Friday, February 27, 2015

Exploring Things that Stick

This has been a fabulous year of discovery alongside the toddlers.  Together we continue to explore the properties of various media.  Today I set out a provocation to investigate things that stick (intentionally avoiding glue or paste to better isolate the experience to non-messy sticking).
I put out contact paper on the easel with flower petals, leaves and colored paper for tearing.
On the floor, I covered a large surface with white butcher paper and set out colored tape to adorn the surface (in a short time the children asked for markers too and I obliging accordingly).
I also set out dot stickers.  
The children used all of these materials and as they worked it was easy to see the physical development taking place as children exercised their hands, fine motor control and coordination to manipulate the various materials.
In a short time the children found new uses for tape and dots and we spent a big chunk of time just laughing.  At one point I was adorned with a tape mustache, nose stripe, beauty dots and a goatee by my fellow artists.
 It was a fun way to spend the day learning and growing together.
Some of the creations adorn the windows in the toddler classroom and the flower remnants were tossed onto the white snow, providing a colorful promise of the Spring to come

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fort Building

 New building materials in the studio have resulted in lot's cool forts and enthusiastic creativity.

The Studio Belongs to Everyone

If you ask the children who the studio belongs to, most of them know that the studio belongs to everyone and our activity is directed by the curiosity, creativity, questions, theories and ideas of those working in it. Often, the study is a flurry of activity and rarely a blizzard of busyness.  Usually the work has a hum of activity and I feel utterly at home in the rhythm and routines of the day. But sometimes I become overwhelmed by the breadth of explorations going on, often because I had not anticipated new uses of materials and wasn't prepared to support them.  That happened on Tuesday afternoon, we had:
clay modeling in the studio and children worked together and individually on a clay bust before a standing mirror,
 groups of children worked in the building area making structures out of a variety of materials,
older children working together in mixed media, exploring oil pastels, dot markers, collage and found art,
while others used colorful water soluble oil pastels on bristol board to create brilliant floral interpretations.
It was was a lot going on...and then the clay was brought to the tables and the bust fell over and mud was taking over the tables and floors and children needed help with hot glue and I became overwhelmed.
I said, "Gang we need to put the clay away.  I'm overwhelmed and I just need to put the clay away for now".  My request was met by some frustration and a few tears and my heart swelled with humility.  Then a child asked, "Angelina what is overwhelmed?"  I said, "I just can't support this many different works at the same time and it's becoming messy and I'm feeling stressed and I need to slow things down.  Does that make sense?"  It was amazing.  The children got it.  They began cleaning.  They grabbed cloths and mops and brooms.  They cleaned up all the mud as well as I ever could.   Then they began cleaning the marks left by previous students on tables and floor. There was no stress.  They just saw that Angelina needed help and the studio belonged to everyone and they just did what needed to be done.  I was humbled my their kindness, their competence, their ownership of the studio and their sense of community.  I thanked them all personally and then as a group during their closing circle.  I spoke to a few parents and I want to let all the families know how grateful I am, your children amaze and inspire me every unexpected ways.
Thank you for entrusting them into our care.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Amy joins us in the studio

Amy Laugesen, joined us for three days in the studio.  The first day we worked with the younger primary students, exploring the properties of clay.  Some of the children continued the ongoing exploration of self that has permeated the studio these past several months, making faces and three-dimensional portraits.
While others gravitated to the visceral aspects of clay, pounding, rolling, pinching, coiling and building it into a variety of shapes, sculptures and creations.
The second day, we brought in the extended primary children to further explore self portraits and emotional awareness.
We began with detailed self portraits to communicate of creative visions to Amy and then we brought our drawn plans to the clay area where Amy demonstrated a variety of ways to adapt our two dimensional self portraits into clay.
 It was such a fun learning experience for all of us.
And the results are truly inspiring.
Day 3 Amy worked in the toddler classroom, exploring rolling, pushing, pinching, poking and manipulating clay in and by small hands.
Our community is so fortunate to work with Amy, she is a fabulous educator, artist and person. She continues to inspire and humble me with her graciousness and  even more importantly, the children love her AND clay.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bunnies in the studio!

The Urban Farm at Stapleton joined us in the studio for another all school visit and this time they brought with them RABBITS!
There are lots of different kinds of rabbits.  The two breeds visiting for the day were California rabbits and a french lop.  Tenny and Caroline, from the farm, told us that rabbits come in all sizes. English lops are huge and the smallest rabbits, like the hotot and mini lops, are tiny.

As we watched the bunnies we noticed their ears shifting directions.  It turns out when their ears are up they are paying attention to what is around them, if they are relaxed then their ears often rest on their back and when they are listening, they cock their ears.
It was another wonderful studio day and a great opportunity to connect with these beautiful creatures and one another!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Exploring our feelings progresses into feeling-bots in the studio

Our study this year continues to develop in the direction of emotional intelligence and awareness as the children investigate their feelings and experiences in the studio. Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, self-regulate and evaluate emotions.  Emotional awareness is how we recognize when feelings are present in ourselves and others.  It is closely related to emotional literacy, which is the ability to label feelings with specific feeling words.   As we work together, exploring and learning about our feelings in a socially supportive environment, I am humbled by the children's creativity, words and thoughts.  I am reminded that the human experience is wide and varied and we all grow, with greater ease and integration, when we spaciously invite even the most uncomfortable feelings within a caring community.  As the children create feeling-bots and portraits we talk about what feelings like: "mad", "sad", "angry", "jealous", "lonely" and "love" feel like.  Together we make room for the wide arc of human feeling and experience and we discuss how to recognize an emotion and what we need when we are feeling a particular emotion. Each creation is left out on our inspiration table for everyone to see.  As I walk by I'm reminded of the power of inclusion: when we include even the messiest aspects of self and other in conscious community, real opportunities for emotional intelligence and awareness emerge. 

I don’t feel good when I’m mad because it’s just way too much for me.  It’s lots to do and lots to fight.  Sometimes me and my brother fight because of lots of things, toys and lots of things.  I get mad when people push me into the mud or don’t listen to me.
When I’m mad I feel frustrated. 
Mad hurts inside.
Mad feels like a hard tummy.
Feeling Regular
When I feel regular I feel pretty happy.  I feel all the feelings when I feel regular and I feel sad.  Regular feels like everything.

Sad is if someone doesn’t want to play with you or if someone yells at you.  
Sad feels heavy like a twenty nine weight rock.
When I’m sad I feel lonely.  
Sad feels like an empty house.
Sad is when no one wants to play with you.

Happy feels like I’m warm and it feels like its summer inside.
When I’m happy I feel like I play with friends a lot. 
Happy feels like love and flowers and smiling.