Thursday, March 25, 2010


It's school vacation week. No orphanage for me! But I did have a nice visit last week before leaving for Estonia.

Every once in a while I get acquainted with a new part of the orphanage. Recently, I've been having most of my tutoring sessions in a little room called "The Museum."


When we used to visit the summer camps, we would often bring several suitcases full of art supplies, so that we could teach some activities as well as leave supplies with the Russians who led workshops. It was always a delightful (and humbling) surprise when the counselors begged us for a scrap of this or that and then created brilliant masterpieces for a camp fair or theatrical production.

Isn't it amazing how different minds can make such a variety of works of art from the very same materials? I was mesmerized the first time I was in The Museum and saw all the different things the children had made: paper sculptures, drawings, paintings, dolls and stuffed animals, matchstick sculptures, other things I don't know the name for...

And I am not sure that I am even capable of producing them! As far as I can tell, Russian children are taught from the beginning about precision and being careful with things like glue. I have trouble teaching crafts because I am not very careful myself and I don't like to give exact models because they will copy it. But when they are given good instructions and guided through...what wonderful results!


  1. Wow that's so impressive! What beautiful work created with such limited supplies. Makes my art teacher heart smile!

    And that's so interesting about Russian children being taught how to be precise with glue-- most of the children I've taught here in the U.S. are very un-precise and messy (even the high school students!).

  2. I was so impressed with the art teaching in Russia.... I think that the kids do copy - but look at many of the great artists and what did they do as apprentices? Copied! By copying you learn a LOT, and then you can bring in the creativity. I suppose I am old fashioned in that, but I like to be able to LEGITIMATELY and HONESTLY compliment children's work, and so often all they've done is waste expensive materials!

    In our programs we have a budget, so there have been times (making cards for the sick or elderly, etc.) where I've said; here are some models; make yours look like this! I want results that are presentable and enough nice materials for everyone.

    Anyway - one amazing thing my Sergei could do was amazing origami and other paper crafts. They could do, as you say, so much with so little.

  3. I have a hard time praising children for coloring in the lines, but being careful definitely counts as working hard, so shouldn't go unnoticed.

    I don't know much about teaching art, but with ESL assignments it is always very important that each assignment have a clear task. So a "draw how you feel" assignment would have a different charge than a "make something you can give to someone else" assignment.

  4. I love their crafts there and am amazed at what they make. I was privileged to visit a few of the art rooms in orphanages over there.


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