Monday, October 26, 2009

Things I Learned at the Museum of Play

We took Nathan to the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. As soon as we got through the door, he took off like a rocket to try each fun hands-on learning station. We were there for four hours and I don't know if we saw half of it. Nathan wanted an Iron Man costume for Halloween, so we let him wear it here, since there was a big Superhero section that just opened up.

In addition to the activity centers, they have displayed old toys and games from every era. You can find all kinds of things you forgot you ever had, or remember some friend that had one of those, and you couldn't believe their luck.
Here Nathan is serving Mommy at the restaurant.
Of course, Iron Man can handle a few boulders.

The arcade was really neat. Newer video games were side by side with vintage ones and some reeeeeallly old ones. I found out that Kristan was a Q*bert champ and she showed Nathan the ropes on some other ones.
Another neat feature of the museum is that there are quotes on all the walls of things great thinkers had to say about play, and I was furiously scribbling them down in my notebook. Some of them might help with a research project I'll be working on.

1. "Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion, but by play." -Plato
2. "Play is our brain's favorite way of learning." -Diane Ackerman, American author
3. "It is a happy talent to know how to play." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. "Almost all creativity involves purposeful play." - Abraham Maslow, American psychologist
5. "A child loves his play, not because it's easy, but because it's hard." - Benjamin Spock
6. "We all need empty hours in our lives, or we will have no time to create or dream." - Robert Coles, The Overscheduled Child (2001)
7. "Play is training for the unexpected." -Marc Bekoff, American biologist
8. "Play is the only way the highest intellect can unfold." -Joseph Chilton Pierce, American scholar
9. "The opposite of play is not a present reality, or work; it is vacillation; or worse, it is depression." -Brian Sutton-Smith
10. "Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities." -Stuart Brown, American psychologist

A Comic History of Iceland

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Comix by Kids

Issue #1 of this comic is now in print! Every year, each of my fifth grade students creates their own character and makes a one-page comic strip. Last year, I chose the 24 best strips and had them published through a print-on-demand publishing company called Ka-blam. The comic looks really sharp and I think the kids will be excited to see their work in print.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Trip to Where the Wild Things Are

I've been reading this classic book by Maurice Sendak to my first and second grade students. They're excited about the movie, and so am I -- but movies like this are always better when you've read the book first.

After reading the story, I ask them to put themselves in the story. What do they think would happen if they went to Where the Wild Things Are. They're still working on their stories and drawings, but mine is finished, below. Later this week I'll post some of theirs on my teacher website. They're looking great!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Sketchbook Habit & Staying Inspired --One Artist's Journey

Today I was the guest speaker at a drawing class at Mansfield University. I gave a Power-point slide show about using sketchbooks and finding inspiration from the great master artists throughout history -- as well as some of the really great comics being made right now. I took a big stack of my old sketchbooks with me, and all kinds of artsy comics to share. I also got to sit in on a Printmaking class and a Two-Dimensional Design class. It is great to work with little artists, but also great to spend the day seeing the awesome things these "big kids" can make.

In the photo above, I'm sharing a big box of my own sketchbooks I've filled over the years, as well as many of the small press comics artists that inspire me.

Clay Dinos and Painting Pumpkins

Dan made these plasticine dinosaur sculptures for some kind of school project. I think they look really great. He has a good style.

Kristan helped Nathan and his friend Marin paint pumpkins a few days ago. Painting with three-year-olds is not for the faint of heart, so I commend her for her fortitude.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Here's a comic about the ancient Greek scientist and mathematician Archimedes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's All About Me!

The kids in the classroom across the hall were making these posters that were "all about them". They looked fun, so I asked if I could make one too. (Why should the kids have all the fun?) Here are some pieces of my finished poster.