So Spring is in the air and children in my centre are in love. Asha chases Jim and Jim taunts Asha with his charm. Asha declares “I’m going to get you Jim and then I am going to kiss you.”
Words that have me pondering how to proceed. Do I allow the game to continue? Do I allow Asha to kiss Jim? What will the families think? What about germs? Should I stop it? which leads to questions of Am I the only one uncomfortable with this? Am I really uncomfortable? Hmph….
See over my career I have been instructed to say different things in similar situations. “Hugs only at preschool” , “Kisses are just for moms and dads.” and many other scripted statements. Which by the way all make me gag. The idea of me saying any of those things now seems ridiculous.
Here is the other memory that goes through my head. Craig Knolton the preschool heart throb shouting at me from across my lawn “Danielle if you catch me you can kiss me.” Swoon oh Craig Knolton if you only knew I compared most of my suiters to you for years. A true testament to how powerful the preschool years are. (hahaha)
All this by the way is going through my head in the span of ten seconds while I am deciding if it is necessary for me to interject in Asha and Jims kissing game. I finally decide yes and for very selfish reasons. Our class has been plagued with stomach bugs, colds and runny noses and I want it to stop.
“Asha and Jim lets not play the kissing game today. We have all been sick and kissing can spread germs. I don’t want to get sick anymore do you?” Saying this sort of made me gag too… I am sure at two in the morning I will think of a more respectful way to say stop kissing Jim.
Asha stops chasing Jim and goes to the a table and starts drawing. You may think the story ends there but it doesn’t. Asha draws the most awesome picture. I know from looking at it, its a monster.
“What is it?” I ask.
Asha looks up at me with a satisfied grin, puts it up to her face and shouts “IT’S THE KISSY MONSTER!”
Asha then proceeds to chase us all around screaming “The kissy monster is going to get you.”
There was a lot of laughter and fun had by all including me.
I love how Asha took the problem (me being a spoil sport and stopping the kissing) and came up with a solution. Germs were the problem well a mask of paper is the solution.
Watching children’s creative processes always amazes me. You really get to know children through the way they create. Their work tells you something, even random paint splotches tell you something. You get to know the children through their art and the process in which they engage with the materials. I know that Eunice is about to get serious about her painting if she kneels to paint. I know that Lily is going to start planning if she asks for a really large paper. I know that Brendan will create city plans if he grabs the masking tape. Sometimes though something happens at the easel or art table that makes me wonder why?
This morning when I was prepping the easels I was short one metal cup for paint. So one easel had only two choices of paint instead of three, I didn’t think much of it beyond being annoyed that I couldn’t locate the third cup. I went about my morning with the children engaging in dialogue, listening and documenting our learning.
I would change the paper at the easel from time to time, as one does in a preschool. The more I removed the children’s work from the easels the more I noticed a pattern emerging. At the easels that had three cups of paint I was seeing very representational paintings; trees, suns, flowers, crosses, roads, etc. I was noticing in these images the colours were not mixing. If an object was painted in green it didn’t have any other colour on it.
On the other hand what I was noticing at the easel with two colours was experimenting with mixing colours and paper being covered in colour. I noticed children experimenting with painting with two brushes at once, using circular motions to mix the colours and large strokes of paint.
I started to watch the children painting. Why? I kept asking myself, I contemplated all the possibilities. Could it be the colour choices at the easels? Was it the way I presented them? Was the other provocation I had set up in the room with the rainforest book and drawing influencing the children’s use of the colour green? Do pink and yellow just beckon to be mixed? Was it the brushes?
Wanting to explore this further and see what was causing this pattern, I set up the easels the exact same way, right down to the brushes I provided. You know what it didn’t happen again and again I ask why?
What are your thoughts? Why do you think this pattern emerged?
Kids and cameras… I just can’t tell you how much I love kids and cameras.
This week I sat with six 3 year olds and watched as they took photos. Each child took photos from the chair in which he or she sat, but you’d never know it from the resulting pictures. What each child ‘saw’ from their chair is so distinct, so interesting, so not what an adult would see.
The medium of the camera lens inspired them to look at surfaces of carpet, floor, legs, ceiling, blankets and dolls. They held the camera in many different ways inviting many different viewpoints: tops of heads, close ups, (very close photos of my mouth, teeth and chin…all of which I deleted!)
And that is the fascinating thing, kids see things differently. And I need to be constantly reminded of that, because all I see are things the way I alway see them….The photos make me consider multiple ways of seeing, to remind me of the many possible viewpoints. They inspire me to consider “seeing the known” in new ways, and open questions about my ways of seeing and understanding.
So it’s not just that I love the photos, it’s also a kick in the pants …to try things, go upside down, lie on the floor, put my feet in the clay, taste the paint, shake the plastic red teapot with the plastic lemon inside (a shout out to Fort St John educators!) shoot the toy cars down the ramp, bang the drum as hard as I can…..to see, feel, hear and touch in ways outside my adult ways.
“A lot of my work is like picking potatoes; you have to get into the rhythm of it. It is different than patience. It is not thinking.It is working with the rhythm.” —Andy Goldsworthy
Aya and Seth are building a lake with clay. They build a solid base, then shallow walls, and then slowly add water. They carefully arrange trees in the centre. But the water finds small cracks and seeps out, sending a stream down the edge of the table onto the floor. Aya and Seth place a bowl to catch the stream, and furiously patch the cracks. The flow of conversation is much like to flow of water, continuous and purposeful, but rhythmic as well. The movement of their hands and bodies follows the same rhythm, moving between repairing cracks, checking the water flow, adding more clay.
Aya and Seth worked on their lake for an hour and here is what did not happen:
• no one told them to clean up the water on the floor
• no one commented on ‘the mess’
• no one chided them for using too much clay
• no one objected to their requests for more water
• no one told them they needed to let someone else have a turn
They were given the opportunity to work with the rhythm.
When my son was 4 he built a playground for caterpillars. He made it from cardboard and it was an enclosed space with a slide, some swings and some ramps for the caterpillars to crawl up and down. It took days to make, and many caterpillars were encouraged to play in it. Then one morning he discovered there were no caterpillars in the playground, only caterpillar fluff. Seems my 2 year old son had found the caterpillars and the scissors and……well, all that was left was the fluff.
Cardboard continued to be an essential play item for my boys, from making a miniature city of ruined buildings for warhammer, (if you have preteen boys you likely know what that is) to a giant skate board park for finger boards (tiny skateboards).
Parents and ECE’s have long recognized the value of cardboard: it’s free, accessible, and multi functional. Add materials from the recycling bin, some glue, tape and paint and the possibilities are limitless. But without two key elements all these great materials will never reach their potential: time and space. Kids need time to develop something out of cardboard, which means they need to work over a period of days or weeks. Which in turn means that the project needs a place to be stored. ECE settings are notoriously short on space, and time is often chopped into small chunks for play, snack, outside time, nap etc. But look at what can be achieved when these barriers are overcome!
My good friend Sarah Hilliard at Lansdowne Preschool followed the children’s interest in robots……
And the next year her kids were fascinated with castles so…..