Tag Archives: Parent/child interactions

Re-Envisioning the Game of Statue Maker

We loved to play “Statue Maker” when we were kids. We’d spin and spin and when the leader called “statue”, we’d stop and try to stand still, still, still so we could continue playing. We re-envisioned this game using the arts integration strategy of tableaux (i.e. frozen pictures.)

Let’s get started by using the Read the Picture strategy with the two sculptures shown below. What is the same about these figures? Both are standing with their arms above their heads.   Canova’s figure of Winged Victory looks triumphant, but Atlas looks as if he is literally feeling the weight of the world. How is that difference communicated? How does the material chosen contribute to the mood?

E10620.jpgAtlas - Santiago

Antonio Canova,                          Unknown, Atlas, Praza do Toural, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Winged Victory, 1803-06.

Are there any similarities between the two sculptures below? Both seem to be standing quietly and starring off into space. What do you suppose The Little Dancer is thinking about? What is her mood?What do you imagine George Washington is thinking about? What is his mood? How did the artists convey these different feelings?

Degas, Edgar - Little Dancer NGA croppedHoudon, Jean-Antoine, George Washington

Edgar Degas, Little Dancer, 1878-81.        Jean-Antoine Houdon, George Washington, 1788-92.

The two sculptures below were designed as public monuments. Ernst Barlach (Bar’ – lah) work was designed to honor soldiers who died in World War I. It is a monumental bronze sculpture that is now housed in the Magdeburg Cathedral in Germany. The uniforms and headgear of the soldiers are significant. Why? The two standing soldiers as well as the soldier kneeling in the center wear different styles of uniforms and of headgear to represent German, French, and Russian soldiers. What is the figure on the bottom left showing? He seems to be hiding in fear, afraid to look out at the destruction. The figure on the bottom right is covering his ears to block out the sound of war.

In 1929, the people who commissioned Barlach to create the sculpture expected him to depict only German soldiers, and that the figures would look glorious and heroic. Why? Did Barlach have the same idea? He chose to depict the tragedy of war, no matter what nationalities are involved. As students create a tableaux of Barlach’s figures, ask them to describe the mood they are recreating. What are they doing with their bodies to communicate these moods? How does the pose make them feel?

Frederick Hart created Three Servicemen in bronze as a tribute to American soldiers who fought in Vietnam. How can you figure out which branches of the service are depicted? The figures on the left and right represent the Army, and the figure in the center represents the                                                                                                                           Marines. Talk about the expressions on the faces of the soldiers who are standing. Ask students to describe the feelings shown by each man. How do their poses communicate their feelings and thoughts? What do their clothes tell you? What else is communicated? How is Hart’s message different than Barlach’s?

Barlach, Ernst -Magdeburge Cenotaph   ??????????????????????????????????????

Ernst Balach,                                     Frederick Hart, Three Servicemen, 1984.

Magdeburg Cenotaph,*  1929.

Try creating tableaux of various sculptures that “fit” with what you are studying in various subject matter. Divide the class into small groups to create their tableaux. Vary the experience by having one or two students per group act as the sculptors. If the sculptors are the only people who see the art image, they will direct the tableaux-makers (i.e. create the sculpture) by using words to describe the poses and feelings depicted.   This definitely helps students hone their skills of observation and communication!

Extend this work with tableaux by having students create their own scenes based on characters or historical events they are studying. When we use games, the learning is fun and has lasting power!   With a little research, there seems to be an endless supply of amazing art work to help us connect in meaningful ways to just about any aspect of the curriculum.

Play on!

Susan and Mary

*A cenotaph is an “empty tomb,” meaning the remains of the people honored in the sculpture are in another place.

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Reading: Make it DRAMATIC!

Take advantage of sound possibilities as you read with children. Pump up the drama in your voice to make the words exciting. Children will imitate your example.  As adults, we find that readers who speak dramatically on commercially produced “books on CD” draw us into the story in very compelling ways. At home or in school, our own dramatic reading does the same thing. Research shows that children who read expressively have greater understanding of what they read and are more interested in independent reading. Your expressive reading is a model for children to emulate.

Here are some ideas to help you get started.

With its repeated (and short) refrains, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins with illustrations by Eric Gurney, has many possibilities for engagement and bringing words to life for the younger set. Written with a strong beat, the story easily lends itself to rhythmic reading. The repeated refrain     “Dum ditty     Dum ditty     Dum dum dum”   as well as multiple rhyming couplets (thumb-drum; hum-drum) invite participation. As the millions of monkeys gather to play their drums, the reader escalates the tempo as well as the volume to reflect the changing scene.

Hand Hand Fingers Thumb

In the Wild with stunning poetry by David Elliott and gorgeous woodcut and watercolor illustrations by Holly Meade can build interest in poetry as a means of describing the world. We especially like the analogies suggested in the poetry. For example, did you ever think about likenesses between an elephant and a cloud? By reading the poetry with expression and perhaps even a touch of drama, you help to elevate the power of the words and the illustrations. We’ve found that that this book resonates with teachers and students alike.

In the Wild

For older students, the Carl Sandburg poem Jazz Fantasia (http://allpoetry.com/Jazz-Fantasia) offers a great link to reading with a recording of jazz music. Listen to a variety of music to find something that “works” with the feeling of the poem.

Adding Sound Effects is another great way to “up” the interest in reading. For example, as you read a train story, create the sounds of the train. Repeat in an almost whisper voice: “Chug-a, Chug-a”; add a “Whoo-oo” for the train whistle; how about a “Shhh—ooo” for letting off some steam in an old-fashioned train? Putting these sounds together creates a Soundscape that gives us a “sound picture” of a train.  Try creating a story and adding sounds to  Train in Snow,  by Claude Monet, 1875.

Monet, Train in Snow, 1875

Playing instruments to “tell” a nursery rhyme, song, or story is a great way to help children focus on the essence of the rhyme. Click here for a video of Mary and Susan performing a “mystery” nursery rhyme. Can you identify it from the sounds only? Keeping the steady beat of this rhyme allows children to “think” the rhyme as they play the sounds to accompany the words that they are hearing inside of their heads. Talk about brain development!

The Napping House by Audrey Wood with illustrations by Don Wood allows readers to choose sounds to represent the action in the story. When these representative sounds are played together, children are creating a Soundscape, or collage of sounds, that helps to advance the mood of the story. Select instruments to represent the characters in the Napping House: snoring granny (softly play the guiro or other notched instrument); dreaming child (gently “swish” wind chimes); dozing dog (scrape fingers over a drum head); snoozing cat (lightly twirl maracas); slumbering mouse (tap the rim of a tambourine); and that wakeful flea who changes the scene (crashing of finger cymbals.) As characters are introduced in the story, sounds are added until all sounds are playing together. Things get frantic (louder and faster) when the wakeful flea arrives! No instruments? Try using “found sounds” (things in the environment such as paper flapping, crumpling, or tearing) or “vocal sounds” (such as snoring, whistling, heavy breathing.) You’ll be greeted with “Let’s read it again.” Truly music to a parent’s or teacher’s ears!

Imagine going to the movies and hearing no sounds other than the voices on the screen. The result probably wouldn’t draw you into the story. To remedy this, enter the Foley artists (who create and record natural, everyday sound effects in a film), the sound designer (who produces the special audio effects), and sound producers (who put it all together in a professional soundtrack for the movie.) An added bonus: adding sound effects and soundscapes to reading can provide a unique career exploration opportunity!

Whether reading at home or at school, try videoing a reading with your own sound effects and soundscape to heighten the interest. Click here to hear a Soundscape created by teachers at a recent workshop presented by Mary and Susan. This Soundscape brings Van Gogh’s Farmhouse in Provence to life.

Sounds really do bring a story, rhyme, poem, or dramatization to life. Often children’s interest in books and reading is ignited by the opportunity to experiment with sounds to help tell the stories.

We hope that you’ll share some of your favorite dramatic reading materials with us.  Through the ARTS… read on!

Mary and Susan

Let’s Go to the Art Museum!

An art museum can provide an interactive journey into fun and imaginative play rather than an day of drudgery.  Here are five easy ways to make visiting an art museum fun and filled with new ways of looking at art.

  1. Play Eye Spy.   If you can go to the museum ahead of time (or check out the exhibit online), pre-plan your visit by selecting some art with details that will be fun to explore with your child. E11167.jpg      Edward Hicks, Peaceable Kingdom, ca. 1834

With your little ones, you might want to read a little about the museum before visiting.  A delightful children’s book, You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser, provides an important tip as well as a glimpse of the inside of one of America’s famous museums.

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2. Strike a Pose.  Pretend to become the person you see in the portrait. Imitate his pose in a portrait. Pay attention to details as you re-create the person.

  • Where are his eyes looking?
  • How are his feet placed?
  • What mood is he showing?

E10562.jpgGilbert Stuart, The Skater (Portrait of William Grant), 1782

3.  Step into a landscape.  If you could walk into this landscape, what route would you take?  What would you be doing?

??????????????????????????????John Constable, Wivenhoe Park, Essex, 1816

 4.  Create a story.

Pretend that this painting tells the middle of your story.  What happened before the scene that you see?  What will happen after the scene that you see?  Who are the characters?  What might they say?

A18254.jpg     Claude-Joseph Vernet, The Shipwreck, 1772

 

5.  Don’t stay too long.   Everybody gets tired feet !   Plan a return visit for another day.

????????????????????????????????????????????????Detail, Horatio Greenough, George Washington, 1840

Make Museum-going a part of your child’s life experience.  Interacting with what is exhibited helps to build attention span, attention to detail, ability to empathize, ability to see life throughout history, and lots more.  We hope that you’ll plan your first or next visit soon.  Remember that Museum exhibits change frequently, so repeat visits yield new opportunities.

Mary and Susan