Inexpensive, educational, challenging for small hands--creating with grain provides everything a preschool teacher would like in an art project. While these projects allow children to exercise their small muscle groups, choose bigger grains like large couscous, corn, wheat berries, hominy, rye berries and kamut berries to make the projects easier. Save some of the grains to cook, and you have an additional fun project.
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Use heavy cardboard or thin plywood as a base for pictures. Before starting the project, discuss the kinds of pictures the children can make, suggesting graphic designs such as circles, concentric squares, stripes or simple scenes such as a house on a lawn with sky above or a tree in the ground with sky above.
Begin by instructing the children to draw their design with markers directly on the base. Provide glue and paint brushes for the children to apply glue to one section at a time, sprinkling different grains in each section as they complete the picture or using one grain to outline shapes and another to fill the inside of the shape.
Wheat Display Board and Wheat Weaving
Using wheat and wheat berries teaches students about where flour comes from. First, the children can make a display board with items glued onto it depicting the process of making bread from wheat. The displays begin with pictures of wheat fields and harvesters cut from magazines, then moves to the actual wheat stalks and wheat berries, to a picture of flour being ground from wheat and, finally, to the wheat flour iself.
For the wheat weaving, a project adapted from Pioneer Thinking.com, buy wheat stalks at a craft store and soak them in water for one hour. Using three stalks, the children can twist them together. Have the children collaborate, with one child holding the ends while another twists and forms a circle with the twisted strands. Tie the ends together with a bright ribbon and have the children add further decorations such as red winter berries or fall leaves.
After making the wheat display board, the children can make another project using flour with a full understanding of where flour comes from. Make dough from 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 1 1/2 cups hot water. Knead the dough for a few minutes or ask the children to help with this step.
The children can either roll the dough and cut with cookie cutters or create free-form shapes such as circles, coiled disks, or candy canes. Poke a hole in the dough for a hanging ornament. Microwave for two minutes, let cool, and let the children paint their designs. Spray with clear acrylic for a shiny finish. Glue a safety pin on the back for a decorative pin, or a magnet for a refrigerator ornament.
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