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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It's Glowing

Today, new groups of children at the Thompson building were introduced to the light provocations and encouraged to explore. They weren’t in one place for long as we decided to take the lights into a dark room to see what we might notice. Almost right away, our attention was on the shadows that were being created in this new, much darker space. The children explored how their bodies (especially their hands), toys, and other objects casted different shadows. It was awesome to watch them notice the movement of the shadows and how this concept coincided with their actions!!! In addition, the children were eager to explore other materials in the studio. We must always be ready to go where THEY LEAD US next!!!


Roddy: The lights are going off and on with the button. It helps find bugs in there (while shining flashlight into sink drain)! Look! It’s glowing!!!

What’s in there (my ear)?

Brylin: A squirrel!

Roddy: He’s eating your ear. He wants to hide!


Annika: Two flashlights together. They mix up! It’s purple… it turns pink with the light!

Avery: Wow! That’s cool ‘cause it went red!

Moses: Wow!

Miss Katie: Can you see it through my hand?

Annika: Yeah! It’s fire on my hand!

Avery: No, look at the flashlight… it’s good!


Why does the light grow?

Brylin: I moved it.

Gigi: Look, it’s growing! Do you see?

Roddy: Look at my shadow!

Gigi: Look at my dinosaur (toy casting a shadow)!

Iker: Mira (look) (points to his shadow)!


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I'm Stepping On The Light

In order to foster the children’s curiosity in light and reflection, a provocation of lamps, flashlights, and “light-interactive” objects was introduced. The children were quick to notice shadows, and the fun ways color and light can manipulate one another. In addition, the children were eager to venture into other spaces that they surmised needed a good flashlight investigation!


Mal: I opened the door and I saw red.

TJ: It made red.

Ariana: It looks like a shadow.


Mal: I turned it (the light) off.

What turns the light on and off?

TJ: The thing… in here (switch).

Arianna: You can’t put your hand in there so it can burn you!


Cayden: There’s a shadow up there! I’m stepping on the light!!!

Arianna: They’re (marbles) yellow ‘cause I’m shining the flashlight on them.

Finley: The flashlight!

Kennedy: The circle is tiny (shines light on the floor). I’m making it bigger and smaller!


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Great First Week

We had such a great first week back at school! It was so nice to meet and see all of the new, and returning children!!!


This week, groups of children were able to explore the studios and have conversations while creating collaborative self-portraits. They took great interest in studying their reflections, and those of their peers. After they had finished up with their drawings, a lot of the children showed great interest in exploring light. They used flashlights, colored lamps, reflective and transparent manipulatives, and themselves (the adults too!) in their investigations. Other children were eager to venture to other areas of the studios as well. We look forward to seeing where these interests, and hypotheses take us next!!!


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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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