Friday, February 28, 2014

Common Ground Art Smart
                      ....a "how to" for your library

                                  You can see where mom's touch comes into this masterpiece -
                                                                   shaping the heart, encouraging patterning and writing Lylah

Last year I proposed,  planned and started a new program for our library.  Inspired by S.T.E.M. becoming S.T.E.A.M. we introduced an arts program for parent and child, together, creating art side-by-side.  This is dream-come-true-programming for me.  Patrons have asked for something along this line from time to time and now with Common Core State Standards in place, I discovered a foundation to support building this type of program.  Common Ground Art Smart was instantly successful.  Parents wrote to the director to keep this going and to fund it!  (we actually do not have a budget for story time supplies) Impressive support!  I want to say that I am not surprised by the enthusiasm but I guess I am surprised that it's taken the controversy over the rigor of the CCSS to get all hands on deck for the arts.  And that's okay.  It takes a village.

                                                Again, a mom's touch can be seen in directing the heart shape.

Our program combines the common ground of literacy needs for children, the CCSS and adds the fun of creativity and imagination with the experimentation of artistic technique.  We are CCSS mindful in the selection of the project and CCSS purposeful in the use of language during the program....but we are open to every bit of your imagination in the process.  Hence I don't make a sample of our artwork.  Communication skills are gigantic here.  It is not about making something that Mrs. Breen made.  It is more - with this method you may create your own.  

Lately I find that I am reluctant to enter any conversation about the CCSS.  Parents, teachers, administrators and politicians are very vocal on the subject and I just don't have the desire to go there.  I am intentionally avoiding any opinion and that's my advice to anyone who wishes to do a program built on the CCSS.  In my position with children's services I am helping, assisting, providing, guiding, recommending to children and families all things literacy.  As a reference librarian I do a million more things but with intent to focus on my priorities in children's - I am the go-to-gal for the what, when, and why to read.  

 Over the years of my career I have worked with a number of educational trends, movements, and plans and I see no reason to criticize.   I am there to support - not only the families but the teachers and classrooms as well.  I am the book selector, collection builder and I need to be sure that the collection supports today's child, the whole child. (meaning not only the CCSS)

I hand out circles to all and let them go-to-it on the flannel board

The "how to" in creating a Common Ground Art Smart program  


Here's what I did:
Visited our BOE (Board of Education) website to pull up the suggested book titles in the CCSS    for pre-k and K .  Ordered 8 copies of each title I thought worked for the library.
Started a pinterest page for Art Smart art projects and pinned the night away repeatedly!
I developed art projects that supported the CCSS books.
With a budget of $75.00 I visited the local art store and bought art supplies.
      Good paper is most important - watercolor paper is the best!  lots of good paper!
       Oil pastels, (open them, break them in half and double the fun!)
       Black sharpies, at least one for everyone (permanent black, assorted tips)
       New markers...the little short fat ones!  All colors
       Fat paintbrushes
       Watercolor paints (I use the good old-fashioned paint trays)
       Lots of glue sticks
       Blue painters tape, (the stuff you use when painting walls in your house!)
We announced the program on the library's website.  CG Art Smart is offered for children ages 3-5 with an adult on Thursdays 10:30 - 11:15am  

                                                 Are you willing to come up and find the matching pairs?  

We begin the program cozy on the carpet with an interactive flannel board.   Matching mitten designs, warm and cool colors, Kandinsky's circles, dots for playing and sorting - whatever I introduced to those little ones - they got it!  They totally got it within a very short time.  I would follow with info on today's book, why it was important developmentally and the broad theme of our artwork.   We then find our places to sit at the table.  The moms and dads are incredibly helpful and the kids know the routine completely.  We spend a good thirty minutes creating our art project.  With  7-8 minutes remaining, I take all the kids back to the cozy carpet and bring out Piper for a story, a song, and some silliness.  During this time the parents crop, mat, double mat, date,  the art work.  

I encourage the parents to take the books home and I tell them what are doing next week - just in case they want to take next week's book home.  Some people, (like me) always want to be prepared.  I would be the child taking next week's book home!  


The first 4 week session of this program we worked mostly with circles featuring the books: Kitten's First Full Moon - Henkes - a water color background with a white out moon and a black, (crayon) shadow tree
We made a torn paper and modge podge collage cats
Pancakes for Breakfast - DePaola  - we created overlapping printed circles in a variety or sizes and colors using tempera paint in many colors!
Over In The Meadow - Keats - with watercolor paint we created circular shapes, after they dried we added arms, legs, faces, wings, tails, etc; with black sharpies bringing our shapes to life
(I am so sorry that I did not take photos of the first session)

The second 4 week session we have used mostly hearts featuring the book -  I Read Signs by Hoban.  We created an assortment of hearts using heavy oil pastels recognizing warm and cool colors.  We have scissors with assorted pattern edges, very cool.  We tried them here.  

 We painted an entire sheet of paper with water color paints and later cut that paper into hearts

                                                                                          Watercolor hearts

Using a crayon resist we wrote names or messages or designs on paper and then painted the paper with watercolor paint exposing our message or design.  We used scissors again for heart shapes.
    Crayon resist

And this week we used the book Kitten's First Full Moon and found inspiration with Laurel Burch's cats.  Because this was our last program for this session I "rewarded" the parents with 15 minutes of time with the artwork.  I had a feeling that they really wanted to go to town with the silver and gold markers and background colors.  And Piper was very willing to bring her kitty friend," Speedo" to story time.  Needless to say ...Piper and I had a blast with the kids.  

Parents drew the cats and outlined with black sharpie, kids colored the cats with oil pastels.  Kids colored in and out of the lines!!!  Some did patterns encouraged by parents, or color block.  Parents then cut the cats magically it appeared that all the coloring was "in the lines"  This is a great trick and makes the art work more definable.  (if you want that)  

After ^ photo
the mother/daughter pair placed gold dots around the cats
and counted them aloud in sets of 20!  You know I love that!

I am a big fan of black matting

...especially with the gold marker!

Picasso inspired?  Maybe!

This was her favorite project, can you tell? 

So much fun!

One of the neat things about this program was introducing techniques to parents and children and watching them both experiment and learn at the same time.   We are offering the program again in the summer.  It's an exciting challenge to continue to find projects that work with our books.  I believe I will be ordering more titles from the CCSS picture book list for CT.

P.S. (piper script):  Maybe they'll create an art project all about me?  



Friday, February 21, 2014

Flannel Friday Goes Wild with Mr Tiger!
~ aka Piper and Jane with their favorite book!

We've been missing from Flannel Friday for some time now.  How does it all get so busy?  Inquiring Jane needs to know!  I do manage to check in and see what everyone has done - so I am ever-so-selfishly still inspired but I have not made a new flannel board set in months. I am grateful for the beautiful work and creativity that is on-going.  Many thanks to the flannelizers out there!  

I had the honor this winter of serving on the Cybils Awards Committee as a finalist judge in the Fiction Picture Book Category.  Very cool experience, educational, thoughtful, and friendly.  I hope I get to do it again.  Click here for application info  Oh, and FYI, I was not the only FF-er serving this year...look who served on the Poetry Committee:
Bridget Wilson, What is Bridget Reading?

Lucky for me...the winning title in the Fiction Picture Book Category also happened to be my current most favorite book.  My thanks to the talented Betsy Bird for keeping us aware of the results of Mock Caldecotts across the nation.  I had a suspicion that this book would be a Caldecott honor or winner and was all set to run with it for Prime Time with Mrs. Breen and Piper (our pajama story time) on ALA's awards announcement day! We read the book in story time and made our craft despite the fact that it was not among the Caldecott winners. (Boo) And then...just when you think you are out of touch with what's what in books...the short list of Cybils finalist landed in my inbox and there was Mr Tiger *be still my heart* looking at me!!  Pure delight.  My task - read the short list, rank the books, defend my reasoning, sit back and read the opinions of other committee members.  Think, re-read, re-write, REPEAT!  

This book touched my heart - it encourages you to be true to you.  Find yourself.  Be yourself.  The message is gentle and at some points silly but not crazy's rather respectful.  I love it. 
Perfect book for story time - there were so many giggles seeing the naked (au naturel) Mr Tiger!

The following is from the Cybils Winners Page:
Fiction Picture Books
Peter Brown
Little, Brown and Co.
Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild opens to muted tones of a proper Victorian society of well-mannered animals, living in houses and walking on two legs. Surrounded by an abundance of subdued suits, ties, dresses and tea, the daily hum-drum pushes Mr. Tiger outside the city limits to a place where he can ROAR! But first he undergoes the drama and surprising silliness of life on four legs, a swim in the water fountain and *gasp* a view of his magnificent, naked self. Confident artistic elements start on the decorative endpapers, capitalize on the freedom of double page illustrations, built intensity with the color palette, and combine seamlessly with the lean text of most carefully selected words. With great comedic timing and a light-handed touch on message, Peter Brown has written a clever, compelling invitation to self-discovery.  

Now, one may think that a little black lab would have a difficult time with a Mr Tiger, but not so.  Piper fell in love with this tale and lead the group ROAR!

Newberry, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King awards 2014

P.S. (piper script):  We love awards season!