“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life”
“We have to let it go. It probably feels like it’s in jail.” David, age 5
A few days ago, I had a group of Kindergarten children in the studio. We were discussing different ways to use color in our sketches. Since they had sketched magical creatures of the garden, we were discussing how to make colors “glow”.
Owen was particularly excited about the possibilities of line and color. He kept adding to his picture while narrating what the line or color represented. Suddenly he looked up an exclaimed.
“We’re writing stories by drawing a picture!”
I will follow Owen’s lead in this post and use pictures to tell some of the stories from the studio over the last 2 weeks:
PreK’s invented over 40 colors for the use of all the students at SWS
With the the new paint colors, and photographs of school memories, the preK’s painted their first observational paintings.
When the anatomy of mark making meets paint- the wonder of watching unfolds…
Each child exhibited their visual thinking strategies. For some it was all about choosing just the right colors and enjoying the qualities of swirling the paints together on the paper.
For other, some representational brush strokes to show a fish or a butterfly or flower was pleasing.
George however, blew my mind. He methodically painted a solid black background, using brush strokes.
He then added the green lily pads in the foreground by using the the brush in a different way, as seen in the below photo.
He used another green to represent the lifted lily pad leaves, and finally added white petals of the lotus, with detailed yellow dots in the center. I just sat and watched from a chair with my mouth hanging open. Watching a young 4 year old deconstruct and then recreate an image is a rare thing. Creative thinking and the brain continues to be a complete wonder to me.
and then from observing thinking to making visible the magic in the imagination-
While searching for gnomes and fairies, Lilah found a worm.
And then there were some sightings of little creatures, for some.
And then to the studio to sketch what might be living in and among the garden.
The following week, we looked critically at color.
How can you use color to make something “glow?”
We looked through books of illustrations, and the children returned to their sketchbooks to add color.
In the book, The One Hundred Languages of Children, there is an essay about the importance of the use of light and projection in Reggio Schools. The essay observes that many adults go through their day, not noticing or experiencing the light, shadow, transparency, translucence around them, and how it transforms and changes places and objects. It states that this is quite a shame to be missing out on such an important element that is vital to our lives. The following story brings me much joy:
A few weeks ago a dove nested in the Arbor located on our playground.
The kids found it, and soon they were enthusiastically watching the dove watch them, as she sat on her eggs.
I decided to take small groups of children out first thing in the morning to observe and paint her.
In the morning, it is quiet on the playground, with no kids screaming and playing.
We witnessed the papa dove bringing nesting material to the mama and watched as she tucked it into her nest carefully.
What an amazing gift. The small groups all seemed to possess a tranquility and peace as they sat in the early morning light, watching the mama and drawing and painting.
Here are some of their representations:
The children were excited to tell the security guard about the dove and show their representations.
On Monday I returned with a small group to paint. The dove was gone.
They painted the empty nest and theorized why she left. They decided they still wanted to paint the birds even thought they weren’t there.
Maren: “Maybe they left because it’s horrid, not so good. The babies might go on the playground and get stepped on. Maybe she wanted a quiet place.”
Mary: “I think they just wanted to visit someone’s house and because the baby birds rolled off the nest and flew.
Paige: “I think they just wanted a new home instead of here. Maybe in another bird nest or a birdy house, maybe because this house was not too nice.
Maren: “Maybe she came here when no kids were playing on the playground and she said, ”This is a nice quiet place.” And then all the kids came and then she maybe just wanted to fly away and build a nest somewhere else because it wasn’t comfortable.”
They returned to their class and reported the missing bird as well as their theories. While disappointing, both preK classes have chicken eggs in an incubator in their classroom.
Later that same afternoon there was a group of Kindergarten children in the studio working on their dream house stories, when a rainbow graced itself in a long stretch of the floor under the table. The sunlight managed to hit the water and reflect off an angle of the glass turtle tank in perfection. Estelle and Khalisa dove under the table to investigate. “Look Estelle colored her hair!!”
Last week it was a an unexpected find in the trash,
(Elanor, representation of light)
(Beck, representation of light)
(Lydia, representation of light)
this week an unexpected find of a nesting dove (and then loss) in nature, and then by days end there was a rainbow wrapping around our feet. Provocations unplanned never cease to amaze me.
Wonder, discovery, metaphor… continue to be profound principles that guide, inspire, and provoke learning for both the children and the adults. Not only do these unplanned valued interactions promote engagement, they spark possibilities for growth and perhaps projects in the future. They offer conversation. They offer beauty. They offer confusion. They offer possibilities. They offer imaginings.
(Lilah, representation of light)
PS If you happen to live in the DC MD VA area, I have a piece of art entitled Sparrows, 1-9 at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center. The exhibit is “Greenspiration.” Opening this Sunday, May 16th 2-4pm