Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaching with "ish"

I came across the book "ish" by Peter Reynolds at a Book Fair at the school I previously taught at. I thumbed through it while my grade 8's shopped and fell in love with this book.

** Spoiler Alert **
If you haven't read it it I'll give you a brief synopsis. A little boy named Ramon loves to draw and draws everything until his older bro makes fun of his drawing laughing "What is that?". It discourages Ramon and he eventually stops drawing until he discovers that his little sister has been saving all of his thrown away pictures and appreciates them. Of a vase that Ramon thinks looks nothing like a vase, she says, "Well, it's vase-ish." This frees Ramon to indulge his love of drawing again. Lovely book :)





Being an English teacher I still love to use books to tie a lesson or series of lessons and activities together. For the 2 days prior we've been doing activities based on the book "If You Take a Mouse to School." Today we used "ish"!

First we snuggled, read and discussed the book and how Ramon felt at the various parts. I tried my best to define "ish" to them and we talked about other things that could be "ish". Like... it's warmish outside. 

Our first activity was to create our own ish books. I had the kids help cut our card stock paper on my paper slicer (they love that thing) and then I had the boy one attempt to use the one hole punch to punch the holes for the binding. It was a little tough for his little hands.

Then we started to draw "ish" drawings .

The boy one is passionate about Star Wars, Light Sabers and most significantly Anakin Skywalker. This one is Anakin-ish.



 I let them have free reign on some but on other pages I told them they had to choose between 3 options I gave them. I love giving creative control in art but sometimes I need to stretch my kids to try something new.

This is Sun-ish by the girl one.


A few of our other pages were grass-ish, strawberry-ish, purple-ish, Anakin on a car-ish, Vader-ish, country-ish, and Luke Skywalker and Mace Windoo-ish (by the girl - she's funny).
What looks like a bunch of blue and purple scribbles are actually quite easily explained, "that's Luke's light saber before he got the green one and Mace Windoo's purple light saber and they're fighting." Duh!




The boy one got some great printing practice in, writing Anakin-ish on his pictures. I took over the rest of the pages though as the activity was more about drawing and printing 10 pages would have taken forever.


To bind the books I brought out our plastic needles and some yarn and had each kid sew their own book together. They loved this part!


After a coffee break and play time the kids came back into the kitchen where I had set up my old art easels. They seem to make painting more fun and this was the first time the kids had gotten to use them.

We went back through the book and examined how the author created his illustrations. Black marker and water colour paints.

After a quick demonstration I gave each kid a marker and they were off!


Again we will see Anakin-ish, light saber-ish and Vader-ish :)



For a couple of his paintings he really didn't want to use the black marker so I let him do what he wanted but just said that he needed to finish with a marker and paint picture before he was done. Again - we need to mix freedom and stretching :)


She's so intent.


It's fun to observe how they each create. The girl one paints with a quiet delight and then announces, "Ta da! Come and see!"


The boy one tells a story with each stroke. Literally.
"Here is Anakin and his blue light saber. He's in Darth Vader's place. These green doors won't open! Oh No! Anakin lost his light saber outside. K, he's got it. This rock is going to crush Anakin on the head... but now Anakin knocks it into space with his light saber!"

It's fascinating to get to watch their creative process. I love teaching them.


Another great thing about being their teacher is that I know everything they did in school and each night they get to have a share time with Daddy and show them what we did during the day. Here they are each reading Dad their books. Kai even went and added 3 more pages after being inspired by their conversation :)


It's such a great book and something we'll definitely come back to again and again. I can't wait to check out another Peter Reynolds book, "The Dot". 

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