Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.
-O. Fred Donaldson
-O. Fred Donaldson
In our JK classroom, we experiment with a variety of building materials. One of the student favorites are pattern blocks. Looking at these blocks, you wouldn't expect students to become overly excited about them. But in looking in their creations, you can see this open ended item can spark their imaginations in ways that other materials cannot. Enjoy our creations below!
Skills developed by using pattern blocks:
A couple of weeks ago, we read the book, "Mat Man: Shapes" written by Jan Olson. The book goes through different shapes and Mat Man's body changes with each shape discussed. As we read the book, students were very intrigued about how Mat Man looked. They enjoyed naming the shapes and guessing what his body shape would be on the next page. Through this curiosity and interest, we decided we wanted to create our own Mat Man to be put on display. Students were assigned to groups to complete this project.
Why should young children participate in group projects?
Children first planned their Mat Man in their groups. What shape would his body be? What materials do you want to use for his legs, arms, and eyes. Students had to problem solve, collaborate and negotiate to decide, as a group, what their Mat Man would look like. After filling out the Mat Man planning sheet, students were more than ready to get started! They discussed as a team what tasks needed to be rationed out in order to complete the project. In each group, one student had to trace the shapes, another had to cut out these shapes, someone glued the materials in the correct places and runners had to find the materials they needed. It was really a team effort! I witnessed students participating in meaningful and thoughtful conversation. Students who normally don't take the lead were voicing their opinions on how they wanted the Mat Man to look. Students who were already leaders were learning how to step back, be patient, and let others join in with them on completing the project.
Somethings I overheard students saying in their groups:
You may have noticed that some of your Jr Kindergarten students have been bringing home mountains of "art projects". Papers that have been used to create very meaningful projects to them, even if we are not sure what it represents. The Art Center in our classroom is open daily for exploration. Some days I count as many as 15 students at one time feverishly working on projects that are all self-directed and designed independently or with peers!
The focus of process based art is the creation of the project and not the end result. It is open ended and child-led. There is significant value in young children participating in process based art projects. It allows them to freely express themselves while developing age appropriate skills such as:
Please check out these interesting articles that describe process based art benefits: