Friday, February 24, 2017

Eggs-citing week in the studio

First a huge thank you to the families who donated eggs this week (fresh and hard-boiled) they were a whopping success!  Each child had the opportunity to crack an egg and scramble it to their own personal liking, seasoning it with a little salt and pepper if so inclined.
 Of course their favorite part of the process involved eating it.
The older children and I spent a day talking about chickens and eggs and which comes first, the chicken or the egg? (there was no real consensus on that one)
 We examined hard boiled eggs.
 And fresh eggs.  Then we spent some time documenting our findings.
 The eggs were then scrambled and enjoyed.
The toddlers helped me make egg salad.  The afternoon class loved eating their creation while the morning class eyed it with suspicion and choose to play bird calls instead.
All in all it was another fabulous and EGGS-citing (I know I can't help it) week in the studio!  
Now get your child into the kitchen to prepare you some scrambled eggs.  
They know how to do it!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sand tray in the studio and the reemergence of battle play

Every material in a prepared environment (i.e. the classrooms, indoor/outdoor spaces, studio, etc.) has been intentionally placed.  The addition of the sand tray in the studio is a perfect example.  As a teacher, I have watched battle play show up, in one form or another, year after year.  As adults we look for ways to navigate it.  Some children gravitate toward it while others feel threatened by it.  I continue to ponder the value of battle play in human development and ask how I might investigate this question alongside young children?Children who simply do not think about the violence they bring into their play in the same way adults do.
In her article, Beyond banning war and superhero play: Meeting children’s needs in violent times, Levin points out, "From both therapeutic and cognitive perspectives, children use play to work out an understanding of their experience, including the violence to which they are exposed... War play can fill a child’s need to feel powerful" (p. 1-2).  Additionally Levin suggests that in order for children to, " through deep issues and needs in a meaningful way, [they often] require direct help from adults. How you help depends on the nature of the children’s play" (p. 3).  Most researchers suggest that we (as adults) take the time to observe their play and to see what the children may be working on and how. Then we can better support them as they develop the skills to work out violent content and/or just partner with them in the human effort to investigate and embrace the paradoxical qualities of life, including "good" and "bad".

I brought in several materials, the sand tray among them, in order to partner with my favorite researchers (the children) to find out a little bit more.
The children have a lot to share and right now I'm just observing and asking questions as we go.  
Here is a deeply insightful snippet from one of our conversations
Angelina        I’m not saying you shouldn’t have bad guys!  I’ve just noticed that bad guys always seem to show up every year in the studio and I’m wondering why bad guys are so important.
M.                 We need bad guys because they let us be better than them. People will always be a little bit bad so that we can always feel a little bit better.
No one is ever completely bad though.  
I learn so much from the children every year... not just about childhood but about humanhood.  M. pointed to the human tendency to project our unwanted qualities on others and thereby make them bad.  Something we all do.  
Please join me in research and let me know if your observations and dialogs shed new light on this question.  I'll keep you posted as things develop on this end.

Levin, D. (2003) Beyond banning war and superhero play: Meeting children’s needs in violent times. Young Children 65 (3).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Designing a window

After the children visited the artisan center they continued to develop their design plans.  This week Amy came back into the studio to create the armature for a bird and a nest in the studio.  These may be part of the window display in April.  At the very least we are experimenting with ideas.  If you get the chance to come by and add your two cents, please do.

Monday, February 13, 2017

How might we decorate the Artisan Center Display window?

The children and I are regularly visiting the display window of the Artisan Center on Third and Detroit St.  Together, we are brainstorming how we might decorate the display window in early April.
Of course birds, nests and eggs are figuring heavily in their design process.
Responding to this interest, Amy began working with them to make several large eggs using papier mache'.
Even the toddlers got in on the fun!
As our ideas come together in the weeks ahead, we will have a clearer impression of our design plan.  Stay tuned!

The heart

The children are working on a long-term community project and have spent the past week painting a stockpile of clay hearts made earlier in the year.
As they worked, I was curious what they thought about hearts.  I asked them, what a heart does and what its' symbol might mean?  Here are some of their answers:

Henley         A heart means play
Eliana          A heart means happy
Hudson       A heart means love
Cooper        A heart means that you love
Lila              A heart means Love
Willa           A heart means Love
Anschel      A heart means that you love you
Sonja          A heart means Valentines Day
Q                 A heart is for Love and for loving
Addison     A heart means Love
Mae S.        A heart means Mom
Townsend  A heart pumps blood
Hayden      A heart means Love
Drew          It means love.  It gives kisses and it means happy.
Henry         A heart means Love
Delaney      A heart means Love
Dennis        A heart means  Love
Matthew    A heart means Peace.  The heart helps you love and it also helps you feel better.
Henry         It means people love you.  A heart shows people love.  It pumps blood.
Gracie         A heart means Love.
Noland       A heart means love and I think it generates electricity.
Ella             A heart makes love. It loves people.  I feel love in my heart.
Since so many children spoke of love, I asked what was meant by the word Love?
Here was their reply:
Love means that you find someone you like.
Love feels. It's a feeling!
Love doesn’t be mean.
Love feels happy.
Love means peace.
Love means friendship and helping one another.
Love means you don’t fight.
Love means happiness.
Love means that you find someone that you want to be friends with and love just loves.
Love isn't for just people. You can love trees, dogs, plants, pets and snow.
I feel love in my heart.  It’s funny how we feel love in our hearts.  If you really feel love you can feel it in your whole body.
Love means that you love other persons.  Love feels happy.  I feel it in my chest.
Love means love.
Some of the children developed love theories as they spoke:
Chloe          It smashes into peoples heart.
Abby           Maybe it smashes into people’s hearts when you are born.
Chloe          Then it smashes out of people’s hearts and into other peoples.
Abby           It’s red and smashes into people’s hearts when they are born and a heart means love.
Chloe          Heart’s float and then they smash and then you feel LOVE and then they float and then smash.
The children and I tried to feel love in our bodies.  We discovered that when we felt really full of love our chests warmed and the feeling spread throughout our bodies.  One child said that the feeling was "exploding out of (her) body, like a warm light".  We noticed that if we felt mad or "mean" or even sad and lonely, the feeling shrunk in the body.  It turns out love can be "turned up and turned down".  Someone remarked, "WOW! I can feel love any time I want!"
A good reminder for us all.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The studio has gone to the birds

With the few warmer days at the start of the week, the children and I resumed our jaunts through the neighborhood.
 This time we were on the lookout for birds, nests and nesting materials.
When we got to the Artisan Center on the corner of 3rd and Detroit St, we spent some time investigating the window displays BECAUSE we have been invited to decorate the front display in April!  This is an amazing opportunity and a wonderful extension of our research questions regarding Community, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Connections.
 On our way back to school we spotted a beautiful nest among the branches of a nearby tree.
 As the wind picked up we imagined what it might feel like to be a bird in flight.
 I gathered the materials we collected and the children investigated nest making.
It turns out that nest making may be a little more challenging then we initially thought, but the children were persistent and collaborated with one another to create some truly beautiful nests.
 The XP children and I spent the day drawing self portraits as birds.
The tods played with our soft bird puppets and wooden eggs.
And the XP got to participate in a Night Ninja presentation by the Audubon Society of Greater Denver.
Which was absolutely COOL and informative.  Did you know that owls have one ear higher on their head then the other so that they can triangulate sounds?  I didn't!
 Then we got to dissect owl pellets... yep owl throw-up... and we found tons of fur and bones in each one.
Talk about a power packed week!!! Please continue the conversation at home and look for birds in your back yards and neighborhoods.