Continuing Constellation Work
Brainstorming through Drawing
Light and Shadow Play at "The Theater"
A few other photos from the week - measuring tape, collaging, dramatic play, a sunset, and a hawk!
"...I think tissue paper is fantastic!" Marley
Brittney, Billy, and Marley read to us.
Walking around the candle, revolving around the sun 5 times!
The birthday committee delivers the gift, and Rawles blows out the candle for Marley.
Marley opens her gift!
The Gift: A Zebra Headband
"I'm making a zebra with pink lines on it!" -Violet
You have to participate. - Maxon
What kind of questions do we need to ask Marley?
Marley, what is your favorite kind of paper?
Tissue paper. - Marley
Maybe we rip it into pieces then put it on her shirt and it will be colorful. -Violet
That's nice, Violet. -Marley
How about? I think I have an idea, a great idea. I think we could umm put tissue paper on a piece of paper, on um white tissue paper, and then color it to whatever color Marley likes, and then it could be colored tissue paper. -Maxon
Okay. - Marley
This is my second kind of favorite paper (drawing, print paper). -Marley
We need to ask her favorite color. -Sylvie
What's your favorite color, Marley? -Maxon
My favorite color is violet. -Marley
That's my name! -Violet
What else can we ask?
The shape. What's your favorite shape, Marley? -Sylvie
My favorite shape is the square. -Marley
What's your favorite color? -Violet
My favorite is pink, pink and violet. -Marley
I haver a great idea! So we'll get tissue paper and one person will get Marley's favorite color and some people they can do what they want. They can um do different colors that Marley doesn't like or the same colors that Marley likes. -Maxon
What is your favorite animal?
My favorite animal is a zebra. -Marley
What's your favorite, your favorite headband? -Violet
This one. -Marley
Marley what's your favorite hairdo? -Sylvie
It's a side ponytail. -Marley
"And what's next about the purple? I could draw in the purple," said Violet. "So we could make a pink and purple zebra," Sylvie commented. Eventually, we arrived at the idea to make a zebra headband for Marley.
Drawing our zebra ideas:
"Maybe this could work, for a headband." -Maxon
Starting with wire as an armature:
Drawing our ideas for the zebra headband:
Testing the headband:
The papier-mâché part:
Adding the finishing touches to the zebra headband with tissue paper stripes.
The finished zebra headband!
St. John's 25th Birthday work continues
Do we need more drawings? Where do we go from here? What are our next steps?
“Maybe you could give it some color?” - Nora, 5.4 years
What would you do differently? Could you draw a different part of the school?
“The side of the school.” - CC, 5.4 years
“This side…” - CC [points to side of drawing where Potomac would be]
Oh, the side by the gingko trees?
“Yeah.” - CC
Each time we've gone out to draw a portion of the school, we get at least one small audience. Consistently, they comment on how fantastic the children's drawings are or how they didn't know preschool was "like this". They always seem to be amazed at the children's attention to detail and focus. It's so wonderful for the community to see children doing the work that we know they are capable of doing (and they themselves know they are capable of doing as well), and we're so happy that they stop to comment and converse (albeit briefly) with us!
Last week, we spent some time at morning meeting to review our collection of drawings (this lead to the work above). During this conversation, the children also began to notice things in the drawings that are inconsistent with the actual facade of the school.
I’m wondering, how did you know that it was the school?
“Because I know this is the door, and I know this is the cross on the school.” - Elle, 5.2 years
“Bell tower.” - Lochie, 5.4 years
“Because of the bell tower.” - Janie, 4.11 years
“Because it looks like the school.” - CC, 5.4 years
“Lochie, is this the fence?” - Elle
“Yes.” - Lochie
“There’s the blue door.” - Nora, 5.4 years
“That looks like a mustache.” - Janie
“That’s the door handle.” - Nora
“Door knob.” - Janie
“Something is wrong with it. Again, the blue door is on the bell tower.” - Maxon, 4.11 years
After this conversation, we decided to ask the children to revisit this observational drawing. This time, they worked in teams. Lochie and Audrey were paired up, while Reed and CC worked as a team on the other side of the easel. Unfortunately, our work was cut short by the rain this morning, but here are some photos of their work (2.22.22).
Audrey and Lochie's First Draft
Audrey and Lochie's Second Draft
CC and Reed's Drawing
The Clay 25!
It is Tucker Room's responsibility to make the new clay number for our number line along the steps. They've been excited to know that we get to do this. Jen came in a few weeks ago to share her work with colorful porcelain clay. At St. John's, we typically have red and white clay, and we can add color with our fabulous stock of glazes. Jen, however, uses mason stains to add color to porcelain clay, and the children were thrilled to learn that we could do something a little different and special for the 25!
So, after Jen shared this with us, we asked the children to design our 25.
Today, Jen worked with a few children in the atelier. They colored the porcelain clay body with mason stains. On the scale, they had to weigh out exactly 200 grams of porcelain clay. Yellow was the color of the day, but Jen is bringing other colors for the children to work with as well.
A reminder from the 5 things about March 4th:
St. John's 25th Birthday celebration is less than two weeks! Friday, March 4 is a normal school day for the children, but with an extra dose of joy included. By now, we hope you have received your Paperless Post invitation to join your child(ren) in Blake Hall at their class's designated time. We will have an embroidery hoop for every child (and their family members) to sew transparent and translucent materials onto in different colors of the rainbow. Each class will be responsible for a couple of colors. For example, Brown room children will sew all things red and orange onto their hoops. We also hope that each family can bring something yellow or green to weave into the oversized chicken-wire-gingko-leaf for a beautiful community collaborative project.
Our Tucker Room time is 10:15 - 11:00. Please know that all parents, grandparents, and caregivers (nannies, etc.) are welcome! This will be a wonderful time to celebrate together!
Don't forget to RSVP via the paperless post flyer!
Our night at school awaits...
Today's Morning Meeting Reflections About Last Night - Pizza was a unanimous highlight!
Good Evening! Good Night!
"We need stars and the moon in the black area because it's night." - Jack, 5.5 years
So you guys were talking about putting the stars and the moon in the black area. What do we know about stars? Or do we know any stars? - Elyse
We can’t know stars. Stars are a circle with pointy stuff. - Jack, 5.6 years
But when you look at them, they look almost like dots because you can’t see the points. - Elle, 5.1 years
Because they’re far away from the stars. If you go close to them you can see the points. - CC, 5.3 years
Why do the stars fly up without wings? - Sylvie, 5.0 years
Because the world is spinning, so the earth can bring the stars up and bring it to the sky. - Reed, 4.10 years
Reflecting with Melanie
“What is a constellation?” Melanie
“A group of stars that make a shape of someone from a long time ago.” Giacomo
“Makes the shape of something.” Lochie
“The lines are how the stars connect. The lines show the stars where they just move. It’s a monster how they kind of… and someone created it a hundred years ago. I looked in the book, and then each circle is a piece from the book. Then I made all of them and I connected them to make one big thing. Each circle, those are the stars.” Sylvie
Where do we find these constellations? Melanie
“We usually find them in the country.” Sylvie
“They live in outer space! And then, at night time, sometimes they come down and then they show the constellations.” Lucia
“They don’t come down. They fell. As you can see, like the darks of things are stars! You can’t see the sites, but the sites are really there. It’s just that you are too far away. And shooting stars, they just have this like rocket that has blue, blue-violet coming out of them.” Giacomo
“Why are there constellations? Why do they exist?” Melanie
"It’s just to decorate the sky.” Sylvie
A Constellation for the Black Area
Materials were collected based on the linear qualities of the children's constellation drawings. The children are also familiar with the properties of wire and the ability to create connections with wire and other small materials, which relates to their idea about the connectedness of stars in a constellation. Their drawings were displayed in the atelier along with the materials and twine suspended above the table for hanging their pieces.
A few days later, the work moved into the black area. This allowed for the space to invite small groups to continue adding to the constellation.
As they worked, the children continued to discover new things they could do with the wire and properties of each wire that was available. They quickly determined that the aluminum wire was the "easiest to bend", but the copper wire was "the stiff one". As they used each of these, they found different uses for them; the copper wire was better for holding heavier objects, while the aluminum wire was easier for twisting (see two photos above). The brass wire was "medium hard", while the steel wire was rarely used.
As the materials began to challenge the children's thinking about their abilities (bending, twisting, cutting wire, using pliers, etc.), the shape and design of stars, and the overall design of the constellation, you could see their minds working through their facial expressions. The shift in their faces communicated a problem solved or the evolution of a new idea.
This project has been beautifully collaborative, as almost every child has spent some time working with the materials and "adding to" the constellation. They connected their own pieces to the work of their friends, and honestly, they began to lose track of "my piece" so that it has truly become a work of the whole Tucker Room collective.
Do you know any names of constellations?
“Orion.” - Lucia
“THe big dipper and the little didpper.” - Nora
Maxon and Maxon mention a medium dipper
Does our constellation need a name?
“How about the ‘Giant Constellation’ like the one I drew.” - Sylvie
“How about ‘The Constellation’.” - Reed
“The constellation needs to be connected even without the string because that makes a whole group of stars.” - Maxon
Nora continues to mention the “middle dipper”
“The Rat Trapper” - Lucia
“The bigger it gets…the heavier it gets, the beautifuler it looks.” - Nora
Don't forget about our Night at School! Tomorrow (Wednesday), 2/16 from 5:30 - 7:15.
Drop off at the Blue Door at 5:30. Pick-up on the front lawn at 7:15.
Dinner will be &Pizza (gluten free pizza will be offered).
Don't forget your flashlight!
Disassembling the (broken) spotlight
A few weeks ago, we discovered that our spotlight was not working. After some testing with Jen, we discovered that it really was never going to work again. So, why shouldn't we get to take it apart?
It is hard to describe the enthusiasm around taking this apart. It was not easy, and they really had to work hard to figure out how to get the casing open. Inside they found wires, boards, light bulbs, and more! Their amazement and enthusiasm was contagious.
Today, on what is likely our final day of the spotlight, they spent time hammering the pieces.
Pajama Day, Valentine's Day, and A Night at St. John's
A chapter book for snack!
Initiating a Conversation with the Children:
We separated into two small groups for our morning meeting. We began the conversations by reminding the children of our shadows at night home research and remarking on a comment made by Jack made, in a previous "shadows at night" small group, as he was reflecting on the photographs he took and shared:
“How can we know if there are shadows at night if we never come to school at night?” -Jack
We need more big questions to do research about.
“When we bring light, it will shone it, and that’s what makes the shadows. If there’s so much light on the ground, we won’t see it. So if we bring the light, we will see the shadows, and that’s shadows at night. If we go out with the light, and turn out the lights, we will see the shadows.” - Lochie
Do we want to come to school at night?
“Yes!” - all/most
Do we agree that we need to spend time outside and inside?
“Yes!” - all/most
Do we agree ot the idea that we need some light- flashlights, lanterns…?
And we have questions about shadows at night. We would want to experiment with some shadows; is that true?
“Yeah, and we need you if we are going to come to school at night, we need you to get the key.” - Jack
Capturing St. John's Portrait - Our Work Continues
We were back at work on the St. John's portrait to continue toward making the gift for the birthday celebration on March 4th. CC, Audrey, and Jack captivated audiences as they expressed their attention to detail in their drawings of the school's facade. We look forward to reflecting tomorrow on the drawings we have so far and next steps!
For quite some time now, the children have been intrigued by the rat holes in the outdoor classroom. Giacomo and Nora have been leading this investigation (almost) every day when we are outside. Their imaginations have been running wild with the possibilities for seeing eyes, legs, tails, movement under the mulch, etc. Over the past few months the children have created rat traps using pipes, blocks, paper, concrete cylinders, wood pieces, and more; this has also been an undertaking for Rainey Room as well. More recently, since we returned to school in January, Giacomo and Nora have been developing plans to scare the rats away (note that the school/church have been working with a pest control company for months/years to keep this under control). This idea manifested itself into a volcano that would scare the rats away.
Giacomo, who also happened to be in the virtual classroom with me last year when we did the volcano experiment, brought a lot of knowledge to the conversation. He shared with Nora about how the liquid would explode, and that might scare the rats away. We began developing a plan with them to make this at school: would it be paper/paper mache, clay, wire, or a different material?
On January 27th, we brought the volcano idea to morning meeting:
“My grandma made a volcano. We have a book about making volcanoes. That’s where I got the idea to become a scientist.” - Sylvie, 5.0 years
“It’s going to be gray. You'll see.” - Giacomo, 5.1 years
“And we’ll put red on the top.” - Nora, 5.3 years
"So, Lava pulls into the mountain, into the volcano, into the tube that the lava comes out of. When you put all of that stuff in, it gets bubbly. Out of the volcano, it explodes; out of the tube." - Sylvie, 5.0 years
Do you remember what ingredients we put inside of it [on zoom last year]?
"Baking sode and vinegar." - Giacomo, 5.1 years
"Water!" - Lochie, 5.3 years
"Food coloring!" - Giacomo, 5.1 years
Collaborating on a plan for the structure
Our first step as a group was to draw what we know about volcanoes. We wanted to slow down and think about the shape, the potential colors, the plan for building the structure, and think about how it would actually work to scare the rats.
The process of building the structure presented a few challenges: tearing and crumpling the news paper; adhering the news paper with tape; attending to the shape and size of the volcano; and not making the top too heavy. At first, some of the children wanted to simply place the newspaper in the box and around the bottle; they were unsure about the need for taping it together (Why won't it just stay?). Then, placing the newspaper, tearing the strip of tape, and adhering the new piece to the existing structure was difficult. Each one of them, in their own way, overcame this challenge to create the structure for our volcano.
This process also required a bit of patience and delayed gratification, as we could not (due to other projects and work in the classroom) work on it every day. So, a few days later, it was time to paper mache the volcano structure.
This was a messy, but fun part of the process. Once again, it required some patience before we could go to the next step. The paper mache took a few days to dry. Giacomo reminded us that it had to be "so dry that when you knock on it, it's hard!"
Painting the Volcano
Exploding the Volcano
Finally, the day arrived for us to explode the volcano. Keeping in mind that we only had one volcano, and a lot of interested and excited children, we decided to test out the explosion in some jars first. We tested out different amounts and ratios of baking soda, water, food coloring, and vinegar! We discovered that if you add more vinegar, it will continue to erupt, and also that we should probably mix up some of the baking soda that settles on the bottom. We took all of this information to our paper mache volcano.
A Night at St. John's
This phase of our work began with our home research where we asked, "Can you find shadows at night?" After the winter break, a small group sat together in the atelier to discuss the photos that were collected from the home research. Jack, Lucia, and Janie brought their own photos, and we also included Sylvie's photos. During our reflective small group conversation, an idea was born:
Do we have an answer to that big question [Are there shadows at night?]?
“Unless you have a candle.” - Jack
“Mom just turned off all the flashlights.” - Lucia
“Shadow puppets.” - Jack
“I made them.” - Janie
Here, I read Jack’s quote from his home research: "Basically, you need a flashlight because the moon isn’t bright enough."
Sounds like we’ve decided that you can find shadows at night if you have:
Flashlights or a candle. The moon is not bright enough. - Jack
Or a street light. - Lucia
Is there a way for us to test this out in our classroom? A way to test our theory about the moon?
“Yes, but…it’s kind of a tricky one and I don’t think you’ll really agree with it. The only way to do that is if we go to the classroom at night.” - Jack
“I would love that.” - Janie
Would we find shadows?
“That’s the only way to test it out.” - Jack
Can you get in the school at night?
“Noo!” - All
“Because the door is locked.” - Janie
What if you have a key?
“You could bring your key, and you could be waiting at the door. You bring your key. Can you tell the information to our moms and dads?” - Jack
If we came to the school at night, how would we test our theory about the shadows? Jack suggested that we come to school at night, but what kind of materials would we need? What would we do?
“You bring your key, unlock the door, lock the door again, tiptoe up here, and then we can go in here. Open all of the blinds, see if the moon is anywhere, and see if shadows are there.” - Jack
“We can make shadow puppets.” - Lucia
Are there any other materials or tools that we would need?
“Toys! Paint?” - Janie
Is there anything here at St. John’s that you would want me, Melanie, Jen, or Molly to set up here at night?
[Jack looks around and points to the overhead projector]
So, one of the overhead projectors?
“Yeah!” - Jack
Stay tuned. Later this week, we'll share the small group, morning meeting conversations we had with the children to brainstorm ideas for our night at school!
Also, we neglected to put this in our email, but please take a minute to email us as an "RSVP" for our night at school; if you've already done so, please disregard this note! A head count will be helpful for ordering dinner! We are so very excited for this evening, and are grateful for the enthusiasm that you've already shared with us and the children! It will be memorable for sure!
A Glimpse at Our Work through a Variety of Languages
Clay work has steadily been increasing since the beginning of the new year. Developing an understanding of the properties and potential is part of the process along with establishing a knowledge of the tools and honing our skills in forming the clay to represent an intention. Of course it is also all about the play, squishing, shaping, molding, folding, cutting, poking, and attaching pieces with the score and slip technique. Janie, Jane, and CC have made cakes. Jane made a bed, Janie made pizza, Audrey made a table. Lochie shaped a pyramid (below) and Giacomo formed a volcano, both of which provided an opportunity to learn that we need to hollow out dense portions of clay to prevent ruination once fired, due to unseen air pockets in the clay. Reed worked on making a baby koala, with emphasis on the baby because the adult was "too big." Of course, the relevance and continuing intrigue around rats influence an opportunity to sculpt and create rats courtesy of Lochie, Audrey, Lucia, Giacomo, and with supporting credits to Elyse.
CONSTRUCTION & DRAMATIC PLAY
The black and white areas have been active as the black area has decidedly transformed into night and the white area is loosely being appreciated as day. The construction and dramatic play merger is alive, well, and ongoing!
A First Approach to Drawing St. John's - A Response to Making a Gift for the 25th School Birthday Celebration
We want to illustrate a portrait of St. Johns so we took some time to sit on the lawn as a first sketch and study awhile back. We identified the Brown Room window, the window above the stairs, and the window to Molly's office. Not long after we got started Molly appeared at the middle window above the door - Hi Molly! The children were focused, engaged, and had a lot of fun! We got some great initial drawings from this experience observing the facade, and it provided great leverage for another opportunity at a greater distance with larger paper to better capture the whole school, from the front. We hope to have a few more children work on this as well as capturing the back of the school for a more complete portrait.
Our interest in the relationship between the sun, moon, and Earth is maintaining enthusiastic momentum. The children are curious about how it all works and our eager to share what they know and learn from each other. Of course beyond this there are many other opportunities for drawing whether by individual choice or as part of our weekly projections. We are really beginning to observe that this form of expression is developing for everyone!
MIXED MEDIA & COLLAGE
We have embellished our studio area by the easel to support drawing, for a period of time, instead of painting by adding a greater assortment of mark making tools along with lots of paper choices, glue, scissors, hole punches, and more. The intention is for larger scale drawing and merging languages with the mixed media approach. This area now appears and feels like a mini atelier or an extension of the message center but for big drawing and collage work. The children have been enjoying taking some ownership over the space by intentionally moving the materials, of their choice, near to their paper. It's great observing how the space and work are slowly evolving.
"My hands are all messy!" Violet said while jumping up and down with enjoyment as she pulled her hands out from the flour and water mixture. Paper mache has been a recent addition to our exploration of paper as part of a birthday committee and separate from birthday work, in support of Giacomo's and Nora's investigations of the rat holes and an interest in creating a volcano to scare away the imagined rats.
Wire is getting more love and attention. It has been implemented in our current birthday committee work and in the beginning work of representing and creating constellations for our "night sky." More will be shared and shown on these later!