May 18th 2006

First Day with Students from JBCS written by Shylene Schlackl.

When I arrived this am Maryan had the room almost all set up and ready to go for our first day with the students. Lucy, Maryan and I decided to prep up a few extra casts just incase the kids really got the hang of this and powered through.


As the students arrived we invited them to sit on the floor in front of some samples of the already made stones. The classes were invited to start working on design ideas ahead of time in their classrooms, so most of the groups arrived with a few examples of these ideas. .

We took the first moments with each group to introduce ourselves, the project and look at all their great design ideas .

Earlier we had decided that all the classroom stepping-stones would be framed using only black and white stones so we could mark them all. Today we had only this design detail in mind and everything else came from the students.

We started by showing the kids the right depth of sand, let them touch it and see how it felt in their hands. "I was happy when I touched the sand," remarked one of the students. While another commented in their journal that they liked it best "when we were looking at the sand we got to touch the sand and I had fun. I was happy."

The students all picked which color they would like to frame the stone in, picked a cup full and met back at the table to get further instruction.

When students were asked what they liked best many made reference to the rocks themselves; "sparkly rocks, " "all the colours of rocks" and "the shapes of rocks."

We then broke the groups up to fit the number of stepping stone casts we had prepped. It was exciting to watch the first group of kindergarteners placing the first stones.

We started by building the black and white edges with the first few classes. When asked what they liked best, one student replied "the border stones a lot" (black & white stones).

L ucy explained to the group the tightness of each stone to the next and how the stones could be held up the sand. She also showed them the importance of making the stones scratch the bottom the sand and hit the board below.

Between groups we took some time to un-mold a few of the stones we had cast earlier in the project.

We also did some stone detail work, by softly banging the edges of the stones - banging outward not into the stone- to remove any access cement from the edging stones.

Some of the students decided to work on the floor to get a better vantage point. "Picking out the middle rock" was one of my favorite parts remarked one student.

Lucy got down to level and helped the kids make a star-fish like design inside the black and white frame made by the last group of students. TEAM WORK.

It was great to watch the evolution of each SS as the classes came through the workshop, each group adding their ideas, energy and stones to the project.

When the kids felt they were done placing stones, they were invited to do more designing using the circle templates and felts. Some took their designs back to class while others added them to our design wall.

By half way through the day the wall of the gym was filled with the student's ideas and stepping stone designs.

It was a new experience every 25 minutes as a new group of students arrived and we took them through the same steps once again.

Introduction, design ideas, sand depth, stone collection, stone placement techniques and finally placing their cup full of stones.

Throughout the day we al worked together to create stones from the students designs. Everyone placing stones and energy just where it was needed.

In the afternoon artist Carolyn Knight joined the fun and helped us lead the workshops.

Writing by Carolyn Knight:
Big kids plowed through the large size stones pretty quickly; I note that supporting kids to work collaboratively still saw some kids pairing off but with encouragement, additional kids were urged to get into it, too (some of the quieter types defer to the leader-type kids, so engaging these more hesitant kids made space for their participation).

I note also that I skipped over an important element in the intro to kids: good to mention the detail of inherent good qualities of a stone, ie enough elevation+flat side down+all stones hugging up to one another makes for a strong stepping stone.

I know better what points to convey in the intro and learned a lot watching and listening to Maryan giving the intro/ outro schpiels! Thanks Maryan

All day long the artists and students worked together to create SS that had the black or white frame and followed some of the ideas the students themselves felt were important to the James Bay community.

Many times the student totally got the idea and what needed to be done, so leaders simply watched and let the students create.

We had a number of parent/ community volunteers come out today to help us with the classrooms.

It is always wonderful to see someone learn a new skill, turn around and teach someone else - love it!

A few of the students created designs right then and they got started on their design at the same time.

It was great to watch these guys get all inspired and motivated to make their ideas a reality, with a little help from the volunteers and leaders.

Each step of the way leaders were there to direct and help the students create their masterpieces. It was a very inspiring day to watch all the organic creating happening.

By late day we had a room filled with volunteers, parents, teachers, students and artists and now it was time to start casting the stones. How exciting, how much did we remember from our lessons with Glen Anderson?

Maryan and Shylene took to casting outside the gym. Maryan had brought her large drill mixer to mix the cements. Thanks Maryan

Before any group left the workshop we gave each student an invitations to the community workshops in September and that they remembered to journal about their experience of making Stepping stones. Everyone left with a smile on :)

In one day we made 12 new Community Stepping Stones. It was a very successful day and we are all very pleased with the end results and looking forward to next week's workshop.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Second Day with Students from JBCS, written by Angela Lee.

I arrived at 10 a.m. while a group was working with the stones. They were all very interested and eager to participate.

Throughout the day and the next 5 classes, Carolyn introduced the idea of adding stones in order to create a design.

She pointed out design "elements" by referring to the many drawings the kids had done that were taped to the wall, and asked them to point to ones with common design elements.

Later in the day we introduced the idea of having some stones in the circle where they first sat down where Carolyn talked about working together, community, design and creating something together.

The stones were then passed around for them to see and touch, and I placed them on one of the drawings and they were able to take their experience of an abstract idea, drawn in a circle to the physical "building" with stones.

Most kids were eager to participate. There was often one child who was very good at getting their ideas and or needs heard, while others quietly hung back. This was the challenge for teachers to maintain a balance of participation, allow all ideas to be heard and acknowledged and decided on together. That would have been ideal, but it didn't always happen that way.

The last class of the day, however, was a real success for me (AL). It happened to be a small group (4) and the design they chose (a peace sign) divided the space in 4 sections.

First they decided to each take a section and then, by working side-by-side and interacting, 2 of them decided to do a mirror image of each others work. The other 2 liked the idea so much that they decided to do that, too. They created "symmetry", which they understood and all felt connected to and that they had truly created something together. It was lots of fun and inspiring!

Artists took time throughout the day to ask kids what they thought about the project and making Stepping Stones together and here are some of the comments from kids:

"What I liked was . . .
"making the stepping stone"

"doing separate/symmetrical spaces"

"picking out rocks"

"putting rocks in the thing"

"making pretty stepping stones (my group separated our own designs so we
wouldn't fight over designs)"

"the patterns"

"It's cool to put stones from the beach into cement and on the sidewalk"

"lots of fun doing it!"

"everybody's ideas"

"the Big stone"

"we all worked together"

"rocks looked cool"

"got to stick rocks in sand"

"rocks! me too!"

"when we all came up with ideas"

"putting all our ideas together and we came up with one giant one"

Comments the students wrote in their journals themselves:

"It was great I had so much fun so so so so!!!!!!!!!! much fun"

"Stepping stones. I got to do it."

"When I was at Stepping Stones I was very happy when I was at stepping
stones. When I was at Stepping Stones I got to go make Stepping Stones."

"Stepping Stones. It was boring. All we did was sitting down."

"It was fun making stepping stones. I like making stepping stones. Once I
didn't get enough rocks and then got too much rocks."

"I felt ?? and happy. and it was real fun and we put sand in it and then got
stones in it. we got to make one."

And finally we must remember and thank the volunteer parents who cam out to help -

& we invite more to attend in September when we complete this project over three days.

September Community Workshops

Thursday 28th 4-8pm

Friday 29th 12-4

Saturday 30th 11-3pm

Come out & build a stone to add to the project.

James Bay Community Stepping Stones 2006 Project Journal
Mosaic the City
Victoria, British Columbia Canada
Copyright 2006 ©