Even grown-ups get birthdays!
In the days leading up to Ines' birthday in late September the children often shared their excitement about seeing her birthday portrait soon.
"I don't know if I will get a birthday portrait. Is a committee working on it? - Ines
"Of course because it's your birthday!" - Cate
The children's certainty and expectation that someone must clearly be working on their teacher's birthday committee evoked conversations among us teachers about our own level of involvement and participation in this important classroom ritual. The children's comments and observations about the birthday committee work concerning our birthdays showed us that they see us as part of the classroom and that our birthdays deserve the same attention and intentionality as their own birthdays. This highlighted the children's deeper understanding of what it means to be part of a classroom community.
Do only children have birthday committees?
What does it mean to have a birthday committee and to be part of someone else's committee?
Who is working on the teacher's birthday committees?
Birthday Portrait Conversation About Ines
October 12, 2021
Finlay, Lily, Lucas
Jen: It’s Ines’s birthday, in fact it already passed. But we can still make her a birthday portrait.
Lily: She does likes yellow. I think that’s her favorite actually.
Jen: Are there other things about Ines that you know?
Lily: Well, on the birthday, they did ask everyone to bring in a flower for her, so maybe she likes flowers? Yeah because we gave her all flowers.
Jen: Oh, bracelets, what makes you think that?
Lily: She basically-she never really wears them.
Finlay: But I gave one to her.
Lily: I think she might like flowers because we gave her flowers, we all gave her flowers on her birthday.
Lucas: We usually make hands for Ines. Mom traces my hand.
What kinds of things should we put it in ?
Jen: Yes, we said yellow, we said flowers...what other things could we put in it?
Finlay: How about we give her wine?
Lily: I don’t really know--we basically only know what her favorite color is.
Jen: So why do you think you don’t know a lot about Ines?
Lily: Well...we don’t really ask anything about her.
Jen: Isn’t that interesting. So maybe we could ask her some questions, we can make a list and go do that?
(no responses about what kinds of questions we could ask).
Jen: Could we ask her what she likes to do?
Finlay: What’s your favorite vehicle that can move?
(LIly, Finlay and Lucas ask Ines what she likes to do)
Ines: I like to garden, I grow a lot of plants. I like to work with clay, do potter, go outside on hikes. I take cuttings and I plant them, I have about 50 plants in my house.
Birthday Portrait Conversation About Sam
October 12, 2021
Jade, Cape, Wilder
Jen: So Sam had a birthday already...and we didn’t make her portrait yet!
What do you think...
Jade: She likes blue, she likes sparkles too!
Cape: What do you think her favorite animal is?
Jade: Well we can’t ask her because it’s special.
Wilder: Maybe an elephant.
Cape: Maybe a tiger!
Jade: Maybe a lion!
Jen: Do you know if Sam has any animals?
Jade: She has a dog. She told me she likes cats, that’s her favorite animal.
Wilder: Her house?
Jade: We can also ask the birthday child or the birthday teacher what their favorite animal is.
Jade: She likes drawing.
(they go ask Sam)
Sam: I like corgis. I have a little corgi and his name is Winston. And I really like deer.
Sam shared a photo of her dog Winston with us:
Preparing the background and foreground for Ines' portrait
The children decided to draw and cut out smaller flowers for the foreground, with the plan for these to surround Ines in her birthday portrait, like flowers growing in a garden. For the background they traced, painted and collaged larger flowers to be hung as a backdrop in the photo booth in Rainey Room.
Children also created flowers out of clay to incorporate Ines' interest in clay.
Preparing the background for Sam's portrait
To create Sam's favorite color, sparkling blue, the children used transparent blue materials to create an arrangement on the light table first. This arrangement was then transferred to the overhead projector to create a blue background on the shadow screen.
Another group worked on creating Sam's dog Winston as a prop for her photo shoot.
Let's paint him! - Bea
In addition to creating a grassy landscape with silky scarves and the clay and painted flowers, the children chose flower necklaces as part of Ines' outfit for the photo shoot.
"Two. That looks good." - Cape
We knew that Sam's favorite color is blue but we also noticed that she is wearing the color green a lot.
"Green is my second favorite color and it's also the color that represents my school." - Sam
Sam went to Michigan State for college and is a big fan of their college football team, which is why we asked her to wear her favorite MSU sweater for the photo shoot.
"I used that projector for the corgi in KW" - Bea
She’s not making the expression I wanted her to make for the birthday portrait - Lucas
(looking at a different photo)
Yeah like this, smiling - Bea
Yeah that’s what I want - Lucas
But I can see lots of other things that remind me of kids workshop stuff so I like I. - Lucas
Maybe she’s picking it from her garden! - Bea, about Ines holding a flower in her hand
That looks like her. - Bea
She does look more like Ines - Lily
Now we just need to adjust. - Lily
We need to change the color - Lily
Let’s do blue. It looks like she’s chilly out. - Bea
Yellows warm and blue is cold - Lily
Yellow is warm. Make it warm because for the flowers. - Bea
Yeah. That looks like Ines now. - Lily
We can see the feet ("Winston's" black feet int he painting) and she's like really smiling, being really happy. She's like this. - Bea, showing us a big smile
To enhance the blue background digitally we adjusted the temperature of the image.
Look how blue it is! - Bea
Yeah because she really wants it blue. - Jade
Can we make it really small because then it looks really cold. - Bea
Remember when we take some of it out? (cropping the image) We need to cut off the white. It fits in the photo (picture frame). - Bea