Update February 2015

I’m making this! I don’t know what it is, I’m just getting creative! – Maral

Personal narrative thread:

What shapes do I notice in my face when I zoom in?

What makes my face unique to me?


Multiple classes this month were working with the idea of personal narratives. The writing was focused on zooming into a small story moment in their lives. We took that idea of “zooming in” to the materials to find ways to capture our portraits.

In Irene’s class this was done first with loose parts collage. The students used mirrors to find the shapes in their faces and used the recycled material collections to express the shapes they had found. These materials are impermanent and allow for them to try things out without committing fully to a line or shape. This was a new material for these students (and for me to work with a full class). It was really exciting to see them connect with such simple materials organized in an intfebupdate11eresting way. I love that with loose parts collage any collection can be a material (soda can tabs, corks, stones, rubber bands).

This led us to black line drawing of portraits with mirrors so that we could really zoom in and notice. This as an idea is often so overwhelming, but when broken up into parts it can feel more manageable. These students did very well with the faces broken down into shapes. They had had a lot of lead up to this idea with the other materials, even doing a self portrait in their technology class.



In Melody’s room we connected the idea of character traits to oil pastel colors. The idea of color representing an abstract idea was something we had already explored by adding colors to music moods.

For their portraits, instead of freehand drawing, we zoomed in to look closely at photos of our faces. We used printed photographs to find all the shapes and lines with backline and recognize the contours. I was surprised that having photos of their faces became a huge source of anxiety for these students. Many of them were frustrated with how they looked and how their peers reacted to their photos. I wonder in the future if they were the ones to take the photos of themselves if that would curb the frustration with their pictures. This was also a good reminder for me that best practices for one group on students are not going to be best practices for all students. Regardless, we powered through the frustration and the students seemed a lot more comfortable with the abstracted drawings of their faces.

What connections wake up when we invent new colors?

With all of the elementary groups used color mixing to find the connections and stories behind the colors. I asked the students to name their newly invented colors after connections. I love doing this with children because the results vary so much with each different group. I was pleased that in each of the three classes, at least one student referred back to one of their invented colors the following week as if it was now a real color (I think you could use “blazing lightning” for that!):


What color describes me?

In some of the classes, this color mixing and inventing of new colors lead them to think about colors that described themselves.


Green makes you feel happy. I’m in a green zone. –Hanifa
Red is my color, red makes me feel happy, it’s my favorite color –Isaac

Light blue makes me feel good and calm. –Victor

Red because it matches with my angry. Red is my favorite color. -Jacy



Isabella: I remember one time that I went to the beach. I chose blue because it reminds me of the water. I don’t know what color to do for the hair though.

Arika: You could do yellow like the sand! Isabella: Yeah, a sandy yellow!febupdate


I am thinking of playing with my baby sister. I am thinking of pink. I am thinking that because playing with her makes me happy – A’Shirah



K: Can you tell me about your
color connection? What made you choose this gray color? Eze: TRAINS!
I was playing with my cousin Elijah upstairs in my room. Here’s how it works., I have a Michaelangelo and a regular speedy one. I got batteries from my mom and it has a light on it. The best train is a gray one.


Trying out something new:

Loose parts collage exploration: Irene, Abby and Crystal have all tried loose parts as a new material in the last few weeks. It is a foreign material to the students as well and has been interesting to see how they react to not gluing things down. This is a material I am hoping to explore further with groups as the year progresses

I shared the book Beautiful Stuff (about collecting, sorting, and creating with recycled materials) with Abby and would recommend it to anyone looking for inexpensive interesting materials in their space.

Affordances of Clay: Abby’s class worked together to explore the question: What can my hands do with clay?

  My hands are making it tall like a giraffe’s neck

  Making it flat

  Putting it down and rolling it up

  Doing a karate chop

 Make really little things

 Pull it out and then pinch it

 Roll a giant ball

 Hold it way up in the air


Generally when I introduce clay to a classroom I will introduce a couple shapes so that we can have a common vocabulary. We had already done that with this room as a base, but the students construct so many more ideas than I would ever have been able to show them. They are hoping to use these student’s words and images of the students working to create a teaching poster for their classroom space.

Partner painting:

Abby’s group also did some exploration on what it feels like to paint with a partner. We challenged the students to work with someone new sharing a large paper between the two of them. I was curious to see how the students would work together. We noticed some pairs jumped right in to planning together and painting together while others stayed to their own corners of the paper.

Kristi- I noticed that you two are working on the same shapes but on your own sides of the paper, can you tell me how you decided what to work on?
Janae- We tried to make the same thing. This is a tree, this is Elsa…

Rio- Her idea was a tree
Janae- Her idea was a flower
Kristi- It sounds like you had different ideas. Rio-oops I painted over here!
Janae- That’s okay!

Janae-I said do you want to draw a tree and I said how about we draw the same thing, right Rio? Rio- Yeah, and it worked ’cause we’re friends

Wire and foil exploration: Abby and Irene’s most recent material exploration was wire. I was originally hesitant to bring in wire because I wasn’t sure how the students would react to the sharp objects and the fact that it is quite difficult to manipulate. What a wonderful surprise! Both groups jumped right in and were using problem solving skills to change and fix what they were doing. The open ended exploration of a new material was really exciting to see.

Aubrey was also a great example problem-solving. She started by trying to make a basket the foil cup and a piece of wire. She immediately got out
crayons test it out. It was very tipsy and the crayons fell out very
easily. She stuck with this same problem about 20 minutes settling on using three baskets instead of one so that her basket did not tip over In the Kindergarten, the big problem solving came when one of the students asked me for some glue to put the pieces together. I let her know that today we would not be using glue and then encouraged the rest of the group to explore ways to connect their wire using only what they had.


I made a hook to put it together -Ajem

Also, you can twist with your hands. You just have to be a little bit careful. – King

I took some of this and this and this I poked through and I wrapped it around. -Jenelle

Hybrid creature study:

febupdate7 Our sixth graders are deep in their Lightening Thief story and have been discussing hybrid animals as prominent figures in mythology.

They have been spending time creating their own versions of hybrid mythological creatures out of clay and focusing on zooming into patterns and details in their creatures. They will potentially be taking this idea into poetry work in the near future.