This is the latest in a series of blog posts by a partnering cohort member. - By: Melesa Swartz
Today, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Rachael our leader had us do many different activities after reading children’s books to us. The first book was The Dot, by Peter Reynolds about a young child who was apprehensive about drawing. She eventually was able to help someone else after her teacher helped her feel better about her drawing.
After reading this book, we had to use markers to draw circles on our tables. We drew circles of various sizes; we drew circles inside of circles; we filled in circles, etc. We eventually had to move tables and add to circles already created. Finally, we had to make the circles into gardens.
I do something similar to this in my PHYS 340 class. We talk about how everyone interprets things differently. I have students draw a squiggle and trade papers with a peer. The peer then has to draw a picture from the squiggle. I often get snakes or roller coasters, but sometimes I get a more unique picture, like this alien.
Next, we made scribble bots. While I am somewhat familiar with them, I had never actually made one myself. I loved that everyone made a unique one. Some had three markers, some had four. One group even made a fan on their bot. I was able to see this because we each got a chance to talk about our bots and discuss what went well and what did not go well.
I really enjoyed our next book, Flashlight by Lizi Boyd. It is about a child walking through the forest at night with a flashlight. There are no words in the book. The photos on each page are of what the flashlight is focusing on as well as other background scenery that is quite gray. It was pointed out by others in the class that some of the animals were reoccurring on each page, making the book like an I-spy book.
After reading this book, we were walked through how to make our own flashlights. My mind was already planning how I could use this activity with my students and elementary students. We have an optical illusion STEAM event coming up with the aid of a SWN grant I helped write. We are discussing shadows and this could go right along with it. In addition, my students are running science demos and hands-on activities during the science fair. This would be a great make and take activity, but I worry about the costs. The copper tape is costly, apparently. In general, this is a great activity to talk about actively observing surroundings.
The next book we read was Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. This book is about how someone can see a box for its potential. A box isn’t just a box; it could be a rocket ship or a mountain. My own kiddos love to make cars and forts out of boxes.
From this book, our activity was to make a sculpture of our choosing out of recycled materials. I saw a small container that looked like the bottom two portions of a snowman and I really enjoyed making the flashlight and scribble bot with lights. I decided to make a snowman with a nose that lit up too. Some of the other sculptures that were made were a musical man (maraca and drum), an airplane, and a pontoon boat.
The afternoon was spent using fiber. We first learned how to weave using cardboard looms. I was working on an Easter basket here. We discussed how it could be used for making a scene from a book, self-portrait, and more.
We were read the book Bugs in a blanket by Beatrice Alemagna. It is about a little bug that is excited about meeting new friends so they can dance in a blanket. When he gets to the blanket, he discovers that all of the bugs are different, some are big, some are little, some are different colors, and some even have different sized features. It is discussed that even though they were all born the way they are, they can all dance together in the blanket and be friends.
The activity we completed after this book was so therapeutic. We used thick foam with felt over the top of it to create our own creative expression using wool roving and the felting needles/holders. My youngest is in love with unicorns so I made one using the roving, which they said was dyed using Kool-aid. I am wondering if cotton balls could be used for a cheaper version. I may have a new hobby.We finished the day by finger weaving. We used thick yarn to make long chains. It was also calming. I really enjoyed my day at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. I highly recommend attending a workshop there in the future. Their ideas and goals align well with our ideals within Fluency.