The vendors!! Crafty Bastards DC was last weekend. This year the venerable craft show was held in a new location that proved a challenge to all who turned up toting bags and boxes of precious, hand crafted treasures. It had rained overnight, and water had seeped into the tent, which had been pitched over a …
Fall Sketchbook Review
I didn’t manage to fit in my regular writing session last night because there were a thousand niggly little things that needed to be done. Forms to be signed for field trips, long ignored emails waiting to be answered, appointments that desperately needed to be made before one of us turns blind/loses all our teeth/gets …
Domesticity Fights Creativity
I have had a very productive week. I screen printed a huge batch of shirts, applied to two holiday shows, reorganized all of my inventory and packed it for my future shows, worked on two canvases, did a lot of research into booth displays for indoor shows, volunteered at a school library, finished off a …
Counting My Cultural Blessings
As the child of first generation Indian immigrants, who moved to Britain in the sixties, I can tell you that living between two cultures can be complicated at the best of times. But how about living between three cultures? As a British person of Indian origin, who has now settled in America, and is bringing up American kids …
NYC In 2 Days With 2 Kids
My problem is that I am a big city girl living in a small town. I grew up in the hustle and bustle of London, and get antsy if I go for too long without being in a proper crowd, getting yelled at by a bum, or using public transport. I’m happy where I am, but when …
The Kids Need To Play More!
Okay, I’m back! It took a bit of recovering after the last two (very physical) weeks of summer camp, and a lot of chocolate and BBC consumption, and now I’m ready to share. In the beginning… I don’t know about you, but growing up in England in the 80’s I had a lot of free time. …
The Value of Playtime
This week’s camp was all about the five senses, so the kids spent a lot of time being hungry (taste, and smell seem to be the all round favorite senses, hands down, no big surprise!).
We looked at Wayne Thiebaud’s heavily textured paintings of cakes and other desserts, and used palette knives to ‘frost’ our own paintings. We learned about Synesthesia, and discussed how artist, Wassily Kandinsky visualized sounds. The kids produced drawings of music, and sat bent over paper furiously scribbling to The White Stripes, Bob Marley, Tchaikovsky, and hot jazz. We learned about color theory and color symbolism. We drew objects, while feeling them, and not looking at them. We gawped at pictures of scarification, and body art, and made a horrible mess working with clay. We made a lot of horrible messes.
The campers loved ‘Lick and Lather’ – Janine Antoni’s chocolate and soap sculptures, and had some amazing insights about her work, which led to a need for an ice cream party (any excuse!). On Friday, we sniffed and identified different scents, and made little scent jars to take home and experiment with.
Yup, a lot happened, and that’s just the art. But, if you ask me, some of the most important learning happened during break times.
On Monday, after a morning of working indoors, I told my students to go out and play in the sunshine – “But, what should we play?” they asked me, “I don’t know, whatever you want to!” I said, “But, we don’t know what to play! they retorted, “This is boring, can you make up a game for us?”.
I refused flatly, and mercilessly threw them out into the wild jungle that is North American suburbia. What happened? Well it wasn’t pretty, there was awkwardness, sulking, whining and a few fights at first, but by the end of the week, the kids were begging for more play time. They made up complex games, hashing out the rules in long, drawn out negotiations, and bonded beautifully. They even organized an end of week performance, made posters by themselves, and practiced relentlessly for it the whole of Friday afternoon.
I think free playtime is really important for kids. Sure, teacher organized play activities have their merits – I often organize games and activities for my students, but I also often step away a lot during break times, and that’s when the good stuff happens.
Who needs a teacher looking over your shoulder all the time? Alone, kids learn to solve problems and counsel one another. Free play fosters the building of skills such as negotiation, team work, conflict resolution, imagination, creativity, and problem posing and solving. My classroom is almost always a better place after a long break. I remember devising so many new games during my long recesses at school, so let’s let our kids get a bit bored this summer, and see where it leads them!
If you are so inclined, check out Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato, & Ha Ha Ha, the wonderful book I have photographed below; it is a great starting point for encouraging kids to just get out and do their thing! Also, There is a photo of a fabulous novel for kids, A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, that teaches you about Synesthesia (I think that merits a post of it’s own!).
I am many things: Art-maker, Story-teller, Cart-pusher, Butt-wiper, Pen-stealer, Tea-lover, Tantrum-soother, List-writer, Number-cruncher, Library-loiterer, Pot-scrubber, Cookie-monster, Lesson-planner, and Head-honcho, to name just a few. If it is labels you are after, then I could go on and on. Some labels are more desirable than others; Story-telling and Library-loitering are two of my happiest activities. However, over …
2013 To-do list
I have a feeling that this post may end up being extreeeemely boring to anyone who isn’t me. But I’m going to write it anyway, as a sort of self help exercise. So there. I have been thinking and thinking about what I want to get accomplished in 2013, and the thoughts are so manifold, …
Happy New Yarn/ Letting go
Well I had really hoped to send out a blog on New Year’s day. You know the kind: full to the brim with good intentions, motivational, packed with resolutions, and maybe with a snappy pep talk included for the year ahead. It never happened. Why? Well, New Year’s day turned out to be a little …