Monday, 5 March 2018

Relationships of Learning

Toys From Home

"A child's play is not simply a 
reproduction of what he has experienced,
but a creative reworking of the 
impressions he has acquired."


 The learning environment is rich in possibilities and has been curated carefully to engage the children creatively as they make meaning about the world around them. Often the children in our class bring toys from home to school. We have observed the children use these treasured toys in creative ways during play. 

Today a toy dirt bike inspired exploration and learning within the classroom. One of our year one children began this exploration by creating texture in the play dough using the dirt bike's wheels. First he flattened the dough with his hand and then he carefully observed the effects of the wheels as he zoomed the dirt bike back and forth over the dough. 

A few children gathered around and were drawn into his exploration. A friend asked if he could draw the dirt bike. After gathering the necessary materials from the atelier they sat at the table and discussed the dirt bike. Noticing many of it's details and sharing their own personal experiences with dirt bikes the friend began to draw the toy dirt bike. 

Their discussion reflected respect, curiosity and a desire to share their understanding of the dirt bike through drawing. After completing the first drawing the dirt bike continued to inspire and a second drawing was completed. This time the dirt bike was placed on the green paper and traced before the details were added. I wondered if they thought this might give a more accurate silhouette of the dirt bike. The dialogue inspired by the dirt bike continued and they decided to cut both drawings out once they were completed.

The interaction of the toy dirt bike within the learning environment and it's materials generated a beautiful moment for these two children. It made visible their ability to collaborate, discuss, create, tell stories, share experiences and build knowledge together. 

Learning is built on relationships with materials, the environment but most importantly our relationship with each other. As we journey with the children through our emergent curriculum program we enter into the relationship of learning. Thus, providing the scaffolding for current wonders as well as provoking future explorations and driving the learning forward. All of this is built on a relationship formed out of respect and trust. I am grateful to have witnessed this lovely moment and honoured to have documented it preserving the learning for reflection. 

"In Reggio the process
of learning involves making
connections and relationships
between feelings, ideas, words and actions."

Debbie LeeKeenan and John Nimmo

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Collaborative Canvas ~ Exploring Creative Relationships

Creative Relationships

The atelier is a space that lives within each of us. As we go about our daily life, this space has the potential to communicate ideas, thoughts and dreams that otherwise might not be expressed. Supporting creative thinking and expression is key to unlocking the full potential that lives inside each one of us. 

Within the learning environment many opportunities are given to guide the creative spirit through materials, time and building of relationships. As children make meaning of the world around them the atelier supports their curiosity and wonder. As educators we engage the children to slow down, take notice and observe. This allows for deeper meaning to be made as we question and dialogue about what we notice. The creative cycle of notice, wonder, observe, dialogue and create is repeated over and over again until new connections and meaning emerge. Throughout the creative process in the atelier we share our journey visually with others and thus engaging them in the learning and building relationship with not only others but the creative materials held within this wondrous space. 

Our collaborative canvas invitation began with an offering of tempera paint to the children. The children covered the large canvas with broad areas of colour and began to paint flowers at the one end. We offered larger brushes to allow for these broader areas of colour. The brushes were both round ended and flat bristle brushes allowing for a variance in mark making with the paint. 

The following day the children were offered acrylic paint and smaller brushes. We discussed the shapes we observed on our canvas. The children were guided to use the small brushes to create details around these shapes. Lines, dots, and colour exploration were the focus of our collaborative painting. The children were very much engaged in the process and shared their ideas as they painted. The building of respect for the materials and each other was quite evident. Several children painted quietly completely at one with the creative process. 

It is important to note that the children have access to these creative materials daily and have had many experiences already with these art mediums. Each experience builds their relationship creatively and expressively. It is a joy to observe this and a privilege to guide as an educator. 

The third day of our collaborative canvas focused on using oil pastels to add another layer and dimension to our painting. I shared with the children how lighter colours next to darker colours provided high contrast and highlighted that area of the painting. 

With each layer that was applied to the canvas its story became richer and the relationship between the artists visible as their creative expression intermingled in an artistic dance on the canvas. 

Perhaps our canvas can become a metaphor for living. Each artist contributing their own uniqueness to inspire others in this collaborative canvas we call life. 

Looking for creative inspirations and explorations! Subscribe to the blog in the sidebar. I would love to connect with you! Let's build a creative community together. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

The Beauty of a Rose

"Everything has beauty,
but not everyone sees it."

As we document children within our Kindergarten program I am always amazed at the depth of their ability to see the beauty around them. Their wonder and awe at the world which invites them to engage in a dialogue of creating understanding. As the children enter into relationship with the materials in their environment they begin a process of observing, exploring, discovering and then rethinking and reimagining ideas. Children often repeat, rework, reconsider and then making new connections to previous ideas represent their thinking in a multitude of ways. This was evident throughout this inquiry into the beauty of a rose. Allowing the children time to move through this process at their own pace was paramount to authentically moving their thinking forward. The children were offered support and guidance in response to their daily explorations. Through artistic creation their image of the rose became visible to those who could see its beauty. Below is the documentation collected to preserve the children's thinking for reflection and celebration of their learning.

After shared learning time while working in her journal, Kate drew roses. Charlotte became interested in Kate’s roses and they discussed Kate’s drawing. When they were finished with their drawings, Charlotte asked if she could use the iPad to look at photo’s of roses. After selecting an image of beautiful roses, she went to the crayon caddy and selected two colours of crayons that matched the colours of the roses in the photo on the iPad. Charlotte placed red and pink crayons on the table. She drew pink roses on her paper. Charlotte called Kate and Stella over to the table to see the image of the roses that she discovered. Charlotte had discovered a GIF of the Beauty and the Beast rose. After observing the GIF, Kate left and returned to the table after visiting the art materials shelf with pink paper, a pencil and a pair of scissors. Kate drew roses inspired by the iPad image and then proceeded to cut them out. This was the beginning of an interest in roses. Lucy joined the girls at the table and they continued to view a variety of images of roses on the iPad.

This interest in viewing roses on the iPad continued for several days. Each play block, the girls would ask for the iPad. I offered them oil pastels to document through drawing their observations of the roses. As they explored this artistic medium their conversation centred around the effects of the oil pastels on the paper. Often I observed them using their fingertips to feel the layers of pastel on the paper. Each day the girls returned to the inquiry table to draw roses. I offered some cut roses from my garden for the children to investigate. They were added to the inquiry table and this inspired more drawings and discussion. The children’s initial drawings reflected their understanding of how flowers look when drawn. They began by creating a central circle and adding petals around the centre circle. Then they would add a stem for each flower bloom.

We shared the children’s drawings and photos of their investigations while observing the roses and rose petals with the children. Then we invited them to discuss their ideas about what interested them about the roses. Lucy spoke first she shared, “Because I like them they are red and pink.” Kate added, “That they are red.” Then Blakeley said, “It’s beautiful. My mom has a rose.” We continued to share the photo’s of the children and the roses allowing time for the children to look at each photo we projected. Giorgio thought, “It looks like a rose tree house. There are stairs in there.” Maysea shared, “It looks like the Beauty and the Beast.” She had made the connection between the GIF that they children were so interested in and her previous knowledge of the Disney movie. Then we shared the blue rose GIF with the children. Madelyn had drawn this image over the course of several days. Marc wondered, “How are those roses blue?”

Then the children went off to play block and our discussion ended. Madelyn returned to the inquiry table and asked to look at the blue rose GIF again. Blakeley sat beside her and joined Madelyn in drawing the image on the iPad. Kate sat on the other side of Madelyn and also chose to draw the rose image. Madelyn added to her drawing from the previous day, she drew clouds and rain. As they drew the girls conversation was not about the roses but rather reflected their everyday life. They discussed what they had done on the weekend which revolved around cleaning the toy room. Then they quietly worked on their drawings until Blakely shared, “I’m making a rose, feel my rose. Look Kate. I’m making a rose just like you.” I observed Blakeley and she was very interested in the feeling of the oil pastels on the paper. She used her fingertip in a spiral motion tracing the shape of the oil pastel rose. It’s texture was smooth and velvety to the touch. Blakeley then pointed to the two roses and said, “This is me. This is Pellan.” She had connected herself and her sister with the roses she had drawn.

Madelyn presented her blue rose oil pastel drawing to the children the following day. She shared, “These are the roses that were going to bloom because they are not.” I inquired about the rain in her drawing. Charlotte quickly said, “So they can grow.” Then Domenic added, “Sun and rain help the flowers grow.” Charlotte spoke again and shared, “They can grow with sun and rain.” I wondered aloud, “What if they don’t have sun and rain?” Madelyn replied, “They won’t grow.” Domenic added, “The flowers will dry up and die.” Troy joined the conversation and said, “When flowers die and the water comes they won’t die.” Stella said, “I think the flowers are going to die. Kate is doing the red and the flowers are red.” Then Giorgio concluded our discussion and shared, “Actually in stores they are different colours.”  It was interesting to hear the children’s understandings of the needs of flowers. Would they want to investigate this further? Was this the interest that was driving this investigation? Perhaps in the spring this interest will re-emerge and develop further. We would continue to document and discuss their ideas providing time, materials and opportunity to share theories about the roses.

A Gallery of Roses

Sensory Play
Exploring Rose Petals

Rose Petals Illuminated
The rose petals were offered to the children on the light panel to further engage them in the process of observing the changes in their appearance. 

"The beauty of the rose lasts but a moment but its memory can last a lifetime."