Friday, March 28, 2014

Linnea in Monet's Garden and the onset of Spring. Finally.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, the onset of Spring coincided with art teaching becoming a lot harder.  It was my last trimester and I resembled Violet Beauregarde. Everything was difficult.  Everything.

This was when I became familiar with a wide collection of videos made for the elementary art room.
Linnea in Monet's Garden was on old VHS that came with my classroom.  I was teaching the life of Claude Monet and the students were going to start sponge painting some garden scenes.  The movie was a nice little break.  The kids really enjoyed it and would recall so much information for weeks after.  For me, watching it several times for all my classes, I started over analyzing it.  I started to get irritated by the dialog, and I really started to hate the pace of the story.

Briefly, Linnea likes to visit her elderly neighbor and drink soda, talk to herself, and look through his art books.  Somehow they decided to take a trip together to France.  Mr. Bloom has been there before, and really wanted to share the experience with Linnea. I guess?

That doesn't make much sense to me, but my students never seem to question why she is going to France with her neighbor.  I like that it mentions that it cost a lot, and I think showing the plane heading into France is great for the kids to understand just how far away it is.

The pacing is slow.  The movie is over 30 minutes and my students get very antsy.  I try to make sure they hang in there until they actually get into Monet's Garden.  Stopping and reviewing what has already happened seems to help.  It does start to get exciting when they intermingle photographs, cartoon, and paintings.

The climatic scene is when Linnea is on the Japanese bridge.  She is so excited to be on the actual bridge from Monet's painting.  She says, "It can never be more now than it is right now."  I don't get that.  I cringe when I hear it each time.  I always think the kids are going to ask me what she means, and I wonder if I could explain it as a transcendental experience or something.

This wasn't meant to be a review of the movie, just a story about my experiences with it.  Just think about how many times you will have to watch it.

I started a mini Monet project with my first graders this year.  It's been a long time since I watched Linnea in Monet's Garden and I thought it might be nice for this lesson too.  It happened to be on a day when Chicagoland experienced a teaser of Spring (high 50s!)  The school was warm and windows were open.  The wet spring breeze filled the classroom as we sat in the dark watching the slow relaxing movie.  I was reminded of all the memories of my first experience with the movie over 10 years ago.  And of course, during the second viewing, all my snarky dislikes of it.

Two weeks after we watched Linnea in Monet's Garden, students recalled many facts about Monet's life and paintings.  That was what I had wanted from the get go.

I supplemented our learning with Susan Rodriguez's Travels with Monet.  There are a lot of nice facts and exemplars in this book.

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