Magenta Starts BWX’s “Museum of Everyday,” Inspired by Icelandic Museum

From the earliest brainstorming sessions for the Cloth Arc, we’ve found that cloth is inextricably tied to metaphor and story — we cannot help but think of the many ways which cloth (and fabric, threads, and more) carries meaning in our conversations. The “moral fabric of our nation,” “weaving of a story or spinning a tale,” finding a “common thread” and more. To deepen our exploration of this connection, we started to discuss creating stories of meaning and how the things we wear carry meaning.

Paired Storytelling

Story of Our Clothes — Storytelling Workshop

First, we had 60 seconds to share a story about an article of clothing with a partner. After each partner had shared within their pair, we joined pairs into groups of four. In these double pairs, we shared what we remembered of our partner’s story (partially a challenge in memory and listening and partially an opportunity to hear your story told back to you). We then had a whole-band discussion about what makes a good short story and what our challenges we had in telling our stories.

Best parts of stories:

  • Unique Experiences
  • Specific Details
  • Make people laugh
  • Stories with emotions, sentimental value, meaning or nostalgia
  • Context to action (set the stage)

Problems with our stories:

  • Need to create meaning
  • Rambling
  • No context
  • Lies
  • Keeping forward motion to the story (linear action)
  • Time management and flow

Sharing stories

Museum of Everyday, Ísafjörður

Ísafjörður, Iceland and the Museum of Everyday

Ísafjörður is the largest city in the Westfjord region of Iceland, but in many ways, it is a very small town (it doesn’t even have any stop lights!). It is surrounded by steep mountains and the cold North Atlantic and it is so close to the North Pole that during summer the sun is visible 24-hours a day and in the winter it is dark all day long.

Many residents of Ísafjörður used to be fishermen, traders or farmers from nearby villages. In recent decades and after the 2008 economic collapse, both the farming and fishing industries faced many challenges and many Icelanders moved to the cities to look for other work. One innovative and new industry for Ísafjörður is using fish skins to produce medical bandages for burn victims.

Jay, a high school collaborator, traveled to Ísafjörður and was inspired by a museum he found there. In the Museum of Everyday, he found a wall of shoes with headphones for people to listen to stories shared by the owner of the shoes. The shoes and stories were collected from people living in Ísafjörður to allow tourist to learn about life in current day Iceland. We were given permission to share these stories with our students and to make our own museum inspired by their collection.

Creating our Brightworks Museum

After our storytelling workshop, we scripted our stories, edited our work with peer feedback, and then read them into our podcast kit, creating an audio file. We combined our audio files with photos of our clothes to create videos and posted it all to @bwxmuseum on Instagram.

Orange Band: Human, Week 15

We had an awesome week: Expo Night, Stow Lake field trip with the Red Band, Beach Day, and SFMOMA this morning. The copy you’ll read below is the letter I wrote each Orange Bander to close our Class Meeting Journal.

Dear Emilio, Gita, Isaac, Oscar, Ramses, Sadie and Tesla,

One last group photo as we left the MOMA this morning.

One last group photo as we left the MOMA this morning.

We Made it! We’ve had so much fun working hard and learning together.

Tesla and Sadie were our posting putting up team! While some kiddos finished typing the captions for their posters and Gita worked on her skull, those two helped everyone out by putting on brown paper backing and using a mallet and thumbtacks to hang their bandmates posters for Expo Night.

Tesla and Sadie were our posting putting up team! While some kiddos finished typing the captions for their posters and Gita worked on her skull, those two helped everyone out by putting on brown paper backing and using a mallet and thumbtacks to hang their bandmates posters for Expo Night.

We’ve laughed, cried, broken, fixed, played and worked our way through 37 weeks of school–wowee!

Gita had her work cut out for her on Monday afternoon. Since her second clay skull dried inside the cast, it cracked as we tried to remove the plaster. Amanda Simons came down to help take the cast off and get her started fitting the puzzle pieces back together. After about an hour and a half of piecing them together, and trying to glue them together, we decided it would be quicker to tape the cast back together and make another skull.

Gita had her work cut out for her on Monday afternoon. Since her second clay skull dried inside the cast, it cracked as we tried to remove the plaster. Amanda Simons came down to help take the cast off and get her started fitting the puzzle pieces back together. After about an hour and a half of piecing them together, and trying to glue them together, we decided it would be quicker to tape the cast back together and make another skull.

Throughout, y’all have come to our class meetings with honesty, sincerity and vulnerability.

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Emilio yelled, “This way!” to lead his bandmates toward the bridge over Huntington Falls at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.

Isaac and Reyahn climbing a tangle of tree trunks on our field trip to Stow Lake.

Isaac and Reyahn climbing a tangle of tree trunks on our field trip to Stow Lake.

Because of your caring nature and willingness to take emotional risks, we’ve grown so much as friends.

Oscar and Emilio hung out all day for Beach Day. Because they really like each other.

Oscar and Emilio hung out all day for Beach Day. Because they really like each other.

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Ramses, Sadie, Gita and Tesla squeezed in a quick game of Families on the stadium seating alongside Richard Serra’s Sequence at SFMOMA.

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The kiddos make their way through the sculpture. We looked back to our study of labyrinths during the Rock Arc, and forward to our study of the movement of things by Land next year. Did you know that Serra’s sculpture weighs over 200 tons?

Love,

Piper

 

Orange Band: Human, Weeks 13 & 14

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!

Sadie takes a snuggle break with our human body model, while she, Isaac, and Tesla work on building a stand to hold up our human.

Sadie takes a snuggle break with our human body model, while she, Isaac, and Tesla work on building a stand to hold up our human.

Towards the end of expression, everything really comes together. That date on the calendar is no longer an idea of the future.

IT’S NEXT WEEK.

IT’S TOMORROW.

IT’S IN AN HOUR.

Coming back from Kid Classroom Week, the kiddos were really ready to get some adult guidance back. Huh, who woulda thought?

So, on Monday morning, we hit the ground running.

Oscar trims the lego flat board that his digestive system is built on to make it more neck and shoulder shaped.

Oscar trims the lego flat board that his digestive system is built on to make it more neck and shoulder shaped.

All week we chugged along on assembling our body parts and working on our presentations.We split into two groups: working on the stand for our body model, and working on our presentations. For our presentations, we thought about what information we should include, and the kiddos decided their presentations should touch on: their research, their process, and what they learned. I went through my documentation photos with each Orange Bander, letting them choose the pictures they’d like to include in their slides. Then, they could write either: notes on the research, process and findings, or captions for their pictures.

Gita writes notes to help her practice for her presentation. She divided her presentation speech into her research, process and mistakes she made.

Gita writes notes to help her practice for her presentation. She divided her presentation speech into her research, process and mistakes she made.

Sadie and Tesla work on adding supports to the stand that will hold up our human body model.

Sadie and Tesla work on adding supports to the stand that will hold up our human body model.

Isaac and Oscar delicately slide Oscar's digestive system into the torso of our human.

Isaac and Oscar delicately slide Oscar’s digestive system into the torso of our human.

Then, on Thursday, we couldn’t prepare anymore. It was time to present! In the caption for each photo, I included an excerpt from each kiddos’ journal entry. This week, they thought about something they particularly enjoyed this year.

Sadie! "I liked my human, because it was kind of hard and it was also fun."

Sadie! “I liked my human, because it was kind of hard and it was also fun.”

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Gita! “This year my favorite day or project was making the play because we all got to work together on one thing and I like that.”

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Oscar! “Field trips!”

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Emilio! “I like project work.”

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Isaac! “I liked Class Meeting a lot because it was a great way for us to solve problems.”

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Ramses!

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Tesla! “I really really liked the play because I liked making costumes and I like being in front of an audience. And I liked going to the Exploratorium because it was a field trip for learning.”

For weeks, on our weekly trips to the Treat Commons Garden for Class Meeting, there has been an ice cream man ringing his bell and driving the kiddos totally insane. So, I promised one Orange Bander who particularly enjoyed our time at the garden that we would do something special for our last Class Meeting. We decided to make treats, because we couldn’t count on the ice cream man being there. We looked through recipes, and Isaac decided to make horchata popsicles–yum! So, on Tuesday we soaked rice, almonds and cinnamon, then on Wednesday we blenderized them and strained the slurry through cheesecloth, poured the sweet milk into big ice cube trays. Boom, popsicles! We kept our project under wraps, and made it to the garden with a delicious surprise for everyone.

Emilio and Isaac enjoying their horchata popsicles–that Isaac and I made–on a shady bench in the garden. Yum!

With no new entries in our journal, we didn’t need to talk through any conflicts. Instead, we shared appreciations and lots of positivity for each other. We talked about why Class Meeting worked so well for us this year. Kiddos appreciated the addition of the journal, so that we could keep a record of problems and solutions, and the structure of Thich Nhat Hahn’s Flowering Waters meditation for our weekly meetings. They noticed how we approached problems when people had had a chance to cool off, so that we didn’t speak to each other with anger, and other members of the band could share advice to help solve problems. Each kiddo has even asked for a copy of the journal, as they said, to have a record of the year and resource for solving problems in the future.

Next week, we’ll have a few awesome field trips, show off our assembled human body model at Expo Night, spend a playful day at the beach with the whole school, reflect on our year, and look ahead to next year. Expect a post full of pictures for our last week of school!

Orange Band: Human, Weeks 11 & 12

Phew, we made it! Through Kid Classroom Week, that is.

REWIND!

So, last week, I decided to watch a bit of the show Kid Nation with the Orange Banders because why not? The show is pretty ridiculous at times, but it’s opened the door to many interesting ethical discussions (on (un)reality, law and order, religion, leadership, just to name a few topics), the kids are really engaged (with the 15 minutes we watch at a time), and it’s an interesting way to talk about taking on responsibility, internal/external motivation, and the value of input from experienced and invested adults.

Mid-week last week, I let the kiddos know that I’d hand over the agenda-writing reigns to them at the beginning of this week. We spend a few minutes at a time throughout the rest of the week discussing the constraints on their power, my role during the week, and their goal for what they’d need to accomplish by the end of the week. Wowee were they excited! After some thoughtful discussions, we decided that they’d need to get their individual body parts done by the end of the week, they had to go to park and lunch everyday, they would have to go to our weekly gameshare with the Red Band on Thursday, and we’d still have Morning Meeting with me every morning as a way to check in and hear any announcements. We’d have a different agenda writer each day, with each kiddo only having one chance to be in charge, and we’d vote at the end of the day each day for the next day’s Agenda Writer. Kiddos wrote in their reflection journals about what they’d put on the agenda if they got to be the leader for a day.

The beginning of our discussion on the parameters for our 'Kid Classroom' experiment.

The beginning of our discussion on the parameters for our ‘Kid Classroom’ experiment.

Throughout, we talked about leadership qualities. We landed on a list of qualities that is heavy on empathy, and light on authoritarianism. The kiddos thought it would be most important for their daily leader to listen to their bandmates, be kind, fun and silly, solve problems creatively, and most importantly, be helpful. Who could ask for more!

Here, Sadie explains to the rest of the band Ramses' agenda proposal, which included lots of breaks to eat chocolate!

Here, Sadie explains to the rest of the band Ramses’ agenda proposal, which included lots of breaks to eat chocolate!

This past Monday morning, the kiddos got into pairs to hear about their partner’s plan for a day in the life of the Orange Band. Then, they introduced their partner to the rest of the group, explaining the agenda they’d propose. Each plan was pretty great, some surprising, and some delightfully predictable. Most of all, each plan truly reflected the personality of the kiddo proposing it. And then we voted! Here’s how it played out:

Monday: Tesla

Tesla writes in the agenda on Monday morning. She included some project work time, some literacy games, a few minutes watching the next episode of Kid Nation, and time to play on the cork floor.

Tesla writes in the agenda on Monday morning. She included some project work time, some literacy games, a few minutes watching the next episode of Kid Nation, and time to play on the cork floor.

Tuesday: Isaac

Isaac made sure to schedule in time for us to play the board game we had just designed together, 'Village to Village.'

Isaac made sure to schedule in time for us to play the board game we had just designed together, ‘Village to Village.’

Wednesday: Gita

Gita reflected later that she felt the tug between her bandmates wanting her to put playtime on the agenda, and knowing that she and others needed more time to work on their projects.

Gita reflected later that she felt the tug between her bandmates wanting her to put playtime on the agenda, and knowing that she and others needed more time to work on their projects.

Thursday: Ramses

After confirming with me that I had in fact procured hot chocolate making supplies, Ramses puts a hot chocolate drinking break on the agenda.

After confirming with me that I had in fact procured hot chocolate making supplies, Ramses puts a hot chocolate drinking break on the agenda.

Friday: Emilio

Oh boy, these results were a bit controversial. But, all I could say was, "Y'all knew that Emilio wanted to do math all day!"

Oh boy, Friday’s results were controversial. But, all I could say was, “Y’all knew that Emilio wanted to do math all day!” A few kiddos were able to find a compromise by submitting ‘Project Work Time’ as a Community Friday activity in the afternoon.

Now, as much as I implored that the ballots were TOP SECRET, and for each kiddo to vote for the plan they liked the best, I know there was a lot of politics involved in who voted for who–which is why I sent kiddos to opposite corners of the school to vote, and hid the ballots afterward. In the end, the voting process feels bittersweet, because I know that silent alliances were formed, promises were made, promises were broken. I know this because I saw the ballots at the end of each day, and because I know each of these kiddos so well. At the end of the day, all but one kiddo took the chance and put their name on the ballot, which took a lot of bravery. One of the goals here was to encourage this kind of emotional bravery, and give them a positive first experience of what can happen when we make ourselves vulnerable by proposing an idea and putting it in the hands of others.

Was this experiment a success? In a few ways, I think so. Kiddos considered the trust they put in each other, and the trust they put in me. They prioritized play time, sometimes at the cost of project work time. They succeeded and failed at listening to each other, and saw real consequences to their choices. They did not all finish their body parts by the end of the week. I think this week they genuinely experienced what happens when they listen to each other and work hard, and that’s all I could really expect.

Orange Band: Human, Week 9 & 10

At the beginning of this week I was King Kong.

Ramses fills in my salutation on Monday's morning message.

Ramses fills in my salutation on Monday’s morning message.

We’re working hard to integrate skills work into our project work. This looks like writing a checklist of what we’d like to accomplish every week, measuring and including dimensions in our design drawings, researching and taking notes from books and videos that inform our projects.

Sadie watches a video demonstration of a new type of suture--aka stitch--and takes notes.

Sadie watches a video demonstration of a new type of suture–aka stitch–and takes notes.

Sadie's first few practices of the running subcuticular suture using felt and embroidery floss. This week, she started to use a curved suture needle!

Sadie’s first few practices of the running subcuticular suture using felt and embroidery floss. This week, she started to use a curved suture needle!

Oscar explains his design drawing to me.

Oscar explains his design drawing to me.

Tesla tries out paracord as a material to represent larger blood vessels.

Tesla tries out paracord as a material to represent larger blood vessels.

But first Emilio had to untangle his spinal cord.

But first Emilio had to untangle his spinal cord.

On Tuesday, in Math Workshop, we compared the number machines we’ve been practicing to ratio tables we worked on earlier in the year. We noticed that predicting the future using these two different types of tables looks very different. In a ratio table, we can double like 5 to find the answer to like 10. But in a number machine, we jump forward or back depending on the pattern. Huh. After sitting with this puzzling difference while playing some board games, we came back together to try and define what exactly is the difference. After a few different proposals, we realized that we could describe the workings of each table using different mathematical operations! Our number machines are ruled by addition, and our ratio tables are ruled by multiplication (which can also be represented with addition). Wowee! We just defined what it means to add and what it means to multiply! We can go in so many different directions with this… stay tuned!

When playing chess, remember to think about spheres of influence.

When playing chess, remember to think about spheres of influence.

OH, and considering all of the hard work we’ve put in at the Treat Commons Garden, we decided it was time to put down some roots–scallion, cucumber and radish roots to be more precise.

Putting down roots required scooping some dirt from the compost bin first.

Putting down roots required scooping some dirt from the compost bin first.

And making some friends.

And making some friends.

With 4 (four!) entries in the journal this week, we had a lot to talk about at Class Meeting. So, I decided to focus our discussion on the art of apologizing. As we’ve discussed before, if you have friends, you will both hurt your friends feelings and have your feelings hurt by your friends. So, you’ve got to know how to apologize and what to do when someone apologizes to you. Here are some basic steps:

  1. Use the words, “I’m sorry.”
  2. Acknowledge that you made a mistake, and describe how it was that you made a mistake.
  3. Acknowledge how it was that your mistake resulted in your friend’s hurt feelings.
  4. Ask for forgiveness.

Easier said than done, that’s for sure! But for these young kiddos, they’ve got nothing but practice ahead.

Oh, and we kept making art together.

Herve Tullet's 'Traffic Jam' workshop.

Herve Tullet’s ‘Traffic Jam’ workshop.

Herve Tullet's 'Traffic Jam' workshop.

Herve Tullet’s ‘Traffic Jam’ workshop.

BEEP BEEP!

Orange Band: Human, Week 8

Our hands post figure drawing with MB! What a great workshop, more details below.

Our hands post figure drawing with MB! What a great workshop, more details below.

This week was all about declarations, and wow was it great to build on the foundation of our work during the Seed Arc. This time around, each kiddo wrote their own declaration, using a form that we designed together and will meet with a member of the administration to get their project plan approved–yay!

We hit the ground running (as per usual) Monday morning with declaration form design. We remembered the things we needed to include in our project plans: the What, the How and the Why. What do we want to make/experiment with/research? What tools, materials and resources will we use? How will we complete this project, what is our plan? And, why do we want to do this project? How does it connect to what we learned during exploration?

With some building blocks in the back of my mind, I prompted kiddos to describe to me what a declaration should include and look like, and the order they thought the information should be presented in the form. And this is what we came up with!

The declaration form we designed together.

The declaration form we designed together.

I find that taking the time to create resources like this with learners pays off exponentially in the future. During the Seed Arc, we established together everything that should be included in a declaration. So, when we got around to writing our Human Arc declarations, so many kiddos remembered exactly what we needed in a declaration writing form. We were able to have this design session using an established vocabulary that everyone could understand.

I was worried that thinking ahead to make a goal for their project work each week would be a bit too challenging; kids this age are deeply rooted in the present, it is very hard for them to plan. We framed the weeks this way: Week 1 is ‘Write declarations’ for everyone, and Week 5 is ‘Get ready to present for everyone.’ What will you need to do in the 3 weeks in the middle? Then, I decided to take it one step further: for the remaining Monday mornings of the Human Arc, everyone will make themselves a checklist of what they need to get done during that week–just like Elsa, Be Thorough! We talked about how our declaration represents the big picture of our larger goal and project. And, in order to complete our projects, we’ll need to break them down into accomplishable tasks. We filled out our Week 1 checklist together, because, again, everyone’s would be almost the same: Write declaration, meet with an administrator, revise and get approved, and RESEARCH.

Emilio and Justine look over Emilio's declaration, making recommendations for how he can make improvements.

Emilio and Justine look over Emilio’s declaration, making recommendations for how he can make improvements.

Huge shoutout to Sadie’s mom, MB for the workshop she came in and led Friday morning! We talked earlier this arc about doing some figure drawing  with the Orange Band, and we finally worked it into our schedule.  MB is a talented artist, and has a great understanding of both art history and how to present these topics to young kids. She started out with a quick rundown of some of the different ways the human form has been represented throughout history, from the simple, to more detailed and realistic, to impressionist and expressionist and abstract. It was really important to me to show many different ways that humans have drawn and painted to humans. Then, we used different types of charcoal to draw at different speeds. Using a harder charcoal pencil, we drew one of our bandmates who held a pose for several moments. After that, we used a softer charcoal to quickly draw another bandmate who changed her pose about every 30 seconds. Wham bam thank you ma’am! MB did an awesome job of emphasizing that these drawings were not meant to be perfect. Our job was to think about the shapes we saw, the movement of the model’s body, and putting charcoal to paper.

MB shows us how to use our pencil to measure what we see and keep our model's (Gita!) body proportional.

MB shows us how to use our pencil to measure what we see and keep our model’s (Gita!) body proportional.

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You’re doing it right if you’re laughing and smiling with your friends!

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Isaac shows Tesla the way he drew the shapes of her arms after she modeled for us with rapid fire poses.

And, what are our expression projects you might ask? We’re making a human body together, of course! We’ll be filling up one of our tape sculpture bodies with body parts! Ask your kiddo which body part they plan to contribute!

Orange Band: Human, Week 7

I was so glad to have everyone back this week–we missed you Tesla and Emilio!

At Pace Art + Technology on Thursday. Thank you to our parent volunteers, it was a great day!

At Pace Art + Technology on Thursday. Thank you to our parent volunteers, it was a great day!

We started the week with some baking, then wrapped up our Lower School book Clubs with a tea party Tuesday morning and our Wednesday afternoon journal entry, went to Pace Art on Thursday, then did another of Herve Tullet’s art workshops for children on Friday morning.

Monday morning, we got ready for our day in character on Tuesday. Kids thought about questions that others might have  for the humans that we read about in the biographies we read for our book club discussions. Kids were so excited to do this–some even copied their questions and answers onto notecards so they could practice.

Sadie's questions and answers about her biography, a book about Anne Frank.

Sadie’s questions and answers about her biography, a book about Anne Frank. She thought it must have been hard for Anne to say goodbye to all of her friends and family when she went into hiding.

Wowee, these kiddos really did it with their costumes! We had an Albert Einstein, Anne Frank, 2 Rosa Parks, a Martin Luther King, Jr., a Thomas Edison and an Amelia Earhart. There were leather jackets, wigs, stripes, glasses, colored hairspray, suit jackets, ties and face paint. On Monday afternoon we baked cookies and made finger sandwiches with ingredients that we got on a walk to Rainbow last Community Friday afternoon. Yum!

Isaac and Oscar scoop up handfuls of vegan snickerdoodle dough, then roll them in cinnamon sugar.

Isaac and Oscar scoop up handfuls of vegan snickerdoodle dough, then roll them in cinnamon sugar.

Tuesday morning tea party!

Ramses/Albert Einstein finishes up making a sign for the gluten free sandwiches.

Ramses/Albert Einstein finishes up making a sign for the gluten free sandwiches. Ramses asked that amazing question, “How can I help?” so many times this week!

And don't forget about Math Workshop! Isaac, Emilio and Oscar working on a centipede based on a repeating pattern we designed together during math workshop on Tuesday afternoon.

And don’t forget about Math Workshop! Isaac, Emilio and Oscar working on a centipede based on a repeating pattern we designed together during math workshop on Tuesday afternoon.

After a great morning at the garden on Wednesday, working on clearing pathway we started last week, we came back to school and wrote an entry in our journals about how we are similar and different from the historic humans we read about. I haven’t had a chance to read all of these entries, but I know we have some troublemakers, deep thinkers and adventurous kiddos here in the Orange Band.

And Thursday we went to Pace Art + Technology in Menlo Park to see the cool Living Digital Space exhibit. It was so fun! Here are just a few pictures, and make sure to check out the Red Band’s flickr to see more.

The exhibit is based on our interaction with physical space. Artists created digital art pieces that change based on your proximity. So, Oscar reached out toward this giant cube of LEDs to watch the wave of his hand effect move across the sculpture.

The exhibit is based on our interaction with physical space. Artists created digital art pieces that change based on your proximity. So, Oscar reached out toward this giant cube of LEDs to watch the wave of his hand move across the sculpture.

Reyahn paints flowers with his hands.

Reyahn paints flowers with his hands.

Sadie and Solin let the projection move across their bodies.

Sadie and Solin let the projection move across their bodies.

Friday morning, we tried another of Herve Tullet’s Art Workshops for Children, this time painting with music. I felt really prepared, with a piece of paper taped to the tables for each person, a playlist, and pallets of paint. Kiddos would move from one painting to the next, musical chairs-style, with the music, painting based on what they heard and felt. The best laid plans though…

After reiterating that each kiddo should add on to the previous artists’ work when they arrived at a painting, we ended up with a couple finished paintings that truly represent the work of each Orange Bander. Better luck next time!

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Saw some interesting uses of the paintbrushes during this workshop! Here, you can see that a few students used the handles to scrape away paint and reveal the colors underneath as a way to add to this painting that had been covered by another student with just one color.

And in this painting, you can see the swirls, dots, layers and scratches of each artist--the goal!

And in this painting, you can see the swirls, dots, layers and scratches of each artist–the goal : )