Tag Archives: arts

FDK update: Language and the Arts

Today is a holiday in Ontario and in several Canadian provinces: Family Day. A day to spend much needed time with family. Family Day comes at a good time since temperatures are beyond unbearable to many (me! ~ Yiola!) and the winter blahs bring a natural insistence to just take an extended break.

In honour of Family Day I would like to share a story about my family and how my Sylvia Clare (my four year old) is getting along in FDK.  About one week ago, while at home Sylvia Clare decided to paint. This was not unusual as she often paints at home. What was new was her language and ideas about art and herself.  She ushered me to the playroom, took the lead and began to explain that we were going to explore lines.  Lines I thought? So Sylvia Clare understands an element of art?  I sat in silence with what I imagine was a curious look on my face as she continued with confidence: “I’m an artist”.  Those words screamed at me with sheer joy and power. I had never called Sylvia Clare an artist… it was not something I thought of doing, although of course in my heart and mind I believed my child was an artist and a scholar and an athlete and a…..   ”

“Now mommy, you need to wear a smock so your clothes stay clean and roll up your sleeves. Please get the paints”.I followed her instructions.  Next thing I saw was Sylvia Clare carefully dividing the canvas. She began at the bottom and drew careful lines across the canvas using primary colours. Then on the upper part of the canvas she created thick textured, almost bubble like “scribble” where she mixed the colours. The entire time she was talking about her art: “Here mommy I am painting straight lines with primary colours, you see? And up here (top of the canvas) I am trying to see what scribble is like and I added some sparkle”.  She spent a lot of time working on her art and I sat and watched in amazement. Here are some pictures of Sylvia Clare from that day:





Days passed and I wondered how Sylvia Clare was able to develop such clear language about the arts and conceptually understand the elements and most importantly to see herself as an artist. And then, the FDK newsletter came home.  The teachers shared the following in the newsletter:

The students have also been learning about a modern artist names Piet Mondrian from the Netherlands, who used primary coloured shapes and black lines to create famous pieces. They have used his method to create their own line designs. We have also experimented with bubble wrap. Some of the children are referring to themselves as “artists” now…

How one perceives oneself is often how one becomes. Sylvia Clare sees herself as an artist. She can talk about the arts and she confidently engages in art work.  So, on Family Day today I am certain we will be back in the playroom painting and playing and reading and doing… and I am sure that I will be the one who will learn the most.

Happy Family Day!

Unsung: Behind the Glee: A MUST Watch Video

There is an amazing documentary, Unsung: Behind the Glee, which chronicles the journey of two rival Toronto high school glee clubs as they gear up for a musical showdown at the annual Show Choir Canada National Championship.Musical Notes


 This documentary is fascinating because
·      it has incredible music and dance;
·      shows the value of the arts in the lives of some adolescents;
·      and clearly demonstrates the commitment of teachers.
Yes it is a competition (and many of the students are elite singers/dancers) but it is an inside look at the work and enthusiasm of teachers and students alike. For some students their involvement in music and dance literally “saved” them. For some of the teachers, their music/dance groups are like their family (they scold, praise, encourage, laugh, cry). There are powerful stories of kids overcoming huge adversity through their involvement in these musical groups.
Clive and I watched it last night and I was moved to tears. It is only available until January 27th so give yourself an hour (stop preparing for class or marking or doing housework ….) and watch it.
For those of you not in the arts (like me) it was very informative. For those of you in the arts you will probably relate to the stories and unfolding events. Whether students are elite or just enjoy music and dance (for appreciation), the arts have a very important place in the curriculum and should be well funded. The arts are not a frill but are part of the basics of life.