Sunday, April 26, 2015

Explorations in Art

Our classroom transition has began to change into a predictable routine. This has meant more frequent small groups and increased time to follow child interest in a more intimate environment. A few weeks ago I set up an exploration I thought the kids would find great interest in. We all sat down and everyone worked for a few minutes before their interest fizzled out. AK looked up at me, "Why can't we just do art?" I looked back at him and realized I had no reason for why we couldn't. I stood and began to look at the materials we might use instead then spoke, "If you are interested, we could clean up our materials and work with the markers instead." EF nodded "Yeah! We need stickers, too!" CE added, "And BIG paper pieces!" The children were motivated by their excitement to use the markers and quickly cleaned up the materials already out. I handed out the materials we had decided to use and the children set them upon the table. Then we began to work.

The children spoke as they worked on their individual pieces. HM said, "I'm drawing cars!" HR said, "Oh! Me too! I love to draw cars." CE made a long sweep with a marker then added a foam sticker, "I'm making dance class!" She peered over at EF's paper, "What are you making E?" EF stopped working and studied her paper, "I don't know yet. I'm not finished." This caused the others to study their papers as well. For a moment everyone was quiet. All work had stopped. They were simply considering their own work. AK spoke up, "Yeah! None of us are finished yet." After this their work resumed.

For the next small group I hosted I set out a provocation based around art materials. I placed small vessels of water color with brushes next to half pages of paper. I invited children to approach the provocation with a simple offering, "When you close your eyes, what do you see? Can you use the brush to make it?" What followed was a lot of closed eyes and focused, intentional brushwork. Each child began to work to paint what they saw in their imaginations. JK painted circles slowly, "These are faces that I see."


 DA used her brush to make thick lines, "I see a tree so I'm painting that." CE began to paint lines in a flower or star like fashion, "I'm just closing my eyes then painting a little then closing my eyes again." SC was quiet as he worked. He would paint for a moment then stop and consider what he would do next- without closing his eyes, though. After the initial surge as we started, each child fell into their own individual rhythm with working. Though they were all using the same materials with the same set up, each child connected with the materials in their own way.

 Our most recent exploration was inspired by the children's interest in dandelions. As a group we've spent considerable time picking dandelions, pulling weeds from our garden, making dandelion crowns, and even bringing bouquets of dandelions into our classroom! The cheerful yellow of the dandelions naturally pulls us to explore them- to touch them, smell them, and gift them to one another. Today as our group headed inside I asked them if anything outside piqued their interest to use in our art explorations that day. Of course, they immediately and collectively answered, "Dandelions!"

 Each child found a few dandelions to pick before coming inside. Once we were inside I handed out half sheets of paper and brought down a few small spray bottles filled with water. With help from the water, we used the dandelions to paint!
Some children applied water directly to their dandelion while others sprayed the paper itself. Though it wasn't the most successful in terms of actually creating something, the journey of our explorations was endlessly engaging for each child. When one attempt to paint with the dandelion didn't work, EK quickly tried another. CE carefully pushed her dandelion on her paper without water, leaving a faint yellow mark. She yelled out, "I can see the flower! There's color in it! Look it's on my paper!" In each of our small groups, the exploration was our true focus. I can't wait to continue this work in the upcoming week!

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