Under the Bed Kid Curated Art

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Elaborate Lego imaginative play made by my daughter.

I have been reading a fascinating book called, How Children Make Art: Lessons in Creativity from Home to School by George Szekely. There is a fascinating section in the book about pre-service teachers making home visits to document and discuss their students’ collections in their bedrooms, as a way to help future teachers balance the study of adult and child art.

The author points out that all young children start off as artists and collectors, and that their bedrooms are the home to rich and varied, yet carefully curated collections. The author argues that children lose this passion and love of art when they come to school and find no connections between their home art and school art. So, as art educators, what do we do to encourage the connections? How do we as adults honor their playful and un-adult eye for design?

I started by looking at my own two children’s rooms for ideas on what I can do to encourage their collections.

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Objects from my childhood treasures.

This book has been a timely read, as I recently helped to take apart a childhood collection site of my own – a glass case shelf where many priceless treasures were stored.  I did not photograph this lovingly curated shelf, before taking it apart.  Items had been in certain locations for so long that I can still close my eyes and see the arrangements.

My children sat with me, in absolute amazement, picking up each object one by one, treating each thing as sacred and precious.  They asked question after question, cataloging my responses as insights to my own childhood experiences, making connections that their adult mother was once just as imaginative as they are are now.  Revelations to my little humans!

My 8-year old daughter has a more elaborate system of set-ups, comprised of animal figurines, dolls, dollhouses linked together, scarves, washi tape, rocks, glass beads, shells, wrappers, and prize bin items. There are constantly items all over the floor, which at first appearance may seem random and messy, but upon closer inspection, they are set up in a deliberate and playful manner. She HATES the weekly floor clean up, in order to avoid her precious collection from being vacuumed up.

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My son’s collections are housed in old cigar boxes.

My 5-year old son, on the other hand, likes to keep his collections stored in a series of boxes, which are then in turn put inside his nightstand drawers and on his book shelf. If given the opportunity, he will pass on letting friends play in his room, because he likes the floor clean and free of items.

Enter a solution that comes from my hybrid roles of mother and art teacher – under bed platforms for each child’s room.  They can hold train tracks, cars, Legos, fairies, ponies, dolls, furniture, or whatever is being curated at the time.

We just so happened to have two nice pieces of plywood in the garage, casters in the basement, and kids who wanted to help in this process.

Eric had both kids help him to measure, mark, and screw in caster wheels to the bottom.  We left the wood natural, knowing that at some point they may paint them, tape paper on, or layer their own playful surfaces.  Now their curated collections can be safely stowed away to be returned to again and again.

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Two recent thank you notes made by my children.

This book has been an on-going source of ah-has for me and has helped me to honor the creative ideas and art making of my own two children.  My next step is to find more authentic ways to bridge the home art and school art of my students.

Easter Brunch 2016

Easter was a little while ago, I know.  However, I have been busy taking two classes, testing the waters for big and exciting changes coming soon.  I actually started this post just after Easter and it has been sitting as a draft since then.  I have quite a few artwork drafts sitting around right now too, waiting for my classes to end.  More on those later.

coffee.cakeI have been raised on good coffee cake, however, it wasn’t until recently that I was given the best recipe on earth – my maternal grandmother’s recipe.  She was famous for this recipe – she worked in a diner and regular patrons would come in asking if she was working that particular day, and if so, had she made her coffee cake yet.  I have an adapted version of her recipe in this post, see below.

I love the Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour for all my baking needs.  It is as close as you can get to typical gluten baking, and I have tried quite a few different kinds.

The struesel in this cake is perfect – due to mixing the sugar, cinnamon, and flour with melted butter, rather than cutting the butter in.  It creates the best and most even struesel I have had.

This Bagel, Lox, and Egg Strata  from Better Homes & Gardens, was a keeper – I will be sure to make it again soon.  We swapped out the regular bagels for gluten-free, found in the freezer section at The Fresh Market (one of my favorite stores from Greensboro that recently opened here in Des Moines!)

Notice the difference in egg color, above?  The brighter ones are from our friends’ farm, Lipes Family Farm, outside of Iowa City.  We have been buying eggs and meat from their monthly buyer’s club here in Des Moines for more than a year now.  If you are in the Des Moines Metro area, sign up for their e-mail list to join!

img_9591Brunch was delicious – smoked salmon, bagel, & egg casserole, fruit salad, mixed greens salad with lemon vinaigrette, and bacon from our friends at Lipes Family Farm.  Some of the best, I have been told, as I am no bacon expert!

img_9586I kept the kids busy and entertained during brunch prep with assorted washi tapes.  These are the best thing for my creative  & busy kids – they can tear off whatever size they like, and stick them everywhere.  The tape peels off of all surfaces easily and it comes in glitter, patterns, and bright colors galore.  The rolls are small enough to easily fit in my purse and take along for on-the-go fun anywhere.

 

Gluten Free Struesel Coffee Cake

For struesel topping, combine: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

For cake, combine: 3 cups Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour, 6 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and  1-1/2 cups sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles cornmeal. Blend in 1 cup milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla.  Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan.  Sprinkle struesel topping over top.  Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes, or till knife inserted near center comes out clean.