It is Product or Process
I am involved with a local art center and many people assume I am an artist that can produce great pieces. Actually, I am not sure I would call myself an artist, maybe a creativity…ist. I love to watch children, and others, show their thinking and knowledge while they create. This can happen within general art activities, but there are creative projects that allow children to imagine, create, and invent. This process is wonderful for their problem solving skills and imagination. Things like a Lego world, observational drawings, block castles, or other activities their minds take them. I believe this is one way children gain confidence and original ideas. They need ample time in their life when they have an idea and make it happen. They can get this through classes or by simply given supplies and time. This is one thing I love about the Reggio Emilia approach to educating children. The idea is to give them the room to think about their learning through the arts and at times create some wonderful experiences. If you want more information about this process, google Lillian Katz, project approach or emergent curriculum.
I want to share one way that I stumbled upon this idea with my own child to foster his creative outlet. We call it his Creation Station. He is now 6 1/2 years old and I gave this to him as a Christmas present when he was four….. maybe a bit younger. It is still his favorite activity and we have refilled the contents several times.
The portal container is key. We take it to grandma’s or to his room. Very helpful.
Recently, we needed to start over. We decided what was worth keeping and reusing and what not usable. Then we decided on some good items to fill it. It can be things form a craft store but also things around the house: bottle tops, paper towel tubes, paper clips, etc.
This is what we came up with this round. After the recent refill, he went to work. This time he was entertained for at least an hour. Some of his inventions from past and now:
A castles (he now uses for imaginative play), his attempt at making a top (inventive side), and an art collage he created for a school project. I love the combination of imagination, art, and invention.
One of my favorite activities with children or anybody is mapping. I have done it with my classrooms and my son. It is always an adventure. I was thrilled when my husband and son had the idea to map the route to a favorite winter destination and then find a new route to put on the map. It is a day that provided a fun family adventure and a great memory and I hope some connection to our place and the natural world.
Charles shows me the old route and the new way he thinks we can go.
“I know the river is that way and we usually walk that way, let’s follow that stream!” Charles
John and Charlie compare maps and make a plan.
Some other examples of mapping with children:
Using blocks to map a room. The above picture is a kindergarten classroom. It is a perfect venue for children to use print and label items on their structure.
After the block map, we played a treasure game in kindergarten. We transferred the block map onto paper. Then, the children made a treasure to hide in the classroom. The secret spot was marked with an X and they had a wonderful time trying to find their friend’s treasure.
After a block map, children can transfer their knowledge to a drawing or painting.
These activities are easy to do at home and a good opportunity to get creative!
A great resource for mapping is Mapmaking with Children: Sense of Place Education for the Elementary Years by David Sobel