Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cold days and GLUE!

Creativity can be elusive during the last stretch of New England winter. Glue has become our favorite pass time. I have observed over the years I have worked with children and now with my own, that any collage activity is really all about the glue. So, why not make glue the main character?

I added a few drops of food coloring to four bottles of glue and let her set free. She became one with the glue, and as she often does her art became more of a day at the spa. Once it was out of her system, she experimented with the glue’s properties and enjoyed its 3D quality.

We have also brought out left over collage materials and nature walk treasures. She was eager to see if the rocks would stay on the paper once they dried.

She also loves experimenting with letters and numbers cut out from magazines. (Something I do during the after-hours these days…) Not only do I find these great visually, but hey have brought about great stories. Her name has a baby and a mama for each of the letters. The second one is the story of Dangalili, a 10 year old pirate.

She now wants to have an exhibit. I will have work on the logistics for that!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Love for Poetry

Illustrating her poem. Yes, she has her helmet on... She was missing the summer!
Ever since Lucia first started speaking she made poems. She was delighted with the similarities between words, the rhythm of the books we read, and the rhyming of chants and songs. One of her first poems emerged as she asked for a little more milk. “A little bit,” she said. I then saw her eyes wonder as she thought and then said “Elizabeth.” She paused to add “Isabelle,” and "Israel.” 

A little bit

A great big smile followed. 

A few weeks later, during the summer she came up with a little playful rhyme:


(I love this one in particular because to me she looked like a dandelion!)

Poetry answers to so many aspects of life; from the playful understanding of language and how it works, to a way of describing the essence of a feeling or a moment in life. Poetry is a window into other people’s souls and can be a tool towards understanding another way of life or a different understanding of reality. It can also be therapeutic and help children and adults process trauma, change and challenging circumstances.

We’ve been really enjoying a particular book these days. It is a lovely compilation of poems about families. It touches on the diversity of families, as well as on the many experiences in family life. It has brought about many discussions about families and their histories, as well as opened the door to talk about feelings, family dynamics and the what-ifs of life. Some of the conversations have not been easy, but who said they ever would be?


Another book we have been reading is “My People.” Langston Hughes beautiful poem is interpreted through breath taking photography by Charles R. Smith Jr. I thought it would be a good way to introduce thinking about the concept of belonging to a bigger family and to cherish the African American experience.

Lucia’s most recent poem came about when we were getting ready to have lunch. She said:

You sit there
And I’ll sit here
We’ll sit together
And watch the breeze

This brought me to designate a notebook to record her poems. I will write the poems she comes up with until she can write them herself. In the meantime she has the job of illustrating them. I have explained to her that this is an important job given that she will look at it in the future and see how she thought when she was younger.

If we listen carefully, we will notice that children speak the language of poetry. In between the lines of our mundane life, between hand washing and groceries, little poems flourish. Recording these little poems will open a window into their thoughts and provide us with greater understanding and closeness. By noticing, we bring light to their creativity and provide them with the first tools for reflection and perspective.

I would like to suggest one more book for your next trip to the library. Frederick is the story of a little mouse who collects flowers, colors and words for the hard months of winter, while his mouse family collects food. When they run out of food, the mice turn to Frederick who warms there hearts with a poem. They respond by saying: "But Frederick, you are a poet!" Frederick then blushes, takes a bow and shyly says: "I know it."