While most of the holiday commercialism runs counter to many of our families’ principles, it can seem nearly impossible to shield our children from the excesses of the season.
I wish you all the best in the weeks ahead and encourage you to keep in mind the insights we’ve learned from Montessori– chiefly these: children crave authentic, child-scaled activities including hands-on work like puzzles, cooking and crafts; they love creative play and movement; children hunger for books rich with language and images; they live for making music and quiet moments, routine, family and togetherness most of all.
Enjoy this special time with your family!
Here’s our new play structure– The Tree House– being installed. It is about as natural and organic as anything you would find in an Appalachian forest. As an Evergreen parent wrote… “How COOL is that!”
This 18-foot tall play sculpture was custom-designed by Bill Hutchens and is being installed by Marcus Sims and Allan Hill. The Tree House consists of four platforms, rope ladders and a slide. It is made of black locust trunks and Osage Orange branches and pressure treated decking lumber.
When I told some children that we were going to call it The Tree House, they corrected me: “It’s a fortress.” “It’s a tower.” “No, its a pirate ship.” It’s as mutable and whimsical as imagination itself.
Our new Thanksgiving cards went into the mail yesterday. The cards were designed by Ms. Nina Mahboubi and her nest class. After creating a wash of vibrant fall color, students blew a river of India ink across the paper’s surface to create a barren winter tree silhouette. Who needs another picture of a turkey or a cornucopia anyway?
Some viewers see flames in the background and others recall a warm fire on a cold winter night. What ever feelings our card evokes, we say there is much to be thankful for this year– children’s art especially.
Here is a link to last year’s design, too
If you answered the question “what is going on in this picture?” you used visual thinking strategies (VTS). What is VTS? In a classroom, by using a series of guided questions, you (the viewer) would be led by a teacher to a deeper understanding of the image. You would link vocabulary and language-based thinking with visual stimulation. Some of the questions you’d be asked: What kind of people are in the picture? Where are they? What are they doing? Do they look interested? ARE THEY THINKING? Are they learning?
You have deduced: these children on a school field trip; they are in an important museum setting (yes, that is a Picasso in the background); there is serious reflecting done in notebooks; this is a well-organized and successful program for learning.
Evergreen School has initiated a new program in VTS this year. Here we are on a field trip at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. We are so happy to be working with an art historian and arts program designer from the Glenstone Museum to teach Evergreen teachers in VTS techniques. I look forward to learning more about VTS and sharing here on my blog.
It has been a while since I posted to my blog, but not because I haven’t been writing. I just completed two courses at Montgomery College, and both required long term papers based on very specific content requirements. My creative energy was sapped.
But when I came across an article in the New York Times on the Carnegie Museum’s Playground Project on the history of playground design, I began to feel free enough to write again.
The article traces the roots of the Evergreen Garden and Playground concept to the Danish landscape architect in the 1930’s named Carl Theodor Sorensen. According to the Times, Sorensen, “advanced the radical notion that children were happiest when playing with junk.” Toward the end of World War II, he began designing playgrounds that encouraged children to build, dig and create with natural and man-made materials including bricks and building debris. He called these new spaces skrammellegeplads or “junk playgrounds.”
Whether writing, building, cooking, making music or any other creative pursuit, we all need a skrammellegeplad… a safe place to play and try things out.
Learning and playing are acts of freedom. It is great to be free.