Thursday, November 21, 2013

Neat photo my 3-year-old took

All of my children have digital cameras--my mother bought them cameras for Christmas one year. They love them and, over the years, have documented important events such as their Grandma's 70th birthday and a little sibling's arrival into the world.

I remember my own 110 camera and Disc camera! Man, I loved those cameras!

When children are allowed access to their own cameras they also will document other things that mean something to them: my children have taken lots of pictures of Lego creations, favorites toys, and me in my nightgown (argh!). They also took pictures of our cat, Marty, before he died (he had cancer and kidney failure). It really helped them with the grieving process, I think, to cuddle with Marty and they often look at the pictures of themselves with Marty when they miss him.

Of course, I've deleted many a digital photo--like the series of close-ups of the couch or the rug taken without knowing! But here's a neat photo my 3-year-old recently took of our German Shepherd, Ruby. I really like it.

So, if you are looking for a Christmas gift for a child in your life--consider a digital camera (and possibly, a camera case). Prices for digital cameras are much more reasonable now and you can get one for under $50. We have a couple of the Fisher-Price ones that can be dropped (and they have), but a child over 7 or so may want a camera that looks more like a grown-up one. Either, way, it is a wonderful way for your child to experience the world!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review, Kandinsky & Synesthesia

Kandinsky is one of my favorite artists. I love all of the colors and shapes and lines in his work. Just recently, in grad school, I learned that he could hear colors, something that is called synesthesia

Synesthesia is when one sense triggers another. This enhanced "5th sense" can manifest in different ways: some people see colors when they see numbers, others hear colors or taste a certain flavor when experiencing everyday noises or music. Just about any possible combination of the senses is possible. Many famous musicians and artists are synesthetes, Lady Gaga, Jimi Hendrix, and Duke Ellington, just to name a few!

When I was at my local library, I saw a book called "The Girl Who Heard Colors," by Marie Harris, a New Hampshire author. I picked it up and, to my surprise, it was about a little girl who has synesthesia. She hears colors when she experiences everyday noises.

When I read this book, I immediately thought of Kandinsky and thought it would be wonderful way of explaining synesthesia and Kandinsky's work to younger children. I was so excited, I started talking about it to my children and explaining that Harris has met other synesthetes. She often asks, "What color is seven?" to her young audiences. Most children won't know how to answer this, but some will say "yellow" or "blue" (there's no "right" answer for seeing a number as a color, it is personalized). My children all went "hmmmm," except for my 6-year-old who was playing Legos in another room and yelled, "Seven is black. Five is yellow." He says he only knows the colors for 1-10 and promptly listed them for me.

Does my son have synesthesia? I don't know. What I do know is that he has trouble hearing (he is partially hearing impaired) so I find it intriguing that he can see numbers as colors. I wonder if his brain decided to start making sensory connections in other ways. 

I think this book will give your students something to talk about. The story encourages seeing things from another's point of view and being sensitive when people have reactions to things that we may not understand. In one part of the book, Jillian is overwhelmed by the cacophony of noises in her classroom and puts her hands over her ears--the sounds and resulting bombardment of colors that she experiences are too much for her. 

Sometimes we think everyone is experiencing the world just like we are. This book does a wonderful job teaching a bit of empathy in a sweet way. Check it out!

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Bear Mask With Plaster Gauze

I'm going to Grad School at Plymouth State University in NH to become certified to teach art. I'm having a great time and learning so much!

This is meant to have the face be vertical,
but my background wasn't big enough! Sorry!

The class I'm taking this semester is Art Methods and Materials For Elementary Education and it is SO FUN! We get to make art! Oh yeah, and write lesson plans and research papers...BUT, MAKE ART!

As a mom of four and doing all sorts of other things over the years, I don't make time for my own art--I'm not sure what my own art even is after all this time. But, I've been enjoying making art for this class. The last project we did was create a mask using plaster gauze. I had done this about a million years ago when I was in high school, so I was excited to think about possibilities for my grown-up mask.

We were challenged to create a mask that represents us in some way and it needed to have some sort of extension of some kind (we could use Cellu-clay, plaster gauze, cardboard, etc. to make the extensions).

Ahhh...the possibilities! I started to think about what I would be known for at the end of my life and I thought, "Well, people would say I was a mom." Of course, this is among other things, but I take my mom job very seriously :-)

I thought about creating a totem pole on my mask of all of the totem animals of my children, husband, and I, but as I designed it, I didn't really like how it was going. Then I focused on me. My totem animal, right now, is the bear. So here I am wearing a bear mask over a human mask, because there's always a part of me that I keep private.

I love constellations, so I have Ursa Major and Minor in the night sky. I love silhouettes too, so on the left, under Ursa Minor, you'll see my four little cubs. My daughter's the last cub scurrying to catch up to her brothers. My oldest son is turning back and watching over his siblings (just like in real life). And, on the right, there's mom, under the constellation of Ursa Major.

I'm happy with the way the mask came out--I had wanted to incorporate twigs and beads and such, but I stopped here to rest for a bit and think. I really enjoyed making this project and I could see making a series of masks: a marriage mask, a Mrs. P-only mask, an artist mask...I think it would be interesting to see all of the masks I wear.

So what are you making lately? Are you inspired by the projects you teach your students?
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