Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Literacy and Art and a Gentle Reminder

Have you ever had one of those days when the stars and planets are aligning to make sure you "get the message?"

I had one today.

My class is in the middle of a camping theme. They have been having a grand time playing in tents, singing around our "campfire," pretending to roast marshmallows, pretending to grill hamburgers, reading by lantern light, etc.....all of the play based experiences you would expect to find in a preschool classroom.

The shared reading book we have been reading this week is called "The Camping Scare" by Terri Dougherty. It's a simple book with great picture-to-text relationships and good illustrations that show many of our targeted vocabulary words.

In our art center today, we had out large sheets of black construction paper, the scrap bin, scissors, markers and glue. The children were encouraged to make a camping picture as an extension of our other play experiences and the literature we have been reading.

One child took his turn at the art center and began snipping very small pieces of the scraps. I looked at what he was doing and asked him what he was planning on making. He tells me he's making a tent. (This is clearly NOT a my is tiny pieces of paper. In my head, we were going to have a great creative experience where the children could cut out shapes of their choice to create figures of tents, etc and then use the markers for the finer details.) Well, I let him continue with his art project and he continued snipping the tiny pieces of paper. Good thing!

It turns out, he used those tiny pieces of blue paper to glue an outline of a tent, then collaged the brown ones to make logs for a fire, the orange ones for the flames and cut a large purple rectangle and used the markers to draw a "friend sleeping in a sleeping bag." It was fantastic!

Clearly, we (as teachers and parents) need to remember that children (even young children) are individuals with their own creativity, thoughts and ideas. I'm so glad that this particular child gave me an experience that serves as a gentle reminder that there are times that children need to have the space and freedom to communicate their thoughts and ideas in the way that they determine rather than with what we impose.


Kylie said...

I completely agree with what you said about "children needing to have the space and freedom to communicate their thoughts and ideas in the way that they determine rather than with what we impose." I see myself rushing to help a student come to an answer in group discussion or swooping in to "save them" with an answer instead of giving them the appropriate wait time or creativity time. It amazes me some days to see how creative and how different many of my students think about things compared to my own thoughts.

Michelle_special_ed_teacher said...

@ Kylie,
Thanks for the comment. I find myself want to (and sometimes doing) the same things. Sometimes I have to consciously count to 5 to give the child some time to think before I step in to help.

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Luria Learning said...

I know what you mean! I guess it goes with the territory of being a teacher, but I always have urge to see if there's a way we can do things differently-- or better.

My children taught me a similar humbling experience, which I recounted in my blog post:

Christina Brown said...

I truly agree with you. I think at times we get so caught up with how we want things to look and turn out that we forget that these children also have their own ideas of how they want things to look and turn out. When I was reading your post it made me really want to make sure that I am not only vigilant but that I am aware of the fact that these children are all individuals and even though their project or assignment may turn out different than I had imagined it is perfectly ok and that at all times we should embrace their creative imagination and individuality. Thank you so much for reminding me of that.

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