Thursday, 26 February 2015

Papier-maché portrait continues... EYES

We might be talking about listening at the moment in Vinden... but that is not just ears... we also listen with our eyes... and today there was a focus on eyes in the papier-mâché portrait making.

We took a close look at our eyes... the pupils... what colour are they... are they just one colour... what other colours can you see there. We then used this knowledge and applied it in our eye-making.

Using a glass bead for the eye... turning it over so that the concave side was faced down and the flat side upwards to paint on - just like the eye is also concave.

We kept looking at the eye the right side up... holding it in the air to see if the colour was right - and more and more paint was added until there was satisfaction that the eyes looked right.

Personally I would just love to make lots of eyes... and not just for humans but to try my hand at various different animal eyes... even mythical beasts too (alright, you have me, I want to make a dragon's eye!!).

The eye turned out way beyond my expectations... I hoped that it would look amazing, but to be honest I was not sure... I gave it a try myself yesterday with a bigger bead and just a few seconds to see if the paint would remain on the bead once dried (I used tempera with acrylic metallics) - there was no problems with the colour staying on the bead. So I had an idea of how the eye would turn out, but I was so happy to see how the eye was such a focus holder - pure concentration and enthusiasm... and this is really reflected in the end product. Of course the prcess allowed us to take a closer look at the eye and see details usually missed.

Then we continued with the papiermâché head... we mounted it the cardboard ring/centre from used tape and then with cotton wool built a nose and a chin, to create a 3D effect. There was great joy in using the glue and getting messy - and our listening project was evident here too... as there was great delight of exploring the sounds hands could make when they were covered in slimey wallpaper paste!

The idea was to fix the eyes today as well... but the head started to get very VERY soft dues to the enormous amounts of glue being explored and used... so we will wait until the head dries and hardens before attempting to fix the eyes.

The head has also been covered with a layer of white tissue paper, so that it makes painting the head slightly easier.

Light play

Sometimes there is time for me to play... rather unexpectedly, when there are many children on vacation or sick or both - and many children that come a little later than usual too... this creates a moment for exploration...

The children are interested in writing, and I want to be able to give them different experiences where writing and play weave together - and also other learning elements and discoveries...

I put a clear plastic box on the overhead and then put a mix of lentils and coloured rice into the box. The idea was to be able to draw and create shapes in the lentils. I loved the colour and the texture, but it was just not really working to create light shapes - you really need to swoosh your finger round and round to make it defined... and when you tried to make details the gaps soon filled up with lentils again.

So then I tried some coloured salt (light blue and mixed with some glitter - the glitter though does stock to fingers, which I found a bit irritating later in the day as I picked bits out - and no matter how I washed my hands (which was very many times as I got quite messy with papiermaché later on) there was still bits of glitter.... but I guess that is glitter for you.

Only a very thin layer of salt was needed to make the wall black - and it was very easy to write and draw in - of course there is that great surprise that it is upside down on the image on the wall.

With a slight shake you could even the salt out and start again. it did require a bit of technique in wrist action to get it evenly across the base of the box though...

A child (age 3) came in to watch what I was doing... just after I had drawn a circle and a triangle... the child exclaimed that it looked like roads...

Then he started to play - creating roads and parking houses(apologies for the filming... my focus was on the child and not on the filming quality)


and then he started to write words - making symbols and sounding them out... and then he started to count...


The child looked at the wall more than at what his hands were doing.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

playing with Plasticine

I am lucky, my daughters sometimes come to spend time with me and my preschoolers - something that is much appreciated by the children - other older children taking an interest in them.

On Friday we played with plasticine in the afternoon... my 14 year olds playing and experimenting with the 3-6 year olds - enjoying each others company and sharing ideas and inspiration with each other...
The preschoolers tried out all sorts of different ideas and techniques... smooshing on paper, creating models, jewellery, using straws as tools and acessories, mixing colours - in patterns and to create new colours.

 My girls created flowers and a crazy pig - sharing their techniques.... as well as their interest and enthusiasm to search for information... how does a poppy look if I want to make a poppy?

It will be interesting to see how the plasticine interest carries on and how the children want to continue their explorations of this medium... and also how I can provoke the children to explore more, deeper and find even more ways to express themselves through plasticine....

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Portrait Project... papier mâché

The process of starting a self portrait with papier mâché has started... I have been looking forward to this part for some time... since being inspired by this film and others similar to it...

We started with a balloon to get the head shape... and worked with strips of paper and wall-paper paste... we tested all sorts of different ways to use the paste... with brushes, with hands, on the table, directly on the balloon, dipping the paper etc etc... the only instruction was to try out many different ways as possible... to share these methods and then to work with the one that feels best for you...

So now the head shape is ready... I might just show them the film before starting out on the next part... decorating the head with facial features... to get ideas about how to make those features...

Looking forward to seeing how these will turn out... and what we will learn together on the way...

Friday, 20 February 2015

winter mud play

For a few days the temperature has gone above zero... meaning the snow has been melting, and the ground no longer resembling concrete... it also means the return of mud... a great play resource!!

The children SOOn discovered the thick ozzy muddy patch otdoors today... at first just with feet... and later a hands on experience...

They got quite messy for sure...

To clean off... well we have no hose to wash them down outside... but I took some warm soapy water out so that they could wash the mud out of their mittens and wash the mud off their arms and legs... and once they looked fairly OK, I poured the water down their legs to  get that thick layer off to make sure the overalls could be put in a washing machine...

I think the children had just as much fun washing the mud off as they did playing with the mud...

Monday, 16 February 2015

Playing School

Last Friday the children reflected on their week of play and decided that they wanted to play school - how this idea exactly came up I am not enitirely sure... but it got mentioned and it took off as an idea with great excitement with all the children. They took home small notes that they would need a school bag and gymclothes.

So today we have played school... the children were far too excited to wait for the "PE/gym lesson" to get changed... they more or less got changed as they came through the door... and as we were playing school this was all part of the fun.

There was free play until everyone arrived... and the children were well into the school roles by then, carrying their bags back and forth and feeling really rather very important. We then asked for all the school children to hang up their bags in the cloak room. When they came back they were asked to line up at the door... and they were greeted one by one with a handshake to mark the start of the school day... this is a common thing in many Swedish schools...

We sat on the mat for our morning meeting to explain how the morning was going to work and that all the children would get to the chance to test everything out. The children were divided into three groups of three... by saying 1,2,3 round the circle - the children needing to remember what their number was - and with a little help from each other they were all able to find their first activity/lesson.

Art was one of the lessons... a basket of animals was put out and the children could choose and animal to draw - it started off by the children doing this as a still-life, some of the children decided that drawing round the animal would be a good idea... and this included the feet... there are, afterall, many ways to draw around an animal... and over the years I have seen children do this and then look in surprise at the image on the paper wondering why it does not look like the animal they have drawn around... to then work out why....Two of the children chose to draw a snake... both for the same reason... it was the easiest thing in the basket. Assessing the situation and working out how they could be as successful as possible in the "lesson".

The other two "lessons" were maths and Swedish... the Swedish being writing practice. There was special paper to help form letters on, and a sheet with the alphabet and a bowl full of names so that the children could choose how they wanted to play school writing. They could do as much or as little as they wanted... the most important was that it was fun.
Maths was addition using one of the games that was bought in Jenin, Palestine (Not to Forget Women's Society). This proved to be a popular activity.

The children were busy at each activity for 5-10 minutes - we rotated as we saw the groups were ready to test the new "lesson" out. Once the children had the opportunity to do all the lessons it was time for the long awaited gym/PE lesson.

We started off with doing PE as I had seen the children do it in Jenin, Palestine... in rows and copying what the teacher did - apparently this was called "Swedish gymnastics" - either that or someone was pulling my leg...
here you can see them in long rows doing their exercises in the morning.

Then there was time for PE that is seen more foften in Swedish schools... especially with the younger years... with running round (without crashing into each other), jumping, balancing and breathing exercises on the floor with some stretching... not just great physical exercises but lots of listening skills being put to the test too! The children were having a great time... so much laughing

Then it was time for a shower... under the hulahoop with water sound effects...

Then it was time for break/recess - the children informed us that school children do not wear high visibility vests when they are out... so for this outdoor adventure to the square the children did not wear vests. They continued to play school though.

When we returned indoors the planned part of the play school day was over... lunch, rest and then the afternoon was left... the children were already planning as they took their snow suits that they would continue the school play in the afternoon.... and they did.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Teacher-Child Balance

On Saturday February 21st 2015 - there will be the next #ReggioPLC twitterchat - Laurel Fynes of This Kindergarten Life will be guest moderating with me... as Diane Kashin will be mid-flight unable to make this global chat.

The choice of chat topic is the teacher-child balance act... this is something that I have been thinking a great deal about - and I have been looking back through my blog to see what posts I could share to get people thinking... to provoke thought one way or another...

So this post is not so much an exploration of that balance... but a series of links to posts that relate to the balance of teacher-child... so why not take the time to read as many or as few as you like... and then join Laurel and myself next Saturday to explore what it is all about...

Scaffolding - this post is exploring why we have rules and routines... and how the children need to be involved in the process.

What about me? - an exploration of whther it is OK for adults to get angry too... what is the balance with emotions

Do Templates Kill creativity? - How much adult preparation is appropriate? How do we get the balance right?

Collaboration Between adults and children - the artwork collaboration of an artist and her child got me thinking... about how much should an adult create with a child... does it harm a child's creativity?

To help or not to help? - a post exploring the benefits of stepping back as a teacher and letting the children work it out for themselves... finding the helping balance

If you can't beat them join them - letting the children inspire the play... but in an appropriate way

Does boredom give birth to creativity? - an exploration of time and creativity and boredom... and balancing how much space we give children.

Thinking about the comptent child again - I keep coming back to this theme of what is a competent child... because it is very much about the balance of teacher-child. How much do they already know, what can I expect of them, and what is appropriate - too much teaching, too little? It requires contant listening to find the balance...

A bit more thinking about the competent child - this continues the thinking... especially after being in dialogue with others... this post was fresh after meeting Debi Keyte-Hartland.

Childhood - of course it then came down to childhood... maybe it wasn't the word competent I need to work out, but the word child... and what has that come to mean... do I need to understand my relationship with that word (and the relationship of others with that word) to be able to fine tune my teacher-child balance?

The competent child- inspiration from Alsion Gopnik - mixing ideas of child and competent with a huge helping of Gopnik.

Progettazione - thinking about projects... - this post was inspired by Diane Kashin... and has a focus on the role of the teacher... very much an important part of the child-teacher balance...

Malaguzzi's Three Children - and exploration not only of the three children... but also what the three teacjers would be ... the balnce teacher-child

Making Decisions - the process of supporting the children to be more active in the planning and decision making of preschool... and really I need to write a new post about this... to reflect on how it has all turned out 6 months later... as it has been a great learning journey together

Child perspective and Child's Perspective - looking at the difference between having a child perspective and looking at things from a child's perspective... and how this makes a difference on the child-teacher balance

Learning to Listen - really, it would not be right if I did not include at least one post about listening... as I think this is an ESSENTIAL part of the child-teacher balance.

OK... so that should get you going...