Sunday, 17 April 2016

Film-making again... learning from experience

It is not only the children that are continually learning, it's me too...
I would not say I am the most technological savvy person, but I am willing to give it a go...

Last time we made a film using drawings on laminate we had used sharpies... and some of the children had been disappointed that their drawing had not been so visible... check out this post that explains more about the process

As I have been editing the film now I see that my choice to use a better quality camera to film the animations has not created a better quality film...

My camera was only able to focus on either the background or the animation and not both at the same time... so the resulting film is a combination of in focus drawings with a blurry Stockholm, or a in focus Stockholm with a slightly blurry drawing...

I had simply not played enough with the camera to have understood this would happen and how to get around that...

Anyway here is the film...


Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy the film-making process!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Mona Lisa inspired portraits

Just over a week ago the children were talking about the Mona Lisa.. "the world's most famous painting" and how they wanted to make a famous painting themselves... I suggested that they could make their own Mona painting, if I was to combine their photo portrait with the Mona Lisa, we could create something completely new...

for example my face with the Mona Lisa would become Mona Suzanne...

I did this over the weekend and the images were ready for the children to paint...

When they first looked at the images they laughed... deep from the belly... at their own, at each others... genuine amusement that they could look so different and yet so alike...

We looked at a print of the Mona Lisa that leonardo Da Vinci had painted and noticed the colours... they tended to be rather dark... so we made some dark colours to paint with...

The children chose their own brushes... and some changed brushes part way through when they realised that their brush was too broad... all sorts of learning going on...

There were some amazing dialogues going on too... about gender and about fashion/looks...

Were the boys still boys if their heads were on the Mona Lisa body? The boys looked at themselves and said.. yes they were still boys... but the image was it a boy or a girl? And there was a discussion about how it looked so old fashioned... well the painting is over 500 yrs old... but now I am old fashioned... as they looked at their transformation. The children really observed and reflected on the process...
They also repeatedly said it was so much fun....


I was slightly nervous about doing this... it felt like giving the children a colouring in book... although personalised... and yet the children created something unique with their print... each seeing something different in the original work that they transferred to their own art... each adding their own personal flair...

Below you can see the final masterpieces (the top two left images are works in progress with the final masterpiece directly under... so you can see the process)
Some of the children used a lighter touch to their painting so that the details of the print could still be seen... while others painted as usual with the enjoyment of a thicker layer... all images have mouths... just that one chose a VERY pale pink and when I asked if the child was happy that the mouth was hard to see from a  distance there was a decided nod.
I like to always hold up the children's artwork at the end (as long as it will not drip) so that they can see how it looks from a new perspective and make their final decision as to whether they are finished or would like to add a little more)



Sunday, 3 April 2016

Learning with autism...

I am sat writing here, as my son tries to fall asleep... as usual I am right outside his room, although tonight he is in my bed... he is slightly more stressed than usual as tomorrow he will be spending the entire morning with his "normal" class.

"Normal class" I wonder exactly what that is... for the last 14 months my son has not been able to attend his "normal class" and has instead been in a special classroom with just 1 or two other children also unable to learn in a "normal class".

This time last year we were picking up the pieces after a horrendous autumn term where things had spiralled downwards far too speedily. My son (who will turn 12 at the end of this month... also autism awareness month) lost all faith in himself, deemed himself worthless and did not see the point in living let alone being in school... a whole term went to restore faith in the school system and himself...
Maybe this was not the best of things looking back in retrospect... he got into the routine of doing next to nothing... and now is finding it hard to do anything.... when it comes to school work that is.

It HAS to be meaningful. He must be interested.

And to be honest sometimes I do feel like pulling my hair out... because he is his own worst enemy.
He is that child that makes his teachers exhausted.
He is also that child that makes easy pickings for others... I mean they know he will react, so it becomes a sport.

He is very creative... but is also very addicted to computer games and screen time... when we let him have free range he would spend all his time in front of a screen, or devising how he could be in front of a screen. He would be grumpy, sometimes angry. He found it hard to find anything else to do.

We then started a 10 hour a week screen time (excluded at the family film time on Fridays, and weekend morning TV when he gets up early and he can chill out on the sofa with children's programmes until the rest of the family get up). Quite often his screen time is over by Wednesday (we have a planner, where he decides how he is going to use his hours over the week.... and he can change max one hour during the week (as before he would want to change his time all the time and then had nothing by the end of the week... by planning his week, and sticking to it, he learns more about self regulation... ). The great thing about restricting his time (but he still choooses when he uses this time) is that then he can concentrate on other play when he is finished instead of trying to work out how he can continue playing online/onscreen.

This results in wonderful lego constructions for example... which then spills over into blogposts...
He makes space in his room to set up the photoshoot, he takes the images himself, he edits them himself using picmonkey, he then loads them up onto his blog (which he shares with me here on blogger - so that all comments drop by my e-mail and I can make sure that he only receives positive feedback, or at least constructive feedback)... he then writes about his constructions.
I come in at the end and support the spelling a bit... enough to allow everyone to understand, but not too much to take away from his own personal learning charm... I mean there are capital letters popping up everywhere... he loves them... he loves the way is you put lots of TTTTTTTTTT s together it looks like a bridge.
Maths was also a part of the blog... as he added up the total powers of his lego dragons... suddenly school subjects are meaningful, useful and he has interest.

He never wants to do anything that he thinks he might fail at... despite the fact that I work hard as a person, as a mother and as a teacher that we need to dare to fail...

This is, in fact one of his sisters - a VERY long time ago. Falling falling falling off until she mastered it... and the falling was fun some of the time, frustrating other times...

But daring to fail is so essential... and so much learning is prevented by this fear. It is something we will continue to work on with my son... to learn to dare.

Today he sat down and wrote three blogposts... they tend to come rather sporadically - but I feel equally excited every time. Hoping that he will get into the routine of writing... that will allow him to write a little more each time.

He LOVES comments... and he will answer every one of them...
so if you have a little extra time... why not pop over to his blog, check it out... maybe even with children that you work with, or your children at home... and leave a comment, start up a dialogue... and know that you will be helping the learning journey of a child with autism/ADHD that is struggling with school.

Green King Dragon
Bone Dragon
Robot Dragon


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Preparing for a new film

Yesterday we added sound to our lego stop motion film... and as much as I really want to share it here NOW, I am not going to... as it is/will be a surprise for the children's parents's in three weeks... also I think I need to tweak it a bit too, but if I don't get the time, it will work wonderfully anyway..

Today a new child started our group... and so that she and her family can feel important at the parent meeting we are making an extra film... today we looked at the film again (we did yesterday too) of their figures on plastic...

check it out







The children could really see what parts they liked and how they could improve their film... some of the children's artwork was hard to see... so we fixed this by using acrylic paint instead of permanent markers to colour in the images (it really has made a difference).

Tomorrow as we do the filming I imagine there will be a difference too... the children were fascinated by how some of the children moved their images as if they changed tracks, or moved on the platform, rather than just random movements... so my prediction is that more children will be moving their image in a more deliberate way... time will tell... but I am very much looking forward to seeing.

Here is a sneak peak at their artwork


Sunday, 20 March 2016

Just because...

Sometimes we do things with the children just because it is fun... and just because you loved it as a child too...

video
We have, in the last few weeks being checking out buildings in Stockholm... the children selected buildings from the internet (a google search) and the ones I did not recognise I checked on the website of the image to confirm that they are in fact in Stockholm... I would like to point out at this stage... despite the fact I checked, it did not mean I gor it right...
This last building was NOT in Stockholm, but for some reason it said on the website that it was located in Värta Port (when the boats for Finland set sail... except they are not sail boats).
As I tired to find the exact address so we could visit... like we had visited the other 7 buildings in Stockholm, I made the discovery (after checking 5-6 web pages) that the building was in fact in Denmark... not even in Sweden, let alone Stockholm... but it was designed by the same archtects that designed the new buildings in Värta Port. So I talked with the children, and we agreed that we would check out these building instead to see if we could see any similarietes with the one that had orginally being selected... BUT I am serioulsy writing at a tangent here...

The building had a glass lift... and I knew as a child I LOVED glass lifts... so we went up and down for no reason at all except to experience the glass lift.

The children also got to play in the sculpture... it looked like there was water for the mermaid to splash into, but it was just very shiney tiles...
The children could play in there as long as their boots did not touch the tiles (my rules, to protect the artwork somewhat... ) Originally the idea was so that the children did not climb into the art work... but they soon worked out that they could play in there with their feet up... OK, I made the rule, and they had worked around it in a creative way... I let them. One child was hesitant... what if someone gets angry at me for playing here... I assured her that it would be my fault and not hers, as I had allowed them to play there... she dived into the play with joy...
I was surprised that none of them thought of taing their boots off... but it was fun watching them squirm around with feet in the air... an elaborate play evolving - mermaids, bad guys, magic... the markings on the floor and the scultpure very much inspiring the play...

In fact it really made me think how important floor/ground surface is... the patterns, texture etc REALLY does impact play...



We were at the City Hall a few weeks ago... and the criss cross patterns of the ground there inspired an complax chasing game based on a labyrinth... you can see the patterns on the image below on the left... This space overlooking the South Island and The Old Town is one the children have asked to return to, as they thought it was so much fun to play there... no playground equipment... just play.


In a way I am so enjoying watching the children making their own play spaces out of what is technically designed for adults...  Just because... they can!!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The film-making continues

Today we finished off making the films (actually we worked on it yesterday too... doing the titles and and credits...)

The children are really happy with the film and are looking forward to adding sound to it next week.

This session today also involved the whole group filming at once... and there was a huge difference ebtween the first time we filmed (as a whole group) and this time since they were so much more practised... the filming in small groups had given them enough confidence and awareness of how to make the films that thye could support each other more during the process rather than it being so much of me (even though it does require a LOT more input from me than other projects we do).

Films the children have made individually or in pairs have not needed much guidance from me at all... some of the children are completely independant... but as a whole group (and this is a small group of 8 children) there needs to be my voice added to the mix to enable the film process to remain smooth and also to encourage those children who start to lose focus that staying with it will be worth it in the end... and yes, they agreed, it WAS worth it, when they saw the film scenes played...

video
Here is the final scene from the film... not going to quite reveal what it is all about... but he children had to come up with a title for their film yesterday... and for some reason this one has loaded up rather slow... but all will be fixed before the final viewing where all scenes are put together...

This was an interesting process to follow... as the children started saying random things that sounded good, or that they liked... so it brought us to a great discussion about titles, books and films... and how going to see a film called Spiderman when the film was actually about Batman might be a bit confusing.... or reading a book called the Life of  a Crocodile and the book was actually about how to build a robot would probably be equally confusing... so the children gor thinking again... and said it was tricky.
So I asked if we should watch all the scenes again, and talk about the plan to end the film... this helped them a great deal to remember what the film was about...

WAR and PEACE
is the name of the film.

I think we might explore what thses words mean in the future...


Sunday, 6 March 2016

"Is there bacteria on hands?"

"Is there bacteria on hands?"

Was the shocked exclamation when I mentioned why we wash our hands before meals... after several of the children had been involved in some serious nasal exploration...

So I set up an experiment... one slice of bread that all the children got to handle without washing their hands... and then a control slice that I put in a sealed bag after the children saw me wash and disinfect my hands and also touching the bread as little as possible...

The bags were marked "with hands" and  "without hands" - and taped to the window. Of course with it being winter the window was acting as a fridge... so nothing much was happening... so I moved them to another window (internal one) so that the chill facter would ceaseto slow things down... it then took 24 hrs for mould to appear on the handled bread...


Not much... but enough to see the difference...

I guess now with a weekend allowing the bread to feed the mould that there should be quite some development on both breads...

We also looked at images of bacteria and virus under the microscope... choosing ones that the children had succombed to recently like tummy bugs, colds and ear infections...
We talked about how the white blood cells were heroes and were fighting off the virus/bacteria and that fever, and pain were all part of the battle to get rid of the virus/bacteria that did not belong there...

It was an interesting dialogue that had all the children totally fascinated... me too!

UPDATE: Monday 7th March