Archive for the ‘St. James’ Category

Please click on The Workshops tab above to read a description of the Spring Session. And feel free to scroll down and review any of the previous workshops. Thank you!


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Our opening ritual–Liya choosing a special treasure and sharing a favorite snow day.

The girls were given watercolor pencils to do their art project. When using art materials for the first time, it is helpful to experiment with that material and practice using it before beginning an art project.

A work in progress. The Snowy Day inspired art.

“Snowy Day” scenes. The girls really enjoyed using the watercolor pencils. Most of the girls did 2 scenes and we will finish the project during our next session. I love Ezra Jack Keats art and I love the girl’s art as well!!

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Jan Brett, of course! Since our theme has been winter and we had focused our storytelling activities on her book, The Mitten, Jan Brett seemed like a natural choice. (Ezra Jack Keats will be our Featured Artist this coming week).

Jan Brett has illustrated so many books and they are all so fabulously detailed. We learned that it takes her one hour to draw an inch!! Some artists have special drawing journals or notebooks to practice drawing. Jan Brett practiced drawing for hours at a time when she was a little girl. I thought it would be nice if each girl had their own drawing journal with a special drawing pencil. My husband has the talent of making books, so he got the paper cut and ready and showed me how to sew a simple binding.

I brought in all of Jan Brett’s winter or Christmas books that she has illustrated and the girls each chose one to practice their Jan Brett drawings. The girls spent time browsing pictures and decided which ones they wanted to practice. They each had a 6B pencil to use, a very common lead weight type of pencil.

Just a few examples of some of the drawings in progress…

A swan from The Twelve Days of Christmas

Animals from The Hat

A moose from Annie and the Wild Animals

A candy balloon from Gingerbread Friends

And, of course, the girls love sharing and talking about their drawings.

Happy Drawing Girls! P.S. I gave the girls Jan Brett’s website and address if they want to learn more about Jan Brett or send her one of their drawings.:)

http://www.janbrett.com; Jan Brett  P.O.Box 366  Norwell, MA  02061

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Opening Ritual:

After eating our snack of blueberry muffins and sharing what each girl’s favorite winter book was, the girls enjoyed laughing through another listening game…


Last week one of the girl’s asked how I had remembered the whole story, The Mitten by Jan
Brett. So, this week I gave the girls some tips on how to learn the story they are going to tell.

1) Know your story

2) Make a simple storyboard (pictures of events in the story in sequential order)

3) Don’t memorize the story; tell the story in your own words

4)Visualize the story happening in your mind; make a movie in your mind

5)Practice! Practice in front of the mirror, tell to a friend, family, stuffed animal, etc.)

We put these steps into practice. The girls had heard the story of The Mitten by Jan Brett several times. The more you know the story the easier it is to not memorize it and tell the story in your own words and to be able to visualize it in your mind’s eye. The girl’s were going to practice telling The Mitten to each other, so I wanted them to have pictures of the animals and to put them in order. So, I provided them with more animal cut-outs so they could make their own “storyboards.”

Let the storytelling begin! Some of the girls had an opportunity to practice telling The Mitten just to a partner and some had the opportunity to share with the whole group. We also talked a bit about TELLING THE STORY:

1) VOICE: We modeled what a good storyteller sounds like and doesn’t sound like; not monotone, you might change your voice to sound like a character or if there is an exciting part or quiet your voice to add suspense.

2)FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: This adds to the story and keeps you interesting and helps the audience to stay captive.

3)GESTURES AND MOVEMENTS: Keep it simple and be natural; also adds to the story

4)BEGINNINGS & ENDINGS: You may want to introduce the name of the story, the author, any other interesting information about the story. As the story ends, it might be obvious when the story is over, so a pause might be appropriate or you may want to tell the audience “The end.” Accepting applause by a bow is appropriate.

Source: TALES as TOOLS, The Power of Story in the Classroom; The National Storytelling Association.

Hana practicing The Mitten with a partner.

Isa: Adapted The Mitten to tell her own version…she had repetition in her story, she got the audience participating, had great facial expressions, voice, and used gestures to enhance her story. We loved listening to your storytelling, Isa!

Danielle: Adapted The Mitten to tell her own version. I loved how the animals got stuck in a girl’s boot and then each animal got kicked out! Very funny! Danielle also used gestures(a kicking gesture),had great voice, and had eye contact with the audience. Wonderful creativity and storytelling Danielle!

Cecilia: She adapted The Mitten also to tell her own version. This picture tells so much of Cecilia’s storytelling…so full of gestures and fabulous facial expressions as well as Voice!! Cecilia, you are such an active and fun storyteller! You really engaged the audience. Keep it up!

We ran out of time and not all the girls got to share in front of the whole group. Practice telling stories at home, it’s fun!

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*Note* — My camera was misplaced and so I didn’t have it with me during this workshop to take pictures of the girls. Sorry about that!

Opening Ritual – After our snack the girls had an opportunity to participate in an exercise to improve listening effectiveness. Listening during storytelling is an important skill. They lined up and I whispered a short description to the first girl in line and she whispered what she heard to the next girl in line, she whispered what she heard to the next girl in line, so on and so on. The last girl shared out loud what she heard. Boy, was this funny! We all had some good laughs.

How did it get from…”The mice burrowed underground to get away from the snake.” to…”The whale jumped!” ??? We can all improve on our listening skills, right?! 🙂

We gathered together for our storytelling session on the stage; I set up my props(picture above) and retold the beloved winter tale of The Mitten, adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett. The girls passed around the felt mitten I sewed as I was telling the story. I had so much fun telling it and loved watching the girls’ attentive faces. Some of them had not heard this story before.

Next, the girls had fun coloring the animals from the story and making their own mitten. As they were working, I read to them the original version of the story. After, one of the girls asked, “How did you remember the whole story?” What a great question! We will definitely talk about that this week during our last storytelling session. So, to be continued…

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St. James, Winter 2010, Artist Materials, Week 3

I found this week’s art project on a fabulous website, http://www.artprojectsforkids.org. This resource has art projects of all kinds for all ages. It is a wonderful resource. I found a project on How to Draw Winter Trees. Before we dove into our project, we went outside to do what artists do…OBSERVE. We observed the bare trees that were outside the school. We had so much fun looking up and all around and noticing the shapes and details of the branches.

Using a black oil pastel, the girls learned how to draw winter trees, focusing on a “Y” shape. They added branches, a horizon line, and a blue background for the sky. Of course, I love how the girls added their own creative details…a squirrel in it’s burrow, berries on the branches, and snowflakes. Lastly, they dropped watery, white tempera paint all over the paper for some added snow! Here they are working so hard…

The beautiful final works of art!

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St. James, Winter Session, Artist Materials, Week 2

Materials waiting to be used…yarn, ribbon, Q-tips, glitter paper, pom-pom balls, cotton balls, paper, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, and felt. 4 panels on an accordion book to be creative with all white materials to create winter scenes. Let the creating begin!

Focused girls also having a little fun with the materials.

The girls love sharing their work, and I love hearing them share! What I love about open-ended materials is that every artist has a different way of using them. Some girls chose to use the cotton balls to make a snowman, while others chose to use yarn for a snowman. Snow queens, winter owls, and snowballs all made an appearance in the various winter scenes. Accordion books are easy to make and there are so many ways to use them. The girls had a great time creating winter white scenes!

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