Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Theatre - "Father Christmas" by Raymond Briggs

On Sunday we spent the morning in London watching a production of Raymond Brigg's "Father Christmas" (ISBN 0723277974) at The Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith.

Recreating theatre at home
I was particularly excited about the production because the Time Out review mentioned "In an original twist, Kate Adams performs the music and sound effects live on stage, perched in an attic-style room above the action. She rattles maracas when Father Christmas (Vic Llewellyn) shakes salt on his breakfast, whistles when the kettle boils and becomes a well-spoken radio voice reporting snowy weather." Lucie Horton Time 2/09/15

I knew S would love to see the music and it did not disappoint. The show was in the Studio at the Lyric - a small, cosy setting the the closest the boys had been to a stage show.

 Our attention was split between the routines and rituals of Father Christmas and the musical sound effects - the pouring of water in to a jug whilst  Father Christmas ran the tap was particularly superb.

We had the book with us too and A spent a significant part of the tube journey reading. S was planning all the things he would need to re enact the show.

Once home S gathered props and started moving furniture around.

Feeding the reindeer.

The outside toilet.

The play continued the next day with a gathering of sound makers and musical instruments a Saxaphone, the guitar as a ukulele substitute, shakers and maracas. The piano was also included in the recital.

It was fantastic to see the boys processing the play they had seen in their own play - adapting and using resources and props to do so. The hardest thing is to decide which show to see next year!

How have you recreated visual arts and music at home?

Friday, 18 December 2015

Picture Photo Books

It has become a tradition for us to create a book for the boys at Christmas time, with various titles including "S and Bunny at the Farm" and "A goes to the Beach". However this year we used S's own artwork as illustrations for his book. 

Personalised photo book gift
Building on the beautiful alphabet frieze hanging in his bedroom we photographed each letter and have uploaded it into a photo book making website to create a personal dictionary for S. Each spread has a photo of one of his alphabet handprints and blank page where we can write and add words of personal significance to aid his reading and writing.

I am so excited to give this to S this year. His writing is blossoming beautifully and I think he will get years of use out of this gift.

How could you use your child's art work in a photo book?

Friday, 11 December 2015

Retelling the Christmas Story through rice pictures

A and I were exploring a Christmas sensory tin which contained yellow coloured rice, present bows, chocolate coins, and a selection of golden decorations at the weekend.

Retelling the Christmas Story through rice pictures

Some of the rice spilt onto the blanket i had laid on the floor for catching such spillages. I unintentionally moved the tin and some spilt grains of rice formed "a circle Mummy".

This was not an intention of this activity but inspired us to create some Christmas pictures using the rice. At first we watched a clip on "Let's Celebrate" a children's show on the CBeebies channel.

We then used some Christmas cookie cutters as a template for our pictures, sprinkling in the rice and carefully lifting them up to reveal a picture.

What other ways have you used to retell the Christmas story?

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Christmas at the Toy Museum

S and I spent the day at The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green this week.

We used the book "Christmas at The Toy Museum" by David Luscas (ISBN 978-1406324594 ) as a starting point for a Christmas themed hunt.

A Christmas at the Toy Museum Hunt

In the story, the toys wrap themselves up as Christmas presents when they realise that there are none under the tree for them. To hunt for the toys in the museum I put a picture of each of the toys in a small wedding favour box and placed them in a bag to be selected at random.

We then looked for the toys in the displays. Next to each toy was a letter and it is here that we combined our own homemade hunt with a Lost in the Museum trail produced by the museum. 

Once we had completed the trail all the letters we had found spelt "found you".

At the end of the book, Bunting the Cat, a prime time character, still doesn't have a present to unwrap. A helpful Angel presents Bunting with a beautiful golden box which contains a twinkling Christmas star. 

I presented S with a golden box at lunch which totally suprised him.

Inside not a star but a horse puppet. S loves the rocking horses in this museum!

He even did an impromptu puppet show on the steps!

What Christmas themed books have you adapted at a museum?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Exploring Light in the Museum this Autumn

Using light in paintings as an inspiration for our own work
During this late Autumn period, here in the UK, our working world starts and ends in darkness. Whilst we have had some beautiful Autumn days with the sun warming rustling leaves and beautiful dew tipped spider webs spectacularly glistening, our extended darkness has been an opportunity to explore light in a variety of forms.

We attended the Diwali family celebrations at The National Gallery this November. A day filled with exploring light in the museum, using the paintings as sources of inspiration and celebration.

The boys particularly enjoyed the Magic Carpet story inspired by Rembrandt's oil painting entitled "Belshazzar's Feast", a painting based on the Old Testament Book of Daniel (5:1-6, 25-28). With his guitar and a few props, such as a crown and a jug, the story teller shared the tale of Belshazzar, King of Babylon, who blasphemously served wine in stolen scared vessels at a lavish banquet. The painting depicts the moment when a hand appears and scribes the phrase MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN,  understood by Daniel to mean "God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians", That night Belshazzar was slain.

After sharing the story our host encouraged the children to identify aspects of the painting that appeared in the story - the jug, the hand, the king himself and simultaneously the use of light and dark to illuminate and heighten this divine intervention.

Mid story telling flow.
Exploring the guitar after the story.
We also spent part of our day on a light trial around the gallery. Below is a list of paintings on display in The National Gallery where light and dark can be explored.

The boys took inspiration from the paintings above to create their own illumines picture.

A cut this shape from a folded piece of black paper. He chose "pinky" tissue paper to attach to the back.

All the children's work was displayed on an illuminated globe which did a tour of the gallery at the end of the day.

S interpreted the task in a different way, using the dark as the main focus of his picture and the light as the background. He was very specific with what he wanted to do and how it should be displayed.

All the pictures looked stunning amongst the twinkling fairy lights. The process of using tissue paper also connects to our lanterns which we use at various festivities this time of year.

The lanterns are made from all food jars which have a twisted wire handle. The boys were around 18 months each when they made these and enjoyed the experience of pasting torn pieces of tissue paper onto the side with glue. 

Little S making his lantern in 2012.

The glue glaze has protected the jars and saved them shattering from many drops onto hard surfaces! Inside we put 2 LED night lights so it is safe for the boys to carry around.

A glowing lantern on Bonfire Night 2012

This is A on his way to the November 5th Bonfire Night celebrations at Grandad's house this year.

How are you lighting up these dark Autumnal nights?

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Spice scented paint

Spice scented paint

S has been captivated by the Hindu festival of Diwali this week. 

As part of exploring the food often eaten during this celebration we gravitated towards the aromatic spices that adorn beautiful, flavoursome dishes. 

We looked in our store cupboard and found an array of spices. We mixed the spice in a small jar with some water to get a paint-like consistency.

The smell was tremendous and filled the whole kitchen as the boys stirred and then transferred the perfumed paste onto the paper.

Lots of vocals came with the painting "swish, dot, dot, dot, splat" says S. 

A copied "dot, dot, dot." He then picked up two brushes.

Th scent of the finished pictures remained until morning to remind us of our sensory paining experience. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Alphabet handprints

Alphabet handprints

Since starting school this September S has been learning phonics - the sounds and letters of the alphabet and how to use them in reading and writing. 

To support him with this we have been creating an alphabet frieze using handprints to create pictures for each letter.

I chose handprints as a medium of doing this because it is a very simple process. Using their hands is one of the first skills a child will explore when coming into contact with paint and therefore it allowed us to explore the phonic element to the activity further.

"It tickles" says A.

The surprise at looking at a printed hand. 

We added features to the animals and objects before mounting them. 

They now hang proudly in the boys bedroom. 

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