Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TWOS -- Wheels, Wings, & Waves: A Lego World of Transportation

Explore & Find Items in the Lego "City"

Wheels, Wings, & Waves: A Lego World of Transportation is now open at the Telus World of Science until January 2, 2011.

This interactive exhibit embodies the history of transportation on land, on water, and in the air all modelled in Lego! There is even a very long display spotlighting our very own Edmonton river valley complete with LRT and the high level bridge. Look closely and you'll spot all kinds of interesting things, like the guy fishing off the bridge.

Featured within this exhibition are the Lego building pits where people of all ages can create their own designs, a Lego racing car for imaginative play or photo ops, make or copy a Lego picture, and two racing ramps for Megablock vehicle races.

In the middle of the room, there is also a Lego "city" to explore with a challenge to locate certain items. While the other exhibits in here are well labelled, this one is not; however, if you look on the frame's columns surrounding this Lego city, you'll easily spot the lists, sorted from easy to difficult.
Edmonton LRT and High Level Bridge

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

AGA-- Children's Gallery: Play On Architecture!

I know I've shared plenty of posts on the Art Gallery of Alberta, but I'd be terribly remiss if I failed to write about the BMO World of Creativity, (aka the children's gallery). Why would I be derelict in my duties? Why, because, one of the trio that designed this current space is a home schooling Dad!

It's a very fun area where kids can build with big foam blocks, draw with the tracing tables, and doodle on the white board. There are two cameras on the ceiling, aimed at the white board, so people can photograph themselves and their art and even email home the pictures.... before or after manipulating them on the computers in all kinds of fascinating and wacky ways!

Straight from the AGA website:

"Discover how the buildings around you are designed! Play with giant building blocks to create your own 3-D structures. Mix traditional drawing and drafting techniques with modern technology to share your architectural designs!

The BMO World of Creativity is an interactive, hands-on space where children and their grown-ups can explore their creativity! BMO World of Creativity exhibitions and themes change from year-to-year.

Play on Architecture at the BMO World of Creativity is designed by local architects Laura Plosz, Troy Smith and Shafraaz Kaba and sponsored by Group 2 Architecture and Engineering and Manasc Isaac Architects."

The website indicates this gallery closing November 28, 2010. However, I heard a rumour that it will be held over into December. I will need to confirm that though.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

AGA-- Let's Explore Art, At Home

The Art Gallery of Alberta website has a Let's Explore Art section! It looks like it suggests 'at home' activity ideas based upon the current AGA exhibits. (Thank you to my friend who pointed this out to me). It would probably be beneficial to bookmark the site to investigate every now and then and check for new ideas. Oh, and, of course, go and visit the exhibits themselves, get inspired!

If this helps, the AGA has free admission on the last Thursday of every month from 6-9pm.

More Info:
Tours For Tots Wednesdays 11-noon, each week a different theme
All Day Sundays Second Sunday of every month, themed family art activities, 1-4pm

These are some of their ideas:

Create your own Textile Landscape

Use recycled fabric to create your own layered landscape!
What you need: old fabric and material, glue, scissors, stiff paper
What you do:
  1. Collect fabric from old towels, drapes, clothes or visit a second hand store for re-used fabric pieces
  2. Decide what type of landscape you would like to make: seaside, forest, ocean, field, prairie, mountains
  3. Cut different shapes using the fabric and begin to layer and experiment. Try to use lots of overlapping to show things that are up close and far away
  4. When you are ready, glue your fabric to the stiff paper to complete your project!

Create your own Cel Animation

Work like a Warner Brothers artist to create your own background and cel to bring a story to life!
What you need: pencil crayons, paper, transparency paper, sharpie markers, your imagination
What you do:
  1. Create a story. Think of a setting, characters and an action for your story.
  2. Draw and colour a background that shows your story setting.
  3. Draw your characters using sharpie marker on the transparency paper. This is called a ‘cel’ (short for celluloid).
  4. Place the ‘cel’ on the background and then you have the beginning of your animation! Create multiple characters or new poses to animate your story.

Create your own Escher-inspired Drawing

Use a spoon to create a stretched-out drawing just like M.C. Escher!
What you need: large metal spoon, paper, drawing tools
What you do:
  1. Find a large metal spoon and turn it over so the curved side is facing up
  2. Look carefully in the spoon to see how the shape changes your reflection
  3. Draw what you see on your paper. Make sure to look at what parts are stretched and what parts are squished together!

Create your own Imaginary Architectural Sculpture

Use recycled objects to create your own architectural sculpture.
What you need: Recycled objects, glue, scissors, paper.
What you do:
  1. Collect recycled objects in your home such as plastic bottles, disposable dishware, juice containers, and cardboard boxes
  2. Think about what type of building you want to make and sketch your idea. Will your building be symmetrical? Asymmetrical? Look at images by M.C. Escher for inspiration.
  3. Use the recycled objects and start building your design. Your idea may change as you start to build.
  4. Add folded strips of paper to your building to show stairs like M.C. Escher’s!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

M.C. Escher Scavenger Hunt

Well, the AGA is only holding the Escher exhibit until October 11, 2010. Since there is still time and this exhibit will exist elsewhere, I suppose I can post this hunt too. Perhaps it can be used with a book of M.C. Escher's collected works! Maybe.

Or maybe it will serve to stimulation your imagination in creating your own hunts!

Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt #2

While out hiking in nature, look for the following. Use a camera to capture what you find. Check off the ones you find and/or answer the question. Good Luck!

Items Needed: some paper with a pencil/crayon, a small garbage bag and gloves to pick up trash.

Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt #1

While out hiking in nature, look for the following. Use a camera to capture what you find. Check off the ones you find and/or answer the question. Good Luck!

Items Needed: some bird seed or water, a piece of paper with a pencil/crayon, a small garbage bag and gloves to pick up trash.

Nature Scavenger Hunt-- Template

This is from my long, but not exhaustive, list of outdoor hunt ideas. As you will notice, some of it is very local and much of it is not geared towards our winters. I'll have to remedy that later... find icicles, build a snow home, look for animal tracks, draw in the snow, etc!

Here's my little spiel....

Scavenger hunts can be indoors or outdoors… to break boredom, to have fun, to foster outdoor interests and play. Specific lists for specific locations are a great idea too (for example, Fort Edmonton Park or the Zoo). Create short or long or themed lists from the ideas below. Print off and use! Bring a pencil/pen to either check off or fill in answers. Another option is to take a camera and CAPTURE all the answers with it; this is a great way to document the excursion and maybe scrapbook/photo album the adventure!

If you forget to print off a list, but find your family wanting to engage in a scavenger hunt, try finding something that begins with the letter "A" and work your way through the alphabet--- it's most challenging if you keep to alphabetical order before proceeding to the next letter/item!

Read on for the list... 

Idea: Scavenger Hunts

Cross a Bridge
Whether it's for a change of pace, to alleviate boredom, to entice interest in an activity that is less desirable, or to play as an entertaining game, scavenger hunts are often a hit with children and adults alike. It's a treasure hunt, a challenge!

Spot a Pumper Truck
Scavenger hunts come in all shapes and sizes; they can be competitive or cooperative. As an adult, I've participated in scavenger hunt rallies that required driving around town (or bussing it) trying to collect all necessary items or information within an allotted time. Sometimes this was a fundraising event, other times this was simply a fun raising event. I've even designed one for a friend's birthday one year. And then there's geocaching--- but I'll keep that treasure hunting for a separate post for later!

And, of course, most children/ young people love them too. Go figure! Perhaps, like The Box, this is another area of our childhood we never truly grow out of.

My inspiration for scavenger hunts lately has been my son's disinterest in certain activities conflicting with my interest in doing them. Believe it or not, nature walking was one and going to the art gallery another. So I designed a few nature walk scavenger hunts (and a huge list from which to create new ones) and even found one online to print out. As members of our Art Gallery of Alberta, my husband and I love going to the opening receptions. Sometimes our son comes and often he doesn't, but this gives me time to check out the exhibits and ascertain whether there is something that will intrigue him or not. As I walked through the M.C. Escher exhibit, I imagined my son enjoying this one, but he has convinced himself he doesn't like art (weird). So, I examined the prints and jotted down some notes and designed a scavenger hunt for this exhibit.

Find something that doesn't belong
Did it work? Well, no. Lol. My son willingly went with me to the AGA just the other day (he's in a new mood and insists he loves everything) and we had a lovely time. In the first exhibit he carefully paid attention to the various pieces of art until I asked if he wished to sketch the art. He readily agreed. I only had a very small note book in my purse and a pen, but it was well received as my son enthusiastically sketched and sketched and sketched. Awed by his inspiration, we went to the gift shop and purchased an inexpensive sketchbook and pencil which he almost filled up by the time we left. His sketching turned into his own drawing creations inspired by what he saw as we made our way up the floors of the AGA. And the M.C. Escher gallery? He unenthusiastically took my scavenger hunt and started it, but barely did a single item, lol. He just wanted to draw! And who am I to stop him?! A sketchbook, not a scavenger hunt was what he wanted this time. 

Still, scavenger hunts have their place and time. And there are all kinds to be had and the options are endless...

Here are some scavenger hunt themes/ideas:

Photograph Some Graffiti
nature walk scavenger hunt
city walk scavenger hunt
car/vehicle ride scavenger hunts
house items scavenger hunt
photo album scavenger hunt
Halloween/other holiday themed scavenger hunt

themed hunts: find items only beginning with a specific letter or colour
internet scavenger hunts
shopping mall scavenger hunt
....and more

Here's a website to help with specific examples and more ideas:
this website is intended for both adult and child oriented activities including corporate team building ideas and kids camping hunts.

Find a mushroom not growing on the ground
I will post a few of my nature walk ones for people to copy and print.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Idea: Boxes

I think all parents figure this one out at some point or another, but when does the basic cardboard box fascination end?!

Almost from day one, babies and toddlers love The Box. Powered by their own imaginations and perceptions, the box becomes a true friend and toy for hours upon hours. And all this without digging into the artsNcraft section of your home... which eventually becomes another method of interacting with The Box. Such creative and imaginative play from such simple item!

It's Dracula, Look Out!
My son has rediscovered this natural obsession with The Box. Of course, his play has turned to more complex, and perhaps, grimmer themes. And yet, the love is there. He was very disappointed that I required those boxes for the green tomatoes I harvested just before our first frost. No worries, once the tomatoes ripen, he can have his new toys back!

To be fair, I suppose I too have an attraction to boxes. I love beautiful containers and special boxes. I enjoy making origami boxes and painting small wooden ones. Perhaps the fascination never ends, just changes...

evolves? devolves?

Monday, September 20, 2010

AGA -- Edward Burtynsky: Oil

Oil Fields #30
The Art Gallery of Alberta has two new installations, one being Burtynsky's amazing photographs that delve deep into the subject of oil from various vantage points. Edward Burtynsky is a Canadian photographer.

This new exhibit is on the top floor and is a must see. It's a photography exhibit of oil fields, oil sands, oil tankers, the automotive industry, and waste; from the beginnings of oil to the death of oil and everything in between. Some of the photos are painfully stunning and others are breath-taking in their scope. It's a paradox: disturbing beauty.

Oil Refineries #22

These little photos do not do the exhibit justice; one must see these in the large gallery scale. The last photo, was one of my favourites. It was like fallen autumn leaves and white lichen/moss.

Oh, I almost forgot to say: there is a self-guide tour pamphlet just outside the exhibit entrance.

AGA link to the current exhibit.

Edward Burtynsky's website.

Densified Oil Drums #4
Ferrous Bushling #18

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Idea: Flat Travllers, aka Flat Stanley

Our Flat Claydee
In 1964, Jeff Brown (1926-2003) wrote a children's book and called it Flat Stanley. He followed this with Stanley in Space, Stanley and the Magic Lamp, Invisible Stanley, Stanley's Christmas Adventure, Stanley Flat Again, and Stanley and the Haunted House. Sara Pennypacker is continuing to write about this flat character in her series, Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures

Basically, Stanley, a young boy gets flattened by a bulletin board that had been hung above his bed. In his healthy, but flattened state, Stanley learns he can do all kinds of things he couldn't do before. One of these things is being mailed in an envelope to friends in other parts of the country.

Our Flat Weluvca Pointing to Edmonton, Alberta
And this begins the real-time saga of flat travellers worldwide! I'm not going to get into the whole history of who began what, suffice it to say, teachers and students and parents and children everywhere now can exchange flat travellers for a specified amount of time. This exchange is great for learning about other people, other places, and other cultures; it's akin to pen palling without the long term commitment. There are many ways to do this and certain groups have certain rules, so it's best to read the rules of the site or yahoo group.

This is how we have done it...

First of all, the flat travellers, also called flatties!

Flat Chae Rim from South Korea
We've made several paper travellers over the years. Some were hand drawn by my son, some were printed off from the Internet, others were paper dolls; flatties can be human, alien, animal, insect, abstract, or whatever appeals to you. All of ours were either laminated or taped up with packing tape to increase the flattie's durability and longevity. Oh, but before laminating/taping, it is advisable to write on the back some pertinent information: flattie's name, your name, and your mailing address and email. This will help the host family in the event they accidentally misplace the original envelope and email address.   

Now to hook up with someone!

Flatties Help Shovel Snow
Using one of the yahoo groups (a few of which are now dead), we would find a compatible family else where in the world and, with them, set up our own rules via email. We would discuss time lengths and any special requirements or requests. And, of course, exchange addresses to execute our plans.

In the beginning we did choose to take on our new guests, tour the flatties around with us while taking pictures of the flattie in various locations, and write up a journal and send the flatties back with extras. This proved overly time consuming and costly.

Flat Amina & Flat Guard on Vacation with Us
So, we eventually made arrangements with the other family to avoid the written journal and provide a blog instead. Our flat guest would arrive in the mail and we'd tour it around with us and show the flattie what we did each day. All this would end up in the private blog. At the end of the time period, we would pack up the flattie with extras and send him/her/it home. The great thing about blogging is that the flattie's family can see right away that the flattie is safe and if the flattie is having fun, and it's free!

Other Things...

More Flat Guests
We made up a questionnaire to either send along with the flattie or to email to the host family. It was a list of basic questions about the host family, their preferences and interests, and their location. We even sent an intro letter about our family and the story of the particular flattie we were sending.


Well, often this is just an extra. And this shouldn't be expected and isn't necessary to participate. We, however, enjoy sending home some treats with our guests. This can be anything. Post cards, pamphlets, stickers, maps, books, little toys, something homemade, etc. We usually think of things that are local or otherwise reflect who we are. Extras can be as little or as big as you can afford or wish to send. Um, as long as it complies with the postal rulings for both your own country and that of the guest flattie's.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Famous Birthday Celebrations-- A Past Example

On January 27, 2009 we celebrated Mozart's birthday (born in 1756). This was our very first endeavour and we eased into our new idea with a famous person we already knew and loved.

The kitchen table was decorated with a display of library books and CDs and we ate breakfast while listening to Mozart's classical music. A great way to start the day, wouldn't you say?!

This was followed by the Classical Kids' story about the Magic Flute, Mozart's Magic Fantasy and Mozart's Magnificant Voyage, a biography told with music. It was a very auditory day and right up my son's alley. Two other CDs we listened to were The Mozart Effect and The Magic of Mozart.

A couple of the books included Clothes of the Early Modern World by Christine Hatt and Young Mozart (a picture book) by Isadora.

Since it was one of the instruments Mozart played and one my son was unfamiliar with, we googled harpsichords, looked at the pictures, and listened to examples on YouTube. Colouring pages of harpsichords and Mozart were found and printed off.

We took a virtual tour through the Miracle's Wax Museum in Salzburg, Austria. The link I had no longer works. I tried a quick search and couldn't find it, sorry.

As I noted at the time, other options could have been to explore the country of origin, foods, and customs. Really, there are no limits!

Idea: Celebrating Famous People's Birthdays

The North Saskatchewan River & Downtown Edmonton

Dead or Alive!

One of our ideas is to celebrate famous people's birthdays, whether they have been long deceased or are alive and kicking. Some times I choose the person, sometimes our son does. This represents a unique and fun way to learn about someone without it being an in-depth study, but allow for the opportunity to be a jumping board into something more substantial.

We don't eat birthday food and cake. We don't decorate. But that's just us. I can see where a very crafty/artsy family may wish to decorate or bake a cake. We chose not to... so, what do we do?

Typically, I would do the research on the person and find all kinds of resources: library books, movies, documentaries, music, art, quotes, magazine articles, websites, YouTube videos, stories, the person's favourites, etc. I would also brainstorm possible activities or field trips. Since the purpose of this exercise is to provide a glimpse into the life and achievements of the person, I try not to go too overboard. Still, if I have too much material and the interest goes beyond a day of celebrations, all the better!

On the birthday, we look over the plundered information and pick and choose. It is supposed to be fun and stimulating, not gruelling! Usually some form of biography is in order and then, from there, there is no order. We read, listen, create, visit, and enjoy delving into the life and times of the famous person. And, if we find ourselves going off on a tangent, we go full throttle!

I suppose you can take the birthday out of the equation and just have a day that focuses on a particular person. We find it more fun to honour the person's birthday. Besides, the challenge of finding a birth date and corresponding person, at any given moment, is fun too! It often instigates examination of an unfamiliar person.

Resources  From this website, you can find famous birthdays, famous deaths, and famous events

local public library
local archives and museums
your imagination
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