King of the Comics

I recently attended a curator’s tour of the exhibition, King of the Comics, at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.  The exhibit examines William Randolph Hearst's role in the birth of newspaper comics and traces the 100-year history of King Features Syndicate, the company he founded. 


King creations in the exhibition included:  The Katzenjammer Kids, Happy Hooligan, Little Jimmy, Bringing Up Father, Krazy Kat, Polly and Her Pals, Tillie the Toiler, Popeye, Blondie, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, The Little King, Henry, Prince Valiant, Buz Sawyer, Rip Kirby, Big Ben Bolt, Beetle Bailey, Dennis the Menace, Juliet Jones, Hi and Lois, Family Circus, The Lockhorns, Tiger, Quincy, Hagar the Horrible, Zippy, Marvin, Curtis, Bizarro, Baby Blues, Mutts, Rhymes with Orange, Zits, Tina’s Groove and Dustin.

The artwork was amazing to see in its original size!


Sunday Funnies
"Santa Claus's Review!" Comic Supplement of Hearst's Chicago American, December 9, 1900, Frederick Burr Opper, 1857-1937.

King of the Comics

December 13, 2014 - March 15, 2015

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

The Ohio State University

Lincoln Magna Carta

Magna Carta

The best Black Friday bargain was the free exhibit featuring the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta at the Library of Congress. One of only four existing manuscript copies that date to 1215, the document is “a world treasure – an artifact whose creation became the foundation of the rule of law for England and for much of the modern world.” This British Charter of Liberties had a “powerful influence on the founding documents of the United States.” 

In addition to telling the story of how Magna Carta became a symbol of liberty, the exhibition explored Magna Carta’s role in American independence, constitutional law, and culture.  I especially enjoyed reading about BridgeAnne D’Avignon, a twelve-year-old girl from Bakersfield California.  She published a poster that traced the lineage of all the U.S. presidents, with one exception, to a common ancestor – King John of  England.  Click here to learn which U.S. president was not a descendent of King John.

 “Magna Carta:  Muse and Mentor" will be open through January 19, 2015 in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. 

Learn more about the Magna Carta at the online version of the exhibition, where you will find excellent resources for teaching with primary sources such as images, maps, letters, books, etc. Use the Library’s primary source analysis tool to engage students in discussions about government and individual liberties.  

Toy Finalists

influential toys


Recently, TIME reporter Allie Townsend selected the 100 most influential toys from 1923 to the present.  (Now I know why I can’t cook, I never had an Easy-Bake Oven.  But I still have Silly Putty, Jacks, a few Matchbox cars, and a Barrel of Monkeys.) 

It’s interesting to compare the toys on Time’s list to those inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.  The National Toy Hall of Fame is part of The Strong, a wonderful “interactive, collections-based educational institution devoted to the study and exploration of play.  It is one of the largest history museums in the United States and one of the leading museums serving families and children.” 
 
To date, 53 toys have been inducted.  Children interested in the history of toys can learn who invented the inducted toys, how they were made, and what made them so popular.

The twelve 2014 toy finalists are (drum roll, please):

 

  • American Girl Dolls
  • Bubbles    
  • Fisher Price Little People
  • Hess Toy Trucks
  • Little Green Army Men
  • My Little Pony    
  • Operation Skill Game
  • Paper Airplane   
  • Pots and Pans
  • Rubik’s Cube
  • Slip-n-Slide
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


A ceremony at The Strong on Thursday, November 6, will reveal this year's inductees.  (The cardboard box was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2005.)

Object of the Month:  Street, Dresden

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

October's object of the month is from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  The Assistant Director of School and Teacher Programs answered our questions as follows.  (Excerpt)

 

Selected ObjectStreet, Dresden, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. 1919. 

Street, Dresden, Kircher, 1919.
image source: www.moma.org


1.  What information and essential understandings should students know about your selection?

(Information taken from MoMA learning):

At the time he made this painting, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was living in Dresden, a large city in southeast Germany.  In a letter to fellow painter Erich Heckel, he wrote of the Dresden crowds.  “Completely strange faces pop up as interesting points through the crowd.  I am carried along with the current, lacking will.  To move becomes an unacceptable effort.”  Kirchner heightened the colors of this city scene, depicting the figures with mask like faces and vacant eyes in order to capture the excitement and psychological alienation wrought by modernization.

The crowded city street – here, Dresden’s fashionable and wealthy Konigstrasse (King Street) – was a frequent subject for artists in the German Expressionist collective Die Brucke (The Bridge), which Kirchner helped found in 1905.  Artists associated with Die Brucke sought an authenticity of expression that its members felt had been lost with the innovations of modern life. 


2.  What questions would you ask students to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?

 

I would always start off with asking them what they see and notice?  I would make sure to have them do a thorough visual description of the artwork.  l would also ask them to use their senses and imagine what it would be like to step into this scene.  What would they see? hear? smell?  I often do an activity with this work of art where I ask students to write a postcard home from this place, describing in detail the things they would experience. 


3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

 

This work of art could easily be integrated into history/social studies, literature, art, art studio.  If you look at the framing on MoMA Learning, you will see it within the context of “City Life.”  This is a broad theme that would also allow for integrating other works of art that deal with the evolution of cities in the Modern period.


4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?


Yes, both of the links provided above have information about the object and how it relates to other themes around Modernism and Expressionism. Also included on the MoMA learning site is a link to another MoMA site which explores Kirchner and his works of the street of Berlin. 

 

Touring with Teens

Research in Brief


I have written previously about how combining museums and teenagers can be a daunting combination.  Typical teen behavior during museum visits can be viewed as resistant, at best.  However, two museum educators are challenging that common assumption.  In their experience, youth who begin tours in a defensive mood are often the ones most engaged, and those who appear “checked out” are often “profoundly impacted by their museum experience.”  These educators have learned to take resistant behaviors in stride because they know why the behaviors occur.  “Teens arriving fresh at the museum will often clump together and turn inwardly as an exercise in bonding, creating and sustaining individual safety within the networked group.”


While these educators haven’t quantified all the ways teens find value in museum experiences, they do offer many strategies for touring with teens.  Their techniques apply to most educational environments and help enhance teaching and learning.  Three of their tips follow:

  • Be different, take risks.  “Teens are used to teachers and parents telling them what to do – and they are infamous for resisting such authoritative approaches. . . It is okay (and refreshing) to say to a teen group, ‘let us have a conversation and discover this artwork together’ or ‘I don’t know everything about this work, but let’s look together and find out.’  Invite the teens to be co-contributors on the tour, a sort of choose-your-own adventure guided by the facilitator’s goals. 
  • Slow down.  “Truly seeing a work takes time.”
  • Create a safe space.  “Teens’ natural defense mechanism is to appear resistant:  arms crossed, stepped back, and eyes elsewhere.  But this does not mean they are not listening; in fact, teens are often quite engaged, in part to get a read on where they are and how safe they feel. Guides who use an inviting inquiry-based approach create a safe space for all to participate.  By asking open-ended questions that promote a wide range of responses, guides ensure they never lead the same tour twice; each experience and each group is unique.  Questions like, ‘If you could take one of these artworks on a date which one would you chose, where would you go, and what would you talk about?’ or a more traditional ‘What do you see when we look together at this artwork?’ will prompt a variety of answers.” 

 
To learn more about how these educators engaged teens, read the article,

Kusuma, K. & Wyrick, G.  (2014).  Real Teens, Real Tours:  Teen Engagement Strategies for the One-Time Visit.  Journal of Museum Education. 39.3, 276-283

Object of the Month:  Rainstick

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

September's object of the month is from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  The School Programs Manager answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

 

 

Selected Object:  Rainstick, made from cactus ‘wood’


1.  What information and essential understandings should students know about your selection?

 

I have used the rainstick to introduce an exploration of plants in the rainforest environment. I bring it out, hold it up, turn it so the sound of ‘rainfall’ is audible and sometimes let each participant try it.  It’s magical because it sounds so much like rain.  The ecosystem of the tropical forest is very much about the frequency and volume of water as well as the constant, warm temperatures.  Even sitting in a classroom in a school in New York City, we can imagine being in the forest and listening to the sound of water on the leaves of the plants around us.

With older students and with teachers, we explore the rainstick as an object of ritual, tie it into ethnobotany.  The rainstick I have was made by people who live in a dry place and would value or pray for water.  Although I like to use it to transport the students to a rainy place, the object itself is not from the rainforest. 

 

2.  What questions would you ask students to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?

 

When I bring out the rainstick, I don’t name it.  Sometimes students will know its name. But it’s more interesting when it is not familiar to them, and we listen to the sound first.  I ask them what the sound reminds them of. Then, I ask them what they think is inside the stick making the noise.  Often, they will suggest pebbles or shells. My favorite answer, though, is ‘rain’ – and when I get that one I always agree! Sometimes I will suggest that there is rain inside, and depending on the ages of the students I get various degrees of skepticism.

With many students we talk about what the rainstick is made from.  The one I have is made from cactus "wood."  Actually, it’s the rigid tissue of the plant’s stem that is left after the fleshy storage tissue dries up. This was the plant’s water conduction tubular system when it was alive. The fact that a plant that lives in arid conditions is used to make an object focused on rain adds another dimension of meaning and touches on a big idea that plants in particular types of environments have adaptations that allow them to survive the challenges of those habitats.

In life, the cactus stem had sharp spines that protected it from herbivores and helped it conserve water. To make the rainstick, these spines are pushed into the center column of the dried ‘woody’ center, and they provide the interference for the shells or stones that are used to make the sound inside the column. The relationship between the plant’s structure and the object created from it, and the meaning of the object to the people that made it, is visual, tactile, audible and immediate.

 

3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

 

We use it to introduce the topic of the rainforest, a discussion about the climate of tropical forests and also in workshops where we explore peoples’ use of plants (ethnobotany). As rainsticks are used as musical instruments, one of many types of percussion instruments made from plants or plant parts, they would also be wonderful teaching objects for exploration of music, dance themes.

In teacher and student workshops, we have made our own rainsticks using recycled materials like cardboard tubes, toothpicks and stones, beads, rice. Playing with the structure of the ‘rainstick’ (the size of the tube, the materials it’s made from, how much rice or how many scoops of pebbles to use, how many toothpicks or pins to push in to interrupt the flow of the rice, etc.), allows for a lot of experimentation and opportunity to understand the percussive quality of natural and people-made materials.

 

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?


Here is a website that explores the history of the rainstick, and a method of making rainsticks from cardboard tubes, similar to the way I have made them with older students and adults.


            Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Museum Day Live!

Art, history, science, natural history, living history, botanical garden, arboretum, children’s, and sports

are just a few of the types of museums with free admission on Museum Day Live! 

 

Download your pair of free tickets today. 

Over 1,500 museums are expected to participate this year!

 

Artlab Plus

 

Using creativity across disciplines was the theme of a museum forum I attended at the Hirshhorn Museum's ARTLAB+.  Hosted by the Museum Education Roundtable (MER), the event included presentations by inspirational facilitators from the Columbus Museum of Art, ARTLAB+, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. 

Equally engaging was the environment within ARTLAB+, a design studio that offers teens the opportunity to create programs for other teens using professional video and photo gear, music, recording equipment, video games and graphic design resources.  Let’s just say I wanted to hang around to learn more about digital media tools.  Their approach uses experienced mentors to “encourage teens to explore their own interests, create their own learning trajectories and foster their own values.”   In short, teens build their own creative communities, which builds confidence, interests, and life-long learning skills.

Click here to learn more about ARTLAB+, recipient of the 2014 Smithsonian Innovation in Education Award.

 


Here, There and Everywhere: Art!

We voted for the 50 artworks we wanted to see across America!  Now our selections will be seen by millions of people every day throughout the month of August "when we are commuting to work, taking the kids to school, hailing a taxi, shopping in a mall, catching a bus or pursuing other routine activities." 

 

I am fortunate that many selections are within a thirty minute drive, including one in my hometown (within walking distance)!  Please don't take our John Singleton Copley away!  For a map of the locations, click here.  For more information about this public celebration of great American art, click here. 

 

Creativity as Core Value

Research in Brief

 

The Columbus Museum of Art’s mission is to create great experiences with great art for everyone.  To ensure great visitor experiences, staff  members at this Ohio museum focused on the concept of creativity as a core value to engage audiences.  As a result, “the museum has become a place people use (like a library), rather than simply a place to visit.” 

Question:  Why creativity?

  • According to Cindy Meyers Foley, Executive Assistant Director and Director of Learning and Experience, the case for creativity had its roots in the type of thinking artists employ:  “The way artist think, learn, and engage in the world involves deep questioning, a comfort with ambiguity, and a sophisticated understanding of play as process.”

 

  • Their creativity agenda entailed reimagining educational programming to help visitors question and think for themselves:  “Our  job has become helping them wonder, to tease out what they care deeply about, to challenge them with provocations and be the encouraging voice when they tried something new, took a risk, and even failed.”

 

  • Led by Meyers Foley’s vision, the CMA developed an approach to learning “that cultivates, champions, and celebrates creativity.”  In 2011, the CMA opened an18,000-square-foot Center for Creativity.  This commitment to creativity reflected not only an education department focus but also an institutional responsibility to creativity. 

 
Read more about the Columbus Museum of Art and their creativity advocacy in the article:
Meyers Foley, C. (2014).  Why Creativity?  Articulating and Championing a Museum’s Social Mission.  Journal of Museum Education. 39, 139-151.

 

Related Posts:

The Art of Sharing Information

Creative Potential

Three Creativity Traits of Street Artists

12 Creativity Crushers

4 Creativity "Boosters" for 21st Century Learners

Exemplary Teachers

 

Object of the Month: The Syng Inkstand

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

In celebration of Independence Day, July's object of the month is from Independence National Historical Park.  The Deputy Superintendent answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

 

Selected Object:  The Syng Inkstand

The Syng Inkstand, which was used for the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States; Photo Credit: Dan Smith Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 (Generic)
The Syng Inkstand, which was used for the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States; Photo Credit: Dan Smith Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 (Generic)

 

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?

On August 2, the Syng Inkstand took part in the birth of our nation.  On that date, the delegates to the Second Continental Congress, men we now call our Founding Fathers, dipped quills into this inkstand and signed their names to the Declaration of Independence.  These signatures produced from the inkstand were proof that they were traitors in the eyes of some men, and patriots in the eyes of others.  Eleven years later this same inkstand was used on September 17, 1787 to sign the newly written Constitution of the United States.  This inkstand was a witness and, in one sense, a participant in the founding of our nation.

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?

  • Many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence lost their fortunes, their homes, and their lives because they signed the document.  Would you sign it? 

 

  • Why did these men use an inkstand and write with feathers?

 

  • What documents in your life need signatures to make them official?

 

  • Why is it called the Syng Inkstand?


3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

  • Science:  This silver inkstand is now stored in a case with the oxygen removed.  Why?

 

  • History:  George Washington did not sign the Declaration of Independence.  Why not?

 

  • Math:  This inkstand was made in 1752.  How old was it in 1776?  How old was it in 1876 when it was last used?


4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?

Our website has a number of resources for students and teachers.  You can explore them at: 
http://www.nps.gov/inde

 

 

Other Objects of the Month:

 

 The Game of Knucklebones

Nickel the Sea Turtle

Woolworth's Lunch Counter
A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel

Chabo-hiba #877-37
The Caldonian Boar Hunt

 

Family Field Trip

National Capitol Columns
National Capitol Columns

 

Now that spring is officially here, why not pay a visit to an arboretum.  An excellent option would be the  National Arboretum in Washington D.C.  There are thousands of beautiful trees, flowers, and plants to see, not to mention the freestanding capitol columns.  For super active children, there’s plenty of hiking (and there's plenty of parking too). 

The arboretum also has one of the largest collections of bonsai and penjing in North America.  Children will be instantly fascinated with the size of bonsai and how they grow more beautiful as time passes.  (I like to search for bonsai that were started in the year of my birth.)

 

Rock Penjing "Autumn Winds"
Rock Penjing "Autumn Winds"

 

Whenever you decide to visit, make certain it's from Friday-Monday. 
Due to cost-cutting measures, the grounds of the Arboretum are closed to the general public three days per week - Tuesday through Thursday.  Also, there is construction going on, but there is still plenty to see.  In fact, you may need to visit more than once to absorb all the beauty. 

The National Arboretum is located in the northeast Washington D. C., and admission is free. 

Whether you live in D. C. or Japan, all bonsai enthusiasts will enjoy these photos of ultra small bonsai, known as cho-mini bonsai.  They are amazing! (via Colossal)

 

Object of the Month: The Game of Knucklebones

 

 

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

May's object of the month is from The Baltimore Museum of Art.  The Interpretation Manager answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

Selected object: The Game of Knucklebones (Les Osselets)  c. 1734

by Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin (French 1699-1779)
Oil on canvas

The Mary Frick Jacobs collection. BMA 1938.193

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?

A young girl wearing an apron plays "knucklebones," a game that looks very much like "jacks."  She has just tossed the ball into the air and will use her left hand to pick up the four knucklebones lying on the tabletop.  The irregularly shaped knucklebones are actually small bones from the heel of a sheep.

Chardin enjoyed painting realistic scenes of kitchen maids and crockery.  Nonetheless, his paintings have a message to convey.  Eighteenth-century viewers looking at The Game of Knucklebones would notice the pair of scissors propped conspicuously at the edge of the table and they would recognize them as a thinly veiled sign of disapproval; this girl should be attending to her sewing rather than wasting her time playing "knucklebones."  Perhaps Chardin agreed with English philosopher John Locke who wrote that it was useless for girls to spend hours perfecting their skills at a game when they should "employ all the industry about something that might be more useful to them."

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?


An artist can use color to create the illusion of real light and shadow on the canvas: 

  • How does Chardin suggest that light is coming from a certain direction?
  • Which parts of the girl's dress are well lit?  Which parts are in shadow?
  • How does the artist create a shadow?
  • What color are the shadows on the girl's arms and hands?


3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

 Students will enjoy knowing that the game of Knucklebones is a not-so-distant relative of the game "Crazy Bones" that children play today with plastic bone-shaped pieces.  Three hundred years ago, a player tossed four knucklebones onto a table and calculated a score determined by which side landed "up."  The best possible throw was called "venus."  That meant that each of the four bones showed a different side "up."  The worst possible throw was called "the dog."

Students might make a study of probability as they try a similar game and keep track of how the pieces land. 

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?


You'll find many images of other paintings by Chardin on the internet. 

 

Other Objects of the Month:

 

Nickel the Sea Turtle

Woolworth's Lunch Counter
A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel

Chabo-hiba #877-37
The Caldonian Boar Hunt

 

"Clap Along if You Feel Like That’s What You Wanna Do."

International Museum Day


 

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established International Museum Day in 1977 to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society.  Today, it is recognized by approximately 35,000 museums in 143 countries!

 

Held in concert with International Museum Day, is the American Association of Art Directors’s (AAMD) Art Museum Day Many AAMD members will offer free or reduced admission, educational programs, and/or discounts on or around May 18.

 

Introduce your child to a world of art! 

The following tips, courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art, will get you started.

  • Follow your child's lead.  What interests or excites her?  Share in her sense of wonderment.  Go at your own pace and let your visit be a journey of discovery.
  • Imagine that a painting or sculpture could come alive.  What sounds would it make?  How would it move?  What would it do or say?
  • Take turns describing a detail from a painting aloud while your partner stands in the center of the gallery with eyes closed.  When she opens her eyes, can she find the painting with the detail you described?
  • Fun for the very young:  Find simple shapes, favorite colors (name everything blue you see in one gallery, red in the next), or an array of animals.  Try counting numbers, making up a rhyme, or striking a pose (it's fun to pose as something other than a person)!

Related Posts: 

Art Museums:  How to Engage Young Children
How to Visit a Museum with Children

 

A Whimsical Visit to the Museum

 

Prepare young children for a trip to the art museum with the delightful book, Meet Me at the Art Museum by David Goldin.  Readers are treated to a tour of the museum's inner workings by "Stub" the ticket stub and "Daisy" the docent name tag.  "From the curator's office to the library to the conservator's studio to even the loading dock, Stub discovers who does what and what goes on behind the scenes at the art museum." 

This book helps young readers learn the purpose of an art museum and is sure to spark interest in visiting one.  Adults will be reminded  of the four "B's" of museum-going (with young children) which are paraphrased here

Filled with artworks from around the world, Meet Me at the Art Museum also includes a glossary of museum terms and a list of the artworks shown in the book.  

Related Posts: 

Art Museums:  How to Engage Young Children
How to Visit a Museum with Children

 

 

Experience America

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Perhaps you're familiar with the Nation's 59 national parks, but did you know the National Park Service also manages 124 historical parks or sites, 78 national monuments, 25 battlefields or military parks, 18 preserves, 18 recreational areas, 10 seashores, 4 parkways, 4 lakeshores and 2 reserves?

How many have you visited?  Next week will be a good time to cover a few more!  On Saturday, April 19 and Sunday, April 20, our national parks are offering free admission.  Many also have special events planned for the entire week (National Park Week, April 19-27, 2014).  Why not make plans to visit a park, explore nature, and/or learn history?

In National Parks you'll find:


National Parks also preserve the works of great American artists and writers such as:

  • Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site (PA).                                                                                                                                  Source:  National Park Service

 

 

Did you know Park rangers provide special talks, walks, biking tours, and more for Cherry Blossom Festival and for the National Mall "the landscape of our nation's history?"  Best of all, a visit to the National Mall and its iconic Memorial Parks is always free.  Can't visit during Cherry Blossom Season?  No problem, enjoy a few of our photographs below, or view the beautiful blossoms via the Cherry Blossom Webcam. 

 

 

Art Everywhere!

How would YOU display 50 pieces of American art spanning four centuries?  A challenging task, but the Art Everywhere US campaign has a unique idea.

The campaign brings together five fabulous U.S. museums and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.  Their collaborative effort will celebrate great American art by exhibiting it throughout the U.S. on thousands of billboards, bus shelters, subway posters, and much more.  Wow!

You and I have been asked to determine which pieces we want to see across America!  The museums' curators selected the initial 100 artworks, and our task is to choose the 50 most popular.  Our selections will be seen by millions of people every day.
Double wow!

"Art Everywhere US will provide chance encounters with great works of art to reflect the story of our country, encourage everyone to visit their local museums, and start a national conversation about the importance of nurturing creativity in our schools and in our daily lives."

  • Cast your votes today using the "Cast Your Vote" link below or visit the campaign's website at www.arteverywhereUS.org.   
  • Every person gets up to 10 votes per day through May 7, 2014.
  • The winning selections will be part of a four-week campaign to be unveiled in August. 
  • That's one big art show!


The five fabulous museums involved are:


The Art Institute of Chicago
The Dallas Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

 

Object of the Month: "Nickel" the Sea Turtle

Nickel the Sea Turtle

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

In support of National Wildlife Week (March 17-23, 2014), the March object of the month is from Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. The Director of Education answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

Selected object:  "Nickel" the Sea Turtle

 

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?

Every animal has a story:

On July 1, 1998, Nickel was found floating in the mangroves at the mouth of Fish Hawk Creek in the town of Goodland, Florida.  Boaters reported that Nickel was extremely thin and was having difficulty swimming.  She was picked up and brought to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for rehabilitation.  Upon arrival at CMA, biologists discovered that Nickel, then known as Pete, suffered from an injury to the rear of her carapace from a boat strike.

After months of rehabilitation, Nickel continued to have a buoyancy problem as well as rear limb weakness.  Due to the extent of Nickel's injuries, she was determined non-releasable.  She made her home at CMA as Pete, for 5 years, until the Shedd Aquarium acquired her for the Caribbean Reef exhibit. 

As part of her quarantine, she underwent an extensive physical that included X-ray images of her entire body.  In those images, we discovered that she had a coin lodged in her esophagus.  The coin, which turned out to be a 1975 nickel, was removed using an endoscope and special "grabbers." 

Nickel is a Green Sea Turtle.  Green Sea Turtles are the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles, with an average size of 300 to 500  pounds.  Green Sea Turtles are primarily herbivores as adults, and they get their name from the green color of their muscle tissue.  They are found throughout the world's tropical oceans, where the Atlantic populations are larger and lighter in color than the Pacific populations.  The Green Sea Turtle is a threatened species, with the exception of the Florida and Mexican breeding populations, which are endangered.

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection? 

  • Do humans live in the same environment as (Nickel) sea turtles?
  • How can we better share the environment?
  • What would you do to protect sea turtles?

 

3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

 

Shedd's content falls into three categories: 

  • Nature
  • Science
  • Human Impact

 

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?

 

Yes, Nickel is on display in our Caribbean Reef habitat.  Students and teachers can visit Nickel in person or learn more about her on our website


Click here to meet Nickel. 

 

Other Objects of the Month:

Woolworth's Lunch Counter
A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel

Chabo-hiba #877-37
The Caldonian Boar Hunt

 

The "Art" of Paying Attention

 

If you have ever experienced "bus duty" as a teacher, you know that paying attention is the primary qualification.  However, as I've learned, many children are paying attention too . . .

 

For example, I recall one beautiful spring morning when a kindergarten student slowly stepped off the bus, looked around, and exclaimed, "Glorious."  The classmate behind him sighed, "Yes."  Both were caught up in the magic of the morning.  The bus driver (who probably had a tight schedule) suddenly barked at both of them,  "Get in the school!"  The spell was broken.
I sometimes think of that moment when I'm running through life and not looking. . .

Contour drawing helps break this pattern by teaching children to notice details.  Enjoy the following contour drawings by third grade students.  They used black fine tip markers and images from wildlife magazines as subjects. 

 

If you know someone who likes to draw, share this contour drawing activity courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum.  Andy Warhol was quite observant and "an excellent draughtsman."

Happy Birthday Wilson Bentley

Wilson Bentley was born in the season of winter, and snow, specifically snowflakes, became his passion.  A self-educated farmer, from rural Jericho, Vermont, "Snowflake" Bentley became the first person to photograph a snowflake on glass plate in 1885. His innovative process involved capturing snowflakes on black velvet and photographing the image via a camera connected to a microscope.  During his lifetime, Bentley amassed over 5,000 snowflake photographs!   These images are so beautiful, his book Snow Crystals remains in print today!

Snowflake Bentley's Snow Crystals

 

You can also see his stunning photographs and photography equipment in Jericho, Vermont, home to the Snowflake Bentley Exhibit at the historic Chittenden Mills. 

 

Children enjoy reading his life story in the Caldecott Award winning book, Snowflake Bentley

Mary Azarian's woodcut illustrations take you back in time and capture Wilson's wonder and perseverance.   Needless to say, it's an inspiring read - even for those who dislike snow. 

 

If you live in the greater Baltimore/Washington D.C. region, you can see a few of Wilson Bentley's snowflake photographs AND Mary Azarian's artwork and woodblock tools at the exhibit, Beyond Words:  The Artistry of Illustrated Children's Books.

Rice Gallery (Peterson Hall)
McDaniel College
Westminster, Maryland
January 27-March 6, 2014

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.,
Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.,
Saturday, noon – 5 p.m.

Wilson's Bentley's beautiful snowflakes
Wilson Bentley snowflakes

Object of the Month: Woolworth's Lunch Counter

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

The object of the month is from the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.  The Director of the museum answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

Selected object:  Lunch counter from Woolworth's Department Store

Lunch counter from Woolworth's Department Store

 

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?

This lunch counter is from the Woolworth's Department Store in Greensboro, North Carolina where four college students staged a sit-in on February 1, 1960.  They were protesting segregation in public facilities in the South at a time when African-Americans could not be served food at places like department stores.  The students sat at the lunch counter and left peacefully when asked.  However, they continued to peacefully protest this policy until the summer of 1960 when Woolworth's agreed to serve them.  This protest launched a wave of similar activities across the South and led to federal laws that prohibited racial segregation in public places. 

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection? 

I would ask students to think about issues such as equality, justice and freedom.  I would also ask them to think about the history of race relations in the United States, and discuss whether there is more freedom and toleration today than in 1960 when the sit-ins occurred.

3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?

I suggest incorporating the story of the lunch counter into the larger subject of civil rights and human rights in American history.

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?

There are many books and films on this subject.  You should choose resources appropriate for elementary school children. 

 

 

Other Objects of the Month:

The Caldonian Boar Hunt

Chabo-hiba #877-37

A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel

 

Beyond Words

Marcia Brown's Puss in Boots (1952)
Marcia Brown, from Puss in Boots (1952)

 

If you live in the greater Baltimore/Washington D.C. region, don't miss the creative exhibit Beyond Words:  The Artistry of Illustrated Children's Books Organized by McDaniel College, in a partnership with the Corcoran College of Art + Design, the exhibit highlights work from thirty-two artists, seventeen of whom received a Caldecott Medal or Honor or both. 

 

The art ranges from the classical works of the early and mid-20th century (e.g., Marcia Brown, Hardie Gramatky, Willy Pogany) to the contemporary works of the 21st century (e.g., David Wiesner, Mo Willems, and Chris Raschka.) "As you will discover, the art's allure is surpassed only by its enduring impact."

Beyond Words:  The Artistry of Illustrated Children's Books
Rice Gallery (Peterson Hall)
McDaniel College
Westminster, Maryland
January 27-March 6, 2014

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.,

Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., 

Saturday, noon – 5 p.m.

The Artistry of Illustrated Children's Books
The exhibition is free and open to the public. For information and to confirm gallery hours, please call 410-857-2595.

It's Museum Monday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Museum Monday
Since many museums are closed on Monday, I'll bring a museum to you.  This week it's in the form of  "learning links" for children and parents, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day resources. 

  • Ology:  The American Museum of Natural History's Science Website for Kids has plenty of interactive games and activities to learn about archaeology, astronomy, zoology, marine biology, paleontology and other "Ologies."  For elementary and middle aged children
  • Tate Kids:  Children can select artwork from the Tate Kids Collection or upload their own artwork into this site's "My Gallery" space and create a virtual museum.  There are also creative games, activities, and "crafty things to do off line." For elementary and middle school aged children
  • Games for Change:  For children with an interest in making a difference in the world, this site offers games that address social issues, such as human rights, civics, the environment, and conflict.  The games are categorized by topic and age.  For elementary and middle school aged children
  • The Seattle Times' information about Martin Luther King Jr.:  This site "contains the story of a remarkable man, images of a tumultuous time, and perspectives of politicians, academics, students and the many, ordinary citizens whose lives he touched."  For middle school aged children

 

0 Comments

Gorilla gorilla gorilla

A few years ago, my fifth grade gifted and talented students completed a unique research project.  Specifically, we sent letters to museum directors asking for input about one object, artifact, work of art, or a creative selection from their museum's collections.  The selection could be a personal favorite, possess significant cultural relevance, be a "best" example of its kind, tell a story, promote a new idea, or expose students to a new experience.

The purpose of the project was to provide resources for interdisciplinary learning, to present opportunities to think in new ways, and to enhance subject matter with activities that promote creativity and provide cultural relevance.  Most directors were eager to participate, and many provided supplemental information and resources.  Their thorough responses are best characterized by the words of one director, "Thank you for reaching out."

Below are the four questions we asked.  (Since some respondents have moved on to different institutions, I share only the museum position, instead of the person's name.)

 

 

The "object" of the month is from the

Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.  The Vice President of  Collections answered our questions as follows:  (Excerpt)

Selected object:  Gorilla

Mosaicultures Internationales:  Gorillas at Risk!
Mosaicultures Internationales: Gorillas at Risk!

 

1.  What information and essential understanding should students know about your selection?
(Information pertaining to question one is taken directly from the animal facts sheets on the Lincoln Park Zoo web site.  To read more, click here.)

  • Description:  Largest of the living primates; males up to 6 feet tall and 400 pounds, females up to 5 feet and 200 pounds.  Greater weights occur in captivity. 
  • Range:  Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea
  • Status:  The gorilla is listed as endangered, and commercial trade of this species is prohibited by international law.  Principal causes of population decline are habitat destruction and hunting.  Poachers prize adult males and disrupt troops by killing leaders. 
  • Habitat:  tropical secondary forest:  the herbs, shrubs and vines that make up its diet grow best where the open canopy allows plenty of light to reach the forest floor.
  • Niche:  Herbivorous:  feeds mainly on leaves and stems but never strips one site completely.  Zoo animals are also fed milk as a source of protein and B vitamins.  Western subspecies takes a higher proportion of fruit, a more limited resource, which appears to limit troop size to 5-10.  Primary predator in historical times is man.

 

2.  What questions would you ask to stimulate curiosity and/or creative thinking about your selection?
Depending on the age of the students, you could ask some of the following questions:

  • How are gorillas like people?  How are they different?
  • What might a gorilla eat that you could eat too?
  • Name some other primates.  How are they similar to or different from gorillas?
  • How could you help protect gorillas and their habitat?
  • What adaptations does a gorilla have that make it uniquely suited for its environment?
  • If you had to design a zoo exhibit for a gorilla troop, what would you include?  What would you leave out?

 

3.  Do you have any suggestions for incorporating your selection into a specific subject?
Clearly gorilla biology would be an interesting topic in a science class, but you could also incorporate information on gorillas into a class on politics, geography or reading.

4.  Are there other resources to help us learn more about your selection?
There are countless books and web sites about gorillas, as their similarity to humans makes them a fascinating topic.  I would suggest you seek books by and about Dian Fossey, information on the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project and lighthearted books like Good Night, Gorilla for younger students.


Other Objects of the Month:
The Caldonian Boar Hunt
Chabo-hiba #877-37
A. C. Gilbert Erector Set, Ferris Wheel, 1926

 

0 Comments

Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity

debra@ifthencreativity.com

 

Follow :