Spring Break has come and gone, and school has been all full speed ahead. Lots of events on the calendar – Spirit Week , Club Rush, a field trip, FCAT, the art field day… Not to mention the fact that it’s time to start using up the recycled materials I’ve been hoarding since August. The study unit on Asia provides me with ample opportunity to do just that. Usually whatever is still left in the closet in the way of cans, bottles, plastic containers, wiggly eyes and anything else I want to get rid of gets glued together and painted metallic in the famous Recycled Robot project, which opens up great discussions on technology, and the role that Asian countries have always played in its development. And as if a classroom haunted by what at first glance looks like hundreds of piles of silvery garbage isn’t messy enough, this year I decided to introduce my students to the process of hand making one of the oldest Asian innovations – paper.
Instead of trashing it, students collected the colorful leftover construction paper scraps from other projects throughout the year into several boxes placed strategically around the room, which were then transferred into big black garbage bags in the closet. As part of our pre-Spring Break cleaning, my 8th graders dragged the bags into the middle of the room to shred and sort the pieces into trays by color. And so begins the fun of paper making. What was really smart of me was planning so that we’d be ready to make the paper on the last days before spring break – let ’em do something fun and messy to keep their attention, and do it right before the floors are going to get cleaned anyway. What was not so smart was doing it while in full sock hop gear for “Decades Day” of the aforementioned Spirit Week.
Despite my friend Erin’s absolutely correct assessment that papermaking in a poodle skirt is a total “quirky girl” thing, it was not the easiest outfit to maneuver around a very wet, pulpy art room. After fashioning an extra-long apron by wrapping a big piece of blue burlap around my waist (sexxxyyy) a little too late and ending up with a speckly poodle and water stained felt, I spent my planning period in just the crinoline while the skirt air-dried outside. Damn good thing the few kids who stopped by my room during their lunches didn’t realize that I was basically in UNDERGARMENTS! For shame!
Anyway, the big sexy burlap worked great, but my saddle shoes didn’t make it. The soles came unglued and it was a bit of a disaster. The paper making, however, was a complete success. The kids came back after spring break to peel their brand new paper off the newsprint it was dried on and embellish it with the kanji names their so-freaking-dedicated art teacher painstakingly translated for them. Super cool project, this one is a definite keeper.
And now for your viewing pleasure, a sock hop montage from the Bat family archives. The “Swet 60” we threw for my Grandma in 2000, when I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a poodle skirt. I happened to find the album these came from when I was searching the garage for the skirt and I just had to share… Look at my little sisters, omgggg, kawaii, neh?!!!! I’m so glad they stayed weird, and I think it’s stuff like this that made them (us) this way. Cheers to our creative parents, and here’s hoping that I can continue to be there for my students who aren’t as lucky as I was in having such an inspiring family. ❤