About Me

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I am the studio teacher in Zach's Place Studio, an AMS Montessori teacher, an artist, a mother and much more.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

week 19- Papier Mache' Sphinx

A sphinx is emerging in the studio thanks to a fabulous armature created by our resident ceramic artist and all around amazing talent, Amy Laugesen.
Our method began by dipping strips of newspaper into a bucket of paste. The paste is a mixture of soyflour, white glue and warm water. We dipped the strips into the mixture and ran our fingers down the strip to remove the excess drips. Next, we applied the strips to the chicken wire armature in typical papier mache' fashion. Some of the students were averse to the tactile properties of the paste, while others ecsatically busied themselves layering the form with criss crossed paper strips. Later that day, while working with the afternoon group of children, I looked down at the strips of paper, many of them bore headlines regarding the changes taking place in modern Egypt. I didn't bring this element to the attention of the child but I did observe the process through a different lens, watching as small hands used this media printed with headlines and uncertainty, and carefully reshaped it into the body of a sphinx, modeled after one of the timeless gifts handed down through the years by an Egypt of old. Sometimes, these little gestures of art are deeply moving, a testament to the timeless power of creativity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

week18- Toddler's in the studio

Toddler studio day is always fun. Today we opened the studio to explore the Egyptian provocations and paint at the easel. Toddlers are exposed to so many new things, new environments and new skills. In fact, they are literally experiencing a new world. With all this newness, rhythm and routine can be very important. They offer a framework and lend familiarity to the constantly changing patterns of life.
By February, some toddlers are at ease in the studio, but others are just beginning to transition into another space. Today this process was beautifully played out in a graceful dance between a toddler, and her teacher, Melody, upon entering the studio. At first the child was hesitant to arrive . While holding Melody's hand, she looked at several activities before choosing to paint at the easel. Melody crouched down nearby. Initially the child made a paint stroke on the paper and hurried back to Melody's warm embrace. Together they smiled and admired her work. This went on for several minutes and I sat nearby, smiling and nodding with them. Eventually she no longer needed to return to Melody and remained at the easel. Melody gently told her that she was returning to the class to help another student with toileting and asked the child if she would like to stay. The child smiled at me and came over for a hug before painting more. She painted and hugged a few times until she was confidently painting and exploring on her own.
This toddler vignette is a beautiful reminder of the power of support. Melody lent me her presence, which allowed the toddler to bridge into the new setting easily and by proxy, allowed her to feel comfortable with a new teacher. Then I lent my presence as she transitioned toward independent studio exploration. Soon she was visibly at ease, immersed in her creativity. She spent several more minutes, confidently painting, drawing and exploring before returning to her class. Really, it is a good reminder for all of us- sometimes we all need someone to lend us their confidence and support when trying something new.

week 18- more stories

The Pyramid, By Marco R. Age 5

The pyramid is from Egypt. I made it. The eyes are there to scare everybody away. There are mummies in the pyramid, like ten of them, and reptiles too. The crocodile is one of the mummies’ pet.

Crocodile, by Marco R., Age 5

The crocodile lives in the Nile. He eats birds that come near him. He plays in the ocean and he thinks it’s a pool and he brings toys in there and he also thinks it’s a bathtub. He lets people be but not birds.

The Princess and the Bird, By Sophie A., Age 5

The wind was blowing. The eagle was flying very fast. A rose blew, floating on the wind and the petals came off. The princess and the bird heard something. The rose said, “Come near and dear. Come here and be on your journey.” There were all different colors swirling in the air like red and blue, purple, green, orange and pink, and all of them swirled faster and faster together in a circle. The sparkles on top of the roof sparkled brighter and bright. The princess and eagle decided to go inside. After they went inside there were lots of fun things to do. After they played fun games they went outside. The petals returned to the flowers and every color stopped and made the circle. The rose voice said, “Very well.”

The End.

week 18- story writing

In the studio, we have been writing alot of stories. These stories are the result of a child's work. Typically, they bring me a piece of art and I ask, "Would you like to tell me about it?" Sometimes I will ask questions like, "Does your piece have a name/title?". If it is a worry doll, I may ask details, "Where does s/he live?", "What does s/he like to do?", etc. Often a story will emerge. Some children have one at the ready, while others need a little more prompting. Occasionally a child will simply say, "There is no story." This happened in the studio again today and I thought I would try something new, something I do myself when writing isn't coming easily. I said, "You know sometimes a story isn't up here (pointing to my head), but if you close your eyes and listen closely you might hear a story being born (touching my heart)". This child agreed to try it. He closed his eyes and I said, "I will know you are ready when you open your eyes". In a short time his eyes flashed open and he told me a single sentence. After writing it down, I said, "Is that all or would you like to listen again". He closed his eyes several times, opening them again to tell me another sentence. When he was finished I read his story (a poem really) back to him and asked him where that story came from. He smiled and patted his chest, "It came from my heart". He went back to his class smiling.
Here is his heart's poem:
Castle, by Braden, age 5
The eagle is eating.
The king is walking.
The bell is ringing.
The wind is blowing.
The eagle is flying.

Monday, February 14, 2011

week 17- studio night

At Children's Garden we have a wonderful tradition of hosting a parent's-only studio night, once a year, to transform our public space into something magical. This year we have been studying ancient Egypt and many of the students had some far reaching visions of what they would like to experience, including: a pyramid, the Nile river, a sarcophagus, a Sphinx and much more. We invited the parents to join us on Wednesday evening for a potluck followed by a creative extravaganza. We purchased and collected an array of media supplies and offered the ideas expressed by our students, to their parents, as a provocation. There was no set agenda and there were no directions given. Studio night is really seen as a community building opportunity, offering parents the chance to experience the open-ended process of creating and collaborating, with the aim of giving something back to the children. It is always inspiring to see the parents arrive, sometimes with trepidation, voicing concerns at never having been "a creative person", and in a few short hours they are transformed into confidently creative people.
Here they are hard at work and play:And here are the excited students' discovering "Ancient Egypt" the following day:
We look forward to watching how this new creative catalyst will evolve in the weeks and months to come.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

week 16- worry dolls

Worry Dolls have taken over the studio and the children have not tired of making them, one after another, each accompanied by an imaginative story. Truly, the creativity of these students continues to inspire and amaze me. I find myself transfixed several times a day, as if, in watching their magical world of wonder unfolding through expressive media, I am temporarily transported to a breathtaking universe filled with awe and possibility. I am presently creating a book to document their stories and creations.

Here are a few of the dolls and stories to share:
Ski People, by Ella P.

My ski people are skiing in the mountains . They live in Florida. They’re both girls. Her name is Kelly and her name is Cassie.

Chuck, by Oliver H., age 3

His name is Chuck. He sleeps at nighttime. He wakes up on his first day and he eats his breakfast. He asks his mom to watch TV. Then he goes to school every day until he has a day off. Then he plays with his mom, he has quiet time, he watches a movie on his mom’s ipod. He eats junk food and then he goes to school again on Monday. He drinks milk on Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday and Friday. That’s it.

Julie, by Laurel W., age 5

Her name is Julie. Julie loves to grow roses and play with her dolls in her rainbow doll house. She looks beautiful and she has a little rose in the middle of her body.

Macayla and Her Bunny, by Sophie A., age 5

Down deep into the forest, where there are very bad dangerous things like coyotes, bears, maybe even baby foxes, there lives Macayla and her little bunny. And they found this really cool tree. The bark was green and the tree was yellow. And they decided every day to decorate it so every day all the mean animals could come and see. They would love it. “We love you, tree,” they said. And every day she put more and more decorations on the tree. And they lived happily ever after. They loved and loved the tree. The dangerous animals added leaves and flowers, which made it more beautiful every day. The tree loved it and it grew higher and higher. Now every day the woman with all the dangerous animals climbed higher and higher to the top and they found a cloud castle because of all the beautiful things they put on the tree. They even found lots of ice cream inside. The End.

The Pirate, by Braden B., Age 5

He’s a pirate walking the plank. He was trying to push a pirate and got tied to the plank. He pushed him and he fell.