About Me

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I am the studio teacher in Zach's Place Studio, an AMS Montessori teacher, an artist, a mother and much more.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

week 11- Grandparent's Day

We have a wonderful tradition at Children's Garden of celebrating grandparent's on a special day devoted especially to a visit from them. The children were excitedly preparing for this visit all last week, making pumpkin pies in anticipation. Once the grandparents arrived students busily showed off their favorite works and classroom activities. Many of them trickled into the studio throughout the day. We had a simple activity prepared for creating a gratitude tree. This tray features the prepared the materials: cut tags of hole punched paper, black pens, colored pens and pencils. Next, families were invited to choose a tag and write or draw something that fills them with gratitude or joy. When that was finished they fastened their gratitude tags to a bare branch, waiting to be colorfully adorned.
Some families continued to explore the studio further, trying out some familiar activities, here grandma and grandson are composing on mat board with natural materials.
It was a beautiful day sharing our school with the families who support it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

weeks 9 and 10- A visit from Tony

Tony Ortega spent five days, spread over the past two weeks, working with our students on two beautiful murals that will soon adorn the walls of our school. His technique with the children is lovely to watch. The children have truly painted the murals themselves, with Tony acting as a guide. The effect is amazing but perhaps even more lovely is the feeling of ownership that each child displays after having worked on the murals. As they pass the paintings, they pause and point out the areas they painted, with enthusiastic pride.

Here's a quick review of the process:

Tony began by introducing himself to the students during morning circle time and answering a few of the children's questions.

Next, we invited students, two at a time to begin working with us in the studio. Tony invited each child to the paint mixing table and measured a few paints into a recycled plastic container, each time asking the child to "guess" what color might emerge. The student than used used a wooden tongue depressor to thoroughly mix the new color.With a thorougly mixed container of paint the student was ready to paint on the mural. We began by filling the various outlined shapes with blocks of color, often complimentary or secondary shades, to form the base of the painting (so faces were green and hair was purple). After the base coat of color was in place, we began using a dry brush painting technique to overlay a second layer of paint while maintaining some of the original color.Finally, students used pointillism techniques to add small dots and dashes of color to the painting.Then Tony finished the murals by adding black outlines and overlaying the whole piece with a UV retardent varnish. The entire process was an amazing experience for students and staff alike. Thank you so much to Tony Ortega for sharing his talent with us in a unique and inspiring way AND thanks to our families without whose support this wouldn't have been possible.

Please come by after Thanksgiving break to see the new murals installed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

week 8 - Tree Project- Angelina


How the tree project emerged.

While in the studio exploring leaves three weeks ago, a conversation emerged with three students from the morning Ward-Hobbs classroom. The students involved were Laurel (L) age 4, Amelia (A)age 5 and Joseph (J) age 5. The conversation proceeded as follows:

Angelina Have you noticed any changes happening in our trees outside?

J The leaves are changing colors. The leaves are dying because they are turning so hard and the rain is making them change colors.

L The leaves were a little bit changing purple. I saw some purple leaves on the ground and on the tree. I saw a leaf changing rainbow: orange, pink, purple and green. I saw leaves change turquoise. I think they’re all gonna fall to the ground. Can we make a tree of leaves? It would look like a real tree. We could glue leaves on it, then we need to make a big circle of brown paper.

A Yeah! We could make it out of brown paper.

J Real trees have wood.

L Can you get some wood Angelina?

Angelina Yes, but what kind of wood do you want?

L A branch, we could hang it from the ceiling!

J So it is standing up like a tree. We have to make the sky higher, cuz the sky is air.

A Water makes air.

L Really hot water makes air.

A Yeah!

Angelina What kind of leaves would you like to hang from your tree?

L These leaves! (points to the ones on the table)

Angelina Okay. These may change by the time we make our tree. (I show her an old leaf and how it is brittle)

L We don’t want breaking leaves.

Angelina Would you like to hang some of your drawn leaves on the tree?

(Amelia, Laurel and Joseph all say “NO!”)

(I told them about a technique where leaves are preserved in wax so they maintain their color and remain intact.)

L Do you have wax?

Angelina No but I can get some.

J YEAH! Then we will make our tree.

A With leaves falling down.

L Can we do it today?

Angelina We will have to wait for another day.

L Okay but you get wax and a branch

Angelina And you can start looking for leaves.


My sons and I went hiking and found an interesting branch near a creek bed above Morrison. I brought it into the studio and asked Laurel, Amelia and Joseph if it would work. They all agreed that it would. Next, I tried out laminating the leaves and found they retained their color well, while the veins and texture remained evident. I asked the three students involved if we could use laminated leaves rather than waxed leaves and they agreed that we could. I selected an open studio day and we made an appointment to meet.


Angelina What did you notice while making the tree project?

L I saw rainbow leaves!

J The colored leaves

L We glued them on with honey glue, (deep intake of breath) it looks like those big yellow trees (points at a cottonwood tree outside). Maybe they’re made with honey glue too!

A Yeah! Maybe we could make a tree outside now. We would do it just like this (pointing to the tree).

Angelina How do you think the leaves outside stay on the tree?

L They’re connected to the branches without any glue, they hold onto the tree branches.

A Their arms are really tired and that’s how they fall off.

L They let go like this and lay on a bed.

A Yeah, like an acorn bed.

L But flat like this (slaps her hands together).

A A smooshed acorn bed with mud.

Angelina How will they look differently in the winter?

L Maybe they will turn white.

A In winter we could throw snow on the tree.

J The trees are gray in winter.

Angelina Is there anything else you would like to say about our tree project?

L We hanged it up by string.

A But real trees spread up and POP! Spreading leaves, spreading trees! Growing!

J And I think we should bring more leaves in and stick them on the tree one we made.