The beginning of school is always a time for us to spend a good deal of time working on growing our community. We do this many ways – through discussions, materials, writing and large motor work. Amy, our PE teacher is giving the class challenges daily to create situations where they have to work out challenges – everything from making their own diversified groups to collaborating to pass a hoop around a circle with eyes closed and no voices!
Below are a few examples of work we have been doing in our classroom as we begin to build our community together.
After reading Wemberly Worried on the first day of school, the students noticed that the title character really showed who she was and that helped her make a friend. We talked about the need to have courage to share oneself. The students then used wire and beads to create something they felt represented something about themselves. These pieces will hang in the classroom all year as part of a class mobile to bring beauty to our environment, to help us keep the things that are important to each of us near and to symbolize our sharing ourselves with our class. As the students began to tell each other about their bead and wire creations, the language they used was so beautiful and naturally poetic that we decided to capture it and have those words be part of our combined classroom history as well. In a week or two these words will be up on our walls – come in and have a look!
On another day this week we read Yo! Yes?, a story of two boys’ courage and the beginning of their friendship. After reading we reflected on some pieces we thought were very important for our classroom this year.
- to be cheerful and make
- to try not to be shy so that if there is a problem we can talk about it
- this to be a place where we can trust each other
- this to be a safe place
- to have a positive attitude
- everyone to share what they are feeling
Then, we put a twist on the idea of new friendships by asking the students if they thought they could make friends with a flower and if so, how they might go about doing that. These were their thoughts about what was needed to create a relationship with a flower.
How can you make friends with a flower
- Look at it
- Choose one you REALLY like
- Draw it
- Slow down and take your time, touch it, smell it, keep looking and looking
- Listen, sometimes the flower will call to you and tell you to draw it.
The students were invited to choose a flower and get to know it…make friends. The classroom was quiet with wonder and tangible energy as students touched, rubbed, smelled, and peered deeply into their flowers. They all found they were surprised by something, a pattern that was different from what they expected, a variety of color and texture where they thought it would have been uniform, tiny ‘flowers inside my flower’, tiny hairs on petals, differing textures on opposite sides of a leaf. The room was filled with a wonderful energy of friendship, surprise and wonder.
“Drawing close to a [flower] and considering it to be a living organism generates a sense of empathy that keeps the level of interest high in children (and adults) for sustained periods of time. It gives the eyes lenses of ‘solidarity’, which in the end often give direction to ways of seeing and thinking, modifying processes of understanding of the [flower] in question and simultaneously the quality of understanding of the entire plant world.”
Vea Vecchi, Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia, 2010