How do we encourage children to create with care? How do we teach children about the value of art materials while getting them to continulously create, make, and try? This is something I have been struggling with since beginning to teach.
Everything can be used to make something new, I think, and with that theory in mind I am always accepting balls of yarn, toilet paper tubes, ceramic flower pots, basically anything. We can use things like this from time, and the random donated/found item can become something great in the eyes of a child.
But we have an easel in the classroom that is always being used, and from twenty children come about thirty paintings daily. That is a lot of paper, and a lot of paint that oftentimes becomes four pots of one color as children fail to wash a brush, or just really enjoy combining colors on the paper when there are four brushes. I don't blame them. But when someone is painting and they are looking at something besides their painting...then we're not valuing the materials, or what we're creating. If that ends up in the recycling at school or later at home, it will go unnoticed.
With a little inspiration from Camp Creek Blog, I've been thinking about teaching the value of the materials and what we create with them. Lori suggests teaching children about sketching, thinking, and planning, before making the final product.
With that in mind, we went into the Sonian Forest last week with our journals in hand. We sketched there, and returned to school, where we opened our journals to the page where we sketched, and copied that pictures onto a larger paper with black felt tip pens.
After our many many scheduled activities for the day around school, including lunch and rest time, we sat down at our pen drawings with watercolors and made our final product.
They are absolutely beautiful, and the children can talk about the process of making them. They can tell their families about what they painted and where they saw it, and I think that makes the artwork all the more special for them and the people they get to share it with.
I mentioned a potential project on clothes about a week ago, and I have to say, the interest in the forest that surrounds us every day may be stronger, and more widespread among the students. The other Pre-K teacher is having the same dilemma, but between studying games and communication.
I have to say, though, that it is nice to be choosing between two instead of the many times I have not been able to encourage in depth studies. Maybe you'll see a little of both.