Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thankful for Making

When I started this adventure of teaching creativity and innovation I thought that I would be guiding young children in passion projects in grades 2-5 and providing a maker space for the little ones in k-1. I thought that the maker space made so much sense in the younger grades because I suspected that the little ones needed that time to explore and make. I was right and wrong. The little ones love to make. It's actually a bit comical to watch them as they work. They have to, and I mean have to get EVERYTHING out at the creation station. I tried to get them to take out only what they need (because clean up is a nightmare - at least it was). They quickly let me know that they need it all.

When I look at the things that they make, I have to sometimes fight the "wow that is craptastic" urge that fights to overcome me. The things they make look like they aren't anything meaningful until you talk to them. When I ask them to tell me about what they are working on, their sweet, precious voices tell me what they are working on and they never, ever disappoint. They are so stinking creative, I think that it is something that I could never ever teach.

So that got me thinking about that. Kids are so creative... in so many different ways. The more I get out of their way and let them create, the more they are willing to try. They sometimes ask if they can do certain things, with a look like they know that I will say no. Then I say yes and they light up.  

I was wrong when I thought that the 2-5 kiddos would be better off with passion projects.  Don't get me wrong, they love to learn about whatever they want to when they come to my class.  The thing is that they also love to make.  They come in with ideas and sometimes materials because they just aren't sure that I will have it in my room.  They love to sew.  It's very rudimentary since my skills are very limited, but they try.  When their lines aren't straight, they comment their concern, but I tell them that it is a perfect first try.  I tell them to celebrate that they did it all by themselves and that they should be very proud.  :)  

I'm so thankful for making for several reasons.  The two biggest reasons in my life are that I love to make myself.  Making helps you to see things in different ways and it makes you feel so empowered to do things yourself, whether perfect or not.  The second reason is that I get to watch a whole new world open up to all of the kids in my school.  I get to share my passion with them and to help them to find their own.  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week everyone!  I hope you find yourselves feeling thankful.  :)  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Passionate about Passion Projects

I have been teaching children about what it means to be creative and to follow their passions.  I facilitate discovery, wonder, creation, imagining.  It is amazing to me day after day after day that the children come into my room for a scant 45 minutes every four days and they practically burst through the door.  When I started this journey in August I didn't know what it would turn into.  I opened myself and my time with them to the wide open possibilities that they could come up with.  I believe in childhood, and while I deeply respect the teaching of content, I find that the children are in desperate need for discovery.
On any given day, the children might be building with legos, experimenting with paint, or wax and water (no joke), creating something from nothing.  Tinker boxes in the creation station are full of materials that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and yet the children put them together in a variety of ways to create something new.
One little girl used a tissue box, a tape box, four toilet paper rolls, yarn, paper, ribbon, tape, a glue gun and a HUGE dose of imagination to create the cutest puppy!  She worked on it for weeks, putting a "please do not touch" sign on it.  She originally asked me for puffs for the dog's fur, but I didn't have any.  I asked her if she could use yarn instead.  She took the yarn, wrapped it around her fingers, tied it in the middle and trimmed the ends to make the fur.  I watched her lovingly construct this little friend.  When she was done, she shared it with the class and talked about her process.  We all marveled at her ability to take all of the things she used to make something so cute and so special.
Two fifth graders are building a life sized car out of cardboard right now.  They showed me a picture and asked me if they could do it.  I talked to them about how they were thinking about constructing it, made sure that they could get it home when they were done and cut a TON of cardboard for them.  I am so proud of them for taking this on!  They want to try to make it work and I say go for it!  I can't wait until they are done and I will definitely add pictures to my blog.
My point is not only to share my tales of amazing kids and the things they are doing, but to marinade in wonder myself.  I have learned so much about kids and the things that they can do just from letting it happen.  I'm wondering how this can impact their lives in school.  They always tell me that they love Discovery and when I see them in the hall they share when they will be coming to me.  So... why do they love it so much?  It's not me.  It's the opportunity.  Two little girls stopped me in the hall and told me that they are discovering at home too.
I have always wanted my students to love reading and writing as much as I do and I have always had some that do.  I am going to continue to watch and guide and foster a love of exploring and while I do, I am going to be thinking about how I can help kids to love everything that they are doing as much as they love their 45 minutes in room 4.  I wonder where that will lead and I look forward to it.