Freedom Quilt Patterns | Farewell, Mrs. Crarey

(Log Cabin)

School ends in a few days and Mrs. Crarey, my favorite second grade teacher, is retiring.  I’m sad for all the children who will miss the opportunity of learning under such an amazing person, but I’m happy for her.  She’s earned her retirement and  she will certainly make deep impressions wherever she goes.

Mrs. Crarey is simply awesome.  Even with a classroom full of many different personalities and learning styles, she has a way of dealing with her students as individuals and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.  I love her not only because she is awesome but because she just loves my son, and even today–three years after he finished second grade–she is a friend of his heart.

I will always be grateful for the way she kept his curiosity piqued and gave him more challenging work when he surpassed benchmarks.  She used his love for reading, robots, science, animals, Star Wars, and mystery to keep him engaged.  That meant a lot to this mom who was uncomfortable in a newish environment with a kid who was pining for home (New Orleans) and still adjusting to a school day structure and approach to teaching and learning that were very different from the Montessori curriculum of his previous experience.

When I blogged about the fifth grade African masks a few months ago, I mentioned there was so much more art to see–much more than I can cover in a couple of blog posts.  But in honor of Mrs. Crarey’s retirement and the tremendous gift she has been to the school, this post focuses on her group’s art fair exhibit.

Mrs. Crarey approaches art purposefully.  She typically has her students complete art projects that connect to a lesson. When my son was in her class, the students drew and learned about owls, West African-style dwellings, jewelry, and women’s attire, geckos, dinosaurs, which I blogged about three and a half years ago, Dr. Seuss, and so much more.  I’m going to miss taking a walk down to her classroom and taking a peek at her students’ masterpieces.

In addition to other art pieces, the class created quilt blocks. After reading Bettye Stroud’s The Patchwork Quilt: A Quilt Map to Freedom, reading about the Underground Railroad, viewing and studying maps of the “slave states” and “free states,” students selected a quilt pattern to draw and color.

“Freedom Quilt”

According to some studies, the quilts played an important role in helping enslaved persons make their way to freedom.  Each quilt piece held significant meaning and provided directions and warnings. Although there have been verbal statements from descendants of enslaved persons regarding the quilt code, there has been no physical proof.

Take a look at the children’s quilt pieces [click an image for a closer look]:

Follow the link to find out what each of the patterns mean: Freedom Quilt Codes.

Farewell, Mrs. Crarey…We’re not sure how we’ll survive the coming years without running into you for our quick chats, but we wish you well on your journey.  Thank you for the fond memories, for your generous spirit, and your heart of gold.

Much love…XOXOX

Mrs. Crarey and My Little One, December 2013

A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.

African Masks [Children’s Art]

My son is all better and back in school, but I must say, I was in kiddie art heaven last Thursday while I waited to meet with his teacher to collect the assignments he missed.  The school held its annual art fair and though I didn’t see everything, what I did see was pretty impressive.

I’m in the throes of midterm grading, so I’m just going to share the colorful masks done by my son and his peers in Mrs. Trott’s 5th-6th grade (combined) class.

They all started with a basic mask and added touches that express their personalities.

I love every one of these masks!

The students have been learning about the continent of Africa–its landforms, peoples, histories, and cultures–so I’m sure this was a fun exercise to complement their lessons.

Well, I’m back to grading.  I’ll be back eventually with pics of some of the other art.

Happy Monday!

microblog_mondays

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: Cute Kids, a Dog, a Cat, and a Tea-Drinking Rat

Every two weeks I host two children’s book illustration postcard swaps on swap-bot.  One “public,” which means any swapper can participate and the other for members of the Book Lovers Congregate group.  I posted the first 10 swaps in the second series of swaps that began last year: here and here.

The 125+ postcards of the first series of swaps can be found by clicking the links that follow: part i, part ii, part iii, part iv, and part v.

To avoid posting dozens of children’s book illustration postcards in one post, I’m making an effort to share the postcards as the swaps complete.  This way, we can spend a little more time on information related to the postcard.

Swap #11 (Public) came from Israel, from Lihior, who remarks that she loves these swaps, and I’m happy to have seen her in every swap so far!ch-bk-illustration-received-11-1

The postcard Lihior sent (above) is from The World of Peter Rabbit, a collection of postcards that features the illustrations of Beatrix Potter, the beloved English writer who penned and illustrated more than 20 children’s books in her lifetime. This particular postcard is from the book The Sly Old Cat, 1907.

According to the information provided on the back of the postcard,  “the book was the third in the series of concertina-bound books that started with The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit and The Story of Miss Moppet, but was canceled when the format proved too fragile for bookshops.”

The series of books was written for younger children and was designed to introduce the children to the world of Peter Rabbit.

The Sly Old Cat was finally published in 1971. It tells the story of a cat who invites a rat to a tea party with the intention of eating him.  No worries.  The mouse outwits the cat and escapes.  He even gets a yummy muffin for his trouble.

The postcard for the Book Lovers Congregate Swap #11 came from Xira in the Netherlands.  She posted a picture of the postcard on Instagram with some other outgoing mail.  I “liked” the photo and “exclaimed” over Jip and Janneke, but I had no idea it was headed my way.  Imagine my surprise!

If you’ve read any of my other children’s book illustration posts, you know that I love the pair of friends from the Dutch preschool children’s books, Jip and Janneke.  The books are written by Annie M.G. Schmidt and illustrated by Fiep Westendorp. The two have been writing and illustrating the children’s books together for more than 30 years.  They feature the best friends living as preschoolers–lives filled with play, mischief, interpersonal conflicts, and loads of fun.  The children and their pets are always in black and white as you see them here.

This particular image is from a 1993 illustration.  The postcard features Jip (pronounced “Yip”) and the Janneke (pronounced “Yan-nic-a” with the stress on the first syllable) and Weenie and Sippy, Jip’s dog and Janneke’s cat.  The postcard back does not indicate from which book the illustration comes.

A few years ago one of my first-year students, after engaging in lengthy conversations with me about the duo, gave me a collection of Jip and Janneke stories on CD.  In Dutch.  One day, I’ll know enough Dutch to understand what I’m listening to. 😀

Jip and Janneke

Jip and Janneke Audio CD Cover

I have already received half of swap #12 and swap #13 is underway, so look for more children’s book illustration postcard posts soon! Until then, spend a few moments revisiting your childhood and pick up some kiddie lit!

 

 

Series Two: Children’s Book Illustration Postcards 6-10

As promised, I’m back with more children’s book illustration postcards–swaps 6-10.  The postcards below are from various parts of the world and include some of my favorite characters and/or themes–teddy bears, Classic Pooh, Moomin, and Alice in Wonderland.  I was very pleased to be introduced to Rosalie and Truffle (the pink pig and the brown boar–see public swap #7).  Amazon’s description:

Love at first sight does exist! Rosalie and Truffle fall in love when they meet under an apple tree. But their well-meaning friends and relatives discourage them from meeting again. As time goes by, and Rosalie and Truffle improve their lifestyles with yoga and dancing, they realize that neither material growth nor physical perfection guarantees happiness. At last they return to the apple tree and reunite.

Rosalie and Truffle, Truffle and Rosalie is an endearing story of love and trust, with wonderful illustrations. And the story is narrated from both points of view: flip the book over to read the story from the other perspective. This is a charming gift book, perfect for Valentine’s Day or for any special occasion.

Aside from their story of self-discovery and love, they remind me of strawberry and chocolate ice cream.  Yum!

BLC PC #6: From Swededreams (USA): Happy Birthday, Kirsten. From the American Girls Series. Kirsten and her friends traded scraps of cloth so everyone could make a colorful design on a square of white muslin. The designs they made from the bits of cloth slowly grew in their hands the way wild violence bloomed on the prairie. Hallmark.

BLC PC #6: From Swededreams (USA): Happy Birthday, Kirsten. From the American Girls Series. Kirsten and her friends traded scraps of cloth so everyone could make a colorful design on a square of white muslin. The designs they made from the bits of cloth slowly grew in their hands the way wild violence bloomed on the prairie. Hallmark.

 

Public #6: From Mollypop (USA)--From Pleasant Lands 1936. Illustrators: A. Gladys Peck and Eleanor Osborn Eadie

Public PC #6: From Mollypop (USA)–From Pleasant Lands 1936. Illustrators: A. Gladys Peck and Eleanor Osborn Eadie

BLC PC#7: From Eloise (Mexico)--The Family from One End Street, 2004. Cover illustration by Eve Garnett. Puffin.

BLC PC#7: From Eloise (Mexico)–The Family from One End Street, 2004. Cover illustration by Eve Garnett. Puffin.

 

Public #7: From Am-Sophie (Germany): Rosalie and Truffle by Katja Reider. Illustration by Jutta Bucker

Public PC #7: From Am-Sophie (Germany): Rosalie and Truffle by Katja Reider. Illustration by Jutta Bucker

 

BLC PC #8: From Ladybug (Canada)--The Tiny Seed, 1987, by Eric Carle.

BLC PC #8: From Ladybug (Canada)–The Tiny Seed, 1987, by Eric Carle.

 

Public #8: From Milkiss (Korea)--Moomin Characters

Public PC #8: From Milkiss (Korea)–Moomin Characters

 

BLC PC#9: From Sarah (USA)--Heidi by Johanna Spyri, 1956. Cover illustration by Cecil Leslie. Puffin.

BLC PC#9: From Sarah (USA)–Heidi by Johanna Spyri, 1956. Cover illustration by Cecil Leslie. Puffin.

 

Public #9: From Jennifer (USA). From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Illustration by George Soper. "At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her."

Public PC #9: From Jennifer (USA). From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Illustration by George Soper. “At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her.”

 

BLC PC #10: From AmyD (USA)--Classic Pooh, "HMS Piglet," A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard

BLC PC #10: From AmyD (USA)–Classic Pooh, “HMS Piglet,” A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard

 

Public PC #10: From Widelo123 (USA)--From the cover of Hello, Mallory. Baby-sitters Club #14, 1991.

Public PC #10: From Widelo123 (USA)–From the cover of Hello, Mallory. Baby-sitters Club #14, 1991.

Many of the participants in this “new” series of children’s book illustration swaps also participated when Marjan hosted the swaps.  They are so appreciative of the swaps’ return and that makes hosting them extra pleasurable.  Thanks, Marjan, for laying a strong foundation; thanks swappers, for joining in and spreading postcard happiness!

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with swap #11.

Until then…enjoy these!

Series Two: Children’s Book Illustration Postcards 1-5

Back in June I posted a five-part series on the children’s book illustration postcards I’d received through 122 consecutive weeks of swaps hosted by Marjan.  She ended the series in December 2015.   I really missed the swaps, so as I reviewed my blank CBI postcards “crying out” for new homes, I knew it was time to start the swaps again.  Marjan gave her blessing and the swaps began (again) in July.  I host the swap every two weeks–in the “Book Lovers Congregate” group (BLC) on swap-bot and as a public swap (which means any swap-bot member can join as long as she/he meets swap criteria).  I hope to eliminate the public swap eventually and only host in the group, but so far, the public swap participant roster is three times longer than the group’s.  For now, it’s been fun hosting in two places.  Besides, I have more than 300 blank children’s book illustration postcards to share with the world; I plan to host the swap until I run out of postcards…or steam.

We just completed the 10th swap.  Here are postcards from the first five swaps–with illustrations of books from Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA).

BLC Swap #1: From Ksenia (Israel)--

BLC PC #1: From Ksenia (Israel)–“What’s the Story?” Ksenia found this postcard at an illustration exhibition. There was no story attached, but it feels like a children’s book illustration, so it counts. 😉

Public PC #1: From Marloucat (Netherlands)--De Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson and Avel Scheffler.

Public PC #1: From Marloucat (Netherlands)–De Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson and Avel Scheffler.

BLC PC #2: From Owlsinathens (Vienna)--Findus flyttar ut (Findus Moves Out), by Sven Nordqvist.

BLC PC #2: From Owlsinathens (Vienna)–Findus flyttar ut (Findus Moves Out), by Sven Nordqvist.

Public #2: From Pikkis (Finland)--From Nu skall har bli andra bullar by Gunilla Hansson.

Public PC #2: From Pikkis (Finland)–From Nu skall har bli andra bullar by Gunilla Hansson.

BLC PC #3 From PeggyO (USA)--From The Children's Own Readers. Book One, 1929. Illustration by Marguerite Davis.

BLC PC #3 From PeggyO (USA)–From The Children’s Own Readers. Book One, 1929. Illustration by Marguerite Davis.

Public #3: From Jeepermom (USA)--From the Tale of Benjamin Bunny, 1904. Peter drops the onions he has gathered.

Public PC #3: From Jeepermom (USA)–From The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, 1904. Peter drops the onions he has gathered. “Presently Peter let the picket-handkerchief go again.” Illustration by Beatrix Potter. The World of Peter Rabbit.

BLC PC #4: From DebR (United Kingdom)--Cinderella, 1964. Series 606-D-Well Loved Tales. By Vera Southgate, Illustrated by Eric Winter

BLC PC #4: From DebR (United Kingdom)–Cinderella, 1964. Series 606-D-“Well Loved Tales.” By Vera Southgate. Illustration by Eric Winter

Public #4b: From Karen07 (USA)--Something to Do, 1968. Cover Illustration by Shirley Hughes. Puffin.

Public PC #4: From Karen07 (USA)–Something to Do, 1968. Cover illustration by Shirley Hughes. Puffin.

Public #4: From Karen07 (USA)--The BFG by Roald Dahl, 2007. Cover Illustration by Quentin Blake. Puffin.

Public PC #4b: From Karen07 (USA)–The BFG by Roald Dahl, 2007. Cover illustration by Quentin Blake. Puffin.

BLC PC #5: From Jeepermom (USA)--From the Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902. Mrs. Rabbit in the woods.

BLC PC #5: From Jeepermom (USA)–From The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902. Mrs. Rabbit in the woods. “Old Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella, and when through the wood to the baker’s.” Illustration by Beatrix Potter. The World of Peter Rabbit.

Public #5: From Karen07 (USA)--Street Fair by Marjorie Fischer, 1949. Cover Illustration by S. Dyson. Puffin.

Public PC #5: From Karen07 (USA)–Street Fair by Marjorie Fischer, 1949. Cover illustration by S. Dyson. Puffin.

Public #5b: From Karen07 (USA)--Avalanche, 1959. Cover illustration by Alice Evers.

Public PC #5b: From Karen07 (USA)–Avalanche, 1959. Cover illustration by Alice Evers.

That’s it for now.  Tune in tomorrow for swaps six to ten.

Ciao!

My Stillness Model: Just Be

The Little One at Burritt on the Mountain

“The Little One,” edited in Snapseed, Retrolux Filter

Sundays are typically crazy-busy around here, but with my little one ill, the end of the semester imminent, deadlines pressing, and voting just two days away, today I found myself feeling particularly anxious about things I cannot control.  Then, while taking a short break,  I ran across this photo of my son which reminds me to be still and yield to a spirit of peace.

In this photo he is the embodiment of stillness to me. He is totally immersed in his own thoughts and completely comfortable in his world. Not a worry. Not a care.  He’s just “being.”

Isn’t that what stillness is?  Practicing a spirit so at peace that whatever is happening around us cannot disturb us?

The serenity of my little one’s face reminds me to surrender the reins, give God the whole burden, and “just be.”

Haiku and the Little Ones

Right around the time the season changed from summer to autumn last year, I stumbled upon a haiku collection while perusing a colleague’s bookshelf.  I hadn’t read haiku in years! I borrowed her book and enjoyed the haiku for a few days before giving in and ordering my own copy of the book. The book is entitled The Essential Haiku: the Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa, edited and translated by Robert Hass.

The haiku masters offered the perfect moments to sip tea and reflect on changes in the natural world as the seasons transform from one to another. They served as a welcome substitute for time that would have been spent outdoors (and perhaps with my camera) because the weather was often icky last autumn and winter.

After I had my fill of the haiku masters, I moved on to Sonia Sanchez’s Morning Haiku, a book I must blog about at another time.

As you can guess, I was pretty haiku obsessed. I read them to my son. I tried to get him to write haiku with me. He ran in the opposite direction–screaming, arms flailing (slight exaggeration). Aha! But eventually I found a way to “capture” him (along with his 15 classmates).

Last April–building on the lessons on metaphor, simile, and image I’d taught the children in second and third grade–I taught a brief lesson on the haiku form, read a few to the (then) fourth graders, and allowed my son to transform a longer poem he wrote for National Poetry Month last year into a haiku to demonstrate for the class how a three-line poem can tell the same story and present the same image as a much longer poem.

Poem written by my little one when he was in third grade.  The frog is one of the many animals he loves.  Scrapbook elements by Amanda Wittenborn: Amanda Creation

img_3489

The children were tasked with writing about something in nature, the change of seasons or an animal.  They “mastered” the form easily and loved writing their haiku.  Since nine-year-olds are still eager to please, they vied for my attention to read their haiku. They didn’t have time to read their poems to the class, but I took their poems, typed them, and created a display for the university library. (FYI–The school is situated on the university campus).  In May, during the last week of school, the entire class gathered in the library with their teacher, Mrs. Johnson, and a few other parents and had a poetry reading followed by a class picnic at “Unity Pond” on campus.

Many months after I’d intended, I’m sharing their haiku. [Click an image for a closer look]

The lesson and writing took about 30 minutes. They did a great job. Don’t you think?

Even though haiku is a lot more complex than it seems, it is a good form to teach to children. They won’t catch all the subtle nuances of language and imagery, but they get the basics in terms of the traditional structure and themes of haiku.  I am looking forward to my next adventure with my son’s class. I don’t know how or when, but I’m sure we’ll have some literary adventures this school year!

 

Collage Art: The Little Matisses

“In the Style of Matisse” by Vaughan

[Art] is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.  –Henri Matisse

By now, you know that there’s a special place in my heart for children’s art and art created for children, so as promised, I’m back with another dose of fourth grade goodness.

About a month ago, Mrs. Johnson, my son’s fourth grade teacher, introduced the students to the art of French artist Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse.  Matisse, whose work spanned many decades, worked with various styles and media.  Mrs. Johnson’s art lesson focused on a technique Matisse mastered late in his career after illness and surgery left him physically unable to paint and sculpt–collages made from brightly colored paper cut in various shapes and sizes. I’m sure the students loved playing with construction paper, glue, and scissors to create their own masterpieces à la Matisse!

My little one created the one above. These (below) were created by the other students in the class. [Click on an image for a closer look].

Sixteen little Matisses. The bold colors and unique shapes are mesmerizing.  It is obvious that the children enjoyed creating the collages. I wonder if they felt as “mysterious” and “adventurous” as some of these pieces feel.

I’m no art expert, but as far as I’m concerned, children’s art–even when it is imitative–is always fresh and always bears a stroke of originality and innocence.

To find out more about Matisse’s life and career, check him out here: Matisse: Life and Painting.

The weekend is here:  Why not take some time to create something with construction paper, scissors, and a little glue?

Where IS Waldo?

Thanks to his subscriptions to High Five and Highlights magazines since he was a wee tot, my little one loves “hidden pictures” activities, so it’s always an extra treat when we receive Where’s Waldo? postcards.  Happy mail and a fun activity all in one!

Where’s Waldo is the series of children’s books by British illustrator Martin Handford.  Because “before child” I really wasn’t into “Waldo,” I learned from the postcards that Waldo is Wally outside of the United States and Canada.  I can’t figure out, though, why marketers (I assume) thought the moniker “Waldo” would be more acceptable to U.S. and Canadian readers than “Wally.” They’re about the same to me!

I received these postcards through various swaps–Postcrossing, “Postcards from a Book,” “5 Partners,” and most recently a “Children’s Book Illustration” swap. So I’m sharing them with you–not just so you can envy my mail but so you can have a little fun to break the monotony or tedium of a long day.  If you happen to have kids nearby, let them join the fun! 🙂

"The Deep Sea Divers" scene from Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey, Martin Handford

“On Tour With the Vikings,” scene from Where’s Wally Now? by Martin Handford. Postcard from Natasa (Australia).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • Three tongues sticking out
  • Eight red shields
  • Four Vikings wearing cloaks

“Once Upon a Page,” scene from Where’s Waldo? The Wonder Book by Martin Handford. Postcard from Andie (Texas, USA).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A dragon with a scarf
  • Henry VIII and his wives
  • George Washington
"The Deep-Sear Divers," scene from Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford

“The Deep-Sear Divers,” scene from Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford. Postcard from Kate (Portland, USA)

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A false shark fin
  • A bottle in a message
  • Fifteen fishing rods
"The Battle of the Bands," scene from Where's Wally The Wonder Book by Martin Handford

“The Battle of the Bands,” scene from Where’s Wally? The Wonder Book by Martin Handford.  Postcard from Martin (Germany).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A steel band
  • A one-man band
  • Saxophones and a sack of phones
"Ski Slopes," scene from Where's Waldo? Illustration by Martin Handford

“Ski Slopes,” scene from Where’s Waldo? Illustration by Martin Handford.  Postcard from Keri (USA).

Click the image to view larger and find:

  • A snowman on skis
  • Someone taking a photo
  • A young girl without her skates

Haven’t had enough Wally/Waldo fun? Check out the Where’s Waldo website  for more search adventures!

Leave a comment below and I’ll send you a Waldo postcard! (Offer good while supplies last, of course).

Dinosaur Sightings!

"Dinosaur Sightings" by Mrs. C's Second Grade Class

“Dinosaur Sightings” by Mrs. C’s Second Grade Class

Like a lot of little boys, my little one is really into dinosaurs.  I can’t remember what sparked his interest in them, but I know he’s been intrigued by them since he was about two and a half.  He has dinosaur toys, books, dinosaur origami, drawing activities, puzzles, and other activities.  You can imagine his delight when his second grade teacher spent part of the fossil unit on dinosaurs.   And if you know how much I like children’s art, you should know I was tickled pink to see the bright and cheerful dinosaur art gracing the wall outside his classroom.  [See earlier posts here and here].

(Side note: I cannot say enough about his teacher and what she does to get little boys excited about school.  Yes, excited.  I’m talking  “Oh, no! What do you mean I can’t go to school?! 101.1 degree temp isn’t that high. I must.go.to.school” excited.  I’m convinced she performed a miracle on the first day of school).

The little one likes to “store” in his memory or on camera all the beautiful things he sees, so he requested that I take a picture of his classmates’ artwork.  Needless to say, he didn’t have to pull my arm to get me to do it.  He was rightfully very proud of his work–even though, as he pointed out, he didn’t draw his favorite, the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex).

"Spike the Sailfin Lizard," by Vaughan, Second Grade

A Pelycosaur Named “Spike” by Vaughan, Second Grade

It’s no surprise that my little one drew “Spike” because he has been very interested in sailfin lizards lately.   The sailfin lizard looks very much like the Dimetrodon which was actually a pelycosaur, not a dinosaur.  Pelycosaurs preceded dinosaurs.

Someone thinks this is way too much information and that we should just enjoy his class’s magnificent artwork. [Click an image for a closer look]

I spy a T-Rex, another Dimetrodon, a Brontosaurus, a Brachiosaurus, a Triceratops, and a Velociraptor.  What do you see?