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art – Page 2 – Teachable Moments
May 042012

[I’m a sucker for a well-written children’s book – the kind that clamors to be savored and shared.  From time to time, I’ll post about one that tickles my fancy.]

Today is illustrator  Don Wood’s birthday.  He is best known for illustrating his wife, Audrey Wood’s books including King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, The Napping House, and Piggies.

piggies cover

Knowing that his birthday was coming up, I started combing through our school library shelves for any of his books to re-visit.  The first one I came upon was Piggies.   It’s a simple text that equates a child’s fingers with pigs.  I threw it in my bag to bring home and share with my own kids since I didn’t have time to shanghai any preschoolers.

My 11 year old daughter and I had a few minutes together waiting to pick up the high schoolers and so I pulled it out of my bag and handed it to her.  She gasped “I love this book!” and immediately began to flip the pages.  When she got to the end, we went back through it more slowly in order to appreciate the rich illustrations.  As we talked about which pig was most like us, we noticed more and more details: the ten pigs have distinct personalities, the left hand is boy pigs and the right hand is girls, some of the pigs have props that they use in clever ways from page to page. What a treasure!

My 8th grade son picked this as his favorite page from the book.  The skiing pig is his favorite.cold piggies

There’s a great literacy building project that goes with this book as well: Kids can use their own hands to mimic the piggies in the book and then come up with their own phrases, i.e. My little piggies are flipping.  If you want to take it a step further, trace their hands onto paper and have them make ink thumbprint piggies doing what they described.  Collect them together into a class book.  

What great books inspire you?

 Posted by at 07:07
May 012012

As a teacher, sometimes it’s tempting to simply tell children the answer to a question rather than taking the time to guide them through their own exploration.  When you have the time, it’s worth the investment to watch the joy that comes with a new discovery.  

I recently overheard two four year olds, a boy and girl, talking about favorite colors:

B: I’ll do it purple because I know you like purple and pink.  They’re your favorite colors.

G: I’ll do it red because you like red.  (beat) I don’t like red at all.

I could see B getting ready to take offense.

Me: I’m surprised you don’t like red.  It’s kinda’ like pink and purple.

G: What?

Me: Red is like pink.

G: Noooo.

Me: Do you know what happens when you mix red and white?

G: No, what?

We found some paint and she tested the red on the paper, then I squirted a generous amount of white in the cup and she mixed it with her brush.  

G: Wow!  Look at that pretty color!

She swirled it around, creating a pig colored cloud on the paper.

Me: What would you call that color?

G: Pink

Me: So red plus white makes….

G: Pink!

Teachable Moment seized.  


 Posted by at 16:12
Apr 282012

I took a small, unscheduled driving tour of downtown this week on my way to jury duty.  I was pretty sure I knew how to get where I was going.

I didn’t. 

Of course, Maggie, my faithful GPS unit, was in the other car and I don’t have a smart phone.  Luckily, I do have a smart husband who is better than any On-Star system. I had left home with my spirit of adventure, so even the temporary detour was interesting rather than infuriating. 

I strolled into the jury room at 9:30 a.m. having earned this luxury by watching the jury orientation videos online at home.  And then I waited….for hours.  Obviously, I knew this might happen and so I brought my laptop and kept up with work as much as I could. 

Long story short: eventually, I was released for a TWO HOUR lunch break. 

Let the wandering begin! 

My first thought was to head over to the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) since jurors get in free, but I wasn’t sure exactly where it was.  My spirit of adventure had convinced me I could survive on wits alone.  The phrase “We don’t need no stinkin’ map!” kept running through my head, so off I went. 

I soon came upon a collection of strange black lumps outside a newish looking building.  “The MOCA?”  I thought. The smooth black sculptures invited me to run my hand over their curves.  (Which I did not for reasons I may someday explore with a therapist.) 

This is my favorite of the collection:

Favorite Black Lump MED

The building was not the MOCA, but LAPD headquarters.  I’m still thinking about whether that changes how I view the sculptures.  They are the work of Peter Shelton who does, in fact, have work installed at the MOCA. You can read about Police Chief Bratton’s reaction in 2009 when the work was installed here. 

Since I did want to find some food on my lunch break, I pressed on.  I passed City Hall park (under construction), the surprisingly striking CalTrans building, and never found the MOCA. 

I did, however, stumbled upon that rarest of establishments: STARBUCKS! 

Now before you start thinking my spirit of adventure is a corporate shill, let me explain.  This Starbucks had quite a few features to recommend it:

  1. Free wifi
  2. Caffeine
  3. Plenty of outdoor seating in the sun
  4. Live Music 

The live music was the clincher for me.  A mournful trumpeter had set up on the corner opposite the Starbucks and was serenading the whole block with something resembling Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are”.  You could feel his heart coming through each phrase.  Remarkable! 

As my lunch break came to an end, I reoriented myself and trekked back to the windowless corridors of the courthouse to await my next adventure satisfied for today and determined to wander again. 


* NOTE: Here is a more professional picture of my favorite black lump.

P.S. I also found out the MOCA was closed that day.


 Posted by at 09:11