“How will St. John’s walk around the candle? How will it blow out the candle?” - Will, 3.2 years
“We should get a candle.” - Eliza, 3.0 years
“I’ll draw the mouth.” - Cully, 3.2 years
“I will draw the biiiiig smiley mouth.” - Eliza, 3.0 years
“I will draw a big mouth.” - Gracie, 3.0 years
For St. John’s? - Elyse
“You [Elyse] will draw the ears.” - Cully, 3.2 years
“A nose.” - Cully [about what Melanie could draw]
“Then you get closer and blow it out.” - Adaline
Can St. John’s do that?
“No. No. St. John’s can’t walk because it don’t have feet. I have feet. I can walk.” - Cully, 3.2 years
What would that look like?
After a discussion with the whole team at staff meeting, we invited the children to imagine a mouth on St. John's. All classes at St. John's are participating in this conversation and project - Brown, Rainey, Tucker, and KW. Joci has also been working with mixed age groups in the studio. We'll tell you more about this later - after the birthday celebration!
Our first approach was to provide images of St. John's and invite them to look at their own mouths (faces) in the mirror and imagine where they might put a mouth on the school's facade. We asked Brown Room:
What does a mouth look like?
What would the mouth look like for St. John's? For a school!
Where would the mouth be on the school?
How big is the mouth?
What color would it be?
As we observed the children looking in the mirror and drawing on the image of St. John's, we paused to consider if this was the best first step. They were thoughtful about where the mouth should be placed - most of them suggested the bell tower. The children were enjoying making faces in the mirror, watching their mouths move, and talking about what they saw. We observed that when they went to draw on the image of St. John's, they were not looking to the mirror for reference about what to draw and how. We began to reflect on these observations and reflect on whether there was a different approach to thinking about a mouth for the school. Was there a better way to support the children's ideas about the mouth? We discussed it as a team and as a staff.
As a team, we decided to invite the children to draw a self-portrait. The approach - mirrors, black felt pens, small groups of children - would be similar, but the invitation would be about drawing themselves.
The children continued to make silly faces, laugh, and stick out their tongues. But, they also began to look closely at the finer details of their faces - eye brows, eye color, eye lashes, skin color, the movement of their tongues, etc. We also observed that without the distraction of St. John's' image, the children were looking in the mirror, looking down to their paper, drawing, and looking back to the mirror to reference what they saw and wanted to draw. These were incredibly joyful small groups.
The two different approaches to thinking about "a mouth for St. John's" were both meaningful, informative about the children's thoughts/ideas/processes, and created a lot of dialogue around faces, birthdays, and our school. They were both important to this school-wide project.
Here are some fo the children's self-portraits:
Christopher, 2.11 years
We encourage you to take some time to look closely at the children's portraits in the Brown Room. They are on our "Current Threads" board above the portfolio drawers. Please feel free to take them down for a closer look. The children would be thrilled to walk you through their work. We'll also leave some post-its nearby if you have any observations, questions for us or the children, or thoughts from your child.
We'll share more about the mixed age group work that is happening in the atelier with Joci after the birthday celebration. We know that you all will be so thrilled to see the work the children have been doing! It's absolutely amazing!
More details will come soon about the celebration, but parents will certainly be invited! Additionally, even if it is not your child's day for attendance, we invite you to join us!
We loaded the kiln!
Our first clay pieces have been fired! Jill helped us load the kiln as promised! The pieces are proudly displayed in the windows between the classroom and studio! Please take a minute to look at the children's beautiful sculptures!