Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stone Soup: An Old School Feast

Just in time for the 2 and a half days of school before's a lesson that adds the nuanced magic of a Mort Schindel's Weston Wood's production and collage art lesson about the joy of sharing a meal with family and friends, new and old.

If you don't know about Weston Woods productions & you adore vintage children's picture books as I do, look them up.  Here's a good place to start. I had the great fortune many years ago, of working for and learning from Mort who lives the next town over from me. This is a man who truly, truly understands, appreciates and reveres the essence of a great picture book. This reverence & insight allowed him to produce an amazing catalogue of animated picture books, working with some very talented animators and artists.

Anyway, back to the classic folktale retold by Marcia Brown, Stone Soup, which you can watch here. After years and years of teaching with this book, it never loses it charm and the kids are riveted. This is amazing to me since it seriously only has like two colors in the illustrations plus white and black. See? But good story-telling & illustration doesn't need bells & whistles to capture the imaginations of children.

The Weston Woods animated version is "old school"no major FX, no CGI. Not one kid budges though out, though. There is a special quality to the narrator's voice that makes the ingredients that the villagers add to The Stone Soup sound so delicious. My kids are always so hungry and excited to create their paper sculpture feast after watching.

We discuss how the soldiers "tricked" the villagers into sharing their food, but in the end everyone benefitted. Yay! Then we chat about our own families and the ways we all celebrate Thanksgiving. My school is a melting pot of many cultures, so my students like to share about the foods that come from what they refer to as "my country".

Like maybe enchiladas?

or "dirty rice"?

Even without a holiday connection, this lesson invites students in grades K-5 to transform flat paper into 3 dimensions, creating delicious sculptural objects of art, while engaging the fine motor skills of gluing, cutting folding and curling paper. And we all know by now that children use higher order thinking skills in fine arts class, as well. Bon Appetit!