Grade Ones Meet Pablo Picasso

You haven’t heard from me lately.  I wish that you had more insight into what I’ve been up to.  It’s as though I’ve dropped off of the map.

I’m teaching grade one…but, you knew that.  What you maybe don’t know is how a grade one world surrounds you and gobbles you up.  And when you arrive at your front door at the end of each day, it seems there is a buzz in your ears and everything outside of the classroom where you’ve submersed (and yes, I meant to type submersed and not immersed) yourself all day, seems to be going slow motion…and you are still going way too fast; in the grocery store, in your kitchen, in a coffee shop.

Today we talked about Pablo Picasso.

picasso-flowers

Alright…it really isn’t that simple.

The agenda message first thing this morning was something about practicing reading at home and finding groups of things at home…counting by twos…counting by fives.  And don’t forget to return the yellow form to the school by Wednesday!  While the children were hard at this, I played Pete Seeger’s later-in-life version of “Where Have All the Flower’s Gone?”  The children, by second verse, were singing along.  (Apparently, and I just learned this, the grade ones had done a version for the Remembrance Day observance this past year.)  I told them that I had flowers on my mind.

The day continued with library book deliveries, observations of lima beans tucked carefully in wet paper towel and sealed in Zip Lock bags on the window sills. (Thank goodness for Zip Lock bags!)

“There are roots!  Look at my roots!  Awe…I didn’t get roots!  Mine are cracked!  Come over here and look at these.  I have three roots!”

Note your observations… a drawing…don’t forget the date.  I see_______________.  What?  Now, let’s wrap them in another paper towel and we’ll see them on Day 8.  You are the scientists!  Make sure that you’ve sealed your Zip Lock bags!

We had better check the eaglets…”OH, LOOK!  Another turtle shell!  They’re growing big!  They are walking so tall now and they are getting black like their Mom and Dad!”

Spring in grade one is overflowing with butterflies, eaglets, seeds and talk of weather.  Having already completed a reflection on Picasso and his elegant drawing of a bouquet of flowers, these students created a depiction.  (I will include photographs of these on a later date.)  We did the drawings early last week and talked about hands that go over things and hands that go under things.  I explained, after the obvious suggestion, that no, we wouldn’t be tracing our hands.  I thought that it was possible to draw the hands, without tracing. (Secretly, I wondered if this was possible.)

So today, out came the chalk, the permanent markers and left over paints from previous painting projects of weeks ago, today, seeming months ago.

Ideas like… lines that are smooth-like-butter…lines that are choppy…shapes around stems and placing a paper towel under a painted edge and moving it along…stems that squeeze in to a middle point where hands will be circling…and then the stems releasing out again.  It went on and on, really.  Art always does…go on and on.  We will be colouring our bouquets tomorrow…more photos will follow.

Teaching grade one is like that place where magic and crazy converge.  When a light goes on for a grade one child, it is like the most amazing thing because you know that  what has just been made sense of is a very basic concept that will be at the base of absolutely everything for the rest of that child’s life.  As I think about this tonight, I’m in awe.

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A Gift Through the Great War Forum

I had left a simple message on a thread that was titled Air Raid on Etaples, on the Great War Forum.  Only days later, I received an electronic message containing photographs of my Great Grandfather’s final resting place.  Neil, a kind and generous gentleman found, visited and archived this spot in a beautiful cemetery in Etaples, France on Sunday, April 13.  I am so grateful for this record as I have no idea if I will ever be able to visit Etaples and I feel, in so many ways, that I know John through the research I have done. I continually feel appreciative of the various people who have supported me in my research over the years; my cousins, libraries, government archives and the administrators of various on-line forums. I received the following correspondence, along with these photographs, on Good Friday morning, April 18.

I hope you don’t mind me sending on a few pictures I took last Sunday (13 April) of John’s grave at Etaples and some general views of the entrance as seen from the location of his grave.
Best wishes
Neil
Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie, April 13, 2014

Photo Credit: Neil Mackenzie, April 13, 2014

What I Learned in the Garden

When I spend time in gardens (reflecting and pulling weeds), I learn something.  Last night, as I revisited, in my heart, the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, I also expected to learn something new.  I’m consistently blessed that way on Holy Thursday and so grateful for the time of meditation and adoration with our Lord.

First of all, as happens each year, a former student slipped into the seat next to me.  He is a man in his fourth year of University now, but at the time that he was my student, he was in grade seven.  Every Holy Thursday since that year, we’ve taken pause together, with gratitude for the Son of Man.  Last year we missed one another because I had slipped out to go home and return in my track pants and comfie clothes…but, apart from that, we’ve connected each year to pray that ‘one hour’ in the garden with our Lord.

All of that wonder aside, what did I learn in the garden?  I was really focused on how I felt, sitting and kneeling and sitting again.  I mean, I was exploring how my head was hurting and my eyes were weary.  I knew that when I knelt, my knees were sore and when I slumped, my back was sore.  I just couldn’t get comfortable…but I remained, struggling to be with our Lord.  I contemplated his passion.  I had tears at times.  I wrote a little, in order not to lose focus.  My mind wandered about my children…the loss of my mother…the sounds of people entering into and leaving the space.

And then I entered into my lesson.  I moved away from thinking about the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus, but really focused on his time in the garden.  I know that he likely experienced the same sort of physical discomfort in his body as I did.  As well as experiencing huge fear and anxiety around the events that were to come, I know that he must have felt so weary!  I know that before the first kiss of betrayal…the humiliation…the abandonment by his friends, he would have ALREADY felt exhausted.  So much more ahead for him…all the way to the cross, but without rest, refreshment or shelter of any kind.  I guess I learned about the humanity of Jesus even more last night.  I felt sad for him and truly wondered how he endured so much for the sake of people like me…for all of us.

I know. I know.  Most of my readers may not be on the same page as me on any of this…but, this afternoon, as I head over for the observance of Good Friday, I claim the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour.  I spill over with humble gratitude for all of his discomfort for the sake of our salvation.  I claim his love.

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Our Three Eaglets

Given our daily morning visits to Duke Farm’s LIVE EAGLE CAM, the grade ones have been keeping a daily journal of the events at the nest. I’m starting to get nervous.  As soft white-grey down gradually is replaced by dark grey feathers, and soon black feathers, I get concerned that something might happen to one of the juveniles.  In fact, I suppose we’ve been fortunate so far that nothing bad has happened due to a predator’s attack or such as that.  The little guys are starting to beetle around their nest and I have no idea how the adults keep catastrophe from happening in the form of a nose dive to a sad ending.

The students and I have shared a bit about this sort of thing.  I think I said, “Boys and girls, what will happen if something bad happens at the nest?”  One boy responded, “Miss Moors, I’ve seen a couple of rabbits squashed by cars.  I’ll be OK.”

“So what do you think could happen that would be sad on our live cam?”

“Maybe a predator will attack.”

“Maybe a baby will fall out.”

“Maybe something will happen to the Mom or the Dad.”

Smart kids!

Regardless of their promised resilience…I am soon going to end our project and morning viewing.  So far, we’ve seen live fish dropped into the nest…two breakfasts of turtles (the turtle shells still lying vacant in the soft grass of the nest…and today my students noticed a frog’s leg sticking out of one of the eaglet’s beak.  The children have learned that eagles have lots of whitewash in their poop and it very regularly shoots out…the scientists keeping records for the Live Cam call it ‘shot’, not poop.  Good thing to learn!

I considered making a slide show of the following images taken from their journals, but really, they are so very sweet, you may want to pause and read.  Through the eyes and hearts of wee ones!

A recent log from the Duke’s Farm Live Eagle Cam…

Update 4/15/2014
For viewers, please note that as the chicks mature and become more independent in the nest the adult will not be inside the nest bowl as much as they where a week ago (most activity from the adults will either be feeding or sheltering chicks from rain). The adults still stay close to the nest in neighboring trees to keep an eye of the chicks and potential threats.

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Douglas Bentham

The weekend held some real magic at Contemporary Calgary (Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)). My daughter, Cayley, and I spent a part of Saturday afternoon peacefully perusing the weighty and elegant Hardingham Sculptures 1990, produced by Douglas Bentham.  When I say weighty, I refer to a lot of personal landmarks…moments of identifying with landscape, primarily the vastness of the prairies and central to southern Alberta.  I’ve always been intrigued by the ordered rows of abandoned field equipment in the back yards of our Canadian farms, all of it that deep oxidized colour of abandoned wreckage.

I really encourage my readers to visit the artist’s website for a beautiful history and archive.

Douglas Bentham has maintained an international reputation as a major practitioner of abstract, constructivist sculpture for over forty years. ‘He is one of the country’s most prolific sculptors,’ writes art critic Terry Fenton, ‘one of its finest, one of Canada’s first sculptors in every sense.’

Of the experience, Cayley wrote…

“This was a cool collection because all of the pieces made me want to climb up inside them and sit on them. There was quality to them like they were tractors or something. Also the big empty spaces I could imagine the Saskatchewan sky filling. They would be a beautiful addition to the flat open prairie that is Saskatchewan. This weekend the show closed.”

There are constantly amazing offerings in our city.  The fine arts are alive and well.  Support them where you can.

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Eggs!

As Easter approaches and we anticipate the end of our Lenten journey; as we live in hope that snow will soon disappear and be replaced by green, my grade ones have been exploring eggs and new life.

Each morning, after attendance, I sign on to the Live Eagle Cam of Duke Farms and we see what the eaglets and their wonderful parents are up to.  It is most common for eagles to lay two eggs each season, but this year we got three.  I’ve been following Duke Farms for a few years now, simply because it is great entertainment to see the antics at the nest, the determination and the utter devotion.  Sometimes bad things happen.  Life is just like that.  But in the meantime, it is quite something to observe a live fish being dropped into a nest and the amazing care that is given to these fuzzy critters that seem clumsy and disproportioned!

Eagle 54This was a screen shot I took after the second egg came along.  A running commentary is located so that viewers can observe the scientific timeline of events.

Update 4/1/2014
The 3rd egg has hatched. The 3rd eaglet is smaller than the other 2 who hatched on the same day.

Update 3/31/2014
The 3rd egg appears to now have a pip (hole) in the shell. Hatch should occur today or tomorrow.

Update 3/29/2014
2 chicks have hatched in the nest. Parents are starting to leave food in the nest such as fish and waterfowl to give the nesting parent and young food. The 3rd egg has not hatched yet.

Update 2/24/2014
A 3rd egg was laid on 2/23/2014 in the afternoon. Thanks you viewers for your valuable observations throughout the nesting season.

Update 2/20/2014
A 2nd egg was laid the afternoon of 2/20/2014.

Update 2/18/2014
An egg was laid in the afternoon of 2/17/2014*. Snow in the nest should begin to dissipate as temps rise during the day over the next few days. The cam will remain zoomed close in on the nest bowl to aid in detection of additional eggs.

Each day, my grade one students are writing a sentence in their journal about the new thing that happened that day.  Their pictures are AMAZING and I will include those next week when I record our discoveries.

This morning, I took this screen shot.  Mrs. is sitting on a fish that she brought to the nest yesterday.  This is the sort of thing that the grade ones love!  They also enjoy when both adults spend time together with the eaglets.

Eagle April 12, 2014This past week, in art class, we painted eggs to represent new life…all with tints.  This was an exploration of straight lines, curvy lines and zig zag lines.

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Art Flood: Putting It All Together

At four o’clock on April 4th, I delivered our labelled river stories to the Shawnessy Public Library; this, after making certain I took a photograph of each student sitting on the comfy chair, with their art piece on their lap. (these, to be shared with the parents of our classroom only)  Numbered and placed side-by-side, the individual art stories tell the story of a community that struggled, rebuilt and now awaits spring with a certain amount of anticipation. Our class hopes that Mayor Nenshi will enjoy our Art Flood effort and that the City of Calgary will remember the stories of a group of twenty grade ones, living in the suburbs, as being important.  Along with all Calgarians, we remember the flood of 2013.

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Art Flood: Counting by Fives and Tens

Over the next couple of days, we did soooo much math related to our Art Flood project.  We draw ticks on the white board next to our word list.

Birds
Bike Riders on the Bike Path
Canadian Geese
Fish
River Rafts and Boats
Who will do the Saddledome? the Calgary Tower?
Mountains
Helping-People
School Buses
Cars
Clouds
Houses

We count the mountains by fives right up to 271.  We have 271 mountains in our community river story.

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Art Flood: Mr. Falcone Cuts Our Community Boards Into Individual Boards

Our shop teacher generously cuts our large boards so that each of 20 children now has their own board.  Time to create our own painting/collage about the river.

“Let’s create a river story of our own.  Maybe each of you can have your very own page!  What is the beginning of the story?  What happens in the middle?  What happens in the end?”

WE COME UP WITH THESE CHAPTERS.

1. Peaceful River
2. Busy River
3. Springtime River
4. Flood River
5. Busy River
6. Peaceful River

We speak with one another at length!  What do we need to put into each chapter?  MOUNTAINS!  We talk about Canmore and the snow melting.  We talk about ice getting piled up.  We talk about how fat the river gets.  Here in the suburbs, the golf course comes up, the bike paths and the walking/biking bridges.  Here in the suburbs, there is talk about people getting stuck.

The Grade ones begin to build their river story with sentences and paint their river.  The river in the Flood River chapter is brown.  We remember the river when it was brown.

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P1150987 P1150988 P1150989 P1150995 The students create their coloured sketches of the Flood River.

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Art Flood: Grade Ones Collage Flood News Stories Onto Community Boards

The grade ones write sentences about happy days on the river and on the shore, skipping rocks and many sentences about fishing!  We play grouping games…groups of two and groups of five…groups of ten.  We look at the pictures of the floods on the front pages of several newspapers.  Using gloss medium, the students coat their white boards, apply the news stories and coat again with gloss.  The children are happy to learn that the white gloss is clear when it dries.

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