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Discovering Faith Ringgold

For the past couple of years, Hazel and I have ended the year with a big project. We decided that we wanted to do a lesson on Faith Ringgold based on the book Tar Beach. We had visions of taking photos of the children that would look as if they were flying. I could hardly wait for May to being the work.

In reading about Ms. Ringgold, I learned a lot that I hadn’t known before. Her books have always been a hit with us. I had a TK in my program who loved the book Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House. I read it at least once a week after Addison discovered it on our shelf. She was fascinated with the stories of the women and the idea that paintings could come to life.

I ordered Tar Beach, but couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I checked it out of the library. My usual way is to read any new book to the TK’s and K’s before I read it to the big group. It helps them anticipate what will happen next and they don’t seem to be lost when we read at the afternoon story time. They loved the book. They were excited to listen to it again and spend time looking at the pictures. The big kids really loved the book, too. They asked a lot of questions about her life and the time in which she grew up.

We started with the pictures. We had each of them lie down on a carpet and spread their arms and legs as if they were flying. When it was time to create their own Tar Beach, each of the children designed buildings and a bridge he/she would like to own. They painted the canvases with watered down blue ink. Hazel and I found some lovely tissue paper to use for the border. They each had their own vision of what it would look like. I love them all.

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