Friday, December 2, 2016

December, 2016

This month, our school is focused on embracing the winter holidays around the world and investigating the seasons.

Pre-K 103 is creating soft sculpture, self-portrait dolls. The students will choose clothing for their dolls based on the season in which they were born. We are using loose parts to create eyes, hair, clothing, etc. The students will then use the dolls as a prop to write stories.

Pre-K 101 is investigating holidays around the world. We will be creating Three Kings dolls, dreidels and symbols of other winter holidays, such as Christmas and Kwanzaa.

All three kindergartens are studying what we see in the seasons. The students read a Journeys story about the change of seasons and we're using images from the book as observational drawing inspiration to create acrylic paintings for the classroom windows.

First grade is continuing their investigation of heritage and identity through their personal coat of arms.

Second grade is working on symbols. In the atelier, we are looking at holidays around the world and creating small paintings to share the symbols with the school during our door decorating contest in the  month of December.

November, 2016

November was full of project-based learning with the theme of Discovering Puerto Rico.

In Pre-K 103, we created bats out of leather and then created a bat cave for them. We pretended to be bats and told stories about bats. The students created a list of facts about bats, which they used to write their stories. Why bats? Bats are the only indigenous mammal in Puerto Rico.

In Pre-K 101, we learned about how families have fun in Puerto Rico. We created a beach landscape and a landscape of the bioluminescent bay. The students made kayaks and dolls to show families having fun in the water. They used the landscapes to tell stories about the subject.

In K 104 and 106, the students were studying animals, so we researched animals from Puerto Rico and the children made masks of the animal they were most interested in. They drew the animal, too.

In K 102, the students read a Puerto Rican story about a bug who plays musical instruments. The instruments were all used in traditional Puerto Rican music. The children retold the story and created mosaics of the instruments.

In first grade 118, the students completed research and drawings on the Coqui frog. In 120 and 122, the students created flags of their heritage with their parents as an interactive activity, which will be used as part of a Coat of Arms project in December.

In second grade, 116 studied the ways water is used in Puerto Rico and 118 studied the geography of Puerto Rico with a focus on the trees. We created huge models of some of the trees in the entrance of the building. The students created observational drawings and mixed media artwork based on the trees we chose to research- la ceiba, the flamboyan, the palm tree and the mangrove tree. In 116, the students created a display and book to teach people about the ways water is used in Puerto Rico.

Monday, October 3, 2016

October, 2016


We are continuing to foster experiences with line, while adding in shape and color.  The students printed with shapes on their acetate line painting. We used primary colors. One student exclaimed, "Hey! Yellow and blue made green!" which was the perfect segway into color. We hung these on their window.

The next experience we called, "a science experiment with color" and we mixed liquid watercolors to create secondary colors. The students then painted with the colors and verbally dictated stories about their work.

On Friday, I set up a provocation on color. I laid out a large piece of paper on the table and had six children sit around it. Each child was given one of the primary colors, so that when their paint mixed, it would create a secondary color. I thought this would make color mixing quite tangible. They started adding lines and it was incredible to see them experiment with lines and shapes. "I made circles! Look!"

Kindergarten is continuing to study shadows. We are creating shadow puppets out of black construction paper. We will use these to tell stories.

Students use their hands to create shadow puppets.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September, 2016

It's so nice to be back!

We welcomed the students back this week and, as usual, the first thing we ask them to reflect on is "Who am I?" with our identity portraits. These are taking on different looks depending on the grade level or interests of the children.
Kindergarten Portraits

Pre-k used a collage format to create images of themselves. Two of the kindergartens created traditional portraits and collages (two separate pieces.) The third kindergarten is studying shadows, so their identity images will tie into that. The first graders are cutting paper to make portraits. The second graders are doing tiny observational drawings as their self-portraits. There are many ways to explore our identity as we begin the school year.
First Grade Cut Paper Collage Portraits
First Grade Portrait Process

The third kindergarten is exploring shadows. After we traced their shadows, we noticed that one person, a girl who was absent and traced during a different time of day, had a bigger shadow than the others. We also wondered if people are the only things with shadows, or if other things could have shadows. We went outside during the afternoon and measured our shadows and observed. We plan on taking a morning walk next to see if the shadows are different.

Second grade portraits 

The pre-Ks are studying lines at the start of the year. 


We have been making lots of artwork with these lines and today we went on a line hunt to the garden to see if we could find lines outside.
Pre-K line exploration- notice the letters in the lines?
We are making connections between lines and letters.

The students held pipe cleaners and tried to mimic the lines they saw outside with the pipe cleaners. 
Lots of little lines

They correctly told me that these are diagonal lines!

This little bee has lines on his back. They were fascinated by the
honey bees.

Our shadows have lines!

Friday, April 29, 2016

April, 2016


We have been finishing up animals in Ms. Hernandez's. This is one of the habitats we made. It's the arctic. the students painted on acetate and then cut the acetate into triangles, working on their understanding of shape and their fine motor skills. 

They then glued the pieces onto a drawing of mountains and water they did to show the arctic environment.

We are now working on our study of plants. We asked the students what they would like to make to learn more about plants and to show their understanding of plants. 

The students in Mrs. Bennett's group decided they wanted to paint or create clay flowers. The painting group came to the atelier and created observational paintings of flowers. We thought it would be nice to make a large mural of all of their paintings on acetate so it can decorate the office window. That will be our next step. 

In Ms. Lopez's class, we studied the work of Oscar Ortiz. The students created oil pastel drawings based on his style. 


We had a great experience on a nature hike. We went for our first Spring hike in the valley nature trail. We made theories about the rocks near the river and we saw a snake(!) and snails.

The highlight of the walk was this tree, though! 

To our surprise, we have a beaver living in the nature area! We were so excited that when we told other teachers about it, they decided to take their classes out the next day. We went for a walk with pre-k, first grade and fifth grade the next day. More on that in a bit.

When I returned from the second walk, I showed images to the kindergarten classes. After a discussion about the beaver, one student, Jacob said:
We need to go to the studio to learn about the science of this.

The next time I had them, I brought that student and a few friends to the studio and asked them what they wanted to do to learn more about beavers or share what they know. Araceli had the bright idea of using clay to create the tree and Jacob decided to create the beaver. 

Jacob worked diligently, referring to images on the iPad over and over again, to create a beaver that he felt was pretty accurate (and I was really impressed by both his work ethic and at how well this came out. I don't know if I could do as well of a job!) 

First Grade

First grade has been working with loose parts to create modes of transportation. 

Second Grade

Second Grade is in the middle of a HUGE project that was inspired by a walk to the nature trail. The students were very curious about the old railroad bridge ruins that are on the walking path we take sometimes. They wanted to know what they were. This led to an investigation into the history of the area, including Silo City,  which spawned a real interest in certain historical components. The students divided themselves into groups to study different parts of history. The groups are Fashion, Architecture, Education, Transportation and Entertainment. 

I asked the students what they wanted to make to show the rest of the world what they're learning from their research. The kids have BIG ideas and it's exciting to see what they think of. I really love the idea of turning it over to them. 

Fashion decided to make paper dolls (Laminated, so they don't break- Johnomar.) They used two pre-k students and two teachers from our building as the template for the dolls. They researched different historical periods: Native Americans, Colonial, Victorian, the 1920s were the groups they started to focus on the most. 

Lucky Ms. Santiago won the vote to be the woman doll model.
The students traced the dolls on the light table to make sure the clothing would fit. They then chose a style from the period they were interested in and tried to create a drawing that resembled that style. 

The school group met with me next. They created drawings of one room school houses and then created a model before moving on to build a full-sized play one room school house for the pre-k students. They were going to make it to scale, using a one inch to one foot ratio, but after the model was complete and I took them to look at the cardboard panels, they decided that would be way too big!  The model was 7" squared. They asked me if we could cut the panels in half, making a 3.5 foot square one room school house and we agreed that was a more manageable size. I can't wait to see what they come up with to construct this play house. I try to facilitate and not direct, so it's always exciting to see them figure a concept out for themselves.

The architecture and transportation groups will create something like the model school house, but I will probably be more critical of the aesthetics. That masking tape won't work for a finished product! 

The entertainment group wants to research entertainment throughout history and then put on a performance on the stage. I love this idea and can't wait to work with them on it!

Other news:

Our art show is coming up quickly. It is at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and will open June 1st. It will run through June 19th. We will be there on June 3rd, for First Friday, which offers free admission and fun activities. This will be the opening reception of the show. We are starting to put the panels together now and they're looking good. :)