Shadow Box Stories

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At the beginning of the year, we began an exploration of light in all its forms. As we moved through the discovery of transparent, translucent, and opaque materials, experimenting with flashlights and overhead projectors, it wasn’t long before students were working with shadows.

To deepen their understanding of shadows and provide more rich material for their research, we began an author study of Ezra Jack Keats, whose illustrations often have many compelling uses of light. In several books, such as “Dreams” and “The Trip,” light and shadows are an explicit part of the story line.

We spent many weeks in our classroom creating shadow puppets. We played with several silhouettes of characters from the Ezra Jack Keats books and became more and more familiar with the vibrant, interconnected community at the center of many of his books. Students came to love characters like Peter, Susie, Louie, Archie, Amy, and Roberto.

Children collaborated to make five different shadow boxes after Louie built one in “The Trip.” At the same time, we started telling stories together, with each student adding a sentence. We have written many stories together about characters from Ezra Jack Keats books.

We are now preparing to present the culmination of all this learning with an original movie set in our shadow boxes.

Gabrielle Bills, Blue Preschool Teacher: curriculum, text

Rebecca Mack, Atelierista: photos

Microscope Mondays

For three years, Samantha has been cultivating preschoolers’ curiosity about the natural world with her Microscope Mondays curriculum. The process activates children’s awareness of the beauty of natural objects, both in the hand and under the lens. Samantha takes their discoveries one step further by encouraging students to document their own observations graphically. Here’s how they do it:

Step 1: Collect beautiful things.

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Step 2: Explore.

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Step 3: Create slide.

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Step 4: Describe while under microscope.

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Step 5: Draw what you see.

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(Repeat!)

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Listening Walk

During Sound and Light Studio this spring, I worked in and outside of all the BCS classrooms teaching Listening and taking Listening Walks with students, teachers and parents. A Listening Walk is an opportunity to relax one’s sense of hearing into the surrounding environment, in this case the Old North End neighborhood of Burlington, VT. We also practiced seated listening indoors, often as preparation for making sounds together. Watch Listening Walk.

Listening practice, Listening Walks, and Sound-mapping Walks are integrated mindfulness components of Sound and Light Studio. At BCS, we began a sound map of our neighborhood during this Spring 2015 residency and hope to continue the work, collaborating with other listeners in our community to complete our Old North End Soundmap. Stay tuned for news on that project…

-Becca Mack

Crocodile Teeth/ Sound and Light Studio

I am currently enjoying the privilege of revisiting the Sound and Light Studio project with a new group of students at Burlington Children’s Space. As a teaching artist, I support young children’s fluidity in sound- and light- based media. My first opportunity to do this work was over 3 years ago. Since then I have been lucky to develop the curriculum components as afternoon preschool teacher. In this residency, we will explore these media, their possible interactions, and the mindfulness opportunities embedded in sensory awareness with each of the classrooms at BCS.

Crocodile Teeth, February 2015

This story began with a set of homemade castanets (buttons, cardstock, glue) and preschoolers who heard their sound as crocodile teeth. One told me I needed to show the sound, in pictures on the wall. We made an appointment for later that day to catch his images. The other participants had their eyes on the nearby pile of cardstock in the studio. I edited the recording we’d made in the morning (of the button castanets) to match the number of crocodiles and hands shown in each shot.

A Long Story Short, February 2012

This moving picture was drawn on a strip of adding machine tape by a BCS preschooler in 2011. The video is shot in one take by projecting the lateral movement of the story strip, while the author narrates the action.

-Rebecca Mack

Graffiti Tuesdays, continued

We’re off to a strong start this fall, with many new preschoolers in our classroom and new energy for the graffiti curriculum started last spring. As with most curriculum threads, materials have been our entry point to a complex subject. We are working with two large graffiti boards attached to the walls of our classrooms, with permanent markers, chalk markers, and stickers. At the afternoon writing table we are working out letterforms and exploring positive and negative space with opaque chinese ink and various weights of white paper. Using these materials we can explore the relationship between graffiti and calligraphy, a discipline we have followed for three years in this classroom. Iraqi calligrapher,

Hassan Massody, has been an inspiration in bridging the traditional divide between these lettering arts.

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Happy Writing, everyone.

-Blue Preschool