Suri is going into 6th grade in September. She had this green toy that you can pull and stretch. I said I wanted to get one for my friend Jaquese who loves to tear and pull things apart. He is a Bancroft student who I adore. He is in a wheelchair and has a strong arm and a weak one. He will go nuts for this toy I said and showed Suri his picture. She asked to borrow the sharpie I had and quietly washed the toy and redrew the eyes and mouth. She gave the toy to me at the end of our time together to give to Jaquese. It still brings me close to tears thinking of this generous modest spirit in one so young. She has a special needs sister that can be difficult. She handles it with such love,empathy, and understanding. She makes me so happy in this world that makes me sad,angry, and depressed. This kid makes me feel hopeful that the world has more kindness than I could possibly imagine.
Can’t wait to bring it to Jaquese
Love you Suri
We made a music contraption as my last project at Bancroft. I made a bamboo structure to hang objects that make noise on this last day. There was no thought of permanence. Just in the moment fun using whatever materials I had to work with. I used bamboo which I grow and know many spots in the area to get some. Then I tied it together with rebar wire or cable ties. There were tomato cages in the garden I put together in a more sculptural way to hang bamboo chimes from. On the way to school someone had thrown 2 bikes in the trash so I took the front wheels. I had a box of kitchen utensils from way back in the day when I was making armor from kitchen doodads.
We started inside playing with different sounds to find what we liked best.
Kalop loving the sounds and the sunshine. We had a wonderful day for this project.
So my final day was joyous, sad, and very noisy.
Ja’quese has been so much fun to play with for the last 6 years. I met him in the hallway with a volunteer before he started school. He grabbed my hand and we both started laughing and have been playing ever since. I look forward to hearing his squeals of delight when he sees or hears me. I’ve been playing with him in his wheel chair before class ends for a few years now. I love to hear him laugh. I wear an apron with art tools since I work on a lunch tray. One pocket has a light up rolling eyeball ,a snake finger puppet, and a zombie grandma popping eye toy. He likes to grab the apron and take the toys out. As an artist he excels at tearing paper to shreds! As a curious playful person he can’t be beat. My lesson for the past few weeks has been to make adaptive versions of some classic toys. I started with an old fashion fishing toy using magnets. This version has big fish that kids can hold and larger magnets so that the fish can be placed on the floor and fished from wheelchairs.
The fish are paper mache over a cardboard form. The fish have a large washer glued to the top and then painted with acrylics. I had a big magnet doodad from when I was a telephone installer and used that to fish with. It is tied to a piece of bamboo. It worked very well and Ja’quese really got the fishing idea.
Ja’quese laughing at me with an Ipad taking his picture
Ja’quese concentrating on catching a fish.
This coming Tuesday is my last day at Bancroft Voorhees. Budget cuts! Always the arts! I made a bamboo structure in the garden to turn into a musical contraption piece. I want to go out with cacophony and as much joy as I can muster without tears.
This month at Bancroft I’m doing the typical Picasso portrait lesson of abstracting a face but with a new twist. Being a facilitator I drew the shape of each kids head and drew the figure eight and some lines to divide the head into shapes. The students made color choices and sometimes provided some direction as to where to put the color or pattern. Jaquese made some marks of his own and crumpled the paper as usual. I then took a photo of the drawing and used an a free app Gifycam to add a gif to the drawing. These kids often respond in some way to movement and light close to their faces. There was a good amount of reactions today because of the gifs. Reactions can be an awakening, a smile, eye movement, a vocalization or in one case holding the Ipad up to a face. Every response is so small. One just has to believe that something is happening. They help me live in the moment,to really listen, and better accept what I don’t understand. Adding the gif was fun for me and I think my enthusiasm rubbed off on the staff and students. I really had fun today.
This month at Bancroft we continued playing with a basic electric circuit by making a ping pong ball contraptions. You can find instructions on YouTube for all sorts of things using little motors. Vibration motors work so well with this population. If you can see they move and have color. If you can hear they make sounds. If touch is your dominant sense they vibrate. Staff and students all got a ping pong ball massage. Unfortunately I got a few teachers hair caught up in the propeller but no harm was done. I put it on kids heads and called it a brain massage. Great responses today from kids that don’t always respond. I got all the parts…motors,switches, batteries etc. on Amazon(contact me if you need details). I do so miss Radio Shack and the mad scientist section of Edmund Scientific though. It’s a new world.
I’m just getting to know Michael. He was fascinated with the whole process. He along with his classmate Ethan chose colored sticks and Michael didn’t try to eat his. They chose ping pong balls and we played with them before getting down to business. Ethan lost interest but Michael watched and listened to the entire assembly process. I gave him the finished project and he was still playing with it when I moved on to another class.
This month we made sguigglebots and it worked very well with these kids. Vibration motors were a hit with most of the students. They seemed to enjoy the feel of them and we had good reactions. The sound was stimulating to them also. Visually they were less interesting to the students but the staff loved it. A few more able students picked them up and were fascinated by the spinning propeller on top.
Patrick was engaged with the contraption without the markers. Check out that smile! Next week we move on to moving gizmos with ping pong balls, sticks, and more vibration motors