Thursday, 25 February 2016

Discovering a city

As the film has been developing a need for  a background has arisen... and instead of doing a random background the opportunity to explore our city has come up..

We googled building in Stockholm and the children chose the building that most strick a chord with them... some have chosen modern, others have chosen historical... I have learned about buildings I did not know existed in Stockholm. On Thursdays we are exploring Stockholm to find out buildings...

Last week we travelled for 45 minutes to west Stockholm to vist Vällingby shopping centre... as one of the buildings had been chosen by the children...

This week we visted Riddarkyrkan (The Knight's Church - the oldest church in Stockholm) and Waterfront - a very modern building. As we are doing a Leonardo Da Vinci project i related the church age to Leonardo... that the church was 200 years older than Leonardo... that really surpised the children... an 800 yr old church right in front of us. (Of course I personally come from a much older city where 800 years is nothing - my city had been in action for a 1,000 yrs before that.. I come from York, and as you read, fiercely proud of my history).
The children connected to their history... just as I have connected to mine.

We then played at the City Hall - as they have a garden on the water front. There is nothing there except for pathways and statues - and tourists who want to take photos of preschoolers on excursions... (for real I had to tel several no, its not OK to take photographs of the children... the ones I share here I blur out the faces!!!

As we left the City Hall the children exclaimed... we NEED to come back to this playground again. I loved the fact that the children were so happy playing heree... in the garden where Swedish politicians work... seemed so appropriate somehow... hope it reminded them of what they need to accomplish... as the children played and laughed... I know the security guard kept trying to hide his smiles...

We took the boat back... after all Stockholm is made of many islands... so if we are to explore our city we need to explore the water too....


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Film-making. Session 3

After my steep learning curve last week I divided the children up this week into two groups... which happened to be perfect for the two scenes we filmed today... While one group filmed the other group played in the role-play area.

I also shared my learning with the children... letting them know I had noticed that making a film was not as much fun when there was so much turn taking... and that working in small groups meant that there would be more space and more tunrs for everyone... the children agreed with me...

and more importantly reality agreed with me...

Film-making was much more fun with groups of 3-4 children.

There will be two more... possibly 3 more scenes and then the film will be ready... well... ready for the next stage that is...

Here is a sneeky peek of one of the scenes from today...

video


In the afternoon there was more film making using various things in the contruction area... here the children work much more independently... depending on their prior skills... some of the children are from other groups and therefore have no knowledge of how it works... so they are supported by myself and the children...


here are some fo the films

video
age 5

video

age 5

video


age 4

Using the saw...

The lego stop-motion film is not the only way Vinden is exploring robots... the robot dance is going to be filmed too... so now the children are busy making props for the film... a giant robot being one of the props...
A large pipe was suggested as legs... the children laughed... "its far too long" they exclaimed... "So how can we make it shorter?"... "with a saw" chimed the children.
So as we sawed the children started quoting lines from Alfons Åberg "Aja Baja" where Alfons is absolutely not allowed to use the saw. You can find out more about Alfons (Alfie Atkins) here
The children had a great respect for the saw, had full focus, marvelled at the sawdust, helped each other (by sitting on the pipe to keep it steady - that was also hard work) and also peering into the pipe and seeing how the saw went through into the middle.
When one leg was ready... "how do we make sure that the other leg is the same length?" - "We need to measure it"... the children had all the answers we needed!



Once the legs were ready we moved onto finding the rest of the body... the children rummaged around the atelier, looking in the boxes and shelves for something suitable (since we had just had a deleivery a week ago we had fresh boxes available, as well as packaging... the children made full use of this...
The body and head boxes were painted metallic to continuous exclamations of "this is so much fun".



Not sure whether we will be working on this next week or not... it might be decorated, robot style... but as it is a school break, and several of the children will be away, we will be putting the project on hold for a week - its more fun when we are all together... next week will most probably be dedicated to 100% free play...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Film-making Session Two

Oh this is a steep learning curve for me, I can tell you that...

Its fun, and a little frustrating... becuase part of me is working hard on trying to enable the children, part is dealing with this whole film-making thing, which is new to me too, and part of me is trying to make sure that everyone is included, taking care of each other, and that the process is not taking too long so that it goes beyond being meaningful... nothing without joy and all that...

Today I felt I pushed myself almost to the point of losing it... but colleague observers said that they had not noticed that I was dealing with frustration on the inside as apparently I was remaining calm on the outside.

My mistake... TOO MANY mini-figures...
There was just too many for the children to move each shot to allow the process to be fairly fluid... it took too long for the children to move in and move their figure... and then move out of the way so that the next child could come in and move their figure... and if I was to remind another child about moving so another could come in... I could quite possibly have lost it... I must have reminded them every single time - and since there are 65 pictures and 7 children involved that was a lot of reminders in a short period of time...
And of course the children did not want to move out of the way, they all, quite rightly, wanted centre stage to be able to see the action... even though I tried to find an area that would have enough space, as well as good lighting, as well as room to put a background image, it simply was not large enough. I might move it slightly for the next session, to create a bit more space... it might juts be enough...
Also the film will have to take a slightly different direction and that some of the characters will take more space... we have done scene 1 and 2 today... maybe some of the scenes can be just a few of the children, different combinations each time to allow the flow to be better.

The children want a fight scene... and right now with so many figures, it is just too complicated... so we are in dialogue about how we can do a "fight scene" that will work...

But we have for now plans for up to scene 5.

Today we finished off the background... just one child's building not glued onto it yet... but that will come at the end of the week... the child is at home sick at the moment...

I ended up being director... this was not my intention... I had handed over as much to the children as I could... but there was just too many children (only 7, but with 7 different ideas and no winning concept) I felt that if I got it started the story would come ... and it did... the story comes from the children in dialogue with me... or rather I seemed to be the channel for THEIR story.

Anyway... here is scene 1 from today...
I won't be revealing the storyline... or all of the scenes until late April and we have our premiere viewing for the parents...

video


And here is an image of the background

The painted part comes from when we painted our clay robots, and we used the left over metallic paints and colours in a Together Painting at the easel.
Tomorrow we will be taking a 45 minute journey to the west Stockholm suburbs (we are located in the south Stockholm suburbs) to visit a shopping centre there... it is the red and white building to the left middle above Globen... a very modern building...
I have not included the space for the last building on this image... we did allow room for the last one...

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Filmmaking - post 1

Last week we painted on plastic (I just put a laminate sheet through without paper in between to get a clear plastic sheet) - and used sharpies to create an image of a robot, or something that moves... skateboarders were popular...

We took these on our excursion across town the next day... and produced some short films... which i intend to put together... last weekend felt a bit shorter than usual as I spent the Saturday doing a course on Socratic dialogue..

anyway... this is one of those films

video

After watching the films on a small screen last week the children thought we needed to worok on a background to do something similar... but film across our own background rather than on the train...

So I felt it could be fun to take building os Stockholm... to help the children get to learn more about the city that they live in.

So today we did a google search of building in Stockholm and the children looked through the small images and found a building they wanted to draw... I printed them out... and as the children got drawing them I found out the location of each of the buildings, some facts and also I could show the children how the building looked like on the inside... the internet is an amazing tool.

We intend to visit all the building they have selected from the screen... so they will be able to discover its location in Stockholm and also get a feel of "their" building.


Afterwards we messed about with the imotion app on the i-pad to create a stop-motion film.
If we are wanting to make a film, then I feel they need to get to know a few different techniques... and to also practice using them... so that they can decide which one they want to use in the final film-making.

video
It was a lot of fun... and the children need to collaborate, give each other space and have an awareness of where their figure was on the screen... lots to think about... there was not so much thinking about what the purpose of this film was, or what story it was telling... it was just about moving... but there was no director either... so I guess we will have to go into that too...

Afterwards the children felt that this film was about a race... on my app the film plays on a loop, which is much more satisfying for the children... and we can control the speed of the film, which fascinated them...

In the afternoon there was some more film-making, this time with the cubes...

Children from the other groups were interested and came over... and got into the film-making business too... several films were made with the blocks... 4-5 year olds taking control of the i-pad and getting creative. Here is one of those films to check out...

video
It will be interesting to see how the films develop as the children become more familiar with the technique.

This project is a part of the Leonardo Da Vinci project... the children became intrigued by his robot... and his desire to invent and make... we have seen films of robots... and the idea of film-making has come from that...


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Methods

I have often wondered about methods… especially pedagogical methods… about how they help and support the work we do with children but also how they limit us… the need to keep to the method - the "right" way of doing something.

This weekend I attended the first of three 5 hour sessions learning more about philosophy with children - the focus being on Socratic dialogue.

As a teacher that has developed my own approach to philosophy with children I have read various methods and approaches and then done what I have always done, broken them down to understand how they work and then reassemble into a form that suits myself and the children I work with… it has to be interesting and meaningful not only for the children but for myself too… the children have to see that I am enjoying the process, the learning.

I was interested in how P4C and Socratic dialogue differ - and that those who are trained in one method find the alternative "hard" "wierd" and have resisitance… and this was something I saw yesterday and I have seen over time in groups where these philosophical approaches are defended in much the same way as pedagogical methods/approaches are defended… which I have often found has resulted in a lack of listening… if you are defending it is not an open dialogue, you listen only to answer rather than listen to understand.

For me, personally, this is why I fell in love with the Reggio Emilia Approach… it allowed me not to follow a set pedagogical structure but to explore many methods, research, schools, approaches and disciplines to find the information to weave together the fabric most suitable for the context - the children I work with, the setting I work at, the colleagues I work with and my own personal development.

I have found this useful in my philosophical learning journey. For me getting the children to think, to listen to each other, to be respectful of each others ideas, to share ideas, learning how to express their ideas… have been the most important. My understanding of Malaguzzi's 100 languages has given me the incentive to explore philosophy through more than just dialogues… to explore philosophical thinking through artistic expression, through construction, through movement, through theatre and most importantly through play.

Maybe being a pedagogue first and learning to be a philosopher WITH the children has given me the chance to see the power of thinking through many languages… communication is of course more than words… You can check out a blogpost here to read more about communication being more than the spoken language . I have not been trained in a specific method… but read and listened to others with philosophical experience… colleagues (Ellen) and courses (philosophy with children course) - some of these have been with a heavy P4C focus and others with a more Socratic dialogue approach… also meeting up with people like Kate Kennedy White from Australia and Sara Stanley from UK have also helped me understand how we can work philosophically with children and have inspired me greatly.

I think in the end we have to ask ourselves what do we want from these dialogues… what is the purpose… and then find a structure that will help create that…
I like structure… but I also like for that to be flexible enough so I can meet the needs of the children I work with… to be able to take inspiration from these different methods/approaches.

Structure is important… to allow the children to be free to explore their ideas… to feel safe. The structure gives time… to the group and to the individuals, it create the rhythm of respect…
I have written more about structure creating freedom here if you are interested in exploring this idea more.

Now I feel I need more time to reflect and think…









Wednesday, 3 February 2016

What is play?

Over the years I have watched children play... sometimes it has been obvious to see what their play is, other times it has been more complicated to understand what part of their actions has been play...

I have seen children standing at the sidelines that look like they are just watching... but when asked they say they are playing... and other times the child on the sideline feels excluded. So getting to know and understand each child is so important to be able to work out why they are on the side looking in...

Then there is play where the children are playing and it is just so obvious. The play is ozzing out of every pore and fills the room. It is easy to see and understand.

Then there is play that looks like work but is perceived as play... like my group of children this week that scraped all the ice and sand off a slide and kept exclaiming how much fun it was... despite it being obviously hard work... when I asked them about their activities they described it as work and play, but mostly play.

One child could not see the play in this ice-scraping activity... and kept asking if the three children scraping "wanted to play" - and presented various ideas like tag and their favourite role-play games based on TV programmes they watch. This child could not comprehend how the others could answer "but we are playing". I saw confusion on the face of the child.


Play is really rather complex... and we need to take a step back from how we adults define play and explore how children define play.



A bit more about the ice scraping...

It started with the children enjoying the new sound of going down the slide with a coating of ice... (rain/sleet that had frozen during the night). It made the slide fairly fast, but not as fast as it is when rainy.
One child decided to experiment by putting sand at the top of the slide and then sliding down with the sand... a new sound was created... all the children wanted to test it out... but soon discovered that it made the slide very slow... so they started the process of scraping off the ice and sand so that the slide would be fast again. As they scraped they discovered that this was fun too... not only the noise, but wathcing the ice fly off and also the patterns with shiney metal coming through. They even scraped off the ice and sand by sliding down with a spade at an angle... the ice/sand looking like fireworks as they scraped it off downwards.