Thursday, January 29, 2015

Root Soup

The children asked me several days ago, " Angelina when are we going to cook again?".  They told me they wanted to cook carrots, celery and potatoes... we talked about possibilities and settled on a ROOT SOUP.
 The ingredients:
Cut vegetables into small chunks.  Add all veggies and 6 cups of broth in a crockpot on low overnight.  Blend until smooth and season to taste with salt, pepper, ginger and a dash of honey.

Friday, January 23, 2015

KOOL painting

 Today the toddlers and I explored painting with KOOL AID ice cubes.  It was a fantastic success and a wonderful sensory experience.
Several children noticed that not only was it cold, colorful and fruity tasted good too!
Often when we complete an investigation we break for a few minutes while I set up another media to experiment with.  The piece pictured below has provided an ongoing record of our media conversation over these many months.
After class, I stood nearby admiring it and was once again inspired by the children's courageous use of color, line and media.  It's a piece worthy of any contemporary art exhibit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

DENSITY in the studio with XP

The XP teachers, Bekke and Vida, are our resident science experts and have led science workshops across the country.  As a team, Bekke, Vida and I have been talking about integrating the studio and classroom philosophical approaches more. Science is the natural starting point.  The XP teachers had prepared for this experiment by having conversations about molecules and density, buoyancy and chemical reactions with the children.  The whole class came into the studio after lunch ready to experiment.  Initially Bekke reminded the children of their prior research relating to objects that sink in water and objects that float in water.  After some time she introduced the question, "Are there some liquids that sink in water and some that float?"  A lively discussion followed and then the experiment began.  Below you can see some of the ingredients prepared for the days investigations.
It turns out that syrup SINKS in water!
And oil FLOATS!
It also turns out that metal is very dense and sinks all the way to the bottom of all three layers of liquids.
While pasta is denser then oil and water but floats on the surface of the syrup.
Raspberries on the other hand are denser than oil but float on water.
And a rubber ducky floats on the surface in all!
Next, we spent some time recording our observations in science journals.
A few noticed that one raspberry got logged with water and sunk to the level of the syrup.
Then it was time to play and explore in small groups.
Each group had a pie plate full of oil and containers with colored water, colored vinegar, and colored clear soap.
To further our investigations the children sprinkled baking soda on the surface creating chemical reactions only in the colored vinegar.  Then we pulled prints of our colorful experiments.  Stay tuned to see how these discoveries impact the studio in the weeks ahead...We never know what will happen!!

arctic biomes with 440AM

 440AM scheduled a day in the studio to further explore and express their thinking and research around the arctic and polar region.  I learned so much from the children as they told me about Inuit tribes and igloos, arctic foxes and reindeer, white whales and seals.  The studio was a buzz of enthusiasm and creativity as the whole class contributed to the development of an arctic habitat for their classroom.
 Some of their inspiration was drawn from the arctic biome works on the shelves in their class.
 And others were drawn from the textbooks and photos they had been reading for weeks.
It was a COOL and enlightening way to spend the morning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

me's take over the studio

As you may remember, we have been exploring emotions and feelings in the studio, following the interests of the children.
My friend Z. came in the studio and made this incredible MEbot.  I was so inspired that I made one of my own.  We left our creations in the studio and a creative fire began.
Me's are filling up the studio in many shapes and sizes.  Some of them are complete and others wait on trays to be further embellished in the days ahead.
As they work the children have begun to imbue the Me's with feelings, noting that facial expression conveys emotion and evokes a response from others.
Some of the children are altering themselves before the photo is taken to better communicate the mood of their creation, while others explore a variety of facial expressions before settling on the one that will best personify their "Me".
I find that when parents and other adults see the work in the studio, I am given far too much credit.  The reality is that I am usually following a child's instruction and vision.  I often stand in front of their work in awe, inspired by their innovation and creativity year after year.

Friday, January 16, 2015

languages of expression

Our grown up thinking can waylay a full sensory experience of life.  Young children are less encumbered by inhibition and often jump into experience with both feet.  They explore a new media in the studio for it's own sake.  They test the way it feels, moves, smells, looks and occasionally how it tastes.  As they are learning these new languages of expression, whether paint, clay, wire, music, etc. they do it with genuine curiosity and full sensory exploration.
Learning any new language follows a similar pattern, first we encounter the language, in this case shaving cream mixed with powdered paint, and then we experiment with it.  We are familiar with this process from watching young children learn to speak. There is a long period of active listening, followed by an experimental babbling stage before actual words are formed.  This experimentation is equally important when discovering any new media.
Before we can expect any sort of representationalism, it is vital that we maintain a space for "messing about" (read David Hawkins wonderful article here for more on the subject).
 Whether the language is shaving cream, pudding, or...
clay, it is important to make space and time for a period of exploration.  This exploration will naturally evolve as children become more comfortable with the language itself.  It is truly a breathtaking and wonderful process to witness and I continue to experience so much gratitude for the opportunity to witness their fearless discoveries daily.