Sunday, May 26, 2013

What if we made sculptures that moved?

We had a three-day spring intersession, this past week. Preschoolers through Kindergarteners were divided into mixed age groups to focus on one fun theme for an hour a day. There were so many fun topics for the youngsters - 

Artist’s World – explored famous artists and used various materials to emulate their techniques.
  Cooking = exploring food preparation and measurement, with special recipes of hummus, pizzas, and smoothies.
Healthy Bodies – studying nutrition, exercise, and care of our bodies.
International Cooking – cooking from around the world, including Mexico, France, and Spain.
Ooey Gooey Science – experimenting with a variety of mixtures to create bouncy balls, snow paint, lava lamps, and magic growing trees made from recycled newspaper.
  Sculptures and Motion – explored wire, recyclables, beads, and found objects to create sculptures that moved.
  Spanish – learning Spanish about the body, exploring through song and dance.
  Worm Composting – explored how worms help break down leftovers and create compost; the children studied the worms and their features and made worm houses.

Can you identify which intersession was mine, based on these brief descriptions? Well, I gave you a hint with my blog title! Yes, my colleague Jenny (Teaching Resident) and I ran an intersession on Sculptures and Motion.  It was an exploratory, process-oriented class...we had some fabulous 12 gauge aluminum wire, lots of recyclables and found objects, and curiosity. A few days before the intersession was to start, Jenny and I discovered a bin of plastic tubes/rods in the midst of all our recyclables, donated by a family earlier in the year [leftovers from some sort of shelving structure that had fallen apart]. We decided that the wire could be used with these rods in all sorts of fanciful ways - we would give each student these materials to begin with, and see what transpired with these as the catalyst. We weren't quite sure what the outcomes would be...the children would guide us. This is my favorite way to teach - let's just work with materials and see what happens!

To "instigate" their work and discovery, we talked to the children about sculptures that moved. We had the children stand as sculptures - and then move and wiggle different body parts, while holding the same pose. Jenny shared a couple of excellent, short videoclips about Alexander Calder's and Jean Tinguely's moving sculptures:

Calder's Circus- this is actually him performing it in the 1950s 

The question was posed - could we create sculptures that moved? 

To begin, we had the children explore the wire - bending and moving it into all different shapes and directions. We had the children wear goggles this first day, to encourage them to slow down in their exploration, to use the sharp wire carefully and thoughtfully. They were delighted by this new material. We then asked each child to draw a plan - a blueprint - of their sculpture design. 

Now, it was time to build!

We couldn't work with twenty students at once.  We decided to set up small groups, doing a variety of different things.  While some worked on creating sculptures, others did free-form building in the block corner, creating block sculptures and imagining their wire sculptures. Another small group worked with cardstock and markers, cutting paper gears and decorations to add to their sculptures. 

Lastly, I set up a tree stump with nails (partially hammered into the trunk), for freeform exploration of the wire and pipe cleaners, to channel some additional discovery by students who were using wire for the first time. 

We rotated the children through these areas, allowing each student a good thirty minutes  of sculpture work each of the three days of intersession.

It was fascinating to watch the children create sculptures. Each student was enchanted by the materials, in their own way.

The room was filled with children in motion,

following inner voices,

bending wire,
poking holes in styrofoam,
adding bead after bead to wire strands,
trying to connect the plastic rod to base (pressing, taping, gluing, connecting with wire, or other) 

swinging the wire around and around,
cutting colored tape,
adding cardstock pictures and gears,
coiling the wire around the plastic rod,

lacing ribbon and yarn,
gluing found objects and special gems,
coloring with markers,
wrapping the rod with wire, yarn, tape, or other, 
hammering holes into bottle caps to weave wire through,

rolling and walking the sculpture across the floor, to test its movement,
waving and bending the sculpture, testing its swinging motion, 
making patterns from beads, 
tying on spools and other found objects,
fixing and then undoing, rechecking one's work.

It was not just children the children who were immersed in this work. On the second day of intersession, Jenny and I totally forgot to watch the clock and announce clean up... the next thing we knew, the intersession period was over and my regular "Big Cats" came racing back into the room. What a scramble we had, all of us, putting everything back in its place.

I would love to explore wire sculptures again - for much longer than this three day special program. I've run out of time this school year...but, next year, yes!
There is so much more to discover! 

Here are just a few of the sculptures that the children created -  

Amira's sculpture was so tall, she had to stretch her hands up high and stand on tippy-toes to hold it.

Wilson's sculpture.

Micah's sculpture.

Elyse's sculpture, with blueprint.

Dagmawi's sculpture.

Calla's sculpture and blueprint; she was so proud of how she used spools beneath for sculpture to roll. 

Kayode's sculpture.

Sukey's sculpture.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great time, Maureen. I love it when students get to create & what a neat idea to show about Calder to get their brains going! They did a terrific job!