Showing posts from September, 2009

Making your own toys

Avery, her Mom and I talked at carpool about why A. was saying she didn’t want to go in the Forest. I had been with her the day before and saw that she was smiling, and having success measuring the labyrinth with her steps. She said the reason it wasn't very fun was that there weren’t any toys to play with in the Forest. Maybe she could make some toys!

Later, A. came to the studio to work on a plan for some Forest toys.

Anna “What kind of toy are you talking about?”

A. “I’m talking about a toy that can shoot all kinds of things –a rock or a pine cone, er, a gumball (from a Sweet Gum tree). It will throw things at trees. It should be made out of sticks.” (I asked A. to go outside with me to find some sticks, but she decided to use popsicle sticks from the wood shelf).

Anna “Will you show me the parts that you are drawing?”
A. “These are the stripes from the sun. Well, the real sun has stripes. The Sun makes stripes and then power.”
(A. works a bit and then makes the toy. Then she goes b…

Circus work

The idea of building a Circus continues in the studio. Here are some pictures of a Circus Van, trapeze, Circus Wagon with Tiger, and Ringmaster. The knotty problem is the tent; Benjamin figured out a frame, but the fabric cover continues to be a challenge for the children (We will keep working on this).
The classrooms have circus ideas going on, too. Children have played circus in the Meadow and interacted with projections of circus animals inside. Perhaps the tent is not as important to them as it was to me?

Cukoo Clock and Little Girl

Ideational fluency is a term that refers to the ability to hold an idea over time, to be able to think flexibly about an idea, and to be able to see the problems inherent in an idea. Here is an example of how ideas stay alive over time at the pre-school. 
Some of the ideas the Meadow room children wanted to work on that first day of school where a cuckoo clock, a 'show', a costume and a baby and crib. 7 days later,after much work on Circus characters, Stella and Elizabeth came to the studio to make them. 
E. wanted to make a fabric baby doll, while S. wanted to make the cuckoo clock. The cuckoo clock is a mixed media piece with numbers, a bird, and a depiction of a sunrise. The little girl is a muslin stuffed doll.

They wrote a play that they could perform at circle, in which the cuckoo clock chimed softly to help the little girl go to sleep, and more loudly to help her wake up in the morning.
The next day, when Henry was working on an idea about Spiderman, he went and got the gir…

Cross-age interaction and the Circus

As the Circus project began to unfold among the Meadow room children, coincidentally a group of Garden roomers were thinking about Circus too. When the teachers asked me if a group could come to the studio to work on making Circus animals, I had to think carefully. How could a group of three year olds represent animals, when they don't yet have drawing in their repertoire? I showed the children this book...(James Castle; A Retrospective) and they looked carefully at James Castle's cardboard and string constructions.  The Garden room makers of Tigers and Elephants were soon joined by some older children who made a duck, a squirrel, and a Circus 'Top Hat Man'. The children seemed to immediately understand Castle's way of working, and adapt it to their own use.


On the first full day of school. At one point in the morning I walked down the hall to see the oldest group of children, and they were all gathered around, writing notes to come to the studio. When I asked them what they were coming for, they had many ideas. I heard "make a crib", "make a canon", "make a costume", and "make a cuckoo clock". I told the children that they had so many ideas, and I would like it if they could talk together about an idea that they could all work on. Was there anything that would use a cuckoo clock and a canon? Someone suggested they could put on a show. I left them to talk it over.
Later, a smaller group of boys from the Meadow room came with a note that said they wanted to make a circus. The circus would have a canon, and when I asked what else a circus would need, they talked about animals and a tent. Two of the boys decided to use plasticine for the animals. Two others weren't sure what to do, so I asked if the…

Book list; Studio Thinking

This morning Marty came into the studio with a gift for me. It was this book- Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education by Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner and Shirley Veneema. However, I already had it, and had read it last summer!

This book is from Harvard's Project Zero, and it details the results of a long inquiry into the ways education in the arts function, what the arts "actually teach and what art students actually learn." The book lays out 8 studio "Habits of Mind", which are the result of teaching and learning in the visual arts. The authors participated in the research which debunked the 'Mozart Effect', but still believe that learning in the arts must be further researched to find out whether it  is deeper and can transfer to other domains. They state; "It seems probable that the studio Habits of Mind differ from Habits of Mind required in other disciplines only by emphasis (e.g., there is likely more concern with "Expr…

Studio set-up

The studio is almost ready for the children. I kept the shelves relatively monochromatic and left lots of empty space to display children's art and work in progress.
Next, I'll see how it works. Will the children be more engaged with their own ideas when there is less in the environment? I wonder about the children who seek out the studio right from the begining of the school year. I imagine that they are like me, and take inspiration from color and sparkle, and comfort in the crowd of stuff. It will be interesting to see how they react (or if they notice anything different). On the other hand, those who feel uncomfortable with too much visual stimulation may find the studio a much kinder place this year. I know some of the teachers have already told me they like the new look!