Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spore Invasion

I've not written much about our Little World lately, largely because my focus has shifted to making our new outdoor construction/tinkering area and garden work. Interest has ebbed and flowed depending on what new materials or art project is attached to the station, but more often than not the children use it as a place of respite from the parts of the outdoor classroom where the play tends to be more intense. They retreat there in groups of 2-3, or even alone, to have discussions or to mull over some of the "loose parts" they find there.

Ahh! A praying mantis ceramic bird hybrid!

I spent the first few weeks of Little World trying to create the ethic that the things you find there should stay there, but I should have known that would be like pushing water uphill. Relaxing this rule has allowed Little World to become a resource for play in other parts of the playground. By now, for instance, you can hardly lift a shovel in the sand pit without discovering some lost jewel or fairy. 

But for the most part Little World exists for us as a peaceful retreat in the midst of very active play.

Yesterday, however, a strange and wonderful thing happened. One-hundred and nine paper bag mushroooms sprang up and filled Little World.

Several parents took photos which I'm sure will be better than these, but you get the idea. The weather finally cooperated (paper bag mushrooms don't do well in the rain) and we took the opportunity to install the mushrooms we made as our participation in the Spore Project, an international initiative to draw attention to arts education and the artistic potential in every day objects. 

This was just a "private showing" of the mushrooms and I gathered them all up again at the end of the day (I've learned from experience that even the overnight dew can make them rather soggy). We will do another installation today, possibly in Little World again, but possibly elsewhere, then we're planning a public installation at a local park. I think it will be fun to see people respond to our work.

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Let the Children Play said...

You have been busy little mushroom makers! They look fantastic all grouped together like that. What was the kids' reaction?

Teacher Tom said...

@Jenny . . . Wel,l the kids did much of the installation themselves. They had more fun challenging themselves to walk through them without stepping on them than they did feasting their little eyes. To be honest, they're much more interested in the kids from Japan and Canada who are doing it too. My older kids did declare that they wanted to make 10,000!

Unknown said...

Wow. They look awesome. Such a fun project! : )

Noah said...

They look terrific! I wonder if I could carry out the idea when I'm up North....

Play for Life said...

Great timing Tom! We have our "Spore Project" mushrooms tagged for next week. We're expecting Autumn to provide us with a few perfect days so we're challenging the children to bring the Hush Garden make over to new life.
Hmmm ... mushrooms popping up in and around our dry creek bed ... now that should look impressive!
We'll keep you posted :) :)

Unknown said...

Very cool, Tom. I especially love that ya'll will be able to view your art publicly. Very impressive! We are currently moving Wee World to another part of our playground to make room from our flowerbeds now that Spring has sprung. A few mushrooms might be a fun touch! :)

HaydEn said...

THis is brilliant as are so many of your ideas! WE are going to home ed our little one and are attempting to persuade some rather 'urban'(London, UK) parents to get out and have fun with learning... May ahve to point them here to see what can really be achieved when you think a little outside the box!

Deborah Stewart said...

I have never seen anything like this before and it is just too cool!

Teacher Tom said...

@Noah . . . Doug would be very excited to have Arctic participation! Go for it!

@Donna . . . Make sure to send your photos to Doug . . . Or I can do it for you.

@Becky and Hayden . . . Thanks!

@Deborah . . . They are so easy to make. The kids had fun making them AND planting them. I really can't wait to install them somewhere that the public can react to them.

Launa Hall said...

Wow, a whole crop of them is such a pleasing sight!