Thursday, April 30, 2015

"There Was A Bear In The Wild All By Himself."

The children's stories in the light studio were compelling to them so I asked them to draw a picture of their words as I read them. One way of helping children slow down is to ask them to draw something by looking at it very closely or by asking them to represent an idea that is important to them. The children took their clipboards to the light studio to represent their stories by drawing them. I read Solace's words, "There was a bear in the wild all by himself." Her story poured out on the paper.

Isaac drew the forest and then the path through the forest.

As I look at their illustrations, I see something interesting. With Loris Malaguzzi's quote in mind, "... for their minds and social exchanges are in continuous motion, just as their language is," I see how Isaac represents the movement of their bodies and their narration by drawing the path through the forest.  Solace could not stop "writing" her story. For a short period of time drawing became the way to tell the story, the movement. They are representing on paper the ideas they have been representing with their bodies.

Here are some illustrations of another story. 

"They were walking on the bridge and falling into the water. A catcher got you and pulled you into the boat." 


In keeping with our observations about this group of children, when they finished their drawings they sprang up into action, running and calling out to each other over their shoulders, in movement once again.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Suspense In The Light Studio

Solace, Luna and Augusta found a pipe and a golf ball in the light studio. The light table and overhead projector were on and Solace balanced the ball on the pipe while talking into her "mike".  She stood on a stool looking into the light of the overhead and began,

                                          "There was a bear in the wild all by himself!"


                                           "You could see... but when the wind came
                                       you could hear a sound from the door.  The 
                                       sound went "shoo, shoo, shoo." The wolves
                                       came. Whispering came."

                                            "And then the wolf came and shut the door.
                                        and the dog came and the owl went " woo, 
                                        woo, woo."'


                             Luna: "A special cloud came down and then the lightning
                                        and there was a storm coming. Then, in the sky, there
                                        was OOH, OOHHH.

The girls waited for each friend to tell their idea and then the understood expectation was that the "mike" would  be past on to the next friend. They listened to each other with intensity and there was a feeling of shared suspense as they added on each part of the story. They seemed to be aware of the elements they were contributing but also were thrilled by the effect of their collective story. They were intent as they were listening to the suspenseful tone, the spooky sounds and characters.  I was  surprised that the ghost and the butterfly saved the day. The attention they gave to rhyming words and sounds also indicates the children growing in their understanding of language. The trust they have for each other to wait, listen and create stories is steeped in hours of play in our classroom, light studio and in the garden.


Shadow Play: Bats

The light studio is an extension of our classroom. It is the spark that keeps our Forest Room alive and once the children began to notice their shadows, their play took on new fervor. Our group is very kinesthetic and stories evolve best when the children are moving from one area to another. At first it felt like they needed to be reigned in. Their play appeared to be disorganized but what I noticed was  this group of children are masters at co-creating stories. They are able to use each other's ideas to craft and extend their narratives while moving to act out the story.

Solace watched her shadow one day and said,

                                          "I wanted to be a bat. I was not a scary bat."



                                               Guiseppe: "I was fighting with bad guys."

                                                   "We had to eat some cheese."

                                 "The bats went to the playground and the bat cave."

Another day Solace, Giuseppe and Isaac stood flapping their bat wings when Solace began,

                                         "I am Little Flower Bat." Guiseppe: "I'm Brother 
                                     bat." Isaac: "I'm Big Brother Bat."

As they began to weave their story, their bodies sailed off the stools, running over to the light table in the corner and then back to the middle where the floor drops down in a slant to the doorway. 

"They went in their rocket ships to Grandpa's house on the beach. They sailed on the boat and got to Grandma's house. They caught some gold fish and ate them at home. Brother Bat rolled down the hill into the dark, dark, water cave. Big Brother Bat helped Brother Bat back up the hill."
Loris Malaguzzi was a founding member of Reggio schools, beloved studio teacher and social activist who worked to change the image of the child to that of being powerful thinkers and meaningful contributors to society. He once said, "Parents have to have an idea of a school in motion, because the children move around all the time and not only physically; for their minds and social exchanges are in continuous motion, just as their language is." When I read this quote I said "Yes! It is true. This is their important work!