A Thousand Cranes & Other Collaborative Art

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This week I had the good fortune to visit Anna Bing Arnold Children’s Center at Cal State L.A., where creative ideas are thriving. Curriculum Coordinator Alexandra Walsh and Director Patricia Ulloa have decades of combined experience and a particularly innovative staff. Like Dominic, who facilitated this brilliant collaborative puzzle piece painting with three- and four-year-olds, which immediately caught my eye. Isn’t it brilliant?

anna crane 2 anna crane 3Dominic explained how this experimental project began by cutting 12 x 18” Real Watercolor Paper into puzzle shapes, then prompting children to select a shape and paint it using Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera. The puzzle pieces were placed in a basket in the art area for use at any time. The intense color you see here resulted from distinct 3 variables:  (1) using fluorescent paint,  (2) mounting each puzzle piece painting onto black construction paper, then trimming a close border, and (3) by using watercolor paper instead of white construction paper. The added thickness (and spongy quality) of watercolor paper absorbs more pigment than regular paper, giving the finished paintings a visual “pop.”   Nice!

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I fell in love with this Thousand Cranes Origami project, facilitated by Jasmine Cruz and Raul Delgado, which creates a unique environment that children, parents and teachers all participated in!  This delightful classroom activity, which combines open-ended art with math foundations and collaborative teamwork, embodies the “Four C’s” which children will later address in Kindergarten and elementary school.  These “Four C’s” are the four specific skills deemed by the US Dept of Education to be the most important for preparing students to succeed in the 21st century: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  Kudos to Jasmine and Raul for initiating an important learning experience while adding beauty and innovation to their school.

anna crane 8A Thousand Origami Cranes is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures that is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1,000 cranes are made, one for each year. Here children decorated papers over the course of two months, while parents and staff folded them into a thousand origami cranes. Thanks to patience and motivation, the children’s parents, grandparents and teachers strung all thousand of their hand-colored paper cranes onto cord and even added pony beads for charm.

Creative art programs like this one develop over time as the result of intention and practice on the part of administration and teachers. Lots of little tips that facilitate art set-ups are learned from experience. Writing the paint color of each bottle on the top of the white lid makes identifying each bottle a breeze.  Glue doesn’t just stick things together. It can be used in unique ways and one way is to pour a thick layer of clear glue onto a smooth surface and add seed pods, ferns and natural collage elements. When the thick layer of glue eventually dries, it creates a unique semi-clear glaze which holds the collage elements together. This second collage also uses clear glue, but in this one the glue is first infused with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, then is painted and drizzled onto butcher paper.

anna crane 9 anna crane 10 anna crane 11anna crane 12Last but not least I re-discovered one of my favorite art techniques at Anna Bing Arnold that day:  the wonderful effect of colored chalk on black paper. This black butcher paper mural has so much energy, and I love how the door handle was cut out!  It also beautifully illustrates the constructionist idea on the poster in the center’s lobby: “Inviting children to fully engage in the use of messy, unstructured materials allows them to explore freely with infinite possibilities.”anna crane 13Thank you, Alex and staff for a LOT of inspiration.  Which one do YOU want to try?  

Materials Used Here:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor Paints, 8 oz. – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Washable Clear Glue (P4GL)

Butcher Paper Rolls (P4018)

36″ x 1000′ Dual Surface Rolls, 40 lb., black (PDSBK)

Colorations® Colored Dustless Chalk – 100 pieces (CNODUST)

12 x 18″ Real Watercolor Paper – 50 sheets (BIGMONET)

9×12″ Heavyweight Construction Paper – 50 sheets (9CPBK)

Colorations® Simply Washable Fluorescent Tempera – set of 7 (FSWTSET)

Pony Beads – 1 lb. (PONY)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education.

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Vision Boards & the Art of Collage

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Have you heard about vision boards? A vision board is a visualization tool that you can use as inspiration toward your ideal life. Some people refer to it as a “dream board” or an “inspiration board.”

Vision boards are a great way to have fun with simple art supplies and set your sights on positive goals. January is a perfect month to set positive intentions for your work and your life. Would you like to explore the simple art of collage and consider making a vision board yourself?

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This weekend I invited a few girlfriends over to create 2015 vision boards. We had so much fun! Everyone brought a few magazines and with basic art supplies and poster board, we created “mandala” style vision boards. Classic vision boards are created on standard sized poster board, but I prefer the finished look of a circle – it’s much more visually pleasing. You can take any standard-sized poster board and make a circle out of it by tracing a large circle onto it (we used a trash can lid here) and cutting it out before you begin your collage.

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Lately I’ve been delivering “Renew Your Passion” workshops at conferences to help teachers de-stress and reconnect with their sense of joy and purpose. Collage is a great way to revitalize your spirit because it’s easy and fun and lends itself to a focus on personal values and goals. In these examples from a recent workshop, we collaged quotes, pictures and value words onto papier-maché secret boxes. Then we added tissue paper squares, Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint, and spotted feathers. They are inspirational and so EASY to make.

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Children love to collage with tissue paper and magazine cut outs, and you can adapt these same ideas for your classroom. Here’s a good classroom collage set up from the education department of a children’s museum, where children have cut out and sorted magazine photos by color. Then they created individual color wheels from the assortment. How clever is that?

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Here’s a Vocabulary Collage lesson plan that you can download {just click here!}.

Scribbles, the new Colorations® parrot, introduces this and other creative art lessons on our website for 2015. Welcome, Scribbles! We do agree with Scribbles, “Art really is a colorful way to learn!”

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Materials used:

Economy Weight White Poster Board – 50 sheets

EWB

Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint – set of 11

GLPA

Spotted Feathers – 1 ounce

SPOT

Secret Boxes – set of 12

PMSEC

Colorations® Washable Premium Glue Sticks – set of 30

PRESML

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education.