Thursday, February 28, 2013

Occupy Kindergarten!

Kindergarten should be FUN. Kurt Schwengel talks about how kindergarten has changed in schools, but the kids haven't changed. Kids still love to play games, learn hands-on and make discoveries. Forcing young kids to sit at desks for many hours a day, memorizing facts and filling out worksheets, in order to keep up with the test-driven, pushed-down academic curriculum...just creates sad, stressed out children.

View the 20 minute TEDxTalks video clip on YouTube. Kurt, the passionate kindergarten teacher, speaks the truth:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Baby Hippo, House & Reindeer on Etch A Sketch

Sadly, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch, AndrĂ© Cassagnes, died on January 16, 2013. The mechanical toy still endures...bringing joy to many people since 1960. A decade ago it was named one of the hundred best toys of the 20th century by the Toy Industry Association. Though kids are often bought electronic gadgets, this classic toy, like children's imaginations, will remain timeless. LC's latest creations below...

LC: "Baby Hippo":

LC: "A House":

LC: "A Reindeer Sitting on a Chair and Relaxing":

I've posted a few of LC's Etch A Sketch drawings on this blog.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Children Need

“Children need to go to the theater as much as they need to run about in the fresh air. They need to hear real music played by real musicians on real instruments as much as they need food and drink. They need to read and listen to proper stories as much as they need to be loved and cared for. … If you deprive them of art and music and story and theater, they perish on the inside.” -Philip Pullman

Friday, February 15, 2013

Face to Face at CMA - Part 2

Here are photos of our visit to the new Face to Face exhibit (February 7 - June 9, 2013) at the Children's Museum of the Arts (CMA) in the Hudson Square area of Lower Manhattan.

Portraits were hung up in the gallery from CMA's permanent collection of children's art (curated from an impressive collection, art from over 50 countries and dating back to the 1930s).

A few hands-on activities allowed kids to explore self-identity.

They set up a Lens Photo Booth, for visitors to operate. Being a PC/Windows user, for as long as I can remember...when the iPad accidentally went into email, I needed the assistance of the staff member at the front desk. She was nice enough to navigate the Apple exit out of email and bring it back to the photo-taking application. The directions that were posted were clear, though, in terms of taking the photographs in the booth ourselves and selecting the picture to be projected onto the gallery wall. They also had various props available, to make it more fun for kids! The photos will stream into a time-lapse montage that will be added to the collection.

There were Pin Impression boards for kids to explore dimension. I suppose kids could close their eyes and press their faces into them make self-portraits. LC chose to make an artwork with impressions of her hand.

In the center of the gallery, there was a structure that consisted of panels of mirrors and LC enjoyed walking around it to see how her reflection looked.

Other than exploring various textures and shapes for portraits...there was also audio and video.

A still image below of a time-lapse video that showed an artist painting 30 portraits on his torso, one over the other, with each image representing a meaningful influence in his life.

Animated-Loop Portraits (a still image below of the stop motion video we saw in person):

LC enjoyed this Face to Face exhibit exploring self and identity through still and moving images.

Face to Face at CMA - Part 1

When I told LC about the new Face to Face exhibit at the Children's Museum of the Arts (CMA), she kept asking me to bring her as soon as possible. Since LC was participating in a soccer game a few blocks away from CMA, it was a good opportunity to check out the exhibit after her game. (As an aside, 2 girls and 6 boys under the age of 8 went on the field...and though the coach was patient and tried to explain the rules, my daughter is not into competitive sports. She doesn't understand why anyone would try to outrun anyone else and she doesn't enjoy the concept of "taking the ball away" from the other players...but I brought her to play just because she likes meeting new kids.)

I'm organizing the CMA photos from that day into two separate posts. First, here are the photos for the activities at CMA that were not related to the Face to Face exhibit.

It was extremely fun for LC to make a Big Head Doll. This would be easy to make at home. The Teaching Assistant crumpled up newspaper into a ball and covered it with masking tape. The kids were given index cards, with pencils and they could draw hair (or a hat), eyes (or sunglasses), a mouth and an outfit with legs and arms. Then, we cut out those shapes. We taped a toothpick (broken in half for the smaller parts) to the back of each piece, so they could be pushed into the appropriate areas of the head (after poking holes through the ball).

Then, we hit the Clay Bar and LC received terrific instruction from a Teaching Artist; she was very patient and creative...and taught LC how to make a frog (LC's choice of subject).


We went into the Fine Arts Studio...where LC made art with circle stickers, watercolor paint and cardboard squares and triangles (those were taped together to make geometric sculptures and the Teaching Assistant was very helpful - CMA just has the absolute best staff).


(Above Photo) LC's "house" on the left, the Teaching Assistant's "house" on the right.

Of course, a visit to CMA would not be complete if she didn't get to have a romp in the Ball Pond.

It's no secret that LC loves CMA. I don't post about every visit...but I've certainly mentioned CMA many times on this blog and any art-loving kid would be happy to spend an afternoon at the Children's Museum of the Arts.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Big Beautiful Blizzard

We were hoping for a big snowfall this winter and we finally got foot of snow! LC made her first snow angel (the wings look cool thanks to the quilted parka sleeves). She was also thrilled to make snowballs and stomp around in her snow boots.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

BAMkids Film Festival 2013

BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) was the place to be this weekend, with the BAMkids Film Festival. Our schedule didn't allow us to attend the live musical performances by the Deedle Deedle Dees or Suzi Shelton, so I'm jealous of the folks who saw the bands perform at BAMcafĂ©. These bands appeal to music-loving parents as much as the kids we tow around town.

We did squeeze in a viewing of one set of short films for kids. It was an awesome hour of 14 short films. Shorts are definitely getting so much attention and acclaim lately. We voted on our favorites for the BAMmies Awards. LC liked all of the shorts. But I hope one of these four wins from the "I Wonder" shorts program: Sharing, Violin Play, The Missing Meatball and Aston's Presents, they were truly wonderful for kids 2-5 years old.

LC was thrilled that BAM gave out activity books. She enjoyed pretending she was creating her own animation: