Monthly Archives: August 2009

Very Hungry Caterpillars

For our last day of At the End of the Rainbow we had a little encounter with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. What a  well-loved little chap he is. A simple yet captivating book.  After reading, we got down to business with the plasticine and everybody had a go at making caterpillars.



And they were very  hungry, of course, so there followed a happy 20 minute of making food stuffs.


The children consulted the book for some ideas. I realized then that this was ideal – because we were working in a different medium and in 3D instead of flat like the illustrations, the book was truly an *inspiration*. Choosing to make an object in the book still required negotiation and creativity on the kids part. I admit I sometimes get a bit nervous about using a book as a resource. If it isn’t done properly and introduced sensitively, it can be limiting. The last thing I want is for the children to feel confined to “copying”. But if it’s done right it can be a lovely way of expanding the creative horizons. Though not the only option, going from 2D to 3D helps make sure it’s “done right”. (Incidentally, same principle at work with the Chameleons, though I didn’t think of it that way at the time)


As the children were working, they were obliged to ask me for more plasticine of one colour or another, as I had it all in a big bowl of warm water to soften. It hardens up pretty quickly as it cools and becomes tricky for them to manipulate. I was busy handing out plasticine but I did notice that it made the kids think more about what colour they wanted to use. Instead of haphazard smooshing together of any colour available, there was a lot more deliberate colour choices. I’m not saying the colour choices were always logical (nor should they be) but it is possible to see the difference between random colour use and conscious decision to use a certain colour. An unexpected outcome of this way of working.

We also made butterfly drawings with water colours but I didn’t get any photos! It was our last day of class and I was busy putting up artwork for “the show”. The children worked quite happily on their own, and I even heard them explaining to each other “You can make your butterfly any way you want, because it’s your butterfly.”  Next time, to make sure it’s “expanding” and not “limiting”, I’ll  have a selection of inspirations (perhaps some photos) for the butterfly part.

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“I made lots of oranges.”

I found myself with a little time to fill today and decided to return to colour mixing. This time I offered the primaries, black and white, and a still life “provocation” at each table.


Some fruit. Sheltering from a rainstorm.


It was a good reminder of how many different connections children are making when they have this sort of opportunity. The idea that you can paint something you see by looking at it, that you can choose appropriate colours to represent that thing, that you can mix that colour…. Then you need to remember how to mix the colour – both what colours are needed and the technical skills needed to do this. Lots going on! Sadly, it is not an activity that produces many stunning results (by “take home” standards), but when you are observing the process it’s quite amazing.


Working on the grapes. Purple is actually quite tricky to mix.


Over at the flower table: “I mixed different greens so I could know which green to make the stem. I made lots of oranges.”

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Mouse Paint and Colour Wheel Pizza!

My class this week is “At the End of the Rainbow.” Colour is our main focus. Today I tried two new things, and I’m pretty pleased with how they went, though in each case I could imagine some improvements.


As the class is all about colour, I wanted to introduce the children to colour mixing quite early. We read Mouse Paint, my standard colour mixing book. But instead of getting right into mixing, I gave the children pieces of torn white paper to glue on their pages as “mice”. Then I invited them to draw, as one kid put it “everything a mouse needs.” We also drew jars to be the three jars of paint in the story. Then we put primary colours in the jars and “mixed” colours on other parts of the page.


Unfortunately, I was dealing with a “I want my mommy” situation so I didn’t  lead/set this up as well as I would have liked. For example, young children need a colour mixing demo so they understand how to use empty space on their pallet to mix paint, rinse the brush and dry excess water. We followed the mouse project up with some good old fashioned free colour mixing. Colour mixing with kids is usually quite loud as they talk a lot about the colours they are making. Today’s group was a little quiet. This is not unusual on the first day, but it did prompt me to wonder if the kids really *need* that communication comfort level with each other to feel free to go to town with the mixing. It seemed their colour mixing was also ” a little quiet”.   I thought maybe the mixing would bring out the talking, but perhaps it’s the other way around!  But hey, this is ME learning and on the whole I think this activity has potential.


We also made colour wheel pizzas! Much talk about the different flavours.


I cut out the slices from construction paper and the kids assembled their pizzas and then added colourful toppings. They were quite engrossed.  As for improvements – I’m not crazy about the look of the construction paper. The finished products don’t look as special as the amount of attention and care the kids put into them. Some painting, or other technique as the base would be nice. Dried finger paint? We may go back and add things.  I will no doubt be referring to the colour wheel quite often during the rest of the week and plan to use the children’s colour pizzas.

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Homemade bouillon cubes!

This evening I’m making my own vegetable bouillon cubes. The recipe is from Rodale’s Complete Book of Home Freezing. I borrowed it from the library when we got our freezer and have been continually renewing the loan. I’m quite excited about bouillon cubes. I do use the store bought ones, and often have call for them but I prefer homemade stock for understandable reasons. The  flavour of homemade stock is subtle, but I feel like my taste buds adapt and start to notice the real flavours, not just salt.  I’ve frozen my own but can never seem to make enough and I’m hoping that if I make a few batches of these I will easily be able to add flavour to soups and other dishes. You freeze them in ice-cube trays and one cube flavours one cup of liquid. It calls for a lot of vegetables, but makes a large number of cubes, so I hope it’s worth it.  The vegetables are from Saturday’s trip to the market. I was in a bit of a hurry or I confess I’d probably have arranged them in a colour wheel….


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Visiting the Allotment


Just back from a rewarding, all be it HOT, visit to the “allotment”. (This is the piece of ground allotted to us in my parents garden to grow vegetables.) I’ve been over every day for the past week to water, which is a change from the wet beginnings this year. Things are growing well! It’s a little cluttered, and the whole things was definitely not overly planned, but I’m very pleased to be harvesting and eating our own vegetables. In terms of outcomes I was chiefly concerned that there would be SOME success so I would feel encouraged to keep gardening, and I definitely accomplished that. We’ve already been eating peas, zucchini, onions and cucumbers. Today’s harvest: Kohlrabi, Rainbow chard, two lovely big broccoli and some leftover onions I found while planting another row of Swiss Chard. Oh, and another big cucumber not pictured!


Broccoli with Cheese Sauce for supper! Are these not handsome broccoli??



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Peaches and Basil: Summer Love

Never mind this peaches and cream nonsense! What you really want to be eating is peaches and basil. The combination may sound surprising but once you try it you’ll understand why it is one of my favourite summer treats. Fragrant and delicious. And local! (Peaches from the market, honey from Local Source and basil from the back deck.)


Take a peach and some basil (or better yet, several peaches, and lots of basil) and chop them up. Though not necessary, a drizzle of honey is a nice addition and it helps the peach juices form a bit of a syrup. This is particularly lovely when packed for a pick-nick as the bouncing around en-rout extracts more peach juice. Enjoy!


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Could this be “knitting”??

What are those stick things?? And what is all that string for?? Could this be “knitting” ??


Picked up the sticks after what seems like ages. And not only that! – I’ve started some Christmas knitting. For years now I’ve been trying to tell myself that I should start in the summer but have never managed to get around to it. So now, partly because it’s a humorous contrast, I’ve started knitting for Christmas during THE HOTTEST DAYS OF THE SUMMER! I’m making some warm socks. Recipient is still undecided as I was too lazy to check gauge or anything that sensible. I’ve definitely become a fan of thick sock knitting – it comes along so fast!

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