On a recent autumn day, Mount Madonna School (MMS) kindergarten students, dressed in their favorite flannel, fleece or knit pajamas, and with faces reflecting concentrated effort, made felted pumpkin “stuffies” by rubbing and squishing bits of colorful wool in warm soapy water. In a few minutes’ time, much to the students’ delight, their “wool balls” transformed into unique pumpkins created with their own two hands! The activity was part of their hands-on learning and annual celebration of Pajama Day, a playful, fun “spirit day” for the students.
MMS kindergarten students also shared a special Pajama Day circle time snuggled up with their blankets and stuffed animals. They enjoyed stories and songs, played a game, and made black cats and bats at the art table to celebrate these “nighttime creatures.”
When young children engage in creative activities such as coloring, painting, cutting, gluing, baking, felting and sewing they are exercising and refining their fine motor skills. These activities directly support the academic skills of holding a pencil and forming letters and numbers.
The creative process especially strengthens the frontal lobe of the brain or “control panel” which manages purposeful mental action and positive personality development. The quiet focus required for creative projects strengthens the child’s attention span and encourages perseverance and patience.
The complex tasks involved in the creative process fortify the skills of planning, sequencing, critical thinking and problem solving. Creating “masterpieces” involves trial and error, self-regulation when things don’t turn out as planned and flexibility to accept “mistakes” or use one’s mistakes to create something new.
Creative endeavors develop a child’s inner vision, encouraging independent thinking. The child’s connection to the natural world and cycles of nature are strengthened through using natural materials and objects collected from nature.
“A felting project like this helps to bring our autumn curriculum to life for the children,” commented teacher and Preschool/Kindergarten Director Hema Walker. “The act of felting cultivates hand-eye coordination and hand strength which directly support a child’s academic skills. Felting also requires both hands to work together, supporting “bilateral coordination,” as connections are made between the right and left sides of the brain. Engaging in the creative process builds a child’s self-esteem as they experience the satisfaction of creating something on their own and empathy and connection as they engage in the creative process with their peers.”
Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,
Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.