Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Play-Compliant Worksheet

"The answer to the Great Question . . . Of Life, the Universe, and Everything . . . Is . . . Is . . . Forty-two." ~Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

She sat down at a fresh piece of paper, dipped her brush in purple paint with her right hand, put her the palm of her left hand down on the paper and began to paint around her fingers.

I said, "You're painting around your fingers."

She corrected me without looking up, "It's called tracing."

She started with her thumb. As she got to her index finger she got a little paint on it. Lifting her hand to her eyes, she made a careful study of the pigment on her flesh, experimentally bending her finger several times.

Then, as what was clearly a logical next step in her process, she began to paint her palm.

Earlier, several girls hand painted their hands and arms up to their elbows, creating "princess gloves," but this wasn't the same thing: that had been a social activity, an act of copycat silliness, one that came from the urge to connect with one another, while this was a personal exploration it seemed, one guided by curiosity.

After meticulously covering her palm, she slammed it down on the paper, leaving not an outline, but an imprint. She did it again, then again, each time taking a moment to study the shape she had left behind, probably noticing that each subsequent one was lighter than the last. After three or four times, she re-inked her palm, expanding to include the back of her hand, and slammed it down again. This time, however, instead of lifting it carefully to reveal a hand-shaped imprint, she slowly slid her palm on the paper, smearing the paint toward herself.

She looked at what she'd done, then in rapid succession, finished with a flurry of three handprints, more or less using up the rest of the paint on her palm. She then stood up, wiped her hand on a towel, and moved along, leaving yet another successfully completed, play-complaint worksheet for me to grade. I gave her a forty-two.

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Deborah Stewart said...

We have a few worksheets similar to those in our preschool too!

Eliana Marksberry said...

I love reading your posts and also love how you view a child learning about their world! We need more teacher/students like you!

Kirsten said...

Beautiful! Reading this gave me chills and inspiration. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Love how your sense of humor is heard in your "assessments." I'll smile whenever I hear the #42.