Last year was the first time I brought the Elf on the Shelf into my classroom environment. The children enjoyed reading his letters, writing letters to him, and looking for him as they entered the classroom. This year I thought I would bring him back and continue with what is now a classroom tradition.
Jean-Jean, the class elf, always brings a smile to the children’s faces. Smiles which I enjoy seeing. As the Christmas breaks draws nearer, I find myself running out of places in which to put our cheeky elf.
Do you have an Elf on the Shelf at home or at your workplace?
When Fall begins in Toronto, the pumpkins begin to show. I like the look of the small decorative pumpkins and I knew my students would as well. I bought a few at the grocery store with the intention of doing some sort of activity with them.
I decided to introduce them to the concept of Still Life. I showed them some of the paintings created by the Masters, and some that had been created by modern artists. I then asked them to create their own Still Life of the pumpkins using the medium of coloured pencils.
After this exercise, I helped the children to create the Success Criteria for the next part of the activity. These are the criteria that they came up with after looking at the gallery of drawings:
I colour in between the lines.
I use sharpened pencils.
I am satisfied with my drawing.
I take my time.
I do not scribble.
I use different colours.
The next step in the Still Life activity was for the children to re-create their own Still Life using the medium of oil pastels. An improvement was seen in the drawings as the children focused on the criteria that would make their work successful.
Once their work was done, I had an one-on-one consultation with each child to discuss their success with the task. The children took note of two of the things they done successfully – and one thing they could do to improve the product of their work. I scribed for them and pasted the result of our discussion at the back of their work for their parents to read.
Then the real fun began: the painting of their Still Life.
The result is an array of beautiful, well thought out paintings that the children are proud of.
The bulletin board outside my classroom now shows the children’s progress through the Still Life activity. Some examples of student’s work is displayed for the parents to look at.
The completed works of art will be placed in each child’s portfolio which will be sent home at the end of the year for both the children and parents to admire for many years.
Last week my class finished their project (the post on the activities can be found here). The creative artwork was set up on the room door and on the bulletin board outside of the room. We have managed to create a festive scene in the hallway – a scene that all the members of the class are proud of.
I love the tree made up of all the students’ hand prints. Some children created tree decorations while others drew some presents to put underneath the tree.
The chimney stands tall, waiting for Santa to come by. Stockings, presents and Christmas decorations bring added cheer to the mantelpiece.
The artwork is not perfect: fabric is not cut perfectly straight, lines are not drawn exactly as is seen in reality, colouring does not fill in all the white spaces. And yet all the small imperfections are barely noticed when one admires the creativity of 5 year olds.
Do you enjoy looking at the imperfect art of children?
When my stepson saw my completed crochet project on my bed, I could tell that he loved it. He lay on the bed with my girls and insisted I take a photo of the three of them with the blanket as the background. He took a picture of the bedspread showing the detail of the work which he would later put on Instagram. Given his reaction, I asked him whether he would put the bedspread on his bed if I made him one. The response was a resounding “Yes!”. My next question was what colours he would like. With the help of his sisters, he chose his colours; the choice reflecting those of a comforter we had bought when he was a teenager. The very next weekend, I went with my daughters and we bought the wool I needed to begin my next big project.
My stepson’s favourite colour is blue, so this colour had to feature in the blanket. I began making the granny squares for the bedspread and, while I was doing so, thought that I would do it a little differently to what I had done for the one covering my bed. Instead of doing one row of the featured colours, I thought that I would do two. I was hoping as well that if I had to change the colour of the yarn less often, I would make the squares a lot faster. I wanted to make this in time for Christmas – and I would not be on vacation with plenty of time to crochet.
The second colour for the bedspread is yellow – not too pale and not too dark either. I like the contrast of the colours and I am sure the recipient of this gift will too. The shades of the colours remind me too of the comforter we had bought for him when I was first married to his dad. He loved that comforter and I am sure he will love this bedspread too. Looking at the granny squares, I am satisfied with the choice I made to use the same colour for two rows – it seems to suit the bold blue. While I was doing the first few squares, I thought maybe I should try making the squares a little bigger than for my previous project. This decision would certainly make the bedspread look a little different to the one I had already made.
I have been working on the blanket for six weeks now. Last weekend, I decided to start joining the squares that I have completed as I wanted to see if I had made enough yet. I joined the squares into strips. I lay the strips on my bed to determine how many to use across the bed (my stepson has the same size bed as we do). Using the suggestion my mom had made, I joined all the squares into strips, working the threads away as I went along. Once all the strips were done, I got to working on joining the strips. This I did while relaxing on my bed and watching a movie on Netflix. It was a little cold last weekend so I did not mind having the heavy blanket covering my legs.
After joining the squares, I discovered I should do one more row. I am currently working on that and will begin the border thereafter.
I have a student ECE working with me in my room at the moment doing her practice. A couple of days ago she planned an activity to do with the interested children in the class: she wished to create a panel depicting a forest of trees. She laid out a large strip of paper in the corridor and invited those who were interested to come and create. They were to use markers to draw the trees – and anything else that came to their mind. Craft glue was provided so that they could glue onto the trees the leaves that had been gathered outside.
The children got to work creating their forest. Imaginations soared as flowers and birds were represented among the Fall trees. As usual, chatter occurred while the student ECE encouraged them in their endeavors. The resulting trees were reminiscent of those that are currently outside, brilliant in colour and variety. The panels are now posted in the corridors outside of the classroom for children to admire as they walk past. These panels will be a reminder to the class that the season we are currently experiencing is Autumn, and that one of the signs of the season is the changing colours of the leaves.
Children enjoy creating and many in my class enjoyed the experience of using dried leaves as one of the available materials.
Each year in my classes, we create our self portraits. I try to find different ways to present them and to make it interesting for the children to do. I create one of myself as an example for my students to see. In doing the example, I also see whether the idea would work.
This year I cut the boxes from the IKEA furniture into rectangles. I asked the children to paint their rectangle using tempura paint. The rectangles then became the background for their portrait. Choosing their favourite colour, they drew themselves on a piece of white paper which I then glued onto the piece of cardboard they had painted. Once I had glued on the photo I had taken and printed of them, I asked them to write their name on the final product in black marker.
These portraits are currently hanging on the wall outside of the classroom. When I take them down, they will be glued onto the binder containing their portfolio. These portraits are a representation of how the children are drawing and writing at the beginning of senior kindergarten year – and hopefully they will become a childhood memento.
As you know, my family and I attended the China now! festival and saw a number of artisans from China who create using their hands. We did not see the artist who used the ink tools below as he was taking a break.
We did, however, admire the drawing he was creating with the black ink.
Next to this station was the man responsible for giving colour to the drawings. Using a fine tipped brush, he painted in the drawings that are so synonymous with Chinese culture.
As we watched, he painted in a small section of the drawing with small, fine strokes.
I have seen many pictures like this in the past – many of them photocopies. The copier does not do justice to the textures and tones that this artist was creating.
On the last day of the school year, one of my young students proudly gave me a gift in a bag. The colour of the bag was “violette” because that is my favourite colour. Inside was a travel coffee mug that I could use for the next school year.
When I thanked his mom later that day, she told me that her son had insisted that she buy the perfect gift for me. Hearing those words was the perfect gift for me indeed as they told me he had had a good year and appreciated all that we had done in class.
Have you received a thank you gift recently? What was it?
The walls towered above him – a man who had dedicated his life to God. His footsteps echoed along the stone path as he walked towards his duty, basket in hand. He had been against walking these pathways, against walking where others walked without piety. His desire was to stay within the walls of the monastery, toiling peacefully with others who desired the same. That was the life he had wanted, and expected, when he had joined the brotherhood of monks. And yet now he was expected to do otherwise.
How hard it was not to rail against the authority that had sent him out into this world to walk these silent and narrow streets. He had fought hard to suppress the “I”, to suppress his own wishes and desires. He had needed a reminder that ultimately he had promised to do God’s work – and that at times God’s work required him to deal with the other members of God’s creation.
He passed crumbling walls and walls damp with mould and water marks. He turned the corner and approached his destination. He heard the sound of the revellers, and the temptations that waited within the stone walls. He climbed slowly up the steps, whispering a prayer to God to protect him from the men and women who would attempt to lead him astray. He was here to help heal the governor. He would complete his duty and then return to the sanctity of the monastery.