Exploration of lines and shapes using oil and chalk pastels

The past few weeks we have been exploring lines, and shapes at the art table. During the children’s exploration the children noticed that the lines continue on forever, but a shape stops. At the art table the children made their own lines and shapes using the pastels. Playing with the oil and chalk pastels allowed the children to notice different qualities about the tools. They could make thick and thin lines, fancy lines and squiggly lines. With the chalk pastels the children could make the lines look like they are ‘wiggling’ by smudging the chalk with our fingers. The oil pastels were a bit more sticky and they had to press down hard to create the line.

After the children played around with the pastels creating many different types of designs using lines and shapes, they then used black glue to create permanent lines. They then painted in the spaces/shapes using water-colors. It was interesting to hear the discussion as they thought about what their designs looked like!


What do you think it is?

“It’s colorful mountains and it has a little bit of snow.” Valter
“I think it’s a picture, of oceans with mountains in the background.” Ilyia
“It’s colorful picture, there is purple, green, red and pink.” Liza
“The yellow is the sky and the triangles are the houses, and there are mountains on the bottom with little ants.” Evilina
“I think it’s like an ocean and mountains and some sunshine.” David.
“And the snow is melting.” Valter
“It looks like an eye.” Raisa.

Playing Conductors

As the children were exploring sounds in the music area, one group got into a bit of a disagreement about who was going to be the ‘boss’ and show people what to do on the stage. This particular group of children wanted to all be on the stage at the same time and they couldn’t decide who was going to do what – by that time we had run out of time, so the next day I put our a music stand and a baton. Most of the children had seen a music stand and knew what it was used for. Automatically they moved the stand to the front of the stage and started to direct the people on stage. Some of the children then had the idea that the music stand needed a piece of paper on the stand – “This is to tell people what to do!” cries one child. Another child comments, “but there is nothing on the paper?” I suggested that perhaps they could go to the drawing table and write their ideas down. It was really interesting to see the different ideas that they used. Some children used lines, while others used shapes and another drew a person using the motions.

I also showed them a short video clip from Sesame Street about meeting a real conductor. In the video it showed us how the conductor used his baton to show the tempo of the music and all without saying a word but just by moving his baton.

By adding in these provocations, the children have been rushing into writing their own ‘free notation’ of music. The next few lessons I plan on sharing with them the percussion instruments and do a few ‘conducting’ games with them. The goal being to have the children learn to work together and to try and think about what the music is doing.

Inspired by the group Stomp

After our initial exploration with the different materials in the music area, I showed the children the group ‘Stomp’. The first ‘Stomp’ we watched was them using their hands vs. their feet. The children automatically wanted to join in while we were watching the short clip.

Here are the children’s initial observations about “Stomp Hands vs. Feet”
They were clapping together. One seemed to be the leader and the rest were following him. They were stamping their feet. When they threw down the sand, the sand made a different sound when they stomped their feet. They were jumping. Sometimes they were going loud and sometimes quiet. Over the next few days, we watched other episodes of Stomp using everyday objects to create sounds. In the music area the children started creating different patterns using everyday objects, just like “Stomp”.

Over the next few days, we watched other episodes of Stomp using everyday objects to create sounds. In the music area the children started creating different patterns using everyday objects, just like “Stomp”. Not only did we use everyday objects to create our sounds but we also explored with water sounds. In tubs of water we put hoses, tubes, metal and glass bowls and sticks.

Exploring Sounds in the Music area

I have been teaching the children visual arts and music in a play-based/inquiry approach. I have set up my classroom to allow the children to express themselves both musically and in art. My end goal is to see if I could get the children to the point where they were creating/composing their own music, responding to music and representing music (free notation, dance, drama, sounds). The main purpose of this blog is to create a running narratives of my ‘learning journey’ into music with the kids.

The first few weeks of school we started exploring sounds. As a provocation I put in the music area empty bottles, cans, sticks, beads/seeds, sand-paper, tubes anything that would get the children thinking of how they would make a sound. I started off the exploration by asking them “What is a sound?”, it was really interesting to see that different classes took the discussion in totally different ways. Some of the Kinder classes were into the visualization of sounds while others were more literal by naming objects that made sound.

Here are some of the answers:

“When trains go really, really fast, they make a loud sound.” As the student was saying this he was making the sound with his mouth becoming quite animated “Different things can make a sound, like a clock.” The whole class started to make clock sounds. “When you break a glass it breaks and makes a sound.” “When you play instruments like in a band, they make sounds together.”

Another class was into the visualization of sounds. “When you step on snow it makes a crunching sound.” “A bad thunderstorm and lightening that crashes!” “Trees can make sounds, when the wind is blowing you can hear the leaves.” “Animals make sounds too!”

Some children were showing me different sounds, by tapping their feet, and patting their legs or by clapping. Others used their mouths to make sounds.

The weeks that followed the children took time to explore in the music area creating different sounds using the objects listed above.

Through out their play and explorations, the children created their own hand-made instruments to perform for each other on the stage.

Exploring color and lines through finger-painting

Exploring with finger-paint invites the children to explore color, to texture and to movement. The children use their fingers, hands, arms and elbows to move the paint around on the paper. They feel the texture of the paint and see the colors blending in together. Some children are so focused on the movement of the paint across the paper, while others are using their fingers to draw in the paint. The children are all enthusiastically talking about the different colors they are making during the whole process.

Some children were so focused on the movement of the paint, making circular movements with their hands. They spread the paint all over their paper. “I want to cover all of my paper with paint.”
In and out around the paper. While others, used the tips of their fingers to tip toe through the paint, cautiously mixing the colors.
Others were interested in the texture of the paint, covering their hands all the way up to their elbow with the paint, noticing the colors changing on their hands! “It’s like wearing gloves!” claimed one child. “I have zombie hands.” Laughed another.
We looked at the dried paintings the next day, and the children noticed that not everyone made the same color of purple, or orange, or green. They made lots of different ‘shades’ of colors. On reflection – we noticed that some of the papers were also ripped or bent when they had dried up. Surprisingly the children were not disappointed that theirs had a bend in it or was ripped. They discovered that is what happened if the paper wasn’t put in the drying rack properly or that they had put way too much paint on the paper – the paint was too heavy for the paper. Some of them said it ‘looked nice’ with a bend in it  .

Light Painting!

In the Maly Theater we explored playing with light. We turned off all the lights, and the children danced with their flashlights. We listened and moved to the music. The children then created stories around what the music was doing.

“It sounds like we are in space, because it’s dark and the music is moving slowly.”
“We could be floating in space.”
“The other music sounds like it’s a robot.”
“Maybe the Robot is lost in space?!”
“He could be trying to find his planet, when the music is going fast we are on the planet.”
“When the music is slow we are back in space again.”

While the children were dancing our their stories using the flashlights – Mr. Amerigo and Mr. Boris took pictures of them.

The children used the flashlight as the paintbrush, the light was the paint and the camera the paper. We also played with lasers and bubbles to create different effects.
They really enjoyed seeing the pictures after they were done.

What do you see in our paintings?

Representational Drawing

When children draw, they create representations of their experiences, observations, theories, and emotions. Their images tell stories and communicate particular perspectives. Children can use drawing as a tool for their thinking and for communicating.

In the drawing studio, the children are encouraged to use pencils or a black tip marker to create their drawings. These tools have a clarity of line and simple color calls more attention to the shape, outline and detail. When using a black marker it asks the children to take risks and to make strong statements about what they want to draw. Another reason for using a fine tip black marker is so we can photocopy the drawings so that it can colored in different ways.

Eye for Details:
In the beginning of representational drawing, we are more interested in the drawing and not so much the coloring. The drawing is to call the children’s attention to the structure of the subject, to its lines and forms. The children also used the ‘light table’, to help them see the animals shape and patterns. When it came to their free drawing, the ‘tracing’ around the animals helped them think of the shape and lines. The children used the transparencies to make a larger image of their animals that they then will be tracing onto large poster paper. We will use these larger images for a combined mural.

Adding color to our drawings:
After the children have finished with their animal drawings, we photocopied them. This way the children could have a copy of their original animal and color the second copy. Creating an animal portrait emphasizes a specific subject, with its unique colors and shadings.
Using the watercolors, the children were able to select colors that reflects the animals’ color and patterns.