Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shadow and Light - Montessori and Modern Art

We have had some very warm days of late. They were perfect to give lessons outside; especially messy ones. Over this past year, we have been studying geometry and place. We have made cubes, door mobiles and many other materials that promoted the exploration of geometry. This week, I decided to conclude our studies with a lesson on lines; lines created by shadows. I showed the class a photograph of a scultpural piece done by a contemporary artist. Next, I gave a verbal description of how we were going to make similiar objects. I also explained that we would shine a flashlight at the finished pieces to view the shadow-lines that the forms created. The results were spectacular. I really was amazed at how successful the project was.

First my assistant Cristina and I moved the children and the materials outside to a picnic table. At the table I mixed together flour, white glue, glitter and water to make a soupy mixture. Then I dipped several pre-cut strands of black yarn into the mixture and wrapped them around a small, pre-inflated balloon. As I was busy with all of this, it was impossible to photograph each step. Somehow I did not get a photo of the yarn being wrapped onto the balloon - my hands were covered in glitter-goo. So, I have included a few photos before the yarn was put onto the balloons and the balloons with the yarn on them hanging from the playground's monkey-bars. I have included some amazing shots of the pieces after they dried outside overnight. One photo captures a little bit of the shadow image. See below for all photos.

Above: The image in the lower left hand corner is of an art work done by a contemporary artist. The shadows cast are as interesting as the sculpture itself; an obvious intention.

Above: I mixed Elmer's glue, flour, glitter and water together to make a wet paste. Next, I added pre-cut sections of yarn to the mix. Each piece of yarn was pulled from the paste and carefully wrapped around a small, blown-up-by-adults balloon. The children were careful not to put too much paste on the balloons as the weight could cause the yarn to slip off. After several pieces of yarn were wrapped around each balloon, they were hung from the monkey bars to dry overnight.

A single balloon hangs from the monkey bars.

Yarn and paste covered balloons hung out to dry.

Above two photos: Close-ups of the children's work. The balloons shrunk while the paste dried so we left the balloons attached as they added color and an additional form to the objects.


We held individual pieces up and shone a flashlight on them so as to cast shadows onto a backdrop of white easel paper. The shadow images were incredible!!!

The image of the contemporary art work and the children's work.

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