Do it yourself movies

After I typed that title, I realize some people might get the wrong idea. Sorry – go check out something on tumblr.

The rest of you enjoy my 7 year old son’s directorial debut courtesy of  Lego Movie Magic class he took after school. Yes, there are random hands, some his, some his fellow first-grade partner in animation. I like to think of them as an  statement regarding art vs. artifice. This short work seems to have been influenced by French New Wave cinema, even though my son has yet to see Godard’s Breathless.

And because his technical prowess is greater than mine, you have to click this to see it. http://youtu.be/1RdpFq6WCU0

My son enjoyed making this movie and hopes his friends and family will like it too.

Kids, boxes and wonder

It’s been so long since I posted, I bet you forgot about me. Sorry. I’ve been busy doing things away from the keyboard. This past weekend, I went to one of the coolest school functions I think I’ve ever seen, so of course, I remembered you and wanted to share the moment.

For the past six weeks, my daughter has been all abuzz about the “Cardboard Carnival.” Under the guidance of Ms. Lunetta, students in the Vision 21 program used recycled and found materials to create games. The whole thing was inspired by “Caine’s Arcade” and the Imagination Foundation.

Some of the students made their games during the school day working in groups of two or three or even doing solo creations. Other students worked outside of the school day and had access to some way cool duct tape. The arcade games varied in size from hand held marble tilt mazes to ones that towered over six feet tall. The designs ranged from the simple to the complex.

I don’t like to post pics of the kiddos here, but I have to share a few of my favorite designs.

This game is the inspiration for one we will do at a birthday party.

This game is the inspiration for one we will do at a birthday party.

This game had motion in addition to the bold color

This game had motion in addition to the bold color

My daughter's football toss - described as "so hard but so fun I want to play again and get a better score" by more than one player.

My daughter’s football toss – described as “so hard but so fun I want to play again and get a better score” by more than one player.

Kids of all ages (and yes, I’m including myself) had so much fun. The inventors loved showing off their creations almost as much as I enjoyed playing the games. My son didn’t want to leave, but he’s excited he can play his big sister’s game anytime he wants at home.  Better yet, my children have sat foreheads together and paper in front of them plotting how to make an even better game for next year.

A huge thanks to Principal Brad Gustafson, Ms. Lunetta and all of the participants who made this such a terrific day of play.

What do they do? Tales from a school volunteer

Since September, I’ve volunteered bi-weekly in my daughter’s second grade class.  Seeing the inner workings of her class room brightens my day.  Her teacher is wonderful, friendly and fun, but firm. She leads the class with confidence. Over the course of the year, I’ve seen the children blossom under her guidance. Ms Turner knows how to bring out the best in each child and I’m grateful my daughter has been part of her class.

But one thing still mystifies me. What do those children do to those pencils?

After sharpening the pencils once early in the school year, I realized that is an easy task for me to start on when Ms. Turner is busy instructing the class. It is a tedious task, but I don’t mind it since the school has an electric pencil sharpener. I’ve watched the pencils dwindle in number, even discarding a few myself as the stubs became too short to feed to the whirring blades of the sharpener. It pleases me that the children use them so much. I see them scribbling away in notebooks or working on math pages when I visit, but sharpening the pencils reminds me how much work they do as they learn.

But evidence of tooth marks tell me they sometimes suffer anxiety. By now, most pencils feature multiple bite marks. I picture the children I’ve come to know putting the pencil in their mouth as they apply “strategies” to their science or math tests.  Perhaps the kinetic learners need this gesture in order to get their thoughts in order, for others it’s nerves.

Most worrisome of all are the pencils whose severely dented metal ends and lack of erasers indicate a number of parents will one day pay for braces.  My daughter assures me she doesn’t chew on the metal, but she said nothing about chomping down on erasers. At least she cleared up one mystery for me.  Last week she informed me the boys beside her bothered her by competing to see who could break a pencil first.  Now I know why I discarded four jagged stubs today.