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.