Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Extra! Extra! Breaking News: Sound Garden, Pre-K Play, City Museum

There are new developments to breathlessly report to you from the front lines of 3 of my 4 posts this month. Here are the headlines:

Sound Garden Sprouting, Threatens To Take Over Outdoor Classroom
That's right, on Monday, Jack's dad Karl worked throughout most of our outdoor session constructing a new addition to the Sound Garden we began planting last week.

He added several tone pipes from a dismantled xylophone . . .

. . . a triangle . . .

. . . a tambourine . . .

. . . two cow bells (you can always use more cow bell) . . .
(Oh, and Donna, notice in the background how we are using
our single playground tire to pathetically imitate you.)

. . . and this cow hide drum from my own childhood.

Naturally, we saved some of our original Sound Garden foliage, grafting on a few extra pot lids.

I like having adults at work on projects in both our construction/tinkering area as well as in our garden. Karl had kids stopping by the check on what he was up to, keeping tabs on his progress. I wasn't on the scene most of the time so I don't know how much input they children had, but it really doesn't matter. Karl's main job was to role-model the kind of creative behavior we're hoping to foster (and, indeed, have started to foster) in this area full of real tools, construction materials, and loose parts, a concept that is still relatively new to our outdoor play. In the actual garden as well as the Sound Garden, I like to get an adult to work on a project like planting, deadheading, or transplanting. Children often pause to observe, ask questions, then finally get their own hands dirty while pitching in.

Josephine's family also contributed a thunder drum for us to include in our Sound Garden.

This, of course, has been wildly popular and not just the source of loud noises. On Monday Finn V. and I made real music (and by "real music" I mean we made sounds together with intent and rhythm). He was beating on the top (bottom) of the drum with a spatula when I arrived on the scene with a ladle and starting beating it on the side. When he imitated me by switching to the side, I switched to the top. We were soon in a brilliant rhythm of bang-bang-bang, switch, bang-bang-bang, switch, bang-bang-bang, switch that went on through at least 3 dozen cycles. We then went into several cycles of bang, switch, bang, switch, bang, switch, before returning to the original pattern. We experienced the intimacy of doing. It was far more remarkable than it sounds. The expression on his face, and probably mine, showed the kind of deep joy and concentration that can only come from connecting like this with the other people. Yes!

Pre-K Play Adds Musical Number To An Already Chock-A-Block Show
The cast and crew of "A Beautiful Nightmare" realized yesterday that we had a problem. At one point our assistant director Sarah (who did not want to be in the play so is instead operating our giant puppets and other props) has the challenging task of a rapid switch-over from this . . .

. . . to this . . .

. . . when our antagonist Maleficent "changes from bad to good." She has just put the rest of the cast to sleep and it was just "too long" for preschool aged actors to just lie on stage without moving their bodies while she made the change backstage. We've decided that we will entertain the audience during this time with a type of dance interlude.

I offered the children a selection of dance music to choose from including the B52's Love Shack, Cesaria Evora's Sabine larga'm (African jazz), Quincy Jones' Soul Bossa Nova, the overture to the Nutcracker (every prior Pre-K play cast has chosen this song for their play), and ABBA's Dancing Queen. As I played each of these songs for them, they got up and tried it out by dancing. They really liked Soul Bossa Nova and there was a strong push for the Nutcracker, but in the end we chose Dancing Queen, surly a crowd-pleaser.

Woodland Park Family Risks Life And Limb In Visit To City Museum . . . And Survives!

Charlie L. recently missed a few days of school while his family went away on a trip, I think I even knew they were going to St. Louis, but it was just a random piece of information rattling around in my skull until his mom Shelly read yesterday's post about City Museum. Totally by coincidence, she had posted her own story about their visit there on their family blog on the very same day. Click here and wish you could be Charlie L.

I love this post because the whole family, other than perhaps the baby, are attuned to the elements of danger, but that is obviously part of what makes City Museum so special. I'm officially envious. Now that I know he's been, I can't wait to talk with Charlie today about how he remembers the experience.

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Shelly said...

City Museum is so fantastic! Charlie and I posted some videos and other pictures from up in the plane this morning. You should really go, Tom - the art, incorporation of reclaimed/reused materials, and pure creativity of the space is right up your alley.

Play for Life said...

Wow I'm really loving your sound garden Tom. The good beat of a drum is so powerful. I love it. Please tell Jack's dad Karl I could really do with him around here, so if he ever finds himself down this way tell him to pop on in!

Dancing Queen was a huge favourite with our children last year. This year however the children are dancing to, and constantly requesting, the tune of Zorba - a remixed version ... very cool, you must check it out!

City museaum looks so amazing, I'm off to visit Charlie L's mum (mom) and read all about it right now.

Oh and Tom "imitation is the highest form of flattery" so I'm very impressed by the tyre and plank ... pathetic ... absolutely NOT!

Donna :) :)

Deborah Stewart said...

Tom - that music wall is amazing! I really haven't seen anything like this. My husband is a carpenter - I am going to show this to him and ask him for some ideas and help to build one too!

Lindsey said...

Love it! We have a "music tree" in the garden, it's written about in the depths of our blog somewhere. Feeling frustrated? Go bash some pans! Oooh, see if you can get your hands on a Tibetan singing bowl! (my in-laws have plenty for us to play with from trips to Nepal). It's a bit tricky for the kids to make work, but not too tricky that they can't master it with a bit of perseverance :). The sound is wonderful!