Erika Roberts: Visiting Artist

Last week Lamplighter had the privilege of welcoming local watercolor artist Erika Roberts to our campus for a day long workshop exploring the beauty of watercolor paintings. Mrs. Roberts is a mixed media artist whose work primarily explores different avenues of the southern landscape. In her workshop, Mrs. Roberts shared the wonder of watercolor and oil pastels with our students as they created their own Memphis skyline paintings.

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Our morning started with Mrs. Roberts giving a formal presentation about herself and her work, sharing with our students the progression of abstract to completely recognizable content, followed by very eager questions from all of our students. Immediately after Mrs. Roberts conducted customized workshops for our students from Early Childhood all the way to Upper Elementary.

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Upper and Lower Elementary classes each had sessions where Mrs. Roberts gave a formal demonstration and assisted with students as they created a skyline of their very own. With the usage of oil pastels, students were able to see the merger of oil and water as their paintings took shape. As she made her rounds to all of the children, Mrs. Roberts provided a brief introduction into the connection between color and emotion, demonstrating how saturation and hue can provide incredible insight into how an artist was feeling when they produced their work.

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Later in the afternoon, Mrs. Roberts welcomed our Early Childhood students into the MakerSpace for a less formal exploration of watercolors. Students were provided stencils to jumpstart their skylines and then allowed color and water to breathe life into their paintings. We are incredibly fortunate at Lamplighter to have had such a specialized artist come and share their knowledge and skillset with our students, who in every account blossomed in the room as each workshop took place.

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Celebrating Memphis

We were excited to have the World Cargo Crate from Memphis in May at our school this week! We want to learn more about Memphis so we can help celebrate its bicentennial.

Each class learned about different aspects of Memphis, from the history of businesses like Piggly Wiggly and FedEx, to information about the riverboats and railroads.

We learned about the Memphis Belle and compared it with a model of a FedEx plane. We tried to lift a cobblestone and highlighted the contrasting textures when we touched the cotton.

We learned about Yellow Fever, got All Shook Up with Elvis, and listened to a sampling of tracks recorded at Stax. We asked each other Memphis trivia questions, and shared our favorite things about our city.

Thanks so much for choosing our school to host the World Cargo Crate, Memphis in May! We are excited to continue to learn about and celebrate our city this year.

Chuck Jones, Songwriter: Visiting Artist

Singer/songwriter Chuck Jones visited Lamplighter School to teach students how to write songs. As always, the best way to learn is by doing, so we now have three hit songs under our belts! Songwriting pulls from various creative outlets – in addition to musical talent, one can also be skilled with words and language and craft a beautiful song. Our students learned that they can write a song about anything, with some loose guidelines and space to let their imagination roam.

Mr. Jones explained to each class some background of songwriting, like deciding on a theme or idea, and then picking a style for the music (country, rock ‘n’ roll, etc), a tempo (is it upbeat or slow?), and loosely planning the structure of the song. One song had a more traditional style of a verse followed by a chorus, a second verse, and a repeat of the chorus. Another started with the chorus, then had a verse before repeating the chorus again. One song didn’t really have a chorus, but instead repeated one of the catchy verses to finish it out. There are so many different ways to write a song!

Upper Elementary students brainstormed about what they like to do, and it came up that recess is their favorite part of the day. Mr. Jones taught them how to pick a word or phrase to be the “hook” of the song, and how to structure a chorus around that. With a song like “Recess”, students decided they wanted to have the verses follow the course of the school day. Mr. Jones said it was sometimes easiest to start with rhyming words and work backwards, so they would find a good word like “grammar” and put it at the end of a line, then think of a rhyming word to end the next line. Listen to their song here!

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Lower Elementary students wanted to write about something they were excited about, which was tonight’s “Kid’s Night Out”! The theme of the night is building, so they started writing about things they like to build, works they like to do in MakerSpace, and other fun activities they love at school. Some of their word choices had great rhyming words (perfect rhymes), but some were a bit harder, until Mr. Jones explained “soft rhymes”, which are words that are similar but don’t exactly rhyme. When the song was finished, all the students sang along! Listen to them sing along!

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Kindergarten students also got to write a song! After lunch, they were wound up and couldn’t focus on just one idea, so they went with the general theme of “Silly”! You can imagine how loud the room got while students came up with silly words and sounds and couldn’t hold their laughter in! They loved Mr. Jones’ guitar playing, and kept asking him to switch from county to rock ‘n’ roll, so their song is definitely a silly mash-up of styles that will have you laughing and singing along! Listen to it here!

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We’d like to send a huge THANK YOU to Chuck Jones for giving his time to our school and inspiring our students! They absolutely came alive during these sessions, and it is inspiring for them to see working artists making a living from the creative lives they love.

The Grand Scarecrow Finale

After learning so much from our Visiting Artist, Youngblood Studio, students were more than ready to work on the school scarecrow. The studio sent back 4 composite drawings and we had students vote on what scarecrow they would most like to make.

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We voted anonymously and then predicted what scarecrow we thought would win. Though the votes were fairly evenly distributed, number 4 won!

Youngblood Studio let us upcycle leftover shop materials to create our scarecrow body. We dedicated a day to applying over 9,000 sequins to our owl form! Every student had an opportunity to help out, so our scarecrow is truly a team effort!

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We named our scarecrow owl “Dr. Hoo”, and Youngblood Studio delivered him to Lichterman Nature Center for us.

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The very next day, we were informed that Dr. Hoo had won 1st place in the Best Critter category! All of the students are so proud, and excited to go see him in the wild. The win was a great way to wrap up our scarecrow project, and we can’t wait to have him live on our campus after Lichterman’s exhibit closes in November.

More Scarecrow Structures

Our students have been a roll with creative scarecrow ideas. They have been using unconventional materials to build unique scarecrows that we can’t resist showing off.

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A scarecrow drawing was transformed into a mask after using a paper punch.

 

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The Lego scarecrow has long arms for the birds to land on.

 

Even scarecrows built from blocks all look different:

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This scarecrow has two tall yet sturdy legs.

 

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This scarecrow includes elements of color and texture to attract birds.

 

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Students worked together to create a large, detailed scarecrow: notice the shoelaces on his feet! They are hiding a ticking timer in his arm to scare off birds.

 

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Inspired by all the scarecrow designing and building, a student decided to draw a crow!

The First Day

The first day of school means the first day of MakerSpace!

The kindergarteners came for Open Lab, which means they were the first students to explore our new MakerSpace. Open Lab is a chance for classes to explore different works in the MakerSpace and build freely. Today the students worked in the WonderLab.

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Students worked together to build a marble run from the ground up.

 

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Another student decided to make a marble run out of blocks.

 

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We used a timer with the spinning top work to see which size would spin the longest. The tiniest top was the winner – it kept spinning for one minute and fifty-seven seconds!

 

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Building sand castles with kinetic sand had a learning curve – the sand is so soft, it stuck in the molds. Students used trial and error until they were able to create an entire sand fort!