Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The language of carpentry...

Nathaniel and Teagan have both been avid bug catchers for a while now and often explain to me in morning meeting that their plan for the day is to find a Preying Mantis in the garden. The other morning I saw their interest take a new form when they told me their plan to make a house for a Preying Mantis. Nathaniel and Teagan decided to use the carpenty area to make their house and sought the materials they needed from around the centre. They found carpet samples, wire, bottle caps and wood to use. As they sorted out the materials, other children became interested in what they were doing and asked to be involved. Ben and Kylie were invited to join in but Teagan made it very clear that Nathaniel and her were the leaders. 

Construction began with Nathaniel nailing milk bottle caps to the wood base. Kylie soon filled them with water.

Nathaniel: This is the bath and another one for the toilet.
Kylie: And a water bowl! 

The children continued to find different materials in the carpentry area which inspired them to create new items in the house such as a tunnel made from a pipe.

Kylie: I’m working on the stairs!
Teagan: What about a tunnel? 
Kylie: He needs some carpet

Teagan noticed a gap in the roof they had made.

Teagan: They will get rained on here
Nathaniel: No its okay thats the shower!
Teagan: What about his towel?
Ben: Heres some carpet for a towel

The children bagan to think about what compforts of home were important to them.

Kylie: Here’s a toy for him to sleep with
Ben: He needs toys in the bath too
Nathaniel: What about a swing?

Kate came over to investigate what her peers were doing and took on the role of a cynic, challenging the others on what they were doing...

Kate: The preying mantis will die in here...
Nathaniel: No he won’t! He will love it so much.
Teagan: Why will he die?
Kate: They are supposed to live outside, not in a house. He will get lost and his Mum can’t find him and he will miss her.
Nathaniel: He will be okay, his Mummy will come find him at the house.
Teagan: There is a door for him!

The house is completed and placed in the garden for the Preying Mantis to find (No need for catching him!).

Teagan and Nathaniel kept checking all afternoon if a Preying Mantis had moved in to their house but no one has yet... This hasn't phased them though and they were insistent that their Dad went out in the rain to see it when he came to pick them up.

It is interesting how this little project was largely about concern and empathy for the preying mantis' who have to live outside. Over time, through their interest in insects, Teagan and Nathaniel have developed a relationship with nature. Alongside their friends they seemed to be relating their own lives to that of the preying mantis. If we have a house and toys, then surely this is what they should have? Kate of course had a different view, yet it was still driven by concern and empathy for the preying mantis. 

I am excited to see where this interest will go next...

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Why I love collaborative art...

Why I love callaborative art...

I like the idea of creating something over time, of seeing an idea evolve into something different, something better. The fact that lots of children have been a part of it, it tells a story. The children can see their contribution and celebrate that they have made something special for the classroom with their peers. 

I think its a good lesson for children to learn that art can take time, it can have many layers and new ideas can come along the way. I guess its that whole ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ thing. I want to clarify that i’m not saying quick art isn’t meaningful and that children should make all art together! I definitely don’t believe this. Art should be done in many different ways, this is one way!

I want to share about some of the callaborative pieces in my classroom and the significance they have. They all tell a story about the children who were a part of it.

Canterbury Earthquake Anniversary

"This is my commandment, that you will love one another as I have loved you" John 15:12

One year after the earthquake in Christchurch a project begun at the centre. The children had seen images of the earthquake on the news and were trying to make sense of it through their play. We began to discuss with the children what had happened and invited them to think of how the people felt. It quickly turned in to a project. This piece of art was made as a fundraiser for another centre in Christchurch who had lost their building. Families and children were invited to donate a coin in order to tie a ribbon onto the rope. The response was amazing with young children even using their pocket money to tie a ribbon on. We were blown away with the empathy our children showed! Now we can always remember the project and the children involved.

Chandelier of clay and bead work...

I have slowly been adding children's work to this lovely chandelier over the past two years and counting. Children will often make things especially to hang on the chandelier. I guess theres something special about being part of a collective piece of art. I love this piece of art because it tells stories about the many different children who have passed through the centre, some of which have moved away or gone off to school. 

Pirate Flag

 "We need a flag for our pirate ship!" Lucy proclaimed. The 'pirate flag' took over two weeks to complete and there are many layers to it. Each of the pirates painted some sort of representation of themselves on here. You can see a face, butterflies and many love was a group of girl pirates you see.

The garden...

This big piece of plastic (I don't really know what it's called) was presented to a group of five 4 year olds who had been particularly interested in painting. "I have a very special job for you all" I had told them and showed them the plastic, "This is to make a big piece of art to make our room look beautiful". They took their job very seriously and discussed what they would do. They decided in the end that they would paint a garden and talked about all the things that were in their gardens at home. There were suns, flowers, bees, butterflies, trees and clouds. They set to work over a couple of days and completed this lovely painting which divides our room quite nicely.

For arts sake...

These two pieces both went for about a week each and had no objective in mind. Everyone was invited to be involved if they wished! 

The first piece is a collage and its about 1x0.8 Metres.

The second piece is our most recent addition. We used crayons on the first day and the second day we added different dyes. The third day it was black paint and the last day silver paint and more dye! I only put out small brushes the entire time so it turned out really detailed. I think its about 1x0.5 Metres.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Kiwi Teacher now has Pinterest and Facebook...

Kia ora lovely readers,

I got Pinterest and Facebook for Kiwi Teacher! These pages will both feature lots of inspiration I get from other blogs and websites. Plenty of cool little ideas, thoughts and links that you can quickly glance over in your news feed. Of course, I will also share on both pages when I post something new on the blog as well, so its a good way to keep informed!

Come join me!

Kiwi Teacher

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sand trays!

This provocation seems to have generated a lot of attention over the last few days and lots of you have been asking about it. So heres the deal...

At the end of last year we sent all our children home with a paper bag. The idea being that they would collect treasures from their summer holiday to share with everyone when we started back. The treasures would act as a starting point for conversations about the holidays. The children came back with all sorts of things. Some children brought back photographs and tickets, but natural resources were the main attraction with children bringing shells, feathers and glass from the beach as well as sticks and leaves they had found on walks. Many of the children contributed their special treasures to the centre and an interest in ephemeral art began to show. 

We extended on this interest by presenting the children with many different provocations. The children began to create art in the sandpit using sticks and leaves. We noticed they were drawing patterns with sticks in the sand. I presented this provocation to a group of interested children as an extension on this.   Here's how they responded...

A swimming pool

This is a volcano!

Hope this answered a few of your questions!


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Lets talk about provocations...

Lets talk about provocations... What is a provocation? The options really are endless! Provocations are happening wether you come from a Reggio Emilia inspired centre or not. They are the questions we ask, the materials we put out, the music we put on...even we as teachers act as a provocation sometimes...

Heres how Journey in Early Childhood defines it...

Deliberate and thoughtful decisions made by the teacher to extend the ideas of children. Teachers provide materials, media and general direction as needed but the children take the ideas where they want. 
Journey into Early Childhood 

I want to emphasise something here... 

The children take the ideas where they want...

See, I was asked recently by a volunteer..."Do your provocations always work?". I was taken back by this...what did she mean by 'work'? Then she said, "I haven’t seen the children drawing crosses here"...

What she didn’t hear was the conversation happening at the drawing table...

Jayden: Hey Kalen, thats an X aye
Kalen: Yeah, I don’t have an X, I have a K
Jayden: Oh I have a J and an A and a Y and a D and a E and a N

The two boys then began searching for letters around the room, trying to find them on the walls, in the artwork and documentation.

The boys did not see a cross...they saw an X. They did not feel compelled to draw the cross...instead it became a point of discussion. 

I’ve talked about the childs agenda before but I think it is important to mention it in this case as well. We need to consider this when setting up our environment or when we ask a question to children. Do not pre-empty an experience and decide what will happen. If you come with an agenda you may tend to restrict children. Remember children express themselves through a hundred languages...take a minute to observe how they speak. 

Check out a few of our provocations...

The children take the ideas where they want...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Easter walk

The childcare centre where I work is connected to the local church and we implement christian values into our program. This year we celebrated Easter by hosting a walk through exhibition about Easter alongside the after school program, playgroup and infant and toddler room. We felt creating art was a good way for the children to communicate their feelings and understanding as we went through the easter story this month. The children had a real sense of ownership over the walk through and were proud to show their families and share with them what they had learned. Have a look through our walk through...

Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane...
Jesus felt very sad because he knew that some of his friends were telling bad people to come and take him away and hurt him. He was praying to his father God.

Judas sells Jesus...
Jesus had many friends, but his friend called Judas sold Jesus to the bad people. They gave him some silver coins and took Jesus away because they did not like him helping the people.

Video of school children's drama about Judas and Jesus

The market place...
Another one of Jesus friends, called Peter, told people that he didn't know Jesus. He was telling lies. Before Jesus died, he told Peter that he would tell lies before the rooster crowed three times.

The Jail...
The ruler (prime minister) tells Jesus that he will be killed and that no one wants to be his friend. Jesus is tied up and put in jail. Lots of his friends were very sad and scared that their friend was going to die.

The children created this jail in our carpentry area.

Jesus carries his cross...
The bad people who didn't like Jesus, took his clothes and hit him, then they told him to carry a big wooden cross through the streets. It was very heavy and Jesus was hurt. A man called Simon used his helping hands to carry the cross for him up the hill.

Visitors were invited to share how they could use their hands to help others just as the children from playgroup had done.

Jesus is crucified...
When Jesus was on earth, in our world, people were hung on a cross with nails in their hands and feet', this is called crucifixion. Jesus had not done anything wrong but he died for all the wrong and bad things we have done. All Jesus' friends were very sad.

A cross created from clay, nails, wood and wire by a group of preschool aged children.

Visitors to the exhibition were invited to create a cross from salt dough which they could either take home or contribute to a piece of collaborative art for the centre.

Jesus is placed in a tomb...
Jesus' friends took his body and washed it and then wrapped it in special material and carried it into a tomb which is like a cave. Then all the very big men pushed a huge rock across the door way into the tomb so no one could get it. There were soldiers outside the tomb so no one could get it. They stood there for three days...

A tomb created by the preschool children.

Jesus is alive!
On the third day, Jesus' friend Mary went to the tomb but the big rock was pushed away and Jesus was not in there. An angel had pushed the rock away and he told Mary that Jesus was alive. Jesus had told her that this would happen, so she ran all the way to his friend's house and told them that Jesus was alive! All Jesus' friends were very happy to see Jesus.

Written by the preschool children.

This painting is a celebration of which all were invited to participate in!

Thank you to all involved!