shapes and lines all around

photo-8We have been exploring lines and shapes.  We decided to go on a shape hunt around the school to see if we could find any interesting lines and shapes in our environment. The children were very observant and noticed lines and shapes everywhere.  They were so observant in fact, that it took us quite a while to walk the short distance from our school play area to the sidewalk!  We found many different shapes and lines.  These are just a few that the children decided we should document.  photo-9

We have also been talking about ways in which artists use lines and shapes in interesting ways.  The following day, we looked at a few of Kandinsky’s paintings and the children shared some interesting thoughts.

Several Circles -1926

“It’s about planets and circles.”  kandinsky-circles-1926-granger

“Two bigger circles and small ones inside.”

“Big, tiny and medium that they painted.”

“The big one looks like earth.”

“He made lots of circles and made shapes like circles.”

Composition VIII – 1923

kandinsky.comp-8“He made flags.  They are all tangled up with sticks.”

“I see some shapes — triangles — lines that are straight — circles and squares.”

“Yesterday we saw these shapes.  Triangles and round ones and rectangles.  We saw those on our shape hunt.”

“I see half circles.”

“I see a ribbon.”

“It looks like arrows attacking the bow.”

Squares with Concentric Circles – 1913  04-0192_l

“I see all shapes, big and small.”

“I see squares.”

“They look like rangolis.”

Kandinsky’s artwork along with what the children noticed on our line and shape hunt inspired some beautiful artwork.  Some children represented shapes and lines on transparencies which we hung in our window.  Others printed shapes using different objects.  Some painted their concentric shapes which we hung from a branch to make our own Kandinsky tree.  Others created larger paintings.

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more leaf inspirations

Last week we went on a leaf hunt. The children collected leaves of different shapes, sizes and colours. When we returned to our classroom, the children each took a leaf and described something they noticed. They discovered that some leaves have spots, some are droopy and others are “stinky”.  Using their words, we engaged in some shared writing.  As they took a closer look, the children also noticed that “leaves have lines.”  We are fortunate to have a light table, the leaves were placed on the light table for further exploration.  At first, the children sorted the leaves.  As a small group took a closer look, I revisited their idea that leaves have lines and encouraged them to trace their favourite leaf onto a piece of transparency.  This reminded me of some wonderful art work I had the opportunity to see at the Bishop Strachan School last year which inspired what follows.

Using the overhead projector, the leaf drawings were projected for the children.  Projecting their leaf drawings added yet another dimension to their experience with light, shadow, and their drawings.  As the children painted, more children became interested and were also inspired to trace a leaf.  Once their paintings dried, they added colour.  I was amazed at how much care even the younger children took as they painted.  We are now paying much closer attention to the lines we see in our environment.  I have a feeling this could be the inspiration for a line project!

more than a collage

We took the children on a nature walk so they could make some observations about things they noticed in the natural environment.  Although not many leaves had yet changed colours, there were several on the ground that the children found interesting.  We collected some of the things they found and brought them back to the classroom.  The children collected a lot of the same types of leaves.  We put what they had collected out on some butcher paper to see what they would do.  For me, this was another lesson in patience and honouring the unexpected.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for the children to sort and I could have easily told them to do so.  Instead, I decided to watch and listen.  A couple of children immediately brought the magnifying glasses over and began examining the leaves.  They noticed that some were soft, and some were “crunchy” (There was the sorting I had anticipated, but that was where it ended.)  A few of children decided to rub the crunchy leaves between their hands and enjoyed watching the leaves become “crumbs.”  Someone decided to make a picture and realized she needed some glue.  Her piece of paper was cut and she brought it over to the Studio to create her masterpiece.  

This encouraged a friend to come over and help.  The individual work of art now became a collaborative piece as the two girls created together.  Other children also wanted their little piece of butcher paper cut so they could create their own collages.  The girls’ collage became a story about their nature walk and a demonstration of cooperation.  What I thought would be a simple sorting exercise turned into a much richer experience.  The children observed, wondered about the crunchy leaves, engaged in a sensory experience, artistically represented their thinking, retold the story of their walk, and collaborated with peers.  What seems on the surface to be a simple collage of leaves, is really so much more.  It will be interesting to see what the children find on our next walk and the changes they might notice.  

art-inspired word wall

Over the summer, I attended the Powerful Play sessions at Havergal College. It was very inspiring to share ideas with other educators and have the opportunity to learn from the teachers at Havergal. Thanks to them for this art-inspired word wall idea!  We had the children experiment with paint and colour. Other than teaching the technique of dipping the brush in the water before choosing a colour and rinsing it before choosing another, the children had carte blanche (literally) in how they wanted to fill the space. We used watercolour paper which really brought out the intensity of the tempera pucks. Once the pieces dried, the alphabet was added along with each of our names (names and faces have been removed to respect the children’s privacy.)  The children visit the wall often and are learning each others’ names.  As we learn new words we’ll add them to the wall throughout the school year.

plasticine art

Spring is alive with changes and the children have been representing their interpretations of a few of the changes they have been noticing:  flowers blooming, pussy willows growing, buds on trees, changing weather, seeds sprouting, and people playing.  I cut up some plasticine to inspire the children to represent their thinking using different media.  Other than showing them the techniques of warming the plasticine between their fingers and rolling it out, the rest was up to them.  They rolled, they curled, they pressed, they stacked, they shaped, and they even mixed colours.  These little masterpieces were inspired by Barbara Reid’s beautiful book, Picture a Tree.

from a centrepiece to a community piece

A few weeks ago I attended a very inspiring Reggio conference. The centrepieces at the tables consisted of a vase of rocks filled with water nestled inside another vase. The vases were placed on a mirror which was in turn placed on a piece of paper. On the mirror were rocks upon which we were invited to write and/or place in the water whenever we felt the desire to do so over the duration of the conference.  Aside from being an engaging way to interact with the artwork, I initially thought this was a beautiful way to have the children explore the displacement of water and I wanted to recreate it for the children to investigate.  We were later told that the “paper” underneath the centerpiece did not come from trees.  It was made from limestone.  No trees!  The paper was a rock!  If I recall correctly, no water is used in the processing either.  Now I was REALLY intrigued with this paper and the complexity of this piece.  At the end of the conference, I was lucky enough to win the centrepiece!  I knew I had to engage the children not only with the rocks, but with the paper as well.  The children explored the rocks for a few days.  They sorted.  They created rock collages.  They used words to describe the rocks.  Then they drew as many rocks as they liked on this special paper.  I drew some and my colleagues who attended the conference drew some as well.  We used watercolour pencils and co-created this piece.  We now have a beautiful community work of art to display in our classroom.  The children were very excited to see it framed.  For me, it’s a special piece…one of the stepping-stones on this very special and exciting journey.

drawing with wire

Last week, I put out some wire for the children to explore. At first, they weren’t quite sure what to do with it. They seemed to be more interested in wearing the safety glasses than exploring the wire.  Eventually, they started to bend and twist it.  After the initial interest began to fade, I added some beads to the table which sparked their interest again.  As they manipulated the wire, some forms began to take shape.  At first glance, the “abstract” sculptures were beautiful in their own right, but just ask a child to tell you about their creation, and you begin to see things in a different way — a plane…a spaceship…a hairbrush.  I encouraged them to draw their sculpture.  Here was another opportunity to label a diagram, write a sentence, or tell a story.  Each child is at a different stage of writing development, so some wrote words and sentences while others came over to the computer with me and dictated their “story.”

It was interesting to watch some children who decided to count and recount the beads to see that their picture had the corresponding number.  Here is a plane with a ball on top.

A “spaceship” is always worth a good adventure!

And…..a brush.