The underlying principle of our school is that the primary reason the children are here is to learn how to live with one another. If we were a full-day program, we would seek out more opportunities for the children to have time on their own, to rest, to lose themselves in a book or drawing a picture. But since we're done by noon each day, our focus is on building the skills and experience needed to live rich, vital lives as members of a community, leaving most of that independent learning and reflection to take place off our radar.
That being the case, we engage in a lot of group art projects, the kind of things where we simply unfurl a large sheet of paper and let them at it. Yesterday's post was a classic example, and this is another. We call it "picture hunting" or "letter hunting."
We start by taping stencils and rubbing plates to the table top, roll out the aforementioned paper, and break out the "big crayons" we made by melting like-colored crayons together in muffin tins. We've done it with hot plates and in ovens. Sherry and Donna over at Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning have even shown us how they do it with sun power!
The room fills up with their shouts of discovery, "I found a G!"
Or, "It's a bus!"
Or, "Look! A girl jumping rope!"
And the older kids enjoy helping out with the change-over when it's time for new paper or new stencils. Picking out the shapes, letters and numbers for their friends to find.
Some of the young guys, foreshadowing our car painting project (which actually took place after this one), got a feel for the bumpy terrain offered by the paper over templates.
And others couldn't help peeking under the paper, I suppose to see if rubbing in that spot was going to be worth the effort.
It's a vigorous project, the way we do it, on our feet, the chairs moved back against the wall.
This means some bumping and jostling, some negotiations over space and who gets to find which shape, but also conversations, looking over one another's shoulders, and ah-ha moments of connection like, "Hey Sarah, I found your letter -- S!" Just another way of saying, we're all in this together.