A birthday committee for our friend Cape
Cape's birthday committee consisted of some of his best friends in the classroom - Frannie, Saul and Michael. Even though this was already our fourth birthday committee this school year, the individual work differed from previous processes. Because as unique as every child is, as unique is every birthday committee work. At the beginning of every committee work, we discuss the birthday child's preferences, interest and likes with everyone in the class at morning meeting. This usually laid the ground work for further small group discussions afterwards.
Conversation at Morning Meeting on Monday, October 4th
Bea: He likes diggers.
Michael: He likes trucks.
Wilder: He likes tractors.
Lily: He likes trains.
Michael: I have train. I have trains, too.
Wilder: I got trains at home.
Cape: I do like trains.
Michael: I have trains at home.
Sam: The other birthday children told us about their favorite color. Do you want to let us know what your favorite color is?
Cape: Yes. Blue.
Michael: It’s blue. Hugh has blue on his pants.
Bea: And Cape has blue on his shorts, too.
Sam: A lot of us are wearing blue.
Bea: Building. He likes to build with Michael.
Cape: Yeah. Trailers. Tractor trailers. It carries tractors.
Sam: It carries tractors. To take them where?
Cape: Where they can mow lawn.
Sam: So the special kind of tractors that you like they cut the grass?
Sam: What kind of tractor is betty?
Michael: Is green.
Cape: I know, a John Deere.
Bea: And you know what Cape, is that’s a movie? Is there actually a movie about it and it has John Deere movie?
Cape: No I don’t have a John Deere movie.
Ines: I noticed in this photo that on this side the grass is long and on this side the grass is short. Is Betty the kind of tractor that can cut grass?
Michael: No I think a vacuum cleaner. I think the tractor can.
Cape: It can’t vacuum, Michael (giggles)
We also see Cape's interest in tractors and lawnmowers around the classroom, inside and outside.
Where do we go from here?
After our morning meeting conversation, the birthday committee moved into the middle room (a room in our school used for Early Birds in the morning, small group projects or as a work space for teachers) to reflect and discuss our ideas and thoughts for the upcoming committee work. Since we discussed a photo of Cape and his tractor at morning meeting, that we found in his Summer Research photo book, we used that as reference as well.
The idea of a tractor ...
Creating a Setting - the foreground
Throughout our conversations, the idea of including a tractor and grass in the photo became stronger and stronger. The plan for the next day was to create our foreground for our setting - grass.
We need grass! Because we wanted the tractor to go on the grass. Because it can lawnmow the grass. - Frannie
Creating a Setting - the background
The idea that tractors can often be found on farms brought up a conversation about what kind of farm we would like to include in the photo for Cape as our background. Before searching for images we established criteria we can all agree on. Our image of a farm would need a BARN, ANIMALS, and a TRACTOR.
We used google as a tools to search for images. Our first keyword was "BARN". We then chose and discussed images based on our previously chosen criteria. We favored the following images.
After we noticed that most images were missing one of our criteria, ANIMALS, we changed our google keyword search to "BARN AND ANIMALS".
This image included all of our criteria, a barn, animals and a tractor, but we noticed something next to the barn that we didn't know about. We invited Cape, who has a lot of knowledge about farms and farm tools, as a resource.
After comparing the images to each other and discussing our preferences, we decided to use the "Barn and Animals" image 2 as our background for the birthday portrait.
The construction of "Betty"
As part of the overall setting of the portrait, the child's placement within it in is an important part to consider for the committee. In previous portraits children either sat on a chair, stood in between fore- and background or interacted with the foreground. Michael, Frannie and Saul specifically decided to include Cape's placement as part of their committee work, as they imagined him sitting on his tractor "Betty". Using a photo of Betty and Cape as a reference, the committee collaboratively constructed a tractor in the construction area.
The photo shoot
Frannie: There’s grass because that’s how you can lawn mow it.
That’s a beautiful flower, isn’t it?! (showing Cape the lawn)
Cape: I like it!
Frannie: Everybody get out of the way (clearing the area in front of the camera)
Once the tractor was constructed and the farm image was projected onto the background, we were ready to begin our photo shoot. Cape immediately recognized the structure as a tractor and sat on it independently. During the photo shoot the children engaged with each other and provided suggestions for Cape to "pose".
Frannie: "Put your head like this." (bending forward)
Saul: "You can stand."
"I did it! I took two pictures!" - Saul
Selecting and editing the Birthday Portrait
On Thursday the committee looked through the images taken at the photo shoot and shared their preferences with each other. The children decided against using the these images as the birthday portrait for the following reasons: