Tag Archives: collaborative

Drawing the Road-diggers and Green Mat Neighbourhood

The first half of this post was meant to be for last week, but somehow the time got away on us! Busy days at the Centre…

Drawing the Road-diggers: One day at the end of May, small groups of children from each Daycare were allowed to take a Teacher or two to go look at the road construction out front.

Some children were engaged in watching and discussing the road-digging without feeling the need to draw, but others took up pencil crayons and made sketches of the process on bright pink paper.

R___ paid attention to the dirt flying from shovel to dump truck bed – notice all her squiggly lines!

A___ was captivated by the flashing, spinning yellow light on the top of the truck. Notice the yellow section on the left side of the drawing.

Drawing is one of the (hundreds) of languages of children that, we believe, surpasses that of most adults in expressiveness. Artists and children have a lot in common – most-of-all, the ability to represent and interpret an experience or idea in a fluid, uninhibited way. Those with a narrow perception of “What is Art” can learn a lot from 3-5-year-olds.

On this topic:

As your blogger and communications person at CPCC, I wonder sometimes about which projects to include in the Atelier blog. My rule seems to be that projects should be “art-based”, and that the children must have played a major or full role in the creation of something tangible. But this is tricky when I believe “art” can be defined in so many ways:

Art is play with materials.

Art can be temporary (mandalas, sand-castles and etch-a-sketches)

Art can be made of anything (Marcel Duchamp for Early Childhood Educators).

So I may (or may not) be bending my rules here by including the Green Mat Neighbourhood, but so what?

There is art, also, in superb teaching…

The story of the neighbourhood: One child, in an emotional moment, expressed the need for some private personal space. A teacher took this opportunity to create a structure out of our sleeping mats in the gross-motor/nap room for the child to have the option of being alone for a while. Soon enough, the resident was feeling better and opened up the door and invited other children inside to share the space. More “houses” sprang up, and soon the kids were excitedly declaring “We’re Neighbours!” and “We live together!”

This activity was repeated on a following day, and the children’s actual addresses were posted on the outsides as a way to practice learning them. There also emerged a game of Rescue where some children became fire-fighters that saved a Neighbour from a fire.

Learning along the way: Concepts of Private and Public space, sharing, fire safety, helping out neighbours, home addresses, social interactions, creative use of materials!

I’m wondering about ways to offer to bring these themes into hands-on construction… Perhaps a repeat of the 3D glue-gun cardboard city that the preschoolers work on.


Preschool Triple-Post: Plants, City-Planning, AirPlane

Hummingbirds are speedy creatures. They hover near a flower, sip nectar, move on quick to the next…. It’s hard to keep up with the Preschoolers and Teachers in our Hummingbirds Preschool, hence this triple-sized post!

Row by row:

1. The children’s Mother’s Day gift was a potted flower along with a book documenting the flower’s growth through the child’s own drawings, week by week. A major learning experience and a heartfelt gift!

The third photo is of the finished scribble map – This was a few days of free drawing. Click on it to take a closer look – you can feel the movement of the children through the overlapping lines, and see evidence of their visual processing of rivers, coast-line, roads, and even the text boxes.

The learning process can be mysterious. We love, though, when something spins out into a new way of looking at an old project, which takes us to the next row:

2. Mixed-media map-making on cellophane. This is a new stage, combining the levels of learning so far:

– First, years of exposure to real roads, cars, city-scapes, etc.

– Second, play with toy cars

– Third, marker drawings of roads and train tracks on paper for toy cars to drive on, plus collage on top

– Fourth, 3-D construction of a city-scape out of card and paper, including tape roads

– Fifth, interaction with a real map on cellophane with markers

– And now, combining all the above elements: markers, tape roads, 3D construction, cellophane, PLUS a new thing: Road signs! One of our brilliant teachers found a source of realistic, small cardboard traffic signs that were included here. Amazing.

3. One child brought an interest in airplanes to the classroom a long time ago. During the sculpting process with salt dough, he developed a couple different techniques to make an airplane, exploring many of the different parts. Other children were tickled by the idea and we saw other airplanes emerge from the dough – some only briefly.

This week, a cardboard box was brought in because a different child wanted to make a house out of it. But the “stickiness” of the airplane idea was evident – the box got wings, windows, and a tail added, along with a great number of cryptic, creative other bits and pieces.

To provoke deeper exploration of the plane, the children were asked if they wanted some photos printed from the internet. The pics above show them using the photos cooperatively to plan out the airplane parts.

“We forgot the propeller!” one child said. The engines were added underneath the wing following discussion of the different places that an engine could go: behind the nose of certain planes, or under the wing of others.

That’s all for today. Next week might be another double or triple post…

We are starting to see a synergy of idea-sharing happening in our centre, as the children’s and teachers’ interests and competencies blossom. Considering we just opened 6 months ago – Triple cheer for CPCC!

Water Wall

In Finches daycare, an idea seeded and grew right into and over our week! Instead of continuing with the car project for now, teachers got excited about making a Water Wall with the children.

A Water Wall is a structure designed to direct water in various streams, drips, and flows when poured over-top. The children talked about waterfalls, containers, and funnels before embarking on this project. Each child was able to choose a container and pick the spot on the “Wall” (a donated scrap piece of linoleum) to attach it. Then they discussed what holes should be drilled or cut into the container to allow water to pass through it, and where the water would go next. (Lots of big hand motions, “Wooooooshhhh” noises, and excited grins.)

Children stood behind a fence at a safe distance to watch a teacher use a power drill to follow the children’s instructions about drilling holes and attaching the containers. Then, children from the Robins daycare were invited to help paint the wall according to a few instruction from the Finches children. A few different kids worked together on it with great cooperation.

We hope for a sunny day next week for our inaugural Water Wall exploration with a big tub of water, buckets, cups, raincoats, and rubber boots!

Make scribbles meaningful; Construction photography

Scribbling is an important stage of every child’s expressive developmental process. Fine motor skills improve as they learn to move pens or crayons around to make marks on paper. There is also the raw tactile joy of early mark-making that adults can so easily forget – how awesome is it that we can make paper a different colour by rubbing things on it! Imagine life before the invention of ink or graphite or lead…

There are probably infinite ways to channel scribbling into meaningful and thoughtful activities without losing any of the fun. Here are two of them:

1. Scribbling on clear plastic on top of another picture, in this case a map, and then remove the plastic to see what marks were made. If you’ve been reading for a while you will know that this work was in the Preschool as another provocation in the map-making project. Children began following the markers along the lines of rivers and roads, and discussing things like clouds and houses. “Where do I live on here?”

2. Scribbling on paper that is taped over-top of various items to explore texture and shape. In this case, yarn, buttons, paperclips, etc. were taped underneath. The bumpiness of these objects make the scribbling process more complicated and interesting.


The last image today is a set of photos taken by the Preschool children of the construction that is going on upstairs! The kids learned how to use the zoom function of the digital camera and spent time watching the image change on the digital screen. Then we drew their attention to the construction through the window. Some of the children’s words while watching:

“I can see the man – the construction worker. Hey look! My dad used that (wrench).”

“It’s for fixing, maybe … fixing houses.”

“The ropes are for tying up there!” (Metal cables)

“I see wood. They’re gonna put them up there.”

“I see a drill in that constructor’s hand. They put the screws back.”

“Moço da construçao!”


Next week: More car project!

Preschool Map-making

Drawing can be used as a tool to learn about our surroundings.

The preschoolers can be seen here making a map of the area – a collaborative project that involved many discoveries. Children included play areas, houses, apartment buildings, schools, and other landmarks with meaning for them.

Learning along the way: Communication, visual-spatial skills, drawing-as-representation, map vocabulary and concepts, neighbourhood familiarity