Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

" Classroom Environment is Stronger than Will" Part 1.

The new year began in my classroom today but I had many opportunities for rest, service in the Ananda Community and rejuvenation over our holiday vacation.

One of my favorite things to do is create art with others and I was able to spend time with our Living Wisdom School's artist in residence, as we painted a cosmic mural for my classroom. 

In the months ahead, I will write about the nurturing aspects of the classroom environment and how effects the young child. I have been experimenting with this over the past ten years and we are just touching the surface as to the best ways we can serve the young child in their environment. In my classroom at the Living Wisdom School, I use as many natural materials and fabrics as possible. I like to bring nature into the classroom.  I use soft colors, natural lighting, prisms, mirrors, plants, crystals, aromatherapy, natural flowers, pine-cones, rocks, handmade felted materials, tree materials and beautiful music. Several of my materials are  handmade. All my materials on the walls are made from my art designs or the children's art. I do not use materials that have been purchased in stores for teaching aids.

I will save this topic for another time in greater length as a series, but I want to share a magnificent mural that we painted this past week. It was thrilling and fun to do.  
This mural is made from only the best art products and is on a fire proof paper to appeal to our fire code restrictions in our district.
  The photo was taken below after three coats of paint. We first applied gesso, acrylic polymer medium that was used on the very bottom layer to coat the paper. The result was magic. It turned the poster paper into a soft canvas to work on. At this point in the painting three light washes of aquamarine, marine blue and fuchsia were applied in a circular fashion. The paints were all student grade acrylics and applies with sponges. We did not want to have brush strokes visible on the paper. The paint layers were dried in between using hair dryers. This helped to speed up our process. We were watching the colors as they began to build on top of each other.

This was magical when I placed my finder in the gesso a faint moon face showed up. There are never mistakes in any mindful practice.

We used our fingers dipped in the gesso medium once again. Squirt bottles of aquamarine was also used to add texture and dimension.  Again more hair drying.

Small cosmic layers of designs added. These were individually wiped down and colored with an alcohol acrylic paint solution.

More light washes applied to the designs for blending the layers.
At this point of the process, I counted up to thirteen layers and we had only been at this for one day. I couldn't wait to see the final process completed. 
The next day arrived and more paint was applied in faint washes to deepen the colors.

A rich purple was now applied to tone down some of the green gesso

This is where the purple was added on top to check out the enhancement of all the colors. We added  another coat of deep fuchsia. 

We began the process of hand-painting all the small cosmic figures. My art teacher now wanted to surprise me and finish it at home. After an additional 10 hours,she was able to get the quality she was looking for. 

Every new year I like to experiment with my classroom, change the environment around, while keeping things fluid so when the children return the room seem fresh, exciting and new. 
I asked them what they thought of the new mural? Their comments to me were: "It makes me feel, kind ." Another four year old said: " It reminds me of love in my heart" Another boy said: "It is peaceful with bright light. 'The moon is bright."
As a teacher you can use this handmade classroom aid and provide the learning opportunity in several directions.
I believe through the children responses, they realized  by themselves what beauty and nature holds for them. What a great gift we can offer our children. A peaceful environment that touches their very soul from within.

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