At this age, children are becoming increasingly more self-aware through a variety of early interactions. Drawing, self-portraiture in particular, is a ‘universal’ way of helping children develop some of these understandings. We often invite children to observe themselves in a mirror while drawing their initial and subsequent portraits. While this is the most authentic way for children to investigate their characteristics, it is not without its challenges. It is a lot to ask of any 3, 4, or 5 year old to stop drawing every few seconds and go back to observe in the mirror. While this particular challenge has value toward development, it leaves room to lead into or build upon other intended concepts. In this case, a classroom focused on symmetry and detail while working in another form of self-portraiture. With this, copies of the children’s identity portraits were cut in half and taped to sheets of drawing paper. The children then worked toward mirroring their half-image with much concentration…
Groups of children visit the atelier (studio) after it has been reorganized with new materials and provocations…
Kevin: You gotta’ mix it! I need to make some blue.
Alexis: Now it mixed green!
Kevin: Can I have something like purple?
I’m out of purple and the red I would need to make it. Could I get you a different color?
Kevin: Black. Now it’s like the ocean.
Isabella: *hears the conversation and walks over from another area* Red and blue make purple!
Dylan: What is it?
Audriana: It melt!
Carrington: It melt.
Dylan: It’s so cool!
Jamarion: I’m making a quad-x car.
Isabella: I’m making a mountain. This is going on the top.
Brianna: I made a big one! Now I made two of them (small bottles filled with sand).
Daniel: I don’t know how to say this…
Oh, that’s a shell!!!
Daniel: Shell! *goes to dig for other shells and asks about each* Shell!!!
Audriana: I need help to open this small bottle. Now I need help to close it.
Carrington: I’m making something. A sand castle!
Cason: I’m making some yummy coffee.
Who is it for?
Carrington: This coffee is for Terryn!
Daniel: Mr. Bryan… it’s green!!!
*Note that first 3 photographs are from Reggio Emilia*
If you enter an early childhood environment in the Italian town of Reggio Emilia, you will find spaces designed with children’s exploratory minds at heart. A vast variety of intentional materials are presented to promote investigation, create a sense of wonder, and to help each child develop new interests and strategies. For example, one space may have MANY types of paper or art mediums available. The children are given the freedom to choose what they prefer and create as they see fit… leaving these as very-open ended explorations. In light of this example, children from our Gilliate building were presented with a Reggio inspired provocation… igniting new aspects of their ever-developing creativity!!!
As advocates for early childhood education, we value the importance of support from within our communities. St. Mary’s continued partnership with PNC bank is just one example. This past week, Client and Community Relations specialist Ms. Nicole Duncan volunteered her time to be with us. She brought along some new painting tools and an enormous banner to act as a grand canvas for the children! Together we brushed, dripped, sprayed, and splattered paint in creating a collaborative piece to be displayed by our friends from PNC bank!!! Relationships such as these are often so rewarding to all involved. New faces and new friends are welcomed and immersed into invaluable early childhood programs… leaving e.c. advocates with an ever-growing voice.
Last week, a teacher from another school was nice enough to donate lots and lots of amazing new materials/manipulatives for the children to explore. So today, they did just that!!!
Today, the children used new and familiar methods of painting in order to create beautiful works to be donated to the wonderful, Christine L. Fisher fund. These amazing people dedicate themselves to making quality early childhood education as widespread as possible. It is organizations such as these that are so integral to our cause, allowing us to be here, and most importantly… helping to provide the foundations that all children deserve.
In order to support Room 3’s playdough project, students were invited to the studio to work with clay in order to compare and contrast the two substances…
It is so easy to look at projects or investigations such as these and assume there is no substance (pun intended) behind them. We must look deeper. The measuring and mixing of ingredients bring forth valuable math and science concepts, our comparisons brought forth amazing conversations, and the manipulation of these substances strengthen children’s motor skills. Again, we must dig deeper… as these are just a handful of examples of the learning that takes place in early learning settings. This is especially prevalent with the Reggio philosophy and SMCC in general. Child interest is at the forefront, and our brilliant educators are amazing at bringing forth quality learning opportunities that are sure to support our children in any way possible.
Mark: What kind of playdough is this?
I wonder… what do you think?
Mark: It’s grey.
Steven: Playin’ playdough.
Yaretzi: It’s hard… the playdough.
What if I told you that it’s not playdough… it’s clay!
Mark: Ohhhhhh, clay can make anything. It gets hard and you can make a cup!
Mark: It’s cold… so, it’s not playdough. I made eye gobbles for details. It looks at things that you see on things.
Yaretzi: I made Olaf.
Larissa: It’s clay.
Aletzi: It’s hard.
Sarahei: I make it… it stuck.
Larissa: If you can’t squish it, it’s not playdough… Playdough not hard. In my class, it’s soft!
Room 6 of the Gilliate building has begun a project based on cars. In support of this they were invited to the studio, asked about what they already know, given minor instructions, and left free to carry out their own ideas for molding the clay into their visions of a car! These types of provocations are intended to aid in learning initial concepts as well as creating a foundation on which the children will continue to grow and develop new ideas… Specifically, concepts that are at the forefront in a given classroom!
BEFORE WE BEGIN…
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CARS?
Robert: They drive.
Jaire: They have… at my house… the car and the truck.
Robert: They put the keys in that way.
Rosie: My mommy has a car at my house… a blue one!
A BLUE ONE!?
WOW! HOW DOES IT WORK!?!
Rosie: It no work. It’s broke!
AH, SO IT NEEDS TO BE FIXED!?!
Jamarion: They drive.
Isabelle: Pink cars!
Kevin: I like red cars!
David: Yeah, they drive them!
Kevin: The car is too big!
David: Cars have engines. Cars have wheels.
Jamarion: Yeah, and they have buckets on the top of a car like a taxi.
Isabella: I just saw two police cars running.
Kevin: Yeah, I saw a lot of cars.
Robert: I made the body.
Bri: I make yours (Mr. Bryan’s car)!
Jaire: Bryan! It’s the wheels!!!
Rosie: I made the blue one. *she is really into this blue car… who’s is it?... can you guys go see it?*
Robert: Mr. Bryan, I made the engine.
Jamarion: It’s the roof.
David: I make a police one. *makes siren sound*
Isabella: A car! A police car!!!
Today, children of the Thompson building visited the studio and were welcomed to a new printmaking provocation. Each child was presented a cardboard square with additional cardboard that they could cut into designs of their choosing. These shapes and designs were then secured to their squares using ‘paper-gum’ tape, a material that becomes sticky only when wet. Once we had created our “print-blocks”, we rolled printing ink on top and pressed down on paper in order to reveal our prints!!! You can really see how valuable it is to invite the children to explore these longer processes. The learning they display along the way is always SO inspiring!!!