Showing posts from January, 2010

Atelierista, Learning to Help Teachers

I got a comment asking questions about how I support the classroom teachers. During my first year as Atelierista, this was my biggest challenge and one I didn't meet well. This year, my second in this job, I feel like I am doing better. There are some classrooms that I feel I am a vital part of. I hope to grow and learn so that soon I will be a part of every classroom, and a partner with each teacher in the pre-school.
Here is one story to show the back and forth between the teachers and me, the classroom and the studio. It is an unfinished story, which will be complete when the work goes back to the classroom and adds (or not) to the bigger project.

One classroom has interpreted the investigation into PLACE and photography as a look at how children see each other and themselves. For three year olds it seems, a place is the people in it. Sara and Cris showed me some portraits the children have been taking of each other, and some self-portraits made by collaging found objects over …

Oliver Plays His Drums

after watching this video, he said "It's not done, you know. I still need a tom tom."

The Challenge of Meeting Each Child Where They Are

Oliver is a child with a lot of aptitude for drawing and much knowledge about the things he likes. Left alone, I think he would draw and write and make wonderful things. But he often tells me he needs help, and doesn't move forward alone. I have come to see that when he has reached a "knotty problem" in his thinking or making, Oliver needs someone to come close, listen and help him talk through the difficulty. It seems that the support he feels just by having someone near, who is interested and involved in his process, is all he really needs.

Here (above) I helped Oliver think about the some of the shapes in an electric guitar, which he drew and then made in cardboard (which I cut out for him).

Here Oliver drew from a photograph of Ringo's drums. He asked for help to draw the cymbals, when he had drawn the stands, so I drew one (my lines are lighter than his, right), and later I drew one version of Paul's bass at his request (the tiny one center left). It feels im…

Place and Imagination...

Sitting with a group I had challenged to draw a favorite place, "something you will want to remember after you leave this place", Abel had drawn; "Benjamin with 2 extra heads and snowballs falling all around".

Next, I asked Abel to create this drawing life-size, so that we could take a photo of the real Benjamin in the scene. The snowballs seemed easy enough to make, but how will we make Benjamin have 3 heads? A headband with two paper heads on top might work.

Abel drew the snowballs with faces, hung them on string, and Benjamin came to the studio to help make and to wear the hat with 2 extra heads. Abel took pictures, and Arthur came along and took photographs using a second camera.
Soon, I will ask the guys what they think of the photos (or, if parents happen to read this, please ask them for me, and comment here if you like.)
Do they represent Abel's vision? Was it fun for Benjamin to be the subject of this whimsical project?

Mostly, I am excited by the prospect …

What happened in the studio today

So many things happen in every classroom every day. Some things that happened in my studio today were continuations of longer-term investigations, while others were people coming in to just 'make something.' Here is what happened in the Sabot studio today...

Rainbow room rocket builders worked on space helmets. Some liked the plaster helmets we had been letting dry, some did not and will keep working. Benjamin came to build a transformer using hammer and nails, then Abel and Benjamin worked on the snowballs for the photo, and Arthur came and took photos. Lola continued making robots, Ainsley and Dacy made dog toys, Cooper made a chart showing all of his favorite stuffed animals, Nolan worked on his model of the school, adding a path and labyrinth, Isabel drew a picture of our first aid kit, and Stella started a beautiful gift for her Mom.

Place project and inventories: Ainsley and Abel Draw

Here is such a nice example of children working together. Abel listened to Ainsley throughout this 'drawing lesson', trying out some of the ideas, and laughing at some of the suggestions, but maintained his focus and confidence. He continued to draw the 38 snowballs. (I only wish I had saved Ainsley's scraps with its array of ways to draw noses and mouths, but sadly, she drew on the other side and then cut out the shapes!)

When Abel was working on making the snowballs to use in the photograph his imaginative favorite place drawing (above). Ainsley suggested that he might want to make want to make a different kind of mouth on some of them, so they wouldn't all be the same. She showed him the ways she knows how to make a mouth. "I either do it without teeth, or I do it with teeth, but with another layer, or I just do it with one line."
Abel tried all of those ways, but made sure we knew that he wanted all of the snowballs to have a smile (not another expression…

Place and Imagination

Having the children draw their favorite places before photographing has led me to a knotty problem. How do you photograph some of the more imaginative places? Stella and Lila's favorite place, for instance, contain multiple points of view (Inside and outside, upstairs and downstairs. Not to mention the image of the Sabot Dragon next to the swings. There is already quite a bit of debate about whether the Dragon (who appears at our school in the Springtime) is real or not, but how can we get a photo of him in the Winter?

Both Henry and Ainsley show interiors and exteriors of our two school buildings. Perhaps these images can be done with a collage technique.

However, Abel's drawings will require something more like the building of a stage set. This picture depicts Benjamin with 3 heads, 38 snowballs with faces falling all around him. Abel has drawn the snowballs, and is in the process of hanging them from strings. I hope soon the boys can solve the problem of the three heads!

Place Project 2010

Here are two more entries in the continuing examination of place at the preschool. Children come to the studio in groups, and we talk about how we will be leaving this place, and it won't be where we go to school any more. I ask the children what they would like to remember about this place, if they have a favorite place or thing here. Dahlia (3), drew her favorite place, "The forest, the pavilion, and everything."
Later we went outside so she could take a photograph of it.
Henry (5), drew several things. This picture shows one of his favorite things to do at school, the springtime activity of looking for bugs under rocks, and putting them in a bug box. We borrowed a bug box from the Rainbow room for Henry to photograph after drawing.

Henry 'A bug box, a rock and a spider'.

I have never tried having the children draw to plan their photographs before. It does seem to work like other types of plans we ask the children to draw, by slowing down their thinking and hel…