The last few months have been very fruitful and creative. I am so pleased by how the children are discovering all kinds of ways to move. There are endless variations of the body making shapes, responding to the rhythm and tempo of the music, moving in different directions, moving on different floor paths, using images and getting inspiration from the movements of others.
Here’s a list of some of the highlights:
• We are jumping, hopping and skipping to Jumps, a percussion piece by Chris Cawthray.
• We walk, trot and gallop and sing to Watch Me Ride My Pony by Sanford and Judy Jones. Sometimes we do this with partners, trios or in a big circle.
• The Saint-Seans' Tortoise is still our “low” music, but there are more and more explorations of crawling over and under each other, even lifting and carrying another on your back. Legs are up against the column and hands supporting, so that others can slide under a “bridge”.
• We have been leaping, jumping, walking and hopping over the stepping stones to Stravinsky’s Airs by a Stream from L'Histoire du Soldat.
• John Fogarty’s Centerfield is the “baseball” song. We try out throwing, catching, swinging a bat, running bases, clapping and playing air guitar.
• Dinosaur Song by Sondra Boynton and Adam Bryan is a fun syncopated round. Children can stomp, swim and fly like dinosaurs. There are two rules, you can bite and grab the air but not any body, and you can roar but not too loudly.
• We will soon begin moving as chess pieces to The Chess Songs by Colin McGrath. And we are starting to use a new “exploring” music, Stars by Bobby McFerrin.
Before the winter holiday I introduced the overhead projector. It is just so much fun to make giant shadows, see the projections of all kinds of colors and objects on the wall, and to interact with all of it. I used some of those objects to create a forest which was the back drop for Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This was a great story because the children can tell it themselves and then we worked together to act it out.
I often give the children the time to play and develop their own stories using the props, costumes and furniture in the room and the overhead projector. Sometimes elements of the story I have proposed are incorporated into their play. Often new themes emerge such as, ghosts, animal babysitting, picnics, Norman the Doorman, train cars, kittens and dogs, scary aliens and more. I am consistently fascinated by seeing the themes that are developed one week are not forgotten and can carry though for the rest of the year. They love returning to their pretend play themes.
In the past week, I have shared a story with the children called The Enormous Apple Pie. In the story three cats have collected a big basket of apples. They decide to make a pie. Then they take a nap. While they are sleeping, a young panda bear and puppy dog (who are so young they haven’t learned any better) see the pie and eat all the apples from the inside of the pie. They refill the pie with something that they conveniently find on the pond nearby...frogs. Meanwhile the cats wake up and invite all the neighboring animals to a party. They cut the pie and hear a strange sound. Then they cut it open and see that the apples are gone and that there are frogs inside. They are upset. The panda and puppy who have come to the party admit what they did, apologize, and offer to get more apples. The frogs help the cheer every one up by singing The Foolish Frog (Pete Seeger sings a fun long storytelling version of this song). And it’s a happy end. We are just starting to make a really enormous pie so that we can get inside and be the frogs.
Parent Visiting Days
During the late winter and spring months, we are inviting parents to come and visit Movement and Drama in small groups. There will be three week periods of scheduled times to sign up for each class. I am hoping that this will give you a chance to enjoy the class in a natural and relaxed way. I have found that it is very memorable and special for children to have their parents come to watch and participate. You will be getting a detailed invitation from me as the time approaches.
Does anyone feel like sewing, mending, or gluing?
I have some costumes that need new elastics and other simple mending. If you have the time and the inclination, please come see me.
I want to thank everyone for the holiday cards and gifts. I am grateful for your acknowledgement and appreciation.
What a wonderful year we have been having so far. I am very excited about the discoveries we have made through our explorations and the interesting ideas that have come about. We have explored all sorts of different materials and the children now can speak the languages of color, texture, fluidity, wet and dryness, space and balance. All of the children are now very busy in the art studio with interesting creative activities. Some classes are even getting excited about the small works art exhibit.
Jan, Drew and Kate’s class recently finished making books. We used soft foam boards to carve printing plates which we inked and printed onto book covers. The children proceeded to make their own sketch books by attaching the folded paper to the printed covers with yarn. They are currently investigating drawing by studying detail through visual observation. We are doing this by looking into mirrors and drawing self portraits. Some of our vocabulary words which we have discussed are: details, observation, noticing, appreciating, design, ideas, careful.
Odette, Annie and Michele’s class has been exploring tactile materials, paper leads to paper pulp, which lead to sculpture with paper pulp. Most recently we have been comparing the qualities of paper pulp with clay. There are many parallels of quality and sculpting ability between the two materials, and many differences. We have been exploring the clay, learning to make a pinch pot, learning about “slipping”, “scoring” and “smoothing” and now we are learning how to make animals that are hollow. We are learning how to make a form such as an animal which stands on legs, in order to do this we must consider “gravity”.
Nicole, Danielle and Marsha’s class has taken their studies to the rainforest. Their work in the art room has coincided purely through the interest of the children. The children made finger puppets and chose to make anything they wanted. When I asked them what I should make to demonstrate how to use the material, they asked for a monkey, because there are monkeys in the rainforest. The children then made animals, birds and insects from the rainforest.
Michelle, Arpee and Stacey’s class has been exploring paper. Please take a moment to view their sculptures, which are on display in the conference room. As part of their paper exploration, the class learned how to make paper pulp and handmade paper. They are also enjoying having a pizza parlor in their dramatic play area. When I asked them what they would like to do in the art studio, they all said they needed pizzas. So, we are making several pizza pies with paper pulp. The afternoon class made one large pie with broccoli, basil, pepperoni and mushrooms. The morning class is making a large and a small pie, so they have just completed the crust (tan paper) and the sauce (reddish orange paper).
Kathleen, Andrea and Christine’s class has been exploring color and glue since October. The children have become experts at mixing the colors into the glue and then pouring the glue into various containers to create colorful creations. The hardened brightly colored glue resembles plastic when we pop it out of the containers.
Christine, Sidney and Brandi’s class have been working on portraiture. First, we painted portraits of friends and mixed colors to make the portraits look as much like our friends as possible. Then we did several self portraits in different mediums. Their oil pastel self portraits are on view in the gym. Now we are making three dimensional self portraits, starting with just the head. The children are learning how to mix the paints to make their skin tone. Soon we will begin to make the bodies; it will be exciting to get to choose what material will work best.
Chelsea, Kim and Maria’s class is about to start learning about the different climates and biomes of the earth. We are going to use the art studio as a way to enrich their learning by creating giant dioramas of some of the differing animals, flora, fauna and geography. So we are looking for very large cardboard boxes.
Hello WMS Families, Wow, we're really having quite the year in chess. This is my fourth year at WMS and each year seems to be building off the last like a snowball. The children at WMS have so many connections to the great game of chess: siblings who have already taken and loved chess, friends who have taken chess before and have showed them the game, children coming over from Duane Street knowing how the pieces move; it's only January and we have a school full of chess experts! This level of expertise is amazing, but not surprising. Not only are the children really good at chess, the teachers are getting pretty good as well! The teachers have to be prepared at any moment for one of their children to ask "can we play chess?" Everyone seems to be getting more and more fluent with our ancient game.
There's an old saying, "chess is a sea big enough for a mosquito or an elephant to bathe." This means children continue to become experts, and so do chess teachers and 19-year-old Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen. Chess is a game for all learners. We just learned all the pieces. Pawns, kings, queens, bishops, knights, rooks, we've told stories that explain why these pieces move the way they do. As we move ahead, we are going to tell stories about chess theory! What special ability does a frog give King Fischer during a walk by a pond? And what secret missions does King Fischer discover from taking chess lessons from a dragon? These stories will give children an idea of how to open a chess game. After that, I wish to tell stories about different chess pieces being good at different things. Knights are good at multi-tasking, Bishops are good at pinning, Rooks are powerful when they're connecting. We're going to learn stories that explain how to use these pieces most effectively; I'm very excited to pen some new stories to bring our chess experts to the next level.
Chess Evening for Parents:
WMS is hosting a "Chess Evening for Parents" on February 29th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at Hudson Street. Parents from both sites are welcome to come and learn chess from the same stories their children hear, and learn the best ways to challenge each other in chess!
Happy New Year! We've had a great start to our semester so far and have an exciting road ahead of us. Here's what we've been up to:
We've met a new member of the percussion family, the xylophone, and have discovered it knows the songs we've been singing in class, including High Low. At first we explored the different melodies and rhythms that two notes, 'mi' and 'do' can combine to play. Then as we added more notes to our exploration, we saw that the notes get higher in pitch as they continued to get smaller in size from one side of the instrument to the other. One child noticed that the shape the xylophone takes as we add more notes "looks like a decrescendo," insightfully connecting the visual experience of the notes decreasing in size with the aural experience of hearing our voices go from loud to quiet in a decrescendo.
In celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the holiday approached this past week, we learned one of the songs most important to him and his work‐ We Shall Overcome. We were able to hear the newer notes we've added to the xylophone play the first phrase 'we shall overcome' and each child was able to make the xylophone say it themselves. Now we're taking what we've learned from playing that phrase and finding ways to use it to build up to playing the entire song on the xylophone.
We'll continue our semester with a study of Brazilian music and instruments, leading up to Carnival in February. This exploration will expand our already extensive percussion 'family tree', bringing with it new rhythms and dances to go with those rhythms (including samba!). We'll learn about the great Antonio Carlos Jobim and get to sing some classic Brazilian music. And eventually, I hope to get into
a discussion of American Jazz music, giving us the opportunity to learn about Herbie Hancock and more!
I want to thank you again for coming to and participating in the winter sings. They are always such a special experience and this year was no exception. I look forward to doing it again in the spring, and as we delve into new songs this semester I encourage you to continue to follow along at home. We will post audio and video tracks as often as possible at www.timbalooloo.com to give you the opportunity to experience this music together with your child.
With best wishes,