Saturday, May 31, 2014

Social Studies or more accurately “Global Experiences” is presented throughout the curriculum and across all domains.  One practical example of Government and the Democratic process is the practice of establishing Kindergarten classroom rules and making decisions by a show and tally of raised hands (math enrichment sneaks in here as well.)

The Kindergartners wanted a safe and tidy classroom.  We also agreed that we needed to treat each other kindly and respectfully and that everyone should participate in clean up times.  The results came about from a vote. 

Cultural commonalities are discovered through classroom discussions,  stories, visits and presentations about family traditions and  holidays.   We find that "sameness" sometimes outweighs our differences.   We also found that just about each culture has a creation story, a fairy tale, and a trickster tale of sorts as well.  We noted that we can celebrate each others differences without compromising our own.

 Periodic units on Geography allowed us to compare, study, and locate the Kindergartners' vacation destinations, identify their "Flat Stanley"  travels, and learn how to read maps.  

The dry-brush technique attempted in Art class allowed for bright, vivid, pure color application,  the ability to see the "hand"  of the artist, and mimicked the French inspired Fauvist and  Abstract Expressionistic techniques used by artist Clementine Hunter.   At right, "Flower Garden" (Abstract), 1963.

As stated, Global Experiences  give us an opportunity to experience various cultures through Language Arts.  Studying myths from around the world gave 1) insights into thoughts about deities and belief systems, 2) showed how regional architecture (including dwelling places is very different from say, a Frank Lloyd Wright House.   We compared an Indian adobe (Coyote story) or a Japanese pagoda (The Stone Cutterand 3) told how varying climates and terrains determined  the presence of certain animal and plant life (Papagayo- Amazon Rain forest.)    

Alice in Wonderland,  Clementine Hunter.
Global studies helped us realize that artists from all over the world and at varying times were inspired by the same literature. The Roman myth of "Romulus and Remus" not only assisted us with learning how  Rome was named,  but was also the subject matter for artist Alexander Calder's  wire sculptures (also studied in our Art classes.)    We discussed how both visual artists Salvador Dali (Surrealist) and Clementine Hunter (Memory/Primitive Artist) thought to use, in very different ways,  "Alice in Wonderland" for each of their  own painting's subjects.

Examples of Surrealist Salvador Dali's illustrations for his version of Alice in Wonderland.

Kindergartners played ancient Greek games in Math class while studying Greek (and a bit of Roman) Mythology.   A puzzle that dates back to ancient Greece involves strategically placing numbers 1-9 in a grid of nine squares so that the totals of each row of numbers when added together in any direction (vertically, horizontally, diagonally) added to the number 15.   This provided a great challenge for Kindergartners.  The Greeks did it first!

Our classroom game of Pylos (seen at right) involved stacking wooden balls to create a balanced pyramid.  This is also said to be an Ancient  Greece invention!


When we examined instruments from the Congo with Papa Titos Sompa,  we found out that the tin milk can shakers he made were similar to the cans we have been collecting in Math class for our canned food drive.

(At left, a musical instrument made of another recycled and plentiful material in the Congo, cola nuts!)   

All during our Global Experiences lessons, Kindergartners were led through critical thinking exercises to develop their thoughts and opinions about various topics. While photographing bones and sketching detailed flowers, we also discussed what it must have been like to be Georgia O’Keeffe at a time when not many female artists received recognition for being"real" artists.  When we studied artists Clementine Hunter and Grandma Prisbrey, we were able to compare primitive/untrained artists with the formally educated and sometimes well- to-do "Masters."  We delved into several social issues about artists who were:
1)  well-aged citizens who may have possibly been taken advantage of financially
2)  homelessness at one point in their lives
3) those who experienced  discrimination and racism and not allow to exhibit or see their art during museum hours and
 4) affected by issues related to the controversy of the relevancy and validity of environmental “art.”   

Kindergartners were allowed to silently ponder, agree/disagree, express outrage, and strategize ways that they can strive to impact our future Global Society.   Ks used the rest of their energy to create- as it should be!  

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