Thursday, 27 August 2015

Fairy Portraits...

As a continuation of our portrait project we mixed in a little fairy (in preparation for The International Fairy Tea Party on the 18th of September... there is a FB page if you are wanting to join) - and also with a little Leonardo Da Vinci inspiration.

Instead of doing self portraits we set up the opportunity to draw each other... just like we had read in the book about Leonardo Da Vinci when he painted portraits.

The children took it in turns to strike a pose - learning about how the body feels when you hold a position for a long time, learning about how you need to keep still so that others can draw you. Those drawing learned how to observe the different positions of the body, and also to focus on their work so that their friends did not have to hold their position for too long for added day-dream time!!!

Once the children had drawn each other... they took their pile of portraits over to a table and then we added coloured wings... taking inspiration from the rainbow fairy books we read last year.

Once all the figures had wings we started cutting them all out - it was a hive of activity and I was surprised at just how long the children were focussed... I was prepared to have done this art session in two parts if necessary... but the children were totally into it.

Once all the fairies were cut out the children started to role play with them... which gave me an idea for the future...

The children then arranged and glued their fairies onto the swing painting background, which I had cut up into pieces so there was one for each child. You can check out the post on the swing painting here

Of course all fairy art needs fairy dust - so the children chose the colour of their fairy dust and with a sprinkle of glitter their fairy art was complete!!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Rainbow portrait

As there are new children in the other groups we left the atelier to do our first portrait of the year outside... I know the International Fairy tea Party will soon be upon us, so something magical seemed in order... not just a mirror to reflect how the children look, but something a little more magical...

The art installation not too far away from the preschool (it is located at the next underground station from us, but it is a walkable distance) was the perfect choice.

I packed the wooden wagon with pencils, paper, clipboards (of the homemade cardboard and clip type) and three small chairs.

I chose the children who had shown the least interest in doing the portraits to start first... knwoing that if these children started playing they would not want to make the transition to the portrait work... and also knowing that the other children would want to make this transition. It was the right choice... and ALL the children expressed their enjoyement in this activity despite expressing their doubts about it before we started...

One of the children that was in the starting trio was there to the very end, adding small details and paying close attention... each child was allowed the time they needed to draw and colour their portrait.

It was also a great way to observe how the children were holding their pens - which children were actually looking at themselves and not just doing a "typical person" on their paper. Which children had played close attention to the instructions (head and shoulders portrait) - although there were no comments made if a child made a full body portrait... at the moment it is about making observations... of learning about how the children listen, and how I need to proceed with my work to support them.
I have just one child doing a "huvudfoting" as it is called in Swedish (head-footer) where the limbs coming directly out of the head - the others who did full body portraits were drawing bodies, necks, shoulders etc as well... the two that did just a head and should portrait included necks as well as the shoulders.

Itwas interesting to see how the children used the paper... most seemed to use a small part of it, rather than embracing the whole paper - and started off small.. which might be the reason for why the portrait became a whole body portrait... to fill up more of the paper.

The coloured pencils were lined up on the ground for the children to take as they needed them... many colours could be found in the reflections and the children really enjoyed using the colours... imagination became a part of this and not just observation. One child arranged the pencils into a piece of art too...

It certainly is going to be interesting to watch this group develop their self portrait skills over the coming year. To watch them learn more about themselves, their abilities and also to experiment with various techniques...

I have learned a great deal from the portrait project from last year... which mediums the children enjoyed the most, which ones allowed them to experiment not just with the materials but also with ideas... and also which ones were too much of a challenge and needed more help from me than what I would have wanted as it was more tricky than I had anticipated... after all I am experiemtning with many of the techniques with the children... I am learning with them... and I always share that I am learning... so they know we are on the journey together.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Using photography as an art of listening

Communication is not just about words and sharing ideas… it is just as much listening and receiving ideas.
As teachers and adults we are often put in a position where our words have more impact than the words of children. Through the Eyes of the Child is a project that will allow us to listen to the children – maybe in a new way for some.
I have written about listening before The Art of Listening on Interaction Imagination  where I ponder about what listening is and what it means.  Philosophy with children is an excellent way to listen to children and their ideas, and also a wonderful way for the children to learn to listen to each other too.
When children understand they are being genuinely listened to, it will encourage them to speak more freely and share their ideas with others.
I personally work with pre-philosophy – helping children hone their skills of listening, concentration, creativity, expression etc to be able to participate in philosophical dialogue. I see taking photographs as part of this skill building…
Children learn to CHOOSE what the object of their photograph is going to be, learn techniques about how best to take the photograph and express their idea through an image – whether this is their idea of fun, of beauty, of friendship or some other deeper idea that they wish to share…
When they have taken photographs they will need to make a selection… which image most represents that idea… they need to compare and explain their thoughts as to why one photograph is better than another. If this is a group activity there might be the need to enter a dialogue as to why this photo rather than another should be selected… will everyone agree? Will more ideas and alternatives be brought forward that the children can listen to and learn from and maybe deepen their own understanding of the ideas… maybe even learning that the same photograph can represent different ideas depending on who is looking at the image.
It could be that an image that represents the MOST differences of opinion is the photograph that gets chosen – BECAUSE of the rishness of the dialogue that ensues.
It could be a fun/good idea to start discussions about photographs… by selecting a provoking image for the children to discuss, or to choose two photographs for the children to choose their preferred image and explain why. This can help the children learn to TALK about the photographs and also learn to LISTEN to each others’ ideas about them…

Here are some websites about children and/or play to get you and your children thinking...
where children sleep (bedrooms and toys are featured here)
happy children playing around the world
around the world - children and their favourite toys

Here are two photos to get you thinking too (found on pinterest)… it is just to go online and find images that can get you thinking… to get the children started in a dialogue.
This is not inspiration of the kind of photographs the children should be taking, this is JUST a way of practicing COMMUNICATION! It will be the children themselves that will decide the subect of the photograph… and afterwards they will need you to LISTEN to what their image communicates…

More about Taking photographs

It is all well and good letting children loose with a camera BUT like all things in life this is just another tool that we need to learn to use: that we need to master.
Letting the children loose without any directions might let them get comfortable with the camera but it is not going to guide them as to all the photographical possibilities…
Of course depending on the age/ability of the child you are going to want to challenge them in different ways.
Maybe the challenge for the youngest children is limiting how many photographs are to be taken and also thinking about what the subject is going to be BEFORE clicking… while for older children they can be challenged with ideas of composition… how placement can influence the importance of the subject, how lighting can affect the mood etc…
For ideas of how to approach teaching digital photography to children take a look at 13 lessons to teach your child about digital photography by Darren Rowse You will find plenty of inspiration there.

Taking photographs

I am transferring posts from my blog Through the Eyes of the Child, which I have decided not to use it anymore... it just got a little too much to manage....

So here comes  a post about "Taking Photographs"

I have seen that there are those who have started their process… who have handed over the camera to the children… and are  enjoying the journey
For those of you who have not started your journey yet… here are a few more pointers…
Before taking a photograph,  ask questions like…What’s the main subject here? What part should you focus on? What angle do you want? AND, importantly, what do you want this photo to tell others?
Photography is art and science. As an art, photography is a marvelous tool of creative, self-expression.
A photograph can open a person’s mind or even change it. Photography communicates.
It also is a wonderful technical tool, teaching lessons in science (light, math, etc.) and computer skills.
Besides the confidence gained from mastering a new skill and creative expression, learning to take good pictures can also do wonders for children who are shy because photography is one of those skills that can make it easier to take part in activities that otherwise might exclude a shy child.
By taking photographs and sharing and reflecting on these photographs allows children to better understand the advertising images they’re bombarded with every day.
It can help them to see how photographs can evoke emotion and persuade, in other words they can develop a more critical eye.
But most of all, photography, especially digital photography, is just plain fun.
The best way to to get started is to hand over a camera to a child and allow them to experiment. There are books available for those of you wanting to “teach” photography to children… but the main aim of this project is not to create photographers in the next month or so… but to allow children to discover a new medium to express themselves and maybe a desire to find out more and learn more…
AND also a way for the adults around the children – whether preschoolers or teens – to discover a new way to communicate with them, to find out more – to listen and hear (and see) what is important to the children.
I wonder if there will be similarities amongst children coming from the same countries, age, kind of setting? What sort of patterns will we find…

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Colour/Movement exploration

Last week the children explored how sand moved from the spinners... we extended this through colouring the sand... which you can read about here and there is a film to watch the coloured sand on my facbook page Interaction Imagination...

As I watched the children explore with colour and movement in the playspace I wondered how we could extend this even further... and swing painting and slide painting came to mind... we decided that on the first sunny day the following week that we would take the paints with us to the park... and we did just that...

I packed the wheelie bag with blue, red, yellow, green and purple paint (bottle tempera)... I knew there would be just 4-5 children with us so i wnated the opportunity for the children to have colours to choose from... we enede up with just 4 children... 50% of our group still enjoying summer vacation. I also packed a roll of brown paper, some paper hand towels to clean hands (I turned out to be the only perosn who needed these) and some scissors. We also took our other wheeelie bag full of sand and outdoor toys...

When we got to our outdoor playspace destination we rolled out a length of paper that we felt would be long enough to meet the needs of the swing... the children filled buckets with sand to weigh down the cormers so that the paper di not fly away in the wind. The paper was cut and the children chose their colours...
swing painting
At first one of the children was quite apprehensive about this activity, but after watching the enjoyment of the other children this no longer became a problem and was eagerly waiting his turn.

Some of the paints were quite thick and therefore quite hard to squeeze out... at first i was not so happy with this... but then realised that it gave the children the opportunity to reflect on the differences between the bottles and why some paints were harder to squeeze out than others... They had some wonderful theories from their own strength, to the paint almost being finished to the paint being thick and harder to get out.

We then let the artwork ry in the sun... even though we were outdoors for 90 minutes after the activity that paint was far from dry... and we were quite far from the preschool... so it was deceided to fold the paper in half to create a new pattern... this pleased the children just as much... it was like magic. We opened it again to see the pattern and then folded it again and rolled it just before departing back to the preschool... once back I unfolded it so it could dry.

We also poured paint at the top pf the slide to see how it flowed down. Again the children were mesemerised and excited about all of this. They taled and discussed with each other about what they saw and why they thought all off this was happening. This took much more paint than the swinging activity... but was still worth it.

I had packed two full bottle and 3 half bottles of colour... only one of the half bottles was emptied... the two full bottles reduced by a third... I felt that the amount/cost of the paint was a worthwhile investment for the experience and the rich thinking/dialogue the children participated in

slide painting
 The slide painting was far from dry - after 90 minutes of sunshine play... so we just made the decision to roll it anyway to transport it back... I knew I had an old shower curtain back at the preschool that I could unfold it on to dry... and once dry flip it over so the back could dry... 24 hours later it was still not dry and ready to be flipped over... so hoping to do that tomorrow.

We did, though lift up the paper and hold it on its side to allow the colours to flow one more time... from the head like shape into the purple pattern...

I have cut up the paper from the slide action art into 8 pieces... I hope to use it as a background for another art project... soemthing to do with fairies... sicne it felt like the children were flying as they did this activity it seems quite an appropriate connection..

As yet I am not sure whether we should display the slide artwork as it is, or whether this too can be continued...

There are several films of this on my facebook page... early August 2015, if you would like to look for them...

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Experimenting with sand and motion...

On Tuesday the children started experimenting with sand on the spinners... so I asked a few questions... what would happen if they patted the sand down, what would happen if they just piled it on and what would happen if they took the dry sand from inside the playhouses?
The children were eager to test all three out... and with great excitement. We then talked about why there were differences... and the theory the children came up with is that the wet sand is sand and water mixed together and is therefore heavier and does not fly off as easily.

Today we returned to the same playspace and we did some more experimenting - as you can see in the film, the children started to mix the sand types...

I also noticed a pattern forming on the ground by the sand spinning off, which gave me an idea about creating art. What would happen if we coloured the sand? I asked the children if they wanted to collect some sand to take back to the preschool so that we could colour it (with food colouring) and return tomorrow to test it out. The children were keen and collected three buckets of dry sand - and carried them all the way back to the preschool... some of the children having more determination to carry the buckets than others... but with teamwork the children managed to transport the buckets back to the preschool themselves (I was sort of excpecting that I would be asked to carry for at least part of the really proud of them for managing the entire way).

We coloured the sand with red, green and yellow food colouring... the children were rather disappointed with the results of the yellow, as they felt there was not much of a change. But I feel they might see the difference more clearly tomorrow when we can compare it against the sand already there.
This will give the children access to five sand colours tomorrow to create some kind of spin art... dark sand, light sand, green, yellow and red.

So now I am eagerly awaiting tomorrow.