Showing posts from March, 2013

Atelierista and the language of string, understanding math and mass

Zack said "If I tie it to here, what will happen to the rope? It will get stuck. It will get so, so stuck. (pulling hard) Oooooh!"

What was drawing the two year old children to play with string, wrapping objects again and again? Their teacher Sarah Anne and I wondered. It seemed that they were using the string to know things, that by wrapping and 'tying' they were somehow coming to understand objects in a new way, the way a baby does when it touches, tastes, and climbs on something.
Sarah Anne and I proposed our theories, but weren't convinced of any of them, so we consulted with Sabot's math specialist, Cat. She noticed the children pulling on the strings, ribbons and ropes. She proposed that they might be figuring out mass by testing the resistance of the spools, bottles, chairs, tables and trees they were wrapping. She taught us the term 'spatial structuring', which is the way we humans begin to organize information about a form or forms in space.  …

Beautiful Things


Drawing tallness

Drawing an idea for a castle she wanted to build out of wood,
Tristan stopped and said
"How do I draw it tall when it's already there, just on the paper?"
She had the circlular shape of a castle, and the bumpy lines that are usually depicted on top.

I was really struck by her question; "How do I draw it tall?"
She was dissatisfied with the way the 3 dimensional form in her mind looked in 2 dimensions
on the paper.

...we looked at the picture in this book to see how the tower was drawn,
and then Tristan added some lines for the sides.

I'm sure this isn't the end of Tristan's quest to figure out perspective, but for now it served her purpose and she moved on to building a castle for a project in her classroom.
The Garden room children (3, going on 4) are making figures for an intricate story, which they are also using to project shadows on the wall in their "light studio".

the finished castle

Languages and value

I've been looking at my younger daughter's first semester college anthropology textbooks. One that I've really enjoyed is 'Myth and Meaning' by Claude Levi-Strauss. I can see a lot of connections to things that Loris Malaguzzi talked about, and even more connections to Joseph Campbell and things we notice at school (in the play of the children) about mythology and popular culture. 

But the most interesting thing to me personally is Levi-Strauss' discussion of the universal. I tend to think about the universal a lot. Maybe it's an art-school thing, or maybe it is just my brain. 
Sometimes in meetings people seem annoyed with me, thinking that I value visual expression more than writing, reading or whatever. It always takes me aback- after all, I spend a lot of time writing and reading! A lot of time!

Why does it seem that since I value visual art I must not value music or literature or mathematics, or science? I'd really like to understand it more. To me al…

I am a rainbow

Every once in a while I am surprised when a child comes up with a brand new use for something that's been around for a long time. Z and B picked up these colored paddles and each said "I am a rainbow". Then they began to paint while looking through the paddles, something I'd never seen anyone do before.

A Story in 4 Lines. by Emma, 4.11

"Once there was a Princess named Rapunzel.  She lived in a tall, tall tower. She couldn't get out!  A Green Prince came.  The Princess threw down her long yellow golden hair.  The Prince climbed up it and saved her!"


Did you ever have a horrible tragedy that cause you reexamine your life? After my Father died, I realized that one thing I wanted to do in my life was to figure out how to write about teaching and get that writing out into the world. Yesterday when I got home from work there was a package waiting on my porch. It was my copy of Nature Education with Young Children, a book which grew out of a discussion with Daniel Meier. We were in Dallas, talking about how so many stories about children and teachers and nature still needed to be told. Thanks to Daniel and his co-editor Stephanie Sisk-Hilton, that book is now real. There are two chapters in it which represent the children at Sabot, one about children's point of view as seen through their maps, written by Marty Gravett, and one about representing play in nature written by me. I think it would make my Dad smile.

and don't forget you can visit us here at Sabot this April!