buildings to choose from. If your options are limited, have the children draw the front of their school or center. Before they begin their drawings, engage them in a discussion to encourage their observational skills. Ask them to notice the overall shape of the building, the windows and doors, patterns of brick or siding, columns, or shapes of lights or signs. Have them share their finished drawings before displaying them in the classroom at children’s eye level.
Tree Stories. If possible, find an interesting tree in your neighborhood that the class can draw. If the space around the tree is limited, plan time for the children to work in small groups. Give your young artists a variety of drawing materials, and encourage experimentation with all of them. After they have completed their drawings, ask them to write a story about the tree. Work on the writing portion of the activity in small groups so that children can receive the help they need writing or dictating their story. Plan time for them to share their work.
Rubbing Collage. Peel the paper off of a collection of crayons. Take the children outdoors, give them large sheets of drawing paper, and show them how to do rubbings with the peeled crayons to create different textures on their paper. They can rub over the bark of a tree, brick walls, sidewalks, signs, or gratings. Ask them to try for a variety of textures. Bring the class together to compare and describe their rubbings. Then divide them into groups of four, and have them cut their different rubbings apart. Ask them to place all of their textures into a pile, which they can then sort into similar groups. Have each child talk about how they divided their textures. Invite everyone to create a class collage by gluing all of the textures onto a large sheet of butcher paper.
Remember: Young children are still developing their fine-motor skills. Help children learn to talk about their artwork in a way that avoids judgment words, such as beautiful or good, and focuses on the work itself (describing shapes, colors, and textures).
Curriculum Connection: Cooking
Sunny Pizza. Plan this science snack activity for a warm, sunny day. Explain to children that they will make a pizza using the heat from the sun. Give each child a half of a mini-bagel, some sauce, and shredded cheese. Place the bagels on a large aluminum tray, and encourage the class to think about why aluminum would be the best material for this cooking activity. Then ask them to find the sunniest outdoor area in which to heat the pizza (free of debris, bugs, and animals). Note how long it takes for the cheese to melt. Now, eat and enjoy!
Take A Sensory Walk. Ask families to plan a walk with their child in a park or garden in order to explore nature with their senses. To encourage their child’s sensory awareness, suggest the following discussion ideas: Seeing — what are the shapes, colors, and sizes of things? Touching — how do things feel? Are they smooth, rough, fuzzy, prickly, or sticky? Hearing — what types of sounds do we hear? Smelling — how do different types of plants smell?