Thursday, December 17, 2009

the brownie's back

My wonderful student teacher celebrated her last day with us on Friday, and I have to say I had a bit of culture shock adjusting to "being on my own" this week. I've never had a 2 week takeover, and although I was a bit unsettled the first week, by the second I was adjusting nicely to actually accomplishing things during the work day. Ah well, it's over! We miss her!

Wed was a half day for kids, and we were pretty busy with preparations for our "Traditions Feast" and good-bye party for our student teacher (combined celebration was today!), on Mon and Tues. So wed was really a chance to catch up. We literally spent 45 minutes on the rug, just sharing--and it was great. I realized how much I missed hearing about all the little details of the primates' lives, and it felt good to be back in my comfy chair on the rug. I felt so proud of them--being away for even a short time makes their growth so much more visible--even just in the way they share stories about themselves.

Of course, it was back to reality today--4 days before the break and the holidays approaching--yikes! We began the day with intense wailing from a primate who bumped his knee on the stairs (way more wail than wound!) and then once we hit the classroom, chaos broke out because one of the primates noticed something amiss--a pine cone in an unusual spot--and insisted that our classroom had been visited by a mischievous "brownie" (a brownie is a trickster fairy--not the wings & flower type, but a rather ugly, nasty fellow we discovered last year in reading The Spiderwick Chronicles). Suddenly everyone was noticing things out of place and there was wild running and screaming around the classroom, pointing stuff out (sigh). While I wanted to scream myself, I couldn't dismiss the opportunity to take advantage of their curiosity and use of imagination, so we marveled at broken puzzle pieces (clearly bitten by the brownie) and wondered why he chose to fill a bug collection jar with acorns. And after about 10 minutes, I asked everyone to take out their journals and do a little writing about this very mysterious morning. Several students then asked to share their writing at morning circle.

Now I honestly have no idea if one of the primates did all this rearranging yesterday unnoticed, but I know I didn't. Maybe there really was a brownie? The reason I feel compelled to write about this, is because I am astounded by the impact our Fairy Houses project, (which included reading book one of Spiderwick) had on my 2nd graders (then 1st graders). Throughout the day, primates asked what exactly a brownie is, which offered me the chance to use vocabulary such as "mysterious" and "mischievous" repeatedly. We'll add those words to our "Words we've discovered" board tomorrow. The 2nd graders recalled parts of the story they were frightened by or enjoyed most. One of the 1st graders has read the whole series and shared her thoughts too. Last year we set a trap for the brownie as we had a rather noisy vent that the primates insisted was a brownie hammering something, and the characters in the book had set a brownie trap. So the 2nd graders asked if we could set a trap this year too, since clearly, the brownie's back. Unfortunately, the escalated behavior today put me in no mood to set brownie traps, so I said we could do it tomorrow pending better self-control from the group. I'll be sure to post what happens!

Anyways, our day ended with a fabulous "Traditions Feast" which included delicious foods and visits from many families. Primates also took home tradition/recipe books compiled by me, that included recipes and family traditions from each primate. It was a nice collaborative project, and primates were excited to look through the books and the drawings of traditions and food. I hope families will enjoy reading about each other's traditions and I am excited myself to try some of the recipes. Our student teacher visited and we gave her a class album that included a crayon resist self-portrait with a typed good-bye quote from each primate. She generously gave them each a set of books and holiday pencils in a case. One of the primates commented that "today feels like Thanksgiving and Christmas because of all the food, family, and presents". It was a nice ending to a crazy day. I'm so exhausted I feel as if I'm just rambling, so forgive me if this post is jumbled. I think I'm ready for pajamas and Survivor--tomorrow's Friday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Last Friday we had a few free moments to work together in our MI groups, so my documentation team collaborated on this wonderful wall loom. It looks fantastic and I am so grateful for the help of my colleagues! We will use fabric strips to weave a large product (maybe a rug or wall hanging) next session. Over the summer as we discussed the possibilities of this project, my husband suggested having each primate weave in a strip of paper with something written on it--maybe a hope or a dream, maybe a goal...not sure yet. But I love the idea and hope to preserve it untouched until this crew hits the 8th grade when they'll be invited back to un-weave their paper. If you're around the building, please stop by and check it out. I will post pics as we progress!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

catching up

Today's post is catching up with some photos from things I described in previous posts...beginning with...paper weaving... ...primates glued pictures they chose from our applepicking trip. Some chose pics of themselves, others chose friends. They glued the pics to paper and then cut them into strips. They weaved the picture strips with other blank strips, (the weft). I also encouraged primates to be creative in their use of lines as they cut the "warp" of their weaving mats--curvy, jagged, straight, diagonal, etc

One of our curriculum themes this year is "seasons", so I am "weaving" that into this project by using pictures from our fall applepicking trip, and next I will ask primates to use words and/or pictures that represent fall to fill in 5-7 blank squares. In these images (below) you can see differences in the warp lines (darker colors), and also placement of photo strips for the weft. Most primates tried to reassemble their photos rather than going for a more Picasso-like image--although a few turned out Picasso-ish--not pictured. I'm not sure those were purposeful, as opposed to just more concentration by the primate on the act of weaving and less on design.

The Turban Squash (from painting primates post, November)Watercolor interpretations of the Turban Squash...