FOR the past couple of weeks The Class of the Finches have been preoccupied with water and I was told that they have been talking about the ocean and fishies, and all things water related incessantly. They even pretended their playground playhouse was a big pirate ship! And so several experiences and experiments have ensued using water as the main ingredient. On the day I arrived in The Class of the Finches, the children had a provocation set up for them that included watercolours in spray bottles and large sheets of paper lined up together. An activity, it turns out that would satisfy them all week… And so our project together began with our thoughts revolving around WATER, WATER, WATER, and then quickly turning to FIRE, FIRE, FIRE, and then somehow ending up at CASTLES??
SINCE our first day of painting was so successful and so much fun we decided to do it all over again. Only this time we used a long piece of canvas instead of paper, and we offered them a variety of different tools to use- not just the spray bottles, but brushes and eye droppers, and tubs of our homemade watercolour paint. And again, the children were completely engaged and highly favoring the spray bottles. Soon a theme of firefighting emerged and the children played firefighters, often running over to a red rocker that they were pretending was their fire truck, and then back to the canvas that transformed itself into a burning house. But not to worry, the children diligently put out the fire.
AGAIN the next day we decided to present them with the same provocation to add another layer of dimension and fun to their creation (always slighting changing the materials on them). The spray bottle continued to be the most popular tool but the introduction of squeezy bottles was soon to make its claim to fame in the eyes of the children. The children were once again thrilled by it all -always loving to paint- and nearing the end of the experience on the third day one of our little boys said… “We are ARTISTS! We are making the coolest painting EVER!” And when I asked him what we should do with it once it’s done, he said… “Make it a story.” And I thought to myself… How great, that is my favorite thing to do! When we talked about what the story would be, everyone joined in and said that it would be a story with “Fire, and water sprayed on it, and that there would be a police car and a fire truck with a fire hose sprayer.”
THE next morning we hung up both of the children’s paintings, the first one on paper and the second one on canvas. The children were very excited and ran all around, and back and forth to each piece declaring which one was their favorite. And as we continued this conversation we asked the children what they would like to make next and how they would like to continue their project. As ideas floated around the room I reminded them of their story ideas from the day before. And the contenders for the next project/continuation of this project, became a castle, a fire station, a boat, and a house. They were all so excited and wanted to make it all. So they all voted for it all, and we had a lot of ties, but in the end the castle won and we decided to also make a boat and a moat to go around the castle. And we began our work that day by making the water. This time painting on the floor instead of on the wall, and giving the children an opportunity to really enjoy the act of making a body of water. And what a joyous experience that was for them to create pools and pools of beautiful watery paint, and splish splash and splurt it everywhere!
ANOTHER day passed and it was time to make the castle. When we asked the children the day before how we could do this they first responded that we would have to make it high, high, high and that we could use poles and boxes to do this and also that we could wrap the paintings around the castle. So we got them the boxes and the poles. The poles quickly became horses; as soon as one of our little girls got one she took off galloping around the room, and all of her friends quickly followed, galloping behind her. Soon after they all went back to the castle and began experimenting with its construction. And all of a sudden we had a castle emerging full wizards and all sorts of magical things. Throughout the day the children painted and played, working more on their moat and painting the boxes for the castle. One of the little boys made a boat and played around diving into the water (known to adults, as the carpet) and swimming around with his tank and mask What a great, great day we had and what a wonderful, wonderful week we had together! I can’t wait to see how the Finches continue to transform their castle and their story.