Friday, October 12, 2012


The pumpkin study continues with another autumn still life. The children have been talking about fall and translating what they have observed onto paper and into stories.

The toddler class began their studio exploration of pumpkins by carefully removing the seeds from quartered sections of baking pumpkins.  These seeds were placed in nearby cups while the more gooey innards were deposited into a large bowl.  The children were eager to help and many of them talked about pumpkins: "They come from gardens", "They live at Halloween", "Eat them!".  
While we were emptying the pumpkins, one of the toddler teachers brought out a large pumpkin for hammering.  The children were fascinated by the simple activity of hammering tees into the orange surface.
While I roasted the seeds the children drew with markers on large paper.  There were several people drawing pumpkins, one tomato, a fire truck, a flower and other creations unspoken but equally enthusiastic.
When we were finished we all enjoyed sampling our roasted pumpkin seeds.  Next week we will turn our pumkins into soup and pies and maybe even bread.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


While this child was in the studio he noticed a spider scurry across the edge of the table.  Fortunately, we had a bug viewer nearby and quickly scooped up the eight legged arachnid for observation.  A lively discussion followed as did several observational drawings.  These everyday investigations help all of us remember that learning is continuously occurring and following a child’s interest can be more exciting than a planned activity.

Monday, October 8, 2012

shadow exploration

 While we were outside picking the last of our vegetables and eating the few remaining pears some of the children noticed lengthened shadows on the sidewalk.  We had a conversation about it and they offered lots of observations: "Look my shadow is really big", "Is it bigger than me?"  "My shadow can move", "How big is your shadow?", etc.  After more discussion, we decided to explore some of our questions by outlining the shadows in white chalk on the surface of the sidewalk.
 After we had outlined a few shadows, one student measured himself by laying on his shadow outline and we discovered that his shadow was TWICE as big as he was.  More questions emerged, including, "Are shadows always that big?" 
 A few other children decided to measure more shadows.
In the studio, some of the parents and I created a shadow theater to capture children's silhouettes for our upcoming auction.  It will be interesting to see if this interest in shadows continues to captivate the children's interests.

Pumpkin investigations

 In the classrooms, teachers have put out a number of pumpkin related works including parts of the pumpkin, dissecting pumpkins, hammering pegs into pumpkins, scrubbing pumpkins and more.
 In the studio we took some time to investigate the pumpkins and communicate our learning through a few of the languages of expression.  One child even composed a pumpkin song that he sang while performing a subtle dance.
 Several children chose to draw the pumpkins and fall inspirations, using black sharpie outlines and water soluble pastels.  Water soluble pastels are of interest to the children because colors can be easily blended.
Several of the children told me what they knew about pumpkins.  Here are a few examples:

Ilsa B.
You can make pumpkin pie and you can eat the seeds and you can make jack o lanterns with them and you can put them out for Halloween.  They are a fruit.  They have seeds inside them.
Lila B
You can bake the seeds to make something good for you and you can make jack o lanterns and you can make pumpkin pie with them.  Pumpkins are orange and grey and a lot of colors.  I think maybe it's a fruit.
Emma W.
We can make pumpkin pie and scary faces and pumpkins light up.  Pumpkins come from trees.  I have one in my yard.
Duncan P.
Pumpkins have super icky guts inside.  They have a really prickly stem sometimes.  The vine is really big.  Sometimes you can eat pumpkin pie.  Actually, I have never made pumpkin pie.  We can make it after we do a pumpkin drawing.  Jack o Lanterns are pumpkin faces.  Last year we made two of them but they get squishy when you cut holes in them.