For the first week of our second session, we explored the spectrum of colors, and the major musical (diatonic) scale. In the Reggio-Emilia philosophy, the children’s learning environment is considered one of the three “teachers”, (with the other two being the parents, and the instructor). Therefore, we used the studio space to awaken the visual sense by creating color stations around the room. Each station contained items such as magnifying glasses, toy bugs, scoops, pom poms, ropes, balls, and more, all matched to the color of the station.
In our art classes this week we began by exploring the color stations. Sorting items by individual colors eliminates distractions and allows children to focus on the specific color and concept. The selected items at each station were an invitation for imagination and creation. Children strengthened fine motor skills by squeezing oversized tweezers to pick up and drop pom pom balls into buckets. Color pegs and bugs were transformed into people and families on playgrounds.
This week we explored paint media, this time mixing it from a dry powder. Children were invited to mix their own paint from paint powder and water. The children were given glass dishes with a scoop of Natural Earth powder (pigmented with natural minerals!). After children investigated the paint in its powder form, they were asked what would happen if they were to add water. Armed with squirt bottles of water, our artists observed the scientific properties of the substance as it changed from a dry to a wet medium. “ooohh, it’s changing to PAINT” exclaimed C. Some artists delighted in the kinesthetic activity of squeeeeeezing the bottle and found that the paint became more like watercolor. Other children were very gentle and precise with the amount of water they added and found their paint was thicker and “goopey”. Children shared their paint colors with each other as they created their own unique paintings. While swirling blue and yellow paint onto her paper, A noticed the colors mixing and exclaimed, “GREEN!”
Our baby artists also got to explore color through our color stations and with our paint made from fruits and veggies! A sensory delight as C spread, squeezed, and smooshed the paint around the table surface.
Our beautiful homemade play dough gave way to building, manipulating, and sculpting three-dimensional color! Oceans swelled with octopi, starfish, and turtles; imaginative creatures were formed; and “soup”, “tea”, and “pizza” were served as children created upon the tabletop. Many children experimented with color mixing by smashing the play dough together. M was amazed to see that she now had orange play dough after smooshing the red and yellow dough together.
Little Artists classes were guided through a weaving project as we discussed the different materials that people can weave in making clothes, rugs, or blankets. Children were able to practice their cutting skills as they created their looms. The selected strips of paper were woven into the looms and the chant of the weaving pattern could be overheard as the children worked, “over, under, over, under, over….” It was phenomenal to see the level of concentration and focus in each child as they engaged in the calming weaving process. Each work of art was beautiful in brilliant patterned color!
Let's Create MUSIC!
This week in music class we approached the concept of notes as being “colors” in music. The human ear perceives sound waves within a range of frequencies, with lower notes having longer wavelengths, and higher pitches having shorter wavelengths. This is analogous to the way our eyes perceive color – as different frequencies of light. The red side of the visible light spectrum has longer, and the violet side shorter wavelengths. We introduced this concept using several different activities designed to enhance cognitive, physical/kinesthetic, and verbal development.
We introduced the Solfège C major scale (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do) using Kodàly hand symbols, using a visual aid to present the scale with each note represented by a color of the rainbow. Using the hand symbols helped them to connect the sounds we were making and hearing with a physical representation. Starting at the lowest “Do” note, the hand symbol of a fist is kept low, at our bellies, and then works its way up to the forehead as we go through the major scale. To present the same material a different, more kinesthetic way, we used Boomwhackers, colored tubes that are tuned to the C major scale. The students had a great time whacking the Boomwhackers all around the studio, hearing the different pitches produced.
For our provocations this week, we placed different Orff instruments around the room at our color stations. At the warm color stations (red, orange, and yellow) we placed the “warm sounding” xylophones, whereas at the cool color stations (green, blue, purple) we placed the colder metal instruments, such as metallophone, glockenspiel, tambourines and bells. Each child and caregiver could explore the instruments together, and as I circled around the room playing light background guitar music in D pentatonic, the sounds filling the room from all sides created an enchanting effect. A box of fun shaker instruments, guiros, cabasas, castanets, and wood blocks was also presented.
We read the book “Mr. Brown can Moo, Can You?” by Dr. Suess, which is a great tool for practicing different sounds with our mouths. Some children knew the book well, and proudly made the sounds in the book with great skill, while some of our younger students that have not yet experienced the book observed the other kids intently, studying every move. It was apparent how important the group dynamic is for social and cognitive development, as children look to their peers for learning the things that are meaningful to them at that stage. Conversely, older kids take ownership of and solidify their knowledge by presenting it to younger students.
Near the end of class, we invited the students back to the rug to play the big gathering drum. This session, we are planning a special “Going on a Bear Hunt” adventure, in which we will make the famous book by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury come alive in the studio at the end of the session! To prepare for this special event, we are going to be practicing the book every week around the gathering drum. We had lots of fun making the “swishy, swashy” sounds of the grass by rubbing our hands across the drum head, or the “tiptoe, tiptoe” sounds of creeping through the bear cave, by lightly tapping the drum with our fingertips. Stay tuned for future episodes of our adventure!
Enjoy the slideshow below for a closer look into our week!
This was the final week of our first eight-week session! We cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by! However, we have noticed a lot of growth in our little artists and musicians in many key areas of development. We feel so blessed to be able to share some of these moments with the families of The Atelier – first words, first steps, new friendships, and brand new ideas popping up every day; it is just so exciting! Another plus is the sense of community we feel among the parents, grandparents, nannies, and caregivers, who may be enjoying the class at least as much as the children ;)
This week, we explored the connections between art and music. Sometimes, artists are inspired by music, and sometimes musicians are inspired by art. We focused on one artist in particular, Wassily Kandinsky, because he was famous for making artwork to music – his art was a visual representation of the music. As he listened to the music, he would make black lines that were reminiscent of the sounds – to fast music, he would draw fast squiggles; to slow music, he would draw slow, meandering lines. Then he would paint the art, choosing colors that fit the mood of the piece. The children were invited to make their own artwork in the style of Kandinsky, by drawing black lines with beeswax crayons to the sounds of music, such as Chopin’s piano nocturnes, or to faster jazz pieces by the likes of Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Continuing to draw inspiration from the music children used watercolor paint pucks to add areas of color to the line drawings. Children were encouraged to think about how certain colors make them feel…, “blue makes me feel sad!” and “yellow makes me feel happy!”
Our youngest artists painted on canvases while listening to the same songs listed in the above paragraph. W enjoyed watching the paint drip onto his canvas and pool into swirling puddles of color! J enjoyed mixing his colors right on the canvas smooshing it with his hands and experiencing the tactile properties of the paint.
Last week, our artists explored clay, and those students who made creations were invited to add paint. Children enjoyed bringing their rocket ships, nests, birds, eggs, fruit, bowls, forests, or satellites to life with touches of color!
In Let’s Create Music Together, at the beginning of class we invited the children to play freely on a grouping of Orff instruments – xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels. As this was the last class of the 8-week session, many of the older students (3-5 year olds) are well accustomed to this routine, and it shows in the eagerness and agility in which they play the instruments! I was very impressed with the improvements made by all students! Some kept time with a simple “bordun” pattern (a steady rhythm of quarter notes) using the large “pumpkin” mallet.
Our “shaker art” activity was a hit! We provided the beans, paint, paper, and paint cans, and the students provided the energy! First, they were invited to scoop some beans into a glass bowl, and pick a paint color: red, yellow, or blue. We squirted some paint onto the beans, and the kids mixed them up and then scooped them into the paint can lined with paper. After sealing the lid, and putting on some music, we all got up and danced! Shake, shake, shake, UP HIGH, down low, to the side… Then, when we opened the cans we could see where the painted beans had been! Adding a second primary color to the mix had an interesting result “It’s turning green! It’s turning purple!” the students observed while mixing in their second, and sometimes third colors. Because each child chose the amounts of beans and paint colors, this led to some very interesting results. Each work of art was so different! Some even decided to frame their art!
Another provocation was designed to be part sensory exploration of light, and partly an investigation of the artwork of Kandinsky. We projected still images of Kandinsky’s art onto a white wall, and invited children to make shadows with their hands, bodies, and various tools such as whisks, magnifying glasses, colored see-thru boxes, silk scarves, and more! We also watched “The Kandinsky Effect” a short video by Manu Meyre Peinture depicting an animated version of Kandinsky’s Composition VIII (1923). Many of the older children delighted in becoming part of the artwork!... dancing in the shadows, or seeing the artwork projected on their arms, shirts, and friends! Some of our younger students were not as impressed with the shadow play, but more interested in the tactile stimulation of playing with colourful pom poms up close in our sensory bin. This blending of visual, auditory, and tactile learning approaches helps to solidify the concepts presented.
At the end of music class we all gathered around the xylophones for one final jam session! Our song “Little Seed” was a hit with the kids last week, so we played it again, but this time instead of a teacher-guided Dalcroze Eurhythmics activity as we did last week, this time I played guitar and the kids played Orff instruments. It is amazing to watch the growth of our little musicians after eight short weeks of class. Now that they are comfortable with the space, and accustomed to the instruments, their musical journey is really just beginning, and sounding great already! And after eight weeks of observing, some worked up the courage to strum the guitar at the end of class! What a great session!
Enjoy the slideshow below for a closer look into our week!
Let's Create MUSIC
SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE!! This week in music class, we investigated big ideas related to nature and seeds. We started by bringing out a big gourd, and shook it, inviting the students to think about what might be inside of it. There were lots of great ideas, such as “CANDY!” “ROCKS!” “BEADS!” and… “SEEDS!” We talked about how a seed can be planted in the ground, and then it grows bigger… and bigger… and BIGGER! Sometimes it grows into a small plant, sometimes into a humongous tree!! We then sang an original Atelier song about the cycle of plant growth, from the seed, to the tree, to a flower, to a fruit, that makes another seed. This cycle is kind of like a shape that we talked about last week. A circle! After singing it one time through on the xylophone, we did the song again, this time doing dance motions representing the seed growing into a tree, making the flower, fruit, and more seeds. And then we took a bite! YUM!
To continue our investigation, the children made their own shakers with reclaimed plastic bottles to understand how shakers work! We brought out a sensory bin filled with colorful pasta for younger children, and a variety of beans, peas, and rice for the older kids. First, I shook an empty bottle and asked the students, “Can you hear anything?” which was met with a resounding “No!” Then the children were asked, “How could we make the bottle make sound?” Some kids hit the bottles on the ground, and others filled the bottles with seeds. All great ideas, and different and interesting sounds! Using measuring spoons, scoops, or just their fingers, fine and gross motor development was strengthened as they filled their bottles with seeds. As the seeds filled the bottles, plunk, plunk, kerplunk, we could hear more and more sounds from the bottles. With younger children, emptying and refilling the bottle was the most fascinating part. After sealing up the bottles with fabric tape, our instruments were ready to play!
We shook, rattled, and rolled our new shakers to the beat of some very interesting music! The fast sounds of Mozart’s “Piano Sonata #15 in C,” Thelonious Monk’s “Criss Cross,” The Sea and Cake’s “Afternoon Speaker,” or Stereolab’s “Fuses” fueled our feet and hands as we danced and shook our shakers! After that, we rested our feet for a bit while reading a book, “Tap the Magic Tree” by Christie Matheson, and playing the sounds described in the book with our shakers and the big gathering drum! This book is a great way to reinforce the idea of the cycle of plant growth in nature – from tree growth, to flowers, to fruit, to seeds, a pattern that reoccurs every season. And, the shaky and bumpy sounds described in the book were great fun to play, forming a truly interactive experience!
Finally, back at the circle rug, we invited the children and adults to play freely on our xylophones, or to dance and shake their new shakers, as we played some original Atelier songs in pentatonic scale. The pentatonic scale contains no half-steps, so no dissonant sounds are created by random note playing. Therefore, children and even non-musically inclined adults can have fun playing patterns of random notes to the structured songs presented, “Dance” and “Eight.” We can’t wait until next week, when we will expand on our idea of shaky sounds, and make some shaky art! Stay tuned!
Let's Create ART
This week we brought nature into the studio! Children were invited to paint a large branch in a collaborative effort with all the classes throughout the week. Children enjoyed mixing the colors and bringing an “artful” life to the branch. Every one squealed with excitement at the novel opportunity to paint a 3-dimensional object. As they worked they were reminded of investigations from previous weeks and encouraged to create patterns of different lines or experiment with ways to apply the paint. We are excited to hang this lovely, colorful creation within the studio for all to share!
Little Artists also called upon their new knowledge of the primary colors and color mixing. When selecting a color, children were asked to detail what two colors create the color and finally mixing it on their own. I am continually impressed by their ability to recall the primary colors and their secondary color creations!
Clay provided another enriching opportunity to create art from a material made from nature. Children were first invited to investigate the clay in the bag. Poking, squishing, and attempting to pick it up gave children a basis to make some hypotheses. “It’s squishy!”…”It’s play dough!” “It’s not play dough…it doesn’t have colors!” ….”It’s hard and soft!” “It’s really heavy!” Were just a few of the things that could be overheard in each class as children tried to figure out what was in the clear bag. Upon opening it, children were given opportunities to investigate the medium with their hands. Rolling, squishing it between their fingers, or tearing it into pieces gave them a basis to form their knowledge of the new material. After investigating with their hands, children were given wooden clay tools, craft sticks, sea shells, and twigs to poke, cut, and build with the clay. Little Artists engaged in a conversation about where the clay comes from (the earth!) and how it is similar and different to play dough. We saw many lovely creations form from the clay including rocket ships, bowls with food in them, nest with eggs, trees, and even some abstract sculptures!
The light table provided beautiful opportunities to investigate a variety of leaves, grasses, roots, and flowers (stems and petals) with light play. Magnifying glasses gave children a chance to look closer at the details of the materials and led to discussions about the “lines” of the leaves and their job of bringing the nutrients to the plants, or even the “holes” in the leaves and the bugs that created them! J enjoyed dissecting the flower to discover the many parts that make it up! A wonderful way to connect science and art!
Some artists had opportunities to explore leaf rubbings with our Crayon Rocks which introduced them to a simple form of printmaking. Beautiful collages were created of lovely texture and color.
Other artists were able to explore the ideas of transient art, or something that is temporary, as they arranged a variety of natural materials collected from outside. Flower petals, pods, acorns, leaves, and rocks became smiling faces, a house, and beautiful abstract works as the children enjoyed manipulating the interesting materials.
Finally our flower garden sensory bin was filled with beans “dirt”, bugs, fresh flowers, and flowerpots. Children enjoyed “digging” in the beans, finding the bugs, scooping, dumping, and pouring with the flowerpots, as well as planting the flowers within the pots. It was great to see imaginations come to life as the bugs fed upon the flowers or whole families of bugs worked together to build and play. I love how the sensory bin allows friendships to blossom as the children work together with the materials.
Enjoy the slideshow below for a closer look into our week!
Shapes filled our studio this week as we investigated the properties of different shapes…. circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, ovals, hexagons, octagons….oh my! Understanding shapes and numbers helps children categorize and make sense out of a chaotic world. This week in music class, we used shapes to introduce and practice concepts of counting and numbers in music. On the way into the studio, we marched, clapped and hopped while counting in rhythm to the sounds of an Atelier original song designed to help counting and audiation of the pentatonic scale, called “Five.”
At the rug, the students were invited to grab a xylophone mallet and play along with the song, the five notes of the pentatonic scale in order. We read the book “123s” by Charlie Harper, and “Five Little Monkeys” by Eileen Christfellow, but instead of speaking the books, we sang them, further emphasizing the notes of the pentatonic scale.
Introducing some simple shapes, such as triangles, squares, hexagons and octagons, we counted the sides of each shape together, but instead of using our talking voices, we used our singing voices! We sang several original Atelier songs about the shapes, such as triangles, squares, circles and octagons; “triangle, triangle, 123 sides, 123 angles, what a surprise!” or the “Octagon Stop”! Our bright little musicians picked up the songs quickly, and we joined together in a line, stomping, stopping, and clapping to the beat.
In Little Artists class, we began our discussion about shapes by connecting our previous investigation into lines. Children were given chenille straws to demonstrate how lines are used to create shapes. Children eagerly created their own shapes on the rug by piecing together the chenille straw lines.
Our young artists discovered shapes through song and dance during circle time. Finger cymbals, large wooden circles, the musical triangle, and a marching parade allowed for children to explore shapes while squealing with delight at the “ting” of the finger cymbals and laughing with each other as they marched around the rug singing “1, 2, 3, 4. A square has four sides. 1, 2, 3, 4 all the same size!”
Colorful wooden shapes gave way to identifying the name of each shape and the number of sides. As the children played with the shapes, they began to notice how shapes can fit together to make new shapes. After noticing that two squares could fit together to make a rectangle G said, “I have an idea….shapes can make shapes!” Children manipulated the shapes into new creations….a fox, a rocket ship, a flower, a fish, a bird and were invited to draw their shape sculptures onto paper with colored pencils. Children decomposed their sculptures shape by shape as they translated the whole onto paper. Older children were encouraged to draw their shapes free hand concentrating on the outline of the shape, number of sides, and number of points. Younger children moved their pencil around the edges of the wooden shape, feeling the contour of the line as they traced the shape onto paper. Throughout this provocation children called upon fine motor skills and hand eye-coordination, counting and elements of geometry while playing, discovering, and drawing!
Children chose to paint either a circle or square wooden canvas a color (sometimes colors!) of their choice. Little Artists continued by adding a square mosaic tile design to the painted wooden shape. They first sorted the tiles by color into small dishes and then began to lay out their design onto the shape. I exclaimed, “I made a pattern!” and L happily discovered, “I used 4 squares to make a bigger square!” Children were able to call upon fine motor skills and counting again as they squeezed the liquid glue onto the square tile and pressed it down with their finger counting to 10 each time as they stuck the tiles to the large shape.
Painting 3-dimensional shapes provided our youngest artists novel approaches to painting with a brush. Many children enjoyed painting the paper around their shape as well as the shape itself….often times turning the shape over in an attempt to paint “all of it!” Children enjoyed identifying their color choices and mixing the colors around to create swirls of color or an entirely new color of their own!
In Little Artists classes we continued our Eric Carle inspired provocation by revisiting his artwork within his books, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear..” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Does a Kangaroo have a Mother too?” While looking through the books, children once again noticed shapes within the animals. C pointed and happily stated, ”he used a circle, an oval, and triangles to make that bird!” Children were invited to cut shapes out of their painting experiments from last week. Children approached this in a variety of ways. Some cut and were inspired by their work. C exclaimed, “it looks like a giraffe….I’m going to make a baby giraffe too!” Other children had a plan in mind before cutting their work. V stated, “I’m going to make a bear. I need to cut a square.” Their ability to synthesize, to see part of a whole, is a higher order thinking skill that promotes cognitive development. It was outstanding to see what our Little Artists were capable of!
Clear contact paper taped to easels provided a surface for our youngest artists to create a work of art from their own paint experiments from last week. Pre-cut shapes were laid out on the tables inviting children to identify the names of the shapes as they chose where to place them within the sticky frame. Some children experimented with where the shapes would stick and where they would not as they navigated their materials and the concept of sticky. As N concentrated on placing the shapes onto the sticky surface, he picked up a circle and exclaimed, “circle!”, identifying and saying the word “circle” for the first time! What a special moment!
Enjoy the slideshow below for a closer look into our week!