Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

What are your hopes and dreams?

What are your hopes and dreams?

This post was written by Carole Burton, visual arts specialist:

The students in Opal 3 began the year with this question.  In small groups they were offered collage materials as a language to explore and discuss this idea.  At Opal school,  children use materials to uncover ideas and to clarify and communicate their thinking. Beautiful and inviting in nature, the collage objects playfully engage the children’s imagination and offer them an opportunity to discover possibilities in their thinking.  


Working from the same collection of objects, the children can create vastly different images and engage in their work using different processes.

For some children, their image is created in their mind the child uses the materials to convey their idea.

For example, Catherine created three objects (they looked like they were friends sitting together on a couch).  She explained, "I hope that we do something together with friends–these are the friends doing something."


For others, the ideas are unearthed through play, and they are inspired by the materials to identify their hope for the year.

Abigail:  The sparkles (in the collage) make me think of imagination–I hope that this year my imagination will grow stronger.


Even when two children are working on a single, shared image, the meaning may be completely different for each of them.

Dean (working with Jahday): …This shows the kids going on a hike they are all going along.  I hope that this year we will go on hikes.

Jahday:  My hope and dream is that we never lose hope.  You never give up, if you are trying to get somewhere you never give up.

Dean:  Oh, I didn't know that you thought that–it's like the hike–you just keep walking.


As the children work with the materials the physical qualities of the objects inspires connections that they may not have otherwise imagined.

Paul: This plant could be for peace, The flowers show respect and friendship and the colors represent people–they are shiny and valuable–people are valuable.


James: [I like] explore–it's fun and I like exploring with materials and making different things.  I like when it comes out how I like it.  It makes me feel happy.

James:  The yellow flowers mean happy and I’m building around them.


Translating an Idea into a Different Medium

Within the collage provocation, the language of collage and the language of words worked together to convey an idea.  For some children, their ideas were translated from thought to image.  For others, the collage materials inspired an image that was translated into words.

After the initial exploration, the children were invited to return to the studio.  This time they were asked to use india ink to create a symbol that would convey their hopes and dreams.  Translating their idea into another medium was a challenge offered to encourage them to revisit their ideas, to see them through a new lense, to encourage editing and refinement, and to connect different means of thinking and expression together.

The medium of ink offers fluid lines and the ability to quickly produce images.  For some children the image of the collage offered a point of departure for creating the symbol, for others the ink lines inspired the symbol.  As the children experimented with the ink, they created a series of drawings.  As their drawings evolved, they made choices in their thinking and the expression of that thinking and ultimately created a symbol for their hopes and dreams.  


 Step by step. If you try you can do it. (Dean)

Paul symbol
There are so many choices to make. I hope people make good choices that lead everyone to the path that will make everyone happy. (Paul)


I hope that this year my imagination will grow stronger. (Abigail)


I hope that we do something together with friends. It makes you happy- you see other ideas, see things in other ways. (Catherine)

To celebrate the community of Opal 3, a ceremony was held where each child was able to share their hope for the year with the class.  The hopes and dreams of the children in Opal 3 now hang together as flags in the classroom meeting area to remind the children of the collective dreams that they will work to realize in this year.