We read The Crayon Box that Talked when we talk about being peaceful, being kind, and appreciating that we all have unique talents and abilities. It is a wonderful story about the importance of diversity.
Many American schools read it as part of Martin Luther King Jr Day activities.
Whenever it is read, it is a fun book with a good lesson.
The Crayon Box That Talked written by Shane DeRolf illustrated by Michael Letzig published by Random House Books for Young Readers (1997)
summary A girl buys a box of crayons and takes them home. When she opens up the box, she sees that they crayons are unkind to each other - even though they really don't know why they say mean things.
The girl shows the crayons how all are important and necessary by drawing a picture using all of them. By the end of the story, the crayons appreciate the contributions that each make.
My favourite page in the book is when all the crayons are happily dancing across the page, working and creating together.
Isn't that what we want for our classrooms - everyone working together, appreciating each other.
We create "dancing crayons" to put up in our classroom, reminding us how all of us are needed for the picture to be complete.
The kids choose what colour crayon they want to create, and then use a tracer to create a crayon shape.
Using a tracer is a great fine motor skills work out for little hands. The "helper hand" needs to put firm pressure on the tracer so that it does not move, and the printing hand needs to move the pencil right around the perimeter of the tracer. Lots of concentration required.
More fine motor work with cutting out the crayon.
Time to decorate the crayons. We noticed that in the book, the crayons were only decorated withe their own colours. Purple was decorated only with purple. Green with green. You get the drift. But they had all sorts of different decorations.
We endeavoured to decorate the crayons the same way. No pictures as a result of making sure that all reports of using the wrong colour for decorations were false - and providing glue and googly eyes.
After the decorated crayons were glued onto legal sized paper, it was time to add the dancing arms and legs.
Some looked like the arms and legs from the book,
others had their own style.
Whatever their style, our dancing crayons are a reminder that we are better -- and we have more fun -- when everyone is included and appreciated for what they bring to our community.
Fall trees are just so beautiful. The kindergarten kids looked at the trees as artists, and saw the colours of the leaves and the lines of the branches.
As artists, we knew we wanted to paint those trees - highlighting both the lines of the branches and the colours of the changing leaves.
We looked at the colours of some of the leaves on the trees in our school grounds. We discovered that we needed a variety of colours of paint for the leaves. We discovered that there was not just one colour of leaves on many trees - there were lots of colours of leaves on the same tree.
Each child decided what colours they wanted on the leaves on their tree
and how and where those colours should be on the paper.
Sponges work wonderfully to mix the colours and create texture.
We cut out the fall foliage, and turned out attention to the trunk and branches.
While we were outside, we looked at tree bark, and noticed the colours we saw.
The children used sponges (texture again) to paint bark, and then I used a paper cutter to cut thick trunk sized pieces,
medium and small branch size pieces.
The kids chose a trunk, the right number of medium branches for their tree, and then added small branches.
The Dot by Peter Reynold is a wonderful book to read. And reread. And be inspired by.
It reminds us of some very important principles: • everyone has a mark to leave on the world • effort should be celebrated • art is inclusive • encouragement is contagious
summary Vashti thinks that she can't draw. Her art teacher gently asks her to make a dot on her paper, and sign it. Next class, Vashti sees her dot, framed, above her teacher's desk. It inspires her to make better dots, bigger dots, coloured dots, un-dots, and to see herself as an artist.
My favourite of Vashti's dots is her "undot".
We looked at the "undot" together and talked about how Vashti did not paint a dot. We decided to make undots too.
Negative space is a hard concept for kindergarten kids.
I figured that they might need a little help.
Mactac to to the rescue.
I cut out a bunch of Mactac dots and stuck them on half an 8 1/2 by 11" paper (heavier bond than photocopy paper - in a perfect (and budget free) world, I would use watercolour paper).
The kids chose a paper with a dot - and headed to the paints.
We used puck style tempera paints. I have them set up on the tables by colour, and the kids move themselves and their papers to the colours that they want to use.
I love observing how children operate as artists.
Some are very controlled and precise.
Some artists are random and spontaneous.
Some artists have a definite plan in mind.
Some artists have a plan, and constantly adapt it.
After the paint was dry, we peeled off the mactac circle, leaving an unpainted undot on the paper.
The artists signed their work, and we framed them in swirly gold.
Each piece of art, reminding us that everyone has something to contribute - everyone has a mark to make.
Make your mark - you never know where it will take you.
He jumped into my daughter Anna’s backpack and hitched a ride on her trip to Southeast Asia.
Pete seems to have a penchant for visiting old cities and soaking up the history of ancient sites. (Read his adventures in Ephesus, Turkey.)
He was delighted that his first stop in SE Asia was Ayutthaya, an ancient city in modern Thailand.
Ayutthaya was the centre of a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1371 - 1767. During this time it had trading relationships with many countries including China, India, Japan, Spain and France. During the 17th century the king of Ayutthaya had strong links with King Louis XIV of France. Ayutthaya was said to rival Paris in terms of size and wealth.
The historic city of Ayutthaya was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and is actually on an island. Pete had to hop on a small boat that took locals, tourists, and, sometimes, live chickens across the water.
Pete explored the ruins of the ancient palaces, and wats (temples). He marveled at the unique design of the buildings and imagined kings and queens participating in elaborate ceremonies.
Not one to stay stuck in the past, Pete learned about the ancient ruins with modern technology.
A day of exploring works up an appetite for a blue cat. A little local treat was in order.
Roti saimal is a pancake filled with Thai-style cotton candy. Anna had made Pete very excited to try it as she had been craving it since her last trip to Thailand 8 years earlier. Pete developed quite a taste for it, and was disappointed that he could not find it anywhere else in Thailand.
Luckily, his favourite ice tea was available in every 7-11 on every street corner. Perfect for rehydrating in the hot weather!
Now, like all cats, Pete likes a good cat nap in the afternoon and being in Ayutthaya was no different. Jet lag had other ideas and Anna and Pete’s cat nap turned into a 7 hour snooze. Oops!
Investigating snail anatomy led to creating snails with play dough and loose parts.
And being intrigued by swirls.
Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes is a fascinating book to read and to pore over the illustrations -- even if you are not intrigued by swirls.
To truly experience the wonder of a swirl, we had to make them. Making snail cookies gave us an opportunity for kindness. Each child made a couple of cookies - we invited our big buddies to visit and enjoy snail cookies with us.
Swirls inspired creativity with paper plates and paint.
And that got us back to thinking about snails -- and creating art inspired by the Masters.
A fascination with snails led us to so much learning :
One of our first and most important goals in our kindergarten class is to become a community. A community that everyone belongs to. Equally. A community that celebrates both that which we have in common, and the things that make us different and unique. A community that is curious, and brave enough to explore new ideas and skills. A community that cares for each other, and cheers each other on. A group of kids that belong together.
We read a book about a child who kept looking for his "group of kids who belong together".
There is a Tribe of Kids
author and illustrator: Lane Smith
publisher: Pan Macmillan, 2016
At the beginning of the story, we meet the main character -a kid - with a tribe of kids (the goat variety).
Having been left behind, he realizes that he does not belong with these kids, and begins his adventures to find his tribe.
He swims with a smack of jellyfish,
connects with a family of stars,
blooms with a growth of plants,
attempts to join a flight of butterflies,
- but does not belong with any of them.
He keeps adventuring - until he finds his tribe of leaf clad kids and joins their play.
He tells them about his adventures,
and finds a family to belong with. Where he is loved!
As I read the book aloud to the kids, we enjoyed (and had fun with) Lane's choice of words in the story. The text is sparse, each word carefully chosen. The kids enjoyed the "clash" of rhinos, the "army" of caterpillars, and, most especially. the "unkindness" of ravens.
We loved both the simplicity and detail in all the illustrations.
Each animal, insect, plant, and even rock, was created with its own characteristics and personality.
The kids pored over the double spread of the kids doing their kid thing in the forest. There is so much to investigate - so many back stories to wonder about, so many future stories to tell.
There is Tribe of Kids just begs its readers to create their own tribe of kids.
The logical starting place is with leaves - collect some. We only collected maple leaves - other kinds of leaves would also work. Purchased paper or fabric leaves would also work.
We painted our leaves and made leaf prints. (We only made red leaves since we were making a tribe of Canadian kids to celebrate Canada's birthday).
I cut out the leaves so that the children could transform them into kids.
The kids chose to use markers, pencil crayons and felt pens (markers) to create their tribe of children.
I love how this leaf-kid is wearing Canadian flags on her head just like the artist-kid is.
Each member of the tribe had character and personality.
There is a Tribe of Kids has generated some controversy because of the use of the word "tribe" in the title and text.
I read the book, read reviews outlining how the book can be perceived as racist, and chose to share it with my class (which includes First Nations students) based on the meaning of "tribe" as a group of people sharing the same customs and culture. We spent all year building community - building our tribe. Becoming a group of kids who belong together.