Mystery Objects: Texture Week
For Texture Week I ran a game, which was a nice change of pace. The game also allowed me to interact a bit more with the kids, which was especially rewarding because I finally started to recognize families who came every week (and they started to recognize me). First, we placed mystery objects in cloth bags. Then, the children felt inside, told me what textures described the item in the bag, and guessed what it was. Depending on the age of the children, some were more successful than others at not looking before they guessed…
Taken from the study collection (a group of objects catalogued separately from the main collection, that can be handled with less care) and the “Touch it” room in the museum, the items were mostly reproductions. For instance, one bag held a spool of flax and another held a piece of linen. I enjoyed explaining that flax felt like hair, but is actually a plant fiber (and that the linen fabric was made from flax – they felt the same substance twice, but in very different forms). For older children, we provided a large selection of cards with texture words on them, which they could match to each bag. However, one bag remained a mystery to every single person who felt inside (even the adults). Undaunted, and inspired by the challenge, some kids spent most of their time at the station attempting to guess what they held in their hands.
Some of the best guesses: A unicorn horn, a honey dipper, a screwdriver, a drumstick, and a magic wand!
Well, I wish we had a unicorn horn or a magic wand to display, but this is actually the far more mundane drop spindle, used to spin thread. Most of the children had no idea what a drop spindle was or how it worked. References to Sleeping Beauty became surprisingly helpful, even though she pricked her finger on a spinning wheel’s spindle (not a drop spindle). One kid who had recently been in his school’s production of Sleeping Beauty even pretended to faint, in order to demonstrate what happened when her finger touched the spindle!
Blackboard Drawing: Value Week
Value Week’s activity required kids to experiment with how you can represent black and white with different techniques and materials. Rather than connecting to a specific piece of art in the Winterthur collection, this table provided children with the opportunity to practice thinking like an artist. Each child took a black and a white piece of card stock, and using white chalk and black graphite, they drew the same image on both papers but in contrasting colors. The adventurous could also practice covering their paper with a layer of pigment and then erasing away to reveal shapes. For inspiration, we provided a variety of printed examples of modern and historical black and white sketches.
Paper Doll Clothing Patterns: Pattern Week (upcoming)
Sadly I was not able to see the result of this activity planning, as Pattern Week has not yet happened and I have finished my internship. However, during my last week I developed part of this activity. The table will include a matching game for children to think about the relationship between clothing patterns and finished outfits. After kids finish the game, the plan is for them to make and decorate their own clothing for large cardboard paper dolls that Lois (the Associate Curator of Education, who runs Terrific Tuesdays) found online. I was excited by the challenge of coming up with doll clothing patterns, especially since I now had plenty of experience working with the Terrific Tuesdays kids and a much better idea of their crafting abilities than I did at the beginning of the summer.
I decided to design 1930s inspired clothing for the dolls, evoking the kinds of clothes that H.F. duPont’s children and their friends might have worn while growing up at Winterthur. Armed with lots of construction paper, my desk quickly disappeared under a pile of failed attempts and paper scraps. My goal was to come up with a pattern that required as little gluing as possible, and relatively simple cutting. After much trial and error (I truly felt like a project runway contestant, fitting my sample dress onto the paper doll and cutting away to ensure the perfect fit), I finally developed a girl’s dress and a boy’s shirt and shorts that I hope kids and their families will like!