Monday, June 3, 2013

farewells and new beginnings

It is here.  The end of another school year and I can hardly believe it is nearly over.  It has gone by so quickly.  Not long ago Kathryn Ross and I were seated at the large wooden table upstairs, enjoying a lunch together when she said to me, "As teachers we get very used to saying good-bye". 
It gave me pause. 
She was right of course. 
Each year I fall in love with the unique beauty inherent in each and every child.  Each year they inspire me and astound me and teach me.  And each year closes with a quiet, understated farewell. Some children will return again next year while others will spread their wings and soar into new hearts and horizons.  It is bitter sweet and exactly as it should be.  My parting hope is that every single child who passes through our care and hearts will flower and bloom into the fullness of who they are.
And to all the families who have entrusted their children into our care... THANK YOU.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Annual Festival of ART

 On May 9th we hosted another wonderful art show!!! Here are a few pictures to share the festivities with everyone who may have missed it!
Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this year another success! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What is a Dollar?

Most days in the studio are very busy.  I can often be found at the head of a long line of children, each eager to share a story, or to have something attached with hot glue, or to procure a newly threaded needle, or to plan their latest creative endeavor.  Today was no different.  As I worked and listened and assisted, I glanced around the room and noticed a fair haired boy seated at a remote table.  He colored and glued in peaceful solitude.  Satisfied, I returned to the line of eager children. 
At the end of the day, I glanced up to see the fair haired child waiting patiently and proudly to share his art with me.  I approached him and he handed his piece of art up to me with a gesture of confidence. 
I responded too quickly and without reflection.  I responded with the unquestioned bias of a "grown up".  I looked at his collage and the crisp dollar bill glued to the front.  I inwardly gasped.  I calmly explained why we couldn't use money on our art pieces and carefully began to remove the dollar bill.  His eyes welled up with tears and I stopped myself.
I took a deep breath.
I crouched low and with great care, I apologized. 
I explained that I was worried that I might get into trouble for allowing a child to use money in this way but I wanted to understand his art. 
His face cleared and he slowly explained how he had made this picture for the art show. 
I smiled and asked him if he would tell me more about the dollar he had used and he said:
"A dollar is something that you earn for doing something. 
It's made out of paper, but it's just paper. 
I use paper to make art.
I got this dollar from a person. 
They gave it to me, just because, and now it's a picture."
I told him that I would be proud to hang it in the art show and he smiled broadly at me before returning to his class. 
I stared after him, amazed and humbled by the beauty and wisdom of children.
A dollar IS paper after all and it is hardly worth the price of a child's belief in himself as an artist with a right to express and be heard.

Friday, April 5, 2013

collaboration and scaffolding

This week Amy and I collaborated in the studio.  We worked with our extended primary children to further explore ideas, interests and questions that have evolved during the year.  We identified several topics of interest: volcanos, animals, people, planes and toys.  Each child joined one of these groups based on observed engagement over the year.  The groups met with both of us to implement their ideas both individually and collaboratively.  As the week progressed, it was clear that scaffolding is a vital part of what we do.  Scaffolding refers to a practice of providing the necessary support and guidance to help a child progress from one level of competence to another level.  For instance, children can conceive of great heights and grand ideas but their capacity to implement those ideas is often limited by present abilities and experience.  One of the roles of the teacher is to build the necessary framework for each child to climb his or her mountain, no matter how high. 
Volcanos have been erupting in the studio for weeks and as a grand finale, the volcano team created a paper mache' gorgeous volcano and made several smaller volcano maquettes in clay to be fired and used on another day with red food coloring, baking soda and vinegar.  Stay tuned for more explosions to come.
A few children explored transferring a drawing on paper to a clay surface and then personalizing it using a additive and subtractive method of sculpting, creating a relief tile.
With one-on-one assistance and lots of conversation and exploration the children realized their vision in style.
Some children explored translating a drawn image into a three-dimensional form. 
The child who did this drawing has been exploring self portraits throughout the year and he chose to make another one in clay.
As we worked we explored joining techniques and how to make various three dimensional forms and patterns.
When it was complete, he beamed one of his signature smiles at me and said, "I MADE ME IN CLAY!!"
Amy did a similar process with this child who chose to make a leopard-chaun and a pot-of-gold.
With every child we witnessed a few things: first, at some point nearly every child hit their threshold and became somewhat overwhelmed by the many steps involved in actualizing their vision, next, with our continued support and occasional help they were able to move through that frustration and when finished, every child without exception was extremely proud of his or her work.  Now, their eyes light up whenever they see us and yell reminders like "HI! remember my plane I made?", or "I can't wait to see the volcano again!" or just a warm hello and hug.  Scaffolding is important to the process of creating AND it also deepens our relationship with the children, reminding them just how much we value and honor their voices and ideas.

Friday, March 8, 2013

asian festival at CGMS

Today we culminated our studay of Asia with an Asian festival...the countries represented were China, India, Thailand, Russia and Japan.

It was a fabulous explosion of discovery.
And a feast for the senses with projects, explorations and foods from each of the countries.
There was coconut mango sticky rice in Thailand, chicken marsala with rice and chai and mango lassi's in India, stir fry in China and smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers in Russia.
The Japanese cultural center did a wonderful performance with dance and live music, tea ceremonies and kimono instruction.
It was a wonderful day!

Friday, February 22, 2013


I challenged the children this week to create a line drawing of their favorite animal from memory.  The results were wonderful.
 This is such a fun time of year, when all the children have had lots of opportunities to explore the media and are now ready to take them a little deeper.  We were using liquid watercolor and experimenting with wet on wet painting and wet on dry.

toddler's in the studio

 Toddler day in the studio and we shifted our focus from making art to having experiences and the tods LOVED it.  The tunnel was a great success...
 as was a dress up area and a light exploration activity....
and of course there are always opportunities to create and explore media.
Another wonderful Friday with the toddlers!

Monday, February 4, 2013

My favorite portrait of me!

Silly Angelina...Silly Charlotte.
I simply love this piece.  LOVE it.

story people

Story people have emerged in the studio after a mother's night when we introduced the process of making clothespin character's.  Hot glue is now an essential element in the studio work time and I spend much of the day carefully (and safely) attaching an array of elements together under the careful direction and insistence of each child.  I am calling these creations "Story People" because every one of them have a story.  Here are a few examples:

Pete and the Volcano                 By Grayson W.
Pete lives in Hawaii.  She exploded her volcano in 152 and when the volcano exploded she made a volcano home under water and she lives there forever.  She still explodes her volcano on the biggest island of all of them.  No one knows why or how she explodes her volcano.  I think she maybe shoots out the fire and maybe she gets shot out too and becomes fire before going back to earth.

Mr. Piaong Shrimp     By Harry A.
Mr. Piaong Shrimp was walking along and a bad guy touched him and he became a bad guy too and the bad guy became him.  He hit people every day.  He stays where he can push people.  The police got him but he broke their car.  He smacked them and had to go to jail.  When the good guy touched him again, he turned back and he went out and the bad guy went in and that’s the end.