It’s Been a Long Slog, but a Rainbow’s in View!

I often think about my blog. It seems like a lifetime ago that it was something I really enjoyed working on. It’s sad that it’s been months since I’ve posted anything. It’s even been months since I checked my site visit statistics. I was actually surprised when I checked this evening that I had had anyone viewing my blog, as I haven’t had any new posts since last year.

My new job this year has really zapped my energy level.  Not only have I been learning how to take care of everything that’s required in regards to state licensing and supervising employees, but I have some really challenging student behaviors to contend with, not to mention developing a whole new curriculum. I haven’t read a Teacher Tom post  or the Teaching for Artistic Behavior list serv (my two favorite things on the web) since Christmas. I’ve just been swamped and overwhelmed.

Between working a lot,  trying to keep my ravenous teenage sons fed, and keeping my house in a nominal state of order I just have not had the time to write, or the energy to share much. Then a few weeks ago I lost my camera, so I have no photos either! It’s a bummer because it was a nice camera, and the memory card had some great photos on it! Sadly there will be no photos with this post!

In any event, today was a really great day, and this week overall has been pretty good! It’s Friday evening and I’m not so wiped out that  all I can do is order a pizza and watch a movie before I collapse into bed!

One of my most difficult students left our program for another program. Monday was his last day. Monday one of my assistants called in sick, and we had to do some scrambling to find a substitute, which also added to a bit of the craziness. Señor Difficult knew he was leaving and had even less incentive than usual to do his best. Monday was an exhausting day. It was a sad day too. Despite the challenges he presented, I really liked Señor Difficult. Today we got a new student and he is a good listener, follows directions, and is very cheerful and smiley! Hallelujah!

Fridays are our art studio days, and my personal mantra is Friday Fun Day! All of my demos since January have related to sculpture. One of the things that students in past years have really loved is creating things from boxes. This year’s class has mostly ignored my box full of cardboard tubes and  boxes. Today I read the book Not A Box by Antoinette Portis which is about a bunny that has all kinds of imaginative ideas about what the box really is. When the kids got to the art studio almost all of them headed for the 3-d construction center to grab a box. They made some wonderful homes for their stuffed animals, Lego men, and dolls. One boy made a ferry boat. One girl made a castle. It was also the first time this year I’ve gotten out the glue gun. I’ve wanted the kids to use other kinds of attachments, because the glue gun though a quick easy way to attach things, is not really very permanent, long lasting glue.

This year my afternoon class which is larger and has the most challenging students, has had to help me not only put away things like scissors and glue, but get all supplies back on shelves, wash the tables, and sweep the floor as the art studio is not our exclusive space and we have to prepare it for the next group. And remember these are five and six year olds that are having to help me do this. It’s been a really challenging part of art studio day. Instead of taking the 15 minutes it’s supposed to, it’s taken  half an hour, and we’ve rarely had time to share what the kids have created. The sad part about that is that the gallery walk and sharing is one of the main things that inspires the student artists to come up with new ideas. The sharing opens up the doors to new possibilities and ways to use materials as students inspire each other. Today the kids zipped through the clean up and we had time for a gallery walk and sharing in the morning and the afternoon. I was so happy! The main reason I think we were able to zip through the clean up was because Señor Difficult was not there. It gives me a lot of optimism for Art Studio Fridays to come!

I hope I find my camera!  I hope the rest of the year is as great as today was! I’m optimistic, and hope to have at least a monthly posting until school is out for the summer!

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Tomorrow is Friday!

This painting was created with a q tip rather than a paint brush.  I found students actually seem to have better control of the paint media with a q tip than with paint brushes.

This painting was created with a q tip rather than a paint brush. I found students actually seem to have better control of the paint media with a q tip than with paint brushes.

My life as a kindergarten enrichment teacher still is a bit of a rollercoaster. Some days are joyous and filled with wonder, hugs, and the magic of childhood. Thankfully most days are good!

This colorful bridge was quite a bone of contention as the builder did not want other children to drive their trains on his bridge. Thankfully.....there were other roads and bridges for children to use!

This colorful bridge was quite a bone of contention as the builder did not want other children to drive their trains on his bridge. Thankfully…..there were other roads and bridges for children to use!

Some days are grueling filled with five year old drama kings and queens, bandaids, administrative work, and skeptical coworkers.  (One of my assistants has a habit of grumbling about my hands on and up to your elbows in paint messy open ended activities I have on offer. She’s not quite convinced that a constructivist approach that supports student creativity is the ticket. But she suffers nobly for my cause! None of us is perfect, and though she grumbles she also does some great work with the children.)  I still haven’t found a work-life balance with this job. Too many hours working, and not enough family and relaxation time.

Sand volcanos erupting when vinegar is poured on baking soda in the crater. Lots of sand on floor, but highly worth the clean up time as kids oohs and ahhs proved!

Sand volcanos erupting when vinegar is poured on baking soda in the crater. Lots of sand on floor, but highly worth the clean up time as kids oohs and ahhs proved!

I have to admit that Thanksgiving break was absolutely necessary to my sanity. It was something to be able to sleep in four days in a row! I cooked up a feast on Thanksgiving and enjoyed leftovers with my family all weekend.  We played board games, went to see a movie, and I read a novel. Boy did I feel indulged and revved up to get back to work this week!

These plastic interlocking blocks have been a huge favorite this year with the boys. Generally they are creating spaceships, blasters, and bombs. This robot warrior is probably the most complex creation so far this year. Suddenly about an hour after it was put up in the window for safekeeping it toppled over which was a surprise the children liked. Even the maker was a good sport about it and laughed.

These plastic interlocking blocks have been a huge favorite this year with the boys. Generally they are creating spaceships, blasters, and bombs. This robot warrior is probably the most complex creation so far this year. Suddenly about an hour after it was put up in the window for safekeeping it toppled over which was a surprise the children liked. Even the maker was a good sport about it and laughed.

Pinterest has been my greatest teaching aid this year. I can search a topic like hedgehogs and get all kinds of ideas and resources to share with my students. I  make new boards each week to organize my curriculum ideas and themes. I can turn my ipad over to my assistant and say, “Use the cloud board to find the video I selected on types of clouds, and show photos of the different types of clouds.” This week was M week and one day I read the Steven Kellogg book, “How Much is a Million”.  The next day I was able to show a wonderful video I pinned from  You Tube of James Earl Jones reading one of my favorite books Millions of Cats (by Wanda G’ag).

A week ago I made this white, glittery playdough.  It was the first time this year I made unscented playdough. The kids were just really tough on me because it didn't have an exotic scent. This week we had green peppermint scented playdough which was student approved!

A week ago I made this white, glittery playdough. It was the first time this year I made unscented playdough. The kids were just really tough on me because it didn’t have an exotic scent. This week we had green peppermint scented playdough which was student approved!

I still sit on the fence about whether I should continue in this position next year or go back to my homeschool groups. Part of me reminisces so fondly about those students and the classes I taught, and part of me is really enjoying the depth of the relationships I’m developing with my students because I’m with them five days a week. I think that next year will be so much easier and hopefully less time consuming, because of all the ground work I’m laying this year. The paycheck is a major carrot, but I often wistfully think about the block collection I left behind, the small classes with almost perfectly behaved children, and the time I had to create some of my own art.

We had tried basic paper weaving.  Then I showed the students how paper weaving could be used in non-traditional shapes and ways. I was thrilled when this student created a paper woven bird!

We had tried basic paper weaving. Then I showed the students how paper weaving could be used in non-traditional shapes and ways. I was thrilled when this student created a paper woven bird!

I think the highlight of this first week of December was yesterday when one of my students that often seems inattentive to the lessons I present was playing with some yarn pom poms. I had put out the pom poms for a craft activity and she was enjoying sorting them by color and pairing them up. She said, ” Look teacher, this white one doesn’t have a buddy.” This absolutely thrilled me, because several weeks ago I introduced the concept of odd and even numbers by putting on my own drama queen moment with some plastic bear math manipulatives.  I made the bears cry when there was an odd amount and a bear was left without a buddy. ( When I asked my assistant to use the same approach in the afternoon she wasn’t thrilled. My assistant really pooh poohed my lesson saying, “Oh they can’t possibly understand that.” I had to grit my teeth, but I also realize she has her own way of presenting information which suits her style and personality.) I wasn’t happy because I could secretly gloat about my assistant’s comment (well maybe not entirely true!), but because my approach had connected with the children. A parent was dropping off his daughter and I shared with him the “odd/even” pom pom moment. He confirmed that his daughter is also making connections and discussing what she’s doing in the kindergarten enrichment program on a regular basis at home.

I wish I could show you the photos of the students digging in tubs of dirt and absolutely loving holding the earthworms they found there as part of one of our science activities. thankfully the worms aren't as picky about internet privacy so you can see them!

I wish I could show you the photos of the students digging in tubs of dirt and absolutely loving holding the earthworms they found there as part of one of our science activities. Thankfully the worms aren’t as picky about internet privacy so you can see them!

Each day I think about supplies and equipment I’d love to acquire for my class. Most of the time I’m too busy setting up hands-on activities or putting materials away to sit down at the computer and order them. When I’m not at work  I’m at home cooking playdough, searching my bookshelves for that certain book I want to read to the children, gathering materials I need from my garage which is my teaching supply warehouse, or looking at Pinterest.

I brought some tumbled glass back from the Washington Art Ed Assoc. convention and today the children really enjoyed creating mosaic trivets which they'll be giving as gifts for the holidays.

I brought some tumbled glass back from the Washington Art Ed Assoc. convention and today the children really enjoyed creating mosaic trivets which they’ll be giving as gifts for the holidays.

Tomorrow is Friday which is our art studio day and I’m glad to have made it through another week!

A collage for Grandma created two Fridays ago in the art studio.

A collage for Grandma created two Fridays ago in the art studio.

Posted in early childhood art education, reflections on teaching and learning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Photography: “Time is a Dimension…”

I really enjoyed these photos and thought I’d share them!

Katerina'sGift

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Photographer: Fong Qi Wei

source: a-pistefto.blogspot.gr

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beware of the Chompers!

I’m finally starting to have fun on my job!  Here’s what we’ve been up to this week!

We made fresh peanut butter with my Champion juicer and then made peanut butter playdough so we could create hedgehogs and other critters.

We made fresh peanut butter with my Champion juicer and then made peanut butter playdough so we could create hedgehogs and other critters.

This hedgehog's got a mohawk!

This hedgehog’s got a mohawk!

Paper plates turned out to be quite an inspiration for my young artists!

One of my quiet student's has really shown a flair for painting and drawing in the last few weeks!

One of my quiet student’s has really shown a flair for painting and drawing in the last few weeks! I just love how the little bit of orange in this drawing has so much impact against the blues and greens!

Two girls were proud to tell me they were creating a picture together. I was excited to tell them, “It’s wonderful to see you collaborating!
P1080952 I like how the children combined two types of building materials and the stuffed animals in this creation. I imagine the animals were vying for who would be king of the hill!

P1080954 This week our special letter was H. I saw a simple craft to create a house on Pinterest. I love how my students made such a variety of houses!

L. had so much fun narrating the story about his haunted house. He kept adding more and more monsters and creatures and the story became quite detailed. I wrote down his story and tried to get everyone else's down too. They can talk so much faster than I can write!

L. had so much fun narrating the story about his haunted house. He kept adding more and more monsters and creatures and the story became quite detailed. I wrote down his story and tried to get everyone else’s down too. They can talk so much faster than I can write!

Love the textures and feeling of movement in this piece by R.

Love the textures and feeling of movement in this piece by R.

P1080967 Katelynn's house

Love how the glue looks like snow in this collage! I also love the fact that she cut it out and didn’t have a rectangular picture like everyone else.

.... came but dad slept in the closet.     Pretty amazing story for a five year old!  Love how she included three dimensional pieces in her creation. Those are the chompers and you better watch out, because they might chomp on you!

…. came but dad slept in the closet.
Pretty amazing story for a five year old! Love how she included three dimensional pieces in her creation. Those are the chompers and you better watch out, because they might chomp on you!

Happy Halloween!

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Whack-a-Mole

It's always darkest before the dawn! (N is for Night and recently the students created night paintings when we were learning about nocturnal animals.)

It’s always darkest before the dawn! (N is for Night and recently the students created night paintings when we were learning about nocturnal animals.)

I’ve had an incredibly difficult start to the school year. In fact it’s been a real nightmare! Thankfully things finally seem to be gelling and coming together in a positive way! My morning class has been ok, but my afternoon class has had me pulling my hair.

Last Friday several boys were playing with the plastic animals in the block area. My instinct was to redirect them to using blocks to build something for the animals, but I restrained myself.  After about 15 minutes they got the idea to build a zoo all on their own.  I was happy I didn't interfere!

Last Friday several boys were playing with the plastic animals in the block area. My instinct was to redirect them to using blocks to build something for the animals, but I restrained myself. After about 15 minutes they got the idea to build a zoo all on their own. I was happy I didn’t interfere!

I started a new job as a kindergarten enrichment teacher this fall in a program I formerly was only responsible for art enrichment one day a week. That means that not only do I teach art, but I teach the entire curriculum from literacy, to math and science, to Spanish. (I try to approach it all from an arts perspective, because I strongly believe visual arts, music, movement, and drama really are fundamental ways that we learn and retain information.) I was hired last minute, and I had to hire two assistants even more last minute(!) from a very sparse pool of applicants.  However, the worst thing has been that I have a very unfortunate mix of children that are “like chalk and cheese” to borrow a phrase from my new favorite TV show (Doc Martin: which I’ve absolutely needed to watch every Friday night to decompress).  I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole in terms of behavior issues the entire first month. I’d get one situation in hand and suddenly have two or three more pop up, and even with help from assistants we were barely treading water.  As my supervisor put it quite aptly, “Your students are positively feral!” After a month, two children that provoked the majority of behavioral issues left the program which was a huge help. I still had my work cut out for me to shape up the rest of the “major players”, but finally that really seems to be happening! Most of my students are actually super sweet, cooperative, and wonderful, but the difficult ones seem to make the great kids invisible, primarily because they create so much stress and drama. I have been so exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally, and it finally feels as if my life is getting back to normal and my energy and my smile are back!

A student found a witch hat someone  left in the art room and was inspired to play with a Wizard of Oz theme and he drew this witch.

A student found a witch hat someone left in the art room and was inspired to play Wizard of Oz with a couple of other students and then he drew this witch.

When I got this job I was really happy because instead of coordinating several part time jobs I’d have one full time job in one location. I was also happy because I’d finally be making a living wage after quite a few years struggling and piecing together part time jobs. Soon I found myself thinking, “How am I going to make it to the end of the school year, I barely have the wherewithal to make it to the weekend!” I wanted to quit. The work I’d had the past few years as an art educator (which I’ve shared with you in this blog) had been demanding, and time consuming, but it was energizing and most importantly fun! All I could think of was that I had given up something that had really made me happy. I wanted to go back to my homeschool students. I wanted to be teaching art exclusively instead of being responsible for the whole curriculum. I felt guilty knowing that having a new teacher would be another upheaval and set back for this group. Then I began to realize my supervisor was considering firing me. She never came out and said it, but I sensed it. I realized I didn’t even care if I got fired. In fact it would have been a relief, and I kind of wish she had! Now that things are finally going well, I know I’ll make it through the school year. There will probably always be challenging moments or the occasional difficult day, just as there always are no matter how great your job is, but as long as things are mostly hunky dory I know I can muster up what’s required.

My students always love painting with metallic watercolors. This student create a cast for her arm with her metallic watercolor painting.

My students always love painting with metallic watercolors. This student create a cast for her arm with her metallic watercolor painting.

I’m still feeling as if I’m barely treading water in terms of all of the requirements of my job, but that’s definitely par for the course with a new job. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but today was the first time I got home from work early and had the time to write it!

P1080620

Students and I made sand dough. One of the students used the empty sand dough container to create this very “loose parts a la Reggio” creation.

Despite all of the challenges I do have some photos to share! There have been some activities that students have enjoyed and had fun getting creative!

Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy students created art with leaves and rocks today, which was the first sunny day we've had after a very foggy week.

Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy students created art with leaves and rocks today, which was the first sunny day we’ve had after a very foggy week.

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

10 Awesome Kindergartens in the World!

These schools are beautiful spaces for children. From experience I know that even humble learning spaces can be very lively places that children’s imaginations can soar in. Hopefully schools like these can inspire more municipalities to embrace fanciful as well as functional aspects in their building designs!

Katerina'sGift

Crèche de la Girafe – Paris, France

1

Educational Centre – Granada, Spain

2

Fuji Kindergarten – Tokyo, Japan

3

Fagerborg Kindergarten – Oslo, Norway

4

Sarreguemines Nursery – Lorraine, France

5

Els Colours – Barcelona, ​​Spain

6

Aadharshila Vatika – New Delhi, India

7

Wolfartsweier Kindergarten – Karlsruhe, Germany

8

Loop Kindergarten – Tianjin, China

9

Ecole Maternelle Pajol – Paris, France

10

source: perierga.gr

View original post

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Versatile Blogger Award Nominations

versatile-blogger-award

It’s been a busy start to the school year. I am now teaching a kindergarten enrichment program full time, which means I have a morning group and an afternoon group. The program offers children the opportunity for extended learning experiences beyond the regular school day which is two hours and forty minutes long. Being that I have a passion for the arts, all of the curriculum is arts integrated!

I began this blog in January of 2012 as a place to reflect on my art teaching (and learning) experiences. I write when inspiration strikes. I take photos of my students just about every day, so the photos are an important part of sharing what’s going on in my classroom “corner of the world”.

I began blogging because I was inspired by reading the book Julia and Julia. I also was inspired by some incredible bloggers! Some are parents that homeschool and some are educators. All are wonderful, and I really feel privileged to be able to peek in on what’s going on in their “corners of the world”.

Thankyou Little Hands, Big Art for your nomination! My afternoon group is quite challenging to say the least! When I arrived home and found the notification of the nomination in my e-mail it really turned my day around!

In order to receive the reward, Franciful Arts  must participate in the rules required by the status of this award. They are as follows:

1. Display the Award Certificate on your blog. CHECK!

2. Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you. CHECK!

3. Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award. SEE BELOW!

4. Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their nomination with a comment.  (Still trying to work out the bugs with this part!)

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself. CHECK!

I’d like to nominate the following blogs for the Versatile Blogger Award too!

1.Teacher Tom   http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/

Tom Hobson shares the wonderful things happening at Woodland Park Preschool and is truly inspirational!

2. Artful Explorations in Nature    http://artfulexplorationsinnature.com/

Taran Pappas comes up with great ideas for getting outdoors for art inspiration. Not sure if she’s currently teaching, but she is definitely enjoying creating nature inspired art!

3. The Natural Playground   http://thenaturalplayground.wordpress.com/author/thenaturalplayground/

This Scottish blogger is an outdoor educator doing some wonderful explorations of nature and the outdoors with her students.

4. Julie Liddle, Art in Hand   http://artinhand4tots.wordpress.com

I have enjoyed reading about Julie’s art education classes for preschoolers. She has some lovely play based activities.

5. Acorn Pies     http://acornpies.blogspot.com

Beth is definitely versatile!  She paints portraits, she quilts and sews, she teaches art at her son’s school, tells stories, and travels!  I love reading about all her adventures in Switzerland and across Europe, and I love seeing all the projects she’s involved with!

6. Chocolate Muffin Tree    http://www.thechocolatemuffintree.com

Lots of lovely hands on art activities for young children are shared on this blog by an art educator that’s enjoying time at home with her daughter.

7. Awe Filled Wonder       http://awefilledwonder.blogspot.com/

Love this Canadian Kindergarten Teacher’s approach to learning through play and hands-on experiences!

8. Evergreen Art    http://evergreenart.birdsong.org/

A very special art teacher friend of mine writes this blog about her choice based art program in Western Washington.

9. Camp Creek Blog    http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog

A wonderful blog by Lori Pickert. Lori formerly operated a Reggio inspired primary grades school. Now she is homeschooling her own two children using project based learning techniques.

10. Bakers and Astronauts   http://bakersandastronauts.blogspot.com/

Allie Pasquier’s reflective art education blog is one you shouldn’t miss!

11. Jump for Joy   http://joyforjump.blogspot.com/

A photo blog of all different kinds of folks jumping and leaping. Most of the photos are taken in and around Vancouver, British Columbia.

12. Growing a Jeweled Rose   http://www.growingajeweledrose.com

This mother of two girls really knows how to cook up some great play experiences. She shares her recipes and the joy of messy fun!

13. Learn Play Imagine   http://www.learnplayimagine.com/

Another great blog that has lots of recipes for hands-on messy play!

14. Artful Parent  http://www.artfulparent.com/

Art educator and mom  Jean Van’t Hul shares wonderful drawing ideas and supports open ended art experiences.

15. Choosing Choice  http://choosingchoice.blogspot.com/

Julie Toole, Chicago art educator shares her choice based art classroom and student art!

Image

Kindergarten students practiced cutting strips of paper and then had a wonderful time turning the strips into all kinds of wonderful creations!

Now for 7 things about Franciful Arts Blog!

1. I have fun coming up with titles for my blog posts!

2.Generally it’s a brief moment in my day of teaching art that inspires me to write.

3. It’s frustrating that I can’t post my best photos of the students grinning ear to ear while creating or with their creations. On the other hand….I appreciate that I can post photos that show them at work.

4. I hope to share more in depth information in a future blog post about teaching my students to sew stuffed animals from socks so you can try it or share it with your children and  students!

5. My students’ art is a tremendous inspiration to me as an artist!

6. I like to plunge up to my elbows in messy art! After all…I’m washable, and so are my students, and my classroom!

7. I’m proud to be a member of the National Art Education Association, and am looking forward to the next conference in San Diego this spring!  I’m going to be a presenter with another art teaching friend from the TAB/choice professional learning community!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments