Over the course of the summer, children from the Maple, Rainbow and Snowflake Rooms have been collaborating on an installation for the Sheboygan Avenue Community Garden. Preschool of the Arts is located just 1.5 miles from the garden at Rennebohm Park. There are PSA teachers and students who garden there. With this collaboration, we built a relationship between the community garden and Preschool of the Arts that we hope will build our sense of unity and connection.
The classrooms started by visiting the garden. One thing the teachers noticed was how many vegetable and flower species they recognized, and many of them were excited to share about their own home gardens. The children visited the garden several times over the summer. They took pictures, tracked the growth of the plots, and used botanicals from the garden to create a permanent installation.
The children of the Maple and Rainbow Rooms worked alongside each other as they created the clay botanical beads. They created enough beads to make two sculptures, one for the Sheboygan Community Garden and a sister sculpture for our garden at PSA. This was an interesting experience as the children were called upon to use the clay and specific clay-working techniques in a very particular way in order to create a desired outcome.
They rolled clay slabs to a specific thickness. They scored their slabs and applied slip, and they carefully rolled their pieces into cylinder- shaped beads. These beads dried for a few days and then were bisque fired the next week.
The older children in the Snowflake Room helped by creating clay medallions
incorporating words in some of the languages represented in the garden community. The completed medallions will hang on the fences in the garden to welcome families into the space.
We practiced using tools for cutting and carving to draw designs and letters.We tried making coils and then learned how to score and slip the pieces to attach them securely together.
We offered the children the option of writing a kind word on their medallion or simply creating a decorative shape.
When the bisque-fired clay pieces returned from the kiln and were ready for our final step: glaze! We chose to use dip glazes- which coat the piece in a single color- for ease of use and in order to best highlight the textures that the children had put into the clay. The children from all three classrooms, Maple, Rainbow and Snowflake, worked to glaze their pieces together.
We discussed how the glaze would also be transformed in the kiln to be a new color- totally different from how it looked now.
“These were cooked in the oven!”
The children had to use their “gripping fingertips” to hold onto their pieces as they dipped them to make sure not to drop them into the glaze. Some of the deep textures required some extra glaze to be applied with a brush.
“They turned into glass!”
“We can see them doing magic already!”
The Maple, Rainbow and Snowflake classes traveled to the garden at Rennebohm Park to install our finished pieces in the morning to be ready for the evening’s celebration. The children carefully chose their bead and slid it onto the pole. There was a lot of teamwork to allow the work to be done. The Snowflake room attached their plaques to the fence with copper wire.
On Wednesday night, members of the garden gathered with children and families from Preschool of the Arts for songs, desserts and community. We can’t wait to continue our partnership with the garden next year!
Reflections by the Maple Room Co-Teachers, Rainbow Room Co-Teachers, and Art Specialists