Monday, May 03, 2010

I'm Sure Not Going To Touch It

When the only view I give you of our classroom is through the peep hole of this blog, it's easy to make it look like our kids are only being offered free-form, open-ended art opportunities that allow them to explore form, color, texture, shape, and the intrinsic properties of interesting materials and tools.

Sometimes, however, they arrive to find things like this on the art table:

They also found multi-colored beads. The idea was to create "bendy bead people" by applying those beads to the arms and legs. I know, beading is great for developing fine motor skills, but the whole thing is a bit too preprogrammed for my taste. At the same time, I thought these kinds of flexible people would be fun additions to Little World and I was hoping that the kids would be excited about making their own toys to play with in there. 

To get them going, I grabbed a bunch of curly willow branches that Charlie M.'s mom Elizabeth brought in awhile back, stuck them into a pot of old play dough and we started hanging our finished people from them.

As you can probably tell by the lack of beads on most of them, the project really didn't capture their imaginations. I could write it off to the idea that there were just too many other exciting things going on in the classroom, but that doesn't explain why, after the initial fun of hanging them from the branches, the poor things spent the last two weeks in a pile, untouched.

I found a new place for the curly willow branches and set the pot of play dough aside. One day we spotted a huge black crow eating the play dough as we played indoors and we crowded around the window to watch, which was the most excitement we'd gotten out of the project up to that point. 

It rained off and on for a couple days and we forgot all about it, until last week when these 3 discovered the real essence of what it was all about (I'll advise you to not look at the following photos if you're eating):

See? It was a free-form, open-ended art opportunity after all. It's inspiring how children will always seek out genuine experiences over manufactured ones. It will have to stay out there for the rest of the school year because I'm sure not going to touch it.

Oh yeah, and the other thing I learned from this, while gathering up the curly willow branches from where children had stuck them as "decorations" into various pots around the outdoor classroom, I found this one:

It's growing leaves! I hope we can find a spot for a curly willow because they're incredible trees.

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Barbara Zaborowski said...

Not everything has to be an art experience. I would have offered the bendy people as a small motor project and made sure there was an art experience available elsewhere. We very seldom "label" what we put out to the kids themselves, but we certainly do in the lesson plans we're required to have. And don't be afraid to offer the people again another year; you know that every class is different.

Play for Life said...

You know Tom I reckon If you provide the children with the beads and pipe cleaners again and let them simply go for it without the 'instruction' that they make people they will came up with some really incredible structures. They'll still have the fine motor experience, just open ended. Perhaps they'll create bendy creatures who could feast on that disgusting concoction you have created from the play dough, 'cos I'm with you I wouldn't be touching that stuff either.
Donna :) :)
P.S We had a large log laying on the ground in our playground which was cut off our weeping willow tree and it began to grow like crazy. We nurtured it for a few months and then we had a working bee and one of the dad's "did us a favour" and chopped all the growth of and poisoned it for goodness sake! WE were devastated :( :(

kristin said...

oh, i can often have i thought i found one fun project only to have it ignored!

learning all the time.