Playdate in the park
On Wednesday, we made a plan for our Thursday playdate. We agreed on 5 books that Saul chose, and we decided that it would be a good day for me to bring the digital microscope! While the skies were gloomy and gray, my heart was full of sunshine from my sweet time with Saul!
This has certainly be a unique year, but Saul has truly been a champ through all of it, and I think we've done some really incredible things despite our distance! Saul, and his family, have certainly taught me so much this year about relationships, materials explorations, communication, collaboration, and more.
Exchanging end of the year messages
"Don't forget that I love you." - Saul
A final note: I cannot thank you all enough for making this a beautiful, successful, joyful, creative year. There were so many people who took a chance and believed that we could have a virtual classroom. All these months later, I find myself beyond grateful for their faith in me, in the children, and in the families. So, thank you!
And should any of our other Brown, Rainey, and Tucker room families ever see this, I'm grateful to every child and parent who joined us in the virtual space this year! You brought so much to our world, and we loved having you and missed you once you returned to campus! Thank you doesn't seem like enough.
Do you remember what we’re doing today? - Elyse
“We’re weaving!” - Saul
Today was inspired by a brainstorming session from last week. We wondered: What would it be like if we used the wet fabric to weave? Will it be easy to get under and over the loom strings? How will it dry? What will it feel like? What will it end up looking like?
So, today we had cardboard looms, strips of fabric, and our trusty paper mache paste.
“This is a quite different weaving box. This is a quite different loom. It’s like a guitar!” - Saul [top left]
“Oh, we’re weaving with the fabric mache.” - Saul
“You go up and down. I’m so excited for my next project.” - Saul
This is an experiment for both of us. I’ve never done this type of weaving before. - Elyse
“You can go up, down, up down.” - Saul
“I’m going to make a fabric weaving collection.” - Saul
“Look I’m weaving!” - Saul
You’re tucking it. - Elyse
“What’s tucking?” - Saul
Do you ever get tucked into bed? -Elyse
“I’m tucking the fabric into bed.” - Saul
“Look! It’s colorful!” - Saul
“Look at the famous park I built.” - Saul, 3.9 years
We briefly looked up some inspiration for cardboard sculptures.
Someone made a telephone. Oh look! Someone made a guitar! - Elyse
“How famous that is?” - Saul
Making a plan
“I want to build a house.” - Saul
One way you can do it is build it and figure out how you want it to be, and then glue it. Or, you can glue it as you build it. - Elyse
“I’m making beautiful things to brush your teeth. Now I’m making something for brushing your teeth.” - Saul
I’ve decided that I’m not going to use glue yet because then I can’t change my design. - Elyse
“I want to change my design.” - Saul
Well, then I recommend waiting to use glue. - Elyse
Making Choices and Revisiting Techniques and learning new ones
That’s the thing about working with materials sometimes is you can make different choices. None of them are right or wrong; it’s just a choice you have to make. - Elyse
“If you want to think about choices, we have to put it inside our minds. We have to put inside the choices of our mind and make them move. Inside of your minds are a lot of choices.” - Saul
Choices or ideas are floating around our mind, and we just have to reach out and choose it. - Elyse
“Yeah, choose one.” -Saul
We just have to choose which one we think is best. - Elyse
Have you tried making feet for it? Where you fold the edge? - Elyse
“Yeah, but how can we make an accordion? I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” - Saul
Creating a park
“This is a park, and I need a gate to keep everyone inside.” - Saul
“This Is where people slide.” - Saul
“I made a double slide. It has two slides. That’s called a double slide.” - Saul
How do you get to the top of the slide? - Elyse
“Like climb on this slide and then you slide down this [the other] slide.” - Saul
“Look at the famous park I built.” - Saul
Exploring new techniques is a wonderful way to open up a world of possibilities for our creativity. Using our materials in thoughtful, innovative ways gives us a library of information/options/approaches to pull from when we have a new idea and need a way to express that idea.
Today, we drew inspiration from Rainey Room A and used fabric with our paper mache paste. During our day off from Zoom, Saul, with his sister and mom, created a cardboard house as a base for their "fabric mache".
Using "fabric mache" to enhance their house
“Look at the beautiful, creative house.” - Saul
“I’m working the other triangle; I’m working again on the roof.” - Saul
“First I’m doing the chimney and then the balcony.” - Saul
“Then, when the chimney is ready, we’re going to use pipe cleaners and wire for the smoke.” - RIva
“You have to hold it tight, and wrap it, wrap it, wrap it around the chimney and then squeeze it up.” - Saul [about his thread for the chimney]
A Hanukkah House
What does love mean?
“Look at what I created! Isn’t it beautiful?” - Saul
A plan for next week
“So we’re planning something to do with you for weaving things.” - Saul
Ima and I were thinking about something we can do next week, but we’re trying to make sure that we understand each other. - Elyse
“To understand to make it now.” - Saul
Sometimes when you share ideas, you have to say it in different ways. - Elyse
It’s called brainstorming. It means that we throw ideas. Almost like we throw a ball to each other. So I throw a ball, and she thinks about it, looks at it, and then throws it back. - Naama
“We need something to pop it up, and then we can use it for something; for a collage.” - Saul
It bounces like a ball. I have to be gentle, but it does bounce. - Elyse
“It rolls, and then you roll it backwards.” - Saul
Sauly, we made a ball sculpture. - Elyse
“Well, I have this cool magazine that has a scooter pulling a stroller.” - Saul
Are there any interesting animals in that magazine? - Elyse
“There’s so many types of cats. 1…2…3…” - Saul
A message from Sylvie
“Sylvie!” - Saul
She wrote guitar music for Saul. - Naama
Checking in on our paper mache
Paper has been a wonderful material for us to use her in the virtual classroom! Recently, the Brown Room used paper mache to create the head of their dragon costume, and the children in the Brown Room seem to love this technique. Due to our success with paper explorations, and messy/sensory explorations, paper mache seemed like a natural thing to introduce. It was also great that Naama, Saul's mom, had memories of using it as a child, and was able to share her memories and some great tips! This truly would not have been successful without Naama's assistance and encouragement throughout.
I remember, as a child, my grandmother used to cook it in a pot. We would take a brush and dip it in and brush it on a piece of paper. - Naama
Just as the Brown Room did, we decided to start with a balloon; an orange balloon to be exact!
The concept of adding layers really appealed to Saul, and he seemed to really enjoy adding more and more layers. At one point, he experimented with adding cardboard pieces as layers.
You can put a second layer, that way it’s stronger when it dries. - Elyse
“Yeah! I want to put a second layer!” - Saul
“Let’s keep working on the next layer. It needs another layer to make it strong. Now we can make three.” - Saul
“Look! The balloon is so dirty [was finally covered in newspaper].” - Saul
“I think you can add another layer with cardboard paper.” - Saul
I’ve never tried cardboard. I did see that the Rainey Room used fabric to paper mache. - Elyse
“Oh fabric! That’s a good job to use fabric because all of the time I don’t have any time because it’s so fast!” - Saul
Maybe we can put it in a bowl to dry. - Elyse
“No! I want to make four layers.” - Saul
“We’re going to make a few paper mache layers with cardboard.” - Saul
Paper mache is hard work:
“My arms are getting sore.” - Saul
Are your arms getting tired? Is that what you mean? - Elyse
“No. I’m getting sore, but I’m not tired. My hands are getting sore.” - Saul
Your hands have been doing a lot of work. - Elyse
“For now I’m going to take the paper with only one hand. I don’t need my other hand because it’s sore.” - Saul
Languages and Research
Recently, Saul has been noticing how I pronounce the word orange differently than he does. Today, this lead to a conversation about how we not only pronounce things differently, but we also speak languages that are different from our language in common: English.
Saul, sometimes we say things differently, just like sometimes we speak different languages. - Elyse
While you dip [your paper] can you tell me about which language you speak at home? - Elyse
“i speak like, kid speak. I speak in the voice of the kids.” - Saul
That’s a really beautiful statement; a beautiful sentiment. - Elyse
Around this time, Naama shared that there is an Israeli artist who creates sculptures with paper and light.
There is an Israeli artist who makes sculptures with paper and light. - Naama
Saul, were you born in Israel? - Elyse
“Yeah, but it’s a hot dog. I was born in a hot dog.” - Saul
We have the world map, and Israel is so small that I call it a hot dog. It’s a kosher hot dog though. It does look like it on the map because it’s so small, and the color that they chose is a hot dog color. - Naama
Later, I began to share my screen and use Google to search for information and images from this artist, but we were having a hard time finding exactly what we wanted
I might have to do more research. - Elyse
“What’s research?” - Saul
That’s a great question. It’s when I look for ore information about something. - Elyse
“So that you can see it?” - Saul
Yes. So I can see it. So i can learn or so that I can understand. When you research something, it means you are usually trying to learn more about it. - Elyse
“More about it?” - Saul
Yes. More information about it. - Elyse
“Can you show me?” - Saul
Yes. So Ima and I were trying to find this Israeli artist. - Elyse
“Artist?” - Saul
Yes. So can you see these sculptures? - Elyse
“Light sculptures. I just saw a green one! Over there! Look!” - Saul
We should do more research because I’m interested to see this artist. - Elyse
“You’re interested to see the artist?” - Saul
I am. The artist is Israeli, which means that she was probably born in the same place you were. I’m going to ask Ima to say her name for me again. - Elyse
Naama pronounces it and Saul repeats it. I then pronounce her name: Ayala Serfaty
“You can’t say that in English because it is Hebrew.” - Saul
Is that a Hebrew name? - Elyse
“Yes.” - Saul
So, we can’t say it in English, but we can try to pronounce it. - Elyse
“Why are you talking in Hebrew? You can do that!” - Saul
It’s true. I do not speak Hebrew, but I can try to pronounce the artists name. - Elyse
The meaning of her name is ‘doe’. - Naama
Saul, you do speak Hebrew. I speak Italian.- Elyse
“Italian and English?” -Saul
Well, the language that you and I have in common is English, so that’s why we speak it to each other, but at home you get to speak Hebrew. - Elyse
“How do you know Italian?” - Saul
Well, I studied Italian when I went to college; or university. And I lived in Italy for a little while. Like you lived in Israel for a while, I lived in Italy. If you look on the map, Italy looks like a boot; like you said Israel looks like a hotdog. - Elyse
Recently, we sent some invitations to the Brown Room to join us for a zoom snack time! Today was the day for us to meet up!
Saul brought a lawnmower to share, everyone had a snack, and the Brown Room shared a dinosaur book with us! We even made plans for a virtual play date "soon". Thank you Brown Room for taking the time to chat with us!
Before the Brown Room signed on, Saul and I had been talking about and sharing some flowers that we had each seen around DC recently. The first thing we noticed was the beautiful bouquet of flowers that the Brown Room had as a centerpiece at their snack table. They shared a few of the flowers up close, and Saul was able to show them a beautiful purple flower he collected on his walk yesterday.
The Dragon Costume
We finally finished our dragon costume! It has a special head that you can wear. - Sam
We’ve got teeth on the dragon! What color are the eyes? - Ines
“Blue. Blue eyes.” - Lily
What else does it have to have? - Ines
“A chain because it comes to life.” - Lily
In the story, Saul, if the dragons didn’t have a chain, they would escape. - Sam
“Escape?” - Saul
We wanted to keep ours in the Brown Room so we made a necklace. - Ines
Saul shared his lego lawnmower
Making Future Plans
“This one is for Cal, but I’m making one for Charlton too! It’s kind because I’m making lots of messages.” - Saul
Over the course of the year, we have discovered Saul's love for sewing. On Friday, when we were using watercolors and oil pastels to make messages for the incoming Brown Room children, and Saul asked if we could make a sewing message. We agreed to do it on Monday!
Saul is a very skilled hand sewer. He has mastered adding beads, moving the needle up and down through the fabric, and more.
“It can be hard to put down beads, so you have to be careful.” - Saul
We do have to be careful, but something I know about you, Saul, is that you are an expert at putting beads on your fabric. - Elyse
“I’m going to push the bead down to the fabric, and it’ll be a present.” - Saul
“After you finish your own needle, you have to start a new one over.” - Saul
“Look at my collage! Well, the collage, you kind of know what the beautiful things that are on here. So, there’s a nice bead here, and another one right here; a pink one. There’s a red reversing bead.” - Saul
“The beads create this shape. They moved around my sewing collage.” - Saul
Can I show you my sewing collage? It’s the fish in the ocean. - Elyse
“Yeah! It’s an ocean and there’s top water. Top water. That’s the sky!” - Saul
It could be all ocean, or it could be the ocean and the sky. I hadn’t thought of that. - Elyse
“Ewww, why did you put that in your mouth?” - Saul
Sometimes, when I’m threading my needle, I need the tip of the thread to be wet. - Elyse
“You should put it in the drip of the dishwasher.” - Saul
“I’m already at St. John’s because you are my classroom.” - Saul, 3.9 years
I remember, at the beginning of this year, believing that we needed to name our classroom, quickly find an identity, and always ensure that we were connected to the life of the school on campus (which is still important), etc. We did find a name, but we really didn't use it, and our cohort has changed as we've had friends come in and out of the virtual space. We love and adore these friends, and we miss them terribly once they return to their on campus cohort, and we've done our best to remain connected to our on-campus friends. However, despite the distance and ever changing circumstances of our classroom, Saul and I have found a home in each other. I am his classroom and he is mine!
The unusual nature of this school year has lead to some confusion about the structure of St. John's (Brown Room >> Rainey Room >> Tucker Room) because it's an abstract concept at the moment, but today was a beautiful reminder that this does not matter; not right now. While we will move on to our separate on-campus classrooms next year, for now, we are together, and we are still St. John's.
“Oil pastels are types of colors that are types of crayons that have so many different colors, but the longer crayons are called pens. These are more little. Oil pastels are a type of crayon that we can take off the paper of it.” - Saul
Oil and Water Experiment
This week, Saul and I both observed that it is not easy to mix watercolors and oil pastels. The oil pastels resist the watercolors when they are on the paper together. So, it seemed natural that we do another experiment (something Saul seems to really enjoy). We've done vinegar and baking soda (our volcano), cornstarch and water, and today was oil and water.
Saul hypothesized that it would erupt, but in the end, we had a different experience.
“Whao! That’s so cool!” - Saul
Dragon Costume Update
I have to show you! They sewed your dragon scale onto the costume! Do you remember the dragon scale that you made? -Elyse
“They’re wearing it. They want my scale to put on. Oh, I see, I think there are more scales to put on. I don’t have any dragon scales yet.” - Saul
Do you remember bringing your dragon scale to the park? - Elyse
“I kind of don’t remember that again. Our scale was different than yours.” - Saul