Bringing a Still-Life to Life

Throughout the course of the school year, different groups of children have had opportunities to do still-life drawings. A still-life typically consist of inanimate objects that are commonplace to an environment. Objects are often grouped together, not to be moved, as the processes of quality still-life drawing are often drawn (no-pun) out over multiple sessions. In addition, an artist may want to revisit the still-life from a different angle or use a different light-source for additional drawings. As understandings of how a still-life should be handled grew, I decided to set a new one up and ask the children if they could take it in another direction! It was basically a unanimous decision to use paint (shocker)… and so we did! We applied paint using traditional methods (brushes, fingers, etc.), Pollock splattering, and predominantly by using the “tall-painting” method. This requires the use of more liquefied acrylic paints that are poured on top of each other until they run down an object. The paints stack on top of one another without mixing, making for beautiful works that are always original. While painting in this fashion, a movement not typically associated with still-life work is added. We brought the still-life to life!

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Letting thinkers think, creators create, and trusting in their resolve...

Children from room 6 at the Gilliate building were invited to explore the studio, which had been set up with multiple open-ended provocations. Unless engaged by a child, I only observed (and photographed) the goings-on in the studio. One child in particular, Arden, bypassed all of the “ready-made” provocations and started for the building area. He tried standing the blocks on-end, laying them with an overlying “roof”, amongst other methods of building a sound structure. Eventually he came and asked for tape. We found scotch tape, which obviously wasn’t successful in holding the heavy wooden blocks together. But then, we were able to find some duct and packing tape. He found this to be more successful in holding his structure together, but still had some collapses and structural issues. With each failed attempt, he became increasingly more upset. However, after we discussed and he had cooled off, he went right back and began to try again. Eventually, he was able to get his planks to stay together in making a small house-like structure. You could see the immediate understanding of his success on his face. He promptly asked to make an “under-construction, please don’t touch” sign to keep his work and progress safe. He did, but his triumph was quickly halted when another child accidentally destroyed his house. This time he was still frustrated but now understood what he needed to do to make his project successful. We chatted a bit more and he was now adamant about the fact that he could now easily come back and know exactly what to do to be successful during his next go-around. While walking back to his classroom, he was beaming while talking about how he was going to build his house the next time he had a chance to visit the studio. This small story from a single day’s work is a representation of the creativity, problem-solving abilities, and outright resiliency of our children. While the issues many face are far more serious than my friend Arden’s on this day, we know that our children are capable of confronting problems head-on. We should always give them the first chance to do so.




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Process painting... mixing mediums and creating with familiar, but altered materials

Children from different classrooms lend their hands to a process painting. In doing so, they gained experience in seeing how different mediums, and how altered versions of said mediums interact while creating artwork. The children started by drizzling rubber cement all over a blank canvas. Once it had dried, they painted the canvas with a red, acrylic base. A group was then asked to choose three different colors of paint. Once the children had made their choices, they were asked what we could do to the paint to change it in some way. They all decided to mix water in all 3 colors and water color paint in one. Once their mixtures had been made, they stood above the painting and used droppers to make the colors splatter and land on top of one another. Once the canvas had completely dried, children used their fingers to rub and scrape away the raised spots of the painting (where the rubber cement had been added), creating an additional effect by essentially removing paint in a self-controlled way. They were very excited to paint in a new way and eager to create more new and exciting art! 

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In the Studio

A Reggio inspired studio should be one of exploration and discovery. A variety of areas, materials, and provocations are always accessible to the children. This increases the likelihood that EVERYONE can find something that is inspiring to them, especially if they have decided that the day’s “main” provocation just isn’t for them.

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Photographing Bird Environments in our Community

For our John James Audubon artist study, we took a walking trip throughout surrounding areas of our school. We explored and discussed the pond, buildings, sections of trees, and other areas where birds may like to hang out. The children photographed their findings and their works will be used in creating multimedia submissions for the IMA!



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Ms. Alycia's Treasure

This year, St. Mary’s lost a beloved teacher and friend in Ms. Alycia Adams. She always carried such a kind demeanor and exemplified what St. Mary’s, The Reggio Philosophy, and building relationships are all about. In addition, she loved using found treasures to initiate a sense of wonder while fostering the curiosity of our children. On one of her final treasure hunts, Ms. Alycia found and left us a “magic box’’ to be repurposed.

The box was displayed for the children to observe. They were then asked what they thought it was and for ideas as to what we could do with it. They decided that they wanted to blindly add paint and various manipulatives. They then took turns shaking the box, turning it upside down, and drumming on it. After they were finished, they opened the box to reveal the magic that they had created!

Jace: I wonder what will happen if you mix purple paint and dark blue paint together…

Aiden: Don’t look inside!

Centaurion: They movin’ inside.

Eduardo: They mixed it. Now it’s all stuck.



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Intro to Audubon

The Indianapolis Museum of Art will be accepting entries for their John James Audubon exhibit. “Audubon was a French-born American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds (and other wildlife) and for his detailed illustrations that depicted them in their natural habitats”.

For this we will be discussing wildlife/natural environments, and exploring them as much as possible in order to gather ideas for our own entries for the IMA! Today, children from room 4 at the Gilliate building were introduced to Audubon and his ideas. They were then able to take this and use it to create initial-draft drawings using both their own ideas and Audubon’s influence.



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Walking Trips

Today, children from rooms 5 and 6 at the Gilliate building went on walking trips to some of the surrounding areas of our school. The children were asked to lead the way, deciding which direction to take us in. Findings were discussed as we tried to make connections between the things we found in our community, project work/investigations, and the familiarities in our lives.


Room 6 Findings and Quotes:

 The Geese…

 Avionna: I think they eating food and bread.

Jordan: And grass!

Zion: They’re eating.


YMCA Swim Park/The Slide…

 Arden: They built it.


Arden: The YMCA people.

Avionna: They built it by theyselves.

Jordan: Yeah, the people.

Zion: Get the pool then the slide then the stairs to go down the slide.


Art Installation: The Door…

 Abigail: Is closed.

Where’s the rest of the house?

Arden: Over there. *points to apartment buildings*


Landmark: Ms. Paula’s Garden

 Abigail: The flowers are right there.


Underground Pipe…

 Zion: There’s the other way out. Look what else I found… the sewer.

Arden: It’s for water.

Jordan: Water comes out of it from the rain.

Zion: Yeah, it comes out of the tiny hole.


Landmark: Soldier Memorial…

Jordan: They build it because they want to for that man.

Arden: They used construction equipment to dig it up.


By the “Tractors” (heavy construction equipment)…

Jordan: A man by the tractors. He got that part that picks up dirt.

Abigail: Putting trees.

Jordan: That part fell off the tractor and they can’t pick up no dirt.

Can they fix it?

Arden: No, ‘cuz there’s no workerman.

Jordan: The blue things for they working on stuff.

Zion: To make swimming pools (making connections!!!^^^)

Abigail: Tools.



 Zion: The garages! For putting cars in.



Room 5 Findings & Quotes:


Tritan Building…

 Jackie: It’s for climb up there and climb down.

Tim: When you die it’s for you supposed to come up. You go in there so you can come back to life.

Alyssa: It’s a restaurant.

Tim: Mr. Bryan, I like this ‘cuz it has the flowers.


Cars in the parking lot…

 Tim: Where the cars goin’?

Alyssa: They’re goin’ to get somethin’.

Tim: These two cars are the same color.



 Jackie: It says no kids can come in the police station.

Alyssa: It’s pointing down.

Tim: ‘Cuz it has these numbers.

Jackie: It says don’t go here or you go to jail.

Alyssa: That sign says stop!

Jackie: It says no more people go past here.

Alyssa: That one says lightning so we don’t get hurt.


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Making Connections: City/Canal Explorations

Over the course of the next few weeks, children from different rooms at the Gilliate and Thompson buildings will be going out to explore their communities, city, and  environments in general. Children will be observed in their interactions as they lead the way in learning about the places, things, and people that they want to study. As these interests begin to emerge, connections between classroom investigations/project work and our field studies will be made. Today, the children of Room 2 at the Thompson building explored the canal, downtown, and the people mover! They were very anxious to interact with everything around them. We discussed the ducks on the canal, got up close looks at buildings and landmarks, then took a ride on the people mover!


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Here are some of the children’s discussions:


The ducks…

Eduardo: I see ducks!

Dre: The green ones are the boys.

Eduardo: You see their legs, it’s ‘cuz they like to paddle in the water and they swim and when they fly they put they feet down and it was awesome!

Kayla: I see a lot of ducks!

Jace: They’re following us ‘cuz they think we have bread.

Eduardo: That girl is the brown one.

Ryan: They come over here and they be nice so we can pet them.


The fish by the waterfall…

Kayla: Guess what?! There’s something in the water. It’s fish!

Eduardo: I see a orange one.

Ryan: There they are! Can we get the fish when we want to?

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Landmark (Mayor’s Service Award Plaza sign)…

Dre: It’s a mission.

Eduardo: It’s for grownups for the reading store.

Kayla: Letters!

Jace: Yeah, this is lots of words so you can read it.

Ryan: It says no kids, no babies, no baby brothers!


Old fashioned brick building…

Eduardo: It’s locked!

Jace: Yeah, so people don’t break in.

Ryan: I like it ‘cuz it look like a whole bunch of buildings.


The People Mover…

Jace: We want to go there! The train!

Eduardo: We got to take the elevator!

Dre: We going to 4!

Eduardo: We’re here! It’s my mom’s work.

Dre: I see a building… lots of buildings there!

Eduardo: I see our school!

Kayla: I see buses and some buildings.

Ryan: I see a whole bunch of airplanes!

Kayla: Look, step-prints!!!

Dre: Yeah, and trees!

Kayla: We want another ride.

Eduardo: So we can see my mom. She doesn’t work on the train. She works a job.

Eduardo: We’re going backwards now?

Kayla: We are not going backward. We going front!

Dre: Yeah! Choo, choo!

Jace: Nope, we ARE going backwards!

Dre: People use the train so they can go to the building. That one. My family works there so they can make people better

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The Color of Music... What song are you painting?

The children of room 5 at the Gilliate building and room 3 at the Thompson building have been discussing music and in particular, drums. In support of these investigations, a provocation was designed with the intention of combining artistic ideals. Pages of sheet music were introduced and discussed with most of the children noticing how the notes sat along a series of lines (staff/stave). With both groups, sheets of water color paper with added staves were arranged intentionally so that the children could paint in a linear way WITH music. The Gilliate children were given actual drumsticks that they dipped in paint and used to create their own version of sheet music. In doing so, peers were asked to sing their favorite songs while their friends tried their hand at drumming along the staves to the rhythm of each song. The Thompson group’s provocation was set up in a similar fashion, but with staves arranged in a non-linear, more abstract way. This time, different tools were provided and instrumental music was played for the children to paint to. This led to more movement (and a lot of dancing!) as they worked around the painting!!!

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Gilliate Room 5 Quotes: Before our activity…

How do you make a song?

McKenzie: I hear Kevin Gates.

Kevin: Yeah, he uses this (makes horn noise).

Ariana: If you use the sticks and go sideways so you can hit the side right here and hit the other side too.



Tim: At my house we don’t got no paint when I play the drums.

Nakai: It makes a music sound!

Alysa: I did the drums like you do.

Tim: I’m painting with the song. They don’t beat at the church with the paint.


What song are you painting?

Tim: That one we do at church!

Kevin: Ya’ll painted music with ya’ll writing!

Aviel: Yeah, she’s music’n!


Thompson Room 3 Quotes:

Can you paint the song?

Jasper: Yeah, mine’s like let it go, let it go… can’t hold it back anymore!

Chloe: It’s music. It goes A,B,C…

La’Mya: I can dance and paint. I painted *ch, ch, ch, ch, ch*.

Chloe: Yeah, it’s like… (beatboxes).


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