Saturday, March 12, 2011

Art methods: Color study

As mentioned, we toured a local school that follows the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy. I am 90% happy with the school Hank is at now, and feel I would be 90% happy with this other school -- for different reasons. I think the school we toured has a different view on guiding children away from an undesirable behavior than we do.* Also, the open floor plan of the school makes the space kinda loud, and Hank is very sensitive to sound. In the "controlled chaos" of this school environment, where there are many groups doing different things at once and discussing what they are doing, I fear Hank would retreat and look for some place to hide out.

One of the most striking things about the Reggio Emilia school was the focus on art. We are perfectly capable of bringing more complex art projects into his life outside of school - just needed a little reminder to get of our lazy duffs do so. I probably haven't mentioned it before, but BT was an Art Education major. Now he is an accountant, so about 180 degrees from that subject area, but I still recall many of the beautiful art projects he assisted kids with during his studies. Unfortunately I wasn't into photo documenting things back then, so I don't have many pictures of these projects.
The thinking behind these more complex art projects is that you provide some guidance, but allow the kids to interpret projects as they want. So, it gets beyond the simple cookie cutter craft-type projects Hank does at his current school (everybody glues pre-cut pepperoni shapes on their pizza), but is more structured than providing an art station with tin cans full of colored pencils in your dining room.
(It's banana. I wanna eat it. Is it yellow inside? No. Not yellow.) The projects BT did usually started with a discussion about something - a color, what kind of things the kids liked to do with their hands, family, etc. Then, there was a research period - finding pictures, items, etc. that match the kind of things you discussed. The eventual art component usually introduced a new skill or concept. Usually there were layers to the project, so it took a few days to complete. In a classroom setting, the students' projects usually linked together. On their own, they were unique, but together, they represented the group. A good example of this concept was a Day of the Dead diorama project one of BT's fellow students did with an elementary school class. The kids made shoebox dioramas representing their favorite room of their house with paper dolls of family members (I think they used screenprinting somehow - that was the new technique). The backs of the boxes were cut out and covered with a tissue paper collage. The boxes were connected to look like an apartment building, and tea lights (yes real ones - I guess there was an element of danger to this art piece as well) were placed in the boxes so the tissue paper was illuminated. It was breathtaking.
(Highlights include him exclaiming that his shoe had yellow on it - just a small stripe - and trying to get a picture of me in front of a yellow wall, but actually taking a picture of himself) This was our first attempt at a more complicated art project at home. We did a color study of yellow. We first found yellow items in the bedroom, bath, and kitchen. We set the items out on the table. I provide a yellow crayon for drawing, but this wasn't of interest this day. We talked about the items, what they were and what they did. We talked about some items you could eat, and others were for playing, and others had utility (like the cup - which was filled with pretend coffee). For our afternoon walk, we went around the neighborhood and took pictures of things we found that were yellow. After I pointed out the first item, Hank spotted a couple of things that were yellow on his own. He snapped the pictures himself. He got bored with the yellow thing, but seemed more exploratory about things he noticed than he historically has been on our walks, and occasionally asked to take pictures of other things - mostly fences/walls.

(Hank's mini fence study - this will be a source of humor for those of you who know that we currently don't have a fence)
I plan on printing out the yellow item photos shown above so Hank can make his own collage, and we can talk about the experience a little more - like how yellow makes us feel. It will be fun to keep a journal of these exercises. We'll see if we can get the resident expert to give us a few pointers :) *Just my opinion, but giving a 2 minute long explanation about why we shouldn't do something with lots of questions to the child about what they think will happen if they throw a toy, for example (what if we hit someone? what if the toy breaks, would the other kids be sad they don't get to play with the toy any more?, etc.), comes off as condescending and embarrasses the child. I know I wouldn't want to get over-talked to for a simple request to change something I was doing at work, and sense that kids, even young ones, usually don't seem too keen on this approach based on discussions I have witnessed at the local playground. I personally get hit in the face if I employ this tactic with Hank, and think we have mutually agreed that a neutral toned request with a one sentence reason why - i.e. Get down off the table, please - we don't want feet on the place where we eat - seems to work fine for us. His current school is more direct about their guidance on behavior as well, but...they don't have a resident art teacher... ********** Favorite of the day: N/A Working on: A photo wall

1 comment:

Ashley Wells said...

When children learn to draw, they begin to study the world around them more closely.