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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Exploring Familiar Materials in New Ways: Painting Processes

Today at the Thompson building, pairs of children were taken into the studio where they found paint, canvases, brushes, droppers, and other tools waiting on them. Each child was asked about how they typically paint and most were quick to mention the brushes. As soon as they began to talk about their familiar processes, I removed the brushes and asked them how they could paint without them. One returning child immediately stood up and went for the droppers and began to drop paint onto the canvases from above. A new child was seemingly amazed by the splatter effect and was eager to join in! Once they had tried this, the brushes were re-inserted and the children were given the freedom to paint with tools of their choosing. A lot of the children were very intrigued with how the watery paint mixed (similar to marbling), as some pointed out the changes in color and how the wet paint moved around the canvas.


Ryan: See how they mix? Double time!


Desharell (forgive me on the spellings): I’m making pink. Make it stop moving!


Ryan: You can move it (the canvas)! The paint mixing though.


Desharell: You move like this so you can paint there.


Xavier: I want the brush.


Roddy: I want to spray with that (spots the spray bottle filled with paint)!


Gi Gi: Whoa!

Callie Rae: Yeah! My paint stayed on top.

Gi Gi: Yeah, you drop it!

Callie Rae: Then it mix up.

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Bringing Experiences Back to the Classroom: An Extension of Light

As an educator, it is always an amazing thing to see the ideas gained from outside experiences being extended into the classroom. Our teachers are incredible at recognizing these interests and expanding upon them, seeking out every opportunity for growth and learning. Room 1 at the Thompson building has done just that, by showing continued interest in light and shadows. You can see how they have created different shadows and how they move materials to be manipulated by the light! We look forward to seeing how all of the children’s interests continue to expand as new ideas and concepts are developed in all of our classrooms throughout the year!

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Natural Provocations: Connecting with Nature

Today, groups of children visited the studio and were immediately drawn to a table covered with natural materials intended to resemble a real outdoor space. They were deeply interested in using different tools to investigating dirt, chunks of wood, rocks, and plants to see what they may discover! Other children were drawn to the light provocations as continued interests have been prevalent in our studio experiences! As always… there was lots more fun to be had as well!


 Christian: There are too many needles (hammering nails into the wood chunks)!

Jamiya: I found it!

Ms. Tish: What did you find?!

Jamiya: The bug. He went down in there!

Daniel: It’s (nail) going in. It’s hard to do it! We just workin’… but it’s too hard.

Christian: I’m going to find a spider.

Aiden: I found a bug. It’s just a ant. He was getting some food!


Jamiya: It’s a shadow, ‘cause it make a picture of the side of it.

Iker: It’s no hot!

Kamari: It is hot!!!

Iker: Why is there light? Can you see the light?

Christian: (puts flashlight to his ear) I’m a robot!

Vivian: It’s supposed to make a shadow, ‘cause that’s what it’s for!

Vivian: It makes yellow (light through colored manipulatives)!

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I'm Building a Tree! - Fun With Light & Natural Materials

New groups of children were able to explore our light provocations and do some extensive research with cool new natural materials. Today, they seemed especially interested in being very close to the lights. They pulled them closer as they were playing, followed the beams with a pencil as it moved around the paper, and closely studied different manipulatives as they held them to the light. Other groups were especially interested in large chunks of wood from a fallen tree. They used their hands and different tools to chip away at the bark and dig their way into openings in the wood. Some children were scientists, observing the properties of this tree’s remains. Others were artists, and some were observers. It is always amazing to see wheels turning as each individual discovers how they learn best.



Hey Markie, can you show me how that works?

Mark: It turns on with the button. Then I turn it and it still works. It can shine.


Larissa: It’s a ball (points to circular light beam on wall)!

Whoa! Where did it come from?!

Larissa: It is on all of them (switches to the three different settings on the lamp).




Christopher: I’m building a tree! Dang, it fell!!! I got to tie it on.


Samuel: I can’t get the spiders out (spots ants under the tree bark)!

Ian: I got it!

Wesley: I got it!

Mya: I found the spider!


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Young Chemists

Today groups of children at the Gilliate building were introduced to new provocations of light… an extension on their continued interests. A home-living like area full of lights and light-interactive materials was set-up for them to freely explore. Most of the children were engaged in their investigations and enjoyed discovering how light interacts with everything around them. A part of the provocation was containers and glass bowls filled with colored water. The intention was for them to see how the color interacted with different light sources, but the children decided to take it in another direction!!! These vessels quickly became mobile and were moved throughout the studio so the children could add materials in order to make “potions”. This is a testament to a child’s creativity, and how new ideas can blossom, seemingly out of nowhere! At St. Mary’s… we welcome and will continue to foster these new ideas, along with the many more that are still to come!!! J


Brianna: The light is so cool ‘cause it’s cute and it’s shiny!

Why is the shadow moving? Can you catch it?

Isaiah: I can’t!

Anthony: Yeah, ‘cause it turned off and back on.

Michael: How do you turn it off (points to switch as if asking if that was it)?


Anthony: The light makes the water go up and down. It too full ‘cause I filled it up.

Desire: It’s a potion to drink for my mama.

Hannah: Yeah! We’re making potions. It’s for my dad to be, like, bigger! But it’s still tiny!!!

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