Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Picture Book About Play and Art

Written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, Sandy's Circus is a biographical account of how artist Alexander Calder turned play into art in his famous Cirque Calder. Kulikov's rich illustrations give plenty of detail without being overwhelming so your Littles will be transfixed by the images as you read aloud.

"There once was an artist named Alexander Calder. Only he didn't call himself Alexander. And he didn't call the things he made art." 

How many of your kids make amazing things with simple materials available to them? How many of them think what they make is art?

I got many questions from my Kindergarten students after this story.

"Is he alive?" 

"No. Alexander Calder is no longer alive."

"How did he die?" 

Without wanting to spend too much time on this topic of death and dying that some kids, maybe who have lost pets or family members, become very invested in I answer:

"He lived a long life and died because he was very old."

"Is he a real person?"

In the next art class I show my Kindergarteners an incredible video of Calder manipulating his moveable sculptures in this early example of performance art.

One contemplative little girl asked about the type of wire Calder used. After undergoing severe winter weather the last few weeks many of us in the school community were living without power from downed power lines. This question sparked a discussion that made me quickly explain the difference between electrical/telephone wire and artists' wire. I ran to the cabinet and pulled out a spool of armature wire and let the kids all take a turn bending and manipulating it.

One of my favorite questions I often get asked after a story and discussion:

"When are we gonna do art?"

There is always one! Even when a story was short and that particular student was extremely engaged they are eager to start making things with their hands and who can blame them...really? They're just channeling their inner Alexander Calder.

Stay tuned for more on Kindergarten's Circus project!