Magic!

I’ve always used the word loosely.  No incantations…nothing showing up out of a top hat.  It’s a way of being…a choice to live in delight…even when, like today, a 2 liter jug of eggnog spills out on the kitchen floor, just minutes before having to rush out the door.  I’ve made an effort now and then to explain…but, it is too much about the un-explainable.

Yesterday, I painted with Grade Ones…tree ornaments…I thought these would be cool with a bit of an aluminum foil embellishment added.  I still paint with kids around the city, every opportunity I get, but have stopped writing so much about it.  Holding a brush is an important action…it’s something important enough to become familiar…to practice…to enjoy.  I like to paint with kids.

Every darned day that I am a guest teacher in someone’s classroom, I am absolutely blown away by the mountain of responsibility and creativity that is observable in just moments of being in that someone’s learning environment.  I am in awe of the magic of the teaching experience, interaction and output, both by teachers and by their students.

I usually go over to the window first and open the blinds.  I like to see how the light changes things.  I also have the time to reflect, something that teachers who are steeped in their careers don’t always have enough opportunity to do.  I like to reflect about the spaces where I find myself enjoying, exploring and filling with hard work.

Yesterday, Amber generously shared her students (little guys) with me.  Grade One!  Wow!  All I can remember about grade one is my coat hook and the fact that my brother ran so fast the first day of school, I felt really really panicked about catching up.  I remember a man walking about the school yard, at a point, raising a hand bell high in the air and shooing us into the building.  I still, to this day, want to call him Mr. Cannon.

I haven’t asked permission (now I have), but would like to share a couple of images I snapped while the students went up to the music room for their very first time.

Just look at these…tell me what you think.

Beautiful. Right?

The students were full of energy, but we enjoyed our time together and really engaged the process of chalk drawing and painting.  (There was no white in the supply cupboard so…I used yellow to brighten some of the colour…but, tints are just so lovely!) The students were very attentive as we went forward and I’ve captured a few little images of their work and their journal responses.  Magic.  And yes!  Could be an Easter Egg…could be a kite…could be an ornament!  In the ‘end’, it is about the means…and NOT the END!  The experience of painting is wondrous.  There!  You heard it from me!

I asked the students if they might do a journal entry about their experience and the resulting pieces were pretty amazing.  Lucas told me he didn’t want me to photograph the following drawing until he had finished the light coming from the window.

 

 

Today, I left my paint bucket out in the car.  I thought I’d meet Jen’s Grade Six students before committing to an art experience in paint, this afternoon.  I wasn’t with them for ten minutes and I knew that they would enjoy and respond well with paint.  Mayhaps it was the fact that the first wondrous thing I noticed, after looking out the window…were these!

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Gorgeous, Jen!!  Wowsah!

I decided that I’d use the very same lesson that I did with the Grade Ones.  As I delivered my lesson about tempera paint, I could have heard a pin drop.  The students were totally engaged and I was pretty grateful.  Nice people.  So, as I publish the next photos, I was wondering if my readers are able to notice the differences, schematically.

The past two days have been blessing days.

And, this evening…

Nigel left me a note.  I’m over the moon about it.  I treasured him years ago…and treasure his contact now.

Dear Kathleen,
I will always remember you as “Mrs H”. I don’t know if you remember me, but you taught me grade 7 art some years ago. I have been searching for you for some time, but it is only appropriate that I should find you now, as I am about to embark on a new adventure; teaching art. Would you be interested in a get together and perhaps imparting some of your wisdom to me?
—N
What a beautiful exchange was had…looking forward to many inspiring conversations about art education with this new arts educator!

Saying Good-Bye to Grade One

Spending an intense five weeks with grade one students was a huge learning experience and made me grow in ways that I might not have imagined otherwise.  I will certainly treasure the memory of little people who put it all out there, leaving nothing to the imagination.  A slide show, rather than words, seems appropriate.  I’m sorry that I missed photographs of their cube-a-link grouping activities. I’m sorry that you can not see them jumping and dancing while counting by 2s and 5s…getting those numbers squeezed into their bodies.  I’m sorry that you can’t hear them singing, with all of their hearts, the theme song from Frozen. Their scientific illustrations in their lima bean journals were spectacular as well.  I hope that those dang beans, now sprouted and planted beneath soil, will grow to be great bean stalks!  They have much invested in their scientific observations!

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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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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: 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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Grade Ones Never Fail to Impress

These little gaffers made a real impression!  The white stuff was falling outdoors, but nothing could keep us from thinking about colour, light and flowers in grade one last week.  I spoke to the children for a bit about sitting in Monet’s gardens, perched on one bridge and looking across the water to another.  We talked about flowers.  Aren’t Smart boards wonderful?  Isn’t it a tremendous thing to be able to pull up images of waterlilies to look at on a wintry spring day?  Or to visit Paris in a moment? Or to be able to walk the halls of the Louvre?  Technology is wonderful.

I also enjoy the fact that children as young as this will take on depiction…looking at references and transferring what they see onto a surface.  It’s a brilliant thing watching the mind, eye, arm, hand co-ordinate to do such an amazing thing!

In the end, they decided that the Impressionists liked making ‘smudges’.  So, they proceeded to ‘smudge’, like little worker-ants.  It was a morning of beauty and light.

Thank you to Jon, who cleaned up all the white paint trays.  I am so grateful!

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Love is in the Air! Talking to Grade Ones

Grade ones…well, what can be more fun?

Of course, we will do our calendar!  Where is my engine? Where is my caboose? (a unique approach at assigning helpers…and yes…you’ve got it…for their special day the engine leads the line and the caboose is at the end! LOL)

Here’s a valentine’s story book…gather on the sharing carpet, please.  Isn’t it funny that the little girl made a card for her dog?  Are you excited?  (Heads nod)

Time to get our work done first!  Let’s do our worksheets.  They are supposed to be done at the end of the morning, but let’s do them first…let’s do letter “J” in our printing books at the end of the morning,  OK?

OK! They call out in unison.  For a while, the students work hard at their four pictures of red things and their matching questions about chocolate, pink, valentines and cards.  It takes some effort to figure out the difference between valentines and cards.  Even the teacher is stumped for a while.  Those are collected up…

Let’s paint before recess, so they can dry while you are playing outside!  (A cheer lifts from the desks.)

Is it alright if we move your desks a little? (The class explodes into a burst of energy and commentary…all about the various concerns around moving the desks…the tape markers on the floor…who is away) Can we move them across the room?

Let’s create a LAND OF LOVE!  And…how about during the days of the dinosaurs?  Let’s talk about the shapes of dinosaurs.  Do you know the names of any types of dinosaurs?  (We draw turtle shaped dinosaurs on the white boards…long necked dinosaurs…)

They eat from trees!

One young boy, stretches out his t-shirt (I think one arm is out)…his eyes and head down….and he shouts out, “Look!  T-REX!  He eats meat!”  (One can never be so grateful for small surprises on days when one is teaching grade ones to paint dinosaurs!)

In your practice book, draw the dinosaur shape that you want to paint today.  Touch all four sides of your practice book.  YES!  It has to be THAT BIG!  Imagine when you get big paper!  Look how big your dinosaurs will be!

Let’s paint the main shapes of the dinosaurs before recess.  You can look at your practice book dinosaur.  You can draw them in chalk first and wipe anything that makes you unhappy.  You can start over and over again with chalk.  But remember, in art, there are no mistakes!  How to share the paint bucket with your partner?  How to care for your brush?  Dip. Wipe. Stroke. How to decide if your paper is ‘up and down’ or ‘wide’.  Don’t forget to touch each side if you can!

P1150117 P1150118 P1150119 P1150120 P1150121Now…let’s wait for those to dry.  Outdoor recess this morning!  It’s above -16 degrees!  Toques! Gloves! Snow Pants! Crackers on the floor!

How do you know your paint is dry?

Mine’s not dry!

Yes, it is!

Except for here!  It’s dark here!

That’s right!  Your paint is darker when it’s wet!

While we’re waiting, LOOK, I have different valentine’s colours!  Will you each cut out 15 hearts…I don’t mind…any sizes!

15?  That’s too many hearts!

You can do more if you want!

Wild decoration begins…

What’s a colour family?  Let’s decorate in our colour family.  Choose your pinks, red, white, purple out of your oil pastel boxes…

Can I do a green palm tree?

No. (It is here that I consider why not…and think about the outcome for a class if I invite one student to colour a green palm tree)

A monologue begins in the back of my mind as I’m answering other questions, sorting out oil pastel boxes and dealing with one little girl who is painstakingly still painting in her dinosaur shape.

(I guess I’m like an artist here and have made a decision about an overall composition…I’m busy creating unity in my piece…if one boy draws a green tree…my composition falls apart.  Is that what is going on?)

Piles of hearts begin to heap on student desks…things are happening.

P1150130(A boy asks routinely to go to the washroom…I say, “sure”, and moments later the kindergarten teacher from the hall sticks her head inside my classroom and informs me that my student has had an accident in the hall.  You know what that means.  I approach quickly, mouth hanging open…dinosaurs growing throughout the classroom…she says…”Never you mind…everything is under control.”  I say a prayer of blessing.  I am so grateful.  No one knows what layers unfold for a teacher in a single day.)

The dinosaurs are dry!

P1150123 P1150126Have fun now!

P1150137 P1150138 P1150139 P1150142 P1150143 P1150145 P1150147 P1150148 P1150149 P1150151 P1150155 P1150156 P1150158If you are finished, you may clean up your desk area and practice your letter “J” in your printing books while you are waiting for your friends to be finished.

MISS MOORS, THAT PURPLE IS NOT A DRY ERASE MARKER!

QUICK! SOMEONE! GRAB ME A PAPER TOWEL!  THE CLEANER??

A student comes from the back of the room with a single paper towel.  With one more trip to the back of the room, I avert a major disaster!

How are we supposed to draw a picture of Joe Just Jokes?  That’s a bad sentence!

Oh, just draw someone laughing!  (I laugh to myself as I tuck the art into stacks as they are finished and pick up red paper bits that are scattered everywhere.)

As I head out the door for lunch, I quickly tack some of the amazing creations to the bulletin board!  An awesome morning with grade one!

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My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.

Pablo Picasso