Animations With Kids – Butterflies

After a slow start getting in touch with teachers, my Animations With Kids project is on a roll. I think.

It needs a better title, though.

I almost have finished up with the first classroom at Irvin Elementary, and am already started with the second. Next week, I’m going to begin with 3 new classrooms at a new school (new to me; the school is actually quite old and established, I think) in Concord.

The new school
My new school!

On Monday and Tuesday, I visited my latest classroom. They are going to do the other half of the butterfly story.

Monday’s was a really good session. I felt like the kids were hanging on to every word I told them, and the whole class was absorbed. It was a great feeling.

Alert kids looking at satellite images.

I showed them these two satellite images of Concord, NC, comparing 1985 to 2011.

concord 1985
Concord in 1985
concord 2011
Concord in 2011

You can see the great amount of development, especially on the western side of 2011. You can see the race-track, which has been around since 1985. The great blob that joins it in 2011, just to the northwest, is Concord Mills (Concord Mills was built around 2000-ish).

When I showed the class these images, at least half the class had their hands high in the air, wanting to ask, “what’s that glare on the first image,” or trying to convince us that the orange spots in the 1985 image are fall leaf colors.

“But that image is from the summer,” I explained.

“Then maybe it’s flowers? Oh, oh, it’s actually the butterflies.”

So I had to explain about how far in space a satellite is, and that it can’t see things as small as flowers and butterflies.

There were 18 kids in the class, and at least 10 were hanging out of their seat, trying to answer every question I asked. Super! They liked getting up, walking to the front of the class, and pointing to something or other on the images on the screen that they had a question about.

But then I went back on Tuesday, and things were a little less organized. My fault. First, I was late. Yikes. Well, I was like 20 minutes early the day before, so I think somewhere in my mind I thought it would all balance out. I was wrong.

I showed them “Mr. Turtle Gets Sick,” which by the way, has now surpassed 600 views – oh, the popularity – and that part went great. I had kids literally staring at the screen with their mouths open. This way, they have a model to follow for the butterfly story.


Watching Mr. Turtle Gets Sick

Then I was to give each kid a slip of paper from the butterfly story. And even though I had carefully been intending, that morning, to slice up the remaining pages to ensure there was enough for each kid, I apparently had zoned out at the last minute of my preparations, and I didn’t realize it until I passed out slips and came up 3 short. For some reason, just at that moment, all these kids who knew enough to ask bright questions and chime in with all sorts of information, became suddenly incapacitated! “I don’t know what to draw! Can you help me read this?”

Of course, they couldn’t ask me these questions by raising their hands from their seats. Instead, I had a whole posse surrounding me everywhere I went, calling out questions, or just wanting to tell me about the dead turtle they’d seen on the beach, all this while I was trying to figure out which kids didn’t have a slip yet, and how I was going to conjure slips for them. I ended up giving one of the girls the task of drawing the title page, and then I cut apart two of the pages with the most words to split them into separate ones.

Did the uproar subside then? Hardly. It felt like every kid wanted me to check their drawing after every new stroke. And one kid just smeared a bunch of blue and green and brown on her page, and marched up to confidently tell me that she was finished. This led me to remind them (a little later, so the kid wouldn’t realize she was the target) that all this is going to end up on YouTube and do they want sloppy, ugly work on YouTube? I probably shouldn’t have used the word “ugly”, I think I took them aback.

So that girl re-did her drawing, into something much, much nicer. One kid colored in some of his tree bark with brown, but not the others. So I gave him a hint about that. The same kid was supposed to be drawing a landscape that had been shorn of wild places for butterfly habitat, and he instead drew flowers and trees. I tried to gently nudge him through that. One kid wanted to figure out how he could draw green trees to stand out if there was a hill of green grass right behind the trees. Well. His drawing turned out amazing, actually. And something that was really sweet is how many of the more careful and steady young artists in the room would help the less coordinated kids in sketching their drawings and giving them ideas.

So it was a bit of a crazy day. Quite the contrast from Monday. I didn’t quite feel any more that, “oh, I’ve got all this in the bag!” I hope the teacher is not second-guessing having me in the class!

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