We bring our sketchpads with us to the museum. The boys think of these books as investigation journals, thanks Sid the Science Kid.
Me: “When you find something that really interests you, we’ll sit down and draw it.” Sketchbooks are great for documenting what you see. You can write your ideas in words or draw what you see.
The Late 20th Century Gallery is where we spent most of our time.
We see a Kandinsky, we study the Black Garden Wall by Louise Nevelson, and we talk about what the kids call the “black square,” Plato’s Cave by Robert Motherwell. Plato’s cave brings up the most interesting discussion.
“What do you see.”
“A black square.”
“Is this art?”
“No. Yes.” (I can see they’re not really sure of this question.)
“What else do you see?”
“I think something is hiding in there.”
“What would be hiding in blackness.”
I read the plaque on the wall next to the art work and this is what we learn: Robert Motherwell was known as an intellectual and an artist, whose task he thought was to reveal the contents of the unconscious mind. Plato’s Cave gives us the experience of light and air, meditation and mimic’s the play of shadows on the wall of a cave.
artist, Nam June Paik, worked named, “Robert Goddard”
Nam was a composer, performer and artist, the inventor of video art. In this piece Nam pays homage to Robert Goddard, technological ancestor, and his invention of the liquid fueled rocket.
We spend the most time in front of the piece. There is no question why…there are blinking lights, televisions flashing colorful images…the boys are drawn in. Little J and Little K have a seat in front of this piece and choose to draw.
To celebrate the end of a full and adventurous summer, we are planning a “mini rainbow warrior dash” for the kids and all their friends.
The kids have seen me run in fun races all summer. They got to stroll along with us in Color Me Rad. They have so much fun at these events that I thought to create an obstacle course suited for children.
Combining the themes from races, we came up with a rainbow warrior dash. The kids and are are in brainstorming mode, making lists and collecting ideas. We have a list of supplies, ideas on how to use them and some great imaginations working on fantastic ways to run, jump, crawl, slide and balance.
Once the kids have their list of ideas, they draw some of the obstacles. Friend A draws a map of the obstacle course. Little K draws a hoola hoop around a boy. Little J works on a logo.
These are some of their ideas:
jump over mountain of toys
hoola hoop as fast as you can
crawl under branches in the deep dark forest
climb over mountain of hay bales
get through a spider web
lazy river, slide with rocks.
crawl through tunnels
jump over pretend fire
Any other ideas?
The boys and I are driving by an office and see they are throwing away giant, framed, foam maps of New York. The maps still have pins poked in important places. Awesome find. I wonder what the kids might think to do with this free and found provocation?
We lay the maps out on the driveway and remove all the pins…to be used later.
I try and think about what mark making tools might be fun to use initially while we’re exploring this new surface. Sharpies seem like as good choice as any. The kids divide up the map and start to work with big arm movements and markers… and make a scribble city.
Little K stands up, looking at the scribbles on the map from above and exclaims, “These are roads!” He runs inside the house and gets his little baskets of small cars.
Don’t know what we’ll do with these maps next. Anyone have any suggestions?
The boys and I are hard at work today, switching up what was the tool workshop.
It will now be a grocery store, with cart, wallets, babies, shelves full of products, bags for food, a register and walkie talkies.
The pretend food and accessories have been put away since the winter holidays when we dressed up this space with tools and assembly maps. Before that it was a pretend kitchen.
The first project inspired by this new arrangement is making play money.
The boys cut out rectangles of paper that I’ve drawn out for them, and they decorate them with sharpie markers. I find some up-cycled milk caps, the boys decorate these too, and we use these as coins.
The cash register we use originally came with play money, but that’s all long lost under couches and who knows where else. Making money is a fun project, we can talk and practice writing our numbers, discuss the value of money, and the play paper and plastic money is disposable. If we lose this money, which I’m sure we will, we can always make more.
Friend H is at camp when we have our library crafternoon, so I bring home some supplies that will allow her to have a chance with the sharpies, rubbing alcohol and pillow case.
I give her a little demo, I show her SunScholar’s version of the project and we set to work, her and I. I wanted to make one too. Friend A wants to join in, so I he joins me at my pillow case. The pillow case that he worked on at the library is at his home.
I do a little bit of directing this time because I want my pillow case to look a certain way. Friend A helps me make dots in circular patterns all over the pillow case. He makes lines of dots all over the fabric, saying that he’s making a map of the London subway system, the Underground. I can see the picture of a subway map in front of me, full of different colored dots and I understand his vision and go along with it.
The kids also sharpie some t-shirts. Friend A discovers that when you try to draw a straight line on material, it will make dash marks.
I add rubbing alcohol later with Little J and K and the colors blend and slowly explode on the fabric. It’s pretty awesome.
The kids have been so busy and invested in their face painting this summer.
We have a designated mirror that comes out of the garage and lays on the curb of the driveway so the kids can watch themselves change their faces with color.
It’s only natural that eventually, someone thinks to paint the mirror. I quickly set the face paint aside and gather up the little bottles of tempera we received as a birthday gift in June. I put a brush in each container to keep from muddling the colors by accident. The kids fill the whole mirror with swirling, mixing colors with paintbrushes and hands, while a friend is still trying to paint her face.
They mirror painters leave a little corner of mirror clear for our friend.
We use up all the paint. We print painted swirls and scrapes on paper when our friend is finished with her face.
The next day, I set out the now dry painted mirror and 2 scraping sticks from a scratch paper book.
“I see the sky and the trees. It’s like I’m cutting out the glass.”
It’s great to discover the magic of subtractive media.
Then we have a grand series of thunder storms, and all the paint is washed off the mirror.
Time to start all over again.
At nature camp this summer, the kids take samples from a pond. They find a leech, 2 tadpoles, and 2 very cool bugs.
I pack a white tray, popsicle sticks, little clear jars and paper and drawing pen to go to one of our favorite places, the river.
We pull samples from different parts of the river: the shallow still waters, from a rock in the middle of the river and scooping muck from the bottom of the river.
We pour the samples onto the white tray and browse for living creatures with our pop sticks.
We find a leach, lots of water skimmers and something that looked like a tiny crayfish.
The kids become involved in catching lots of water skimmers.
When they are finished observing, we empty the contents of tray back into the river, and draw a picture of water skimmers together.
When I was a little girl, I used to go everywhere with my very sociable Abuelita Mercedes. She would take me to visit all sorts of family. We would go to the bakery, where they would let me empty a loaf of bread, leaving the outside crust. We would go to her apartment and make wedding dresses for my pretend play. One of my fondest memories is going to my Tia Martha’s house, and as the biejitas talked their gossip, they would play a game. They would throw coins onto the carpet, and I would pretend for hours to be a diver, diving for coins.
The boys are wired after summer camp. They need some down time. I bring our “Rainy Day Fund” coin jar down to our pool. Little K throws the whole jar in the pool.
The boys dive for coins, emptying them into a tupperware. Dunking their heads under water is a new summer skill for them and they’re loving any time they have to practice.
Big K has a dream of scuba diving in Key West and finding a treasure, keeping us rich and comfortable as gentlemen farmers for the rest of our lives. Little K says he wants to be a “diver, diver” when he grows up too.
After a busy morning at our first day of summer camp ever, we go home and relax with mirror and face paint. When I say relax, for the kids, that means, freedom to move and an open ended project where they get to determine the beginning, middle and end.
The face crayons only cost $3 at iParty. It’s a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Little K has been very interested in my make up and the face paint is a perfect solution. I don’t have to be afraid he’ll use up or spill all my eyeshadow or lip gloss.
I set up a long mirror, that I found at the recycle center, tilted against the curb of the driveway so they apply the paint and see themselves.
They apply, play, apply more, play. The transformation is clear.
When life gives you pine needles all over your trampoline, and they pinch your toes and cover you with sap, what do you do? You make pine needle soup of course.
The kids complain that the pine needles are sticking to their toes, so we bring every broom and dustpan we own into the trampoline and try our best to sweep it all up.
Even though the kids are making no progress, I let them sweep for as long as they want. Then, I quickly sweep up a pile and the kids ask me to fill their little pails.
They dump all the pine needles into a tote with little weeds from the grass and fill the tote with water from the rain barrel. They mix the concoction with shovels. When they move onto something else, I dump the mixture into the compost.