Monday, January 4, 2016

Where Will this Take Us?

One of my favorite things about planning and offering provocations is that I truly never quite know where they will go.  Last week, I laid a few fir branches out and offered everyone who was interested one white pastel and two pieces of paper, black and red.  AJ and CC were the first to the table, and were immediately drawn to alternating drawing on each piece of their paper.  For CC, this meant drawing a bit on one paper, then quickly switching to the other, then back again.  She eventually told us, "I made airplanes! Here and here and here! They're parked and flying!  This one's going to find its wheels but they're not out right now.  He needs to find his wheels and put them back on."  With two pieces of paper, CC chose to represent the same thing in different states, two versions of a story about airplanes.
Meanwhile, AJ laid a hand on each paper with a smile, and then chose one paper to work on, working quickly to "draw Mommy and Daddy!  See?  That right there...[gasp!] no no no! This just Mommy!"  She then asked me to hang her work and moved on to the next piece, which became a picture of her Daddy.  She seemed excited to have two pieces of paper available, across which she could divide the people in her vision as she worked - a whole sheet for Mom and Dad!  As CC and AJ worked, I reflected on how physical quantity interacts with our ideas about how to represent images and explore different angles.  How would these drawings be different if confined to one page?  Spread across three?

Up until this point, no one had moved the fir branches -- all of the work had been focused on paper and pastel.  Then, MH joined the table.  He was immediately drawn to the fir branches:  "What's this?  Can I use it?"  I explained to him what they were and reminded him where the tree they came from grows in our yard.  I told him they were available to touch, take apart, draw with, etc. and MH got to work exploring.  First, he used the pastel to trace the branch, but seemed to grow quickly disinterested in this approach as the needles repeatedly got in the way of the pastel.  He took some time to draw on the paper with the branch set a bit aside and then looked up quickly: "I need some tape!"  I asked him what his plan was: "I just need to stick these things together." I handed him some masking tape, and watched as he worked out how to adjust the pieces so branch and paper were attached.

He soon directed his interest to an untouched branch, and with this one chose to use the tape as a way of tracing the branch, laying a long piece up the center part.  He held it up to me and we noticed the sun shining through causing a shadow effect, with all of the needles perfectly outlined through the tape.  AJ had since re-joined the table and was fascinated by this, too -- what's happening here?  We made a plan to continue tracing the outlying branches with tape until it was covered, and then I suggested bringing it over to the window, where the sun was brightly shining through.  We observed the sun's effect for a few minutes, noticing other shadows through the window -- the branches outlined across the house, the tall grasses projected onto the bricks.  We eventually climbed down from the window and everyone returned to other work.

Several minutes passed and MH stopped what he was doing to come find me:  "In my Dr. Suess book a guy makes a shadow on the pavement."  I asked, "How do you think that happens?"  MH thought for a moment and smiled, "Well I got something to do right now!" and off he went.

I wonder how all of the things that came up that day will continue to be explored and built upon:  CC and AJ's exploration of physical quantity and artistic vision and MH's work with tracing and shadows.

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