Framing the Process

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means.” ~ Joan Didion


Dear Friends and Families,

We’d say the same goes for making art. Kids make art to find out more about what they’re thinking, what they’re looking at, what they see, and what it all means. To frame the process for school children, we start with a context. We build in structure. And within that structure we give kids considerable freedom to discover just “what they are thinking.”

Yesterday, one of the first things children noticed was a big blue frame of tape on the classroom floor. “What is that blue square on the floor for?” one boy inquired. Second graders didn’t have to wait long to find out. The homemade, cardboard printing press the kids would use to make their collagraphs fit nicely inside that space. The tape on the floor helped define one small part of the printmaking process.

IMG_9781IMG_9793Taking a big picture perspective, each of the kids’ “assignments,” artwork or writing, fits neatly into a designated conceptual “space.” Journals are for digging deeper into investigations. In them, kids respond to questions we pose, using their own words and pictures. We write back to them – and the process of trying out new ideas continues.

We give children large “plates” on which to create their collagraph. Children grow their ideas on these “plates” using materials. They negotiate with one another until they settle on a mutual plan. The ideas that result, in whatever form they take, are featured on the surface of that plate.

Although the context for second graders’ study is animals, our Big Idea is that art as a vehicle through which children stretch their imaginations and develop new ways of thinking.

IMG_9772Today we launched the last major project. We asked kids to gather information from books, tap into ideas they’d tested in journals, and begin to design new compositions. Not only did children cross subject matter boundaries like literacy, art, and science, they applied vocabulary they’d learned in the classroom, like observation and hypothesis. (“An observation is something you see,” one child remarked. “A hypothesis is a prediction,” another told the group.) They practiced building bridges between elements in the program – research, writing, and IMG_9789IMG_9630 (1)art.

Within a framework we’ve defined and with the freedom to explore, students are emerging as collaborators and artists! We are impressed! Nancy, Alexis, Sarah (in for Sandy), and Lizzie

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