African American History: A Journey through Time plus WATER

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
-Langston Hughes
February is Black History Month and also the start of the early childhood team’s latest 6 week unit of study on WATER! Hence the water inspired poem by one of our greatest American poets, Langston Hughes! In addition to learning EVERYTHING there is to know about water (trust me, a class of 4 year olds have already schooled me with a high school chemistry lesson on how 2 hydrogen atoms bond with 1 oxygen molecule to form water!), our Maury students will be celebrating the history and contributions of African Americans throughout time. Themed, African American History: A Journey through Time, students will play trivia every morning on the am announcements, on Wednesday they will travel through stations set up in the multipurpose room and experience a variety of hands-on lessons about famous inventors, artists, poets, musicians, and more. Ms. Covington and I are preparing a station on one of my favorite Black artists, Alma Thomas. Each class is also preparing for our culminating African American History program on February 24th. Dancers from the Kenyan Embassy will perform and each talented Maury homeroom will prepare a poem, song, dance, skit, or creative performance of their own imagination. I am extra excited because on Thursday, I get to take the 4th and 5th graders to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, my alma mater, for the groundbreaking 30 Americans exhibition. Thanks to the PTA and the Corcoran Docent program for their generous donations to make this field trip possible!
Please feel free to join us for any of the above celebrations and ask your student to share with you the importance and significance of our varied African American histories.
How does the water come into play? In the studio, our water unit has taken us from bubbles to ice to Kool-aid. Preschool and PreK are making handmade paper to fashion into a book that will remind us of all the different water-inspired creative processes we’ve used along the way. The first kind of paper we made was bubble print paper.
Students started by practicing making bubbles with a straw. A mixture of water and food coloring helped us perfect our technique. It was important that we got the hang of blowing OUT instead of IN. A stained mouth resulted if the later happened.
Next we added soap to really get the bubbles to grow.  We had fun watching them spill over the edge and onto our tins. My apologize, parents, if there’s an increase in milk bubbles at the dinner table this week.
We used our sheet of paper to press into the bubbles. This created a speckled design from the bubble patters. The process can be repeated over and over depending on how layered you want your paper to be.
Then we talked about what happens to water when it freezes. I dyed ice cubes with Kool-aid to create ice cube brushes. We painted with these cold tools and created a watercolor wash. We also experimented to see what would happen when we poured Kool-aid powder, in its solid state, directly onto the paper and then added water. The results were very different.
Powdered Kool-aid with brushed water was VIVID and TEXTURED!
Kool-aid cube brushes were more subtle and water color-esque, but tasty. I can’t resist edible art!

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