For Janie's interview, we (Janie, Jane, Reed, and Marley...CC would later join the committee) sat down at the studio table in the classroom with some drawing tools to brainstorm and interview our upcoming birthday girl. Janie immediately shared that she loves lions and yellow; Janie is nothing if not consistent in this area!
After the children worked through some of our typical questions, we began to discuss all of the birthday gifts we've created this year and all of the different ways they represent the use of paper! The children, especially Reed, recalled each and every gift that we've made. This reinvigorated the conversation and led to our big idea for Janie's gift:
“But you can't tell us what you want because then you know what you’re going to have.” - Reed, 4.11 years
“Maybe I’ll forget.” - Janie, 4.11 years
We may use her ideas, but not exactly that [unicorn house like Jane]. How can we use paper to make something for Janie. We know she likes lions… - Elyse
[to me, Elyse, it's sounding like a jungle at this point]
“I like monkeys!” - Janie
“Uhhh that’s it!” - Reed [runs over to whisper in my ear]
What’s it? - Elyse
“We can make a jungle for Janie.” - Reed
The first meeting
Our first meeting is usually a brainstorming session. With the idea of jungle, we presented a box with a diorama in mind, but opened the conversation to the children to decide what this would look like. What do we need in the jungle? What does it look like? What kind of paper did we need?, etc.
"How will we make a lion and tiger out of paper?" - Jane, 5.2 years
If we put them in here, it can be a whole jungle; a scene. We can make grass.
"What do we make grass out of?" - Jane
Paper. Look around the atelier. Do you see anything that looks like grass?
"This looks like grass [green paint]." - Jane
"This paper looks like grass." - Marley, 5.0 years
[there is a board with paper grass that is an artifact from the Tucker Room 2019-2020's Thanksgiving Feast centerpieces; pictured below]
"I have an idea. We can put the grass here ["bottom" of the inside of the box], and then we can paint it a background [running finger over the back of the box]. " - Marley
What would the background be?
"It would be grass and flowers and flamingoes and trees." - Marley
These first days of birthday committees often involve some delayed gratification. The children typically want to begin piecing together the final gift on that day. This year, we've been discussing the idea of research, brainstorming, and creating drafts/prototypes so that we can hear everyone's ideas and layout how we want the final gift to look. On the first day of Janie's gift, we saw a lot of this brainstorming happening, and more specifically, the children were using the materials to express their ideas (e.g. the strips of paper for the sunset).
Grass and a sunset
"Is this looking like a good sunset?" - Reed, 4.11 years
After they laid out their idea on the table, Reed and Marley began to assess how the sunset might fit into the box.
Reed brought the idea of pastels back to the group, and they loved it. For this process, we collected the colors they wanted (yellow, red, orange, pink, and purple) and some watercolor paper. They immediately noticed that the paper was too large for the box, so we had to measure it and cut it to the appropriate width.
CC and Marley took on the challenge of creating the sunset, and they were thoughtful and attentive to the details of their work. Among the pastels there were some that had clearly been used to blend, and CC noted, "That's too dirty. We need a clean one", and then Marley began to notice this as well. This attention to the specifics of the tools and process are typical of CC and Marley.
Nearby, Jane and Reed began to create flowers.
Our next committee meeting was all about adding the background and creating the grass so that they could add it to the diorama.
The children used many of the techniques we saw in the previous Tucker Room's work. They created accordion folded blades of grass, strips of grass with "feet" for it to stand on, wire grass loops, curled/quilled grass, and more. Some pieces were placed in vertical positions, while others were horizontal.
Jane and Reed volunteered to add the remaining grass while also creating additional flowers for the "foreground".
"I wanna add this [flower]. Reed's [flower] is amazing." - Marley, 5.0 years
Creating the jungle animals
"How are we going to create a lion and tiger for Janie's diorama? That's our challenge today."
While Jane and Reed worked on the setting, Marley and CC asked if they could draw the animals. CC chose the tiger, and Marley enthusiastically asked if she could draw "Janie's lion".
For Marley, the process of creating a smaller lion proved to be frustrating, so she decided to shrink her second version (using the copier) so that it would be a good size for the diorama.
Then, CC and Marley chose to cut out their animals to put them in the diorama. Marley made the decision that the lion should be next to the sunset, while CC wanted the tiger more in the foreground. CC discovered that her tiger was drawn on paper that did not stand up well, so she glued it to card stock, cut it out again, and folded "feet" to make it stand up.
The Gift - The Jungle
"I love it so much!" - Janie, 5.0 years