Saturday, January 21, 2017

the space we make

Space has been on my mind.

In our classroom children often walk past the art tables each day without much of a second glance and head straight to the block area, pretend play, or the carpet for some puzzle action. Our two resident artists are the exception.

So what could it be?  This has been our question all year.

It could be the group is developmentally seeking more collaborative and social play experiences. It could be that the prompts and provocations are not inspiring enough - or connecting to the children's interests in a meaningful way. Or perhaps the location of the art area is not visible enough or inviting enough to capture attention.

We have, of course, made tweeks and changes over the year but nothing seemed to inspire.

But then something interesting happened.

It rained....

and rained...

and temperatures dropped...

and dropped.

We are, of course, sturdy preschoolers and venture outdoors every morning for play but recently we have stayed inside for the usual second outdoor play of the day when the weather is truly unruly.

And on these days, while many children are still napping, we play in the hallway. Our hallway has a long, wooden table recessed in a nook.

Suddenly art was being created. Making, creating, messing about with paper, wire, tape, and more was exciting.

hammering holes through bottle caps for threading onto wire. M is making a swing.

And we were left to wonder...what is it about this space? Is it the fact that children sit in a long row? Is it the light, which streams through the window behind them? Could it be the time of day?..or simply the excitement of simply being in a different space?

I know what you're thinking...ask the kids!

We did. But it seems, at least for the moment, a difficult sentiment to put into words. It's a question we will re-cast and perhaps over the next weeks and months some will be able to elucidate the matter.

A computer, complete with baby blue tape keyboard for ergonomic typing.

But for now we are enjoying this space and have opened it as an additional play space during our morning play. A long line of art materials flank the table and wall. Our tinkering goggles are even present as we are thoroughly enjoying hammering holes through bottle caps.

And the space - although it can not yet be explained what makes it more inviting than our art table - is happily being used and even given a new name.

I recently asked the three children what we should call the area and a student spoke up right away, "the work bench area!" And so it is. We still have our art table - but now a very serious work bench area.
Planning for the playground, a small group project inspired by M's swing.

The building of a playground using balsa wood, tape, wire, tinkered loose part, and beads.

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