Spinnin' Paint: Engineering and Art

Today, children were observed in their classroom experimenting with “fidget spinners” in an interesting provocation. A variety of items were introduced so that the children could engineer parts to make the fidget spinner, well… spin. It was awesome to watch the ‘wheels turn’ as they figured out different ways to make the spinner function. This carried over to the studio. We brought along a spinner and used a model of one of the children’s classroom creations to station it on a large sheet of sturdy paper. Alongside the contraption were bottles of water color paint. The children were asked “now how can we make the fidget spinner paint?”  One child, ‘B.J.’ took the lead, immediately demonstrating how to spin the manipulative carefully so as not to knock it off the pen on which it was placed. With little prompt, he then proceeded to pour paint on the spinning object, causing it to splatter across the paper. The rest of the group eagerly joined in, quickly got the hang of it, and were cheerful and engaged as both engineers and artists!!!


Brandon: The paint poured on there and it splattered. It can’t fall though.

Jackie: Look!

Brandon: Yeah, it broke. We gotta hold it down for them so they can spin it.

Kayley: It makes the blue right there.

Jamarion: It flipped over.

Brandon: I gotta see if it still spins.

Kayley: It looks like icing (white paint).

David: See if it works.


Erin: Glue (white paint) come off!

Chrishelle: It went here and there.

Nadia: The thing makes a spinna(er). 

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Studio Storytelling 2.0... Continuing Collaborative Writer's Workshop

Today, groups of children continued on in creating our collaborative book in the studio. We discussed how THEY would be both an author and illustrator while reading the pages that were created by previous groups. We compared these to familiar storybooks, which seemed to spark a greater understanding. After this, most of the children were eager to start their portion of the book! Great conversations were held as the children decided how they wanted their pages to look and read!!!


Burt: Details!

Wow, I’m so happy you remembered that word! Can you tell me about your details?!

Burt: Yeah, it’s so you can see my mommy.

Kamari: My mommy not cryin’ because she their friend (after reading a page that portrayed a sad mother who was isolated from her friends).

Burt: In mine, my brother ‘cause my mama told him not to touch the “pow pow”. So then he touched it and he got a whoopin’.

Kamari: It’s my brother right there with the playdough.

Burt: So, my brother gets tied up right there.

Karter: My mommy happy ‘cause GG found her daughter and her son. She doin’ her colors. The colors make her happy! Happy ‘cause I drawed on her face. Now she sad ‘cause she lost her kids again.


Larrell: My mommy happy. She wearin’ glasses. She’s writing her letters with them!

Vivian: A shaggy-gaggy came in the room. He tried to fight my mom. She ran too fast then the monster didn’t know where she was so he ran away… the end!

Alaya: This is you and you’re swingin’. This is me and I’m swingin’ too.

Christian: My mom is playing with them.

Alaya: I made 1, 2, 5. Make up for me so I can put it on the book.

Iker: This my mom and dad. They playin’. They playin’ check.

Alaya: I made this (letter A). It says don’t play. It says S too.

Christian: My mom play football with your mom.


Mya: I’m making details. Now I’m writing the words.

Sierra: I made C and A.

Makiya: I write the star. She went out and looked like this (sticks tongue out).

Mya: We made the words. She made H (the girls start singing the ABCs unprompted).

Mya: She went in the dark and ate the banana.

Sierra: This my mama writing her ABCs.

Makiya: This my babysitter. She crying ‘cause mommy made her leave.

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Studio Storytelling: Writer's Workshop in the Atelier

Today, the children were welcomed to a new bookmaking and illustration provocation. To begin, we read the book Ish by Peter H. Reynolds. We discussed how the Illustrations matched the words, as well as the message of the story. In Ish, a little boy loves to draw but grows frustrated when his drawings don’t look exactly as he intended. He decides to give up until his sister shows him that they are “vase-ish”, “fish-ish”, etc. She has secretly been collecting his discarded drawings and turning them into a gallery in her bedroom! Seeing this, Peter takes to the concept of “Ish”, and embraces the beauty and individuality in his work. This is one of my favorites, as it encourages such confidence in our children! We then began to discuss what their own story could be about. The consensus was to make a book about their mothers. They worked cooperatively on the first and second pages and even had their moms interacting in their drawings! They let me know what their page was going to say as they wrote familiar letters to be read. They were then introduced (or re-familiarized) with chalk pastels, and were quick to understand how to manipulative them by blending and shading with their fingers. This made for a beautiful medium in adding color to their illustrations. New groups of children will now be given the opportunity to add to our collaborative book!


What will your story be about?

Alaya: My mommy.

Genesis: *nods in approval*


Genesis: This is my mama.

Alaya: Gotta see mommy. I forgot the forehead (holds mirror to her drawing).

Genesis: (now holds the mirror to her drawing) A lock for a ball to fly.

What do you mean?

Genesis: Hi mama and the ball!

Hi Sadik! Would you like to add a drawing of your mommy to the story?

Sadik: It’s my moms. My moms is fighting.


Genesis: What is that? What is this (pointing to different words in a story book)? *draws the letter S* I did it… sssss. Now I want to do this one…

Alaya: *begins to form letters on a sheet of notebook paper and then references them when writing on the story page*


Sadik: Look at my rojo (shows me his pastel covered finger)!


Wesley: My (mom) play ball.

Samaria: S-a-m-a-r-i-a… I have to put my name.


Samaria: She’s (mom) sad ‘cause everybody ran away from her and then she got an idea (draws imagination bubble).

Wesley: My moms got a bike.

Samaria: It was bout can her friends to play with her and then they said ok.

Wesley: She just pushed the pedals..

Samaria: And then my mommy will tell me that she play with her friends.

Wesley: I can’t do it!

You did do it! It’s bike-ish… just like in our story!

Jalaya: *joins in* Bike-ish like in the book. That sound fun.

Samaria: I’ma make my face with these (pastels) ‘cause they my favorite. Now I gotta write words with them ‘cause I’m blending my words.

Jalaya: I’ma draw my mommy right here. She gonna be drivin’. Now she walkin’ with her arms up. I’ma get the brown ‘cause my mommy brown. This her car. This her new hat.

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Classroom, Student, Teacher, and Studio Collaborations: Creating in our Natural Environments and Community

Today, groups of children from all classrooms at the Thompson building came together for a trip the canal. Here we found a natural, open-space where were able to set up an easel, canvases, different types of paper, paints, brushes, and other painting tools. The children-freely explored and worked in this space as they collaborated with one another, teachers and volunteers. They also conversed with passing adults. The teachers were intentional in having the children focus on the surrounding environment in hopes of making connections between their work and the natural world. You can see the children lying next to the canal, using the water to clean their hands. Here they noticed how the color disappeared from their hands and spread throughout the water, prompting some to take more of the water to use in their works. It was a rewarding experience to see this team of children and teachers (some of whom may have not been familiar with each other) work together to make such a large collaboration feel natural. We noticed many people walking along the canal stop and observe our group with curiosity. Some were even intrigued enough to pause and talk with the children about what they were doing. These experiences are so valuable in connecting to the outside world. We know we should all be advocates for our ever-important cause, but to allow the children to get out and advocate for themselves has value that cannot be overstated. The demonstration of collaboration and displayed curiosity can show those who are not in-the-know just how capable and thoughtful children are. Making learning visible in this manner gives a direct assist towards advocating the Reggio model and early childhood education in general. We look forward to many more like-experiences in the near future!


The amazing, accompanying teachers also shared their thoughts on this, and the meaning  of like-experiences…


Julianna Battista: St. Mary’s Child Center believes that young children are engaged, active learners who construct knowledge with peers and teachers. Authentic relationships are the foundation of learning, development, and change. Today, a group of children and teachers (from each classroom) collaborated together in a large group experience-Painting on the Canal. This learning experience engaged the children to investigate the world around while collaborating in small groups. Children began talking about the different things they saw around the canal- ducks, trees, water, water fall, blue, green and waves. Exchanges and dialog shared between children and teachers is evident when you look at their paintings. A group of children discussed and painted the ducks swimming in the water. Others expressed interest in painting the blue and gray waves they saw in the canal.


Jennie Atlogic: Painting on the canal was a valuable experience for the children. They observed things in their city and in nature, and had conversations with adults and peers about what they saw. While we were painting, I noticed that several adults who were walking on the canal stopped to watch the children or ask about what they were doing. The children got to show the community that they are capable of working together, handling materials and accompanying experiences with care, and creating beautiful and meaningful artwork.


Samantha Osborn: As young children are often very curious, we believe in letting children explore art in many different ways. This was done by giving the children the opportunity to paint in a different location outside of the classroom and studio. Taking painting supplies to the canal allowed the children to experience painting in a new way while also making the children visible to the community. The canal is a place where people from all over the city gather to eat, walk and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. As the children enjoyed this new exploration, people walking by got to experience the work of the children. Children are often heard but not seen by members of the community and this was a great opportunity for the community to see the children do one of the things they do best… creating art. We were lucky enough to have volunteers helping and as members of the community they also got firsthand experience with the children. There were also lots of people walking the canal enjoying the beautiful day that were curious about the children and what they were doing. Allowing the children to be seen on the canal in this way offered a unique approach for the community to experience children in a positive way.

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Painting Processes, Glue Tape, and Much More!

Today, groups of children at the Gilliate building were very, very active in their studio! The children worked on process paintings and freely moved on to other areas as they finished, or vice versa. New children to the provocation were eager to try constructing with the “glue” tape. In addition, the kiddos were extremely creative with lots of different materials throughout the studio! To be able to move so freely while still respecting the natural flow and resources of the studio shows how children learn to connect with their environments. They are developing an understanding of how to work WITH their environments, while finding more and more models of social interactions!




Brandon: It look like my dog.

How so?

Brandon: Because he black and white.

Kaley: I’m painting up!

Brandon: It (paint) smells like oil.




David: Look what happened… it’s (paper gum tape) sticky!


Brandon: I found nature!


Kaley: Three light-ups (holds three flashlights together)!


Kaley: These are vegetables (makes me a “plate of veggies” using colored blocks)… eat!


Brandon: This is the crocodile, alligator medicine! Food so they don’t get sick. I’m given’ ‘em somethin’ in they medicine tanks! This all my crocodiles, alligators, snakes, raccoons, lions, and tigers medicine (BJ works with small manipulatives and medicine containers to make his own animal pharmacy)!

Jason: Es mi castle!

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Exploring New Materials... Adding New to Familiar: Paper Gum Tape

Today, groups of children visited the studio where a new provocation with a new material was waiting for them. Over the past week or so, children who have been in the studio have helped to deconstruct cardboard. Today, children were able to investigate how we could implement the small pieces of this familiar material with something new… paper gum tape (we decided to re-name it glue tape)! This special tape is wonderful for constructing and introducing children to multi-step processes. First, the children were given a larger cardboard square to use as their “platform”. They were then given a demonstration of how to use the glue tape (it only works when the adhesive side is wet) to create designs or build structures with the smaller pieces of cardboard. These creations are also wonderful for printmaking, a possibility for further investigations! This shows how when given the opportunity, children will learn and grow through building upon familiar processes! It can go as far as they want to take it!

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A Busy Studio & The Power of Observation

Today, children from the Gilliate building visited their studio. The space felt alive, with children exploring all areas of the room. The teachers were sure to observe each child as they worked with different provocations throughout the space. This gave us all an opportunity to watch and learn about particular interests of the children. It is awesome to see the intrigue that new explorations and spaces bring about. You listen to the chatter as they move freely throughout the studio. You recognize the social development as they interact with one another. We observe them having talks in passing, negotiating materials, working together toward common (or uncommon) goals, and figuring out how to negotiate space with both their peers and themselves.


While watching the teachers observe, there was a pondering about observation in general, the ways we document, and how these experiences can translate to everyday learning. I have sometimes caught myself dictating too much of a conversation, asking questions about what I deem appropriate for them to know. In actuality, the children will gain much more when we let them bring their questions to us! When I allow this to happen, the direction in which projects/investigations will go is often gifted to me. This makes planning for what comes next both authentic and much simpler as you have listened, and know where the kiddos would like to take things next. In looking through the book In the Spirit of the Studio, I read one portion of an excerpt that I thought helped to describe these processes and their purpose!...


“My great dream is the extraordinary adventure of understanding, of documenting, the microprocesses of learning. I intend to document them live and then to interpret them and discuss them with others. The final product will not be abandoned, but each child and teacher will be given a way to reflect on the processes of understanding.” – Vea Vecchi, from In the Spirit of the Studio by Lella Gandini


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Studio Explorations: Natural and Recycled Materials

Today, children at the Gilliate building were eager to explore their studio space. Most were quickly drawn to provocations featuring natural and recycled materials. They closely examined branches, leaves, and rocks as they worked together on their “landscape”. A few children were especially interested in helping to “deconstruct” cardboard… creating many different shapes and designs. The children will use the cardboard pieces in a future investigation!

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Pet Store Pictures: Early Experiences with Photography

Today, children of the Thompson building took a field trip to the pet store, hoping to buy some fish for their new classroom fish tank! Before they left, the children were introduced to a camera and were very eager to take their own photographs! So, they brought the camera along with them to document their experience at the pet store! The children were shown how to use different features on the camera, testing them out as the explored the store. In the children’s photographs, you could notice improvement in each try at a photo as they got a feel for photography!

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Observing Transitions & Recognizing Individuality... Paint/Light

Today, groups of children chose to visit the studio after being asked if they wanted to help finish our paintings. They we’re A.O.K. going directly to the paintings as they entered the space. However, their attention didn’t stay there long. They were quickly drawn to the light invitation that remained from previous investigations. Each child had a different priority as to what they considered flashlight-worthy. Regardless, it was very interesting and thought-provoking to sit back and observe how each child had their own thoughts and processes as they continue to investigate light and their environments in general.

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