Illustration from Cloud Dance by Thomas Locker
“The sky settles everything – not only climates and seasons but when the earth shall be beautiful.”
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
The background of a painting is much like a setting in writing: it pulls you in, and puts you somewhere specific. We tell our students that “setting” is the time and place in a piece of writing. But it is more than that: it is an anchor for the reader. I like teaching setting by focusing on the sky. The sky is a great equalizer: we all see it, at all times of day and night, in all kinds of weather. It affects our moods and our actions. The collection of paintings selected by Sara Torkelson in this pinterest board are a perfect way to show students of all ages how powerful the sky can be.
Continue reading Sky Lessons: Using Paintings to Teach Setting
A salient feature of strong reading is ‘picturing’, a fostering of words to create a visual terrain in our heads. We stroll along in a story, adding detail after detail, slowly shaping, ‘drawing’, or seeing a room, a chair, and conversation. We hear the words in what we imagine. We abstract from letters, worlds. A process in time. A skill in need of practice. As teachers we want to cultivate this participation, this move from letters on the page to figures in our minds.
How might a visual activity bring to light the power of words, the power of participation? Even in the 19th Century in our School Readers and Primers we wove together words and images, picturing and story, seeing and telling. Here’s one example from a Appletons’ School Readers Third Primer (1887).
Continue reading We abstract from letters, worlds.
“Blue needs sun,
sparkling spring sky!”
-Joyce Sidman, Excerpt from Red Sings from Treetops, A Year in Colors
Check out our newest Pinterest post about Clouds and Skies here! This is just a small sample of the many works that showcase the natural world around us. Check out the clouds and skies using our online collection here and here. There are various options for using these works in the classroom; stay tuned to our blog to see how other teachers have used our collection of clouds and skies at the YCBA in their classrooms. How will you use these artistic expressions of nature? Share with us your own ideas about Clouds and Skies in the classroom.
Here are some books for all ages that can easily accompany one of the Pinterest posts:
Birds, Kevin Henkes. Illustrated by Laura Dronzek.
Little Cloud, Eric Carle.
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski.
Once Upon a Cloud, Rob D. Walker. Illustrated by Matt Mahurin.
It Looked Like Spilt Milk, Charles G. Shaw.