teacher's blog

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Here, There Be Snakes

One, actually, but she's a beauty. I've been a snake hobbyist for years and currently have two red-tailed boas. Fractal and Jezebel are eight years old this year and are great pets. Boas are mellow by nature and kids are fascinated by them, which makes them good classroom visitors. Jez first visited during fun day (when we reward all our well behaved ducklings with a free choice specialist day) just before the holidays. She travels with a big cage, ceramic heater, clip-on lamp, and a smile. There's a short facts poster near her cage and lots of counter space so artists can get “up close and personal” with crayons, markers, or paints.Jezabel and friendsJezabel and friends

So we have snake paintings – full splashes of vivid color (some kids like to liberate Jezebel from her natural camouflage) and careful colored pencil drawings and lots of melted crayon masterpieces.
Snakes fit in well with several parts of the curriculum so Jez has visited classrooms learning about animals who molt (and left some primo, laminated sheds behind for teachers to share) rain forests, and reptiles. She's good, quiet company and students love visiting with her through the glass.

What can I say? Sssssssssssssssssssssssssshe's good company!

Snow Days in the Rain Forest

After a full snow day yesterday we had a two hour late start today. Whether it was the chance to get enough sleep, exhaustion from playing in the snow, or just normal cycles, most of our kiddos were really mellow today. I love the reaction when the new groups come into the art room, walk by the new loom and just say, "Wow!" I've had a full contingent of weavers in every class except second grade - and they're still busy with their little craft stick looms.

I'm learning, too. Did you know that first graders close to looms with scissors are a bad idea? Or that four inch yarn scraps multiply overnight in art studios? I'm still smiling as I remember the second grader who told me (after contributing two inches of “orange is better, Ms. J.”) to a weaving. She announced, “It's done. You can cut my part off. I'm taking it home.” I gently explained that the weaving she was working on had quite a bit more work ahead of it and asked her what she liked best about what she'd done. Weavers in deep concentrationWeavers in deep concentration

“But I have to take it with me now. Other kids might mess it up. They won't use orange and orange is better.”

“Your orange is truly beautiful, Ashley. Won't it be neat to see what other students add to your ideas?”

“So can I come back during second recess to get it?”

I finally gave up, hid in the classic adult, “We'll talk more about this another time, sweetheart” response, and convinced her to line up with the rest of her class. Something tells me the subject will come up again.

Life was good in the art corner today.

Friendship loom - woo hoo!

Our first "big loom" weavers try it out.Our first "big loom" weavers try it out.The loom finds her first friends! It's been a long time coming. I've been working on building a loom like one I've seen online off and on for a few weeks. The design wasn't too hard to come up with but putting it together with damp lumber (wouldn't you think that lumber yards in this rainy state would cover their raw lumber?) in an unheated barn wasn't too much fun.

Then there was the base of the thing, which I cleverly installed backwards the first time (not the cold this time, just the reality of forgetting the axiom: measure twice, cut once) and had to re-do with some more scrap lumber.

The loom made its way to my classroom this weekend and I finally had enough heat to paint, secure the sides, and pound in the nails.

This morning's first graders were the first kids I turned loose on the loom and they were thrilled. I got pictures for posterity and really smiled when I watched them develop their own systems for making it work for them. Here's how it works. I poke the yarn between the warp string and say, "over." My partner on the other side pokes it back, one notch over, and solemnly says, "under." I love it.

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