Tag Archives: Persona Dolls

Alien’s Have Feelings Too! (Part Three)

16 Apr

A Photography project aimed to develop the Emotional Literacy of vulnerable school children.

Week 2: Aliens and Frames

Week 2: Aliens and Frames

 Working with:

Group A – Year 2 (6-7 year olds)

Morning session 2.5 hrs

                              Group B – Year 3 (7-8 year olds)

                                    Afternoon session 2.5 hrs

Objectives:

1. Story Telling with Persona Dolls:  Using dolls as realia to create a fictional character the children can relate to, thereby allowing them the freedom to express and share a problem openly and furthermore search for possible resolutions.

2. Framing and Composition:  Introduction to using camera’s, implementing framing techniques to capture  the ‘Persona Doll’ under varying light, at different angles, whilst using various props from the environment familiar to the children.

  

 Week Two:

Introducing the ‘Alien’ Doll Family

No - Not frogs - Aliens!

Alien Doll Family

When researching methods to utilise to developing the Emotional Literacy of students at Priory Lower School (Bedford), I was not aware of exactly what was currently hindering each child’s ability to succeed in class and possibly even in their future life.  Although it was quite clear that the children selected did not know how to identify, label and talk about their feelings; which is why it was my job to help them to be able to express this.  However, how could I do that without getting them to expose themselves openly; which could quite possibly be threatening for anyone at any age? And then – to do this, precisely using photography?  Within four, 2.5 hour sessions?

Here, might I add, that by no means have I come to invent any of the ideas presented herewith on my own, but rather, I have discovered and manipulated carefully researched theories and practices,  to create one thematic unified, cohesive scheme of work that can be delivered logically, over four different periods.

The idea of creating the ‘Alien’ theme was initiated by the theories and practices, discovered regarding the use of ‘Persona Dolls’ in the classroom to help children develop their Emotional Literacy.  These theories suggest, that Dolls, in ‘telling their own stories‘ to the children, encourage children to tell their own.   I had anticipated that this would help the children, who were perceived to be different, to develop stories that would support and validate them.  When selecting the dolls I felt it was important that the dolls themselves were not representative of any gender, race or age, but rather they would (on a subconscious level) be symbolic, as a ‘universal’ icon for being different.  Based upon these notions, it was integral that the chosen ‘Persona Dolls’ were ones that the children had never seen or played with before.

As in the previous article Aliens have feelings too! – (Part 2), I will maintain the details to the session in brief, providing only the lesson plan material, including some pictures from the session and ending the article will be a short conclusion, detailing problems I had not foreseen   All references to works sited will appear at the end of the article as ‘Other Useful Links’.

Classroom Warm-up

  1. Review:  Vocabulary of Emotion, using the smiley face pictures from week one to elicit what the learners can remember.
  2. Class Warm-Up:  A practice run through of the Drama activity from last week.
  3. Analysing Photography:  Students view photographs from my portfolio consisting of Landscapes, Abstracts and Stills  to discuss what kind of emotions they feel when they look at these photographs.  We discussed  several emotions, they felt were conveyed by these photographs.  This demonstrated to them how photographs can tell stories about feelings and it was a nice way to illustrate, introduce and explain to them what they would be doing in the following sessions with me.

 1. Story Telling with Persona Dolls

Activating Schemata:

a.  Lay out all the dolls at the front of the classroom where the children can see them.  They must not – at this stage  – touch the dolls (this can be quite challenging as the children will very much want to touch and feel them immediately).

b.  Introduce the Dolls as ‘Our Alien Doll Family’.  Tell the children that these are an Alien family that they will be working with to take photographs.

c. Tell the children that each doll has a name, a problem and a story, but we don’t know what these names, problems and stories are yet,  because each of them will have to create this themselves.

d. Take one doll and place it in your lap.  Tell the children that this is your Doll. Your dolls name is (e.g.) Coo-coo.  Coo-Coo has a problem. (e.g.) He is really friendly and wants to make friends with some children, but the children are all afraid of him because, he is so different and so they always run away from him and hide.  They never play with him.

e. Ask the children ‘how do you think Coo-Coo feels?’

f.  Draw an empty circle on the board and ask which child can draw Coo-coo’s face which will show us all how he feels.

g.  Draw a thought bubble and ask which child can tell you what they think Coo-Coo is thinking.

h.  Draw a speech bubble and ask which child can tell you what they think Coo-Coo is thinking.  (*Depending on how much time you can assign to this task, it may be best to write on the board yourself, as some children might have problems with spelling).

exercise 5 - PDF worksheet

click here for the PDF worksheet – exercise 5

exercise 5.

  1. Give your Alien a name:
  2. Give your Alien a face to show how s/he is feeling.

  3.  In the speech bubble write down what the alien wants to say.

  4. In the thought bubble, write down what your alien is thinking.

 

Child doing Exersice 5

Creating a Persona for the Doll

i. Separate the children to sit further apart from one another (so they do not copy each other as the work must come from themselves).

j.  Before you handout  the worksheet for exercise 5., make it clear that they must not write anything down on the sheets until you tell them to (or else some will write all sorts of things before they understand what they need to do).

k. When they have the sheets, give them step by step instructions on how to complete each section. Explain to them that when they are asked to write something down they must not shout out or else someone else in the room might copy their idea and we wouldn’t want that.

l.  Make sure to go around and help each child individually and to also check that they are doing the exercise correctly.

m. Once finished the children share their ideas from their worksheet with the rest of the group.

2. Framing and Composition

Here is an exercise to teach children something about how we take photographs that are aesthetically pleasing so that they too can think about the artistic arrangement of different parts of a photograph. When teaching them about composition, it’s important for the children to learn about angles (i.e when they turn their camera or move their body, they can capture different types of photographs).

The primary prop used for this activity is a set of rectangular frames (8” x 10”), which I cut out of an abundance of cardboard boxes with a craft knife.    I did this about 16 times so that I could have one frame for each child, plus one for myself and some spares if the children tore or lost their frames.  The reason for the frame being rectangular is because that is the shape of most camera viewfinders, as well as most photographic prints and it can allow you to teach the children how to compose both landscape and portrait photographs.  Had I had more times with the children, I would have got them to decorate their individual frames, so that it would then possess more value to them.  However, since my time was limited it was not really an option, though I would highly recommend doing so.  Together, you could have all sorts of fun using colour pens, glitter, paper shapes, glue etc. to make the frames look really gorgeous.

Frame it

Framing it

a) Framing It

I. Before giving the children the frames, ask them to join together the thumbs and index fingers from both hands to make a rectangular shape and look through it.  Tell them to imagine that this is their camera and this is what they will use to practice taking photographs until they get really good and then we can all move onto using the real cameras.

II.  Show children the 2 different angles they can hold the camera to create a portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) composition.  Test them by playing, “Simon Says, (e.g.take a picture in the room of something beginning with …X… in…), portrait” –  or – “landscape” to see if they have got it.

III.  Line up the children in single file in front of an empty chair.  Now with yourself sitting on the chair,  the first child in-line takes a picture of you posing as the model and then goes to the back of the queue.  In this way, get them to take pictures on their wee-little-thumb-and- index- finger-cameras, instructing them to take pictures of different parts of your face and body (e.g. “take a landscape picture of the side of my face – or my face with my eyes cut out of the frame – take a portrait picture of just my foot without my leg – take a landscape picture of my hand on my knee”).

5l

IV.  Take the children around the school with the cardboard frame and ask them to take photographs with the frame of things they like (e.g.  I took them outside in the nursery garden and nursery play-area and instructed them which objects to take pictures of).

V.  Take out the Dolls and place them in view of the children.  Handout the cameras and when they have them all switched on give them the cardboard frame.  Ask them the name of their doll and then select a doll to give to them.  Now they take photographs of their Aliens in awkward positions all around the garden and nursery play area.  Children are reminded to think about their Aliens name and how the Alien is feeling at all times.

VI.  Return back to the class room.  Sit in a circle or in way where everyone can see the photographs.  Go through each students photographs editing them by keeping the best ones and deleting the not so good ones.  In total each child should have  5 of their best photographs from the session.  Whilst doing this, talk about each photograph.  What makes it so good? How does it make us feel? How does the Alien feel in each picture?  Point out things about angles and composition to encourage them to note this.

VII.  Homework is set for the children to take the frames and cameras home to take pictures of objects that they think their Alien would like to see, using the the pieces of equipment as we had practiced in this session.

Conclusion:

2.  Framing and Composition:

The reason I am beginning the conclusion with Activity 2 from the session is because with hindsight,  I realise now that I should have done it in this order in the first instance –  leaving out steps V & VI (i.e taking photographs around the school) – to move on to exercise 5. (i.e. creating ‘Persona Dolls’)  – and then returning to steps V & VI thereafter.   This would have given the activity more momentum, as I found that the children could not connect the writing they had done in Activity 1, to taking photographs in Activity 2.  Had I conducted the session this way round, they might have been able to make a better connection. Though it must be said that the photographs they have taken are magnificent.  They paid attention to the framing and angling in their compositions and with the use of other props achieved some very creative results.

On the flip-side,  I was very disappointed that the school had forgotten to charge the batteries for the camera’s, the day before my session.  So instead of using the digital camera’s, we had to use Macbooks instead.  This was a bit tricky and annoying, as I could not teach the children how to use the frames with the small digital-cameras as I had planned, which would have assisted them with their assigned homework.  I suppose the Macbook with it’s own frame did function as a built on rectangular frame, but the cases they were in, kept flapping over the view finder, which hindered their abilities slightly and gave them a great cause for complaint.  Also, the Macbooks are quite heavy when you are just 6 years old and the younger children struggled with this as well as having to move around with the doll, putting it in different places around the garden and nursery.  What also ended up happening with the year 2’s, is that unknowingly they made a lot more videos than having taken photographs because of the way the MacBooks operate, it was hard for them to tell when they were taking pictures and when they were making video.  As ancient as I may sound, I have never used a Macbook before so I did not predict this issue.

With all that said and done, we got through it in the end.  The children enjoyed themselves and we all loved the photographs taken from the sessions, which will be revealed here, on PhotoGiraffe Live Art after the end of week four when the project ends.

1. Story Telling with Persona Dolls: 

Going through this exercise with the children was quite challenging for both of us.  Putting the theories into practice was not as easy as I had anticipated.   I expected  the children to reveal something about themselves to me through this set of activities, but most of them told me that their Alien was quite happy.  This came as a bit of a surprise to me as I had thought they had been selected for this project because they had some problems that they felt they could not talk about.  However, one girl did tell me that her Alien was lonely.  This should not have thrilled me as much as it did, as I felt I had made some sort of break through.  All in all, I learnt that most of the children I was working with were very happy, bubbly children with no real personal issues that I could help them resolve.  This is of course exactly how a child should be, but for the purpose of story building and problem solving, well I felt I had kind of missed the point somewhere.  By the end of the session I had a great many happy Aliens, with no problems to solve…where had I gone wrong?  I suppose the activity for most had succeeded at expressing their internal joy but they had forgotten their Alien had a character and how each picture they were taking related to the Aliens story.    Maybe they never really had  had an opportunity to ever access their feelings enough to be able to express them?   Maybe they are just very normal happy children, the way they should be? Or perhaps they were just too young for the exercises I had devised?

One thing I learnt first hand, (as I had been warned by the senior teacher at the start) was that these children although quite pleasant and happy, really did lack a great deal of imagination.  What I hadn’t realised was exactly how much and that for them to be able to access that part of themselves, I would have to spoon feed them with many different imaginative ideas, instead of expecting the playful ideas to come from them.  I suppose, this is what makes them so different from most of the kids I’ve ever known.

What’s Next:

1. Sharing Personal photographs:  Homework reviewing photographs taken by children unsupervised at home etc.

2. Story Building with Props:   Using props to photograph alongside Alien dolls to create a cohesive narrative.

3. Outdoor Expedition: Children take photographs of their aliens to document how the Alien feels in an environment outside of the school.

Other Useful Links:

PhotoGiraffe Worksheet Exercise 5. PDFhttps://photogiraffelive.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/4-intro-to-alien.pdf

Story Telling with Persona Dolls:  http://www.teachingforchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ec_personadolls_english.pdf

Emotional Literacy 101:  http://www.examiner.com/article/emotional-literacy-101-how-can-we-use-dolls-to-help-children-talk-about-their-emotions

Let’s Ask the Dolls Tutorial:  https://plus.google.com/photos/117052915866560521594/albums/5372812705499284737/5372813578364009986?banner=pwa

Teaching Kids Photography: http://www.artfulparent.com/2012/01/guest-post-frame-it-teaching-kids-the-art-behind-photography.html

Teaching your child about Emotions:  http://connectability.ca/2010/09/23/teaching-your-child-about-emotions/

Children Expressing Emotions Through Photography: http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr&id=pTXJFG9J7pQC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=expressing++emotion+through+photography+children&ots=ZdjZrv9QSn&sig=oDp059l_6pog7RBZdUV6mQ7MWps#v=onepage&q&f=false

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