Where else can a child learn about herbs, clay sculpting, nature journaling, and movement? Only at Davis Wholistic Learning Resources. Syrendell's Rick and Jennifer Tan have been partners with Wholistic Learning Resources based in Sacramento to bring enrichment classes to the Davis area homeschooling families. This fall-winter term opened the children's imaginations through clay creations and learning about herbs, among other fabulous classes. How great is it being at this 10-week term? As one child put it, "I wish I can be here every day!"
"You complete me," said the wool.
"No, you complete me," said the wood.
And thus the two elements went on with their love affair. Together, they were partners, equals in their relationship, intertwined, yet retaining their own personalities. Together, they lived in harmony. Together, they brought such joy to everyone who would see their sweet partnership!
I've never worked in the medium of chalk until I became a Waldorf teacher. Several years ago, I witnessed a teacher at East Bay Waldorf masterfully create a chalk drawing on a blackboard with an Impressionist quality. I was hooked!
As I experimented with different techniques, I discovered I preferred Realism in depicting my subject matter. This series of drawings is of a performer in the Cirque du Soleil, which I used for my Human Anatomy class in the middle school. Here are a few helful hints on how to create a large scale piece.
Step One | Use a grid method. Traslating an image or photograph you like onto a blackboard is much easier if you scale it up with a grid, then draw in the outlines.
Step Two | Rough chalk in the larger shapes to give a base color, something neutral.
Step Three | Start layering chalk colors. The blackboard by virtue of being black gives an immediate depth to the work, so layering the colors becomes important to balance the black, allowing the colors to give the 3-dimensional quality.
Step Four | Identify areas where light is hitting your subject. This further makes the subject pop, as contrast is made with the black and surrounding colors.
Step Five | Add in detail chalk work. While layering the chalk involved the flat, long edge of the chalk, detailing will need the point end of the chalk.
Step Six | Create a background for your subject. Here, I decided to clean up the board by adding in more black chalk as it made the performer appear to be in a spotlight in a darkened space. The background should complement the subject, unless the whole board is used to create an entire landscape or scene.
Rick and Jennifer Tan of Syrendell partners with Wholistic Learning Resources to bring arts and crafts to homeschooling families who come to them in Davis, CA. The Tans host two ten-week terms in the year. In the colder, wetter, winter-spring term, they create a musical theater play for the children to learn and perform! Rick writes the play and Jennifer writes the music.
Themes include the famous camping trip of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt in Yosemite, the infamous world-wide voyage of Nellie Bly, the legendary strength of Finn McCool, and the fictitious Queen Eliza's royal birthday party. The children learn some basic drama skills and have fun singing and dancing, and their families enjoy a hsort performance at the end of the term.
Rick Tan has also written full length plays when he taught at a private Waldorf school, which aligned with the topics he was teaching in the middle grades. Learn how to write a class play with this free downloadable pdf, written by Rick Tan.
Rick and Jennifer Tan have been teaching side by side as Syrendell for a long time. Informally, as husband and wife, they impart their creative gifts to their own children, often combining their love of art, crafts, and music. For their homeschooling classes and their summer camp program, they enjoy the opportunity to integrate two mediums of creative engagement: woodworking and handwork. For them, it creates a wonderful balance, like the yin and yang, of hard and soft, earth and animal, neutrals and colors. Here they taught the children how to make magic wands and pouches. It engaged all the children's senses and their skills. With time to spare after class, the children ran around outside and began casting (good) spells on each other!
In his diagram of the Social Wellness Milestones through the Grades, a free downloadbale pdf, Rick Tan puts side by side the various child development ideas from Erik Erikson, Kim John Payne, and Steiner. It makes for a fairly neat and tidy accounting of what each grade level builds for the child.
Dr. Tan observed a sweeping arc that builds three very important capacities in the human being: SELF-WORTH, SELF-ESTEEM, and SELF-IDENTITY. While each individual comes to these capacities in their own time, it is essential that educators and parents keep these at the core of nurturing happy and healthy children.
In your path as a teacher, the Five Spheres offers a way of experiencing the education journey. Regard it as a guide on how to equip yourself for the 21st century, a meditation for yourself and what matters to you.
The Five Shperes are SELF, RELATIONSHIPS, BALANCE, RHYTHM, and COURSE. They are keywords that delve into what each brings to the journey. Syrendell has the Five Spheres Trail Guide by Rick Tan available as a free downloadable pdf. Rick Tan would also be happy to lead a workshop for groups interested in learning how to apply it to their worklife.
Here are some excerpts:
SELF | The SELF is everything from which all experiences begin and end. Our experiences encompass thinking, feeling, and doing. In being fully engaged with the world around us, the SELF builds a vitality of being.
RELATIONSHIPS | When we value the RELATIONSHIP that we are in, we are better individuals. We are more empathetic, more understanding, more compassionate. We are more open and trusting. We nurture as we are nurtured. We love as we are loved.
BALANCE | Dynamic equilibrium: maintaining BALANCE in the face of constantly changing conditions. Life is always changing and evolving. The SELF changes (growing older, maybe wiser!). RELATIONSHIPS evolve.
RHYTHM | The flow of blood through the four chambers of the heart has a reliably steady RHYTHM. Whether it is the organism of earth or the human being, life is sustained in RHYTHM.
COURSE | With vitality, synergy, harmony, and sustainabilty, we go on a COURSE of discovery. The adventure of the humankind calls us to explore and to seek. We search for meaning and purpose.
It's really all about heart. It's what guides Jennifer and Rick Tan as teachers of Davis WLR. In the Winter-Spring term that ended yesterday, culminating in a musical theater performance, the children created a collage of heart and spirit, with bits of herbs, wool, and wood thrown in for good measure!
Ten weeks of pure creative soul. Art, Herbal Alchemy, Woodworking, Handwork, Games & Movement, and Musical Theater. Rick and Jennifer teach from a place of intuition and inspiration. The children, in working with nature's gifts, imbue each craft with imagination and simple joy.
Our featured picture at the top is of one of the student's mosaics of the ASL gesture for "love". When the children are given guidance to build artistic skills and given freedom to express themselves, they demonstrate capacities that will always amaze us. Their work becomes a reflection of the underlying lesson that Rick and Jennifer Tan impart - creative heart.
In her 20's, she pioneered investigative journalism and traveled the world in 72 days. Nellie Bly deserves a musical! So, the students of Wholistic Learning Resources of Davis in Davis, CA, performed one on the last day of their 10-week Fall term.
The students gave a heart-warming, rousing performance of The World of Nellie Bly, a musical written and directed by Rick and Jennifer Tan, teachers at Davis WLR. The husband and wife team had previously offered two separate classes, music and drama. With an overwhelming interest by the students, the Tans joined their talents to create a musical theater class!
In a twenty minute stage performance with four original songs, the students, ages 6 through 14, gave their family and friends a peek into the life of Nellie Bly. Born Elizabeth Cochran in 1864, she was a young child taught to seek the truth by her father, who was a landowner and judge of the town named after him, Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth eventually moved to Pittsburgh, where her writing skills earned her a job as a reporter with the Pittsburgh Dispatch. The owner and publisher George Madden gave Elizabeth the pen name Nellie Bly. She then worked for Joseph Pulitzer at his newspaper The New York World. Nellie Bly gained fame and notoriety for her investigative journalism into the poor working conditions of the city, and her expose into an insane asylum. And if that was not enough, she decided to travel the world in 72 days, beating the fictional adventure in Jules Verne's book Around the World in 80 Days.
The students had a great time learning about stage direction, choral singing, and history! The cast ended the play with a fitting quote by Nellie Bly: "If you want to do it, you can do it. The question is, do you want to do it?!"
Welcome to Syrendell Summer Camp! The chalkboard sign beckons our families to enter a sanctuary. It is a place for the children to explore the wonders of their own creativity and experience the joy of togetherness. It is a place inspired by nature and Waldorf. With artistic vision and dedication, co-directors Jennifer and Rick Tan created a two-week camp that promotes development of practical skills and social capacities. Activities in handwork, woodwork, mixed media, meal preparation, singing, and movement foster a sense of pride, confidence, and imagination as well as a sense of community, cooperation, and respect. With a team of compassionate, caring, and talented teachers and staff, Syrendell Summer Camp is a celebration of art, nature, and love.
VENUE | Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis | Chris Hendrix-Chupa
DIRECTOR and HANDWORK TEACHER | Jennifer Tan | Syrendell
DIRECTOR and WOODWORK TEACHER | Rick Tan | Syrendell
CULINARY ARTS TEACHER | Brian Wolfe | Waldorfish
EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHER | Trisha Lambert | Colors of Nature Etsy
AFTERCAMP TEACHER | Karen Hansen
ASSISTANTS | Sabrina Esposito, Kelly Green, Ally Peart,
Anny Schmidt, Mikaela Tancioco, Joey Tan
VOLUNTEERS | Anna Huang, Wilson Tan, Nicole Woolley
PHOTOGRAPHER | Robin Fadtke | Zoart Photography
VIDEOGRAPHER | Phill Sheffield | Phillip Alan Films