Google+ bakers and astronauts: 03.12

28 March 2012

extending illustrations

I just discovered the book talk blog from the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst - and I love their recurring "picture book puzzlers" feature.





(all images from The Carle)

I have spent a decent amount of money on picture books in my day, and I love reading aloud to children.  There are few things as engaging as a fantastic story told well.  And I think we can agree that it is important to foster a love of books.

The picture book puzzlers offer a pile of ideas for the classroom: using pictures as a prompt to talk about similarities between stories; having children "hunt" for pictures in a classroom, school, or public library; or using snippets of an illustration (a la Tana Hoban) to spark conversation and debate.

It is important to read books to children, but there are so many ways that we can use books to explore, expanding their possibilities.


19 March 2012

Exploring Physics (a.k.a. knocking stuff over)

When I was making some general plans for my last month at my current job, I was thinking about fun.  I was thinking about doing stuff that I hadn't done with kids before; I was thinking about really taking the opportunity do things that are truly engaging, and encourage experimentation and exploration.


I'm not sure where the idea came from (but I've seen it since over at Teacher Tom); but when the thought of having a pendulum available popped into my head, I couldn't ignore it.  We spend so much time reminding children not to knock over other people's buildings that a few days of knocking things down on purpose seemed right up our alley.


There was a bit of a learning curve for me: I set the pendulum up, wrapping the string around a light fixture.  I had to rethink it a bit as we went along, eventually providing a table for the stacking of the recyclables.  The building process takes so long, and the knocking down is so quick, that it seems a bit unbalanced.





There was an initial fascination with the recycling ("Ooooh, I love these!  Yum!" and, "Wow!  Who ate this?  Is this for snack?!?!?!").  There was careless stacking and less than ideal choices for positioning, and I found myself scaffolding here a lot.  But it added another layer to the work:  Which box seems strongest?  Will this bottle ba able to hold this larger box, or will it fall?  I modeled using the "stronger" pieces on the bottom of the stack and putting the more delicate things on top.  Sometimes the stack wouldn't totally tumble, and we talked a lot about making stacks that the pendulum could not beat.


The ball was pinned up during the stacking process, and it did necessitate having a teacher there to unpin it.  I thought that was helpful on the first day - it also prevented throwing the ball and children being in the way of the extra eager physicists.  Being with them allowed me to scaffold in the building process.  I have mentioned before that we don't have unit blocks (only cardboard blocks), so this is not a common experience for this group.


There was so much delight on the children's faces then that stack would fall, and they wanted to do it over and over and over again.  They let others in and took turns releasing the pendulum.  They talked about their favorite foods.  They spotted each other when one child would be standing on a chair to put a paper tube all the way on the top.  It was so much more than physics!



16 March 2012

Weekend Links

This Friday, I'm sharing some things I've seen that I would love to do in the classroom.  These are some of those little things that really make you stop and think about how to facilitate children's learning about visual expression.


I love love love this idea, which I saw here and was inspired by this original post.



I'm thinking of it as another medium: children can choose what goes on to a scanner surface and use those images to create.  I love how it can make natural items last.  The possibilities seem endless!


I have not used wire in the classroom: I have been an awe-struck observer as other people have introduced wire in the classroom, but I have never taken the leap.  I love the images from Crayons, Wands, and Building Blocks showing children engaged in sketching wire creations:





Happy Weekend!










14 March 2012

The perfect illustration

My brain was flying in all directions when I watched this video, via npr.



Educationally, this video makes a clear case for:


  • Project-based education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Inquiry-based education
  • tinkering
  • exploration
  • open-ended materials
  • spending less of an educational budget on kits and worksheets
  • upcycling
  • the valuable role of adult facilitation
  • why adults should support children instead of doing things for them
  • why its never too early to try some science experiments
...

Go ahead, add to the list!

12 March 2012

Art Dice, Drawing Practice








The children loved playing with art dice last week.  Pretty self-explanatory!  The idea originally came from Tinkerlab.

There are so many possibilities for these little wooden cubes: I'm imagining a game where the dice have different facial features drawn on and they make a monster face, and a second die has numbers to prompt how many of the facial feature to draw.  While we were working I thought about using these dice to make  maps, with lines to represent roads, for example.  

So simple, and so fun!

09 March 2012

Weekend Links

There is a new issue of the American Journal of Play out; I'm especially looking forward to reading Lynn E. Cohen's piece making connections between pretend play and the concept of carnival.  I'm always looking for ways to make dramatic play more child centered.



We've been grooving to Radio Hour no. 24 from Snore and Guzzle lately in the classroom.  The naptime trilogy is still my favorite, but every mix is fantastic.



I know that I still need to met go of some of my hangups and foster even more exploration with the children after seeing Tom's photos of a whole body sensory table experience.



Happy Weekend!



06 March 2012

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I'm not good at keeping secrets, especially really exciting ones.  I'm happy to share something happy with you - it will definitely be dictating the subject matter on this blog very soon.

It has been less than a year since we returned from Belgium, but we're already on the move again.  This time, we're heading back north to Washington: to Bellingham, north of Seattle and just a bit south of the Canadian border.

And I already have work waiting for me up there: I'll be working as a Seed-to-Table Education Coordinator for Common Threads Farm.  I'll have hands-on work with their school garden collective; I'll be working to coordinate volunteers and plan fundraising; and (most importantly), I'll be up to my elbows in mud, growing food with children and harvesting it and cooking and eating with children.

So, my apologies if I'm a bit absent from this space as I finish my thesis and we move yet again.  In the meantime, you can look over at my growing pinterest board on my new work subject.

05 March 2012

Abstract Prints



We explored printmaking last week.  It was the first time for this group of children, so we painted with a single color onto trays that I purchased from the dollar store, and then a print was made by laying a paper onto the paint, rubbing it gently, and then peeling it away.

All of the work was abstract, an exploration of the medium and the process.  One child attempted to paint her name, and another painted a picture of a person but painted over it as she explored the feeling of painting on that smooth tray.

I've done printmaking with children before - it used to be a weekly affair.  It can be done by covering a surface with paint and then taking paint away with a tool like a Q-tip.  You can see some past explorations over here.  Time flies!

02 March 2012

Weekend Links



This video shows fantastic footage from school playgrounds in Berlin, and is real food for thought.  Speaking about the playgrounds, Alistair Seaman shares that "the play equipment was always rustic, it was always quite adventurous; but they were deigned to be something to present the children with challenge and with risk."   (via playscapes)


I live in the northwest, so I can't legally complain about the rain.  So I'm thinking about going and digging in my garden just for a bit of mud appreciation so I'm not so tempted to call it "bad weather" in front of the kids.  This interpretation of the Donald Crews and Robert Kalan book, Rain,is right up my alley.




I would love to have a copy of Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling, in my hands someday.  Brainpickings describes it as the "evolution of the picture book", and we certainly seem to be in the newest phase of picture books as they become digital and interactive.

I have to say that I did "pin" that book on pinterest; and as much as I try not to be someone who places blame, I think I have been sharing fewer and fewer things here because of that outlet.  I'll be making a conscious effort to continue sharing here as well.
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