Birthdays are incredibly special here at St. John's. Birthdays offer the opportunity to celebrate each child for who they are, what they love, and connect with their family. Each year, a gift is created for the birthday child by the Birthday Committee. These committees are typically 3-4 children who take time to share what they know about that child, interview the birthday child, and use this information to inform their committee work. While the teachers may guide the work with a chosen language or direction, it is the work of the committee to incorporate their working knowledge of materials with their knowledge of the birthday child. It's a beautiful display of thoughtfulness, empathy, and care for each other.
This year, the Tucker Room will be taking time to explore the language of paper in a deeper, more intentional way. This work will inform our birthday committee work, and each child will receive a gift that is unique to them, but it will be created using the language of paper.
Paper exploration in the atelier
To start our intentional work with paper, Jen and I invited a small group into the atelier; we also knew that this would be a wonderful opportunity to reintroduce the atelier, which hasn't been available in this way since Brown Room. On the tables we provided a variety of papers, all in shades/tints of white for the children to explore. There was variation of size, shape, texture, weight, color, etc. We invited the children to explore and think about the possibilities.
Much of their work was using the cardboard for a castle, exploring some of the paper under the microscope (noticing the fibers, texture up close, and other things that can only be seen up close), and learning to use the drawing compasses.
We concluded our time by thinking about all of the things we remembered/rediscovered that we can do with paper (e.g. paper can roll; it can be seen under the microscope; it can be crumpled and stuffed inside of things; it can be used in a structure).
“I cut the corrugated cardboard, and teared it.” - Lucia, 4.4 years
How did you get the triangle for your sculpture?
“I think they cut the corner.” - Giacomo, 4.10 years
“No, I just did like this. I had a long piece, and then I went like this [gestures in an arch], then decided to make the bridge.” - Lucia
Throughout the year, we will have many intentional paper experiences that will inform our committee work; this was only the beginning.
Nora's birthday committee included Jack, CC, and Audrey. We already knew that Nora likes unicorns by listening to stories she tells, knowing her song choice for sing-along, and she has shown us all of the fun stuffed unicorns she brings from home, but we wanted to know a bit more about Nora; things that might inspire us even more.
“I like pretty much colors. I’ll tell you which colors I like. Blue, pink, purple, and green. And white!” - Nora, 4.11 years
“White like pearl color.” - CC, 4.11 years
What is your favorite thing to do in the Tucker Room? Or do you have a favorite space in the Tucker Room? - Elyse
[Nora went to the atelier door to look around the Tucker Room]
“The microscope!” - Nora, 4.11 years
Once Nora left, there was some discussion about how to use this information.
“So, we could make a microscope or a paper airplane, or we can make a unicorn out of the cardboard paper.” - C.C., 4.11 years
I’m wondering how we can use the paper with the microscope? Did you know that you can take photos of it when it’s under the microscope?
This idea prompted the children collect colorful paper, and we brought in the white paper from the original paper exploration. We began to think about which papers might look beautiful under the microscope?
With the information that Nora gave us, and the children's enthusiasm for taking photos of the paper as seen under the microscope, I proposed to the children that we could make a book for Nora that would include our chosen paper samples with images from under the microscope. They seemed intrigued by this idea, and were eager to begin using the microscope.
For our first meeting, I selected a variety of paper textures, weights, colors (still within Nora's chosen color group), and some with designs while others were "plain". The children chose a few from each color to observe under the microscope.
Jack, C.C., and Audrey each self-assigned a role in the process of selecting papers, observing them, and photographing them. Jack took the role of taking photographs in Photo Booth; this requires patience and precision. Audrey demonstrated her knowledge of focusing the microscope so that we did not have a blurry photograph. C.C. took on the role of choosing the papers that Nora might like, and carefully placing it under the lens of the microscope.
“That’s blurry.” - C.C., 4.11 years
“Okay, but just pause it [the paper under the microscope] somewhere.
I’ll take the photos.” - Jack, 5.3 years
nThe excitement grew with each piece of paper that was chosen. The details seen on the screen elicited many comments about what the paper could be, or what it looked like.
Finalizing our photo choices and naming the papers
Based on the conversations from the day before, we decided that each paper needed a name. This proved to be a very collaborative process, and while they each shared their own idea, they willingly combined titles so that everyone's idea could be used. This part of the process also required us to give thought to which photo to use because we had taken multiple images for some papers and some of them were blurry.
For our next two meetings, we spent some time writing the titles for each page, examining the cotton fiber paper that we would use for the book, arranging the paper samples/microscopic images/titles, and binding the book.
We took a trip to the copier "in the other church", and shrunk their titles so that they would fit on our book pages. Once the titles were shrunk, the children arranged the original paper samples with their microscopic image to create a beautiful display on each page.
The Paper Book, for Nora
Happy Birthday Nora!
tNora is our second 5-year-old, but our first birthday celebration for the year! It was a beautiful day on the front lawn. Nora's mom, Zeina, and her brother, Ramsey joined us! Zeina shared some wonderful photos from Nora's baby book and a family favorite book! Then, the birthday committee presented Nora with her gift before she walked her 5 turns around the candle, blew it out, and we sang! We hope that Nora had a lovely birthday this weekend, and felt all the love from her Tucker friends at her school celebration! Happy birthday Nora!