In Part Two of the workshop, Sculpture Tools and Imaginary Worlds, the children were each given two abstract wooden people, a box with doors and lots of collage materials. I worked with a few children at a time to help them create furniture, gardens, windows and embellishments for their people. The children were encouraged to use their imaginations and to improvise. Once they completed work on their houses, the teachers helped each child to write a simple story. The children's creation were included in a preschool art event for families at Caroline Elementary School. Sculpture Tools and Imaginary Worlds was funded by a Red & Gold grant from the Ithaca Public Education Initiative.
In the spring of 2015 in collaboration with the PreK classroom teachers at Caroline Elementary School, I received a Red & Gold grant from the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) to teach the workshop, Sculpture Tools and Imaginary Worlds. Part One of the workshop focused on sculpture tools. I brought in my toolbox, demonstrated how some basic hand tools work, created a series of photographs of the tools and then worked with each child to show them how to use clamps, socket wrenches, wingnuts and tape measures.
In the process of teaching art workshops to young children, I have become very interested in the relationship between art, play and literacy. I received an Arts Education Grant from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County to work with three kindergarten classrooms at Caroline Elementary School. The initial purpose of the workshop was to create projects with the children that could be used as a vehicle for dramatic play and storytelling. The workshop evolved in order to connect with Caroline Elementary School's Celebration of Learning which was using the natural world adjacent to the school as a laboratory for learning.
The kindergarten students in all three classes were studying animals and birds. For two of the classes, I worked individually with each child to build an animal out of plaster gauze, wire, tape and newspaper. For the third class I worked individually with each child to build a bird puppet with the same materials. Once their animals and birds were covered in gauze, I worked with groups of about 3-4 kids at a time to help them paint them. The children used a combination of pictures of animals found online and the electronic version of Peterson's Guide to Birds. The children created their animals and birds in relationship to what they observed.
Part two of the workshop was different for each class. One class created a fantasy home for their animals out of cardboard boxes, one created a diorama environment for them and the other created prop puppets that could used for a play that the children were making with their bird puppets.
For the literacy component, each teacher utilized the animals, puppets, and environments in different ways. In Ms. Weber's class, the children created fiction stories about their animals and nonfiction stories about the process of making them. Ms. Keating's class created stories about each animal and its environment. Ms. Shululu's class used the bird puppets to create a puppet show that was attended by families. All of the projects that the children made were included in the Celebration of Learning that took place on May 29, 2015.
It was a real pleasure to work with the children. It was incredibly rewarding to see how proud they were of their projects. The workshop reinforces my belief that literacy skills can be supported and enriched by incorporating art and play into the classroom.
Make Way for Play was made possible with an Arts Education Grant from the Community Arts Partnership.
The Make Way for Play Art Workshop begins at Caroline Elementary School this week. Funded by a Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County Arts Education Grant, the workshop helps support literacy skills and explores the relationship between art and play. I am working with three classrooms of kindergartners who are studying animals and the environment surrounding Caroline Elementary School. Each child has chosen either an animal or a bird to study.
One kindergarten class will be making both bird puppets and puppets to go along with them such as flowers, a companion bird, a nest, or a birdhouse. The children will have the opportunity to create a story and puppet show with their puppets. In the other two classes, the children will be making a sculpture of both the animal they are studying and a dwelling or environment for their animal. The environments for the animals can either be fanciful or realistic. The children will use the animals and environments as an inspiration for their stories.
In Puppets and Places at Abovoagogo, we made puppets and a puppet theater, people, cars, houses and worlds. The emphasis of the workshop was on the relationship between art and play. It was exciting to watch the kids make objects that triggered their independent, imaginative play. Materials included plaster gauze, wooden shapes, toy wheels, cardboard, newspaper, paint, collage materials and lots of glue and tape.