Saturday, 28 November 2015

The co-creation of our "Classroom Alphabet"

It can sometimes be challenging to know what to keep on display to honour the past work of children, but also involve the new children in creating new experiences and connections with their classmates and classroom environment. Since no one was really noticing or interacting with last year's alphabet wall, I felt perhaps we needed to co-create a new one based on the current children's ideas and interests. 

I had a conversation with the children and we all agreed we wanted to make a new alphabet to place on the wall that would involve our new friends. The alphabet that was made the previous year (From line to letters...the co-construction of our Alphabet Wall) was taken down and placed in a basket for the children to still have access to and use if they needed. 

Why should we have an alphabet wall?

"So everyone the start of the letter of their name." Z. G.

"So everyone knows their ABC's song." K. C.

"Some letters are short and some letters are tall." A. J.

"We need to know our letters." J. B.

"So you know how to write!" L. B.

"Some people don't know how to write the letters and they need to know the sounds." J. K.

"You can know the letters in your name." S. F.

"Sometimes you don't know what comes after a letter. This would help." G. S.

"So people know the letters of our name." M. N.

During this conversation, I told the children that I would write down the letters of the alphabet on the chart paper and maybe they could think of some things that represented each letter. 

Among the things suggested were the names of the children in the class and items that were found in our classroom. 

"We can have a classroom alphabet!" Z. G. 

Below are some of the ideas the children mentioned. 
*I apologize for any incorrect spelling of words. I'm trying to record their quick conversations!

Once we had enough ideas for each letter the children decided to do a tally to figure out what to take pictures of.

This project was very timely in that we just received a new iPad Mini for our classroom. When discussing how we wanted to display our alphabet, I asked the children if they wanted to use the new iPad Mini and take photographs of the things they suggested? 

The children were very excited to use this technology. They used the camera on the iPad Mini to take photographs and then they learned how to use the app called Pic Collage to insert the photographs they took and type text over top. 

Pic Collage

The finished classroom alphabet:

We are already using this new alphabet as a resource to support letter identification and other writing activities. Knowing their classroom environment, their peers, and having had the opportunity to create this resource, further supports their learning through the connection and ownership of this authentic experience.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Our colour mixing journey: "We have skin colour!" Exploring skin shades, tones, and tints by mixing colours that reflect the individuals of our classroom community!

Similar to last year, we started out this year with an paint trolley containing various sizes of paint brushes and a number of empty glass containers that would eventually be used to hold paint. It took a couple weeks before one child inquired about paint because she wanted to paint a picture. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce colours to the children. 

This past summer I re-read the beautifully written book called "The Language of Art" by Ann Pelo. Among the many wonderful chapters, one in particular stuck out to me because it contained such a unique introduction on colours and colour mixing. This was my inspiration for the black and white paint colour provocation I set up for the children. 

What do you notice when black and white play together?

White and black are fascinating colours because they have such a strong contrast when they are close together. With the hope of exploring and investigating their relationship, a provocation using black and white tempera paint was set up for the children. Using a hands-on active approach encompassing the use of many senses, the children were able to observe and notice how black and white "play" together on white and black paper.

“I made two different kinds of grey because I put a little more white on the black and a little more black on the white. On the black it looks more darker because it’s black. On the white paper it looks lighter.” C. C.

“I wonder why it’s making black?” (Placed white paint on black paper) “Maybe because white is clear and it’s not a colour.” P. M.

“White and black makes grey!”
“I can’t see it on the black paper (black paint on black paper)." S. F.

“I put black paint on the white paper and I gotted white paint and then I mixed it and it turned into grey. It turned way darker because it was made all out of dark colours.” M. O.

“I noticed that this one turned brown (when placing black and white paint on white paper). When I put white paint on the black paper it turned grey.” A. F.

"I did a pattern, black, white, black, white, then it turned grey!" C. D.

“It makes it look darker because it’s the white paper and the black makes it look darker. I put the white on the black paper and added black pain to make it darker. I added white to the black and made it more lightishy.” S. T.

“I’m making it spooky.” When placing white paint on black paper. M. N.

“It changed colours and turned darker! I used black then I added white. I put white on black (paper) and it got lighter!” G. S.

“I put the black paint on the white paper to see if it would show up. I am putting the white on the black it is turning grey, wow! There is stripes of white on the black paint. When I add more white it gets light grey. I need to put white paint first on the black paper for it to be seen. The white looks a little grey on the black. See now I added black on, it’s darker than the black paper.” Z. G.

“It makes sticky white! It looks shiny when I put it on. I can see it better.” 
When placed black paint on white paper. D. F.

E placing white paint on the black paper he chose to use.

F. W. exploring with black and white paint on white paper she chose to use.

B. P. teaching A. J. how to use the easel for painting. Using the grey paint created.

C. P. and F. D. painting a picture together using white, black, and grey paint.

The board display in our classroom.

The only colours on the paint trolley were the white, black, and grey colours they explored previously. Children continued to paint with these colours at the paint easel. But as anticipated, L. B. came up to me and told me she needed green for the grass she was painting in her picture. Using this as a natural stepping stone to explore colour mixing further, I asked her if she wanted to try and make green? 

Simultaneously we were also having some discussions about feelings. We read the wonderful book called "My Blue is Happy." The story explains how feelings can be represented by different colours and how they interpreted differently depending on the individual. Yellow can mean happiness to one person and sadness to another depending on their experience. 

What new colours can you create?
How does your colour make you feel?

Beautiful colours were created by the children! 

"I made white purple. It makes me happy because it's my favourite colour." E. B.

"I mixed yellow, blue, and red. It made brown. It makes me happy because it looks like chocolate." D. F.

"Swamp green makes me sad because I don't like frogs in my bed!" K. C.

"I made golden light. I white and yellow. It makes me calm because I like yoga." R. S. 

"It's couch purple and it makes me feel happy because it reminds me of my couch." C. C.

"I made grassy green. It makes me feel tired." Z. G. 

"When you mix yellow and red it makes orange. It makes me feel happy." F. D. & C. T. 

P. M. mixed yellow, red, and white and created peach. "It makes me happy because I like peaches!" Once he was done he took his new colour to place on the paint trolley. 

When L. S. saw the new colour he created she yelled out "Yay! Now we can paint people!" 

I asked her what she meant. 

"We have skin colour to paint people!" L. S.

"Is all our skin that colour?" Mrs. Ralph

Everyone started comparing their skin colour to the peach colour paint in the jar.

They noticed that the colour didn't match anyone's skin in our class! They gave many examples of individuals they knew who had lighter or darker shades of this colour.

I asked them if they wanted to try and create skin colours by mixing paint that would represent all of us in the class. They cheered and so the idea passed.

During Exploration Time, the children and I set up the provocation below. They selected yellow, red, brown, white, peach, and grey as the main paint colours to use for mixing together to create different skin colours.

We read the following books to further support learning about skin colours and to highlight how we are all unique and special.

Comments generated based on the reading of the books:

"My family has different shades of skin. I am almost the darkest shade, but my nanny is the darkest but Lily is the lightest shade and my mom had medium shade." M. O.

"My mommy is a little bit darker than me but L. S. is lighter." R. S.

"We all have the same shade, (dad, mom, Trav, and me) are all the same, they are as bright as me." P. M.

"My shade is lighter than my mommy." M. K.

"My mom is darker than me, my dad lighter and my sister is the same shade as me." L. B.

"My mom is darker than mine and my dad's is lighter than mine." Z. G.

"My skin and S. F.'s skin are the same!" M. O.

"In the book I notice they also have different colour hair." C. P.

"They have different faces." C. T.

"We don't all have to be the same." F. D.

"A lot of people are the same and a lot people are and brown and black skin." M. K.

"We all have skin! We have brown and white hair and different colours!" C. T.

"What is a shade?" F. D.

During the mixing investigation, we discussed the meaning of shades, tones, and tints which allowed the children to be more conscious when mixing their colours.

"What would you like to do with our new skin paint colours?" Mrs. Ralph

"Paint with them!" G. S.

"Paint ourselves!" F. D.

"Paint everyone!" P. M.

"We can paint our faces?" C. M.

"Paint our whole self!" J. K.

Recently some of the children noticed that many of our paint colours were used up. Together we made a list of the colours that needed to be created again.