It was a fabulous, festive Friday! We had so many things to celebrate recently, and we capped our week off with a holiday chapel and birthday celebration for Melanie! Thank you all for creating a magical day for us! The festive wear, cards and treats for Melanie, and thoughtful gifts were a great way to end 2021!
Once again, we were able to meet all together on the alter for chapel! It is so special to get back to this tradition! Thanks to Violet and Jack for being our candle lighters!
A few weeks ago, we were learning a new technique for curling/quilling paper. As we were working, I mentioned that we could make paper beads using this technique. During our conversation over the next two days, some of the children mentioned that we could put them on wire to make jewelry. This then sparked the idea to make earrings. When I asked the children if we knew anyone who liked earrings, they all remembered that Melanie does! So, we agreed that we should make paper bead earrings for Melanie's birthday!
It wouldn't be a St. John's birthday without a celebration (books, a gift, candles, and a special treat). Thanks to Carola for returning to read two books for us, and to Rory for the special treats! And of course, all of you who coordinated all of this with us! Happy Birthday Melanie! We love you so much!
This was supposed to go home in each child's cubby bag, but festive Friday slipped away from us! There will also be an email for this. We are excited to do some more home research over the break that will expand our work on night.
On December 4th, Giacomo turned 5! We have been patiently waiting to celebrate him here at school, and during that time, we've been working hard on his birthday committee (George, Nora, and Lochie)! This work has taken place over the course of a few weeks and has involved a lot of research, trial-and-error, and a lot of excitement and joy!
"When are we going to work on the birthday committee?" - Nora, 5.1 years
Why do we do an interview?
"To start finding out what you can make with what you got in the interview." - Lochie, 5.0 years
With a sneaking suspicion that Giacomo would like something that was mechanical or required some engineering, I prepped some materials for Giacomo's interview that would allow us to experiment with a new "tool", learn a new technique, and keep our minds and hands connected.
**the interview involved Giacomo, Nora, and Lochie as George was not at school that day.**
After we established that Giacomo would like something that spins, we pulled out the tray of materials that I brought for the committee. I was thrilled that it was truly related to the conversation that we had just had, and Lochie was eager to teach Giacomo what he and Nora had recently learned about using brads to make paper spin; a technique that was introduced to Lochie and Nora in anticipation of them being on Giacomo's committee. It is so wonderful when we find these connections in the work that we are doing, and even better when we can intentionally connect it to a meaningful process for one of the children.
The Research Phase
On December 2nd, the committee met to research things that spin. There were so many questions to ask, explore, and answer. A few of them were:
In the end, they separated all of the objects into categories based on "what makes it spin".
Objects with handles: Clock gears, music box wine stopper, wheel, magnetic gears, dreidels, pinwheels, and a lego piece (Ines's husband made it for us).
Objects with a metal piece/circle piece in the middle: Color wheel, games spinner, and our paper/brads creations.
Objects that push to spin: Wine bottle opener.
Things that spin/roll on their sides: Tree cookies and paper lantern.
But, how can we translate this to paper?
"We could make this [pinwheel]. We just need paper and a stick." - George
Additional research and prototypes
For our next meeting on 12/8, we began by drawing our ideas for the pinwheel.
Our work for this meeting focused on how we would make the pinwheel. What materials would we use? What did we need to look for around the school? What could we make from scratch? How would we put it together?
I intentionally used the word prototype and explained that it can be a first version (or second, third, fourth, etc.). George reminded them that we needed a stick, and so they set to work making a "stick" out of paper and tape.
In the end, we decided to take a closer look at our green pinwheel because our prototypes either did not spin, or the metal was too heavy to be held up by the paper/brad. So, what other information did we need to inform our choices about materials?
Prototypes #3 and #4
This meeting was primarily about figuring out how we might need to fold our paper to make it spin. We took a close look at the pinwheel we had, and Lochie determined, "They cut paper and put it into short and skinny pieces."
Nora and Lochie were not satisfied with the strips of paper, so Nora suggested that we try a whole paper. She attached it to the paper sticks from our previous prototypes, and we cut slits in the corners and she began folding it; Lochie soon joined her.
At this point we had four prototypes. Each one taught us something new and brought us closer to the final gift.
The final day
And oh the joy when we finally saw it spin! (Reed had come in to investigate what Nora was working on)
And finally, celebrating our birthday boy!
Giacomo's committee planned to sing "Happy Birthday" in at least two languages, so we sang in English and Italian to celebrate our friend! It was a wonderful celebration, and we hope Giacomo knows how loved he is in the Tucker family! Happy 5th Birthday Giacomo!
Happy 5th Birthday, Elle!
"I know you like fashion."-CC
While interviewing, Elle about \ what she likes, one of her first replies was, "I like drawings from my friends." So while there were other great options, we thought that a book of portraits would suit a person who loves drawings from her friends and who also love Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris (reading compliments to Olivia!). The book of drawn portraits and a photo portrait also included some blank pages for Elle to personalize to her heart's content!
Dressing Elle for a Photo Portrait and Getting the Shot: Phase 3
Drawing Elle from a Photograph: Phase 1
Determining a color match
Our Second Tucker Room Tour
What a thrill to have you all able to come into the classroom once again. It is so satisfying to see the children take ownership and pride in their work and workspace. They were so engaged this morning!
When we decided that paper would be our primary language for birthday committees, we knew that making paper would be part of our journey. We also knew that the children who were in Rainey Room A last year would be leaders in this process because they had experience with making paper for their moon and sun last year. Melanie and I are both new to this process, and so we are learning along with the children.
"When I was in Rainey Room, we made orange and yellow paper. It was in a bucket. The next day we have to store it. The next day we made a sun and moon." - Elle, 4.11 years
As for the timing, we also wanted to honor one of our holiday traditions of giving a gift to the church staff by making handmade paper for ____.
"Why are we making paper if we already have paper?" - Giacomo, 5.0 years
Before we began, we took a few minutes to look at some handmade paper that we have at St. John's. The children noticed the texture and "things" that were inside the paper; many pieces had seeds, pieces of flowers, etc.
There was, as you can imagine, a lot of enthusiasm for tearing the paper. It was joyful, a great fine motor activity, and proved to be a long lasting experience for some (sustained engagement). As we worked to shred the paper, we talked a lot about the upcoming process.
1. Two days of shredding all of the paper we would need (12/9 & 12/10).
2. Soaking the paper in a lot of water to soften it (12/10).
3. Blending it with even more water to make the paper pulp (starting on 12/13).
4. Using screens to dip out the pulp, shimmy the water off, and dry it.
5. Admire our gorgeous handmade paper.
As they began to tear the paper, they noticed that "something is fuzzy", so we talked about the fibers in the paper. When they found a new type of paper, they would slowly tear it and observe the fibers of that particular piece and show them to each other.
"I can see the fibers too!" - Elle, 4.11 years
"It's so fuzzy." - Janie, 4.9 years
"Will the new paper have fibers?" - Nora, 5.1 years
They also discovered that some paper is easier to tear than others, and paper tears differently depending on the direction in which it is torn (horizontal vs. vertical).
Soaking our paper
Though it was a quick part of the process, there was a lot of enthusiasm for soaking the paper and mixing it with their hands.
Making paper pulp and sheets of paper
We had a wonderful treat on Monday, which was getting to spend most of our morning with Jen (she also worked with us in the outdoor classroom -- that work will be posted soon). Jen and Melanie spent the morning blending our paper pulp, exploring the textures, and actually making paper!
When CC and Nora began exploring the paper pulp, Nora shared with Jen that she thought it felt like fur.
Today, the children were practically pros at making paper. They were sharing techniques with me (Elyse) and each other.
A few samples of our paper
Developing Our Attention to Detail through Self-Portrait Drawings
We opened up the low table for portrait drawing and look at the spectacular results! The children were drawing pictures of their friends on their messages and so we thought self-portraits would connect to this and be an opportunity to slow down our drawing hand and to further develop an eye for detail.
OUR PORTRAIT GALLERY
Drawings of the Drawing Doll
ENJOY THE WEEKEND!
"JANE'S GOING TO LOVE IT!" -REED
Interviewing Jane informed the birthday committee about her likes: the colors pink, blue, and yellow; sparkly paper, the animals cats, bunnies, and unicorns, and of course houses. Out of this, the idea to create a unicorn house was decided. First step drawing our vision of the house, then working with a variety of materials to put it all together for Jane.
"How about a golden house?" -Janie
DRAWING OUR IDEAS for JANE'S UNICORN HOUSE
"The body is going to be blue of the unicorn." -Reed
EXPLORING IDEAS for the UNICORN HORN
MEASURING CORRUGATED CARDBOARD for OUR CONSTRUCTION BLOCKS
EXPLORING POSSIBILITIES to CONFIGURE and DESIGN the UNICORN HOUSE
WORKING TOGETHER to ASSEMBLE IT and ADD FINISHING TOUCHES
GIVING THE GIFT at the BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
Our first step was to set up the wire without the beads, sequins, and other small materials that can be threaded onto the wire. The goal was to encourage a slower process of observing and experimenting with the different gauges of wire -- which ones is more pliable? What kind of wire is it (aluminum, steel, copper, etc.)?
There were a few types of wire, different gauges, wire cutters, and pliers. We also set up the book Alexander Calder: The Paris Years . We thought that the work inside the book would provide inspiration. There are photos of wire portraits, wire animals, interesting shapes, and wire human forms.
The children quickly discovered that the pliers require a lot of strength and perseverance.
Giacomo was also the first one to compare the wire on our table to the wire in the book. He suggested that we could match the wire to the book in order to choose the shapes they wanted to make.
Nearby, Lochie began working on a chain made from 14 gauge aluminum wire. He had been exploring a chain that was on the other side of the table with some small metal machines. He sat for long periods, over the course of two days and worked to add links to his chain. His patience and fine motor strength were on display.
There was quite a bit of collaboration happening at the table. Maxon was showing Lochie how he was twisting the wire together, and Lochie was giving advice on how to use the pliers to twist it tighter.
Nora shaped her wire into a ginko leaf, and then collaborated with me and CC to figure out how to get a stem on it using the pliers.
Meanwhile, that project in the black and white area...
The original challenge was for the structure to be taller than Melanie, but Nora and Sylvie drew quite the elaborate design for their structure, and this caught Giacomo's eye and lured him away from the wire and into the black and white area to help them with their work.
Giacomo, Nora, and Maxon considering how the plan corresponds with materials in the black and white areas.
Drawing the realized structure
Night Home Research Small Group
Thank you all SO much for sending in all of the home research about night. We have received some fabulous photos and works of art. After we had some incredibly thoughtful and joyful small groups with summer memories boxes, we decided to approach home research in the same way. Just as we did with summer memories boxes, we had four children gathered with their own photographs. The goal was to have a conversation with the children's photographs, drawings, and collages spread out in front of them. We wanted them to share their thoughts about night and more specifically how they decided to capture it. They looked at each other's work, asked questions, dialogued about how the sunset creates darkness, and more. Below you will find a portion of dialogue from our first small group which included Reed, CC, Maxon, and Jack. The entire dialogue will be printed and hung with our documentation (which you'll have the chance to see very soon).
“It’s not the sunset.” - CC
“This is the sunset (can’t see the round sun), but this is not the sunset (can see the round sun).” - Reed
“It’s the sunrise.” - Jack
“No, it isn’t. It’s the sunrise coming out, like...no, it’s the sun coming down, and the sunrise rising up.” - Reed
Is this a photo of when the sun is setting or when it’s rising? - Elyse
“When it’s setting.” - Reed
Is this another sunset or the same day? - Elyse
How is the sunset related to night?
“It makes it get darker.” - Maxon
Do you guys agree with that?
“No, because the sunset is light. If the sunset was darker, it would make the sky darker. That doesn’t make sense.” - CC
“But when the light goes down. When it gets downer, the light doesn’t get more lighter. It makes it get darker.” - Maxon
“How does light make it get darker.” CC
“Because when it starts to go down, it’s not that bright. In the morning, it gets brighter.” - Maxon (moving his body and hand to demonstrate)
CC is shaking her head…
So, Maxon is saying that when the sun goes up…
“There’s more light.” - Jack
When the sun goes down…
“There’s less light. And it can also turn dusk. It’s a mix. It’s light and dark together.” - Jack
We had a debate on our hands, and soon I hope to share the video of this with you all.
Based on their conversation, I asked them to think about the progression of the sun based on their photographs and work.
Is this the order it would go in for the sun? Where is it the lightest? Where is it the darkest?
“These kind of match.” - CC looking at two of Reed’s photos
Would the sunset go before the night sky or after the night sky?
“First.” - CC and Reed
CC starts to order them.
“It goes sunset, darker, darker…” - CC
Reed starts to move her finger down the progression…
“Darker...darker...darker...darker...darker…[reaches CCs day drawing]...lighter.” - Reed
Maxon has a photo of the moon in the morning, where would it go in our progression?
“Right here!” - Reed puts it after CCs day portion of her drawing
“It would go right there [before CCs night sky] because that’s the moon, and that’s where the moon was in Maxon’s home or the car, and this is where CC drawed it at home.” - Reed
If this is night sky, and this is the night sky, would we keep it in between?
“No, because this has to be the night sky right here. Then it’s morning.” - Reed
“Morning, it can go right here because morning and morning.” - CC
“Yeah! Morning and morning.” - Reed ( puts it after CCs day/morning drawing)
The progression as they agreed upon at the end of our conversation.
An Eventful December
Creatively and Cognitively Hard at Work
Night, what is it and how do we know when it is were two of several questions asked and explored in small group experiences, prior to Thanksgiving break. We then proposed some home-to-school research to extend and sustain our exploration. The children's research is gradually being received (as seen below). We look forward to receiving even more! Next week we will further our understanding and interpretation of night by discussing this work in small groups.
"Good things don't come out until midnight." -Reed
"It's half night and half day." -CC
Creating an Inspirational Color Palette
"Whoa! That's super duper light! You want it super duper light?" -Maxon