Working with Wire
Luckily, the rain cleared and allowed us a mostly dry block of time for Backwards Day in the Brown Room this week. Our studio experience in the outdoor classroom was working with wire and threading materials.
Ragnar: There are not so many wires. Let’s count. There are twenty-teen wires.
Ellie: I cut a little wire. Where the wire cut?
Emma, after working with wire for a few minutes and then opting to join friends in a game of "Shark Hunter": Nope. It’s cold out here.
Charlton: What are you doing guys?
Ford: I made this way, this way, this way.
Rawls: I made a robot.
Seon: This is mine.
Using Our Imaginations
"Shark Hunter" has been a very popular dramatization in the outdoor classroom lately and today a new dimension was added that we'll call "On The Boat!"
Ford: There are sharks in there (pointing to the mulched area of the outdoor classroom)! Seon, come on the boat! Karen, come on the boat!
Isabelle: Come on the boat, Charlton!
Charlton, describing the bamboo poles in the outdoor classroom: We can use them as a flashlights.
Ramsey: We look for sharks in the cave with them.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
Today, Ragnar and Seon had the chance to continue with the sound of our footsteps work. The pair decided to compare the sounds of their footsteps on various stairs in the school, and worked to record and capture the sounds through drawing.
Drawing the sound of the Chapel of the Carpenter steps
Seon: I did 4 steps.
Ragnar: I did 7 steps. I did 7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7 steps. All these 7 steps.
Seon: I want more draw. I want more color. I took the other color out.
Ragnar: I’m not done yet. I have a chance to use these or these (pointing to the jar of colored pencils and the jar of markers)? I always need to work really hard. More black.
Seon: I can do a new color drawing. Okay I want to use this color. Okay I want the markers.
Ragnar: I mixing all the colors. I’m trying to show my parents something nice.
In the classroom, children explored the new dramatic play “grocery store”, explored films and slides on the light table and had a chance to create with wire.
Emma: I’m going to use green wire. Slowly in, slowly back,
Ford: What! Why are these (tiles) here? These are so hard for me. Oh, I know what to do with this. Put it through then back, it’s like a roller coaster. It’s very hard to make
Rawls: This is a ghost roller coaster!
Emma: It’s like sewing. I made the daddy one. This (wire) is strong!
Louisa: ooh, where did that (bead) go? I’ll get it! That’s for daddy, this is for mommy and Ellie. Let’s put beads on that one.
Louisa's Wire Sculpture
The Sounds of Our Footsteps
In our initial sound explorations around the school, Ford expressed an interest in knowing how the different floors sound under his feet. He quickly made note that the floor of the balcony sounded different from the floor of the greeting hallway remarking “that one (the balcony floor) is squeaking”. To test his theory and explore the sounds underfoot, we’ve spent time this week walking around different parts of the school and recording and drawing the sounds our footsteps made. In small groups, children had a chance at both making and recording the sound of their steps. Afterwards each child had the option to choose small, medium or large paper for capturing the sound through drawing.
Yesterday, Ford and Fay kicked off our research exploring the balcony and the atrium, both areas of Ford’s initial observations. Ford recorded the sound of Fay’s footsteps and then they offered their observations while drawing.
Then they moved to the greeting hallways, and explored their footsteps on the main staircase.
Charlton and Bailee were next to experiment with the noises and they chose to return to the balcony and the greeting hallway. For both of them, walking up and down the stairs was particularly exciting and both captured it in their drawings.
Charlton: Going down the steps. These are the steps. This is Bailee and me and you (Karen). This is Karen.
Bailee: I’m recording the sound. I’m recording the sound.
Charlton: Bailee’s walking with me. I think it’s a red sound.
Bailee's (above) and Charlton's (right) drawing of the footsteps on the balcony floor.
Today Win, Isabelle and Mimi gave the exploration a try, but this time they experimented with their steps outside by the front door and inside on Blake Hall’s tiled floors.
Outside Win requested to be the recorder and Isabelle and Mimi made all kinds of sounds with their feet. First they recorded sitting and stepping on the ground and then Isabelle thought it would be fun to record their footsteps while running up and down the ramp in the front of the building.
When it was time to draw Mimi chose a large sheet of paper, Isabelle a medium sheet and Win a small sheet.
Mimi: It sounds like marching
Win: I want to push the red button (recording button)
Isabelle: It’s stomping, it’s stomping. I’m gonna draw it again, come on sounds.
Mimi: Like marching, I’m drawing an igloo, a pink shiny igloo. The marching makes the igloo happy.
Win's (above) and Isabelle's (below) reflections on the sound of footsteps on brick
Tomorrow we will continue documenting our footsteps in different areas of the school, and begin a discussion about what we could do to change the sounds our feet make on different surfaces. We're so excited to see where this work will take us!
The Birthday Committee Gets to Work
On the first day of sewing, Emma, Win and Bailee chose from a number of green and pink fabrics, various shades of green and pink thread and materials to stitch and thread their parts of Mimi's birthday "quilt."
Emma: Pull (as she pulled the needle through the cloth). I made a stitch.
Win: I did it. Uh-oh. I do this. I want a butterfly. I want a butterfly (looking at the pink and green confetti that was offered as threading materials).
Bailee: The little green one (referring to a green plastic bead). Ooopsie-daisy (as she dropped the bead). The bead go under the table.
Win: I want the pink.
Emma: I like that rainbow. It’s silky. It’s silky (picking up a green ribbon that she decided not to add to her piece). Oh no, it’s not fitting (as she tried to thread a green butterfly onto her needle).
Bailee: I want a butterfly (as she looked through the collection of pin and green confetti pieces for something to add to her sewing). I look at them. Nope. Nope. Nope.
Emma picked through the pink and green ribbons and commented: This. This. This. Nope. Nope. Nope.
On our second day of sewing Mimi's birthday quilt, 4 more squares were added, each with a different pattern of fabric and a different array of threading materials.
Charlton: I want this needle. (picking a needle threaded with green thread to go on his pink fabric square).
Isabelle: I want this one (picking up a small hoop prepared with pink fabric). No, the big one (returning the first hoop and then choosing a slightly bigger hoop, also with pink fabric). We try this one Charlton? These? (picking up a few green and pink beads).
Charlton: I want a big one (picking up a few of the larger pink and translucent beads).
Isabelle: It right here (handling Charlton a piece of plastic material to thread).
Ragnar chose a piece of white fabric with green squiggly marks on it: Cactuses we can’t touch. They sometimes have teeth. This one is a little different. It’s yellow green (describing the piece of thread that he chose for sewing) They have 2 holes like. They can turn around (describing the green plastic material that he chose to add to his fabric piece). This is pokey, pokey (touching the point of the needle). It went down, down, down (as he pushed the needle through the fabric from above and then pulled it the rest of the way through).
Emma: Oooohhh, whoa! Oh it’s tall (pulling her needle through her chosen fabric and stretching the thread high above her head). I play with the green bead. I like that green bead. I’m making it look like a snowman (lacing pink and green beads together). Oh what a beautiful sound (dropping beads into a glass jar).
Celebrating Mimi's Birthday
After a delicious birthday snack of cupcakes, Mimi's family joined us in Blake Hall to celebrate. Her mom and dad, Nan and Pawel shared one of Mimi's favorite stories, Harold and the Purple Crayon. Mimi's dad lit the birthday candle and Mimi circled it three times to signify her three trips around the sun. Mimi enthusiastically blew out the birthday candle. Her Brown Room friends joyfully sang "If It's Your Birthday and You Know It" and then members of the birthday committee, Bailee and Charlton presented Mimi with her birthday "quilt."
Working with Clay and Other Materials
The children of the Brown Room have been very busy preparing to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of St. John's Preschool. Today, we used photographs of St. John's as inspiration while we worked with clay and other materials. Ellie looked at one of the photographs and described what she saw: That the bell and the windows and the door. I’m cutting some pieces for a house. That’s the baby bell clock.
Ellie and Emma used the wire to cut the clay alongside Ragnar.
Ellie: I cut a piece out.
Emma: I want some clay. I want some clay. I want some clay.
Ragnar: It's a little one. Can you cut me a bigger one?
Ellie: Here (handing Ragnar more clay).
Ragnar: Whoa! She give me a bigger piece!
Ragnar's eye was drawn to the display of materials which included wire of various gauges, other pieces of metal and wood.
Ragnar: I’m gonna get a hundred (pieces of wire). This could be a desk (picking up a triangular prism shaped block).
As Ragnar created his school with clay, wire and wooden blocks, he pointed to the top of the obelisk block and explained: The bell’s inside. Up here.
Ellie: I’m using some more pieces That be the gate. I’m scooping this clay with my scoop, scooping fingers. I make some lines.
Louisa: Cutting the clay. It's a cutting wire (as she pulled the wire back and forth). What happened? It (a hunk of clay) come out. I got it (the clay) off. I pulled it.
I pulled my hands and then I do this and then it opens and there it comes out. I need to cut this piece, because it's too big!
The sand pit and the building area were also busy today in the outdoor classroom.
Ramsey: We're building shark protected treasure.
Isabelle: Bury it.
Charlton: I got a big stone. Let's bury it.
Ellie: I digging that rock up Charlton. I'm finished my work.
Seon: I want to play.
Our 1st Mystery Reader Was...
Early in the day, we announced that a mystery reader would be joining us during snack. As we drew closer to snack, the anticipation grew and children began hypothesizing about who the mystery reader could be.
Ragnar: Maybe it’s Jordan. (Jordan, one of our Early Birds and KW teachers has been on paternity leave so the children haven’t seen him lately).
Ford: It could be Elena's mom.
Ramsey: My baby sister Lena.
Ellie: It could be Ramsey's big sister Nora.
Charlton: Maybe it’s my mom.
Charlton was the closest and was surprised when his mom showed up on zoom, joined by his Uncle Belton, who shared two books about Charlton’s favorite sea creatures, blue whales and sharks. Eliza shared that Charlton loves whales “because it’s my (Charlton’s) symbol.”
Looking Ahead to Next Week
In continuing to prepare for the school’s birthday celebration, we’ve been working with some large scale tracing of some of our favorite spaces in school. Using the projector and paper hung on plexiglass, children were able to recreate the lines and shapes of the atelier, the front door, the school steps and the chapel. We presented this provocation on today and Tuesday, and have opted to include both days in today’s blog. It’s our hope to use some of these finished drawings in a mixed media gift for the school!
On Tuesday, we presented this provocation for the first time. Children had already had a chance at tracing on the light-table, but the scale of this provocation was the first of its kind. Fay and Ragnar chose this as their plan first and later Mimi, Win, and Ramsey also joined. We began with an image of the entire school followed by an image of the school's door and the front steps.
Ragnar looking at a picture of the stairs: You could draw the numbers too! I did the letters
Ramsey: Follow the line, I did it!
Ragnar: There’s the stairs.
Mimi's drawing of the St. John's door.
Today, we presented this provocation again. This time taking time to share Mimi’s drawing of the blue door alongside the image of the blue door.
Emma: It's like a Christmas tree! It looks like a tower!
Ford: I'm just watching, I just want to watch.
Emma: I'm going faster and faster. Now it's done. Elena, please take it off.
Ford looking from the other side of the glass: I can see all your drawings, but not them coloring.
Ramsey: I drew the windows, see on the door?
Preparing for the School’s Birthday
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, we are celebrating the school's 25th Birthday on March 4th! Brown room began discussions about creating a gift for the school way back in January, in preparation for this event.
Elena: If we know the school’s birthday is coming up, how could we celebrate the birthday?
Mimi: I don’t know everybody’s birthday
Elena: That’s ok if you don’t know everyone’s! How could we celebrate the school’s birthday?
Elena: Oh, what kind of decorations?
Mimi: I don’t know!
Bailee: No, boots!
Elena: Boots for the school’s birthday? Ok. What other kinds of decorations?
Mimi: The sun, a toy
Elena: What kind of things do you think the school would like for it’s birthday?
Mimi: Ummm clay?
Elena: Oh, Bailee what do you think about that?
Elena: The number line that counts how many years the school has been around is made out of clay. Do you want to go look at it?
Elena: Oh that’s exciting, we will have to celebrate next year! So this is our birthday calendar. Looking at it, how can you tell if a birthday has already happened?
Cal: My birthday happened!
Elena: Has it already passed?
Charlton: Birthday gift!
Elena: That’s right, we add a picture of a birthday gift once we’ve celebrated a birthday. We’ve celebrated Seon’s and mine. We will celebrate Karen next and then..
Cal: That’s me! That’s Cal!
Charlton: We didn’t celebrate his birthday (points to Mimi). It has my calendar. And remember this (points to the image of the gift) and then we celebrate rawls birthday, ramsey’s birthday.
Elena: What do we do before someone has a birthday?
Cal: It’s my birthday
Elena: yes, Cal’s birthday is coming up! What would we do before to prepare for his birthday?
Charlton: We make his calendar!
Elena: Yes, we will decorate his tree cookie so that we know we celebrated his birthday, but what happens before we celebrate?
Charlton: We get his gift!
Elena: We get his gift! And how do we get his gift? Do we go to the store and buy it?
Fay: We could collage!
Cal: I want to get a gift. Maybe it will be a police guy!
From our initial conversations about the schools gift, we narrowed the materials down to three ideas in particular: clay, collage and painting. The children’s work on previous birthday committee inspired each of these suggestions, as all three have been present in previous Brown Room Birthday gifts. This week we began working with one of the suggested materials: clay. Our intention was to create a clay sculpture that either represented the school or captured the school’s likeness. We offered similar provocations today and on Monday that included projected images of the school next to the clay materials. Wednesday’s provocation also had a variety of wood and wire materials available to help with building a tall structure. This came from Ford’s feedback on Monday when he had a piece he wanted to be the top of the belltower, but “I can’t make it stay” as he hadn’t yet built the rest of the bell tower. What follows below is the children’s initial explorations with using clay to create the school’s birthday gift.
Monday, February 14
On Monday, we invited Ford and Mimi to the atelier to try working with the clay. Both children immediately walked over to the projected image of the school and started pointing out what they noticed most.
Ford looking at the fire bell in front of the school: I see that red button right there. I think I can like touch it and we can see what happens. I think it makes the school different.
Mimi: That’s St. Johns!
Ford: No, theres the bell (crouching and touching the image of the doorbell)
Mimi: Look, its a circle! (pointing to the bell tower window)
Jen: Can you tell where your classroom is?
Ford points to the leftmost window: We’re right up here. That’s in our classroom!
Mimi points to the Blake Hall windows: That ones downstairs.
After observing images of in the interior and exterior of the school, Ford and Mimi began cutting and working with the clay.
Ford: I need more clay to make it bigger, and bigger!
Ford holding a large piece of clay in the air: I need to go put his up here, can you help me put this up here.
Elena: You’re making the top of the school?
Ford: Yes, I need something to connect it. Mimi I need something to connect to this.
Mimi: I made a carrot! (a coil of clay)
Ford: I’m looking for a big piece, like a tall building.
Elena: Mimi, did you hear that Ford is looking for a big piece, like a tall building? Do you think you could help him build that?
Ford: I want to make that (points to the top of the belltower)
Mimi: Im making down to the part and there where you come down the stairs to go home, right here.
Ford: This is the other part of the school.
Ford: You have to make a hole in the school for the path
Mimi: I’m making a hole.
Mimi and Ford worked hard to create their vision. They worked on creating long clay coils to support the bell tower, and the flat brick path. In the end, however, their vision didn’t quite come together the way they wanted and they both enjoyed squishing the clay back into a big slab.
Wednesday, February 16
Today we presented a similar provocation and invited Fay, Seon and Louisa first to explore the clay in the studio.
Fay: That’s St. Johns, and the st. johns door! That’s my school
Fay: I hear the bell, that’s the real St. John’s bell.
Fay: This is wire. I need something harder. Let it sit for a minute, and here’s a small piece. I need to cut it so its the right size to make it big. It’s a window cake!
Louisa: Now I put this one on top.
Louisa spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging the small blocks as she looked to the image on screen for inspiration.
Seon initially started building with one, larger tower of clay pieces, but over time decided to break it up into several smaller towers which she called “school”. Using wire and clay, she also built a tree, similar to the one in the photograph and Fay helped her create a stand for it. After working on clay, Seon also took time to build the school with some of the wood materials, adding small photography slides to one wall as the "windows"
After some time, Mimi, Emma and Ellie all joined in.
Fay: I’m going to make that, the doorbell.
Ellie: I’m a making a door. I’m making that door. The school door.
Ellie: Clay sounds like trumpets!
Fay: It’s an ice cream door bell! That’s so funny
Fay: This is like a pretend telephone, like downstairs on the phone. Where we just were (Blake Hall)
Ellie: That’s the clay, the soft clay.
In the end the children created a beautiful depiction of the school with a tree, and had a chance to reflect on some of the features of the school that felt meaningful to them. We plan to present this clay and materials provocation one more time on Friday in the outdoor studio, to the children who haven’t yet had a chance to build with them.
Win Chooses Her Symbol!
As we started our week, Win began the process of choosing her symbol. On the first day, we asked a few of the children to join Win in exploring a variety of symbol stamps.
Karen: Friends, can we tell Win about how we use our symbols in the Brown Room?
Fay described how to use the symbol stamp: We put our symbols on paper and we push it on paper to see it.
Ragnar explained how he uses symbols when he makes messages for his friends to show for whom the message was made and that it is from him:
I want it to be from me. And I want the other friends to know that it’s for them. I think she should choose the leaf.
Fay: Or the cakes because I love cake.
Win: The piggy. I gonna do two (picking up the pig and the shoe stamps).
Fay: She try the shoe.
On the second day, Win worked with a set of symbols that included those which she seemed to prefer the most during her first exploration:
Before choosing her symbol, Charlton and Ford joined Win to “read” the welcome messages that her Brown Room friends had made for her before she arrived.
Ford: You put your symbol on a message.
Charlton: That’s from Ellie. That from Emma. Their symbol means they made it.
Win looked through the collection of symbols and stamped a few more times. As she tried out the symbol stamps, she recalled, “Piggy. Piggy. Cake. Cake.” Ford cheered her on emphatically, encouraging her to pick the symbol that he liked the best for her, “Piggy! Piggy! Piggy! Piggy!”
After decidedly choosing the birthday cake symbol, Win declared, "Cake, Cake!"
She returned to the Brown Room and Ragnar, who remembered working with Win on the first day and asked, “Did she choose the leaf?”
Once she chose her symbol, Win got to work quickly putting it to use by making a message for her older brother Maxon and using her symbol on it so that he would know it was from her. Ragnar and Fay were excited to make messages for her as well and deliver them to her mailbox.
Elsewhere in the Brown Room: Painting, Building and Tracing at the Light Table
The Brown Room children enjoyed a crisp morning and sunny morning in the outdoors classroom today. We continued to work on our mailbags for Valentine’s Day by adding layers of various materials to our painted bags using the technique of collage. Sewing, which has been a very popular studio activity, made its return today as well. Children had the opportunity to sew stitches and thread materials such as beads and buttons onto fabric squares. As always, the sand pit, construction vehicles, and toy animals were a big draw for many of the children, especially Isabelle, Charlton, Rawls and Louisa.
Ellie: I made a stitch. I want some beads. I want to add some more beads. I want to add some more beads.
Emma: I did it. I stitched. I did it up high (pulling the needle through the fabric and reaching towards the sky) I did it up. I pulled it up to the air.
Ragnar: I just know how to poke it through.
Ford: I want to the tiny blue one. I got a stitch. I made a big stitch.
Ramsey: I want to sew.
Seon: The little one. Whoa. The bead. I like the bead. I like those beads too.
Ragnar: I’m making a waterfall (with the glue). Emma: I’m making a ghost tiger.
Ragnar held the pieces of the collage in place and counted: 1…2…3…4...5...6... Good, now they're sticking!
Emma: Oooh look at this gold.
Seon: I want to collage. I like this (gold ribbon).
Ellie: I want some gold! Oooh its sticking to my bag!
Looking Ahead to Next Week
The focus of today's blog is conversations around Brown Room. Across all the materials experiences and classroom provocations, we found Brown Room in the throes of sharing and collaborating. To highlight all this beautiful reconnecting, we've decided to highlight snippets of their conversations in the different classroom spaces.
Valentine's Day Mail Bags in the Studio
Today Brown Room continued with their Valentine's Day Mailbags. Some children began painting the bags and others were ready for collage. Children had a variety of gold, red, purple and metallic materials to choose from to add dimension to creations.
Ragnar: I’m mixing mine (paints) up
Ford: I’m making a dinosaur. Those are the eyes.
Ragnar: I painted some eyes too!
Ragnar: I’m going to paint until it’s time to go home, I love painting. I’ve gotta cover all the spots. I’m making an enormous thing!
Charlton: I go some spicy salsa. I’m making pancakes.
Ford: I want to go fishing.
Emma: Pizza. I want a pizza.
Ford: I cooking pizza for Emma. I put sausage and pepperoni. It not. Spicy.
Ragnar: What you like? (looking at the menu) I’m gonna have broccoli. Broccoli is good for you.
Emma: I gonna make soup and milk. I got milk and sugar.
Ragnar: Do you think this is going to fall over (asking Karen about the structure he was building)? I need to build it taller so it doesn’t fall over?
Charlton: I think to me it’s going to knock (over).
Karen: How do you think you could make it more stable?
Charlton: You could make it smaller.
Looking at Family Photo Albums together