Friday, November 20, 2015

My Favorite Things

I went to hear Maira Kalman talk as part of the Penny Stamp Series.  It was very inspiring. 

 If Maira Kalman were younger, I would be sure she was a graduate of Summers Knoll.  For me, her life is what I try to teach. Her interests are wide and varied. She is a keen observer of the world around her. In her pursuits, she collaborates with others. She integrates a wide variety of disciplines in her work including painting, poetry, history, and music.

I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the ideas of Maira Kalman in our classroom.  As a way of introduction, I read 13 Words, which she wrote in collaboration with Lemony Snicket.  Next, I shared one of her stories from her talk.  She told of a watch once owned by Abraham Lincoln, now in the Smithsonian's collection. After a skilled watch maker got the watch working, a recording was made of the ticking. (The watch only worked to 10 minutes)  Maira and composer, Nico Muhly took the ticking recording and added music and lyrics.  Click here to hear. When we listened to the recording, some children laughed at the high operatic singing but quickly calmed down.  At the end one child said, "that was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard".

On Thursday, we watched part of a video,  "My Favorite Things" , in which Maira Kalman talks about an exhibit she put together at the Cooper Hewitt.  Although the interview was geared for adults  and was a bit dull for the children, I wanted them to listen to what she was thinking about while designing the show.  She wrote an alphabet book for children, Ah-hA to Zig-Zag, based on the objects in the show, which I read to the class.

All this is leading to an "Identity" project we will start after Thanksgiving. The project will involve having the children think about their favorite things, and what their choice of a favorite things, tells us about them. 

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