The studio is back in full swing and we couldn't be happier welcoming all these smiles!! We've traveled to Africa this week inspired by the art, music, geography, animals, and culture as we painted, danced, and played! Next week we'll travel to a new continent!
Inspired by the Sahara desert of Africa, we explored both fine and course sand to create textured paint! Working with fine motor skills children used small spoons to scoop and dump their desired amount of sand within their paint.....or sometimes scooping paint into the sand, or even dumping sand right on top of the canvas. Proclamations of discoveries and observations could be heard around the room, as children freely experimented with the media...."this feels rough!"..."I put yellow in the blue and it turned GREEN!"
We discussed the word texture, feeling the different sands and how the texture changed when added to the paint. How does it feel?...smooth, rough, scratchy, soft...?
Children were invited to interact with the animal transparencies on the light table. Some children decided to work on their fine motor skills by tracing the outline of the animal and letters. Younger children enjoyed working on both fine and gross motor skills as they painted directly on the light table. You could overhear small voices exclaiming, "Elephant! Zebra! Lion!" Our homeschool classes carefully painted within the animal outlines and we decided to create mono-prints!
We had a wonderful 3 days filled with loads of art making, laughter, and friendship! Children had opportunities to engage in sensory and creative play as well as experiment with a variety of media and tools as they embraced the creative process!
Watercolor paint and salt provided a new way to experience a familiar medium and predict and hypothesize on "what will happen". The effects were sparkling and stunning. Campers were invited to cut and tear their experiments to create a wintery landscape collage!
We examined snowflakes and children were asked, "what facts do you know about snowflakes?" They shared their ideas on how they form, their uniqueness, and what they are made of...and what fun they are to catch on one's tongue! We then talked about symmetry, finding symmetrical objects and noticing the symmetry within snowflake patterns. We also introduced positive and negative space within this project. Campers worked with multiple stencils, sponges, brushes, and brayers to explore these basic elements of design.
We started the day by practicing with sketching pencils and learning how to control our pencils in order to draw light sketching lines. After children were invited to chose an item from a variety of winter themed objects placed around the studio. Campers were encouraged to draw "what they see" noticing details, and filling their page. They enjoyed putting objects together to create their own still life!
The children were so excited to paint on the easels! They were invited to chose their subject matter, approach, and tools to use on their canvas painting. It was so much fun walking around seeing this hightened level of engagement and each canvas so individual and unique. A few students kept coming back to this project....spending a total of 3 hours on their canvas! One of our students had the idea to wrap his canvas to give as a gift! We followed his lead and each child designed their own wrapping paper, wrapped up their paintings, and left with the most precious gifts to give to their loved ones!
Enjoy more moments from our winter art camp in the slideshow below!
In art class we explored LINES, one of the basic elements of design, through sculpture and painting. Ms. Kara nearly jumped for joy when two young artists walked in the door and asked, “are we going to sing the line song again?!?” Well, yes friends, yes we are!! J It was wonderful to know that they not only remembered it from the week before, but had been practicing it at home!
Our camping scene that Mr. Benjamin drew on the chalkboard this week gave us a perfect opportunity to revisit landscapes and the idea of a horizon line. Upon drawing the students attention to the camping scene, N exclaimed “do you remember the horizon line?….there’s one (as he ran up and pointed to the horizon line drawn on the chalkboard)!” I was, and still am, a very proud teacher!
Children were also invited to explore the properties of lines through “dancing lines” this activity allowed children to manipulate and create their own lines while moving, laughing, and noticing nuances of a curvy, wavy, or a twirling line.
A table full of materials all representing lines such as pipe cleaners, wire, buttons, spools, yarn, or popsicle sticks, invited the children to bring their own ideas as they experimented and created line sculptures! They were also able to make connections and draw from the book we read during circle time “Lines that Wiggle” by Candance Whitman as they wrapped lines to attach two popsicle sticks together or threaded lines through buttons holes. Through experimentation, children learned the possibilities of creating with lines are endless!
Young artists used homemade play dough to stick and poke a variety of lines into it, making their own line sculptures. The play dough gave the children a base to create vertical and 3-dimensional sculptures. L realized he could use his “line” to cut the dough!
We explored 3-dimensional lines with our mirrored soft structure that can be manipulated into a variety of lines and shapes….a straight line, a curvy line, a zig-zag line and even a “rolled up line” exclaimed S!
Some of the children decided that their line sculptures could be interactive, so they took them to the light table for some dramatic play. This exploration of imagination was wonderful to see as the children worked together in making new worlds, buildings, etc. for their sculptures!
We also explored lines through painting on the easel. Children, armed with brayers wrapped in yarn, used big gross motor movements to roll the brayer creating lines up and down their paper. They enjoyed rolling the brayers in paint….a little yellow, and a little purple with some pink….”makes a rainbow!” G exclaimed as she rolled her multi-colored brayer across her page. Children experimented with color mixing…”it changed! I made a new color!” P announced proudly. S, E, and A all had the idea to bring some of the items over from the line sculpture table and began using wooden spools and wheels to stamp lines and shapes.
Finally, some friends explored drawing lines with markers and rulers. We discussed the different jobs of the ruler…measuring and helping us draw straight lines. We also worked on the proper way to use a ruler. Children were invited to create their own work of art using as many lines as they could think of…wavy, zig-zag, dotted, criss-cross, diagonal, vertical, horizontal, spiral….so many lines!
In music class this week, we went on a camping adventure, and even went searching for owls! The first thing we do when we go camping is set up our campsite, and our campfire. The rhyme “Chip chop” helped us to chop up the wood for the fire. The students enjoyed finding and picking up imaginary sticks and building a campfire, then we all sang songs around the fire! After building our fire, we were hungry, so we sang “Five little hotdogs.” This rhyme is great for encouraging kids to anticipate the final note (“BAM”), which they clapped and shouted once they had picked up on the pattern.
We introduced the concept of instrumentation this week using the song “This land is your land” by Woodie Guthrie. First, Mr. Benjamin played and sang to teach the song to the class, and then we all sang it together. First with the guitar, then adding in some body percussion (i.e., hand claps, lap patting), and finally we transferred the song to the tuned instruments (i.e., xylophones, metallophones). Each layer of instrumentation added such wonderful elements to the mix.
One of the main goals of music education for preschool age children is to learn steady beat. A fun way to encourage this is to go marching, so we pretended that we were little ants, marching around the studio as we sang, “The ants go marching.” We emphasize the importance of the “rest” in music by stopping to tie our shoes each verse. Another way to encourage steady beat is to play a simple bordun, which is a steady beat played on xylophones. Our big bass bars were ringing out with a wonderful sounding bordun.
Reading the book “In the small, small pond” by Denise Fleming helped us to learn about some of the actions of the animals in the pond. This very rhythmic book is great for encouraging steady beat, because each page follows a simple duple meter with four beats per page. We waddled and waded as the geese paraded, and circled and swirled as whirligigs twirled!
Then, we heard the story/song of the “Owl Moon”, a story of a little girl and boy that go out with their parents one night looking for owls. When you’re out looking for owls at night, you gotta be quiet so as to not scare away the owls, brave so that we don’t get scared, make your own heat when it’s cold by rubbing your hands together, and you gotta have hope that you’ll find one, and keep looking. Luckily for us, we did find an owl in the studio! We sat very still and quiet and looked at the owl before it flew away. Bye bye owl, see you next time!
Bringing out the gathering drum, we sang “Nibble nibble mousekin” with the hand movements on the drum – first the mouse nibbling away, then the breeze singing in the trees. This is a wonderful short rhyme that children are drawn to, and is great because it helps children feel steady beats in duple and triple meter. Then, we made the drum into a boat and sang “Row, row, row your boat” and the said the poem “Golden Boat” with the accompanying hand symbols. Then, finally we sang the “Goodbye Song”, which some students have now dubbed the “Bye Bye Song,” and we hear that some have started singing this song at home! Thanks so much to all our creative students for another great week!
We were so excited to begin our summer session! Our students have grown so much during the time we last saw them, we missed them and it was good to be back! To start off our summer session, we chose a farm theme. In art class, we focused on landscapes and animals, and in music class we sang songs about the farm, and did a hoedown or two.
Artists began by looking at our farm landscape on the chalkboard and mentioning the things they noticed, “the BIG barn, the little barn, the corn field, the water, the sun” were just a few of the ideas the children mentioned. Children were then invited to place farm animal magnets on the board where they thought the animals would like to live on the farm. “the turtle lives in the pond!” exclaimed L and N was happy to announce that his horse, “lives in the barn!”.
Children became familiar with the idea of a horizon line through landscapes (where the sky and ground meet). We sang and moved to our song, “The Line Song” which highlights three types of straight lines; horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. We drew special attention to the “side-to-side” notion of the horizontal line.
The horizon line provided a way to divide their paper and allowed our young artists to focus on key concepts and vocabulary such as top and bottom, sky and ground (grass), and the colors blue (light and dark) and green (light and dark). Older artists developed their knowledge of drawing “what we see and not what we think we know“ as they allowed their sky and ground to meet at the horizon line. A giant step in learning how to visually represent the world!
Once our watercolor landscapes were dry, children were invited to add details with tissue paper and glue. They were excited to create flowers, trees, apples, corn fields, clouds, or even the sun in the sky. Children used fine motor skills as they crumpled, twisted, and tore the paper. They made deliberate decisions as they placed, and glued the tissue paper down on their landscapes. Next, children were able to add some animals to their farms by exploring the simplest form of printmaking through animal stamps. This collaging of different media asks children to expand on possibilities and consider solutions as they navigate the “how” in creating and representing their thoughts into visual media.
On the light table we placed transparencies printed with the outlines of different farm animals along side animal drawings done by the famous artists, Pablo Picasso. Older children worked on strengthening their fine motor skills as they followed the outline with colored pencils. Our youngest artists painted the animal transparencies on the light table and noticed the play between light and paint.
Some classes experimented with the silhouette of the animal outline by painting around a cut out animal. When the cut out was lifted the children were in awe of the white silhouette that was left behind. Then they used the painted cut out and created a work of art around it. In the end, children had created two works of art that depicted positive and negative space and gave way to discussing opposites.
Let's Make MUSIC Together!
Mr. Benjamin was very excited to be teaching music class again! During the past few weeks HE was the student, taking an Orff-Schulwerk Certification course at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He learned lots of fun new songs and movement games to help teach the kids the fundamental building blocks of music through the Orff method! Many thanks to Donna Massello-Chiacos for being a wonderful teacher to Mr. Benjamin, and to all of the new friends he met during the course.
In Let’s Create Music Together class, we sang and danced all the way to Grandma’s Farm! Our chalkboard featured a lovely farm scene, with “Our Farm” in the foreground, and “Grandma’s Farm” in the background, far, far, FAR away! To get there, we had to jump on our horses and ride, and to make the sound of horse hooves we used a coconut shell. Mr. Benjamin played the guitar, and played an original song appropriately called “Grandma’s Farm” as we traveled along. On our way, we went through a rainstorm, a thunderstorm, and then a hailstorm, making the sound of each with a rainstick, a thunder tube, and a clatterpillar!
When we got close to Grandma’s Farm, we could hear her ringing the triangle! We went faster so we could get there in a hurry! Once we were there, we ate a big dinner, singing “Time for dinner” (to the tune of Alouette). This song is great because it contains an octave, which we emphasize by holding our hands up in the air for the high note of the octave, and then down on the floor for the low note.
After dinner, we always do a hoedown dance at Grandma’s Farm! Aaron Copeland’s “Hoedown” from the Rodeo suite provided the music as we promenaded and do-si-do’ed our way around the circle rug. With some of our younger students, we read the book “Barnyard Dance” by Sandra Boynton, and did all of the movements with the animals. What great fun to take a spin with the barnyard dog!
Our older students learned more about how we can all play our instruments at the same time, and form a cohesive band, using the “mallets up!” position, “ready position,” and “now play!” position. These positions (along with the funny faces that we make) help to instill good habits of cooperative play, and they are so fun to do! When we all play at the same time, we can make beautiful music together!
Art, Art, and MORE ART! Our Summer Camps were so much fun!
Over the past two weeks, children at The Atelier jumped into the process of papermaking! Young artists learned that the art of papermaking, as we know it today, was first invented over 2000 years ago in China. They learned that there are a variety of materials that paper can be made from…cloth, trees, or even recycled paper. By using old scraps and discarded paper remnants to make our paper we were able to discuss the big ideas of recycling and repurposing….taking trash and making something new….something beautiful! The children began by sorting the paper scraps by color and tearing it up into workable pieces. Once the colors were sorted into separate bins, the children were able to choose the colors for their paper and blend the paper into pulp. Children then worked in pairs as they pulled their own paper all by themselves! They learned the vocabulary associated with paper making…mold and deckle, paper pulp, and how to “kiss” the pulp off the mold and back into the tub of pulp. I couldn’t be more proud of these young artists!
The older campers had opportunities to experiment with pulp painting and achieved some interesting and unique results!
After pulling their paper sheets, we strained the remaining pulp and sculpted 3-D forms with it. Children used their imaginations as they created entire worlds, which were officially termed, “blobbies”. This dramatic play went on throughout the week and promoted creative thinking and social development.
Campers learned about the artists Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Eric Carle and created unique works of art inspired by the famous artists.
I love seeing the friendships that form when children are provided with a nurturing environment where they feel safe to express themselves, create, and work together. There were wonderful collaborations among the young artists and I witnessed many friendships blossom! Even on the first day as O and B demonstrated the beauty of two artists working together to create a large easel painting…they made two so each could take one home. How lovely!
Easel painting, watercolors, oil pastel resist, sketching, sculpting with clay, wearable art, dramatic play, sensory bins, collage…..we had so much fun and so much creating over our two weeks of summer camp that I can’t even express it all in words! I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking!
Enjoy more great moments in the slideshows!
Summer Camp June 27th-July 1st
Summer Camp June 20th-24th
It's finally time for our bear hunt! We've been preparing for the past month, practicing our bear hunt song to the book "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. This week, all of the different environments in the book have been brought to life in the studio! We have long wavy grass, a deep cold river...
... thick oozy mud (actually it's "oobleck", made of cornstarch and water) ...
...a big, dark forest... (with lots of wooden items to discover)
... a swirling whirling snowstorm ... (corn starch packing peanuts on the light table, and paper snowflakes hanging from the ceiling)
... and a "narrow gloomy" cave ... (well, not really that narrow, or gloomy, ... rather nice really... but with a few bears!)
"AAAAAHHH! Quick, let's go back!"
"Whew! We're safe!"
Then, the children explored the room freely from station to station. In music class, they made swishy swashy sounds with instruments in the grasslands, played wooden Orff instruments in the forest and metal metallophones and glockenspiels in the snowstorm, and drums in the cave.
In art class, students made cave drawings, some choosing to draw their own map of the bear hunt. We also made "oobleck art" - painting on the surface of the thick cornstarch mixture kept the paint on the surface without mixing in. After the artists had swirled the colors to their liking, we made a mono print of the work with a piece of paper.
Some activities were more sensory in nature, learning about materials by manipulating them. The students discovered that the cornstarch "snow" would dissolve when put into the water! And when regular cornstarch is mixed with water, it makes MORE OOBLECK!! Playing with the strange substance was very calming and meditative for some students.
In art class, we even painted on top of the oobleck! The paint does not mix with the oobleck but sits on top. After adding and swirling paint around to their liking, we took a mono print to mark the occasion. Some really cool effects were produced through this method!
Little engineers really enjoyed building things out of wood items in our forest!
With our youngest adventurers, we had some other provocations that were more age-appropriate. Tummy time was a lot of fun with this large squishy mirror toy! Reading with mommy and daddy is always fun, too!
What a fabulous week and a great session!