Monday, February 29, 2016

Vacation Makin'

Oh, vacation, it's so hard to see you end. Now that my boys are bigger and pretty good at entertaining themselves with mud, books, and elaborate Construx projects, I have time in life again to make stuff. The first order of business on vacation was to make myself my family a giant carrot cake which  I could eat for breakfast we could share for dessert.

Note: children like to help frost messily, but the flavor is unaffected.
Having kids help you with the cake is great, because they lick their fingers so much that you immediately have to keep the cake within the family. Don't want to share a slice and share those germs, since it is a potential source of that cold we all just got over. More for me.

Just add a cup of tea.
Some of what I made this vaca was for the kids.  This felt board is similar to one I had in the 80's, and took less than an hour to make.

  I took two full sheets of felt and glued them to a cardboard backing. I used one blue and one green, but you could use any colors.

Then the kids and I just cut out shapes to work with. A big variety of shapes is key to increase creative potential, but my boys also had a couple of non-negotiables, like fuzzy little horses.

  It's great fine motor practice to cut fabric of any kind, since it is a little more challenging than paper. The material is fuzzy enough to hold itself in place and make pictures.  This activity travels well, especially in the car.

The kids and I also checked out a fun new lesson idea from Cassie Stephens. We love printmaking and do it often at home, so my toddler and I did a modified version one chilly afternoon. The hat and mittens are printed. Painted paper is used for the scarf.  This might also be the first time that my littler guy has made recognizable facial features, which is pretty exciting.

Other projects were for me. Making lotion, pouring candles, patching a quilt, covering old pillows in a new color,

The kids thought the dino was a perfect match.
Crafting a new wreath,

And painting a sign over the door to our chicken coop.

Totally useless, totally cute. Idle hands make me crazy, and the piece of wood was just sitting there.

There has even been time to begin a sketch for a new painting. My own artwork is graphite and watercolor, and generally take me just short of forever. So this vacation offered enough time to visually think through and plan in idea, and this is where my sketch is so far.

My son asked me this morning: "Mom. When will you be done with that?"
Me: "Like, the whole thing?"
My son [rolling his eyes]: "No. Like, when can we go skating today?"

Oh. Right. It's his vacation, too. Off we go enjoy the last day of it!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sewing (with Burton samples!) for our Valentine's! EES

Ta-Da! A gr.4 Valentine pillow made from Burton sample fabric.
Sometimes, when it's coming up on a vacation, and the kids are getting a wee loopy, it is a really bad idea to use materials that require a great deal of personal control.

It is the right time to find a material that, by its very properties, settles them. And, well, it's pretty hard to get wild when sewing.

Watch out!  Party animals on the loose. Via homefreys.wordpress

Sewing with kids, which I look forward to doing every year, is awesome for many reasons, not the least of which is that all the kids relax noticeably. Social interactions improve as kids help one another, and everyone is learning a life skill, because even in our our commoditized world, no one should have to throw out a shirt because it lost a button.

Rockin neon and black fabric.
The main hang ups kids have about sewing are 1. That they will hurt themselves with the needle (which will happen, no biggie), and 2. That sewing is for girls.

Dudes who sew.
Well, let me tell you that when we were done, and I asked who wanted to take a picture with their work, this was the first group who came running. They are SO. PROUD.  Everyone in the class was proud.

The Burton fabric donation!
This fall, our local snowboarding company Burton donated a bunch of awesome fabric samples to our classroom here at EES.  What I love about these fabrics, and using them for heart pillows, is that they are surprising and fun in their range of colors and textures. No plain pink and red lacy Valentines here.

Students learned a smidge of pattern-making, a basic running stitch, how to hide your seams, a whipstitch, tufting, and tying lots and lots of knots. Most importantly, how to do it "all by yoursnelf," as my toddler would say.

Running stitch
 Students in grade 4 will soon be doing a unit on colonial times, in which they will be sewing in their homerooms, so they are well prepared for that.

And frankly, I am a little bit jealous!  It's been a long time since I have had the chance to hang out with twenty friends and sew.

          Photobombed at right by the 5th graders making heart hands. (They just like to hang out in the art room all.the.time.)
Sewing pillows makes it really inviting to just, well, rest. At one point I turned around to see this.  He stayed exactly like this for at least another minute or two:

Just sayin'.
Moving on, here are some of the beauties they created.

So much pillowy love, coming your way, EES families!

With so much love to you this Valentine's Day, 
fourth graders

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kindergarten Playground Engineers- EES

 Kindergarten artists learned about the basics of designing a model for a bigger idea.

Here, students have used paper and glue to create a model of their fantasy playgrounds!  

Beyond all of the waterslides, trampolines, rollercoasters, and lava pits, students learned a few engineering basics.

Because sometimes an idea is great, but the design won’t work. Things fall over, and springs aren't always so springy.  

That means these artists have redesigned aspects of their structures to address technical problems when things are not working, or have drawn up totally new plans.

But here was the coolest part- I have never, ever before had Kinders so totally engaged with any sort of paper sculpture. The idea that they had total design freedom, and that they could create any sort of playground fantasy through their work, was totally magical for them. Look at their focused faces!

They were also totally engrossed in meaningful art talk. This is hard at any grade level, and chatter usually steers quickly towards social and friendly topics, but these engineers were all business. Conversation among one another sounded like this:

I like your trampoline. How did you make it?

Did you see my slide? It ends in a river, and you can get into a boat to go back to the stairs.

How do I make a tunnel out of paper?

My rollercoaster goes over a hot lava pit so it's extra scary and dangerous. (Kids. Always with the lava!)

Teachers commented how their students were never more excited and talkative after art about a project than with this one.  To see why, check out these finished beauties!

Jump off the trampoline to waterslide into a lake, and come back from the water via rollercoaster.
Or just try the monkey bars out!
The long green rollercoaster goes over a stream, and then goes through water part of the way (the blue section, obviously!)
Hot and cold!
Purple wiggle bridge over a hot lava pit, and a couple tricky climbers (in white) made of ice.
If you come to Art Night on this coming Wednesday, February 3, you will get to see all of these beauties in person, and you can chat with the engineers themselves.  It starts at 5:45p.m., hope to see you there!
Those loops? For death-defying bike tricks.  Of course.