Our friend Lily, celebrated her 4th birthday on October 25th.
On Monday, we asked Lily to share more with us about how she celebrates her birthday with her family.
I have three birthday celebrations. One already passed and the other and the school birthday. - Lily
It was like what you do at normal birthdays. - Lily
So if I had to guess what you did at a normal birthday, I think you maybe ate something special. - Sam
It was cupcakes! I had chocolate and she had chocolate. - Bea
Cupcakes are my favorite kind of treat. - Lily
It sounds like Bea was at your birthday. Were other friends there? - Sam
No and one grown up and my family. - Lily
She had two presents. - Bea
And I had others because I had family presents too. I had two others. - Lily
And one was a smoothie maker! - Bea
Questions We Ask Ourselves
When we start birthday committee work, we begin by having a large group brainstorming session before we dive deeper into the work with a small committee. Both in large and small groups we ask ourselves to think about what things the birthday child likes. What do we already know about the birthday child? What can we still learn?
What kind of things does Lily like?
Maybe she likes unicorns because she has unicorns on her mask. - Finlay
She also had a unicorn birthday. - Bea
Yep, I love them. They’re my favorite type of animal. - Lily
* some discussion about a unicorn piñata at birthday party*
They’re just kind of magical and I like kind of magical stuff. - Lily
What is magical stuff? - Ines
It means like they can make stuff appear that other people can’t do. - Lily
Can anyone else think of other magical things? - Sam
A princess? Because I have a wand from Lily’s birthday. - Bea
So like a rainbow. - Finlay
Also we can make some magical paper thing for Lily’s birthday. Like we could put a big piece of paper and like do a outline of a unicorn and then we paint the inside of the unicorn. - Bea
I think that would be good! But maybe more than one unicorn. - Lily
Like two unicorns. One’s the baby and ones the mom and ones the dad. - Bea
Maybe like four. Actually three. Well one mom one baby and one dad. That’s all I want. - Lily
And did you have a favorite color you’d like to share with us? - Sam
Pink, red, and yellow. - Lily
I knew you would! - Lily
Speaking to Bea when finding out that she would be on the birthday committee.
Birthday Committee Work
Keeping Lily's interest in unicorns (her favorite animal) in mind, Daniel and Bea began discussing their ideas for how to incorporate this interest into the birthday portrait in addition to other ideas they had about the overall setup.
We need something magical. Like sparkles coming out. She likes sparkles too. - Bea
So do the sparkles come out of the unicorn? - Sam
They come out of the unicorn’s horn. - Bea
And have we thought about what Lily might wear? - Sam
All of her favorite colors. Maybe we could sew it like we did for Remy. It would look like pink, yellow, and red. - Bea
I remember for Remy you made a dress. So what do you think Lily's portrait outfit might look like? - Sam
She always wears headbands. - Bea
You’re right. She does wear headbands a lot. Maybe we could make her a headband. - Sam
I could bring my headband. - Bea
I’m wondering if we could create her something new and make her a headband. - Sam
Like how we made Remy's headband? We already have one. We could use that since we already made… - Bea
Well I know that the other headband was made special for Remy’s birthday portrait because of what she likes.
So I’m wondering if we could make something just as special for Lily? - Sam
Yeah. - Bea
And make bows. - Daniel
Yeah she’s wearing a bow headband right now! - Bea
Great. It sounds like we have ideas for what she will wear. - Sam
I don’t even know how to make a unicorn! - Daniel
Well we could look at a picture. - Bea
Three images were chosen for the unicorn family. A mom, a dad, and a baby (per Lily's request)
After tracing the three members of the unicorn family for the portrait background, Daniel and Bea decided that color should be added to each. The color inspiration came from the images found and selected to represent each unicorn.
Initially, markers were chosen. It was quickly observed that it's difficult to cover large spaces with only markers as our tools. Then, we explored oil pastels and chalk which are able to be spread out and blended.
These materials seemed to cover more surface area when used and exploring their "blendability" was fascinating!
Drawing the unicorn hair proved to be the most challenging part of this step in the committee work.
When looking around the atelier for materials, Bea noticed the yarn and thought it could be used to include as the unicorn's hair because the properties of yarn are "warm and soft" like hair!
Making a Headband
Knowing that Lily often wears headbands, Bea went to the source to find out more about the functionality of a headband and what it's made of.
Lily removed her headband to give Bea a closer look.
Ohhh bending. - Bea
I think you used a material recently that you could bend when you made a sculpture for my birthday. - Sam
Oh. wire! - Bea
And what’s wrapped around the headband? - Sam
That’s ribbon. - Lily
And you could also use fabric. - Bea
This is for the birthday committee, right? I can tell. You’re asking me a lot of questions! - Lily
And how would we make the bow? Fabric? And tied it and clipped it on (the headband) - Bea
Look. it’s rippable. And you can slip it back on. - Lily (demonstrating how to remove bow from headband)
Daniel and Bea then got to work selecting materials and creating the headband accessory for Lily to wear in the photo shoot.
When finished with the custom made headband, Daniel and Bea shared the following thoughts:
It looks like, "Hello! I love you!" - Bea
It looks like a pop band. (singer) - Daniel
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
| || |
It has the school symbol! - Hugh
What’s our new symbol? - Lily
Ines is wearing it on her shirt today.
I thought that's the logo. - Lily
A logo is like a type of symbol. - Sam
Remember when we were in Brown Room and we saw the new logo? Where the old logo was . And on the sign outside of the school. - Hugh
I saw that a lot of times! - Frannie
I saw that like 50 times. - Daniel
Frannie: My leg is short like Daniel’s.
Daniel: My legs are bigger than Frannie’s. You know what, since I ate more than Frannie, my legs grow faster than her.
Hugh: My legs are almost the size as yours (Ines').
Ines: We are comparing the length of our legs. Did you know you can also compare the length of our bodies?
Hugh: By scales! A scale is a flat thing that you step on and it has this little thing that tells how big your body is.
Ines: It tells you the weight of your body.
Sam: How heavy something is.
Ines: What can tell you how long you are?
(Ines bring a measuring tape to the meeting) This is called a measuring tape.
Bea: I actually measured myself today.
Luke: I want to measure me.
Hugh: My nanny has that.
Daniel: Looks like a belt.
Daniel: I think I’m gonna be up to three. (guessing his height on the measuring tape)
Lily and Finlay placed long, rectangular blocks alongside the red tape, which represents Lily’s body height/length.
Lily: One, two three, four, five (counting the “space” between the end of the last block and the end of the tape)
Ines: Did the blocks reach all the way to the top?
Lily: No. We need one.
Finlay adds a long skinny block that then covers the red tape completely.
Lily: Now we can’t see the red. (lifting up the block to compare to the length tape underneath) It’s too long. It’s too long. (adding another block to the top) This would be too long. Mhh…
Ines: Do you think we have a shorter block that we could try?
Finlay walks over to the construction area and brings back four longer boards.
Lily: No! We said shorter, not longer. Oh yeah, maybe two would work. Two maybe. I guess. I think. Let’s take this off (removing shorter blocks on the top)
Finlay lays long boards on top of previously used blocks along the tape.
Finlay: It goes inside. (Boards extend the length of the tape)
Lily: Well, we did say short.
measuring items around the classroom
using measurement as a tool to create Remy's birthday portrait costume
We are getting ready for the St. John's book fair next week!
As part of our preparation we have been investigating ginkgo leaves on the light table in the classroom. In the Atelier, children created large scale ginkgo leaves using wire and beads. Look out for these beautiful creations at the book fair!
Susan Strawbridge specializes in child photography in the DC area.
From her website:
Inspired by love, light and laughter, my goal is to capture the essence of childhood – joy, happiness, carefree energy and, of course, a little bit of mischief. I have an energetic, creative and informal approach to my portrait sessions. Instead of relying on traditional poses, I prefer to tap into the imagination of children to capture special moments that define a child or who you are as a family.