Holy Rollies and the Wilderness

It’s Monday and at Miss Amy’s that means “Outdoor Classroom”.  We take a short journey to a nearby park and explore what mother nature has to offer. The children look forward to it and it’s the perfect cure for the Monday blues. We let them guide themselves and try not to intervene too much. Today we brought clay for impression making, their sketch books, pastel chalks, charcoal, pencils, and a bug net.

The park we visit is beautiful but it is far from a jungle or even a forest, but the kids always equate our visits to being in the wilderness. They seem to go into foraging mode almost instantly.

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A feather collection is started

The bug net spiked their interests immediately. They caught and observed a firefly, dragonfly, and an earwig.

 

Then one little boy noticed some decaying wood under a tree. He lifted up the wood and exclaimed, “Look Holy Rollies!”. One of the older kids said, “Do you mean Roly Poly’s ? They like to live under wood!”. The younger boy agreed that that’s what he meant, but for the rest of the day almost everyone referred to them as holy rollies.

-Miss Amber

Arrival of the Autumn Fairy

For two weeks the atelier has been a hub of leaves and sticks, a host to hues of gold, russet and brown, and the center of what may be a new ritual: the creation of the Autumn Fairy.  With chicken wire, an iron stand, a styrofoam head, and lots of found materials, recycled paintings, and fall nature treasures we worked until we felt she was ready. Meet the ironically named April,  our Autumn Fairy:

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The children were nearly obsessed with her having a head. We began with her skirt, but they continually asked for her to have a head. They proposed using everything from a smoothie bottle from someone’s lunch to an osage orange from the Fall findings basket. The first head attempt comically failed, but the new realistic one was greeted with relief. The children said she needed pink lips. “She must have them!” Her final embellishment was a stream of thankfulness ribbons woven into her skirt- streaming down with each child’s statement of what they are most thankful for in this season of gratitude.

A happy, grateful Thanksgiving to all. –Miss Lori, Atelierista

 

 

 

“K’s Playground”

When we are really paying attention to how children learn, how creativity informs their processing of new learnings, and how new learnings are expressed creatively, we can open ourselves to the experience of being awed.

The Atelier is a magnificent space for observing how knowledge tucked in the subconscious can be made apparent in children’s artwork.  Art is a whole mind-body-spirit  experience and expression.

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Case in point, a child approached the easel today and began to paint.  A letter K appeared seemingly spontaneously. The child marveled at what she herself had put on her paper. “A K!” she exclaimed, “I painted a K!” She went on to add more paint, more color. When she finished, she declared her painting, “K’s Playground.”  Learning through play, indeed.

–Miss Lori, Atelierista

The Golden City

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For weeks, the four and five year olds have reveled in creating a 3-D “construction site” made  by glueing many random loose parts on an old chipboard we had lying around in the atelier. The board was secured to a small table, just big enough for two children at a time to sit at and work on the site. A small provocation table sat next to it with a book on castles of Scotland, a basket of found bits such as shells, feathers, marker lids, bag ties, acorns, essentially anything found or normally discarded, and lots of glue. Each duet could work on the site with the only rule being that they couldn’t un-do someone else’s work.

Once we felt we had come to a point of completion, the site was spray painted with gold. The children immediately exclaimed, “A golden city!!!”  We have learned what beauty lies in the collection of small things, carefully assembled and showered with attention. The whole is indeed greater than just the sum of it’s parts.

Miss Lori, Atelierista

Mondays are for the Birds…

Feeling warm temperatures on our skin, watching flowers bloom and hearing birds sing, we welcome Spring inside and outside of school these days.

And speaking of birds, Miss Maria inspired our art today by bringing in an abandoned birds’ nest from her yard. Left on the table for study, the children marveled at the materials used by the birds in making the nest: sticks, weeds, plastic bits, even (ironically) a plastic flower. So, as it happens in the atelier, we began making our own birds nests using different materials that we thought mimicked those the birds used.

One child used Wiki Stix to build a nest…and then place a “dolphin bird” in it:

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We also explored molding a burlap scrap over a bowl. The child working on this project sewed bits of yarn into the burlap to make it more nest looking, then added bits from our tinker bins to it. We mod podged it together and used clothes pins to shape it. It will be interesting to see what kind of bird will be made tomorrow to live in this nest!

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And because it was a beautiful Spring morning, we had to go out and feed the birds as well. Using the leftover halves of lemons and oranges that had been hollowed out, we filled them with bird seed and hung them from our favorite tree.

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And also because the children must always be allowed to follow their bliss in the art room too, we painted some beautiful things just for the sheer joy of it!

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—Miss Lori, Atelierista