Friday, June 4, 2010


Here's the paintings from the last day of our storm mini-block. It was the perfect lite transition out of our West African cultural unit so that we can move into one final short math block before the "end" of our school year. Above is J's painting, below is Zoo Boy's, I'll explain the entire process in detail in a minute. We launched into this painting after recalling yesterday's story that depicted a hurricane's energy. J was VERY enthusiastic about the recall, not letting Zoo Boy or I get a word in. Clearly the story spoke to him very nicely!

So after J's recall, we sat down at our paint boards and I made up a little story on the spot about a sailors who wake up to a red sky in the morning. I quoted the rhyme "Red sky at night, sailor's delight, Red sky in morning, sailors take warning." Repeating his rhyme, he goes about the ship waking up other sailors, each time they repeat the rhyme. Finally they decide to wake up the Captain, who commends them all for waking him, because, after all, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning." And he commanded them to make ready to set sail for safer harbors. (The entire time I was telling this, we were painting our entire paper -- filling our entire sky -- with red paint. I said things like "the entire sky was red, from east to west and north to south".)

The sailors hurried to set sail. As they raised the sails and battened down the hatches, clouds began gathering overhead. (At that point we loaded our brushes with blue and dabbed the blue onto our red paper.) Soon they were underway, trying to beat the storm to the harbor. The winds picked up, hurrying them on their way. The clouds grew closer and closer together, and the sailors could hear the booming of thunder and the crackle of lightening. (We start swirling our blue-loaded brushes around and between the dabs, connecting them, over-painting them.)

North Wind rushed in and pushed on one side of the storms. (With broad strokes we brought our blue-loaded paint brushes from the upper left corner of the page, and then allowed it to swirl in a circle counter-clockwise around the page.) South Wind rushed in and pushed on the other side. (We repeat the same thing, only bringing our brush stroke up from the lower right hand corner of the page, again swirling it around the page counter-clockwise.) Round and around the storm swirled. (We kept moving the brush around and around, making a circle, leaving an empty spot in the middle.) The sailors made it safe into the harbor and quickly lowered the sails and tied down the ship's rigging. (The more we swirl with the brushes, the more our paint is blended into purple.)

Here's my painting:
The boys loved the progression of this block, and were wondering what sort of storm stories we'd be reading about today. But that was enough -- the Thunderstorms that have been rolling through all week provides plenty of back-up for this grounding. Incidentally, although the science is built subtly into all of the stories I told, we don't discuss the actual science. I just allow it to become part of the kids' natural understanding of the world. The extra focus of this block, stringing 3 separate stories on the same/similar topic together, is just enough contraction for them to be able to move freely in and out of the actual experience of living through thunderstorms.

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