Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nature Art: A Trip to The Studio

Creating art from nature and natural products is something I am trying to incorporate more in to my classroom experiences.  This year I was turned on to the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a British photographer, sculptor and environmentalist who creates land art using sticks, petals, leaves, rocks and other materials found in the environment in which he chooses to develop his piece.

We did some of this outside using materials the children found on our playground and we also brought numerous natural materials inside for the children to use to create art.  We were not using glue and keeping the products, just experimenting with the textures, colors and objects themselves. In class, we looked at some of Goldsworthy's stunning photographs and tried to emulate his work. (sadly, my photographs of these experiences were lost)

These Goldworthy inspired learning environments left me wanting to learn even more about using natural materials with children.  I was very excited to find that my dear childhood friend, Christine Orlando-Budd, is the co-owner of The Studio in Fairfield, CT and that they were offering a Goldsworthy Art in Nature Summer Camp for two weeks this summer.  I was able to go and visit her program yesterday.  My photographs are not the best as I was more invested in talking to her about the program and then in creating natural art myself.  During each of these Goldsworthy weeks, the children (mixed age group) spend a day looking at video and photographs of his work and then discussing and sketching the artistic elements present in his signature style.  The next four days are spent completely in the field: two days in the woods and two on the beach.  The products the children develop are ephemeral and left where they are created, so they take beautiful photographs of the work and create slide shows of their process.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Preparing Children For College In The Preschool Classroom

Sometimes life takes turns we do not expect and our priorities have to shift in order to care for our families.  I experienced that this summer in more ways than one causing me to neglect one of my passions-this blog.  Things have somewhat settled down a bit and I am anxious to get back to communicating with others about learning through play.

One of the big life changes this summer was dropping my oldest daughter off at college for the first time.  When she was in preschool someone once told my husband and I that before we knew it we’d be dropping her off at college.  We had a hard time believing that thought…until we blinked and we were doing just that! 

As we drove home following one, two, seven last hugs goodbye, and my mind started turning to preparing my preschool classroom for the start of the school year, I reflected on how so many of the skills I was confident that my daughter had and would use starting college were also my focus with my preschoolers. 

Julia, my daughter, is equipped with the skills needed to make new friends.  She can enter a room full of strangers and emerge with acquaintances, and more often, friends.  Making eye contact, commenting on an activity someone is doing, offering to help and asking questions are just a few of the strategies people use to make these connections.  These personal and social skills are a large focus of our time in the preschool classroom.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Dog Project Phase 2...and 3

This is a very long blog post as I am summarizing an entire project in one post.  Its worth the read as it was such an interesting study.  As I mentioned in my first post about our Dog Project, it was odd that we took on a project so close to the end of the year.  Our culminating event actually occurred on our very last day of school.  This project took on a life of its own...guest dogs came out of the woodwork, field trips and professional visitors just clicked and the enthusiasm of the children was high, so we went with it.

In my last post on this topic, I described the impetus for the project and our first guests.  Learning about the guide dog puppies gave us a bit of a direction for our study as the topic of dogs is so vast.  We focused a great deal on working dogs and the variety of different jobs that dogs can have.  We did also learn about various breeds and the features of each breed by "interviewing" our visitors.  By the end of the study we were able to get answers to most of our initial questions...and the many, many new questions that arise when learning.

Here is a brief synopsis of how the rest of the project unfolded...