A Space to Inspire: Carli’s Classroom

There are several things that make guest teaching a positive experience.  I have the opportunity, in this role, to get out there and teach in a whole number of locations kindergarten to grade twelve.  Every day is filled with discovery.  I’ve thought recently that it’s too bad teachers don’t have the opportunity to experience one another’s classrooms the way that I do.

Every physical space has its own magic and I enjoy them all!  I thought I might start featuring some of the ‘coolness’ that is out there, with the permission of the beautiful teachers that call these places home during their work weeks. Recently, I came upon a room with a very special feeling.  Not only does it carry with it a peaceful aesthetic, but it also functions well.  Carli’s class is a grade two class.  The students love and respect their space and the function of each area appears to serve them well.

To begin with, I read “Pieces of My Pedagogy” posted on the wall at the counter where I located my day’s plan.  Good stuff.

??????????To these three canvases…words are added that represent ‘What Makes My World Amazing.”  These caused me to remember the pieces of magic I hoped my grade sevens would collect over the year, much to their frustration at times.DSC_1920 Simple displays of beautiful objects and framed photographs.  Things and places to wonder about.  DSC_1923 DSC_1924 ?????????? A mirror at the sink.  Paint brushes!DSC_1926 Under a cupboard…a little nook to feel safe and peaceful.DSC_1927 The Solar System built out of papier mache…the teacher chair for sharing stories. DSC_1929When we shared, I heard all about the way that Sirius is larger than our sun…and what a supernova is…and a black hole…and how we might stretch and then shrink very fast in a black hole.  I was amazed by our conversation.  The students had a good idea about scale based on their construction and study of the planets and the stars.  That day, I selected as my story book, Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust by April Pulley SayreGreat book!  Read it!  Very interesting conversations came up as we read this one!

DSC_1930 DSC_1932I love it when art comes from art…artists can inspire so much in us!

?????????? ?????????? DSC_1935The little clip boards are available if the students want to sit somewhere other than their  desks…sometimes they just want to get away from the traditional seating plan.

??????????At the children’s heights…birthdays…a calendar…some supplies they might need while being at their writing workshop.

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DSC_1938 The peaceful corner…?????????? ?????????? DSC_1941The tee pee… see through fabric…no more than two at a time.  Rotate through your class list.?????????? DSC_1944 DSC_1945 DSC_1946 DSC_1947 DSC_1948 DSC_1949 ?????????? DSC_1951 DSC_1952I just thought some of you would enjoy a few of these ideas.  I felt really happy in this space.  And this is where the grade twos created their images for the sentence, “A fiery shooting star flew across the midnight sky.”

DSC_1960Thank you, Carli Molnar, for giving me permission to share your space with us.

Have you ever seen a red bird?

That’s a question I asked Grade Two this morning and there were only three students who had seen Cardinals and they were delighted to tell their stories; two of the three had seen Cardinals on television.  The most interesting story was the one told by a wee boy about going on a trip to see Grampa and in the wilderness (his word) they saw four red birds.  I told the story of seeing Cardinals in Belleville, Ontario when I went there to visit my father.  Someone talked about those kind of birds having Mohawks on the top of their heads.  And then this guy came up.

Angry BirdsI’m going to tell you the truth…I found today’s idea on Pinterest.  YIPPEE!  Inspired by illustrator, Charlie Harper, many variations of this same activity can be found and managed, with, I hope, a focus on unique interpretations of the theme.  Here in Calgary, these children would not be as familiar with Cardinals as they would be with Northern Flickers and Magpies.  I think these activities could be suited for local birds as well. But today, I was into the red.

I wanted to manipulate the compositions to teach EMPHASIS and so the red was a pop of colour in an otherwise muted background.

Materials: Blue 18 x 24 construction paper with tooth.  White chalk for foggy fuzzy edges of background trees, White tempera, large bristle brushes, flat, two sheets of red poster board cut into small squares….two sheets enough for 23 students.

First, the students had depiction time.  I talked to them about how the Cardinals that we created were going to be like cartoons of birds.  Every single bird would look different depending on a lot of factors.  To begin with, we would practice drawing shapes…the body being a raindrop shape with the Cardinal’s Mohawk feathers on the top.  “Try big wide raindrop shapes and thin ones.  Try big and small.”  This little sketch was borrowed from one variation of this art lesson, found at Art On My Hand.

Angry Bird DepictionsThe eyes will be oogie boogie eyes that pop out past the bird’s body.  The legs…”Try long, short and bent. How can you make the bird look like it’s flying? How can we show wings? The beak is like a diamond shape and then just draw a line through the middle.”

Our drawing practice looked like this.

DSC_1459 DSC_1458 DSC_1457After sketching for a while and exploring all sorts of possibilities, out came the large blue paper.  I demonstrated how to press chalk and make dark lines and then showed how to move it and press on it to create light marks.  I touched the top of my paper and the bottom, on a vertical, to show how large the background trees needed to be.  I asked if any of the students had been outdoors recently when we had wind and snow and fog.  Lots of stories there! :0)  “What did the trees look like?”

“Our foreground tree…the one the closest to us…is more detailed.  We see more when something is close to us.  I can see your noses right now, but….when you are out on the playground, I can’t. We will paint the tree that’s close to us. What do we call a tree’s body? (trunk) What about its arms? Where are its legs? (limbs, branches? and their legs are underground) What about its fingers? toes? (It’s fingers are twigs. branches?) Expression and Composition time…with one short pause to remind the class not to SCRUB, but to STROKE. Here is what their trees looked like.  Off you go!  Recess!  PUT ON YOUR SNOW PANTS!

DSC_1447 DSC_1448Ti DSC_1449After recess, not much had to be said…a factory of Cardinal makers nested at their desks and the room was an industrious hush.  Absolutely amazing stuff as they created, invented, problem solved.  We all agreed that the tools we needed from the bins were scissors, glue sticks and thin black markers.  The fat ones were just too tricky.

This is what they created.

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?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_1479 ?????????? DSC_1481 ?????????? ??????????Thank you, Grade Two, for an amazing day at Our Lady Of the Evergreens School

 

Grade Two Explores Emily Carr

I had a placement this afternoon where the class, in fact, the entire school, had opportunity to watch a morning theater performance, “Emily Carr – Small Wonders” performed by
Canadiana Musical Theatre. So, it only made sense that I follow that with an art extravaganza in the Grade 2 class. This class has been helping me with my french lately and this has been great fun.

The inspiration for this lesson comes from Hilary Inwood. I’ve been pouring over her stuff the past couple of weeks, absolutely in love with the types of small books, and works based on nature and ecology that she has been writing about and creating. She has a large publication list and I encourage my friend-educators to look her up. As my readers know, I’m quite big on picking up litter and being a steward of my environment. I harvested from my own recycle bin and cut up three cardboard boxes this morning to be used in this activity.

First, we got the projector warmed up and watched a couple of short movies about Emily Carr, the artist. While the children enjoyed the morning performance, they didn’t have opportunity to learn a lot about Emily’s art. As we looked at several tree and landscape images, we talked about the wind and about the blowing shapes, in the sky, on the land and in the trees. There was a bit of chat about British Columbia and the big tall evergreen trees and imagining walking through the woods there in the dark.

Before recess, we opened nine factories, most having two factory workers, but some, having three. I reused chart paper that was set aside in the art storage room, as factory place mats, deciding to use that for collage paper later on as well. Here, the students prepared a lot of collage papers in the approach of Henri Matisse, to be later selected and used for creating a personal landscape in the manner and energy of Emily Carr.

So, the factory workers went to work, using white, yellow, turquoise, green and blue tempera paint blocks and large brushes. A helpful tip is to keep paint blocks out of the individual cupped containers as those are very tricky to clean. Instead, I just set them out on palettes or margarine container lids. Much easier to wipe off afterwards. Reminders to the students: “Stroke, don’t scrub, your brushes.”

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Time for recess! Over the fifteen minutes, the collage papers dried and I cleaned out the water containers, the brushes and the palettes. Ready for students to rumble!

The students entered, rosy cheeked and eager. I projected the following image for some sketching in their sketch books. I also demonstrated how when we draw evergreen trees, we don’t have to draw all of the individual branches, but can draw big clumps of branches all at one time. Among the Firs 1931

Among the Firs 1931

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To begin our compositions, we sorted our papers into two big piles on the floor, like piles of leaves. We talked about the way the wind blows most of the time…side to side…this way and that…most of the time it’s not going up and down. So, I initially requested a vertical composition (up and down), with the wind motion being wavy, but side to side. “Mix up your papers, guys, to get lots of variety!” I had brought a long a bag full of cardboard cut to size (different sizes and shapes) for compositions and a variety of tree trunks, strips also cut out of boxes.

I showed them Above the Gravel Pit by Emily Carr.

AbovetheGravelPit

The results…ta duh!

With advanced and Division II classes, you might add three layers of hills (foreground/middle ground and background)…and several trees. At all grade levels, given time, you might also want to add textures/shading/highlighting onto the tree forms with oil pastel, before gluing. Because this is a young group and I am a visiting teacher, one tree did the trick!

Thank you, Grade 2, for the magic of an afternoon making art!

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