Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Lullaby

(sung to me in the wee hours when the alarm rang too early, by Lucy, age 4 3/4, and then recreated later in the day by her so I could write it down)

Once upon a time ago
in a lonely cabin deep in the big woods of Wisconsin,
there was a little girl born, named Mary
with her mother, Caroline,
and her daddy, Charles.
Then another girl was born in the lonely cabin in Wisconsin forest.
And her name was Laura.
And they moved to the prairie, the prairie.
And then another girl was born and they named her Carrie.
Two years were skipped,
so we don't really know when Grace was born,
but we do know that Grace was born.
And they turned around
and they went back to the big woods of Wisconsin
(I'm going to change it a little so Grace sees the big woods)
and Grace, their newborn baby, saw the big woods of Wisconsin
where Black Susan lived
and Jack, their brindle bulldog.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Nields in valentine and doll form

It continues to be all Nields all the time in our house.

This week, I've got a self-serve valentines-making buffet set up in the studio.  Like all the kids, Lucy is making lots of valentines for her friends and family.  But hers have a special twist: they all feature The Nields.

A few days ago, we read the liner notes inside Rock All Day; Rock All Night, and we learned a wonderful story about Katryna and Nerissa having the chicken pox as children (combining Lucy's favorite topics: childhood stories, The Nields, and sickness).  So Lucy's recruited the other children to take parts in the drama of a miserable, moaning Nerissa, unable to hold her new baby sister, while Katryna (Lucy) holds her tenderly.  She adores this game, and we play it again and again.

And of course, it's spawned many drawings of spotted people, including this valentine card:

(Katryna's on the left, separated by a piece of plywood from Nerissa, who's in bed--all details from the CDs notes.)

Also today, there was a Nields concert on the coffee table:

(My favorite part?  Those two old grey-haired matching-clothes ladies represent Andi and I.  "They're old, so you know it's you.")

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Multiple drafts are amazing!

This week, one of the kids checked out My Grandpa is Amazing! from the library.  After reading it, she decided to write her own My Dad is Amazing! book.  So, naturally, Lucy decided to write Katryna and Nerissa are Amazing!  I have some little blank books available for such occasions, so I sat down to take dictation.

Lucy wrote:

At that point, Lucy told me that was all she wanted to write, but that she would fill up the rest of the pages with pictures.  And she began to draw Katryna and Nerissa again and again and again.

Now is when I hear the worried parents who've been in my classrooms over the years.  "All he does is play with blocks."  "If I left it up to her, she'd play fairies all day every day."  And to them, I say "what's bad about that?"  If only we can trust the value in what they choose to do!

On the very next page, Katryna suddenly had a neck, a body, legs, and feet (something Lucy's rarely done before):

Then it was back to only heads, as she practiced eyes:

Then came arms with hands and fingers:
Lori Pickert, in her book Project-Based Homeschooling, encourages parents to "try to put yourself into a different frame of mind.  Creating multiple drafts of the same work allows your child to raise his efforts to a level that isn't possible if he simply creates first drafts over and over again.  Rather than thinking about new versus old, consider the importance of an artist or craftsman revising and polishing their work, introducing improvements at each pass.  Think about first and final drafts--and how much the work improves between them... Creating representations is about communicating, and doing multiple drafts allows your child to get closer to what he wants to say." (pp. 117-118)

And, of course, books can't communicate without a reader (or listener).  So Lucy's been reading her book to everyone this week, including Monkey:

A few days ago, Lucy decided she couldn't draw a guitar.  But she was so pleased with these new bodies, she thought maybe she could try again in one of the many pictures she draws of Katryna and Nerissa each day.  And this time, she was satisfied with her results.  (Nerissa's holding the guitar, on the right, below.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Representing The Nields

Lucy's Nields project is still going strong, and it is so exciting to see all the many ways she's found to pursue this passion.  In just one day this week, she:

Told imaginative stories with Nerissa and Katryna as the main characters.  (I didn't write them down, and am wishing I had!  Will return to that...).  She tells stories about "when Nerissa and Katryna were little" or about the reasons they did what they did in concert. 

Imagined how Katryna might do things: "I think Katryna would do it like this, don't you?"  (Katryna has a unique loose-limbed way of dancing, a quick smile, and a sense of humor that Lucy appreciates, and she's applying those characteristics to aspects of her own life, like how Katryna might paint.)

Pretended to be Nerissa in dramatic play, asking me to be Katryna.  "I like doing them.  I mean making--doing it with ourselves.  With our bodies."

Painted several pictures of them.  I was preparing materials for the kids to paint something else, and she told me "I'm going to do something different.   I'm going to paint Nerissa and Katryna."  I asked if she'd like to look at their photo for reference, and photocopied it from their book. She cut around the photo and clipped it to the easel. 

She began with the portrait, and then added imaginative elements:

Katryna, in red, has just stepped out of the shower, and water is spiraling down from her hair and puddling below.  Nerissa, in blue, is holding a guitar and dripping from the shower, too.

Her next painting showed Katryna and her daughter on a path, across the street from a building where they were to have a concert, with a crosswalk leading to the building.   She was thrilled with how it came out:

She was much less thrilled when she tried to draw clasped hands ("I think Katryna and Nerissa would hold hands, don't you?") and Nerissa's guitar.  She's not very confident in her drawing abilities yet, but was motivated by this passionate interest to keep trying through the tears.  (Below, she's starting again, after scribbling out one attempt.)
Read her book to a friend.  Here, she's showing a picture she drew of Katryna throwing up (she's fascinated with throw up these days).  Her book's waiting beside her: she read the title and sang every song.  She's also got Singing in the Kitchen "in case C. and E. want to know more about Katryna and Nerissa."

Dictated a note to the families in my program about the Nields.  (I'd asked the kids' help in writing an email about something else, and she asked me to add this.)  "Favorite singers: Nerissa and Katryna.  Are my favorites of singers.  And Nerissa and Katryna are my favorites because they sing all these good songs.  And they sing (she bursts into song) 'Babar the elephant rides the elevator up, up, up, up, up!  Babar the elephant rides the elevator down, down, down, down, down.'  That's one of their songs.  And they sing 'Living on a farm, an organic farm.  And on that farm there was an organic chicken, and the chicken said bok, bok, bok, bok, bok, bok.  And the chicken laid eggs.  And the chicken had a baby, and they called it a chick.'"

Wrote her own song (about doctors) while playing guitar.

Gave guitar lessons" a la Nerissa.  She'd wanted to have her guitar out while the kids were here, but didn't really want to share it with them--until I told her that Nerissa teaches guitar lessons.  Suddenly, she was eager to "teach" the kids how to play.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Nields project

Lucy has a new love.
Almost from day one, she has disliked it when we sing, or when we listen to CDs.  Early on, she took a music class with Katryna and Nerissa Nields, and she enjoyed it.  But she's a talker.  And if we sing--or listen to music--we're not available for conversation.  No good.  So she'd usually ask us to stop, or turn it off, or she'd just talk right over the music.

But we love music.  So we kept on trying.  And for some reason, seeing the Nields at First Night this year flipped a switch.
Three weeks later, she's still singing all the songs they sang that night.  And asking us, again and again and again to talk about when Katryna fell asleep.  (You know the song "Mama's Taking Us to the Zoo Tomorrow?" When they sang about getting sleepy on the way home, Katryna yawned, sang slower and slower, sat, lay down, and eventually snored.)   "I can't stop talking about that snoring part!  I have to laugh every time we talk about it; I can't stop."

That part had made a huge impression.  So had the motions that Katryna used while they sang.  She loved the flailing hands for "in cases of emergency," and from that, was able to remember the whole song:
She was so interested, I pulled out the Nields' CDs which have been gathering dust for a while as she's been uninterested. Suddenly, we're all singing the songs together with joy (oh, what joy!).

One song on a CD got her wondering.  What does "Mango Walk" mean?  I remembered that they had explained it in their book, so I pulled it out.   Now she had a new avenue for her Nields' research.  "I can't stop looking at the photo in the Singing in the Kitchen book."  She turned the book back and lay it on her pillow, photo up, to study before going to sleep at night.  We could hear her after lights out, reciting to herself "Katryna and Nerissa.  Katryna and Nerissa."  She flipped through the book, studying each of Katryna's little sketches, matching each one to a person, or a song.

It seemed to give her an idea.  Maybe she could draw them, too.  Yesterday, she emerged from the studio with a drawing of two faces on an index card.  "It's Katryna and Nerissa."  Then she left and came back with another drawing: "it's the train song!  That's the chain, and that's the train, and those are the people inside, and that's a singer." 

 I asked if she might like to draw some of their other songs.  She loved the idea!  She ran back and forth, showing us each as she finished.  I wondered if she might like to put them into a book.  YES!

She decided her book should have only songs they sang at First Night.  After she drew them, we discussed what lyrics should be added, and I took her dictation for those and for a title.  She found an illustration of a singer on stage, and was inspired to cut it out and add it to her cover.

I loved her little book so much, I wanted to share it with Katryna (who'd once been a parent in my classroom).  So we made a copy, added a letter, and it's in the mail.  (Lucy's quotations here are from her letter.)

Today, she played guitar (being Nerissa) and directed me to be Katryna, and we sang and bantered back and forth as they do.  "I like to play Katryna and Nerissa."  Later, we took a walk around the block, and the whole way, she kept us in persona, asking me to tell stories with her that we "remembered" from when we were girls.  ("Katryna, remember when you were sick, and you threw up...?")

I'm loving this project of hers, and can't wait to see where it takes us next.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A peek at right now

I've missed sharing here. We've had huge family things going on that changed my mood about blogging, and once you're away, it's hard to come back.  Even now, I'm not sure I can commit to being back regularly, but I can say, today I'm here.  The easiest way, for me, I think, is to just jump in with now, rather than trying to catch up.

Right now, we're having a sick day. It's just what we needed--some slow time and no pressure to do anything but rest. 
Right now, I'm crocheting some African Flower Hexagons.  (And looking at that photo as I posted it, I realize I made a glaring mistake in that top one!  How funny.  I've looked at it again and again in person, but never noticed.  Will have to fix that.)  I've been up way too late at night, addicted to working on these (while watching Downton Abby on Hulu.)
Right now, Lucy (age 3.10) is appliqueing a mushroom of her own design.  It's to become a pillow for our couch.  She is constantly planning projects these days, inspired by everything around her.  This one was inspired by a candy-cane appliqued sachet I helped her make as a Christmas gift, and by some modeling wax I'd been playing with, ultimately ending up with a little mushroom.