The Snowman Poetry Project

d825a1fb3739

Previously, I blogged about our Snowman Poetry Project using playdough snowman creations as the basis for our creative writing. You can read about it here: https://thecuriouskindergarten.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/playdough-snowmen-inspiring-young-poets/

Well, last year we took this project to a whole new level by using the Chatterpix App to present our written works. The children absolutely LOVED recording their poems using the app and making their playdough snowmen come to life!

As before, we started by having each student make their own snowman out of playdough and loose parts. Each creation was photographed for the project. I saved them digitally and also printed a hard copy of each picture for the children to use when writing their snowman poems.

8f2952c9e8e1

Prior to writing our own poems, we spent some time examining poetry together. Since the children were going to be writing about snowmen, I chose a poem about making a snowman called “Snowballs.” This is a rebus rhyme, which I like because it shows the children how a picture can be used in place of a word (something many children did when they wrote their own poems – e.g., drawing a scarf instead of writing “scarf”). It also uses a counting pattern which many children were inspired by. The poem ends with the word “Snowballs!” which we emphasized is a nice way to finish a poem in an exciting way.

DSC06918

Poem by Vera Trembach from Rebus Chants Volume 1: For All Seasons 

After writing their poems, the children uploaded the pictures of their snowman creations into Chatterpix and then read their poems aloud. You can see from the videos below that the results were pretty fantastic! The children were extremely proud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things I like about the Chatterpix app is that it motivates even the shyest students to share their work. It is a “low risk” way of sharing, because the children can record their work until they get it the way they want (we usually go to a quiet place to record) and we share the video on the whiteboard so the children don’t have to stand in front of the class if they don’t want to.

Have you been using Chatterpix with your class? What other apps do you find useful and engaging?

 

In the Art Studio: Plasticine Art Inspired by Barbara Reid

IMG_1838

This month we have been inspired by renowned Canadian author and illustrator Barbara Reid. Barbara Reid has worked on some of my class’s favourite read-alouds: Picture a Tree, Perfect Snow, and Subway Mouse. When reading, we often discuss how an artist may have created their illustrations. My students were very interested in how Barbara was able to achieve such realistic and detailed pictures using Plasticine.

Lucky for us, Barbara Reid has created a series of tutorial videos which you can find on YouTube (links below). In her videos, Barbara talks about how she goes about creating her artworks: from the planning stage (researching, sketching a picture), to creating a background, to adding fine details and textures to her work.

Video: Making Plasticine Pictures with Barbara Reid Part 1

Video: Making Plasticine Pictures with Barbara Reid Part 2

Video: Making Plasticine Pictures with Barbara Reid Part 3

For this project, I cut our Plasticine into very small pieces so it would be easy for the children to manipulate (and because a little goes a long way!). I arranged the pieces in small containers by colour. I also included some of Barbara Reid’s books and a non-fiction book about Barbara Reid herself. We also had dry cloths for wiping our hands (as Barbara suggested) and some tools for adding texture. For the planning process, the children had pieces of cardstock and pencils for sketching. We made our Plasticine pictures on small canvas boards I found at the dollar store. The children were extremely excited to do their work with “real artist materials.” For me, it is very important to give the children beautiful and authentic art materials to use and work with. Their art is more than deserving of quality materials and in my experience, they seem to take their art more seriously when they perceive materials to be “special.”  For this project, the strength of the canvas boards was an added advantage, as it made it easier for the children to spread the Plasticine.

IMG_1813

During the planning process, I really didn’t meddle too much in what the children were sketching or wanting to create, thinking the children would figure out on their own what was going to work and what wasn’t. For example, the first group of children who visited the studio realized that creating people with Plasticine was a big challenge, and advised their classmates accordingly during reflection time. Spreading the Plasticine was also a challenge for some (and a great fine motor muscle workout!). Some children took a few sessions to complete their backgrounds, pausing and coming back later to give their fingers a rest. Other children wanted to persevere and complete their backgrounds so they could get to adding their flowers or bugs or animals. If you’re wondering how long it took the children to complete their pictures, it varied between one session (about half an hour) to a few days, depending on each child.

IMG_1809

Y.A.: “I want to make a picture of a cat.” 

IMG_1871

A.J. spreads the Plasticine to make a sky. “I’m mixing the colours. A little bit of dark blue and a little bit of light blue.”

IMG_1835

Y.A.: “I’m making my grass like Barbara Reid. I’m rolling snakes and making them flat like grass. I’m doing a pattern: light green, dark green, light green, dark green…”

IMG_1842

R.A.: “I’m making a little mousey like Barbara Reid. It’s just like The Subway Mouse.”

Here are some of the children’s completed art works. I have them displayed on a low chalkboard ledge in our classroom and the children can often be found admiring them!

IMG_1894

S.C. “I made a rainbow and a little girl is camping in the tent.”

IMG_1932

IMG_1846

IMG_1897

IMG_1853

Honestly, the children were SO proud of their completed art works. They loved showing them off during reflection time and talking about the process they used to make them. During one reflection session, we started talking about how Barbara Reid gets her Plasticine pictures in the pages of her books. One student remembered that Barbara’s husband photographs her art for her so the pictures can be used as illustrations. One student suggested that we take photographs of our work and use the pictures to make a book by writing our own stories. I loved that the children were inspired to create their own stories, so we set up a story-writing invitation.

At the writing table, I gave the children some mini easels to place their art on. I put out plain paper and some black pens. The children could choose to write about their own work or a classmate’s work that inspired them. This proved to be a popular invitation! Some children returned each day to write a new story! We loved listening to each other’s stories during reflection time – some children’s stories were so popular, the class asked them to read it aloud more than once.

IMG_2043

IMG_2045 - Copy

 

IMG_2095 - Copy

E.H. “Once there was a little ladybug. She wanted to rest on a flower. The red flower was wet but the purple flower was just right. The End.”

IMG_2077 - Copy

“I went out on a stormy day.”

We are still in the midst of our story writing. I was interested to see the emergence of a narrative voice in the children’s work and am curious about exploring this further with the class. Stay tuned!

Writing With Worms

Image

A few weeks ago I posted about some of our discoveries in the outdoor classroom. One of the things that most captured the children’s attention at that time was a collection of worms. What was interesting was that the worms were wiggling and jiggling all over the place and as they did, the children began to comment on shapes and letters that they noticed:

“That worm looks like an e!” Image

“No, it’s a J!”

“Now it’s making a p!”

“The worms are making letters!”

With my camera handy, I was able to snap a few pictures of the worms in “letter formation” and our worm collecting group shared them with the class during sharing time. We talked about rotating the images to see new shapes and letters. The children wondered if the worms were trying to tell us something. This gave me an idea: writing with worms! I gathered up some pipe cleaners, printed out our worm pictures and created a provocation at the writing table: What letters can you make with worms? I even added some googly eyes to the pipe cleaners for a bit of whimsy (despite the fact that worms don’t actually have eyes…). I also placed some clipboards and writing paper, markers, and an alphabet chart at the table. Soon the centre was busy with children manipulating the “worms” into different letters and writing them down.

Image

Take a look at some examples of what the students created:

Image

Can you think of some ways to extend this provocation further? What other opportunities do you see for learning?

Books that Inspire Young Authors

Image

Every once in a while I come across a book that is so delightfully magical I simply cannot wait to share it with my students. This week I have not one, but TWO such delightful books, based on similar ideas. The first is Press Here by Herve Tullet and the second is Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. As read-alouds, both books offer opportunities for student participation and are excellent resources for making predictions. In Press Here, the author commands the reader to tap on a single yellow dot in the middle of the page. When the page is turned…voila! A second yellow dot has appeared! The book continues in this vein, asking the reader to clap, blow, tip the book this way and that, until it ends where it started with one yellow dot. The first time I read this book was before lunch, and as the children lined up in the hall I head them exclaiming “You could write clap five times and draw five dots!” and “Yeah! And you can tap all the yellow dots and then make them blue!” They were writing their very own versions of the story! What an inspiring book for my young authors!

Tap the Magic Tree is essentially the same, except with an additional conceptual focus on the changes that occur across the seasons in one apple tree. This story tied in nicely to our Maple Tree Inquiry and discussions that have already been occurring about the fall changes in our community. Since the children were already thinking of ways to create their own versions of this story we set up a provocation at our classroom writing centre this week. What a busy centre this has been! Along with a copy of the book, our provocation included writing materials, newsprint for book pages, construction paper for a book cover, and a stapler. Several versions of Tap the Magic Tree have since appeared in our classroom and the children have been keen to have their classmates’ versions read to them during sharing time. What a wonderful opportunity this has been to create excitement around reading and writing in our classroom!

Image              Image

Do you have a book to recommend that helped inspire your young authors? I am always looking for the next great read-aloud!

A new year, a new classroom!

Our classroom Art Studio - the hub of our classroom.

Our classroom Art Studio – the hub of our classroom.

Currently stocked with beach related natural materials from my summer adventures. A lot of students have been inspired to share their own summer beach experiences while visiting this centre.

The Science and Nature Centre. Currently stocked with beach related natural materials from my summer adventures. A lot of students have been inspired to share their own summer beach experiences while visiting this centre.

Where our students try their hand at playing teacher. Also a cozy spot to curl up with a book.

The Teacher Centre. Where our students try their hand at playing teacher. Also a cozy spot to curl up with a book.

A magical place to creatively experiment with water.

Buddha Boards! A magical place to creatively experiment with water.

Math Centre

Math materials have been chosen purposely to encourage counting and sorting.

Math materials have been chosen purposely to encourage counting and sorting.

Natural materials appear in the math centre too. The numbered blocks are coasters I found at Winners!

Natural materials appear in the math centre too. The numbered blocks are coasters I found at Winners!

Labeled bins contain building materials for our Math Science Investigations building program.

Math Centre. Labeled bins contain building materials for our Math Science Investigations building program.

An important centre at the beginning of the year. The familiar homey objects here often create a cozy atmosphere in the classroom.

The Drama/House Centre. An important centre at the beginning of the year. The familiar homey objects here help to create a cozy atmosphere in the classroom.

House Centre

We chose to put out familiar sand tools and continue our extension of summer experiences with sand castle molds. All the materials are placed on a mat so children know where to put them when they are finished.

The Sand Centre. We chose to put out familiar sand tools and continue our extension of summer experiences with sand castle molds. All the materials are placed on a mat so children know where to put them when they are finished.

I opted for a large variety of materials here - scoops, cups of various shapes and sizes, squirters and pumps as well as whimsical objects like boats and rubber duckies.

The Water Centre. I opted for a large variety of materials here – scoops, cups of various shapes and sizes, squirters and pumps as well as whimsical objects like boats and rubber duckies.

Playdough Centre

Big Blocks

Small Building Centre

Writing Centre

Meeting Area

Teacher Area

No More Teacher Desk!

*Update: I get a lot of requests for wide-angle shots of my classroom which show what it looks like mid-year (after the children’s learning has taken over!). Here are a few pictures from the middle of the year so you can get a feel for the actual set up and space in our room:

DSC03265 DSC03263 DSC03264