Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Cats! Cats!! Cats!!!

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram may be aware that I have a colony of cats out in the shed.  It is a great ice breaker as a relief teacher because it is a lot of cats.  But I also have a few books about cats and my favourite book is The Diabolical Mr Tiddles, which I have blogged about previously.  Below is the cover and back of the book.

But I always have photos of my cats on hand.  Here are some photos of some of my cats.  These ones are all brothers with the same mother cat, but they come from three different litters.

Rocket Cat - the chosen cat who actually gets to live in the house.

Crunchie Cat - he is the colour of the inside of a Crunchie Bar!

Marmite Cat - a cheeky little sod who should never be left alone with toilet paper!

I had a four day block booked with a Year 2/3 class during Term Two and this gave me  the opportunity to do writing that could be revisited and art to a high standard with this class.

To start, we read the book about Mr Tiddles and then we went and planned the writing of our stories.  Some children had their own cats to write about.  Some wrote about their grandmother's cat or their friend's cat.  Some pictured the cat they would really like to have.  We brainstormed the stories using this brainstorm sheet below which we had co-constructed the day before.

It is not often I get the chance to follow a piece of writing through from brainstorm to drafting, editing and then publishing, so I relished this opportunity and took the time to type up each child's story on completion.  I then emailed the stories to a teacher aide who was able to print them out for me.

Each day we worked on drawing cats as well.  I demonstrated how to do it on the board and the children followed me through step by step.  I demonstrated fluffy cat and short-haired cats.  I demonstrated sitting up proudly cats and lying down cats and walking cats.  I demonstrated stripy cats and cats with white chests and cats with a collamoration (is this a word?) of colours.

This is how I teach the children to draw the sitting up proudly cats.

Step 1.  Draw a triangle for the nose with curved corners.

Step 2.  Draw the 'cheeks' and mouth from the top corners.

Step 3.  Draw the eyes.  Make sure they have points at either end and the black iris in the middle.

Step 4.  I draw the ears.  They need to be above the eyes but far apart.

Step 5.  Draw the sides of the cat's face.  In this example I have done the fluffly cat.  If I was doing a short-haired cat it would have a rounded face.

Step 6.  Draw the top of the head between the ears.

Step 7. Draw in any facial features your cat may have for patterns.

Step 8.  Draw on the whiskers.

Step 9.  For the fluffy cat, draw a fluffy chest.  For short-haired cats with a white chest I draw it it.  Skip this step for a one coloured cat.

Step 10.  Draw the front legs.  Show the toes and put on the sharp claws.

Step 11.  Draw the back legs.  Remember the toes and claws.  Also draw in the body between the head and the back legs.

Step 12.  Draw the tail.  I drew a fluffy tail.  I would make smooth edges for a not fluffy cat.

Step 13.  Finally, between the front legs, put the bottom of the cat in.  After this they can put on any patterning on the body, legs and tail the children deem necessary.

After we practiced drawing cats, at least three times, I gave the students the flash cartridge paper and they drew their cats.  I asked them to draw the cat taking up most of the paper.  I did this for several reasons:

  • I don't want to have to use binoculars to see the cats when they are mounted.
  • They were colouring in with crayons, so I wanted them to be able to have big details rather than tiny details to colour.
  • Bigger is easier to cut out.
  • In the words of the big dude who used to do the advertising for Mitre 10 Mega, "Big is good!"
As you can see below, each cat is individual and each child's own work.  I think they look fabulous and they all have attention to detail when it comes to whiskers and toes and claws... and fashion accessories.

As you can see I cut out each child's story and each child's cat.  I ran out of time to glue them onto coloured paper, but when Paula came back to school, she sorted it all out and it was a pleasure to come into the class a week or so later to see the pictures and stories mounted and hanging up in the class.  The children had worked so hard.

Reading through the stories, I love how the funny little things about each cat are reflected.  The children certainly took pieces of the brainstorm to focus on for them to create a word picture of their cat.

This was a fun week and it was a pleasure to have Paula's class to do some fabulous writing and art.

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