Friday, April 15, 2011

A Child of Nature

It is so satisfying to work with students who are enthusiastic and appreciative. I love that this boy was completely engaged in my workshop and decided to take it to a different level, sketching his designs from the daffodils in the garden outside his classroom.

I like to see students who become immersed in the tactile sensation of paint and who are proud of their work. Some are hummingbirds, quickly finishing any task you set before them. Others are more meditative, spending an hour on each step, fully immersing themselves in the process.

I heard an award-winning teacher speak on CBC this Sunday. He said to be a good teacher you have to have a sense of gravitas about important subjects, you have to care for the students and you have to cultivate a flair for the dramatic. He also stressed the need to know your subject inside out.

One of the reasons I love teaching is the chance to explore new materials and subject matter. This was the first time I worked with gourds. It took about five months to dry them. I spent a weekend painting them with a base coat, coating the inside with beeswax, and punching holes for string.

It's a good introduction to bird feeding to make this craft. We also made pine cone feeders as well. These are usually made in winter when suet pudding is in season, but luckily my butcher had one bag of suet left in the back of his freezer. You can buy suet in bird stores, but it is almost always mixed with nuts, which cannot be used in schools because of allergies.

I used sunflower butter I made from shelled broken sunflower seeds I bought at the bird seed store mixed with sunflower oil. The students loved pouring the millet seeds over the pine cones.

We made a huge mess as usual. (I owe the custodian a bag of his favorite coffee to stay in his good books!)

If you feed the birds while they are nesting in the area they can spend more time on the nest and defend their chicks against those hungry crows.

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