Thursday, December 17, 2015


With so much interest in self portraits we asked ourselves how to deepen the process.  One of my colleagues had the wonderful idea of introducing figure drawing with the children and inviting different children to model for the artists.
 This was a total success and we will keep exploring this idea with the children after the break.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Toddler stories

The toddler teachers and I can often be found with our heads together, generating ideas on how to best involve toddlers in studio projects that are emerging from my work with the primary and extended primary children.  After some discussion we decided to explore story telling since so many children have been making story people and using drawings as a point of reference for telling tales.
Knowing that toddlers are not yet motivated by representational drawing, we asked families to send in photographs as story telling prompts.
The day was amazing!!  Both Rose and I were humbled by the eagerness with which the children shared their pictures and the memories contained in them.  As is often the case when researching alongside young children, we discovered how much they can teach us.
We will continue working together to discover questions and topics of interests to further our understanding of toddler-tale-telling, child development and the beautiful children in our care.

Monday, December 14, 2015

How does a project develop?

One of the XP boys came to me with an idea: 
"Angelina, I want to make instruments and have a holiday band.  We can play Christmas songs together!"  
So we made a plan.  
He chose 4 friends that he wanted to begin working with and we set a date.  I gathered up a bunch of potential supplies: tubes, boxes, gourds, beans, wire, etc. and readied the study for their arrival.
When the day came, the boys began by drawings plans for their intended instruments.  Next they brainstormed which supplies were needed and then they set to work bringing their visions into form (I worked as a fulfillment gluing, cutting and supporting as necessary.
When all instruments were complete the began to play.  We recorded several of their songs and Dag-nab-it... I can't figure out how to post them on the blog, but if you want to hear them in person, please swing by the studio or I can happily text the mp3 if you let me know you want to listen.  The songs are wonderful!!!
We shall see if music continues to take off after the long winter's break.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

emerging interests

Observational drawing continues as a thread of shared interest amongst the children.  L. arrived in the studio and stood before the easel, expressing an interest in drawing our resident guinea pigs.  We agreed that drawing them from life was easier than drawing from memory.  We set her up with the necessary supplies and she joined Kirsten and several of her peers on the landing.  Soon she was joined by a host of inspired artists recording their observations and discussing their findings with one another (the guinea pig "poo" was of particular interest).
 Here is L.'s finished piece.
 And here is another child's creative interpretation of the "guinea pig's poo".
 While the guinea pigs were observed another child noticed this truck outside the studio windows and began drawing his observations.
I will continue to offer creative ways for the children to explore this interest in a variety of ways and extend their thinking and learning as we do.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

come one, come all

The studio is primed and ready for this year's first mini art show and studio conference set to begin on Wednesday, December 2nd from 8:30-3:00.  The children toured the show today and were eager to share their work and thinking with their families.  There are stories accompanying many of the featured pieces and documentation to give context to the process.  I hope to see you there. If you are unable to attend, please feel free to contact me to chat about your child's work in the studio and how the philosophies of Reggio Emilia continue to influence our work at Children's Garden.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Stone Soup and Grandparents Day

 Stone soup in the studio is a tradition for grandparents day and each year the children enjoy preparing soup together for their special visitors.
I came to both classes and shared last year's stone soup storybook and the children enjoyed retelling it in the studio.
On the special day friends and family trickled in the studio to enjoy a bowl of soup and home made tortillas.
We had several requests for the recipe (each year's is different), so here you go:
  • 2 
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 
large onion, chopped
  • 8 
celery ribs, sliced (on the diagonal is pretty)
  • 2 
tablespoons minced garlic cloves (or 3 cloves, finely chopped)         
  • 2
(1 lb) bags dried lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 12 
carrots, chopped
  • 6 
cups broth
  • 2
(14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 
tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1⁄2
teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2
teaspoon black pepper 

Toss all the ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours (we left ours on overnight).  Share and enjoy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pumpkin pARTy

The children have been inspired by pumpkins in the studio in a variety of ways.  First they began observational drawing with fall inspired still-lives, next they sculpted them in clay with Amy and then painted their fired creations. Then, with all the cooking going on in the studio, several children had the great idea to make pumpkin food!
Of course, I listened and we spent the week preparing the studio for a pumpkin party.  We made pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie.  The children decorated the studio with beautiful pumpkin drawings and on Friday we celebrated our handwork with a pumpkin party.

Which involved a great deal of eating...
face painting...
And fun.
I had a request for our yummy soup recipe and I will admit that the children and I invented it so I don't have precise measurements but here is my best guess:
First bake a butternut squash and small pumpkin (cleaned of all seeds and face down on a oiled baking tray with 1/2 inch of water) til soft.
Spoon the baked squash and pumpkin into crockpot.
Add chopped onions, several chopped apples and carrots.
Add 1 can of lite coconut milk and 2 large containers of chicken broth.
Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.
Cook overnight on low.
Puree and serve.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Clay in studio

Amy has been in the studio with the children most of the week, exploring clay and sculpture alongside our young artists.  We all learn so much from one another!

Friday, October 30, 2015

music magic takes over

Music, music, music.  The children have loved the addition of instruments into the studio and many have begun collaborating to create songs (which I am faithfully recording).
All of this isn't happening in isolation, at the same time we have drawing, painting, tortilla making, apple slicing, building and more.  It really is a richly creative life we inhabit in the studio and I give thanks every day for the incredible job I have and the many teachers who generously come into the studio masquerading as students to share their wisdom, wonder, tenacity, curiosity and joy (among many other things)

Cooking in the studio continues to be a huge hit!  We cooked pinto beans to go with our ongoing tortilla making.
We brought in the blender and made a Children's Garden version of horchata, using vanilla yogurt, water, honey and cinnamon.  Which was another huge hit.
The children decorated an "apple tree" so I added apple slicing to our studio environment.
This provided a great opportunity to practice generosity and sharing with friends in other classes.  Picture above is a child carefully cutting several apples and offering them to the toddler class.  Pictured below a child is passing out horchata.  This spirit of giving keeps the school well supplied in fresh tortillas and other snacks throughout the day.
The children have expressed their genuine interest in cooking and food prep SO you can expect to see more in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

losing our marbles ... a cognitive knot

On the playground some of the children noticed that the marbles meant to accompany a building work were missing!  It was a mystery!!! The children and I spent some time trying our best to track down the missing marbles but alas... no marbles.  (Yes I am saying that we lost our marbles.) I asked what we could do about it? They came up with a great idea of making marbles in the studio.  
The children then told me they needed some glass.  I gave them a glass jar.  Nope that wouldn't work.  Hmm.  What can we use?
Next they tried out a few objects already in the studio.
But decided quickly that the objects were too soft, too light or the wrong shape.  This led to a general discussion about the shape of a marble?  A marble is a circle with no edge.  It’s really, really round.  It’s made of glass but maybe it could be made of something else as long as its hard.  Marbles are hard. 
Next idea... "Angelina do you have any oven clay?"  Why yes I do.
Or at least I thought I did...they melted...oops...still no marbles.
Tortillas!!!  We can make them out of tortilla dough.  And we did.
And we brought them outside.  They were a little light but they rolled.
Then someone stepped on them and the marbles were gone once more.

This little vignette is a perfect example of following the children and exploring cognitive knots. 
A cognitive knot is a problem that impedes progress, just like a knot in a piece of thread halts sewing or a knot in a piece of wood slows the saw.  Cognitive knots can cause frustration and confusion BUT they are also causes for celebration.  They represent what Piaget identified as cognitive disequilibrium, aka learning opportunities.  The Reggio-Emilia philosophies embrace these knots, whether in the form of a conflict of wills, insufficient skills/understanding or just limited theoretical/practical knowledge.  In this tradition of learning, the teachers' responsibility is to recognize these knots as they arise and bring them to the surface, not solve them.  The knots represent wonderful opportunities for social learning, group thinking, skill development and more.  So of course losing our marbles is a great step in learning.