Celebrating Elena's Birthday
On the last day before winter break, we celebrated Elena's birthday which falls during our time away from school. Elena's birthday committee worked earlier this week and used blue watercolor paints to create beautiful designs. On the second day, the birthday committee adorned the watercolor "flowers" with the pictures of the Brown Room children to make a bouquet of flowers for her.
Birthday Committee Day 1
Ford: Maybe light blue. No dark blue.
Mimi: Maybe green (pointing to a bluish-green jar).
Karen: This is called aqua. It’s a blue-green color.
Mimi: Aqua mean green?
Ford: These two look the same (pointing to two jars of different dark blues). I’m making Elena a real house for her.
Mimi: I’m making a rainbow (as she made an arc of watercolor across the paper).
Ford: I want silver.
Mimi: I don’t have nothing (observing the lightest blue watercolor as she painted).
Ford: May I have the dark blue please?
Mimi: I’m almost done.
Ford: It’s nothing. Nothing again (using the lightest aqua blue).
Birthday Committee Day 2
Ragnar: Emma's already stuck together (commenting that he had already glued Emma's photograph onto a "flower,"
Ellie: Her gift. Me want another picture. Emma stuck together where?
Charlton: Yeah. like mine. How do you stick it on? How about glue?
Louisa: I need glue too. This is like cheese (commenting on the shape of the glue stick). It looks like string cheese. My hands are gluey.
Our Brown Room Celebration of Elena's Birthday
We celebrated Elena's birthday with a gift of her favorite flower, hydrangeas, in her favorite color, blue. Our hard work earlier in the week produced a beautiful bouquet of "Brown Room" hydrangeas adorned with our school photos. Elena shared one of her favorite treats with the children, chocolate chip cookies that she made herself.
Celebrating Seon's Birthday
Learning About Our Friend Seon
The Committee's work began when we interviewed Seon at morning meeting to find out a bit more about her. We learned about a few of Seon's favorites...
Favorite Colors: Red and Green
Favorite Animal: Donkey
Birthday Committee Day 1
Continuing with our theme of using wood in birthday gifts, we used pieces of wood and bark, along with leaves to make a print for Seon’s birthday gift. On the first day, we tried out printing with different types of paint and ink, as well as different types of wood. We used unfinished natural wood with bark, as well as wood that was finished more like lumber for our prints. We also tried out using different types of leaves with various shapes. On the first day of our birthday committee work, Ellie and Emma teamed up and Bailee and Mimi joined forces to practice printing using ink, sponges and brayers.
Ellie and Emma
Karen: Can you cover that whole piece of bark Emma? We’re just practicing today.
Emma: Just practicing.
Karen: Ready? Squish, squish, squish.
Ellie: I cover all the gift (piece of bark)!
Karen: Ellie let see what happens.
Ellie: Wow! Ah!
Mimi and Bailee
Mimi: I need more ink. And now I do this?
Bailee looked at her sponge and laughed: It’s all red! (laughing).
A Few of the Birthday Committee's First Attempts at Printing
Birthday Committee Day 2
Ellie and Emma were eager to show Isabelle and Ragnar what they had practiced on the first day of the Birthday Committee's Work.
Ellie and Isabelle
Ellie: We need to print it! Me want red. (The green jar of ink was in front of her).
Isabelle: I want green (The red jar of ink was closest to her).
Karen: Do you want to trade places?
Ellie and Isabelle traded places at the table and eagerly began to look at the materials and tools in front of them.
Isabelle: It a ginkgo leaf (picking up a ginkgo leaf with from the tray of materials on the table).
Emma and Ragnar
Karen: Where do you want to place your leaf this time Emma?
Emma: Here. Right here.
Karen: And what do we do next?
Emma: Smooth it, smooth it (describing how she presses the inked leaf onto the printing paper with the back of the wooden spoon).
Karen: Ragnar, are you ready?
Ragnar: Let's do it!
Karen: Did you cover your whole leaf?
Ragnar: Yes! I did!
Birthday Committee Day 3
Celebrating Seon with her Family
On Thursday, Seon shared a special birthday treat with her friends of Cacao Dream Cake and a white cake with strawberries which was decorated for the holiday season.
Seon's family, Jinmyung and Youngil joined us on the front lawn to continue the celebration. They shared two of Seon's favorite storybooks and then joined her in walking around the birthday candle three times to signify her three turns around the sun thus far. She enthusiastically blew out the birthday candle and then her friends sang the Brown Room's birthday song, "It's Your Birthday and You Know It." To conclude her celebration, she was presented with her gift by members of her birthday committee.
December 15th, 2021
Holiday Gifts and Messages for Win
Clear Glazing Our Bowls
The final step to our bowls is adding a clear glaze. Not only does this make them that much shinier and more finished in design, it also helps to keep them food safe in preparation for filling them with cookies! When we unloaded the bowls from the kiln, Isabelle commented that the bowls felt warm particularly “the red one” felt “hot” to her. We left them on a table to cool a little more, and then prepared to clear glaze them.
After glazing, the bowls went back in the kiln, and we will fill them with real, baked cookies tomorrow!
Messages For Win
In the studio, other children took time to work on welcoming messages for Win Ackerly. Win has joined us several times at the outdoor classroom and during our outdoor clay experience, and will officially begin in January. In anticipation of her arrival, Brown Room worked hard to create messages to fill her mailbox. Using paper, glue and a variety of materials children created meaningful notes where they shared their symbols, their favorite parts of the Brown room and sweet sentiments. We are so excited to officially welcome Win to school in 2022!
Emma: Pink piece of paper. Don’t forget your glue sticks. Willaby Wallaby Woo! Dear Win. Dear Dear Win. My favorite song. Wallaby Wallaby Woo!
Fay: Uhoh…I found a gray one. I did it! I need the top. I made a doorbell.
Bailee: For Win! Dear Win!
Cal made sure Win knew there was a message from him by covering it with his symbol, the grasshopper.
Seon: For Win. A little flower. Message.
Isabelle: This is for Win. I’m done.
December 14th, 2021
Preparing for Parents to Visit
This week we’ve been lucky enough to have parents join us in the classroom before school! As parents haven't joined us in the classroom space since August, we spent time talking and preparing for their arrival. During morning meetings we discussed what children could share with their parents when they arrived.
In anticipation of their arrival, and inspired by some of their recent drawing work, some children chose to draw pictures of spaces and materials around school. For some children drawing classroom materials, they opted to bring the materials over to the studio table to aid in their designs.
With the help of Charlton, Cal decided to draw some of his favorite animals.
Charlton: Cal, do you need the lion?
Cal: Oh, ok!
Charlton: Do you want the mommy lion or the daddy lion? Cal, do you want the tiger?
In the end, Cal chose all three and created three distinct circles to represent each creature. He then added black and orange dots because “oh, the tiger has orange! The spots!”
Listening to the conversation about the outdoor classroom between Ramsey and Elena, Rawls chimed in and decided to draw the rock wall, which he spends lots of time at when we’re outside. He carefully drew two parallel lines with dots in between to signify the rocks. Stepping back from the drawing he acknowledged, “I have a new rock wall at home!”
Fay initially planned to draw some of the materials around the classroom, but changed her idea when she put pen to paper. "I’m going to make a really tiny lion. No, it’s a gingerbread monster! See, he has legs.
Ford chose "coloring" as something he wanted to showcase. To demonstrate this he chose almost every color available for his drawing.
We want to say a big thank you to all the families who joined us this morning! We are so excited to see everyone else tomorrow!
Friday: Singalong and Backwards Day
Singalong in Blake Hall
Today's singalong was led by the children of the Tucker Room. Win, who will begin school in the Brown Room after the winter break, joined us for Backwards Day in the Outdoor Classroom and Singalong. The setlist included:
The Outdoor Classroom
The children have learned that most of our indoor experiences can happen outside as well on Backwards Day. In the outdoor studio, the children continued working on holiday gifts for Victor and Lucilla by under-glazing clay bowls that they had fashioned earlier in the week with Elena. Early in the morning, Louisa and Ramsey read The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader with Karen. The Brown Room restaurant went "al fresco" today as it appeared in the Outdoor Classroom as well.
Charlton: Here’s the pepperoni Karen.
Karen: You’re putting pepperoni on your pizza, Charlton?
Charlton: No Karen. Pepperoni on your ice cream.
Ramsey: Tomato sauce with strawberries.
Charlton: He’s (Ramsey) making the ice cream disappear.
Seon: Ice cream and food.
Rawls: Here’s some pancakes. Do you need some syrup?
Ellie: I’m hungry.
Isabelle: Here’s syrup. Here’s syrup.
Back in Brown Room
Seon and Ellie and Charlton and Isabelle worked in pairs to complete the under-glazing of the clay bowls. The restaurant opened up indoors as well.
Ramsey: I made some soup for you. It’s hot. I got a bowl for you.
Rawls: I was cooking that there. I need to buy these at the store. I got some green, yellow and pink.
Isabelle: ‘Nough for me.
Charlton: What you want today?
Rawls: Pizza and this and this.
Emma: I cooking in the kitchen for Isabelle.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
December 09th, 2021
A Gift for Victor and Lucilla
Here at St. John’s we have a tradition of creating gifts to the St. Johns staff to thank them for their work and support during the year. Each classroom works on a gift for a different member of the staff, and this year Brown Room is creating a gift for Victor and Lucilla, our school custodians. In our initial conversations about what kind of gift we should create, there was a lot of discussion about birthdays as children reflected on making gifts during birthday committees.
Eventually we settled on making a bowl or a plate out of clay to put our baked goods on. After talking with Rainey Room, we realized they had made a plate last year, so this year we decided on making a bowl. In order to make the bowl, we rolled out slabs, draped them over existing bowls and stamped our symbols on them so Victor and Lucilla know who made them.
Tomorrow we will glaze and fire the bowls so they're ready to be filled with delicious cookies next week!
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).
December 07th, 2021
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!
December 03rd, 2021
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.