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!