During our exploration of thankfulness a few weeks ago, children were introduced to drawing with a variety of materials: crayons, colored pencils and pastels. These first drawings included a plethora of subjects: our families, our friends and our favorite things to name a few. To expand upon our drawing experience, over the last week the children have had the added provocation of mirrors and their school portraits. We asked the children what they think we mean when we say that we are going to make a self-portrait.
Here are some of their thoughts:
Mimi: I draw people.
Ford: You put yourself in it.
Before beginning our self-portraits, we also read the story Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. In the story, a little girl named Zuri is excited for the special day when her mom is coming home after being away for a while and she wants to make sure that her hair is beautiful. In the story, her daddy tries his best to style her hair just right. She sees herself in the bathroom mirror as he is styling her hair in many different ways. Before drawing ourselves, each child was encouraged to look at themselves in a mirror and notice the details of their appearance.
Fay: I did me. I did green because I love green! I have brown and white (looking into the mirror and referring to her eyes).
Cal: I see big eyes. And I see my face and my mask.
Ragnar looking in the mirror: I see green.
Bailee and Louisa shared a mirror and talked about each other's facial features before beginning their self-portraits.
While children were drawing, many narrated what they were thinking and the process of their drawing:
Ramsey: I make a circle. Black, because I wanna make a blue circle, because I see blue in my shirt.
Ford: I gonna make white, my hair. I see white in my eyes. I make blue-right here (pointing to the blue zipper on his vest). That so easy I just.
Ragnar used the pastels and commented on the texture of the pastel on the paper: I scraped it. It’s soft. I sitting here (at the studio table).
Cal: I went around and around and around.
Fay: I making a dress. I’m making the arm here (pointing to a shape on her self-portrait).
Happy Birthday Fay!
Day One- Experimenting with the Printing Technique
Because printing is such a new technique for us, we dedicated a day to experimenting with the paints, papers and materials to figure out what would work best for Fay’s gift. In pairs, Ford, Charlton, Cal and Ramsey experimented with print making. The children spent time rolling the paint across leaves, feathers and lace to see what made the best prints. After a half hour of work, we decided that the most interesting prints were of the wood grain on paper, especially when compared to the alternative of leaf and feather prints on wood.
Day Two- Making the Wood Prints
Having decided the previous day that wood grain made the most interesting prints, day two of Fay’s birthday committee focused on making the prints. Emma and Seon spent half an hour printing followed by Cal and Mimi who did the same. Each pair carefully took the time to select their wood piece, cover it in ink with the roller and then press and roll the grain onto the paper. In the end, we had 15 beautiful prints completed for the birthday gift.
Day Three - Arranging the Prints
Now that we had our 15 prints it was time to arrange and collage them. Ford and Seon volunteered to work on this project, and were particularly excited to work on it in the Middle Room. The two children chose from the black and green prints and arranged several iterations of each design before gluing them to the page. The prints, the paper and the ribbon were all green to represent Fay’s favorite color.
Ford: Now, can we glue?
Elena: We should arrange them before we glue them.
Elena: Yes to put them on the paper in a beautiful way.
Ford: Then what we gonna do? On here? Where are we gonna put them?
Ford: This one and this?
Ford: I’m putting that here, and that here and that here.
Seon: It’s a tree.
The result was a beautiful gift of collaged wood prints, arranged and decorated with a green ribbon curtesy of Ford and Seon. When we presented it to Fay today she excitedly unwrapped it and shared it with her Mom, Dad and brother Van. We wish you a happy, happy birthday Fay!
Oil Pastels in the Outdoor Studio
Ragnar: This is so yellow. I found one that’s so many red. It’s so soft. Are these from inside? I’m cutting off these parts. Let’s see if it looks like the leaf. I’m adding red. I’m using green. Let’s see what this leaf looks like now cause it’s green. That’s amazing. Let’s try some orange to see if that works!
Ellie: I is hungry.
Ragnar: So what you want? We have pasta.
Emma: Cooking the carrots. Cooking the carrots. Here a pear. Here a egg. Cooking something in the kitchen.
Ellie: I like pear. I like eggs. Yummy, yummy eggs.
Ragnar; You want sugar in your coffee Louisa?
Ellie: I’m making eggs. May I have that (to Ragnar).
Ragnar: Can I have some? I want 2.
Ellie handed Ragnar an egg.
Ramsey: I have it?
Isabelle: Here (handing a lemon to Ramsey)
Rawls: I made tomatoes. Red tomatoes and green tomatoes. I made rainbow pepperonis, do you smell it?
Charlton and Rawls worked side by side with pastels on black easel paper and shared the following thoughts
Charlton: Here Rawls (handing Rawls a pastel).
Rawls: I don’t need that.
Rawls rolled the pastel up and down on the paper.
Charlton looking at Rawls’ drawing: That’s a scary monster.
Rawls: No, it’s a spiderman monster.
Charlton looking at his own painting: It’s a great white. Hunting for food.
Cooking and Baking at the Brown Room Restaurant
The restaurant was very busy today with a lot of cooperative play and conversation.
Isabelle: I cooking for daddy. No, Ah-Ah. Like some coffee? Have some coffee?
Cal: Uh, yeah.
Fay: I gonna have a coffee maker for my birthday.
Cal: I got food.
Isabelle: I cut this.
Cal: Actually, those are cookies.
Ellie: I order mac and cheese please.
Fay: I bake mac and cheese.
Fay: I’m cooking noodles. I’m cooking noodle bacon. I need to cook a little more.
Louisa: I play with you. (to Fay)
Fay: You can work on the other side. (of the table)
Ellie: What you want? (to Louisa as she held the menu)
Louisa: No I want to bake for you.
Mimi drew several self-portraits and signed each one.
"I made a mountain." -Ford
With our Thanksgiving clay pieces in the kiln, we began preparing our vegetables for the Thanksgiving soup. Each class prepares two vegetables, all of which will be cooked together to create the St. John’s minestrone soup. As is tradition, Brown Room is responsible for cutting the green beans and spinach, so this morning we began with green beans! Children had the option of cutting with sanitized safety scissors or simply breaking the beans with their fingers. For those who were interested in continuing after green beans, we put some spinach on the table
When children weren't cutting vegetables, they had a choice to express things they felt thankful about. We defined thankful as "means when you’re happy or glad that someone or something is in your life" and read the story Saturday by Oge Mora. In the story, Ava spends every Saturday with her mom doing special things. On this one Saturday, even though everything goes wrong, Ava is still thankful for her special day with her mom. After, we invited children to draw the things they felt thankful for.
With our rotating schedule, the children see different friends depending upon the day of the week and they have started to understand that they share the Brown Room with friends that they do not see every day. This week, we introduced a check-in system to help the children understand who comes to school each day. Upon arriving in the Brown Room, children find their symbol and place it on the check-in board next to their photograph to signify that they are present for the day. The check-in system helps them develop a sense of belonging in the Brown Room and it's already been a great conversation starter. When children ask where a friend is, we can refer to the check-in board and see if they are indeed scheduled to be at school that day.