Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tracing Our Bodies

In the morning I had a conversation with one child who remembered doing an activity that involved tracing your body on a large piece of paper.  We talked about what it felt like, what they remembered, and then we made a plan to revisit it in a new way outside.  Our bodies are powerful things, but hard for many children to visualize.  Mirrors give us a view of what we look like, but often when you are a child it is difficult to understand or truly see.

After the entire school went outside for the day, I quietly walked around and invited a few people.  Once we had 5 children who were interested, we made our way to the front of the school.  It was exciting to just quietly make our exit from the big group, almost like the work we were going to do was something sacred.

I gathered a box of chalk I had prepped and invited everyone to our cement patch.  After asking for a volunteer, I demonstrated tracing around someone's body.  It was a tricky thing, because it had began raining that day, but eventually everyone found a way that worked for them to lay down long enough to be traced by a friend or two.  The tension in the children's bodies as they felt the chalk running along their sides, arms and legs was high, but everyone remained still and held the pose carefully.

The result was exciting.  We could see the outline of our body!  Our head, legs, arms, middle section.  But what about the rest?  What really makes us people?  We all agreed faces, hair and clothing were important.  Each child began thinking about themselves: what color are my eyes?  my hair?  my nose? my shirt?  But I want blue hair this time.  And this person has violet eyes.  The more the children worked on their drawings, often inviting their friends to help them decorate, the more these outlines became other people.  A park was drawn for the people to visit, as well as a fence so that the bad guys couldn't get them.  I brought up the idea that these outlines were originally them, and I got the clear response:

"I am myself.  This is another person!"

When exploring identity, we are constantly finding ways to define who we are, what we are, and what we mean.  This time was no different.  Even though our starting point was tracing our bodies, the end result was differentiating between ourselves and an embodiment of another.  We are tied deeply with who we are and these moments help us solidify what that truly means.

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