There are several (seven, to be exact) members of the Trinity faculty who are currently enrolled in an online course from Harvard’s Project Zero that uses the book Making Learning Visible that I received from a generous family last spring. A big part of making learning visible is documentation of the work the children have done as a part of their experience, and this is one of our first assignments for the class!
One of the latest “red threads” our class has been following is the art work of Henri Matisse. We knew that we would be going to the Bechtler Museum of Art as a culmination of our study of the five senses, so at the beginning of our study, we took a long hard look at Matisse. We found that he became disabled later in his life and switched from painting to collage, and called his work “painting with scissors”. Mary Ann O’Sullivan and I decided to make a Matisse day in kindergarten that would incorporate the five senses. The children cut with a wide range of textured materials, they attempted to draw on the bottom of the loft using markers attached to yardsticks, they ate snacks that they cut into Matisse shapes, listened to jazz as they worked, and drew with scented markers (we had to slip in smell somewhere).
After a break in our Matisse learning, it was time to visit the Bechtler Museum of Art, and see their new exhibit of JAZZ by Henri Matisse. This was also a look at our five senses, so the children had a sensory experience in the classroom of the museum before going to the gallery.
We then went through the gallery and the art set our minds to work. We couldn’t take pictures in the gallery, so everyone will just have to visit the Bechtler to see how impressive the works by Matisse are. The museum itself was beautiful, and the Firebird never fails to see imaginations on fire.
Back at school, the afternoon brought our Choice Time, and one choice was to use paper scraps including paper we had painted earlier in the week to make a “Matisse Collage”. This engaged a number of children who spent a chunk of their choice time in their creations.
As this was going on at the art table, the block area was beginning to rock as the children set about building the Bechtler. The block building was completely impromptu, with no nudging from their teachers.
It began with just a building with a door at the front, but soon evolved as one child made the Firebird to go out front, others were making art work for the walls, and still others were adding to the building to include the sculpture patio.
“This is going to be a medium sized sculpture.”
“It can also be another way to get into the museum.
“This is going to be a chair for the restaurant. It can look like a chair if you pinch it.”
So, the building still stands, with children adding to it each day (and we are now on day 5), as they remind each other to “look out for the Bechtler”, and as they make signs to remind the others of the “construction zone.”
Best of all was this quote from Hayes: