One Sunflower


on May 4, 2010

It is always interesting to watch kids as they follow directions in art activities.   How students approach a single art activity often tells me more about their development and temperament than I would learn playing side by side with them for a week.   I make samples and I also make extra parts so I can demonstrate the process during the activity. Some students don’t need much to figure it all out for themselves, but others are a different story.

Last week we put together paper caterpillars – the heads were good cutting practice.  I prepared the smaller body circles wanting the activity to be about creating a caterpillar, not cutting.  I wondered if anyone would choose to pattern their circles and sure enough, Beta did. I drew the eyes on the head as a way to encourage the kids to add a face and expression.  I got my usual cadre of angry expressions – I have 5 boys who love to make that squiggly mad mouth and downward pointing eyebrows.  I guess they figure angry is powerful – no wonder considering with what they see on tv and in videos. When the caterpillars were finished, I noticed that some were facing left and others to the right so we graphed the differences. 

The next part of this project came two days later when we created butterflies by attaching two black dye cut “B’s” back to back on paper, coloring in the holes and cutting around the outside.  As I said, I learn a lot about my students by watching them work.   I have one student who consistently struggles with following instructions – both visual and verbal.  She impulsively begins before she has all the materials, she often glues things backwards or upside down.  She’s left-handed too which is sometimes hard for her when she looks to her peers for help.  I’ve tried a picture schedule and to support her when she is beginning a project but it is difficult to be as attentive to her needs as I would like when instructing a whole group.  I need to remember to share this information with the kindergarten teachers so they can strategize with her next year.

Today I gave all the students a large piece of poster paper – at least 3′ wide by 20 inches and explained that they were going to make a “mural.”  We discussed what a mural is and how they were going to use their caterpillars and butterflies to make a big story of the life cycle of the butterfly.  We talked about how they might draw trees, grass, leaves, a chrysalis and anything else they wanted to put in the story. 

It was interesting to watch their work.  We’ve made some large pictures before but this paper was double what we’ve used before.  They were so excited to fill their paper.  Some of them wanted help drawing trees and the chrysalis.  Some put in houses, spiders, all kinds of other stuff.  Mostly it was great for me to see how much of the life cycle they had learned and were able to synthesize through their art work.  I didn’t take pictures of their work, or even put it up in the classroom; we rolled them up and put them in backpacks.  The murals were about the process of creating them – talking, drawing, helping each other tell the cycle, it was practice to tell a different kind of story.

Our real caterpillars became pupa a week ago.  The kids enter the classroom everyday and rush to the butterfly tower to check on their status.  It will be soon now – I’m just hoping it doesn’t happen over the weekend.


One response to “metamorphosis

  1. Teacher Tom says:

    What a thoughtful post. I’ve also found it instructive to observe how children make their art — sometimes I get insight into the children several days later as I’m sorting their artworks into their cubbies, seeing them one after another.

    I think you’re spot on about anger=power for some preschoolers, especially boys.

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