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Land, Water Sky: Walk, Swim and Fly---A Process Revealed, by Quynh Cao

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Ian experiments with different notes as he records his melody on a piece of paper.

The pieces that children performed on Friday, May 31, 2019 are original, to almost every extent. Movements were choreographed in workshop sessions with Morgan Padgett; she elicited the children’s ideas and helped them to bring their movements together into ten smooth, collaborative works, which, in turn, she then brought together into one larger piece. In music sessions, all the children were introduced to the instruments at an entry level of learning to play, as the xylophones were new to the school this spring. First exploring scale and rhythm and then playing several simple songs together, the children were then encouraged to compose melodies or rhythms to “speak” to a particular animal. Several work sessions were dedicated to movement groups and music groups working together to synchronize their combined efforts; modifications and extensions were further developed during periods of rehearsing.

Each year as the teachers meet to plan out the scope and sequence of our thematic studies, we work to balance units throughout the disciplines, so the range of studies insures preparation in the arts and sciences. We had planned to end our work on the scientific study of music, but as we got to the turn of this year, with snow days definitely a factor, we realized that we needed more time to spend on our study of animals. We then decided to modify our original ideas regarding the study of music to be less of a scientific study of sound, making it one that would delve into using instruments, with a performance as a goal. What direction that performance would take was open, but as teachers we all responded to a vision that Morgan had in regards to a vibrant, flowing work, where movement would take the center stage.  We owe our thanks to her for taking the leadership of this project in both concept and realization. All teachers joined efforts in support of that vision.

Children practice moving like an animal during all school gathering. This occured during the beginning stages of LnP's production of Land, Water, and Sky: Walk, Swim, and Fly.

Oral interpretation--the ability to use one’s voice to express emotion and meaning to an audience-- is an important aspect of the language arts that Lake and Park children work on throughout the year. (It is when reading aloud their own poetry that they are able to develop this expressiveness, which then opens them to considering how to interpret poetry written by others.)  This work is a piece that showcases not only poetry, but highlights factual information. Thus, integral to the production is the behind-the-scenes work that took place each afternoon for several weeks in mixed aged “homeroom groups”. In these animal groups, children studied and created together. They developed games that incorporated possible scenarios about the animal they studied, while learning of the whole sweep of migration.  

Toby, Myles, and Gus design a turtle migration board game.

The costumes pictured below were fashioned largely by them, designed to suggest a species, while leaving the dancer free to move about.  The murals about you reflect the children’s biological understanding of the habitat and migration pattern of each group’s studied animal.

Jellyfish Group

Salmon Group

Whale Group

Monarch Butterfly Group

Caribou Group

Turtle Group

Arctic Tern Group

Zebra Group

Canada Geese Group

Elephant Group

We are glad to celebrate our growing understanding that the earth is one entity shared by many.  Join us as we wonder how it is that such a number of them annually make their various ways over land, water, sky.  Through music, word and movement of human making, we did our best to express how ten of  those display their own best means of locomotion.  It is in imitation and honor of them that together we walk, swim and fly.

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