Tag Archive | art

Why Is It?

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As some of you may know, I drive through some pretty horrendous traffic each morning as I commute 21 miles one way, to get to school. And, I’m not the only one! Several staff members approach Hanna from both the north and south, traveling many miles each week to earn a living. Obviously, we make this drive (Did I mention the traffic?!) for many reasons beyond just earning a paycheck. I don’t know many early childhood centers I pass, to get here, yet I continue to make this drive despite frequent bumper-to-bumper traffic. Why? Because, once my feet touch our whimsical, jewel-embedded hopscotch and I pass through that funky, spring-loaded gate, my heart sings. I know that all of my beliefs regarding (Caution: buzzword!) “best practices” make up the framework for this school. Starting with a very strong and cohesive emphasis on social-emotional development, our children are happy, cooperative and collaborative. This makes it very easy to do the work I love doing, and that is following the practices inspired by the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  Each day, the children and I work and play together while creating and making new discoveries. Because of this playful approach to learning, intelligence is being developed because teachers are asking questions and our curious children are testing things  out – trying this way and that, and coming up with conclusions.  

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So how does it work? How does a philosophy inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy translate into my daily life here at Hanna?

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~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, it gets exciting when plans take an unanticipated turn! Whereas in a traditional school setting, the teacher makes all the plans: here at Hanna, the child is the protagonist. 

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Certainly, there are moments when the teacher is clearly in charge. Such as making decisions regarding children’s safety. But when designing curriculum, the greatest success means following the lead of a child.Such was the case when Dane found sticks in the Garden Classroom, and used them to make some shapes. Dane illustrated to us, the great potential of these sticks and how they could contribute to the 3 Day Afternoon Class study of lines. 

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, a small group of children gathered together to solve a problem. 

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We have a great group of scientists who visit the Science Lab daily. Although they are always very excited and enthusiastic about whatever materials are available, they are not always very careful or respectful while using the substances and tools. Instead of banning these boys from the area, I turned the “problem into a project.”  I have met with this group several times, and they have come up with a list of ways on how to handle  the tools so items don’t break and various substances (such as colored water) last longer than a few minutes.

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~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I challenged the “fort builders” to design their forts before building them.

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By drawing out the plans ahead of time, this “fort builder” used his drawing skills to think and plan. His fort turned out remarkably like his plans!

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~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, our study of monarchs continues to engage and evolve. 

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Unlike traditional schools where a minimum time is spent on a single topic before turning to a new one, a topic (for example, our study of  monarch butterflies) can turn into a project that can go on for months and months.  After their visit with us in the fall, I had no idea where our study of monarchs would lead us. Now, more than five months later, the children are using mosaics to recreate the beautiful forms of the monarch butterfly. So far the mosaics are made out of paper, but we will soon be creating a real mosaic using ceramic plates! 

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~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I coach even our youngest artists and scientists how to use tools, instruments and materials with care because children are so capable.

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Some members of the transition class have been creating some beautiful art with watercolors.while being instructed how to clean the brush before choosing a new color and tapping the brush on the jar of color before painting to minimize drips and splattering.  

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I continue to rejoice in being surrounded by nature and especially LOVE the beautiful gifts given to me by children gathered on their walks. 

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 Although I have always had an appreciation for nature, I never really saw the wonderful advantage of using natural materials in a classroom (other than the obligatory “science table”) before becoming a student of Reggio Emilia. Not only have I become a fan of using beautiful acorns, seedpods, stones, etc for building, art, decor and even “cooking” in the mud kitchen, many of my young students acknowledge my love of natural items and share the enthusiasm. I often receive gifts from the children with a message, “I know you will like this!”  I have received MANY gifts from Claire. She often collects pine cones and seed pods from magnolias while taking walks and then brings the treasures to me. The most recent gift was an enormous piece from a palm tree. I really need to find out what this part is called. Claire calls it a boat. This piece got a lot of attention from the recent rain after the rainwater from the roof of the Art Cottage fell into it.  We floated little bits of this and that in the water. Right away, I saw this as a piece to be filled with soil. Then it came to me, this would be the perfect container for a fairy garden! Stay tuned! 

For me, teaching at Hanna is a dream. It is not always easy work. Often, the work is slow to develop because certain children who inspired the work in the first place, don’t make it up to the Garden Classroom. There are plenty of activities going on in the lower playground that are just as meaningful and engaging. If that happens, I leave it for another day or see who else might find it interesting. Other times, I can’t keep up! Children are engaged and wanting to share their ideas left and right! I have a pile of notes waiting to be transcribed and matched up with specific projects for documentation.

 

So come tomorrow morning, I will once again buckle myself into my Toyota and head up Interstate 5. And WHEN (not if) I find myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic I won’t be upset. I will be wondering what new adventures await me beyond that sparkly hopscotch.

 With Joy! 

Francie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As some of you may know, I drive through some pretty horrendous traffic each morning as I commute 21 miles one way, to get to school. And, I’m not the only one! Several staff members approach Hanna from both the north and south, traveling many miles each week to earn a living. Obviously, we make this drive (Did I mention the traffic?!) for many reasons beyond just earning a paycheck. I don’t know many early childhood centers I pass, to get here, yet I continue to make this drive despite frequent bumper-to-bumper traffic. Why? Because, once my feet touch our whimsical, jewel-embedded hopscotch and I pass through that funky, spring-loaded gate, my heart sings. I know that all of my beliefs regarding (Caution: buzzword!) “Best practices” make up the framework for this school. Starting with a very strong and cohesive emphasis on social-emotional development, our children are happy, cooperative and collaborative. Which makes it very easy to do the work I love doing, and that is following the practices inspired by the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  Each day, the children and I work and play together while creating and making new discoveries. Because of this playful approach to learning, intelligence is being developed because teachers are asking questions and children are testing things out and coming up with conclusions. 

So how does it work? How does a philosophy inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy translate into my daily life here at Hanna?

~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, it gets exciting when plans take an unanticipated turn! Sticks Dane child as protagonist

 

Certainly, there are moments when the teacher is clearly in charge. Such as making decisions regarding children’s safety. But when designing curriculum, the greatest success means following the lead of a child.

 

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, a small group of children gathered together to solve a problem. Science rules

 

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I challenged the “fort builders” to design their forts before building them.

~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, our study of monarchs continues to engage and evolve. Mosaics

~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I try very hard to be patient and WAIT for the children to initiate an activity.  Carrots

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I coach even our youngest artists and scientists how to use tools, instruments and materials with care because children are so capable. Paul painting at Light Table

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I continue to rejoice in being surrounded by nature and especially LOVE the beautiful gifts given to me by children gathered on their walks. Palm Parts.

 

For me, teaching at Hanna is a dream. It is not always easy work. Often, the work is slow to develop because certain children who inspired the work in the first place, don’t make it up to the Garden Classroom. There are plenty of activities going on in the lower playground that are just as meaningful and engaging. If that happens, I leave it for another day or see who else might find it interesting. Other times, I can’t keep up! Children are engaged and wanting to share their ideas left and right! I have a pile of notes waiting to be transcribed and matched up with specific projects for documentation.

 

So come tomorrow morning, I will once again buckle myself into my Toyota and head up Interstate 5. And WHEN (not if) I find myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic I won’t be upset. I will be wondering what new adventures await me beyond that sparkly hopscotch.

 

 

 

 

 

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Unexpected Delight!

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As I start each day by opening up the Art Cottage, removing plastic tarps and uncovering the sensory table, I frequently experience a feeling of apprehension. The feeling comes from fear that I won’t have it right. Fear that the materials or activities I have chosen will not appeal to the children. There will be nothing that sparks their curiosity or sense of wonder. It will all fall flat. A total fail.

Well, it is usually not that much of a fiasco!  There will always be an activity that appeals to certain children. The Mud Kitchen or Science Lab will usually draw a crowd.

 

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The challenge is to stimulate an ongoing investigation. An investigation that becomes real learning experience filled with the children’s enthusiasm, ideas and theories.  Such was our Black & White Investigation that took place two years ago. (The culminating project, “Gray Clouds in a Rainy Sky” can be seen inside the Art Cottage.) This was a project truly led by the children and their ideas.

 We are now working on the Monarch Project. This project involves reflecting on our own experiences when we welcomed monarch butterflies to the Garden Classroom, and how to commemorate that wonderful event.

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 So far, our investigation has been interesting and captivating for several groups of children.   We started a collection of art representing the life cycle of the monarchs (using paint specially mixed to create a “monarch palette”) and we are starting to get some ideas about  what kind of home monarchs prefer and where they reside: not  “facts,” but  real creative, inventive type of information that involves some critical thinking. For instance, my friend Colton shared with me that a monarch lives “Up in the sky, flying so high!”

 So here is the challenge. And, my unexpected delight!

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 I want to involve our wonderful and exuberant 2 year old “Trannies” (Transition Class) in a way that is authentic, where the children make a real contribution, and not just a token representation. The challenge is representing their curiosity and intellect in an innovative manner that doesn’t necessarily depend on language or representational art.

 Last week, after careful consideration, I presented some materials to our youngest naturalists. Using a large mirror as a base, I added some flubber (school glue mixed with an equal amount of liquid starch) and my collection of plastic monarch models, some books on butterflies and other elements to make it beautiful and enticing.

 

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 It didn’t fail to attract. The first group of children focused on the flubber and interacted with it in the expected manner by stretching it. Then, one child, and then another, started pressing the butterflies and caterpillars into the flubber.  They noticed the impressions left by the models and reacted with absolute delight! Several children took photos using their classroom cameras.

 

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 Then something totally unexpected happened. Miles brought over a metal set of tongs from the science table where it was being used to pick up corks and other floating objects in the water.

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I was thrilled to see him use the tongs to pick up a butterfly and proceeded to lift it up as high as he could reach and made the monarch “fly.” This was an authentic representation of this young student’s understanding about butterflies and their locomotion.

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As others joined him with their own sets of tongs, I joined in on their laughter and delight as butterflies (and even a caterpillar!) flew all around me.

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I finished the day feeling very satisfied. This was a day where curiosity, creativity and wonder fueled the imagination and inspired me for what steps to take next. Certainly, success and not failure!

 With Joy!

 Francie

What’s Next?

 

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The weather has been glorious, the children curious and engaged, my co-teachers filled with laughter (and always ready to lend a hand) and each and every day spent in The Garden Classroom has been a delight.

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This is the time of year where things start to get really exciting! I have certain children (either individuals or groups) who come almost daily seeking certain activities or wanting specific materials.  Prompted by the children’s interests, some long term projects have started percolating in my head.

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Based on the children’s enthusiastic reactions to our fantastic monarch caterpillar hatching and growth in the first few weeks of school, I think it is time to revisit that experience and have the children reflect on the parts of the metamorphosis that we were able to witness. While we did not actually observe a monarch butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, we did see one that (we think) may have recently emerged and several empty chrysalides.

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Starting this coming week, I will be offering an invitation to all of the children in our 3 Day (morning and afternoon) and 5 Day programs to join the “Monarch Committee.” I will be meeting with small groups of 3-4 children in the Art Cottage. Using pictures that I took of the butterflies, eggs, caterpillars and chrysalides, books about monarchs and plastic models of the various stages of the monarch, I hope to have the children tell the process of a monarch metamorphosis in their own words. Eventually, the story could be interpreted though their interests or as the educators from Reggio Emilia say, “languages.” Possibilities include the story being represented in colored pencils, paint, dance, clay, drama, collage, construction, or even as ambitious as a mosaic. The children in the Transition classes will also take part in the process and be represented in the final project. 

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With the kind and enthusiastic support of my co-teachers, I will be setting on this new adventure with the goal (fingers crossed!!!) of having a piece of art to be displayed in the Annual Hanna Fenichel Art Show and for the first time, auctioned off to benefit the school!

Stay tuned for updates!

 With Joy!

Francie

 

Thrills Found in the Unexpected

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So much of what we do as early childhood educators is provide provocations using some interesting materials in an inviting setting, and step back and observe. No pre-conceived notions; no goals; no expectations. We just provide some open-ended materials that children can interact with using their own ideas to discover and to create. Hopefully, with a little bit of scaffolding on our part (or not) new learning and a greater understanding or appreciation of such things as nature, physics, or math will occur.  I literally hold my breath when a child approaches a table presented with such things as a lump of clay and some seed pods or drawing materials and a magnifying glass near something interesting such as our resident monarch caterpillars and chrysalides.

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Sometimes the expected happens, as when clay was presented last spring and the children designed sculptures using the seed pods. But then the extraordinary happened! After I had explained to the children how slip is used (liquidized clay used as a “glue” to hold pieces of clay together) they started picking up leaves off the ground and painting them with the slip! The results were stunning! Totally unexpected and their discovery inspired me to make these leaves into a permanent art installation. You can see the finished piece in The Garden Classroom on the back fence near the Mud Kitchen.

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The new school year has begun with new materials being presented and old materials presented in new ways. Last year’s newly created Science Lab, this year’s addition of the Mud Kitchen, the Art Cottage and Outdoor Atelier continue to engage and delight the children.

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While I continue to create what I think are inviting provocations, not all are initially observed or get positive reviews There have been two wonderful exceptions (So far!) that have left me feeling really excited. I see lots of potential for artistic endeavors, creative thinking and problem solving.

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From the moment I spotted the little holes in the leaves of our milkweed plants, I knew that a marvelous journey was beginning and all of us at Hanna would be have a grandstand view of the life cycle of one of earth’s most amazing creatures – the monarch butterfly. We have not been disappointed! Most of the children knew that the caterpillars would turn into butterflies, and knew the basic biology of how that happens. Good grief!  These kids were raised on Eric Carle’s great children’s classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar! No need to dwell on this concept. What I was looking and hoping for was a “how” or a “why” to explain and explore the process. The response I got was MUCH different and so lovely. Actually, I was enchanted.“L.” is 4 years-old and attends our 5 Day program.  After drawing a newly discovered monarch chrysalis or “cocoon” as she called it, I asked her about her drawing and this is what she shared with me, without any other prompting.

“It’s a cocoon! Maybe tomorrow it’s going to get into a butterfly.

We need to make a room for it for it to live. There are all kinds of things caterpillars need when they wake up.

A leaf for their bed. There’s a nest where they poo and pee, There’s food. They can have food in a little cup.”

How profound!

This brought out all kinds of warm, fuzzy feelings in me. First of all, she pretty much summed up what Abraham Maslow described as the basic, biological and physiological needs of people, not only to survive but which must be met before they can be motivated to achieve the next level of needs.

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Second, I was so taken with L’s feelings of compassion that she expressed through her list of “needs” for this tiny, little creature. She had formed a relationship with the chrysalis, which although quite beautiful, also appears quite lifeless. L saw the potential and appreciated the future of this little green package. I’m not sure that L’s proposal of a “room” for the chrysalis/caterpillar will be very practical, but I was very excited and filled with anticipation as I approached L several days later to get more details from her.

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She was eager to draw out a plan for the room. Choosing oil pastels, L began by drawing a few rainbow hued, rectangles and enclosed them in with a square box. Besides the rainbow, it features a large window. So far, the most significant part of the window is a “rug” just like the one that covers up the window in her bedroom that she “rolls it up and down so I don’t get scared like in the middle, middle dark night.” Oh my!  We’ll talk more on Monday. I’m hoping that another naturalist and artist, B (who is also in the 5 Day program) who was representing the life cycle of the monarchs with oil pastels while L was drawing her room, will join the discussion. I wonder where this investigation will go next! It’s all pretty amazing!

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The second discovery is more serendipitous and took place in a center I created over the summer and expanded this fall. This is actually my favorite part of the Garden Classroom. It features an old-fashioned, maple, colonial style coffee table that you are more likely to find in your grandmother’s living room than in an outdoor classroom. It is now hosting a variety of natural materials such as stones, sticks, seed pods and pinecones. (I received some of them as gifts from my friends C and H in the 3 Day program.) It is also where last year’s leaf creation is being displayed.

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It was here, in this setting against the far back fence where I created what I hope was an opportunity to create without an additional enticement of glue, or clay or even play-dough.  No instructions, just a sheet of black paper behind a matting. I did provide a bit of inspiration by propping up a large format book featuring the art of environmentalist artist Andy Goldsworthy.  The cover features rocks placed in a spiral. I was just hoping that a child would discover the items and appreciate their beauty and see the potential.

 “J” from the 3 Day PM class found these items on his first day of school. I watched from afar as he placed first one stone and then another down on the black construction paper. He framed the stones with some sticks and then added a few more sticks. He was very focused and engaged and working very intentionally. None of the placements was random. Then he walked away.

I went up and admired his work and took several pictures of it as a way to create a permanent record of his lovely art. And then I walked away. 

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An hour or so later, I started to remove J’s arrangement and made a discovery. The center had lost its shade and the paper had been exposed to the sun’s rays. The sun had faded the paper around  the arrangement and created an actual memory of where J had placed the stones and sticks! Now, besides having a digitalized recording, there is an actual piece of art to share with J! J and his family have been on vacation and I have not had a chance to share his new, permanent piece of art with him. I have shared it with some other children and they have created new pieces of faded art. (For lack of a better name or at least until a name is decided by the children.) While not quite as serendipitous as J’s piece, it is still an intriguing art form. I am hoping to gather a group of children to discover their hypothesis as to how this is happening and what else is possible. I’m trying to formulate some questions to get this investigation started. Any ideas?!!!

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This is the type of work that thrills me: provoking a child’s curiosity, to get them thinking creatively and being inspired to go beyond the unexpected! 

With Joy!

Francie 

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle…

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When you were a kid, what kind of adventures did you go on when you played?  Where did these adventures take place? Chances are, many of your adventures took place in a “jungle.” Was I right?!!

There is just something so mysterious, dangerous and still so inviting about the jungle or as we call it now, the rain forest. Those fearsome animals, dark, deep shade created by the thick canopy and the incredible, constant, piercing high sounds induced by birds and insects.

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Of course, my images were all fueled by frequent visits to the old Jungle Ride in Disneyland. Most of my games excluding the stereotypical game of “cowboys and Indians”, definitely took place in this land of danger and intrigue, most common being war games (I played with a lot of boys) and as a very young teen, “missionary nun” who tool care of sick patients in jungle dwellings akin to Deborah Kerr in “The Nun’s Story.”  (I was a weird kid, what can I say?)

For today’s kids, who are so knowledgeable, know the rain forest as a place of wonder and beauty. It is the sacred home of many delightful animals and plants. They are also aware that the rain forest is essential to our existence. Wyatt (Rm 3) told me, “The rain forest has lots of trees. The trees give us oxygen.”

If you walk around the back fence in The Garden Classroom, you will see our own little rain forest. It started out simply with some plastic animals that live in the rain forests of South America and Africa. (I also share with the children that these animals are endangered animals because of the loss of their forest homes. Doing things like reusing paper helps the animals.)

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I have also added other animals over time including some butterflies, frogs and a complete gorilla family. The children are starting to peek in the sensory table just to see what is new. It just so happened, at the same time I put these animals out, the children in Room 3 decided to do a play based on a story that takes place in the Amazon Rain Forest called The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. I became involved with their project after helping several children mix up some green paint to paint the leaves for the prop in their play. (Of course, this segues right into our “Tree Project!”)

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I invited some children to use the left over green paint used for the “great kapok tree” to paint a piece of paper. I hung up some soft, furry yarn and then invited some of the kids to cut out leaves and attach them to “the vines.” I hauled in a branch of an exotic looking tree branch with some interesting seed pods that I found down the street and laying on the ground. I hung it up with the vines. All I need now is to get a recording of wild screeching birds, insects humming and perhaps the rumbles of a jaguar!

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Meanwhile, I kept thinking how several children from the Transition class were on hand while the older kids were mixing up their jars of green paint for the play. I could see how anxious they were to have the same experience.

Inspired by a book I own about the rain forest called The Green Room by Jane Yolen and illustrated (beautifully) by Laura Regan,  I invited several Transition children to help create a green palette. Each child was given their own small  jar and allowed to mix up a batch of green of any shade they wished. Such fun and excitement!

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We looked at the picture, filled with a lovely variety of green leaves, back lit by sunshine. My only instruction on mixing up the green is asking each child, if they wanted to mix a “light” green or a “dark” green. I explained that it is easy to make a color dark but harder to make it lighter so it is important to start out with the lightest color first then add the darker color sparingly, a little at a time. I love the looks on their faces as the yellow turns green when the blue is added and the “magic” happens! Now, children from all three programs are involved with this project.

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We are starting to get many wonderful shades of greens that reflect the great variety of greens in an actual rain forest!

This is a project that has many possibilities and will continue for a long time.

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Please share your childhood experiences in the “jungle” and any inspiration as to where our exploration can go!

With Joy!

Francie

P.S.

Do you have any tropical plants in your yard such as fan palms? I would love any donations if your plants need trimming!

Taking a Breather

 

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(Flowering Dogwoods- Near Lake Arrowhead, CA) 

“Taking A Breather” 

Main Entry: kick back

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: relax

Synonyms: breathe easy, calm down, catch one’s breath, chill out, collect oneself, compose oneself, cool off, feel at home, hang loose, lie down, loosen up, make oneself at home, mellow out, put one’s feet up, recline, rest, settle back, sit around, sit back, take a break, take a breather, take a load off, take it easy, take ten, unwind, wind down

Whatever synonym you want to use, I have been “taking a breather” and stepped away from writing my blog for a few weeks. I spent one weekend camping near Lake Arrowhead with my husband and we spent some of our time with a co-teacher and her husband. I spent another weekend on a retreat where we studied the Rule of St. Benedict. Although the leader of the retreat is a wife, mother and protestant, she is also a lay member of a Benedictine monastery. The most important thing I learned from Beth about the “Rule” is the importance of finding and maintaining balance and moderation. Anyone, with or without a religious background of any faith can appreciate that lesson.

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(“Cherry Tree”, Tempera on Paper) 

So instead of spending the last several weeks writing the blog, I have been spending time creating some new props and materials for the children to use in the Garden Classroom. I’ve been enjoying my time gathering, shopping and creating. (I’ll be posting pictures of the children engaging with these new materials here on the blog and on The Garden Classroom Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Garden-Classroom/272197849581981)

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(The artist studies her subject- “Mr. Tree” our beloved pepper tree)  

Meanwhile, I reflected on my most recent experiences and started mulling some thoughts around in my head and deciding how to spend the last few weeks of the school year with the children-  especially this year’s class of 5 Day children.

While in Lake Arrowhead, we were fortunate to be there when the dogwoods were blooming. They had very pale yellow blooms.  I also saw a pink flowering dogwood in a shopping center. A dogwood is a tree that does not grow in our local San Diego Mountains and therefore, I had not seen it before and was enchanted! It was a stunning sight and made me appreciate, once again what nature has to offer. It also made me think of other trees that do grow locally. Which brings me back to another “rule” and that is to seek stability and appreciate where you are right now. And living right in our midst, in our very own Garden Classroom, is our ever-present pepper tree that we fondly refer to as “Mr. Tree.” 

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(The artist creates “pepper tree leaf green.)

So I came back to the Garden Classroom filled with visions of dogwoods, jacarandas and pepper trees blooming and a new “negotiated curriculum.” I hoped to work alongside the children and create what will become a legacy for those attending the 5 Day program this year and will continue next year with our new class of 3 Day and 5 Day children.

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(After starting to paint the traditional “lollipop: tree, the artist added branches to her rendition of the pepper tree after taking a careful look at our beloved tree.) 

New jars of paints were mixed inspired by the pictures of the trees I had seen near Lake Arrowhead. I also added a picture of a flowering jacaranda tree (Ours weren’t blooming yet.)  downloaded from the internet. We now have tree bark brown, dogwood yellow, jacaranda purple, dogwood pink, and pine tree green. Most importantly, we have started to look above at our own Mr. Tree and creating new colors of paint to represent our favorite tree and its amazing shade, beauty and bountiful and very much appreciated pepper berries! One artist from room 3 has created a lovely batch of “pepper tree leaf green.” I will be inviting other children to create their own “tree colors” to add to the palette.

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(“Tree with Flowers”, Tempera on Paper) 

Several students have already painted lovely trees at the easel and have graciously agreed to allow their paintings to be cut out and applied to a canvas that will be hung in a place of honor where future artists can add their painting of trees to the canvas.

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(This is a really special painting. Without being prompted, 4 girls from Room 3 work collaboratively and painted this absolutely stunning painting of trees that incorporates a rainbow, which was our focus for so much of the year!) 

I will be purchasing a canvas for this project and have our 5 Day artists look at various landscape paintings and have them decide on the background.  The next step will be to have them paint and prepare the canvas for the application of their trees.

As I said before, I took a breather from Reflections from the Garden Classroom but I never stopped from truly cherishing each and every day spent with the children of Hanna in the Garden Classroom. But the year is drawing to a close and I’m incorporating another “rule” in my daily life with the children: that is the importance of hospitality.  Hospitality according to the “rule” means “being truly present to ourselves and each other.” I have always tried to be present for each and every child but knowing that our time together is so limited this rule has special meaning.

With Joy!

Francie

 

Making Art and Memories

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We called it an art show but the gathering that took place on Friday at the Hanna Fenichel Center for Child Development could have been called a “Family Reunion” and the title would have been just as appropriate!

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For those of you who have children enrolled in the school or have visited the Garden Classroom, you know that my little bit of paradise is situated up a level from the other classrooms. The place was JUMPING and filled with many kinders, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders and all siblings of our current students and thrilled to be swinging on “their” tire swing under the fabulous Mr. Tree, or roaming up and down on the slides. I had a throng of children in the Art Cottage and on the deck reliving their cherished memories of spending time at Hanna.

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They used the same materials that their younger siblings have used to create our two rainbow pieces (still works in progress) and view the pumpkin plants (and sunflowers) that have sprouted from the seeds taken from the donated pumpkins left over from the Halloween pumpkin patch. (These pumpkins brought to us by KK and Eli are the pumpkins that “keep on giving!”)

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While not discovered by our older siblings, one little sister enjoyed “painting” with the slip (a liquid mixture of clay and water that is used to help weld clay pieces together) in our clay display. She was using it in the proper context as one child discovered while working on the sculptures that were featured. (After seeing how children began painting leaves found on the ground with the slip, I used Mod Podge to protect the clay covered leaf and punched a hole in it and created a mobile with them.) I eventually enticed several of the older children to paint some of the leaves so they could be added to our mobile

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Another display featured our attempts (SUCCESSFUL!) to entice the birds to visit the Garden Classroom. Besides various artifacts I have collected and our beloved “bird family” (that gets played with almost daily), the Bird Journal that tells the story that started last year was also on display.  (I’m not sure what it means if the photographer is caught in a mirror while taking a photo. I certainly didn’t do it on purpose!

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Visitors to the Garden Classroom can view the beautiful  sign inviting the birds to “come and eat” created by several children and displayed at the Art Show. The story of how this sign came to be created can be found in the Bird Journal.

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Even after putting the art and displays away, the parents, who seemed reluctant to acknowledge that the “Art Show” was over, joined the children under our sheltering pepper tree and enjoyed the lingering sunshine and each other’s company while the siblings continued to play, laugh and make new memories of being together at Hanna!

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