“Junk is ew… but if it’s Beautiful Junk, then it’s fancy!”

Last week, children were introduced to “Beautiful Junk,” which are recycled materials that we can reuse and repurpose in the Studio and in PK classrooms.  Families received a letter asking for donations and were invited to drop off bags of materials in the bins outside of the Studio.  Please continue to donate and fill our bins throughout the year.  By the end of the week, bins should be labeled so that families can sort their materials for us to use!

We began by reading Not A Box by Antoinette Portis.  This book is great, as it’s all about a rabbit that uses a cardboard box and his imagination to create a race car, a pirate ship and a robot costume.

Following the read aloud, I brought a large shoebox to the table and children made predictions about what they thought was inside.  As I began to reveal the items, children instantly made connections to the book and were overflowing with ideas of what the materials could be used for.  We talked about what they were (can, blackberry box, cork, water bottle top) and about what material they were made from (metal, cardboard, plastic).  This will make sorting and labeling the bins easier next week!

Phoenix: My daddy has shoes from a box like that.

Waju: I wish Mrs.Hughes was here to see this special box.  She likes treasure boxes.

Autumn: This is a thing for eggs.  It’s a really special box.  It protects them.

Amal: The rabbit would like all the Beautiful Junk.  It would be like a beautiful present for him.

Trebor: We could use this junk to make a collage.

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Eli: You can use the materials to make a plan.

Mariyah: It’s a shoebox. I want to sit in it.

Elijah: It’s metal!  It clashes into metal and that’s what makes the sound.  It’s shiny and good to play with.  Did you know a magnet sticks to metal?

Waju: Beautiful Junk is if you’re at a scrap yard and you find junk and you think it’s good and you want to make something with it.

Isaac: Junk is like… dirty things.

Eden: This Beautiful Junk is amazing!

Ali: It’s so very yuck.

Jax: That’s a thing for babies (fabric)… like Pampers.

Luca: When I blew it (packaging peanuts), it flew all up in the air.  It flies up all by itself.  It mixes up and goes up and out.

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Amen: Maybe cats would like these (corks).  It looks like it came from a tree.

Elliott: That’s fabric for making a curtain.

Isabella: Beautiful Junk is what you use to make something cool.

Alden: That tube looks like a dough roller.

Elizabeth: It’s things for sauce (small cups) … like for ketchup.

Eva: It (corks) smell like candy and looks like a roly poly because it’s round.

Cameron: I saw so many junk in the hallway.

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After children were familiar with the materials, I invited them to openly explore and build with them in the sensory table.  Friends collaborated and enjoyed creating new objects together.

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Autumn: Let’s pretend the straw is like a magic wand.  Turn Ms.Cushner into a… frog!

Luca: Shiver me timbers… I’m a pirate!

Nazeer: I want to make a dump truck.  I need cardboard to do that.

Frances: Hey, that fabric is from my house.  Junk is ew… but if it’s Beautiful Junk, then it’s fancy!

Trebor: The straw is like a wand.  Abracadabra… turn my grandma into here!

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Mariyah: We love you, Beautiful Junk!

Naomi: Those are tops for wine, but you could use them to make a treehouse in the woods.

Kai: Ah! Stuff can fall out of the bottom of it (toilet paper tubes).

Belen: These look like cupcake cups.  I’ll make blueberry cupcakes.

Yuri: I’m a skeleton with tubes on my arms like the bones.

Frances: The ribbons are like dancing strings.

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Please continue to donate Beautiful Junk for us to build with throughout the year!

“Is it a bag of snowballs?”

By this point in the year, all children in Pre-K have had an experience working with clay!  It is one of my favorite materials to work with and I always love introducing it to children.  We began by examining clay in a plastic bag… friends felt it, poked it and attempted to lift it.  There’s always a sense of mystery around it, and we brainstorm what we think is in the bag.

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Belen: It feels like softy.

Amal: I think it’s a ball that’s pretty.

Bennett: It feels cold.  Like snow or ice.

Cory: Is it a bag of yarn that can roll around the school?  It’s heavy, so that doesn’t make sense.  I don’t know what it is!

Naomi: Is it a bag of snowballs?

Victor: It sticky.

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Once friends learned that it was clay, they began to work on their clay sculptures!  We had some different tools available… rollers and hammers for making it flat, clay scissors for cutting, utensils for mark making, etc.  Many children chose to work with friends and created dinosaurs and monsters, while others pretended they were chefs in the kitchen.

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Christian: It’s hard to peel plastic off the clay.  It’s making my hands grey!  Hey, you can use the roller to make it flat like a sandwich.  Who wants a krabby patty?

Alli: That tool looks like that thing you use to flip with when you’re cooking.

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Elijah: I watched Master Chef Ramsey and he tells people to cook a lot and he uses tools that look like that.  I’m gonna pretend I’m on Master Chef Junior and make a duck.  I’m gonna make the duck feet but I have to cut off the nails before you pretend to eat it.

Siah: I made a dinosaur.  He’s a t-rex, but I forgot to make his teeth.  I can just add them now!

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“Is it a bag of cheese? It looks like a bag of cheese!”

Over the past couple of weeks, friends have been working with clay in the Studio!  Clay is one of my favorite mediums to introduce in the Studio because it’s open-ended and allows for rich conversation and imaginative play.

What do you think this material is?

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Kofi: It looks like paper mache.  It’s heavier though.

Maia: Soft and mushy.  Is it frozen?

Abigail: It’s cookie dough because it’s white and it’s cold.

Ronan: I think it’s clay.  Hey, I didn’t know it would be wet.

Selwyn: It’s a potato because it makes the table dirty and it’s the color of a potato.  It’s heavy to me but I’m strong, I’m so strong.  I can pick up the potato.

William: Is that slime?

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Adrian: I thought clay was brown.

Andres: Is it marshmallows?

Marley: Is it a bag of cheese?  It looks like a bag of cheese.

Alberto: If it’s clay then bricks are made from it.

Christian: It’s like a stone block.

Luke: When it dries, it’ll be hard like my skull.

Mae: Is it claydough?  Clay… like ballet.

Florentina: Hey, that feels interesting.  Is it wet paper that you put in a bag?

Once we discovered that the mystery material was clay, I introduced some different types of tools that would be available to use with the clay.

Daniel: It looks like what you use to flip a pancake.  And this one is a bammer… it bams spiders.

Ryler: That looks like a little fork.  It makes lines like a fork.

Abdoulaye: Cookers use that to make dough flat.

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Alberto: Tools can do much more things then hands.

Kofi: That tool looks like a duck beak.  The wire tool makes it flat like a pizza dough.  Or a pillow.  It’s perfect.

Yonathan: That tool scratches like a tiger.

Bennett: I’m using the hammer like my daddy.

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Mackenzi: The wire looks like nunchucks.

Mouhammadou: When you cut it with scissors, flatten it up with the hammer to make it feel better.

… and here are some finished sculptures!

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Kofi: That’s the thing about art… you have to get messy.  That’s the point.

“Is it a bag of snakes?”

By this point in the year, all children in Pre-K have had an experience working with clay!  It is one of my favorite materials to work with and I always love introducing it to children.  We began by examining clay in a plastic bag… friends feel it, poke it and attempt to lift it, among other things.  There’s always a sense of mystery around it, and we brainstorm what we think is in the bag.

Moses: I think it’s mud.  It’s smooth.  I like how it feels.

Roman: It feels really, really, really, REALLY good!

Justin: Is it a big rock?  Can you tell us already?  I can’t wait!

Phoenix: A brick?

Alexia: I think it’s gak.

Michael: Is it a bag of snakes?

Marley: It stinks!

Once friends learned that it was clay (and not a bag of snakes, phew) they began to work on their clay sculptures!  We had some different tools available… rollers for making it flat, clay scissors for cutting, utensils for mark making, etc.

Sylvie: I’m just making bird soup.  They can eat it outside.  I might even eat it for my dinner because birds said it was yummy.

Cole: I need something to add to my house.  It needs a roof so that my little fella doesn’t get lost.  These are the shades… if little fella is in the sun it keeps him cool and shady.  He has a secret hideaway spot but he’s bigger then that.  He zaps and this little hanging thing gets her into his home.  He hides from the bad guy.  The little fella roof is there just for the little fella to get out of in an emergency.  It’s hard to build a house.

Paris: A bear cave and a bear.  He sleeps in there in the winter.

Wallace: Clay can do so many cool things.

Elias: Did you know that clay is made from a cow?  Oh, that’s not clay… that’s actually milk.

Maceo: A choo choo train through the tunnel.  This is the track… a big track for trains.

Minna: I’m making Ms.Cushner a birthday cake!  This is her party and she just turned 5.  Blow out the candles!

Owen: My battleship is stronger because it has pipe cleaners in it.

Darian: Two hedgehogs.  Two hedgehogs that are friends.

Once sculptures were finished, we had to figure out a technique for getting them off the table if they were stuck!  Fishing wire is perfect for this because it’s thin, yet strong enough to slide under clay without breaking.  Children enjoyed working with the fishing wire… some friends made holes and tunnels, while others used it solely to remove their piece from the table.

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Jude: Is it floss that you put under to get it off the table?

Wallace: This is what you use to catch a fish?  That’s so cool.

Jasper: I’m putting the fishing wire through the clay to make tunnels for worms.

AJ: I got it off the table!  AJ saves the day!