Looking through artist’s eyes

The children have been learning about lines in art. They have been looking at the way artists use lines to create particular effects. We have been talking about the way artists look very carefully at things and see things in different ways. We practiced drawing the leaves on the nature table using “artist’s eyes”.

Yesterday, Mr Welk took KC and KP to the park to sketch lines in nature. Before we left, Mr Welk explained that it is important to look very carefully at things and to draw exactly what you see. He showed the children how the symbol for a tree was not actually what a real tree looked like.

In the park,the children noticed lines all around them; in the branches and twigs on trees, in the designs and veins of leaves, in the blades of grass and in the petals of flowers.

As usual, we were not the only ones sketching in the park. Seeing other adults sketching around them is a motivating and enriching experience for the children.

Some children spent long periods of time looking very carefully at one particular flower or leaf and tried hard to draw exactly what they saw.

When we got back to the classroom the children shared one sketch from their sketchbook with a partner and explained what was interesting about that particular sketch.

click here to see some of the children’s work with circles

Author for November

Our author for November is Lois Elhert. Elhert’s books are remarkable for their wonderful illustrations. She often uses collage in her illustrations, gluing pieces of paper, fabrics or objects to create vivid and colorful pictures to accompany the text. Ehlert has won several awards including the Cauldecott honour for Color Zoo.

Many of Elhert’s books deal are about nature; planting, growing, seasons, weather. She has written two beautifully illustrated books about autumn leaves which we have displayed on our nature table.

Searching for Nature’s Treasures

Throughout the school year, we shall be visiting the park opposite school to observe the changing seasons. As part of our Japanese Culture program, we will be celebrating the coming of Autumn (Aki). Colorful leaves (koyo) are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. Throughout the month of October, we shall be visiting the park frequently to look for signs of Aki. Today we gave the children special sketch-books and pencils and headed off the the park to see what we could find.

Searching For Nature’s Treasures on PhotoPeach

The great outdoors (and a little rain!)

Children seem to have fewer and fewer opportunities to get outdoors and interact with nature. One of the aims of the Elementary School camping club is to give children opportunities to experience the wonder of living in nature even if just for a night or two. There is nothing quite like a good, hard hike, stopping on the way to climb a particularly inviting tree and crawl through some undergrowth before pitching camp, cooking your own supper and sitting around a bonfire in the dark, singing campfire songs, telling ghost stories and toasting marshmallows.

The weather forecast for the trip was, typically, rain, rain and more rain. We told the children that short of a direct hit by a typhoon, the expedition would go ahead, and they should come prepared with suitable clothes. As we set off after lunch, the weather was grey but dry. The campers had a skip in their step and there was a sense of anticipation in the air. We stopped here and there on the way, as nature called to us; an inviting rock to sit on, or secret space under the branches of a tree that demanded to be explored.

We got the campsite by about four o’clock and set about pitching tents before the weather changed. Everyone was cheerful and engaged and there was a wonderful team spirit as more experienced campers worked together with first time campers to put up tents, organize kit and cook super. There was time for some night-time exploration and a few ghost stories before bed.

We were very, very lucky with the weather, and though it teemed down all night, there was a break for a couple of hours in the morning, long enough for us to cook brekkie, strike camp and start the hike back. Despite being caught in heavy downpour on the way home, everyone was up-beat and entered into the experience with true adventuring spirit. The children are already talking about the next camp!

See below for a link on why it’s so important for children to get out-doors and into nature.

Why our children need to get outside and engage with nature

Elif A leaf

Elif works with all the classes in the Elementary School, helping teachers and students to use technology to enhance learning in all areas of the curriculum. She pops into our class regularly, sometimes to work on a technology tool and sometimes just to see what we are up to.

Today she came to share a book with us. The book had nothing to do with technology, but was about something that she was interested in and she knew also interested us: autumn leaves!

Elif told the children she loved to make pictures with leaves, and the book gave her ideas for her pictures. We had some other books about leaves. The children worked with partners to look at the books and talk about them. Then each group shared something from their book with the rest of the class.

Elif showed the children some leaves that she had collected. We got an idea from KP, and we put the leaves on the light table. The children noticed the Elif’s leaves were flat, but the leaves they collected were curled up. They plan to email Elif to find out how she makes her leaves flat.

Next time Elif came, the children were not there, so she left them a note. She wrote the message on a post-it note in the shape of a leaf. The children were intrigued by the post-its. We talked about the meaning of the word delicate.

One child observed, “Her name is Elif, and she wrote on a leaf and she gave us a leaf!”

A busy day out doors!

Today we had a busy day out, full of nature-watching and adventuring. We started by digging sweet potatoes at a near-by potato field. This is a popular Kindergarten experience in Japanese schools at this time of year, and helps children to understand where food comes from and the cycle of the seasons.

We had a picnic lunch in the park and then spent a long time clambering in a section of hilly woodland in the park. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to work their muscles and develop their gross motor skills. As the children worked together to help each other climb up and down a very steep slope, they were engaged in problem solving, risk-taking and collaborating as well as supporting and encouraging each other. They spent over an hour developing strategies to help them negotiate the slope.

On the way home we stopped to sketch some of the changes we observed in the park this week. We were not the only ones sketching! There were some delightful exchanges between the Kindergarten children and the more experienced adults, out with their sketch-books and water colours.

A busy day out on PhotoPeach