Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Feature; Using our Imaginations with Peter H. Reynolds

Author/Illustrator/Creative Inspiration Peter H. Reynolds
This week has been a crazy week at our house.  I haven't made a real dinner all week except for Wednesday (organic burgers and butterfly pasta), which we ate on the fly, heading to a dramatic production of my husband's.  Otherwise we have had a mix of soccer, track and other school events.  Blogging (obviously) has taken a back seat but I've had a fun week at school so I have to share.

At the end of every school year I spend time talking about imagination, trying to get kids pumped up to use theirs during summer break.  I started off the conversation with "What are good, fun things to do in the summer?" Sure enough the first little one to raise his hand answered "play all my video games."  as if he was planted in my pint-sized audience.  I dramatically *gasped*, made my face look like this .  We then talked about staring at the television and video games and went on to share good things to do in the summer, like play outside.

One of the points I make is that it's okay to do those things in small doses just as it is okay to play on the computer every once in awhile. the trick is to make it worthwhile-by playing thinking games or imaginative games.  This week I paired a set of playful books with the author's website to demonstrate imagination.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (2003).  Vashti sits in her art class with a blank piece of paper; she can't think of anything to draw.  Her art teacher inpires her to just make a mark on the paper and then asks her to sign it.  When Vashti arrives in art the next week she is thrilled to find her marked and signed paper, framed, and hanging by the teacher's desk.  Vashti then goes on to make even better dots and eventually pays it forward by helping another young boy to make his mark.  This small book packs a huge creative message. 

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds (2004).  Similar artistic message here with an added dose of stick-with-it-ness.  Ramon loves to draw until his older brother, Leon, laughs at him.  Ramon is frustrated because, while he loves to draw, what he draws does not turn out perfect.  His little sister, Marisol, teaches him that sometimes they look enough "like" the object and that is good enough.  This one does take a lengthy discussion about what "ish" means for students to get it; otherwise they think of "ish" as being closer to "ick", which is not the message you want them to walk understand. 

The coup d'etat after the books is to share Reynolds' mastermind FableVision Place with students; although I "force" them to play the art game first then go to the other buildings.  Invariably they all end up at the arcade and isn't that what summer's all about!

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