Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Learning Will Find You

Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford is hosting an exhibition of Monet’s Water Lilies.  The last time I saw a Monet collection was in Boston with my Aunt when I was in college.  It made an ever-lasting impression.  For some reason my girls were not into the idea of visiting an art museum.  They have never been to a larger museum so I am not sure what put the idea in their head that it would be boring....probably tv.

I was embarrassed to admit to the friends we went with that I did little to prepare my children for this trip.  We watched Linea in Monet’s garden.  I highly recommend it.  We learned about water lilies through our botany class when we studied seed dispersal.  We took a walk down to the pond at the end of our street that is covered in water lilies not yet in bloom.  But that is all we did!  

Unlike school, where teachers toss out information contained in a lesson or unit and then move on to something completely unrelated and most likely will never again touch upon the concept introduced, with home learning you can introduce just a bit of something.  The learning will find you.

She is not touching the just looks that way!

Remember from back posts how we first learned about the Charter Oak while preparing for our trip to the Capital?  We learned its history and sat in a chair carved from the tree.  Then while reading during the study of our town, we happened upon the fact that a tree descended from the original Charter Oak was planted in our historic green?  Well, yesterday the learning found us again.  The girls stumbled upon this......a portrait of the tree, framed in........wait for it...........none other than a frame created from the wood of the felled Charter Oak!!!!!!  How stinkin' cool is that!  Learning will find you.

We discovered paintings we loved.  Like this one.  I am determined now to find the poem by Tennyson and read it to the girls.  

We discovered painting we connected with but did not enjoy looking at ~ like this one depicting Hercules fighting off death who has come for his love, Alcestis.  We did not learn about this myth in particular during our study on Greek myths.  Again, the learning found us.

It found us again when we found a self portrait of Van Gogh, Greg’s favorite artist.  My girls are most familiar with Starry Night since Greg will often play the song by Don McLean over and over again to our despair! 

Lilah discovered she likes Renoir (not surprising).

And Grace connected with this classic.....(again, not surprising!)

Our goal was to find pictures that made us feel something.  Once the girls told me why the connected with a painting, either positively, or negatively, we took a picture of it.  There was a whole room of large European paintings depicting scenes of war and battle that Grace flat out refused to enter.  I was proud her senses were working at full capacity and she was connecting with art on a intrinsic level.  Ahhh......learning.  It reminded me of Ken Robinson's talk about changing school paradigms.  If you have not watched it, you should.  He speaks of the arts around minute 5:40.

We found pottery from the 1700s taken from a historic home in Middletown.  Lilah said she would like to try to make a water pitcher in her pottery class.  Hello learning!

The girls discovered the preferred the styles based in impressionism rather than the newer more modern pop art and modern art styles.  
I stumbled upon a Diego Rivera that I adored.   I was hoping that he would be partnered with some Khalo works but he was not.  I have only seen Khalo in New Haven.  As I was speaking to the Wadsworth employee (who was not a docent) about Khalo I realized it was probably the first time my girls have ever heard me engage in conversation about an artist!  It showed that not only is print literacy vital, artistic literacy is as well.  The best way to obtain artistic literacy is to immerse yourself in the arts.  It was a lightbulb moment for me.  We will be adding an immersion component to our art studies!
After we had our fill and worked on gaining artistic literacy, we headed to the gift shoppe, to meet up with our friends, and work on our print literacy!

Words cannot express the joy I felt in sharing this experience with my daughters.  They will always remember visiting their first art museum.  We are checking train schedules for a possible trip to a place I have been wanting to take them for over a year......The Met.  I just get shivers thinking about it!  

Learning.  How could we ever go back to the old way?


Karen said...

Oh JESS!! I love this post. I love your day. I am sitting here just smiling. I would have loved to been with you and the girls on this adventure.

I love "The Lady of Shallot" I have never even seen that painting! I actually have "The Lady of Shallot" by Waterhouse in my house. I have always loved that painting.

Renoir I love, I love Rockwell and I love the final statement of your post, How could we ever go back to the old way? Indeed :)

musicalmary said...

Great great fun! I so love it when many things from the year come full circle. I think this happens a lot the more you home school, don't you? It's just a way of thinking for our children.

GARY said...

Great Pics Jess, looks like a great place...

Kimberly said...

Wow! What an awesome day! I am glad you had a great, meaningful time!

MJ said...

"Learning will find you." Yes!! I love it!! I am so happy you had such a day with your girls! The less I go anywhere with an agenda, the greater my children find joy---and learning, all on their own. Lovely lovely day, and the art, just gorgeous.

Jessica said...

I am so pleased the the weather front that was stalled over the NE is moving away bringing beautiful weather for next week. New York City weather! Hoping to check out the Met and possibly a few others......

Theresa said...

I love that you were looking to art that you connected with, that made you feel something. When we go to museums, upon entering each gallery, I come up with something "find something you like and show me" or "find something whatever and show me", this way we can all take our own time in each gallery, and linger over things we like.

I actually think watching a movie and talking about Water Lilies in Botany, etc. was fine preparation. Gosh, what did your friends do to prepare? Now I feel so inadequate thinking that would not be enough! lol. Sometimes we just go and don't even have any idea what we will see--no prep at all whatsoever! lol!

Jen @ Forever, For Always... said...

What a truly enjoyable day!

Phyllis said...

Sounds wonderful.

Lori said...

What a wonderful day of learning! I love it when the dots connect like that. And your pictures are spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

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