Art Journal Reflections
As you can see, the art journal table was a busy place again today. Cate made a tiny book that fit in her book. She noted that one page of her small book fell out, just like one page fell out of her art journal. Lou Lou covered a page with small shapes in a rainbow of colors.. Meanwhile, Dagny used a variety of materials to create a stunning layered effect on one page of her journal.
We also continued art journal conferences today. Maisie and Hugh were invited to discuss their work, and Lily volunteered to come along. One of the things we encourage children to think about in these conferences, and as they work in their journals, is their feelings. Learning to recognize and label their emotions accurately helps develop their emotional intelligence. This understanding can lead them to act on their feelings appropriately. As a school year draws to a close, it is only natural that children are experiencing a range of emotions. One way a preschool child can express complex emotions is through their work with materials. Today's conferees expressed positive responses to their journal work. Lily said her work made her feel happy, as did Hugh. When Jessica noted how focused Hugh was during journal work, he offered this explanation:
Hugh - (The ideas) are pushing in my head, "Can you please use me? Can you please use me? Can you please use me?" The idea that pushes the hardest wants to be heard. Whichever one pushes harder, I use that one.
Maisie also shared her feelings:
Maisie - I feel very mature.... and I don't feel lonely.... it's like I have an invisible friend. And it really makes me feel happy... because I kind of like writing.
Clay Sewing? Clay sewing!
Last week children poked holes in clay slabs in preparation for a different kind of sewing experience. This morning, a few of these slabs came out of the kiln and children began sewing on them. Children worked in various ways. Will started to sew all around his slab, but then took a more geometric approach. Noticing that many of the holes formed a circle, he sewed around the circle. Tommy made sure to include a lot of his favorite color (blue). Elena used every material available: yarn, embroidery floss, and wire. The children shared their ideas as the sewed:
Tommy - I want to do a lot of blue and one yellow.
Elena - Purpley and green. I love these colors. Purple flowers and green grass. The colors of spring.
Will - I'm doing Carolina Blue. You know why I want Carolina Blue? Because my mom likes Carolina.
The Construction Challenge
It was time for another Tuesday Construction challenge. Caleb, Teagan, Dagny, and Elena were the primary builders. It took awhile for them to decide what the challenge would be, but after some negotiation they reached an agreement: A building with one room big enough for a human, and other rooms for animals. As you might expect, they accomplished their mission once again. A bit of their conversation:
Teagan - Look at my dolphin. He has a nap room and a bed room.
Dagny - (With her bunny) This is his bedroom. He just needs a bed.
Refresh & Reflect
This afternoon involved multiple workshop choices and some time reflecting on recent work. Children were able to choose among: paint mixing, paint pouring, art journaling, wire sculpting, and art journal conferences.
Paint Mixing and Pouring
Today was the perfect day to restock our paint supply with some freshly mixed colors. While taking the time to do this we thought we'd try out a medium recently discovered: paint pouring medium. Children mixed the medium in with paint and poured it over pieces of plastic water bottles. We weren't sure how it would turn out with the tempera paint, as directions usually call for acrylic, but we experimented. While the results weren't quite what we imagined, children enjoyed the experiment. Dagny described the experience:
"It's like a waterfall."
Wire and Art Journaling Continue
Children continued work on their wire sculptures using some refreshed supplies. Children worked independently but shared ideas and inspiration, often building off of one another's ideas. This was especially true in their journal work today:
Dagny - "I'm trying to do a book in a book."
Cate - "Like me!" (Cate had shared her book inside her book earlier.)
Abby - "Look at my rainbow page."
Dagny - "I love your book, Abby."
Cate and Lily also made rainbow pages in their art journals.
In recent planning and team meetings for KW, the adults have been reflecting on children's art journal work. Some of our wonderings are:
So we thought about having art journal conferences as a casual, but intentional way, of setting time aside to reflect on the work.
We presented the idea to the children during our pre-lunch meeting today, asking "What is an Art Journal Conference?"
Hugh - "We come and talk about our art journals.
Tommy - "Talk about what is in your art journal."
Hugh (Thinking about something special in his art journals)- "Do you know what my little flaps are called? I call them little books."
James - "I can tell you one thing. I glued something on and not very much and the next day, it was jammed shut."
Art Journal Conferences
A few children met to reflect on their journals today. First, Lily invited Cate to listen in on her's. Unfortunately we missed photos of the two meeting but here are a few things that were said:
Q: "What do you notice?"
Lily: "It's pretty. Watercolor pretty." (Flipping through pages) "Pretty, prettier, prettier, less pretty, not pretty."
Q: "What would you add so you like it more?"
Lily: "A puppy! I will show you. I would do this." (Draws on clipboard.)
The next pair to meet was Tommy and Will. Tommy showed his journals.
Will: "You had that mirror thing, right?"
Tommy: "Yup." (Shows how he made it and his latest "mirror" which increases in size as you flip the pages.)
Tommy: (Shows various "Mr. Sun" pages.) "Here's a Mr. Sun fail."
Q: "Why do you say it failed? What don't you like about it?"
Tommy points to where the depiction is blurred.
Q: "What could you change or add?"
Tommy: "Blue, blue, blue." (Points to the spaces around the sun, indicating that he would add more sky.)
Throughout the reflection on Tommy's journals, the idea of symmetry ("mirror") was discussed as this is a common theme throughout his journals.
Will shared his journals. Will showed the "rules" in two of his three journals such as the cross-out over "LC" and the check next to "WC."
Will explained: "See LC, my sister can't read this. But WC, check, I can read it."
Q: "Can we read it or is it only for you to read?"
Will: "I'm not sure."
Q: "I notice you like to use stencils in your journals."
Will: (nods) "I like to make it real."
Q: "Do you have any ideas about what to do next?"
Will: "Add rules and a title."
We're looking forward to see what other thoughts arise as we reflect together in the coming weeks.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. We hope all of our KW friends enjoy the gluten and dairy free brownies made by the Thursday afternoon crew! (Sent home in cubby bags today!)
It has been awhile since we had a KW cooking project. Earlier in the week, we gave the children a choice about what they would like to make/bake for a special treat. They overwhelmingly voted for brownies. We mixed them up, using a new tool.... an old-school egg beater. Then it was off to the oven. Although some children thought the batter looked like mud, we think everyone will be happy to try them tomorrow. Many thanks to Sam's family for providing us with gluten-and-dairy-free ingredients!
"There was too much work in our books, so some people were having problems with the spine." Tegan
This sums up one of the problems that we have encountered with our art journals this week. In order to solve the problem, we have spent time carefully removing the unused pages. Today, Lily indicated which pages could be removed from her book, and then asked Jessica to finish the process because she didn't want to watch. Once the extraction was complete, Lily was pleased with the results. Lou Lou went through her book and indicated which pages were "not important" and "important." The non-important ones were removed and Lou Lou saved them for future message work. Grace marked the pages that she wanted removed with an "X" and wrote on the pages that she wanted to keep. Now the journals will be more manageable for future experiences that we have planned.
"I made an obstacle for the bead." Tommy
Wonderful Workshop Wednesday
We had a relaxing Wednesday afternoon together starting in our outdoor classroom. The children enjoyed being together and challenging their physicality in climbing, jumping, and swinging. The children have been noticing and celebrating the physical milestones they have accomplished this year such as Grace and Lou Lou who can get on and off the swing more easily by themselves, Elena who can make the swing go without any pushes, and all of the Tucker room children who were excitedly challenging themselves to climb and jump off high structures such as the tunnel. A couple of children were a little hesitant about that last one. Tegan encouraged them, "Come on, do you want to try? You can do it!"
As you can imagine, the remainder of our afternoon was spent in workshops, workshops, workshops!
Art Journal Care
Recently children have made note of some problems they need to fix in their altered art journals. Many of the journals have also become quite bulky. So the time has come to make some adjustments to our books. Children helped add to a checklist of problems they identified in their books and we started problem-solving those today! Several children made small adjustments such as glue things down, remove items from their envelope pockets, or attach their envelope pockets. Others went through the process of having pages cut out to remove some stress on the spines of their journals.
Lou Lou said, "I want to cut out some pages." As she went through her book she also realized she needed to glue in some collage pieces that were coming loose. She then sorted the work saved in her journal pocket, piling several items to be filed in her portfolio and choosing to add others to her journal. Lou Lou made plans to cut pages out another day.
Tegan had Jessica cut several chunks out of her book and noted a few times along the way, "It's not closing yet." In the end, she decided it was OK if the book did not close all the way.
Caleb anticipated a potential future problem asking that several sections of pages be removed so his book wouldn't become too bulky later on.
Sam was also concerned about future bulking in his book. After having some pages removed, he declared in anticipation, "With the empty pages I'm not doing anything because I don't want it to be like this." (He held his hands like an open book.) It was suggested that perhaps he can also cut some pages out ahead of time.
We'll continue to think about how best to respond to the the challenges children are coming across in this exploration with altered books.
Children also created in their art journals today adding to the pages with ephemera from their journal pockets, our table of mixed media, paint sticks, sewing, and even wire! (More on that in just a minute!) Tegan had a couple of ideas for the book pages cut out of the journals, "Oh! We can save these and add them to our books!" She donated her cut-out pages to the collage supplies. Later she decided to make a book with some of the pages and Abby tried the idea with some other paper. The children taped the pages together in order to form new books.
Wood and Wire Sculptures Continue
Many children continued their previous work with wood, wire, and beads including Sam and Lou Lou who worked collaboratively on their piece. The children showed affection toward one another while communicating and planning how to accomplish the task at hand. When they were finished, Sam proudly showed the work they had done. Grace worked with some loose wire and beads showing how she met the no touch wire challenge. Abby and Tegan even decided to bring wire into their art journaling. They threaded thin wire through the pages of their books much like string and added bits of fabric and other ephemera. Here's some of what the children said while working with wire (and a bit more reflection on journal care):
Children continued preparing their clay slabs for future mixed media work. They made decisions about where to place the holes in their clay slabs:
We're so excited to see where these pieces end up as we go forward!
When children indicated which workshops they wanted to participate in this year, they mentioned "tile." Today we worked on one interpretation of that by using clay slabs or tiles. Clay is a beloved material, and everyone worked on a tile today. The work involved poking or cutting holes into clay slabs. Once these pieces are fired, children will "sew" with thread, wire, yarn, and various other materials through the holes. Children approached the task in different ways. As you can see in the above photo, Caleb methodically made neat rows of holes in his clay. Tegan went for a circular pattern with one hole in the middle and others around it. Tommy chose to incorporate many ideas: circular and linear arrangements of holes. Other children used a more random approach to the experience. We look forward to adding the other materials when the slabs are fired sometime next month.
Journal Work Continues....
Enthusiasm for journal work ran high today as well. Some children participated in the dice game, while others wanted to pursue their own interests. As they work, children encounter, and often solve, problems. Today, Will noticed a hole in one of his pages. Although he earlier said it was fine, today he wanted to fix it. He came up with he idea of making another mark, which created symmetry on the page. At other times, children work with materials and create something so special that they don't want to add it to their book. For example, some children made kites today, and wanted to promptly take them home. One friend proposed a solution:
Tegan - I have an idea, you can make your kite, attach it in your book so when you go fly your kite, the book will hold it down so it doesn't blow away.
Although her friends remained somewhat skeptical, most of them chose to leave their kites at school. We will be spending time solving other art journal problems as the week continues.
Much like children demonstrated different approaches to the clay slab, children also approach their art journals differently. We have noticed that Maisie will primarily add materials around the edges of the paper, rarely going over the words. Today she explained the thinking behind her process:
Maisie - Yeah, I really like going around the edges because I don't just like black and white, I like color. I'm color-y. It looks more practical to me (Not covering up the words on the page).
....And Wire Continues as well.
Children added to their sculptures today, using all the wire techniques they worked with last week: twisting, bending, looping, poking, and making knots. While most of this work is individual, Sam and Lou Lou took a collaborative approach today as he invited his good friend to work with them. They made sure they were in agreement, before making any changes to the sculpture.
Fun and Focused Friday
Working with Wire and Wood
There was so much interest in working with wood, wire, and beads this afternoon that a few children built their base and added wire and beads to it. The No-Touch-Wire challenge continued as children used fine-motor manipulation and cognitive planning to create with the wire in a way that the beads would not touch one another. Children used a variety of materials such as traditional beads, clay beads they had made earlier in the year, and fabric to name just a few chosen today.
While working with the wire, children shared some of their thoughts showing once again how the children build off of one another's ideas and come up with solutions to problems.
Tommy: "This is a crazy loop. This is a magnifying glass."
James: "I did the same thing as Tommy."
Abby (indicating her understanding about how to strengthen flimsy wire): "I know, I'll twist it."
Abby: "I'll braid it." (Takes three pieces of wire and braids/twists them.)
Abby (With her new wire creation, speaking for it): "'I'm a wire human. I'm a dragon.'"
Dagny, inspired by Abby's idea, twists her wire together.
Art Journaling: Challenge to Layer
.As we did yesterday, we challenged the children with the Dice Game. What appears to be most difficult about this game is following through on a few consectutive steps/rolls and doing so on just one page in their journal. Some children default to turning the page after completing a step and others want to stop playing the game after just one or two steps. As we have given the children many opportunities to work at their own direction in the journals, we also see there is value in having to follow-through on layering with the random choice of the dice. With encouragement, the children stuck with it. What seems to be happening for many children is after they have completed step three or four, they suddenly start embracing the challenge of the game as well as appear to have many of their own new ideas they want to try. Both yesterday and today children combined some of the steps in interesting ways as well came up with innovative ways of thinking about a step. For instance, upon seeing the roll "tear and glue," James tore the edge of a page straight off and then glued it to another page. Hugh liked this idea and tried it as well. Cate added a miniature book to one of her pages and Lily seemed to get everyone excited when she announced, "I'm going to add something from my pocket." The other children quickly looked to see what they had forgotten was placed inside their journal pockets.
Also interesting is the way some children who usually prefer some sort of direction/starting point are embracing letting go and exploring the process more freely such as Will who opted out of the game today but worked on several pages. He even thought about his cover. After walking around the art journaling table for a bit, looking at tools and materials, Will wondered, "Is it OK to stencil on here (my cover)?"
After the game was finished for today, several children did some free art journaling. Lily, Hugh, and James used the sewing machine to sew together some ephemera for their journals.
Why are we doing all these challenges?
Hugh wondered why we are doing so many "challenges" in KW these days. Today and recently we've been talking so much about the capability of the children and how we don't want the work to be too easy that it isn't interesting. We know they can rise to the challenges presented for them and have been making a game out of it. Many times through these discussions we reflect on what the children could do at the beginning of the year, last year, and when they began at St. John's in the Brown Room. So responding to these ideas today, Will said, "If we did something in Tucker Room that we did in Brown Room, we would be excellent at it."
Rolling the Dice!
Wire (and Wood) Workshop
Children continued their sculptures today as they twisted, bent, and looped wire, often attaching it to a wood base. While Maisie was manipulating her wire, she realized that she would like a base for it, and took time to pound one together. In addition to the creativity and problem solving involved, children are really using their small muscle skills as they make changes to the wire or use tools to cut and bend it.
"I would love it if I lived in this hotel." Louise
Being together and building together are often highlights of our day. Today children built on the light table with some familiar materials and some that were more novel (plastic Easter eggs). It didn't take long for children to agree that they were building a hotel, which seems to be a common construction theme for this group. After the hotel was completed, the plastic eggs became the people taking advantage of all that the hotel had to offer, including room service and a peaceful blue pool built by Lily. The group also had a fantastic time together outside on this beautiful day!
Wood and Wire Challenges
We've noticed whether it's a construction challenge, art journal challenge, or a challenge of some other kind, children are eager and determined when presented with the various "challenges" offered lately in KW. Today the children were presented with a few wire challenges. The children approached them like a fun game but really they were putting some of their cognitive and social understandings to the test. They had to make a mental plan for their actions, try/test it out, evaluate whether it worked, and problem-solve along the way. The group challenges added a social layer to the task at hand providing the need to communicate and problem solve with others as well as patiently take turns in some instances or find ways of working together at the same time to accomplish the goal. When it came to working with wood and wire, children also had to use their physical strength and coordination working with tools (ex. hammering nails) and their hands to manipulate materials in complex ways (ex. twisting wire.)
A few of the challenges presented today:
Meanwhile in the outdoor studio, we had a paint workshop. Children have been requesting for some time that we offer Bubble Printing again so we brought the fun outdoors along with exploring painting with a new and unusual tool: a squeegee!
Many colorful prints were made with the bubbles and children were presented with another challenge: try and layer a few or several colors on the same paper. When we first began and in the times we offered the activity in the past children were sometimes hesitant to layer the colors. A similar conflict of thinking came up during yesterday’s art journal game when some did not want to add more than one “step” to a page. We’ve been encouraging children outside of their comfort zone with this to give layering a try in times that sometimes seem strange as the unknown result can leave us feeling unsure. As seen today, children (and adults too!) are often pleasantly surprised what can happen as we embrace the process in exploring materials and expression through the arts. Today, Lou Lou, who had started out with one print per page, decided to take on the challenge. Before long she was layering several or all of the colors and explaining, “Look! Look at this!!” She appeared thrilled with the layers of colors and the ways the print changed over multiple steps.
Other big-hits today were playing with Shelly’s House in the outdoor classroom, imitation-reading books together, challenge bodies in bib-body climbing/hanging/flipping/swinging, and play with water and sand. What a fabulous Outdoor Day we had together!!
Construction and Wire Challenges
Tuesday Construction Challenges have been popular for the last two weeks. Today's challenge was to build a home with at least four rooms. As a further complication, some of the rooms had to be big enough to fit various animal friends brought in by the children. Here's a bit of the discussion as they worked:
Cate - This is not a room. This is a place for seal to jump on.
Caleb - And that (block tower) is the place for the electricity.
Hugh - We have three big rooms and one small room. The small room is for Cate's seal.
Elena - This is a hotel where they can eat.
Dagny - That's beautiful, Elena.
Hugh - Yeah, it is.
Elena - It's a special hotel. It's special because you can float around on boats.
Dagny - These are teeny rooms. They're toy storing rooms.
At times, it seemed like the biggest challenge would be to build a room big enough for Sam's dinosaur. There were times the dinosaur tried to enter a room, only to have the walls or doorway crash. Eventually, children decided using the entire light table would provide enough space to accommodate the dinosaur. Another Construction Challenge complete!
We started out with the intention of having an outside day in KW, but the rain had other plans. Fortunately we were able to get through most of lunch outside, enjoying a change of scenery and some fresh air before the rain began.
Creating Our Own Dice Game
Using abstract and symbolic thinking is a challenge when deciding how to portray an idea everyone can understand. The first choices seemed fairly simple for the children: paint and draw, but as we continued with the abstract concepts, we all had to really think about how to show the ideas. We worked together to talk about what it is we are doing during these journal steps. Such as "draw" which seemed easy enough, Tommy drew a book with colored marks on the pages and Cate drew a marker. It was decided that the two ideas could be combined into one as how could you decipher the drawing of a book from adding paint to the page? Tommy also came up with a clever idea of how to portray "print." Using a few images and arrows he showed how you can put paint on one side of a page, press the pages together, and end up with a mirror-image print on both pages.
Another concept we had to wrestle with, and one we have been discussing since coming up with journal steps and prompts, is open-ended ideas. Cate and Lily wanted to draw Hatchimals and specific animals as those are the things they would want to draw in their journals. So Cate started by drawing several drawings to represent images that could be collaged into the journal. Cate appeared to have gained confidence in representing the abstract concept and then quickly knew how she could represent a torn piece of paper for the next side of the die.
As the children started to get their ideas flowing, they began coming up with more steps than the six sides the block would allow. At this point Tommy became determined on filling two blocks: "Eleven because six plus six is...(he paused as if adding in his mind) eleven, yeah, eleven." A second block was brought in. The children added the ideas they knew off the top of their head and then we began reflecting on what other steps have we taken in our journals. We even had to do some research looking into our friends' journals for other ideas to add. We then had to debate the range of open-ended ideas such as when Lily asked for clarification on why we might not have the step "draw a tiger" but we might add "write or draw your favorite thing," (suggested by James.) Lily pointed out that we already had "draw something." So we decided to make it "write," but when it came to Tommy wanting to add a prompt about feelings, it was decided to make it "write or draw how you feel."
A few other concepts we worked with in coming up with the designs for our dice game were new vocabulary, literacy in writing and noticing similarities between words, ("Print and paint are almost the same," said Lily,) math, and ways of working together collaboratively. Creating the game brought up some inspiration as well such as when Tommy was looking through Hugh's journal and saw the flaps Hugh had added. Tommy decided we had to add this to the dice and, as he created the design to represent the idea, he said, "I want to add flaps to my journal." It seems the dice are already working for us and we can't wait to really play with them next week!
The final selection for the dice are:
tear and glue
sew in book
(draw or) write your feelings
Combining Wood and Wire
As we've been mentioning, our explorations in various workshops tends to loop around and layer the knowledge gained from each language onto one another. So as we've been discussing and thinking about where we're going in our wood workshop it becomes natural to think about combining wood with wire and beads (a workshop we've yet to do with two we've already worked with.) Today the children began building bases to combine these languages and possibly others as we go. As you can see in some of the notes from the experience, children bring along what is already known and test it in this experience. Abby also became so engaged with her work that she continued forward in including the wire and beads! When she was finished she proudly showed her work to the rest of the group.
Building, Books, and Being with One Another
Also today, children had the opportunity to build together at the light table. Through this experience and others, the children were eager and content to take moments of simply being together. One example is Lily and Cate who are seen below reading together and making a plan for the walkie talkies they will try communicating through over the weekend. We hope your weekend is fabulous and filled with moments like these of being with one another. See you next week!
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