Category Archives: Childhood

And The Crucifixion Has Continued


Faces of children who died in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Photographed at the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev Ukraine. 

Visitors walk in front of a list of more than 5000 names of children who died because of shoddy construction of school houses during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.  The list was created by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and was photographed at the Art Gallery of Ontario.baby bottles boil water Don't Breathe Don't DrinkBaby bottles and water glasses filled with contaminated water and bacteria from 96 northern Canadian reserves with boil water advisories. Art piece Don’t Breathe, Don’t Drink by Ruth Cuthand. Photographed at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Tricycle ridden by a child in his front yard when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.  Photographed at the Peace Museum in Hiroshima.Image of the cemetery at the Carlilse Residential School in Pennsylvania which operated from 1879 through 1918. Photographed at the Heard Museum in Phoenix Arizona.Memorial stones outside the former home of the Zuntz family.  Children Esther, Harry and Miriam died in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942. Photographed in Frankfurt Germany. 

Child victim of the Pol Phot regime beginning in 1975  during which 2 million people were killed in Cambodia. Photographed at the Killing Fields Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Coffins of victims of the police massacre of apartheid protestors in Sharpville South Africa in 1960. Thirty of the nearly 400 killed and injured victims were children.  Photographed at the Nelson Mandela exhibit at the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg. 

Other posts……….

Standing Up For Children

Thoughts About Children

 

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Filed under Childhood, Holidays

Persuade Me

I was visiting a grade five and six class this week where the students were learning how to write persuasive essays.  They had all come up with thesis statements and three reasons why their statement was true.  Now they were gathering information and examples to support each reason.   As I walked around the room I was fascinated by the variety of their thesis statements.

Solar panels are an excellent energy source. 

My parents should buy me a cat. 

Plenty of sleep is good for you. 

They should serve snacks at school.

Good government is important. 

Divorce is a bad thing for kids. 

Shoes are too expensive. 

My old school was better than this one. 

I need a new computer. 

Soccer is the best sport. 

Immigrants are good for Canada. 

My house needs to be more organized. 

All schools should have sports teams. 

I thought it was great that the students were being encouraged to have strong opinions and being taught to defend them in their writing. I loved talking to them about their opinions. 

Other posts……….

Helping Children Become Writers

Writers All Around

 

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Filed under Childhood, Education

George

One of the fifth year university education students I supervise is doing a novel study of George by Alex Gino with her grade five and six class. The story centers around a ten year old boy named George who wishes he were a girl.  George auditions for the part of Charlotte, the female spider in the school’s theatrical version of the novel Charlotte’s Web, but the teacher says only a girl can play the role.  That isn’t the only problem George has. George’s mother is clearly upset when she finds George looking at women’s fashion magazines. There are some bullies at school who make fun of what they claim are George’s more feminine character traits. Luckily George has a best friend Kelly who helps hatch a plan to share George’s secret wish to be a girl with family and community. 

I read George to prepare for observing the classes my student teacher will lead about the novel. The book was written in a way upper elementary children could easily read and relate to and when I checked with the guidelines provided by the Canadian Paediatric Society I found out George is exactly the age at which young people who aren’t sure of their gender identity will begin to have stronger feelings about the fact. The guidelines also offer great suggestions for parents of children as they are establishing their gender identity- being supportive and loving their children just as they are and not pressuring them to change- asking gentle questions- being a role model by accepting and interacting with people in the community who are transgender or gender diverse.  

George was lucky to have some understanding supporters- the school principal, George’s brother Scott and of course Kelly a best friend. Although not in an overtly preachy way the novel gives ideas for how teachers  and families and the community can be helpful.  Providing gender neutral washrooms, signs in classrooms that declare them a safe place for all children, allowing children to explore toys and clothes that may not normally be associated with their gender, not addressing groups of children as ‘boys and girls’ but using terms like students or learners or kids and not separating children into groups according to gender.  

I’m glad I read George and I am looking forward to listening in on the discussions about the book my student teacher will have with her class.  I wonder what ideas the kids will have about George. 

Other posts……….

Responding to Changing Attitudes Toward Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Gender Neutral Washrooms

Teaching Kids About Diversity

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Filed under Books, Childhood

Clay Conversations

robert archimbeau“Hello Robert!”  The children I am taking on a tour at the Winnipeg Art Gallery greet the photo of eighty-six year old Robert Archambeau.  I tell them all the pottery they see in the room around them was made by Robert. conversations in clayWe go over to look at the name of the exhibit A Conversation in Clay.  I ask the children what a conversation is and they all know. I tell them we are going to have a clay conversation with a friend but first we will practice how to do that together. We walk over to a group of tea pots Robert has created and talk about them using a Clay Conversation guide I’ve made.  The kids contribute so many great ideas. ceramic teapotsThey each know which teapot they like best. They notice that some teapots’ surfaces look smooth like a marble  and others look rough like sandpaper. They point out that one of the pots has a different handle than the rest. They love the rainbow colors on one and wonder if they could put hot chocolate in the pots. 

Then I send them off in pairs with a copy of the discussion guide to have conversations with a partner about the other pieces in the room. Later we get together so everyone can share what they talked about. robert archimbeau ceramicsThey tell me these pieces would be perfect for storing magic potions. pots archimbeauThe pair discussing these pots thinks one looks like a chocolate cake and the other like an apple. They say the containers could be used for cookie jars or cooking pots or for storing rice. bowls archimbeauThe children would eat soup or cereal from these bowls and they notice how each one is a different height and color and has a kind of foot or stand on the bottom. ceramics winnipeg art galleryI am told that one of these pieces looks like a honeycomb, another an acorn squash and still another has a design that reminds them of tree bark or snake skin. salad platesThese plates each with a unique leaf design inside would be perfect for eating salad. clay pot childNow I give the children clay and they fashion pieces of their own. child's clay potI love this tea cup with a happy face inside. flower potThis one is a flower vase. bagel potAnd this one reminds some of the kids of a poppy seed bagel. 

robert archimbeauAs we leave the gallery we go back to Robert’s photo to say good-bye.  His works of art have created lots of great conversations and provided inspiration for our own art. 

Other posts…………..

Stories in Stone

Portraits in Plasticene

A Head Trio

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Filed under Art, Childhood, winnipeg art gallery

Oh What Fun!

During the holidays the Winnipeg Art Gallery ran one day camp experiences for children.  I was lucky enough to be in charge of giving the kids tours of the galleries on a couple of days.  Oh what fun!

Toppakou by Takashi Iwasaki 2015

Inspired by the work of Takashi Iwasaki in The Behind Closed Doors exhibitwe made our own abstract creations out of felt shapes.  Inspired by the elegant pottery of Robert Archambeau we made some pottery of our own.  

vista de instalacao by Robert Taite -2018

Inspired by Robert Taite’s installation the children created a maze like piece of art with wooden blocks and then walked through it.  

Clouds, Lake Superior- by Lawren Harris 1923

Inspired by works from the Group of Seven hanging on the wall in the Salon exhibit we  looked carefully at lots of works by the Group of Seven and tried to organize them into seasonal categories.

Beautiful Young Mummer in Margaret Feltham’s House by David Blackwood 1985

 Inspired by the beautiful prints of Newfoundland mummers by David Blackwood we played a hide and seek kind of game by dressing up as mummers ourselves.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Indians from A-Z by Robert Houle 1985

Inspired by a Robert Houle installation in the 80s Image exhibit the children organized names of First Nations alphabetically and we talked about some of the unique characteristics of the various groups. 

Near the Close of A Stormy Day by Homer Watson 1884

Inspired by a painting done by Homer Watson we created a storm of our own using musical instruments. 

Marion Tuuluq in a jacket she designed

Inspired by the beautiful wall hangings of Marion Tuu’luq the children drew images of their own. 

Lake Trout by Marion Tuuluq -1973

Untitled wall hanging by Marion Tuuluq 1985

Thirty Faces by Marion Tuuluq 1974

Oh what fun we had with children at the Winnipeg Art Gallery during the holiday season!

Other posts………

What Talent!

Imitating Emily

Oh To Be A Kid at the Fringe Festival

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Filed under Art, Childhood, winnipeg art gallery

Imitating Emily

emily's art grade fours winnipegI was visiting a grade three and four class in one of Winnipeg’s inner city schools as part of my job as a university faculty advisor and I saw these marvelous paintings on the wall in a classroom where one of my students is doing her practicum. The classroom teacher had introduced the children to the work of the great Canadian artist Emily Carr and then led them through a step by step process to create their own artworks in Emily’s style. emily carr winnipeg school grade 3:4The display in the classroom included photos to show how the children had experimented with color mixing, learned about contour drawing and looked very carefully at Emily’s paintings of trees. They experimented with layering shades of the same color and thought carefully about every brush stroke. emily carr grade 3:4The children had also written stories about what it might be like to spend time alone in a British Columbia forest the way Emily Carr did. imitating emily carrEmily is always a favorite subject for children when I take them on tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  I tell them about her menangerie of animals that included a pet monkey.  Her animals accompained her into the forest when she went out in her little trailer she called The Elephant to camp amongst the trees and do her artwork.   emily carr display winnipeg classroom

A writer in Macleans magazine who eulogized Emily Carr after she died entitled her obituary She Made Trees Dance.  So did the amazing students in a grade three four classroom in inner city Winnipeg who inspired by Emily and guided by a creative and enthusiastic teacher made trees come to life just like Emily did. 

The photos of the students’ work have been posted here with their teacher’s permission. 

Other posts……..

Talk About Defying Convention

Old Sun and Emily Carr

Klee Wyck- May Your Spirit Dance

 

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Filed under Art, Childhood, Education

A Top Ten List From A Top Notch Speaker

You can make a difference with your book!  I attended the Packaging Your Imagination conference for children’s writers and illustrators in Toronto on the weekend.  One of our inspirational keynote speakers was Ruth Ohi the illustrator of some 60 children’s books and the author of two dozen more.  She wanted us to know books can truly make a difference to children.  They can put kids in a happy comfortable place and make them understand that their ideas matter. Books can help children feel respected and good about themselves. 

Ruth shows us some of the stages in creating a page in one of her  books

Ruth also gave us plenty of great advice about writing and illustrating books for children.  I think however that her ideas could apply to anyone who is tackling a creative project. Here’s a top ten list I compiled from her talk. 

  1. Take chances
  2. You must care deeply about what you are doing
  3. When you are stalled in the creative process do something physical like going for a walk or cleaning your house. You get your best ideas when you aren’t thinking too hard. Sometimes it also helps to change up your venue. Ruth likes to leave home and go and write and draw in libraries. 
  4. You don’t have to be perfect and amazing all the time. 
  5. Get used to rejection. Even a successful author like Ruth gets tons of rejections. 
  6. Don’t throw anything out.  Little sketches, little bits of writing, notes you’ve made may prove valuable later on. 
  7. It helps to have a partner who is supportive.  Ruth’s husband is her rock, her touchstone and her inspiration. 
  8. You often have to do a pile of awful stuff before you get to the good stuff. 
  9. Don’t get overwhelmed by social media – find time to create. 
  10. Make sure you are having fun. That’s what it’s all about. 

Ruth was so full of energy and excitement and enthusiasm about being a writer and illustrator and the whole creative process that entails. She was the perfect person to kick off the conference. 

Other posts……… 

Helping Children Become Writers

Learning From Judy Blume

Why Do Pigs Bark and Other Questions

 

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Filed under Childhood, Writing