Friday, December 19, 2014

Week of December 15-19

The pre-k students explored how their bodies change with the seasons by creating dolls of themselves using fabric scraps, popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. The studnets reflected on how we change by wearing layers of clothing in the winter and they experimented with making the wire wrap around the fabric to create winter attire. This exploration was captivating to them!

The kindergarten students continued their study of bridges and ramps in the classroom by heading into the atelier to draw bridges we see in the community.

The first grade students tried paper collage to see how the results differed from the natural material collages. Both materials created beautiful products, but the paper proved to be easier to control at this age.

The second graders continued to explore how fear feels, relating it to scary weather conditions and scary stories.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Week of December 1st- 5th, 2014

This week, the pre-k students have been exceeding my expectations in the observational drawing and watercolor painting game.

Some leaves: 

A pinecone:

Miss Bennett's class has been sculpting pine cones in addition to doing the observational watercolors:

101 and 106 have been creating loose part self-portraits.  The provocation is, "How do we change with the seasons?" to get them thinking about how we are a part of nature. The students will have to create clothes to represent the dolls in summer and in winter. 

 And these watercolor paintings from 106 are pretty amazing!  These are pre-k students, so these beautiful pieces were painted by four-year-old children!

The kindergarten students have been studying community, with a specific focus on their own houses, as they need to understand that they are a part of a larger community than their own home. In the atelier, they are working on painting their homes with watercolors, after creating observational drawings with close attention to detail. The students were expected to count the windows and doors and look closely at colors for realism.

The first grade students wanted to create collages of the photos we took at the Burchfield Nature Center using natural materials as a way to share what we experienced with the rest of our school community.  They have been working meticulously on this endeavor. 

The second graders continued their exploration of What Fear Looks Like by creating drawings about fear (most of them used scary weather conditions, as they are studying weather.) They chose a medium based on their drawing and their skill level with that particular medium.  I thought they would all rush to tempera paint, as we haven't used it yet this year, but they were thoughtful about their choices. They dictated a description of their work to me and wrote it out. Next, they will write their own reflections on their work, in their own words.  I wanted them to communicate an idea through visual language, spoken language and written language.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week of November 17-21 & November 24-26

Last week was a strange week for us.  We came in on Monday. The students were really excited about the first snow fall of the year, which turned into the infamous Snowvember Storm that dropped up to eight feet of snow on parts of our area. Everyone survived. Yesterday was still a snow day, so the kids are back for today and tomorrow before going on Thanksgiving break. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week of November 10-14

Since the field trip to the Burchfield Nature Center, we've spent time looking at the photographs and talking about our experiences there.  I asked the students what they wanted to do to share our experiences with the rest of the school.  One boy, Camron, suggested that we make collages out of the materials we found at the nature center (leaves, rocks, sticks) using the photographs. These are turning out to be really interesting pieces of art. 

I love how she created the portraits out of flower petals and leaves.

A work area for busy students.

As we were looking at the first snowfall of the year, we noticed a tiny beetle on the window.

The second graders have been investigating the idea of fear.  They were fearful of Baba Yaga, the ballet, and the hawk was fearful of them. Since they are studying weather, we talked about weather conditions that people might fear. I asked them what fear feels like. 

You start shaking.
And your heart beats really fast. 
And you jump!
Your heart beats like beep beep.
No, faster than that. 
Your body starts shaking. 
You start breathing really fast. 
Out of breath.
People might fall down when they see something scary. I saw it on TV. 
You can get a heart attack. 

We shared our stories about storms and then I asked the students to draw what fear looks like. They were then encouraged to choose the material they thought would best allow them to give color to their story. I was surprised that they were divided between tempera paint, watercolor paint and colored pencils. I wondered if they would choose the same materials, but they genuinely made choices based on their comfort with the material. 

Week of November 3-7

This was a busy week of professional development and field trips!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Special Announcement! David Cruz won the Horace Mann Award!

Our very talented student, David Cruz, won the Horace Mann Award from Buffalo State College. On Tuesday, October 28th, David was honored in a ceremony in Rockwell Hall on the college campus.

David is a student who has benefitted tremendously from our Reggio-inspired initiatives. His ability to communicate is strongest through the visual arts. A curriculum that doesn't acknowledge this language would frustrate him. With the Reggio Approach, we are able to recognize David's potential and prior knowledge and celebrate his incredible abilities. 

David's painting of a catfish for our book about the animals of the Valley Nature Trail was chosen to be on the postcards and posters promoting our art exhibition in February. His eye for color and detail is impressive for any age, let alone a second grader. He is in third grade now and I will continue to provide personal provocations for him outside of his classroom, as he is right next door to the atelier.

Week of October 27-31


I took a group of students to the studio and we did a critique of the collaborative sculpture created by students and parents at Open House. After describing and analyzing the piece, I mentioned that the "interpret" stage of art criticism would be interesting for this piece because it was not created by one artist with a set plan, but by combining the individual work of many people.


The finished product! 

We compiled a list of characters in the sculpture that could be featured in a story about the piece. Then, we had a discussion about how we could make a story using these characters. At first, the teenage mutant ninja turtle captivated their attention and they wanted to make a story about him. The problem was they couldn't make sense of the other characters using this protagonist. Filly, one student suggested the characters were like Halloween costumes.

I guided them by saying that the story should have a problem that the characters should deal with and right away, they came up with the idea that the houses would have no candy. There were "bad guys" who took the candy and as they spoke to each other, they resolved it by having the bad guys learn their lesson! I am impressed that the story contains a moral- very Aesop's fable of them- and I honestly did little but transcribe their conversation as they spoke. The Reggio philosophy believes that children are capable and come to the table with so much potential. Here is their story with some of the illustrations (they aren't all finished with their illustrations yet.)

It's Halloween. A group of friends is dressed up and trick-or-treating, but every house has no candy. The bad guys took the candy. The good guys go to a lit house at the end of the road. The good guys see a trail of candy. The bad guys see the good guys eating the candy. They ask for it back. The bad guys say, "no." Then they hear a noise. A person was stealing the candy! The bad guys and good guys team up to get it back! The person ran away. The bad guys knew how it felt to have someone steal from them. They felt bad. They apologized and they all shared the candy. 

This is one of my favorite projects so far for a few reasons.  I love that it brought parents into the studio for a provocation. Parents are such an important part of a child's education and we were able to let the parents feel what the atelier is like for their child every day. I was able to explain where we would take this activity, so they were able to see how we can tie in literacy and character education to the fun art part of the lesson.

Another reason I love this lesson is because the students went beyond my expectations. When I looked at that sculpture, I had NO IDEA of how they could make a story that would make sense of it all. I saw that there was a connection to holidays, so I thought maybe they would make it take place over the course of a year, but they tied it up better than I would have done myself. And then they added a moral!

We read the story to the rest of their class and the students were impressed by the work of their peers. They want to share it with the younger grades, so I'm hoping that we can finish it up today and send a pair around to the pre-k and kindergarten classes today, on Halloween, to read it during the Fall Festival parties.

More Stories from this week: 

I've been taking the students to the Burchfield Nature and Art Center.  I discovered this place with my daughters over the summer and knew immediately that it would tie in with our partnership with the Burchfield-Penney Art Center and our exploration of the Valley Nature Trail near our school.

That says "School 33." I sounded it out. -Remi

They loved drawing in the gravel with sticks.
Some were making maps ("x" marks the spot) while others just drew designs.

The bird's nest in the slide was one of the things the
students recalled as we reflected on our day.  

Observational drawing time

These trees are scary! -Multiple students
When the "scary trees" slide came up during our slideshow review of the trip, this conversation went down:

Jayden- It's dangerous!
Kierstin- It's not scary. It's a tree.
Remi- It's natural. 

I used this as an opportunity to do a critique of Burchfield's own paintings, called An April Mood. 

Scary. Frightening. Afraid. Those were the words they used to describe Burchfield's work. When we clicked back on the photograph, they understood that even though something is perfectly safe and natural, it can still cause someone to feel a certain way.  I explained that Burchfield was skilled at putting those feelings into his paintings of nature. 

The creek provided opportunities for stone skipping,
which many students have never done before.
 The students and I found this weird thing on the ground.
J'Mar- It looks bloody.
Remi- It looks like a cocoon.
Jayden- It looks kinda like a crab. Or a hamburger.
Taylor- I see this when I go to the center. On branches.
What is this? We will have to investigate further.

They were very kind to each other on the trip. 

 Finding the plaques with Burchfield's paintings on the trail was a very exciting experience. They recognized the paintings that they've seen at the Art Center or in our own building (we have posters hanging up in various rooms.)

There were ruins around the park.  These captivated my attention, but the students didn't give more than a passing glance. I want to find out more about these ruins and I think if I do a little research, they might become interested before our trip back to the Nature Center in June.

Marciano was very interested in the way the leaves look under the water. This would make an awesome painting. I hope he chooses to work with this picture.

So peaceful and picturesque.

Eliseo told us that this is a giant fairy house. It can be for the tooth fairy!

 Looking at a nest way up high in a tree. They ask and answer their own questions. One asked how the nest got up so high and the others said the birds can fly up there to build it.

The birdhouses were exciting because many of them built their
own birdhouses last year in Mrs. Holden's class.

Some students were impressive at skipping stones.
The students told Ms. Boyd that these rocks were "glued
together" but they don't know why or how.
 This is another set of ruins that drew my attention. I wonder if it was the foundation to a house at some point. I'm very curious about the man-made artifacts left in the middle of all of this nature.

The lighting was beautiful.

They had me laughing at this point. There are green pipes in the ground and the class the day before decided the pipes were a home for an animal. This group said they were for Mario (from the Super Mario Brothers games) and they started calling down for Mario and Luigi.

The following set of photos was taken by Mrs. Passino. She captured some beautiful moments in a very important day for the students.