November 23rd, 2013
I really like designing light table explorations because they offer open-ended, visual, and kinesthetic ways to play and learn. We make a lot of our own light table manipulatives because we like to show teachers and families that they don’t have to purchase materials to use with light tables or panels. We’ve also found that though we like the transparent light table manipulatives available through suppliers like Constructive Playthings, some of the objects are small and may pose a choking hazard to the guests who visit our space.
When trying to think of new materials to put on our light table, I often try to select things that will connect with our Every Day Art Project, as we did with the flower shapes exploration early in the summer. Otherwise, I try to select a grouping of objects that are related through some kind of theme or concept. Sometimes the themes are abstract or narrative, other times they are more concrete or based on the elements and principles of design. Sometimes I check out Play at Home Mom’s Playing with Light pin board for inspiration.
At the end of the summer, I charged our intern, Hannah, with the challenge of designing a new light table exploration.
To gather ideas, she looked through our found materials collection. She was most drawn to materials with varying textures- particularly a mesh onion bag, a yard of tulle, and a soft fibrous paper used to wrap a bouquet of flowers.
I shared with Hannah something I’ve observed in the studio for many years: For the most part, children first notice similarities and differences in color, then shape, and then visual texture. We once ordered a manipulative from an early childhood supplier that was designed to have children match samples of textures like hook tape, woven grass, sandpaper, and a few others. When I observed children matching the parts, they didn’t do it by feeling the textures; they did it visually by matching the colors of the materials because each material was in a different color. From then on, I realized that if I wanted to draw attention to the differences or similarities of the textures of materials, I would need to remove the element of color and shape, or at least keep the colors and shapes uniform.
So, when we looked again at the things Hannah collected, we noticed that among the them were many things purple and yellow. This pairing of colors is a set of complementary colors.
In order to keep the variables to a minimum, Hannah cut rectangular and circle shaped samples, all the same size, from the purple and yellow materials. Then she sent them through the laminator.
Materials on the light table inevitably migrate over to the work tables, so if they are flat we have to laminate them to distinguish them from other collage materials available. Laminating them, though, doesn’t always guarantee they won’t get cut and glued into someone’s project.
Margaret, our other summer intern, collected a few of the other purple and yellow things we already had in our cabinet of manipulatives and added them to the shapes Hannah created.
Finally, to offer a bit of information for anyone that could or cared to read it, we hung a poster about complementary colors that we made a few years ago just above the convex mirrors above light table.
The purple and yellow materials have now been out for a few months. We’ve observed children stacking them, feeling the differences in texture, matching the shapes, and matching the colors. My two and a half year old daughter came for visit and we enjoyed stacked the round shapes to make a purple and yellow “sandwich.”
It’s now time to refresh the light table activity again, so its time to move on to another set of set of complementary colors! When we get it set up, we’ll post some photos.
Please share! What kinds of explorations or themes have your children or students enjoyed at the light table?
November 21st, 2013
Last Sunday morning we had a blast making snowflake-themed projects in The Family Snowflake Workshop!
Everyone got really creative with wood and glue…
We printed with custom snowflake stamps to make handmade wrapping paper.
What snowflake workshop would be complete without handmade snow globes!
If you missed last weekend’s workshop, don’t worry! There are still a few spots left in our upcoming Holiday Card-Making Party on Saturday, December 7th, 10:00 – 11:30 am. $7/participant. Ages 3 and up with an adult; up to 2 children per adult. Space is limited, so registration is recommended. Walk-ins welcome as space permits. To register visit www.carlemuseum.org/register
October 29th, 2013
I know it’s a little early to think about snow when there are still leaves on the trees, but if you and your kids are big fans of winter then you’ll love my upcoming class, The Family Snowflake Workshop. Even if you’re not in any rush to make snowmen and go sledding (that’s me) the pattern and symmetry of snowflakes are a wonderful inspiration for art making almost any time of year. On November 17th we’ll construct snowflakes with wood, print snowflakes with paint and even learn how to make handmade snow globes!
We’ll use some of these snowy stories as inspiration for our wintery work….
Through the magic of Photoshop, we experienced a convenient snow squall while I shot the two photos below Here are some close-ups of the sample 3d wooden snowflake window hangings I made by gluing together chopsticks, coffee stirrers, toothpicks and other found wooden pieces.
We’ll design different sizes of handmade snowflake stamps for wrapping paper or decorating gifts.
I’ll also show ways to create snowflake prints and patterns with everyday objects you can find around the house to add flair to your handmade books and cards.
I hope to see your family there! Below are the details:
The Family Snowflake Workshop
November 17, 2013
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
$25 per pair or trio (Members $15)
(Ages 6 and up with an adult; up to 2 children per adult)
Have fun working on open-ended snowflake-themed activities together! We’ll discuss the science of snow; create snowflake-shaped stamps for wrapping paper, cards or books; put together a wooden sculpture inspired by snowflakes and create hand made snow globes to give as gifts or display at home.
Instructor: Diana MacKenzie
Registration is required. Please Click here for more information.
October 21st, 2013
Have I ever mentioned how much we love birds here at The Carle? I don’t need to convince you that birds are pretty magical creatures, but we’ve especially obsessed with them lately because of the current exhibition, Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems, on view through February 23rd, 2014.
Mo Willems, the author and illustrator of the popular Pigeon series of picture books is the latest inspiration for The Art Studio’s project, Feathered Flyers, which just ending last week. We offered a selection of large bird-inspired construction paper shapes for guests to choose from.
Paper scraps, texture rubbing plates and wax crayons added fun feathery details to the birds.
Here are many more of the beautiful birds flying around The Aviary here in The Studio!
We have birds on wires…
Birds that like to flock together….
Birds sitting in nests…
and birds with lots of tiny little shapes attached!
This was a really popular project with The Carle’s guests and I was sad to see the project end, but The Aviary will stay on display through November. When you stop by for The Fine Art of Friendship, the new Every Day Art Project, be sure to check it out for yourself!
Want to make your own texture rubbing plates? Visit our tutorial here.
Check out our other collage material and project suggestions here.
Or purchase some plastic texture plate sets here, or here.
October 8th, 2013
If you’ve never painted with clay before then you’re missing out on a really fun way to explore mark-making! In my Professional Development Workshop, Bridging Art and Nature for Teachers and Parents last week, participants made a paintbrush from twigs and plants and used them to paint with clay onto paper. Once the clay was dry we bound them into simple books. For the step-by-step directions see below.
For the “bristles” of the brushes I collected several branches from the Thuja (or arborvitaes) trees that grow behind The Museum. We used the Thuja branches because that was what was available, but it would be interesting to make brushes using different varieties of coniferous branches, or other varieties of plants, trees and shrubs.
We then attached the coniferous branches to long sticks with natural jute twine. If you didn’t have jute you could use yarn, ribbon, wire, or zip ties. These brushes aren’t intended for multiple uses, but I’m sure you could rinse and reuse them for a couple days before they got too dried out.
I got this idea from Learning4Kids.net via Pinterest (I pinned it to The Carle’s Bridging Art and Nature Pinboard here.)
The clay slip I made from watered down Nasco air dry clay in an old deli container. We used long sheets of watercolor paper , but you could use any thick paper, cardboard, masonite or wood.
I kept adding water to the clay until it was the consistency of pudding, but you could thin it down even more to get more of a washy look. Clay slip is traditionally what you use in ceramics as the “glue” to attach clay pieces together. It can be stored in a lidded container in a cool, dry place. If it starts to dry out, just add more water until it has the consistency you like.
Some participants use dried up leaves, seeds and grass to press into their wet clay marks, or cut the paper into smaller pieces.
After the clay was completely dry (it dries very quickly) you may want to brush clear Mod Podge over the marks to keep the clay from flaking off of the paper. My inspiration for drawing with clay came from this book:
Children, Art, Artists: The Expressive Languages of Children, The Artistic Language of Alberto Burri by Reggio Children . The book has a section on using natural materials with young children and help them experiment with mark making.
The artists who created the beautiful, thoughtful compositions in the photo below are between the ages of 3 years 11 months and 4 years 10 months!
After you try painting with clay and handmade brushes, check out our Veggie Printing tutuorial! See the full blog post here.
For MANY more ways to explore nature with children, visit our Pinterest board: Bridging Art and Nature and keep a lookout next fall for my annual workshop here at The Carle, Bridging Art and Nature for Teachers and Parents.
October 4th, 2013
One of the best things about my job is trying out new art materials. There’s nothing like opening up a fresh box of something colorful, taking in its distinct scent, and dragging it across a piece of paper for the first time. I feel like a scientist, getting ready to embark upon a series of experiments with my students. How will they test the limits of the material? Will they enjoy its smell and texture as much as I do?
Since The Carle’s opening in 2002, The Art Studio had been able to test many materials, discovering which stand up to the creative rigors of the thousands of children and adults who visit each year, and which do not. Some materials we come back to again and again because they continually meeting our high standard of quality, value, safety, ease of use, visual feedback, potential for open-ended use, and of course fun for our guests of all ages.
The list below does not include ALL the materials we love, but those basics which we find ourselves recommending again and again. By no means are all or any of these required to help a child develop creative habits of mind . A few basics and a willingness to let them be tried and tested in multiple ways will go a long way. As the adult in your learning environment, think of yourself as a co-learner, rather than a provider of answers and supplier of lots of fancy supplies, and you will find joy and discovery in the very important job of helping a child grow and learn.
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September 20th, 2013
In case you missed it, this past Sunday was International Dot Day. What is International Dot Day exactly? Well, it all began on September 15th, 2009, in the sixth anniversary of the publishing of The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, when a teacher in Iowa, Terry Shay, shared Reynolds’ book with his classroom. Encouraging children to keep an open mind in their own art, the book inspires young artists and teachers to appreciate where just one dot can take you. The idea quickly spread to classrooms, libraries, and communities across the globe. This year we were honored that Peter H. Reynolds chose The Carle for this year’s celebration site!
Just before The Museum opened, Peter drew a beautiful mural on The Art Studio board of The Dot’s main character, Vashti, and an empty “gallery” for guests to fill with their own unique dots throughout the day.
That afternoon, Peter spoke to guests in the auditorium about how he got the idea for his book, The Dot and some fun side stories, like about how the main character, Vashti got her name. He also shared his whimsical animation app Animation-ish, and showed everyone how to make a fun, animated drawing with a wacon tablet on the screen. At the end of Peter’s talk, guests got to view the animated versions of Peter’s books The Dot and Ish, created by the creative folks at Weston Woods, with Peter’s help of course.
Lots of dot fans got their books signed and personalized by Peter…
and filled The Art Studio windows and Vashti’s gallery with their dot drawings and collages.
At the very end of the day, Peter and his brother Paul, stopped by The Studio to add finishing touches to the mural. Twin brothers Peter and Paul founded Fablevision in Dedham, MA in 1996. Fablevision is both a Media and Interactive Development Studio as well as a provider of services and resources for K-12 educators. Click here for more information about all the great stuff Fablevision does!
Till next year’s Dot Day, continue ‘Making Your Mark’! Visit www.thedotclub.org to become a member of Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot Club, and see where your marks take you…
September 14th, 2013
Local Friends! If you missed Hat Day and making paper hats at The Carle today, no worries! You can still knit hats for The 500 Hats Project and find a local drop-off point at 500hats.org.
Tomorrow is International Dot Day! Please join us at The Carle for a day of creative fun!