My front window is just a magnet for the kids.
It’s like their own personal porthole to the outer world – they can look out and observe people at the bus stop across the street, watch for emergency service vehicles or snow plows, or just smudge and lick the glass to their heart’s content (bleh).
Unfortunately, that window is really old and lets in a nasty draft. I knew I had to seal it with a clear plastic cover for the winter, but I did not want to deal with little fingers poking little holes through it.
I had to come up with a way to honour the kids’ special relationship with the window, while also giving them a good incentive to keep their hands off.
My solution was to have the children create a special art project, one that they knew would be “delicate” and “need protecting,” and would also be safe to leave on the windows for up to four months. (Three if I’m lucky!)
I already had all of these heart shapes punched out from an art project that Miss G and I did last Valentine’s Day – but punching out shapes from card stock or paint chips is in itself a great snow day activity.
I unrolled enough clear sticky back paper to stretch the width of the window, placed it on the floor (sticky side up), and prevented it from rolling up by placing some of the children’s tea mugs on them. This was also great for reminding the children where the edges of the sticky back paper were to prevent them from getting stuck to it!
(If you were only doing this with a couple of children, you could put the sticky back paper directly on the window, sticky side facing out, and just tape or turn the edges down to keep it in place.)
I explained that we were making a special art project for everyone who passed by our window to see, and that we had to put the hearts with the pretty colour side facing up, and then let them to it!
The first thing they all noticed was the fun sensory experience of the sticky paper! It felt funny if it tugged at their fingers and had a really satisfying hold of the little hearts as each one was confidently placed.
Every once in a while, one of the children would want to change the position of one of their hearts, or accidentally put it with the blank side up. Un-sticking the hearts was a great fine motor exercise, and encouraged them to be cautious in their work – yanking the paper heart straight up could tangle up the whole artwork! (We had a few close calls.)
It was really wonderful watching the kids work together to spread out their hearts and make a beautiful piece together, and they were so proud of their collaborative effort!
Together, we observed patterning, contrasted tints and tones, noticed the different sensations of the materials, and planned out the efficient use of our materials. Every last paper heart was used up, and there were no giant spaces devoid of hearts on the final piece!
After I carefully placed the artwork on the window (smoothing from one corner to another, and then straight across), the kids all put on their boots and coats and we quickly nipped outside to check out their work.
After we came back in, I explained that the heart art was so precious, I wanted to protect it with some plastic – but that we all had to be careful and not touch the plastic because it was really delicate and could tear. The kids were all so enrolled in the idea of their precious art that they immediately agreed with the need for a protective cover, and so far they have been the ones to enforce the “don’t touch the plastic” rule with each other – I haven’t had to say a word!
I hope you liked this quick and easy Valentine’s idea, and if you’re looking for more hands on learning or sensory play, please check out my other ideas at Study at Home Mama.
Jennifer is a Canadian psychologist and Montessori provider who shares parenting inspiration and lots of ideas for hands-on learning every day on her site. You can find everything from teaching emotional intelligence, to process-based art and science ideas, to homemade toys and play dough invitations, and more!
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